Re: Gen 1-11 as history

George Murphy (
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 20:26:20 -0400 wrote:
> Define peripheral. It seems to be such a subjective term as used here. I
> don't find the Ur to be particularly relevant to Abram's call anymore than
> I find Caanan particularly crucial to the Jewish people. It is all
> background, i.e. peripheral to the story.

Try telling your average Jew that the land of Canaan is peripheral to the
Jewish people.

> > Final score Glenn 50, Straw Man 0.
> > I never said that this "proved" that Noah wasn't historical, didn't exist
> &c. I
> >said that the accounts about him were of a significantly different
> character from those
> >about Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob.
> I wouldn't beat a strawman if you wouldn't be like jello and squish away
> everytime I drive a point home. I have repeatedly asked you to define with
> clear and proper definitions of the criteria for which parts of the Bible
> are historical and which aren't. You don't seem to have any clearly defined
> definitions. Thus You shift around quite a bit because your 'definitions'
> are subjective.

No, I've given criteria (e.g., the fact that Gen.1:1-2:3 & 2:4-25 are not
compatible if both are read as chronicle-like historical narrative + the external
evidence which indicates that they aren't such narratives) & you either don't like
those criteria or ignore them. The problem is made more difficult by the fact that
you think historicity is an all or nothing affair, which it isn't. I wouldn't say, e.g.
(to take an example I mentioned previously) that Chronicles is simply "not
historical" even though in many places its not as close to history _wie es eigentlich
gewesen ist_ as Samuel-Kings. But in any case that wasn't what I was talking about this
time around.

> Noah lived you say, then what difference does it make that he didn't say
> anything? None that I can see. And if Noah lived then what of the events
> are they true or false? Where did the flood occur? When did it occur? How
> did it occur. If it isn't history we can ignore this. If it is, we can't.
> But all you do is simply say some is history and some isn't. THat is so
> nebulous as to be unassailable.
Of course historicity is important & I've never denied that. But to say that
we can ignore anything which isn't history is simply nonsense. It suggests a kind of
theological tone deafness to say that the biblical story of the flood, or Jonah e.g.,
can be ignored if it isn't historical narrative.

> I didn't claim to be presenting any such criterion.
> I have observed the lack of criteria for your beliefs that some is history
> and some isnt'. I dont' think you have any criteria for differentiating the
> two. If you do you are hiding them well.

See my comments above.

> I was noting some literary
> >differences.
> > Your 2 choices, "true or false history", are much too coarse a gradation.
> You
> >leave no room at all for literature which contains true history but other
> types of
> >material as well.
> I do leave room for that kind of literature and it is in psalms, proverbes
> and the parables.

By the very fact that you cite these as examples you show that you don't leave
room for the type of thing I'm speaking of. You've simply added a category
"non-historical but edifying." The example of Chronicles which I noted would not fit.

I don't see the same type of style in Genesis. Thus I
> want to know how you decide that Genesis is some sort of parable other than
> by your personal choice which seems to lack objective criteria.
> Give some hermeneutical principles that distinguish something for petes sake.

One basic principle is that you don't decide what kind of literature you're
dealing with before you read it.

George L. Murphy