Re: Fable telling

John_R_Zimmer@rush.edu
Mon, 8 Nov 1999 10:55:11 -0600

We are now at a point where we can about stop this discussion. Like
before, I leave the final comments to you. There are two issues
that need to be looked at - an one will probably require Glenn to
write a web page.

The first issue concerns the degree that the 'details in a legend'
correspond to the details of an actual event that inspired the legend
in the first place. My view is that the degree varies. Glenn says
that the the more details that match, the better the match.

I think that I have erroneously confounded the 'details of a legend'
with other data pertaining to the legend - like the existence of
similar legends such as the Sumerian flood legend. Perhaps these
details may be called 'details about the legend'. I think that
the existence of a Mesopotamian (Sumerian ->-> Babylonian) flood
story that significantly resembled Noah's account is what swayed
Mallowan's thought in his 1964 paper "Noah Reconsidered".

Anyway, my main point that the way one interprets legends (and
associates them with actual events) differs from the way one inter-
prets historical accounts.

Thus we are left at odds with the following discourse:

Glenn:
>Logic of legends can pick the ones they find easiest to correlate and
>ignore the rest
>
Ray:
>This is true in both perspectives. Glenn picks some details and ignores
>the rest (in particular, the very details that Mallowan uses in his
>correpsondence). Mallowan does the same with the details that Glenn
>found important.

Glenn:
I would suggest that you see http://www.flash.net/~mortongr/mflood.htm
which gives lots of reasons why the flood can't be in mesopotamia.
Mallowan ignores the details of the Biblical account in order to place it
in Mesopotamia. If we are allowed to make up our own Biblical story and
then make it correspond to some event, claiming of course, that our made up
story and event fit each other and therefore the Bible is true, we would
be fooling ourselves. Mesopotamia does not fit any of the details of the
Genesis Flood except for the fact that both had water!

The second item is one that is more open ended and is something that
theologians might be more interested in. It pertains to how a concordist
match 'speaks to us'.

I figure that one way of assesssing the impact of a concordist
'match' is to look at how the 'match' addresses the four questions that
Leslie Stevenson claims underlies every world view.

Glenn's reply follows (the questions are Leslie Stevenson's):

>Where did nature come from?

God created the universe 10-15 billion years ago. To use your terminology
"We are thus inspired to appreciate the power and majesty of God.
>
>Where did humans come from?

web page.
>
>What went wrong?

Sin

>
>What is the cure?

Jesus' sacrifice.
>
>I can't figure out why you think my view doesn't answer these questions.
My answers are rather basic to any christian's view point.

Ray's comment:

Here is where my 'concoridsm as art' is on these question:

Where did nature come from?

The six days of Genesis One images the evolutionary record -
from the formation of the solar system to the age of mammals,
from a perspective that phrases resemble the corresponding epoch
as either visualization or meaning. The 'match' from this
perspective can be rendered various ways, including 'Genesis
One as Vision."

Where did humans come from?

Genesis 1:26-31 similarly resembles the evolution of humanity -
from H. habilis and erectus (the intention of man) to the
Developed Neolithic (God gives fodder to the animals). This
raises an artistic question: How do the evolutionary sciences
then complement the depcition of the creation of man in the
'image of God'?

What went wrong?

A change in the 'way humans talk' occurred during the Developed
Neolithic - from a 'combination of manual-brachial gesture and
speech' to 'speech alone'. Each way of talking constitutes a
different semiotic system and a different Lebenswelt (total
anthropological experience). This change potentiated complex
society. This change complements the story of the Fall in
that our social experiences are, to a large degree, constructed
by langauge. For the first way of talking, meaning was anchored
in natural sign. For the second way of talking, meaning is
defined by differences. This complements the story of the Fall
in that we now can now define meaning contrary to God's intentions
(to a degree hitherto not possible). Deformation of meaning may
be one hazard of Original Sin.

What is the cure?

Jesus provided a new 'sign' for humans assign meaning. Thus we
can know the 'truth' in a world where the meaning of spoken
words can change with changing conventions.

Note that this is a summary of work in progress.

I don't know whether I'm proving the early chapters of
Genesis are 'true' by Glenn's standards, but I think that this
concordist 'match' has a richness that may be lacking in
Glenn's approach. Now that Glenn knows what I am asking for -
by my example - I expect a reference to a web site.
How does his 'match' pertain to Stevenson's questions?

Dick Fisher, if you are reading this, this goes for you too.

Ray