Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Apr 08 2008 - 21:44:45 EDT

I affirm that the patriarchs were real people. The point was just that
there are historical difficulties with all of them as well as with other OT
characters. Not sure about Job and Jonah. Also, the historiography of the
events described with respect to the patriarchs is an interesting question
-- not fictive, it seems to me, but also not "plain" history.

Though I affirm Abraham as a historical person, I'm not sure the Josephus
reference helps. That's much later and it comes with its own agenda. And
my understanding (limited) is that Berossus didn't refer to Abraham by name,
but that Josephus made that identification based on Berossus' general
description. Cite for the Berossus quote?

On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 8:17 PM, Dick Fischer <>

> Hi David:
> Job is one issue who was there to witness the sons of God gathering
> together and could have transcribed the conversation between Satan and God?
> Jonah is another issue. There are two crumbling mounds in Mosul (ancient
> Nineveh) today. One is called the "mound of repentance." The other is
> called the mound of the *nebi** Yonas* (prophet Jonah.) Plus, there is a
> mosque erected over the supposed burial site.
> Abraham rebuked his father Terah who was an idolator in Jubliees. Josephus
> said, "In the tenth generation after the flood there was a man among the
> Chaldeans who was just, great and knowledgeable about heavenly phenomena."
> That would be Abraham. He was further described as "a person of great
> sagacity, both for understanding all things, and persuading his hearers, and
> not mistaken in his inferences. So he began to have higher notions of virtue
> than others had, and determined to alter and change the opinion all men then
> had concerning God; for he was the first that ventured to declare that there
> was but one God, the Creator of the Universe; and that of other things
> whatever contributed anything to the happiness of men, as only according to
> his appointment, and not by its own power."
> Berossus wrote: "... a man named Abraham, a man of noble race and superior
> to all others in wisdom. Of him they relate that he was the inventor of
> astrology and the Chaldean magic, and that on account of his eminent piety
> he was esteemed by God. It is further said that under the directions of God
> he removed and lived in Phenicia (sic), and there taught the Pheniciansthe motions of the sun and moon, and all other things; for which reason he
> was held in great reverence by their king."
> One archaeologist, Hilprecht, from the University of Pennsylvania visited
> the tomb of Daniel. I read his book and he described the journey to the
> tomb. How can you question whether or not there was a prophet Isaiah? Who
> wrote the book? Somebody had to write the book and hand it to somebody
> else who would have known the authorship. Any imposter would have been
> discovered immediately.
> Joseph and Mary traveled to the city of David. For whom was the city
> named?
> Dick Fischer. author, lecturer
> Historical Genesis from Adam to Abraham
> -----Original Message-----
> *From:* [] *On
> Behalf Of *David Opderbeck
> *Sent:* Tuesday, April 08, 2008 4:18 PM
> *To:* Dehler, Bernie
> *Cc:*
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?
> Bernie said: *I think the prodigal son in no way presents itself as a
> historical story*
> I respond: Fair enough. How about Job or Jonah? Even some conservative
> scholars allow that these might not be "historical" figures. There are
> historical problems, BTW, with just about every major figure in the OT.
> Abraham -- no extrabiblical evidence. Joseph -- nothing in archeological or
> historical records to indicate there was ever a Hebraic governor of Egypt.
> Moses -- no evidence for a mass exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt. David
> and Solomon -- many scholars think them largely mythic. Esther, Daniel,
> Isaiah -- likewise. The issue isn't really "affirm Adam as a real person or
> the dominoes fall". The issue is more like "to what extent does scripture
> count as testimonial evidence, however contextualized it may be" and/or
> "what is the historiography of the OT?"
> Bernie said: *It looks like the abstract indicates it will answer this
> question, but I have to pay $10 to find out. Does anyone know the free
> answer?*
> I respond: if you could pay $10 for a clear answer to this question,
> seems to me it'd be worth it. The free answer is that there is no clear
> answer. (For $20, I'll give you a link that resolves the antinomy between
> predestination and free will).

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Tue Apr 8 21:46:47 2008

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