Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 20:40:51 EDT

My position is (a) irrelevant for the present issue and (b) one that has been expressed here more than once.

The notion that because some Hebrew word other than saphah means "language" in Daniel, saphah can't mean "language" in Genesis is ridiculous. Take a look instead at Is.19:18 and Ez.3:5-6 where saphah obviously does mean "language."

You still have given no justification for your paraphrase, & have not even touched my point in my original post that with that paraphrase v.11 would make no sense.

How many years you spent reading books proves nothing. You have given no one a reason to believe that you know biblical Hebrew better than the scholars who have worked on all the published translations and all the commentaries. This of course is not the only case in which you've done that. You made the same implicit claim with Gen.2 a few months ago, & having been were called on it were silent. It's quite obvious that your concordist scheme is what's in control, not any expertise in biblical languages.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dick Fischer
  To: 'George Murphy'
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 6:55 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] A question on Genesis

  Hi George, you wrote:

  Sorry Dick, my beliefs aren't the issue here. A YEC or atheist could pose the same objections I did. The question is rather whether there is any justification for your idiosyncratic translations. The fact that you avoid the question entirely makes it easy to see why you would rather change the subject.

  George, I continually state my position. And my position is based solidly on the written text as it pertains to the situation as I know it existed. I do not take the position that The Bible says X, but we all know Y is true (wink, wink), therefore the Bible writer was totally out to lunch or he must have had something else in mind besides history. Since you won't state your position let me characterize it for you.

  What I believe is that X is true, the Bible writer wrote X in his own quaint way which in ignorance was interpreted as Y. Therefore the discrepancy is not in what was written being at odds with known facts, but what is being interpreted as having been written being at variance with the facts of history. Keep in mind the facts of history have not been widely known, partly because of an ignorant interpretation of Genesis. So it's a vicious circle.

   Of course context is important in establishing meaning but you give no evidence that in the context of the biblical writer (rather than in some other hypothetical ANE setting) the Hebrew sapheh echath means anything like what you claim. & it is not just biblical commentaries who disagree with your speculations (though dismissing von Rad and Westermann is pretty arrogant). Can you cite a single recognized English translation of Genesis that renders the text the way you want to have it?

  Absolutely the book breaks new ground. Did any of the commentaries see irrigation in the Genesis text? Of course not, they all presume Adam is depicted as the first of our species. How could the Garden of Eden have been irrigated if there was only one person? And that is exactly what the writer meant when he said a river flowed out of Eden (edin) to water the garden. We only know that because there are canals all over southern Mesopotamia. The Atrahasis epic uses the term "fountains of the deep," a typical Akkadian description of irrigation works. Knowing that is one more indicator of a local flood not because we know it was local but because the writer of Genesis also knew it. How many commentaries describe the flood as being local to southern Mesopotamia? Yet the local Sumerians are on both sides of the flood. That's a fact of history.

  Translating saphah as "lip" fits the situation and "lip" is the primary translation. It is only because the commentaries and translators thought the entire world was concentrated at Babel (which we know can't be true) that they got it in their heads that they all spoke one common language, and thus the translation. Refer to Daniel: "Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language (lish-shawn'), which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces ."(Dan. 3:29). Here is where "language" is clearly intended and the Hebrew word saphah is not used.

  And who is dismissing von Rad and Westermann? They made mistakes, that's all. All Genesis commentaries contain mistakes, just as all Bible translations have mistakes, heck I'll bet there are mistakes in my own book I don't know about. But these commentators didn't sit in the Library of Congress for 25 years reading all this stuff like I did, and they couldn't devote their entire effort to just ten chapters the way I could.

  Dick Fischer, GPA president

  Genesis Proclaimed Association

  "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"

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Received on Mon Mar 23 20:41:30 2009

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