Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Apr 11 2008 - 09:36:47 EDT

Someone said: Now this is delicious. I'm accused of being "anachronistic,"
and two sentences later David refers to "cosmogenic myths." Does anyone
think that J, P or R were constructing "cosmogenic myths"? [I'm saying
"someone said" b/c the string got long and I can't figure out who's saying

I respond: Yes, I do think the author[s] of Gen. 1-4 was[were] constructing
/ assembling / editing / redacting cosmogenic myths, just like I think the
authors and editors of the Enuma Elish were constructing / assembling /
editing / redacting cosmogenic myths. Obviously, they wouldn't have used
this term, so yeah, that's a little anachronistic too. But I don't think
its anachronistic as a category in the way "science of the day" is
anachronistic as a category. "Science" by definition means natural
explanations for natural phenomena, doesn't it? If one thing is certain,
it's that "methodological naturalism" would have been utterly,
incomprehensibly foreign to the ANE peoples.

An acquaintance of mine who is an ANE scholar recommended to me Thorkild
Jacobsen's "The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian
Religion." A really captivating book. Reading the actual texts and poems
of the culture, and understanding the rituals associated with those texts,
its clear that they had no notion of transcendence of the gods. The
numinous was ever present for them. The earth and sky really were, in some
sense, Tiamat's body, the gods were really present in the people enacting
their parts in fertility rituals -- it reminds me a bit of the Roman notion
of the real presence of Christ in the host. Their marriage and love poems
are poignant too.

If you want to call the numinous presence of Tiamat in the earth and
firmament "the science of the day," it seems to me you have to qualify the
word "science" so much that what it really means is "cosmogenic myths."

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Received on Fri Apr 11 09:38:04 2008

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