RE: [asa] A few literal problems in Genesis

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Mon Mar 31 2008 - 19:20:53 EDT

Hi Dave:
I'll try to give you answers as best I can. Keep in mind we can't prove
anything absolutely. All I can do is offer data and evidence in support
of what I believe to be the most likely scenario. I view the Genesis
2-11 narrative as a complete continuum of interlocking information such
that the entirety is rock solid in my estimation. Each part taken in
isolation could be questioned as there is less evidence for smaller
fragments of the story then there is when you can apply all the evidence
to the entire story.
Whether a small group of Ubaidans, or Adam and his immediate
descendants, or Adam among a small party were the very first to settle
Eridu is unsettled. Likely Adam himself joined a small settlement of
people at Eridu after his banishment from the Garden located nearby.
Eridu was located on the Persian Gulf which was further north than it is
today. Today, the Euphrates River is located a few miles north of
Eridu, modern Abu Sharein, as it flows from west to east before
combining with the Tigris to form the Shatt al Arab which flows south to
the Gulf. In those days both the Tigris and Euphrates flowed directly
into the Gulf. An old river channel runs from the north across southern
Mesopotamia lying east of the present river channel and cuts across the
Euphrates above Eridu terminating in the Gulf. Eridu was located on
this canal which had been an old river channel. All they had to do was
divert water from the Euphrates down the old channel and then with
smaller canals they could irrigate their fields.
Remember, the Akkadian-Sumerian word for desert or steppe was "edin."
So literally a river or canal flowed out of Eden (edin) to water the
garden (see Gen. 2:10). Enoch/Erech was on the same channel on the
other side of the Euphrates River so there was traffic and trade along
the canal between these two cities. It did not rain upon the land due
to the perennial dry climate in that region.
The reasons I believe at least some of these early settlers were
Adamites are numerous. The Sumerian king list says, "When kingship was
lowered from heaven it was in Eridu ." The pottery found at the lowest
level is non-Sumerian and the names of the first two kings are Semitic
names. Adapa/Adamu I believe is Adam and he lived in Eridu. Babylonian
tradition places Adam's home near Eridu. There is a small mosque in
that region today which touts itself as the burial site of Adam. Eridu
was a sacred city and the sacred palm tree (the tree of life) symbolized
Archaeology produces only controversial estimates of religious activity.
I can't infer moral law or spiritual manifestations from pottery
remains. All I can say is that the altar at Eridu showed traces of
burnt offerings. Catal Huyuk in south-central Turkey was excavated in
the 1960's. This city was settled as far back as possibly 8300 BC, but
by about 5600 BC it was abandoned. Although many shrines were unearthed
at Catal Huyuk, there were no signs of animal sacrifice as there is no
evidence of a slaughtering block or a catchment for the runoff of blood.
As far as I know there is no evidence of animal sacrifice at any other
location prior to this altar at Eridu which dates to the fifth
Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of D. F. Siemens, Jr.
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 4:40 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] A few literal problems in Genesis
As usual, Dick, you haven't referred to most of my questions. But here I
come up with more. Did God, Adam, or other men produce the canal that
watered Eden? Why does it seem that God provided rain?What evidence do
you have that the earliest residents at Eridu were partly Adamite? Can
you show that the Ubaidan and "unknown" manifest distinct religions,
with distinctive "Adamite" moral and spiritual manifestations? But most
important, how did more ancient peoples have clearly religious
activities if Adam was the original who had a relationship to deity?
Dave (ASA)
On Mon, 31 Mar 2008 00:45:33 -0400 "Dick Fischer"
<> writes:
Hi Dave:
Let me put a few pieces together. Babylonian tradition puts the Garden
of Eden somewhere near the ancient city of Eridu. Eridu was the sacred
city to the Sumerians who arrived years later as Sumerian pottery is
found at higher levels. Date palms grow there naturally which I believe
equate to the tree of life and are depicted often in Sumerian and
Akkadian cylinder seals. Eridu, modern Abu Sharein, was excavated in
1941-2 and the lowest level was dated by archaeologists to 4800 BC. No
other site in the region dates earlier. Enoch that Cain built, or Erech
(same city), was dated to 4000 BC so the time frames are about what you
would expect. Pottery found at the lowest level at Eridu in the view of
archaeologists came from two different cultures, one Ubaidan and the
other of unknown origin, I think Adamite. The people we call
"Akkadians" are, I believe, Adamites before the flood and Semites after
the flood.
This region had to be irrigated from the beginning as there is
insufficient rainfall. A small site was discovered close to Eridu
called Haji Mohammed where the pottery matched that at Eridu. So it is
possible that this was the garden, or maybe not, however, after
banishment Adam may have moved to the city where an altar was built and
a small shrine erected dedicated to the god Ea. Ea is, according to the
legend of Adapa (or Adamu), the creator of mankind.
Now as to Gen. 2:5b-6, just in general, there was insufficient rainfall
and no man (or Adam) was not there to till the ground, so an irrigation
canal ("fountain" in the Septuagint) was constructed by diverting water
off the Euphrates along an old river channel to provide life giving
water. In the words of the author: "for the LORD God had not caused it
to rain upon the earth [land], and there was not a man [Adam] to till
the ground. But there went up a mist [fountain] from the earth [land],
and watered the whole face of the ground."
There are two maps and a picture of the altar I believe to be Adam's on
my web page.
Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham
-----Original Message-----
From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. []
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 11:46 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] A few literal problems in Genesis
What are you trying to say about Genesis 2:5? Are you claiming that in
the area where God placed Adam there was no rain because it was
essentially desert before the garden was planted? Does this include the
claim that God provided water only when Adam and the garden came into
being? How restricted was the area in question? An underlying set of
questions requires one to specify what the first chapters of Genesis
intend. Is is science and history, in the contemporary sense? an
apologetic to counter polytheism? both? other?
I can understand your insistence that Adam was the first to teach
morality and faith to long existing human beings. However, I cannot
understand how any part of the message got to the peoples who populated
the Americas, now dated at 15,000 and 13,000 B.C. Then there is the
further problem with the places Glenn has cited as giving evidence for
religion long before the time you claim Adam lived.
I recognize that the passages can be pressed into your pattern, but I
have no end of difficulties fitting the whole into the broader
Dave (ASA)
On Sun, 30 Mar 2008 21:30:51 -0400 "Dick Fischer"
<> writes:
George, I didn't have to study the entire Old Testament, just ten
chapters of one book, and I had over twenty-five years to do it with the
aid of the library at Virginia Theological Seminary and the Library of
Congress in Washington, DC where even you do not have access. I
completed a master's degree in theology and I have read Speiser, Driver,
Poole, Genesius, Von Rad, Cassuto, Young, Kidner, Delitzsch, Westermann,
Waltke and every other Genesis commentary in the library at VTS. Enough
about me. The subject is Genesis 2:5.
Can we all agree that as it reads the verse stands at variance with
known facts about our earthly abode? Therefore, the problem lies either
with the inspired writer or the uninspired translators. You seem to
think it's the former. I prefer to take the latter. If the verb tense
is left just as it was written in present tense and the Hebrew erets is
translated as "land," which it often is throughout Scripture, then it
squares with the geological facts. God doesn't cause it to rain very
often in southern Mesopotamia the setting of Genesis. That's it. Now
what is your problem?
Of all the erstwhile authors that have tackled Genesis, who besides me
found the phrase "fountains of the deep" in Atrahasis and connected the
biblical phrase with irrigation? Who besides me was able to tie the
last three pre-flood patriarchs with the last three pre-flood kings on
the Sumerian King List? Who besides me correlated Genesis verses where
Eve was taken from Adam's rib and Eve was the mother of all living with
the Sumerian pun "the lady of the rib is the lady of life"? Who besides
me reported that the city Cain built named Enoch was called unug by the
Sumerians and rebuilt after the flood. I had to find all of these items
and much more on the sheer strength of my own scholarship unaided by any
of those fine gentlemen who you seem to think all know more than me.
On my web page under chapter synopsis is a suggested reading list. How
many of those books and articles did you read, George?
Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 2:22 PM
To: Dick Fischer; ASA
Subject: Re: [asa] A few literal problems in Genesis
Dick -
I usually hesitate to challenge the qualifications of people on this
list but since you are deliberately setting your knowledge of the
grammar of biblical Hebrew above that of people with recognized
expertise in the language on various translation projects as well as of
OT scholars like Westermann, von Rad & Speiser in their Genesis
commentaries, it's natural to wonder just how your knowledge of Hebrew
compares with theirs.
Second, you completely misrepresent the position of Dave, myself &
others when you suggest that we regard the writer of Genesis 2 as
"stupid." You ignore the facts (a) that he was writing some 3000 years
ago in a cultural context in which even the most brilliant people had an
extremely limited knowledge of the physical world & its history & (b)
there is no reason at all to think that he was trying to write anything
like a modern historical or scientific account.
----- Original Message -----
From: Dick <> Fischer
To: ASA <>
Sent: Sunday, March 30, 2008 8:31 AM
Subject: RE: [asa] A few literal problems in Genesis
Dear George and Dave:
Your arguments are not just that all these translators used the past or
past perfect tense in agreement with each other, which I agree with as
well, but you leave unspoken the rest of the argument which is that they
stand united counter to the facts. We all know - at least most of us on
this list do - that the earth is some 4.6 billion years old and for any
one writer or translator to say that no rain had fallen since creation
until mankind was brought into existence is patently incorrect. So your
arguments are not that the translators were wrong, it seems to be that
the translators were right and they faithfully translated the stupid
writer of Genesis who had no clue. The writer must have thought the
Tigris, Euphrates, Pishon and Gihon flowed from some mysterious source
of abundant fog I suppose.
This verse was written in the present tense as is all Hebrew which in
this case if translated in the present tense makes sense. Southern
Mesopotamia, the setting of the Garden of Eden, is in a desert area
still today. It doesn't rain there very often. God still today does
not cause it to rain there. And that's what the Bible writer could have
told us if the translators knew anything about the climatology of the
region. So my translation may contrast with typical translations but it
is consistent with the Hebrew and with the facts. Your idea that
Genesis is one way and the facts are the other way falls on my deaf ears
- much as I respect you guys.
Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham

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Received on Mon Mar 31 19:22:15 2008

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