Re: [asa] The rib...

From: <>
Date: Tue Mar 03 2009 - 11:20:05 EST

 Hi Bill,

words are symbols, too, so it's no shame to admit that God used symbols any more than He used words.  It's a method of effective communication.  You are right about the incarnation and crucifixion.  It happened in this world, among a people who could record the event so it would be communicated.  Likewise, the story about creating Eve from a rib is communicating something to us.  Whether (or not) it is a literally true story does not negate the fact that God (or the author) was using symbolism to communicate it.

I'm thoroughly convinced that ancient people were more literarily-adept than we are.  For entertainment they would memorize and recite epic stories instead of melting their brains on worthless TV sitcoms or the special effects "eye-candy" of movies.  By practice they could see the structure and symbolism of a text, whereas nowadays it takes a literature professor to identify it and point it out to the rest of us.  Consider how even the literary world considered Beowulf to be a boorish concoction, until at last JRR Tolkien wrote his influential essay in which he laid out the structure and symbolism of Beowulf, exposing it to be a literary masterpeice.  In the subsequent years Tolkien's colleagues debated his observations, until it became universally accepted that Tolkien was right and that Beowulf is a literary masterpiece.  Its genius had gone unrecognized for so long because we moderns are (1) not adept at recognizing the structure and symbolism tha
t was used in older literary forms, and (2) steeped in what CS Lewis called "chronological snobbery," in that we assume any literature written by ancient people must be crude, lacking subtle structure, symbolism, or meaning. We expect too little from what ancient people wrote, because we think they were not smart enough to write anything very good.

So my desire is to treat Genesis as a literary masterpiece, to not assume Moses was crude and throwing random imagery together in a slap-dash manner.  What he wrote was intentionally meaningful at every turn.  Or, if it is a literal history, then God made it to be a literal history that is intentionally meaningful at every turn, because He knew his audience would understand the symbolism inherent in it.



-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Powers <>
Sent: Tue, 3 Mar 2009 10:29 am
Subject: Re: [asa] The rib...

The question, as I understand it, is why God spoke of taking Eve from
Adam's side(rib), or why use a small number of loaves and fish to feed
5000, when (1) He in both cases required "more" than what was initially
provided, and (2) He could have simply created the entire end product ex

The same question might be asked about the Crucifixion or even the
Resurrection. God could simply report through a prophet that someone in a
distant world had died for their sins. Why use the body of a man=2
who dwells among us? Surely more was required than a mere man, a mere

The use of the word "symbolism" entails that something is being used to
refer to something else. That which is used is "merely" a means for the
ultimate referrent. The particular means employed is incidental, and any
number of perhaps infinite other means might have been employed for the
same end. 

This view, I think, would miss much of the point. I am not prepared to
argue this cogently, but I suggest it has to do with the fact that God is
in a very important sense embodied, incarnated, enfleshed in the world. I
don't mean by this only Christ. I mean this is evident in every page of
Scripture, even in the Scripture itself. It is God's Immanence. He is
palpable, earthy, alive. 

If this can make sense to you, then the means is not merely accidental.
The means is exalted because it is God with us. He is history, in flesh,
sweat, and tears. His hot breath is upon us. He is where we are. 

I won't say anymore. I don't mean to say here that Phil intended
something less when using the word "symbolism." Consider my words as a
reminder, or perhaps a corrective to what I think can be the danger of
speaking too much of "symbolism." It readily leads to a Gnostic religion,
a disembodied God and life in Christ, draining Him and us from Today. 

bill powers 

Tue, 3 Mar 2009, wrote: 

> I think it's a theologically motivated symbol and not literal.  Adam was taken out from the dirt because he is "united" with the earth in a special way.  Eve was taken out from Adam because she is united with Adam.  It shows connectedness.  It makes sense within the schema of the story to indicate that she was not separate and yet his equal in dignity and value.  The text even comments on this point (she is bone of my bone...).  But as a mechanism of creating Eve it makes little sense because what came from Adam's side would be too small and God could just as well make her out of the abundant dirt. 

> We have an excellent example in the 

> NT:  Jesus multiplied the fish and bread into a larger quantity of fish 

> and bread.  Kind of like taking a little part of Adam's side and growing it into a woman, right?  But again, this was done for the symbolic value.  Jesus didn't really 

> need some bread or fish as his starting point.  Jesus was 

> teaching that his disciples could feed the world with the gospel, as 

> few as they were and with the little as they had.  The connection to some 

> pre-existing fish and bread was to show how a small thing can grow into a large thing when we trust God.  It was teaching via the 

> connectedness of=2
0what comes before to what comes after.  For the same reason, the Genesis story uses Adam to make Eve to teach their connectedness. 

> But if taken literally as a mechanism of creation (apart from its symbol 

> ic value), I can't see much logic in it for exactly this reason.  Lots more material would need to be added to whatever small quantity came out of Adam.  This material would need to be changed into proteins, DNA, RNA, cell structures, tissues, etc., in more than 1 trillion cells.  Or, this new material would need to be made ex nihilo.  So even if some DNA from Adam's biological material were used in one or more of Eve's brand-new cells, there would still be billions of times as many cells that God would need to make in which the DNA were simply created de novo or ex nihilo apart from Adam's DNA.  (There is no process of chemistry or physics that would allow the small quantity of Adam's DNA to replicate outside of a womb into a trillion cells.  Mimicking the gestation process but outside of a womb would require the wholescale abandonment of physics and thus in the final analysis would be no different than simple de novo creation of the "replicated" cells but with the window-dressing of mimicking a biological process without the physics that ordinarily drives biology.)  So if his DNA wasn't needed in making the majority of Eve's body, and she was actually made out of dirt or other materials in th
e majority of her body, then it would appear that making her "out of Adam's side" is nothing more than window dressing.  (or actually symbolism!) 

> For this reason, I think the symbolic value is what it's all about.  It could have been a literal event with symbolic20value, or it could be a non-literal story of the "myth" genre to teach theology via the symbolism.  Either way, it's all about the symbolism. 

> Phil 

> -----Original Message----- 

> From: Dick Fischer <> 

> To: 'Dehler, Bernie' <> 

> Cc: ASA <> 

> Sent: Mon, 2 Mar 2009 4:35 pm 

> Subject: RE: [asa] The rib... 

> Ah, how did God make the axe head float?  How did God 

> resurrect Christ?  How did Christ feed the 5,000?  Wait until he gets 

> older. 


> One of the things I found of interest in ANE literature is that Eve means "life" in 

> Hebrew and she was taken from Adam's rib.  The Sumerian word ti means both “lifeâ€C2 and “rib.”  

> A Sumerian pun on the words was: “The lady of the rib is the lady of 

> life.”  A curious coincidence or fraught with meaning? 


> Maybe, you should read John instead. 


> Dick Fischer, GPA president 

> Genesis Proclaimed Association 

> "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History" 



> -----Original Message----- 

> From: [] On Behalf 

> Of Dehler, Bernie 

> Sent: Monday, March 02, 2009 1:18 PM 

> To: 

> Subject: [asa] The rib... 



> I was telling my 7-year old kid the creation story, and he asked a 

> question I never thought of before.  

> How did God create a woman from a 

> rib?  The rib is not very big, and it doesn't look like a female. 



> God made man from dirt.  That is easy to see- like building a 

> snowman then breathing life into it.  But the rib... 


> ...Bernie 




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Received on Tue Mar 3 11:20:57 2009

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