Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: George Murphy <GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com>
Date: Tue Mar 24 2009 - 10:52:21 EDT

"If the Bible writer wanted to tell us there was a topic of conversation that was all the rage in Babylon ..." - but how do we know there was? We don't, even granted Dick's other dubious assumptions. & the notion that this refers to conversation about the tower is further weakened by the fact that this statement in v.1 is separated from mention of the tower by v.2 about migration from the east. But taking that seriously would mean some real text study & not just shoehorning the text into a preconceived concordist box.

But in reality the notion that saphah echath refers to a single topic of conversation is unnecessary for Dick's scenario. The only critical thing for him is that the phrase not mean what other biblical usage & the unanimous testimony of the Jewish and Christian tradition and all modern scholars and translators indicate, "one language."

& again there are verses 7 and 9 where Dick's purported meaning makes no sense - verses that he apparently refuses to think about.

As to the claim that Hebrew would be incapable of expressing in a relatively straightforward way the idea that all the people were talking about the tower, one might consider a verse like I Kg.1:39b, "and all the people said, 'Long live King Solomon'" (wayomeru kol-ha`am yechi hamelech shelomo). Not exactly equivalent of course but close enough to show that the Hebrews were't as limited as Dick imagines. Those more expert in Hebrew than I can probably find better examples.

That's it as far as I'm concerned. I have better things to do with my time than keep pointing our errors and evasions.

Shalom
George
http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dick Fischer
  To: 'George Murphy'
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 11:17 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] A question on Genesis

  Dear George:

  I have run out of ways to put it. If Genesis 11 follows Genesis 10 and is read just that way it fits the chain of events. The dispersion followed the death of Noah not the incident at Babel. Because the commentators thought all the entire world (Chinese, Australian, Amazons, etc) were present and accounted for at Babylon, their languages must have commenced there. We, of course, know better. If you choose to believe the writer(s) of Genesis had no earthly clue what was going on that is your prerogative. Just stop harranging me because I give him/them more credit than that.

  If the Bible writer wanted to tell us there was a topic of conversation that was all the rage in Babylon he couldn't have done it. The Hebrew language is too limited. You have to know that was what was going on (I do, you don't) and presume the writer had the good sense to be saying that instead of something we all know is dead wrong. Is that a controversial position to take? You'ed prefer to believe, apparently, ignorance stems from the writer and not the translation. This was Umberto Cassuto's attitude. He was a preeminent Hebrew authority. His Genesis Commentary is still the hallmark to this day. If one particular verse is contradicted by another verse, however, the problem lay with the writer, his translation was sacrosanct.

  If you want to read a good book, and God foirbid you take any of your valuable time reading mine, read Hilprecht's The Babylonian Expedition. I cited his book so much I was afraid they were going to go after me for copyright infringement. He did take over 500 pages to cover what he could have said in 200-300 pages but still it is a great read and will answer some of your questions.

  If you just know one thing, George, that the Garden of Eden was irrigated, by extrapolation you can figure out everything. If you had only one more nugget to add to that it would be that the city of Enoch that Cain built dates to 4200 BC and was located just north of the city of Eridu via a canal that linked the two cities. Just those two little tidbits of information are totally absent in every commentary and in every Genesis translation. And how did I discover these tiny bits of information? I dug it out of archaeological publications, something Hebrew translators didn't think of. They thought they could sit in their own libraries and fathom it all out translating in the blind. Turns out they, and you, were wrong.

  As for me being "silent," that sounds out of character for me. Do you remember what it was about?

  Dick Fischer, GPA president

  Genesis Proclaimed Association

  "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"

  www.genesisproclaimed.org

  -----Original Message-----
  From: George Murphy [mailto:GMURPHY10@neo.rr.com]
  Sent: Monday, March 23, 2009 8:41 PM
  To: Dick Fischer
  Cc: ASA
  Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

  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.

  Shalom
  George
  http://home.roadrunner.com/~scitheologyglm

    ----- 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"

    www.genesisproclaimed.org

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Received on Tue Mar 24 10:52:47 2009

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