Re: St. Basil's 400AD view of the Days of proclamation

George Murphy (
Tue, 24 Aug 1999 07:27:00 -0400 wrote:
> At 11:37 AM 08/23/1999 -0400, George Andrews wrote in response to my
> critique of the bible being 'theologically accurate but scientifically
> accurate' :
> > Just as frankly, with a little focused thought, the statement isn't too
> >difficult to understand. You claim it to be nebulas based upon an argument
> >that contending views have no resolution; I know you can't mean that. A
> >multiplicity of viewpoints surly does not imply none are accurate or true.
> >The statement under contention does teach monotheism and omnipotentcy
> >contrary to enuma elish. 'accurate theologically yet inaccurate
> >scientifically' by modern christianity and science, respectively;
> >furthermore, there simply is no room in the text for evolution; only solid
> >sky, separating oceans above and below.
> This assumes that monotheism is true? How do we know that? If monotheism
> is false then the Bible is not theologically accurate. My point is not
> that monotheism is false, as I am a committed monotheist, my point is that
> you can only state that monotheism is the theologically accurate point of
> Genesis by first having apriori decided that monotheism is true? So how did
> you decide that monotheism is true PRIOR to when you read the Bible? Have
> you ruled out all other religions after a careful reading and search
> through them? You are assuming that which you believe--namely that
> monothism is the central theme of Genesis.
> And If I were a committed polytheist, I would note that tiamat was the
> Babylonian god of chaos and is the word used in Genesis 1. Could it mean
> polytheism? THis turns Paul's point about babylonian cosmology around on
> you. If it really is erroneous babylonian cosmology in Genesis, then the
> main point of Genesis isn't monotheism, but polytheism. What about the Let
> US make man in OUR image after OUR likeness?
> ONce again, I am not arguing for polythism but I am pointing out that there
> is much for a polytheist to grab ahold of in Genesis. It is not as clear
> as you would claim that the central point of early Genesis is monotheism
> and omnipotence.
> However, with a concordistic approach if one can see objective information
> in the account that is true but unknown at that time, then one can use this
> as evidence that this account is true. In that way one doesn't have to
> assume what one wants to believe and then turn that assumption into a
> theological doctrine.
> ><<<< I personally like the Marxist theologically accurate interpretation in
> > That is
> > I don't think
> >it is possible to prove theologically accurate views erroneous. They are
> >subjective.
> >
> > Why do you digress from the issues with sarcasm?
> It isn't sarcasm. It is a point that people can interpret documents in
> ways of their choosing. There is no constraint whatsoever on this type of
> activity. The only real constraint is objective, observational evidence.
> That is why I am a concordist.
> I spent my graduate school days in philosophy. I remember being disgusted
> by each philosopher assuming the previous philosopher out of relevance and
> then setting up his logically consistent view. THen the next guy came along
> and did the same thing. Each theory was internally logically consistent
> but incompatible with the other views. How was one to chose between the
> competing philosophical schools of thought? There is no experimentum
> crucis. But when it comes to observational data, there are experimentum
> crucis--plenty of them. The problem I saw in philosophy was what drove me
> to the belief that the empirical is the only objective basis of deciding
> certain matters. And theology is full of this same sort of problem. Each
> theologian assuming what is good in his own eyes and throwing stones at the
> other theologians with no real objective data with which to say the others
> are wrong. And to a marxist theologian his view is quite reasonable. Are
> we to tell the marxist theologian that he is wrong because you and I say he
> is wrong? To do that makes us the judges of all matters, a point he is
> most likely to disagree with. That approach also uses OUR assumptions
> (which he does not accept) to say he is wrong. Unlike this approach,
> concordism allows objective evidence to say a given view is wrong.

1) Even granting the validity of a concordist approach to early Genesis,
its real significance is theological - i.e., in what it says about God and the
relationship between God and the world. Thus discerning its theological content is
an essential activity, whether it's done sooner or later. The problems Glenn points
out certainly have to be dealt with, but they aren't avoided simply by saying that
early Genesis is scientifically &/or historically accurate. A Christian fundamentalist
& a Jehovah's Witness will agree in large part on an historical & scientific reading of
Genesis but their understandings of what it means theologically will be worlds apart.
2) One thing that makes the theological reading difficult is that there are
different theologies in the Bible. In the first place, the theological understanding
of Israel & the church grew with time. To take a term in the above discussion, much
of the OT is not "monotheist" in the sense of denying the existence of other deities,
but "henotheist" - only Yahweh is to be worshipped. (But Gen.1 is part of the movement
toward stronger assertion of monotheism.) & of course trinitarian belief changes (or is
supposed to change) this again significantly.
& even with that taken into account. biblical theologies differ. The pictures
of God in Gen.1 & Gen.2, or those of Jesus in the synoptics & John, are not identical.
Paul & James understand the roles of faith & law differently. This is why some central
hermeneutical principle (which must itself be Scriptural) is needed.

George L. Murphy