Date: Wed Jun 18 2003 - 20:01:57 EDT
In a message dated 6/18/03 3:33:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> I prefer a symbolic interpretation of the days as categories of creation,
> without chronological significance, but a concordist approach need not entail
> all of the difficulties that have been mentioned.
> Ironically, this ties into the issue of credal statements. Is Genesis 1
> primarily about God or about science?
IMHO there are two recognizable traditions in the creation stories in
genesis. One is of the landed agricultural states in the mesopotamian basin, whose
civilizations were tripartite and based on agriculture and the other tradition
is pastoralist and peripatetic. The symbolic interpretation of the days and
creation of the world is taken from the traditions of those landed agricultural
states whose own earlier creation accounts suggest the same.
The descriptions of human behavior beginning genesis 2:5 titled 'the
beginnings of history' are brilliant but purely pastoral observations regarding the
nature of man and all other living things. So is the story of Abraham and the
story of Jacob and Esau - all these human stories are comprised of simple
observations pastoralists, not kings or priests, necessarily come to intuit as part
of their livelihood: not competing with your affinals, for example, or having
a big flock and a choice flock. So, genesis is religion and science and
history, it's like a patchwork that's been put together to maintain an ancient
pastoralist tradition that once established as a nation became a tripartite temple
genesis 1 is about the power of God, established immediately. The pastoralist
parts (most) of genesis are about the power of man in the face of God's Laws.
The pastoralist tradition in genesis is the religious tradition. You can say
some significant things about human nature by studying the pastoralist
tradition psychologically and anthropologically.
The creation account in genesis 1 might be studied as history to find out how
and by which route it was appropriated from earlier accounts.
It's a much more demanding task to analyze the Bible from the view that it's
a patchwork, which I believe genesis is - the seeming interpolation at
genesis 14:18-21 would read perfectly if it were missing suggesting a later redactor
wished to justify the temple sacrificial system at Jerusalem (Ur Salem). You
can't treat it all as science, but you must treat some of it as science,
because it is.
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