Re: Fw: Seely's Views 2

From: <PASAlist@aol.com>
Date: Sun Sep 05 2004 - 18:15:31 EDT

PHS: As to the Babylonian myths mimicking the biblical creation and Flood
stories, the evidence goes the other direction and this rationalization solves
nothing. There are several hundred creation stories and over 150 flood stories
in the world, but none of them look like the biblical story in any detail
except the Babylonian.
  
>None of the others have a splitting of a primeval sea into two parts, one
part of which becomes the sea above the sky and the other half of which becomes
the ocean around and under the earth. If the biblical stories were the
originals, there would be numerous stories with similar details all over the world
passed down by other descendants of Noah.
  
DF: Might one possibility be that the Genesis stories were reworked later
(during or after the exile) to accommodate these Babylonian distinctives but that
in other respects are in accord with the more widely distributed stories? If
so, then some earlier, generic account congruent with the biblical account
might still be the substantial source.
 
One way this might be checked is by the dating of the Hebrew used in the
Genesis text. Is it more recent (exilic-era) Hebrew in Gen. 1-11 and older Hebrew
thereafter? K. A. Kitchen makes such an argument of this kind for an early 1st
millenium dating of the early OT.
  
PHS: Judging by language, Gen 1 is one piece. Although no one supposes that
Genesis draws directly on Enuma elish, but on the tradition behind it, the
clearest place that it draws upon the Babylonian creation epic is on Day two. The
second clearest place is that the order of creation events is very similar.
Even if you remove these two parallels with the Babylonian, I think it would be
hard to see a similarity with most creation stories. The other creation
stories, as I remember them, rarely have more than 1-3 events. Most of them just
have one event, but possibly another story to tell of other creations. Humans
and/or animals are often present at the creation of the earth. In short, the
creation stories around the world are for the most part a whole different
ballgame. You would have to emaciate Genesis 1 to make it comparable to other creation
stories.
You can find a number of the other stories on the web, I think on talkorigins
there are a number of them. Look for yourself; and if you can find some more
than 1 or 2 similarities, let me know.

> PHS And what gain is there if the biblical story was first? Science in no
> way agrees that the ocean was made by splitting a primeval sea in half and
> using the bottom half to make the oceans. Nor was half of it placed above the
> sky, above the sun, moon, and stars. The picture is ancient Near Eastern
> cosmology.
>
> DF: The astrophysicists of the list would know better about the origins of
> earth's oceans, but is it conceivable that if they came from an
> extraterrestrial source such as a comet, that part of the comet's water might have fallen
> to earth while the rest continued overhead.

PHS: I don't think they are going to buy the comet idea; but even if they do,
that does not match the Bible. In Gen 1, you begin with a primeval sea, like
a Pacific Ocean, then you cut it in half and put half of it over the
firmament: half a Pacific Ocean above the sun, moon and stars. Of course it is a much
smaller universe; but, you have to have an ocean above the sky, something you
could sail a ship on, not just some extraneous water.

> DF: Is it known why the ancients believed this cosmological scheme in the
> first place? On the face of it, it hardly seems to fit any simply-observed
> phenomena, and suggests that in it the ancients might have had another meaning.
>

PHS: The basic flat earth with a solid dome over it is universal, and it is a
natural conclusion drawn from the appearance of the earth and of the sky
especially at night. If people live near the sea, they usually define the earth as
floating on the sea which judging by the circular horizon is surrounding the
earth. Based on the circular horizon, they just conclude that the sea
continues around the earth the rest of the way; and since the earth is flat, the sea
also just goes underneath the earth.

The only question is the sea above the firmament, which is not a universal
belief by any means. I would presume that people saw the blue sky, saw that
water falls from the sky, and just drew the conclusion that there was water above
the sky (which they often understood to be made of crystalline rock, so it
would be translucent.) What I really cannot understand is why most peoples did
not draw the same conclusion. Later Jews, incidentally, understood the clouds
to rise to the firmament to get filled with water and then drift off to other
places to dump their load as rain.

Paul

> Dennis Feucht
>
>
Received on Sun Sep 5 18:30:27 2004

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