Re: The Origins Solution

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Mon Oct 15 2001 - 20:54:43 EDT

  • Next message: Dick Fischer: "Re: The Origins Solution"

    Paul Seely wrote:

    >Dick wrote,
    ><< If you prefer to believe the Bible teaches that the
    > entire planet spoke only Hebrew after the flood at 2900 BC, but before
    > Abraham at 2000 BC, then you have assigned the mistake to the Bible writer,
    > not the translators. >>
    >Hebrew is the historic belief of the Church, but the Bible does not say that
    >directly, though the puns in Hebrew such as ''ish--'ishah' suggest it.

    There is a Sumerian pun, the lady of the rib is the lady of life. "Rib"
    and "life" are the same word in Sumerian. This is also reflected in
    Genesis where Eve was taken from Adam's rib and is the mother of all living.

    > But, according to the vast majority of biblical scholars the Bible does
    > say in Gen
    >11:1 that everyone on earth (the earth of Gen 10, neither just Mesopotamia
    >nor the the whole planet) all spoke the same language until the Tower of
    >Babel. I agree that this is not true.

    I love points of agreement.

    > Your archaeology is quite good. But, in
    >order to prevent the Bible writer from making a mistake, you have adopted an
    >interpretation of Gen 11:1 which is idiosyncratic, or to put it in Bible
    >terms, "a private interpretation."

    We can either suppose the Bible writers knew what they were talking about,
    or we can allow for gaps in their understanding. I prefer to give inspired
    writers the benefit of the doubt. In this particular case we are not
    talking about cosmology, or a spherical earth, or whether the earth
    revolves, or anything that would be considered outside the realm of their
    understanding. Since the patriarchs were in the midst of those who spoke
    an unrelated language from at least the time of Noah (Sumerians were called
    the "black headed"), they had to know Hebrew was not the universal
    language. I do not believe it was the intention of the writer of Genesis
    to state that everyone in the entire occupied planet spoke
    Hebrew. Especially when he had to know they did not. First, such a
    statement would be contrary to fact. And second, it would be contrary to
    what must have been common knowledge. So again I say the error has to be
    in the translation.

    >The same question must be asked of your interpretation of the extent of the
    >Flood. The vast majority of scholars ancient and modern understand the
    >biblical text as saying that every human being except those on the ark were
    >destroyed by the Flood. Even early "local Flood" advocates and most of them
    >today try to restrict humanity to living in the area of Mesopotamia at the
    >time of the Flood in order to agree with Scripture that all human beings
    >outside the ark perished in the Flood. I agree that archaeology and other
    >scientific data demand that the Flood be local, but what that means is that
    >not every human being outside the ark perished in the Flood. If archaeology
    >is correct, the biblical account is not. The biblical account is exaggerated.

    We Christians expect too much out of the Hebrew text. Ancient Hebrew is a
    primitive language. There is no verb tense, for example. Many words have
    double meanings. Old Testament writers used word pictures to convey
    thoughts. The New Testament writers were blessed with Greek, a language of
    precision. Reading the Bible in English we cannot appreciate the
    difference. Hebrew writers used encompassing words such as "all" and
    "every" just as we might say "much," "many," or "some." And Genesis is
    only one example. There are numerous examples throughout the Old Testament
    where you can see this exactly.

    >I see no point in warping the Bible with an idiosyncratic interpretation in
    >order to force it to agree with the scientific facts. Indeed, how can we
    >complain about creation science not being honest with the scientific data if
    >we are not honest with the biblical data?

    If you substitute "hills" for "mountains," "land" for "earth," and "sky"
    for "heaven" you will get a closer approximation of the scope of the
    flood. It is not necessary to beat the text into submission to what we
    know to be true. We have only to understand that the translators chose
    English equivalents according to the misconceptions that prevailed at the
    time and even to this day: that Adam was the first human, that all animal
    and human life outside the ark was destroyed by the flood, and so
    on. There are reasons we can know from the Old Testament itself that the
    world was populated at the time of Adam and that there were flood
    survivors, but without the extra-biblical evidence which is available
    today, the translators just missed the clues.

    >The Flood of 2900 BC, which we agree is the flood spoken of in Genesis 6-9,
    >extended according to both Sumerian and archaeological sources no further
    >than Sippar. How then could the ark land in the mountains of Ararat some 300
    >miles north of Sippar? The biblical account is exaggerated.

    I think it is possible that the Ark could have been punted up the Tigris to
    a point where the hills of Armenia might have been in view, but could we
    have a scribal error here, or a bad translation? Cush is still Khuzestan
    in Iran to this very day, but it didn't stop the KJV Bible translators from
    inserting "Ethiopia" because "cush" means "black." It was corrected, by
    the way, in the New KJV.

    >I think it is fair to say that since creation science adopts idiosyncratic
    >interpretations of the scientific data contrary to the consensual scholarship
    >of the vast majority of scientists, that it does _violence_ to the scientific
    >data. Don't you agree?

    Of course I agree. But creation science doesn't do the Bible any favors
    either. And I think that message would come as news to most Christians.

    >If you do, then how can one avoid saying that the
    >idiosyncratic interpretations of the biblical data, which are contrary to the
    >consensual agreement of the vast majority of biblical scholars, do violence
    >to the biblical data?

    I think there are enough errors in transmission, translation, and
    interpretation to account for all the errors without extending error to the
    original writers. I know you guys can come up with numerous problematic
    passages and beat me about the head and ears with them, but since there is
    not one shred of original text, and since we know scribes made mistakes and
    recensions were required, it is entirely possible, I believe, that the
    original texts were without error.

    Dick Fischer - The Origins Solution -
    "The answer we should have known about 150 years ago"

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