Re: Genesis One that Fits, #3

From: Jonathan Clarke (
Date: Sun Feb 17 2002 - 14:27:10 EST

  • Next message: Michael Roberts: "Re: Genesis One and Concordism (was a lot of other things previously)"

    Hi George

    I have always found this sort of argument about the dating of Genesis 1 rather
    contrived and based on some untestable assumptions about how the Bible came
    together. But perhaps that is my ignorance speaking. So some questions. How does
    a 6th century date for Genesis 1 (henceforth refered to as the late date) be
    justified with respect to the following:

    1. The exile was not the first exposure to the Israelites to Babylonian religion
    as the patriarchs also came from that background (or do those who argue for a late
    date believe there is no historical basis for the patriarchial story)?

    2. Canaanite religion was similar to Babylonain religion in is veneration of the
    stars (although to a lesser degree). The Egyptians also worshipped the sun and
    moon. Could the down playing of astronomical bodies might as much be related to
    these religions as the Bablyonian?

    3. The Samartian Pentetuch includes Genesis 1. Given the increasingly bitter
    relationship between Jews and Samaritans when some Jews returned from exile is it
    likely that the Samaritans would have adopted anything compiled by the Jews?

    4. Do not some Psalms ascribed to David contain references to Genesis 1 (the
    waters above in Ps 96, for example)?


    george murphy wrote:

    > Lucien S Carroll wrote:
    > > > Genesis 1 is a theological and (perhaps) liturgical text that proclaims
    > > the God of Israel as the creator of the world and of humanity. It uses
    > > ideas about the physical world current ~2600 years ago
    > >
    > > This is the second time that i've seen you give ~600 BC as the date of the
    > > writing of genesis, and i guess it surprises me. This certainly isn't my
    > > specialty, but 600 BC seems pretty incongruent. The level of detail in
    > > Joseph's story for example, or the correlation between the structure of
    > > deuteronomy and akkadian-era (if i remember correctly) fealty covenants,
    > > or the finding of the "book of the law" in the time of josiah, all seem to
    > > indicate that the pentateuch was atleast primarily written in the time of
    > > moses or so. To clarify on josiah's find, either it was written then and
    > > passed off as ancient (which would be devastating to any claims of even
    > > theological authority) or there really was a lost book (deuteronomy
    > > (?)) found.
    > >
    > > I do think there is a high possibility of later elements slipping
    > > into the text, but to attibute it all to that late seems a bit of
    > > stretch. I'd like to know on what basis you date it that late, or atleast
    > > point me to a critic whose opinion you trust.
    > My reference to ~2600 years ago had to do with the first creation
    > account of Genesis, not the whole book of Genesis. If that's correct then the
    > composition of the whole book in its present form would be no earlier than
    > that, but it could include a good deal of older material.
    > Many biblical scholars today date the 1st Genesis account to sometime
    > around ~550-450 B.C. and the 2d account a few centuries earlier, 900-1000
    > B.C. A resource on this is Conrad Hyers, _The Meaning of Creation_ (John
    > Knox, 1984). Modern commentaries on Genesis (Von Rad, Westermann,
    > Brueggemann, &c) can also be consulted.
    > One reason for dating Genesis 1 shortly after the Babylonian exile is
    > that its theology seems intended to counter Babylonian polytheism. The world
    > is not made from the body of a defeated chaos monster but is created by God's
    > command and is good. The heavenly bodies are not deities that control the
    > world but are created in the middle of the creation week for specific
    > purposes. Human beings are not made as slaves to do the dirty work of gods and
    > goddesses but are given dominion over the earth.
    > Genesis 1 has a mature theology in which Yahweh is the only God of the
    > whole universe, not just the only God to be worshipped by Israel. In that
    > regard it has connections with Isaiah 40-55, which are now often dated ~540
    > B.C.
    > Shalom,
    > George
    > George L. Murphy
    > "The Science-Theology Interface"

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