Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: Preston Garrison <>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 17:54:10 EDT

>Preston -
>1st, I don't think there's any reason to expect strict temporal
>order here. Gen.10 is a summary (or summaries - see later) of what
>Israel later knew of the distribution of various peoples in their
>known world, "the table of nations." It's clearly written from a
>standpoint later than the events spoken of in Ch.11. Note the
>language of v.5 - the "coastland peoples" had already "spread."
>2d, critical scholars have assigned different parts of chapters 10 &
>11 to different sources. In Ch.10 vv.1a, 2-7, 20, 22-23, 31-32 are
>supposed to be from the P source & 1b, 8-19, 21 & 24-30 from J.
>11:1-9, the story of the tower of Babel, is from J. (For this
>breakdown see, e.g., von Rad's _Genesis_. So the verse you mention
>and the Babel story are from different sources & it wouldn't be
>surprising if they speak of things somewhat differently.

George and all,

I'm no expert, but it seems to me you are giving the elaborate
inference (source assignments) more weight than the primary evidence
(the text). I guess I've been pretty heavily influenced by C.S.
Lewis's skepticism about the likely accuracy of guessing how a text
came to be what it is, millenia after the fact.

My initial interest is not to support any kind of literalism or even
historical similitude - I'm just interested in what the author or
assemblers were trying to say. Surely they weren't just throwing
sources together. Surely they were trying to tell a story, or a
series of interlocking stories, with a spiritual and moral point,
and, if so, surely they would try to make it coherent.

It doesn't seem coherent to say that the descendents of one of Noah's
sons had multiple languages, and then turn around and say that
multiple languages arose for the first time in a single event
involving a descendent of one of Noah's other sons.

I strongly suspect that whoever put it together knew exactly what
they were doing in the story-telling department, even if we have lost
the thread for millenia.


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Received on Mon Mar 23 17:54:28 2009

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