Re: A Third Method of Apology

From: <>
Date: Sat Aug 14 2004 - 00:48:57 EDT

In a message dated 8/11/04 5:57:26 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

> I would only ask for a case in point. I've read almost every Genesis
> commentary in print. Umberto Cassuto especially struck me because no one knew
> Hebrew any better that he did. The flood, of course, brought an end to all
> mankind except for Noah and crew. However, since the Numbers 13:33 sons of Anak
> are of the "nephilim" mentioned in Genesis 6:4, they survived the flood.
> What's the problem? If there is a conflict, then that's your problem. Cassuto
> made no claim that the Bible was "true." He just translated it warts and all.

Cassuto was a great Hebraist. What did he think the OT was saying about the
Flood? Commenting on Gen 7:22 "And every man," he said, "Thus the verse ends on
a note, as it were, of bitter sorrow: there perished not only the flying
creatures. . . and the cattle. . . and the wild beasts. . . and the swarming
creatures. . . but also the most important of the created beings--man; _not just a
part of the human race, but the whole of it!"_ (p. 95)
and he ends the section with "So the paragraph closes, with an awe-inspiring
picture of the mighty waters covering the _entire earth._ We see water
everywhere, as though the world had reverted to its primeval state at the dawn of
Creation, when the waters of the deep submerged everything. . . . . _Nothing_
remained of the teeming life that had burst forth upon the earth. Only a tiny
point appears on the face of the terrible waters: the ark that preserves between
its planks the seeds of life for the future. But it is a mere atom and is
almost lost in the endless expanse of water that was spread over the face of the
_whole earth."_

He thus believed, as the great majority of OT scholars (not just theologians)
believe, that the Bible is describing a universal Flood that destroyed all of
mankind. That is the historical-grammatical (literal) interpretation which
you reject.

Now what about Numbers 13:33a? In that verse the spies sent to spy out the
promised land come back and say, "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of
Anak are part of the Nephilim). . . " . or as the New Revised Standard puts it,
"There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim). . . ". You
argue from this verse that if the Nephilim (first mentioned in Gen 6) or
descendants of the Nephilim (the Anakites) were in Palestine at the time of Joshua,
they must have lived through the Flood. So, the Flood must have been local
and could not have been universal as is the interpretation of Cassuto and the
great majority of OT scholars.
There are three reasons why this argument does not prove the Flood was just
local. 1.The Nephilim were the fruit of angels mating with human women. There
is nothing that says such mating could not have reoccurred after the Flood. In
fact, Gen 6:4 could be read as saying that the Nephilim who were on the earth
afterwards were also the result of the sons of God coming in to the daughters
of men.
2. The statement in Numbers 16:33 that "we saw the Nephilim" is nothing more
than the opinion of the frightened spies.
3. The statement that the Anakites or Anakim were the descendants of the
Nephilim is probably not part of the original text but merely a scribal comment
that was added to the biblical text. As George Gray pointed out a hundred years
ago, "The clause is certainly parenthetic, and probably a gloss: it is omitted
in G [the Septuagint]." (George Gray, ICC commentary on Numbers, p. 151.)
This observation is made again in recent times by the conservative Evangelical
scholar, R.K. Harrison, who in his 1990 commentary on Numbers called the clause
simply, "a scribal gloss." (P. 209.)


Received on Sat Aug 14 01:12:11 2004

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