I agree. Here is my take, based on my reading:
Most Old Testament scholars have argued on the basis of some pretty decent
evidence, that Genesis 1 and Genesis 5-7 are based upon, or a reaction to,
Sumerian and Babylonian creation accounts. There is weaker evidence that
Genesis 2-4 is also based on Sumerian material.
I would argue that the writers of Genesis 1-11 were not writing science or
history originally; they were writing theology. More specifically, they were
writing antitheology and antimythology.The Sumerian and Babylonian mythology
spoke of a cyclical creation and a creation that was the product of a battle
between the gods.Ps. 74:12-17 indicates that such ideas were known and even
accepted in the religion of ancient Israel. The writer of Genesis 1 corrects
such ideas by writing a creation account that asserts the supremacy of God
and the unique character of the act of creation.
The Sumerian accounts spoke of a global flood in which the gods wipe out man
in a fit of pique. The Hebrew writers rejected this view of God. If God
wiped out man, they reasoned, it was because of man's sinfulness. Just as
God could wipe out Israel because of Israel's sinfulness and recreate
it(Ezek. 37, Isa .40-55), so too could God wipe out the earth and recreate
it.They therefore rewrote the pagan flood accounts to reflect their
understannding of God.
In Sumerian mythology, a wild man Enkidu lives in the forest. The fertility
goddess Ishtar(or a woman) finds him, teaches him about sex, agriculture,the
arts, and other aspects of civilization. She then proclaims that Enkidu has
become like the gods, knowing everything. The Hebrew writers rewrite this
myth ( or a Canaanite version of it) to warn against falling to the
temptation of following the Baal-Asherath fertility cult, symbolized by the
snake (I trust the symbolism is obvious).
These stories, which were originally separate, were combined by later
writers ( the Yahwist and others, according to scholars) into a primeval
history that would form the introduction to the history of Israel.
This interpretation is based on the consensus interpretation of Old
Testament scholars, who are experts in the study of ancient Near Eastern
religious literature. what I like about this interpretation is the concept
that the ancient Hebrew writers were not writing about what WE would
consider important (science and history) but what THEY considered important
(correcting misunderstandings of YHWH among their contemporaries that were
based on pagan religion).
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On
Behalf Of george murphy
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 11:15 AM
To: Glenn Morton
Cc: Walter Hicks; Asa@Calvin. Edu
Subject: Re: Black Sea Flood
Glenn Morton wrote:
> >-----Original Message-----
> >From: Walter Hicks [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> >Sent: Tuesday, April 30, 2002 4:54 PM
> >To: Glenn Morton
> >Cc: Asa@Calvin. Edu
> >Subject: Re: Black Sea Flood
> >I don't want to sound critical Glenn, but it will be hard not to come
> >across that way given my question.
> >I have read number of your posts and your articles. In just about every
> >one there is a discrediting of many beliefs that people extract from the
> >Bible -- all in the name of science , of course. Yet I know that you are
> >a sincere Christian and I wonder if any of web pages are written with a
> >positive outlook towards the "history" of the Bible.
> >I have a Jewish friend, for example, who does a lot of archaeology (As a
> >hobby.) he talks repeatedly about aspects where the Bible is shown to be
> >accurate in terms of ancient settlements, idols, etc. Don't you have
> >anything along these lines?
> YEs, but no one likes it.
> The reason I spend a bunch of time correcting errors is precisely because
> the attitude presented here. Rather than looking for the truth, we want
> people to tell us we are right. And because of this, we fall prey to
> charlatans who tell us we are right using absolutely false data. Looking
> back on my YEC experience, I had lots of people telling me we Christians
> were correct. Henry Morris, Duane Gish, Jody Dillow, etc ad nauseum.
> problem was that they were not telling me anything containing truth about
> the natural world--not a single thing they told me which at the same time
> disagreed with conventional intepretation turned out to be true. I have
> cited this poll before but I once tracked down most of the Christian
> Heritage College graduates who had gone into the oil industry about 10
> after they entered the business. Christian Heritage is a college
> with the INstitute for Creation REsearch. I asked them one single
> Is there anything you were taught at CHC which differs from modern
> that you still consider to be true? Not a single one could name a single
> fact that fit this description.
> So, the question is, what are we doing in apologetics? Telling the truth
> telling ourselves that we are 'correct' when that means using false data,
> and fooling ourselves into blissful ignorance. We are like Ahab:
> 2 Chr. 18: 5So the king of Israel brought together the prophets¤four
> men¤and asked them, ¦Shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I
> ¦Go," they answered, ¦for God will give it into the kingĂs hand."
> 6But Jehoshaphat asked, ¦Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we
> inquire of?"
> 7The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, ¦There is still one man through
> whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never
> anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah."
> Ahab felt much better with what the other prophets were telling him just
> you are much more comfortable with people who tell you you are correct.
> Thus, I will tell you, you are correct! Feel better?
I'm loathe to enter into another round of debates with Glenn on
but have to note that almost everybody involved in all these discussions
Genesis is trapped within a general concordist paradigm. For some the
constriction is much narrower than others. Glenn has gathered a great deal
useful geological & anthropological data & we all should admire his
on honesty in dealing with the scientific and historical material.
But while he
plays the role of Miciah ben Imlah very well with this material, he is not
willing to go on to question the concordist paradigm itself.
Well, not entirely. He recognizes that Genesis 1 is a
different kind of
critter & doesn't try to force it into aritificial agreement with Genesis 2.
Thus he avoids the error of, e.g., Dick Fischer who, in his desire to
1 & 2, creates serious problems with the NT's _theological_ (N.B.)
There are two problems with this whole concordist approach. First,
assumes that texts can be true & authoritative only if they are accurate
historical &/or scientific accounts. Secondly, they start in the wrong
the OT, & Genesis in particular, rather than the NT & Christ. The OT is
important - nay, indispensable. But it's to be read in the light of
the NT, not
vice versa. If you start either systematic theology or apologetics
then your theological framework has already been solidified before you get
any explicit mention of Christ.
I have said a great deal about all of this in the past & will
it all now. But I wish that those who think that the crucial questions
_how_ to concordize would step back a bit and think about the possibility
one need not concordize in order to maintain the truth & authority of
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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