Re: [asa] Does ASA believe in Adam and Eve?

From: <>
Date: Thu Mar 22 2007 - 23:00:10 EDT

Hi Jon,
I agree that it can and will be argued that way. But I think this is the most natural reading of the text (IMO).
The counter-argument you raise below, that Noah's family could have personally transmitted the practices across the time of the Flood -- that argument would work better for the metallurgists than for the pastoral nomads or traveling bards. That is because only metallurgy was a technology; the other two were primarily lifestyles that did not require any new technology. It is possible, for example, that Shem could have learned the technology of metallurgy and taught it to his descedants. But it is hard to see how Shem could have kept the "lifestyle" of the pastoral nomads or the traveling bards alive and transmitted it to his descendants so that it re-started after the Flood. Lifestyles are passed from generation-to-generation by living that way, not by teaching facts.
Regarding the timing of metallurgy, I must point out first that the interpretation works best if you accept that Jabal, Jubal and Tubal-Cain were probably not intended to be understood as literal individuals. IMO it is too coincidental that three siblings would invent such remarkable aspects of culture within a single generation. As you correctly say, the timing is not correct since metallurgy began around 6000 BC, a few thousand years earlier than pastoral nomadism (which is believed to have begun with the Sahara's desertification around 3000 BC). And it is too pat that the names Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-Cain all rhyme and happen to mean the exact things that they invented. Likewise, it is too pat that all the other names in Cain's geneology are distorted versions of the names in Seth's geneology.
Therefore, I don't believe that Moses intended for us to take Cain's geneology as literal. Seth's line is indeed literal; he and his descendants were real individuals and the text provides us with the mundane details of their birth and death dates (which are absent from Cain's geneology). Cain's geneology was constructed as a literary device to draw a sharp contrast to Seth's family. Just as Seth's line has a Lamech who speaks, so Cain's line has a Lamech who speaks. One speaks of this trust in God's promise; the other boasts of his violence as a reflection of the outworking of God's curse on Cain. Seth's Lamech gives birth to the savior-figure Noah, who then has three sons (Shem, Ham and Japeth); but Cain's Lamech skips over the savior-figure (because the world's culture provides no salvation) and it goes directly to the three sons (Jabal, Jubal, and Tubal-cain). Seth's line is all about patiently living in the world and waiting for salvation. But Cain's line is all a
 bout the development of the world and its culture (Cain built a city, Irad means "city of a fugitive", Lamech's sons invent metallurgy, etc.) It is a clear contrast between God's people versus the world, crafted literarily for this specific purpose.
This contrast that we see in the two geneologies actually starts earlier in the text, with faithful Abel being slain by hard-working Cain; so God cursed the works of Cain's hands and made him a primitive hunter-gatherer. But Cain pulls himself up by his bootstraps and begins developing the works of his hands, again. He starts by building a city: Unuk (Enoch). This marks the beginning of civilization as primitive mankind settles into mesopotamia and discovers intensive farming so that cities can be developed. Cain's line goes on developing culture and the works of his hands, but does this bring salvation? No, it only brings an increase in the violence and the curse, as seen in the wicked quotation spoken by Cain's Lamech; and it ends in the judgement of a flood.
But just like Abel who was slain, Seth's line waits patiently for God to provide salvation (a sacrificial lamb rather than a grain offering), and God provides that salvation (in its first installment) through Noah.
So the entire Cain geneology is an extended aftermath of the Abel/Cain story. And Seth's geneology is a literal family, portrayed as waiting patiently in the midst of Cain's cursed world for salvation.
If we recognize the profoundly literary character of the entire Cain geneology, then we realize that the timing of metallurgy in that geneology wasn't intended to be literal. It is just a description of mankind developing the works of his hands, which God had cursed, because man thinks he will find significance and salvation in these things.
best regards,
-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thu, 22 Mar 2007 6:53 PM
Subject: RE: [asa] Does ASA believe in Adam and Eve?

I agree Phil, this is an interesting point that I've never considered. However, it could still be argued that those people were the "father" of that particular technology or innovation, which their descendents learned. After the flood, the three sons of Noah just continued the technologies which had been invented pre-flood, so the creators of the technology could still be considered its "fathers".
It might also be argued that being the "father of metallurgy" (c. 3000-4000 B.C.) might be contra-indicated by archaeological evidence on a global scale, but maybe these statements were concerned with these innovations being developed or popularized in a Mesopotamian region where the Biblical writers were familiar. This might fall in line with your suggestion.
Jon Tandy
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Received on Thu Mar 22 23:00:27 2007

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