Re: A Third Method of Apology

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Sat Aug 14 2004 - 16:12:08 EDT

Paul wrote:

>Cassuto was a great Hebraist. What did he think the OT was saying about
>the Flood?

The same thing his predecessors thought. Sure Casssuto knew his
Hebrew. He was simply not as tuned in on the historical undrpinning of
Genesis as we can be today. We are not duty bound to the same ignorance
that hampered these long-dead commentators. If we can't learn anything, we
are doomed to repeat past mistakes.

As far as the flood is concerned, as I see it, we have three choices (maybe
there's more).

1. The flood, in fact, was universal and can be confirmed with biblical
and geological data.
2. The flood was local, but out of ignorance the Bible writers thought it
was universal and said so in inspired Scripture.
3. The flood was local, and the astute Bible writers knew it, but writing
in the language of the day, used language we have misinterpreted as universal.

If (1) is true, I have yet to see any scientific evidence of a universal
flood. Maybe you have some. Then you would have to explain how all the
animals were redistributed to their original locales to align with their
evolutionary ancestors, getting across oceans in the process.

If (2) is true, why did they think it was universal in the first
place? Egypt was never flooded. When the Semites ventured into Egypt and
were educated, as Moses was, did they not discover that Egypt had no
flood? The Sumerians survived the flood, they had kings before the
flood. The Sumerians were in constant contact with the Semites, being
different in culture and speaking a different language. In Egypt, they
discovered peoples of different colors. Where did they think they came
from? In short, I don't think the Bible writers were so stupid. If I can
figure it out, they should have known better too.

If (3) is true, we should have examples where the Hebrew writers used
language that sounds universal, and yet we know it had to be local. And we do.

In Genesis 41:41,47, Pharaoh set Joseph "over all the land of Egypt," and
there were seven plentiful years. "And he gathered up all the food of the
seven years, which were in the land of Egypt ..." (Gen. 41:48). All the
food? The resident Egyptians ate none of it in seven years? No, all the
food that was saved was all the food that was saved. Not every grain.

"And the famine was over all the face of the earth ..." (Gen. 41:56). Were
the Americas similarly affected? Australia? China? "And all countries
came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn ..." (Gen. 41:57). Were American
Indians lined up at the gates of Memphis to buy corn? No, they weren't
flooded in 2900 BC either.

>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.

Just one bibllical example. We also have Zamsummims, Emims, Raphaim, in
addition to the Anakims, that bear no resemblance to any of Noah's kin.

>There are three reasons why this argument does not prove the Flood was
>just local.

We can prove the flood wasn't universal, which does prove it was either
local or pure myth.

> 1.The Nephilim were the fruit of angels mating with human women.

Well, that is only one interpretation, and probably the wrong one. This is
in my book:

Genesis 6:1-2: "And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face
of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw
the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all
which they chose."

The "sons of God," who are they? Some contend these are angels, perhaps
fallen angels. But is that the case here? The Hebrew phrase in this
passage, and elsewhere in the Old Testament, can refer to angels (Job 1:6;
2:1; 38:7; Psa. 29:1; 89:6). But the same term also describes humans who
lived their lives in service to God (Deut. 14:1; 32:5; Psa. 73:15; Hosea
1:10). How should it be interpreted here?

For a start, what are angels supposed to do regarding us humans? In
Hebrews 1:14, "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister
for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" If that is their proper role,
wouldn't it be out of character for them to be involved in these
trysts? Also, even if they had the desire to sire human offspring would
they be capable of that? Angels, while appearing as men at certain times,
do not possess physical bodies as we do, and should not be able to father
human children.

Furthermore, angels do not marry. "The children of this world marry, and
are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain
that world and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given
in marriage; neither can they die anymore, for they are equal unto the
angels and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection"
(Luke 20:34-36). And in Mark 12:25, "For when they shall rise from the
dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels
which are in heaven."

Two relevant bits of information exude from these passages. Angels do not
die or marry. Sons of God, who marry, should be humans. Throughout the
New Testament, the term "sons of God" or "children of God" is applied
exclusively to humans (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 8:14,19; Rom. 9:26; II Cor. 6:18;
Gal. 3:26). Nowhere in the New Testament do these terms apply to angels.

Could they have been fallen angels? Would it have been possible that
disenfranchised angels took possession of the bodies of humans in order to
engage in marriage and procreation? Not likely; fallen angels or demons
are not called "sons of God" anywhere in Scripture. They have forfeited
that right.

Furthermore, if these had been fallen angels dabbling with the human race,
then the flood would have brought only temporary relief. Demons would not
drown. Any marriage-minded demons could have just waited and preyed upon
the next batch of humans. Besides, the notion of demons desiring to enter
into holy matrimony is a bit curious.

If the term "sons of God" refers to humans, then who could they have
been? Perhaps those "who called upon the name of the Lord," the
generations of Seth. Then who were the "daughters of men"? The
daughters of men could have been descendants from the now mixed generations
of Cain, or perhaps they came from the indigenous populations that
co-existed with the Adamites in the same region.

Some have contended that what has been translated "sons of God" (bene
elohim), refers instead to sons, or servants, of pagan gods. Indeed, a
clear example of this can be found in Exodus 18:11 which states, "the Lord
is greater than all gods (elohim) ..." Daughters of ha'adam or "the Adam,"
then, would be Adamite women. Using this line of logic, Genesis 6:1-2
would be translated: "And it came to pass, when the Adamites began to
multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that
the sons [or servants] of the gods saw the daughters of the Adamites that
they were fair ..."

What comes through in either translation is that there were two distinct
populations, some were in the covenant line from Adam, others were not, and
they were intermarrying. Lane concludes:

... the most obvious meaning, beyond dispute, is, that the men and women
here mentioned were of different races, and hence that the former saw in
the latter a beauty surpassing that of their own women.

What was the consequence of such mixed marriages? Reduced life spans.

>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.)

How convenient! When we don't like something, just attribute it to an
unauthorized source.

Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History"
Received on Sat Aug 14 13:45:37 2004

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