Indonesian origin stories (was Re: [asa] Re: Reading Genesis theologically NOT historically)

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Wed Oct 07 2009 - 14:19:19 EDT

Hi Iain,

I found the below to be very interesting indeed.

Your facebook page (and e-mail!) tells me you're in Indonesia, so I'm wondering (most importantly) did you escape the recent earthquakes unscathed? I hope your family, friends, and colleagues are all okay if, indeed, you're in the quake zone.

Other than that, can I ask what people group you're working among? Where in Indon are they? And are the predominantly Christian, Muslim, or other? And, if Christian (or Muslim), do they follow the usual practice of maintaining their origins stories alongside their Biblical/Koranic understanding?

I see your with the Clinton Foundation - so you're engaged in some sort of social development work?

Feel free to answer off-list if you don't want to air your laundry in public!


IW wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Murray Hogg wrote:
>> What people fail to grasp is that ancient peoples are not benighted
>> moronic sub-humans with no grasp of the fact that their tribe is NOT the
>> only tribe on the planet. They are perfectly aware that their origins
>> stories don't, by-and-large, serve as a universal human story and that
>> they don't, by-and-large, account for OTHER tribal groups origins.
>> Rather they regard their stories as "our story" whilst those of other
>> tribes are "their story" and there is scant consideration given to
>> reconciling the two. I am reminded of a remark of Nabokov: "<snip>
>> What's critical here (and very relevant to the remarks in your post) is
>> that the tribal stories connect to persons, events, and places which are
>> significant in the tribal context. I
> I have been following these posts with great interest. I am for all
> intents and purposes in agreement with Murray and in particular your
> emphasis on relationship.
> I would add that what you refer to (when looking at the aborginal
> creation myths) is very similar to what I see in my neck of the woods.
> The stories told are clearly mythological but historical insomuch as
> they do report on a historical reality. Interestingly they are always
> told as if they are the ONLY people and yet at the same time the tribes
> are very aware that other tribes and people's exist.
> Their stories show clear migration and historical events - but these are
> described through the myth. So whilst pigs and dogs do not talk and
> people did not originate out of holes in the ground - they did follow
> the routes the myths lay out.
> Interestingly each succeeding generation that tells its story tell ONLY
> a set number of generations (Their oral history). So my father recounts
> x generations, his father x generation,s his father x generations and x
> never changes even though people are aware that in fact, the generations
> are in change (death and birth).
> Thus the stories tell what is essential for the culture only marking the
> people and generations of note.
> I have oft struggled with those who insist on a literal historical
> reading of Genesis as if the writers (who were almost certainly
> recording orally held stories) were born in the Western world sometimes
> in the last 100 years or so.
> ANyhow, thanks again Murray for your clear thinking and for helping me
> understand some of this in a way I had not seen before.
> Iain
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Received on Wed Oct 7 14:20:47 2009

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