Re: A Third Method of Apology

From: <>
Date: Tue Aug 17 2004 - 20:20:27 EDT

Dick Fischer wrote,

> [Cassuto believed] 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.

Cassuto has only been dead about 50 years, and his commentary is filled with
references to ancient Near Eastern literature. What do you think you know that
he did not know? Your answer to his interpretation that the Flood was
anthropologically universal is the same as your answer to the consensus of living OT
scholars who believe the same thing: they are bound by tradition. This is no
different in principle from the YEC response to the consensus of geologists
that there was no global flood: they are bound by uniformitarianism.

<<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.>>

Or, the flood was local, but the Israelites inherited from the patriarchs the
Mesopotamian tradition that it was anthropologically universal, and the Bible
writers built upon that tradition, but brought it up to date scientifically
by expanding the geographical extent of the Flood so all the inhabited regions
they knew of (Gen 10) were covered with water.

<< 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.>>

The issue is, What does the Bible mean? Do you really think modern OT
scholars are not aware that words like "all" and "earth" are used in a limited sense
in the OT?
They are well aware of this, but realize (1) that the words can also be used
universally and (2) that there are other OT data which compel the
interpretation of the Flood as universal (not necessarily global), but anthropologically
universal. You have built your theory on those pieces of data which fit your
theory, but you ignore the biblical data that falsify it.

<<[Regarding Gen 6:1-4, you say,] 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>>

I can understand why human women mating with angels could produce giants
(Nephilim; Numbers 13); but, how could godly women mating with ungodly men produce
giants? It doesn't make sense. Nevertheless, let's accept that idea. Your
argument for a limited Flood was that since there are Nephilim on earth after
the Flood, they must have lived through the Flood. But, that conclusion is still
invalid even if we interpret the "sons of God" as godly men rather than as
angels. For all you have to do to get Nephilim on that basis is have godly women
marry ungodly men, which could easily have happened after the Flood. Your
interpretation proves even more clearly than mine that the existence of Nephilim
after the Flood is not evidence that the Flood was local.

<< [I said,] As George Gray pointed out a hundred years ago, "The clause [the
sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim];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.)
> You answered,
How convenient!  When we don't like something, just attribute it to an
unauthorized source.>>

Neither Gray nor Harrison attributed the clause you are resting your argument
upon to an unauthorized source just because they did not like the idea. The
clause is in fact parenthetical. If you remove it from the narrative, the
sentence it is embedded in makes sense and works just fine. Two the clause is in
fact not in the Septuagint, that is, not in the Hebrew text that the translators
of the LXX were using. Three, OT textual critics across the theological
spectrum accept the fact that the Hebrew text of the LXX can be the original when
it differs from the Masoretic text. Four, it is a fact that there is a
long-standing rule of textual criticism which has been used even outside of biblical
studies that the shorter reading (lectio brevior) is the original. Add it all
up and it is probable that the clause you are resting your argument upon is a
human addition to the Bible, not part of the inspired original.

Received on Tue Aug 17 20:38:28 2004

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