What kind of book is it?

HillsboroMom

Active member
You find a book just sitting there. No title. No dewey decimal number to tell you what type of book it is. It could be a novel. It could be a phone book. It could be a blank journal waiting to be filled. How do you decide what kind of book it is?

Well, you open it up and read it, silly.

If the first line is, "Once upon a time...." then you know instantly what type of book you're reading.

You know that it's a fairy tale. You know that the author wants you to know that it's a fairy tale. The author has giving you all you need to know about what type of book it is, with those 4 words. You and the author have established a code language. It's not exactly a "secret code," because there's no "secret." It's a simple code, and one which you and the author both agree on, instantly. The author is not going to recite a historically accurate occurrence. If there are dragons and trolls in the book, you aren't going to say, "Wow, this author sure is stupid to think that dragons and trolls really exist." That would be as silly as it would be for you to believe that dragons and trolls really exist, just because they're written about in the book.

Genesis 1 begins, "Once upon a time."

The language of Genesis is that of myth. One doesn't even really need to understand ancient Hebrew to get it. I understood it decades before I learned Hebrew, though when I did learn Hebrew in my 20s it became that much more obvious, in the original language, that it was myth.

To say that the Bible is myth does not deny its divine authorship. On the contrary, symbolic speech is evidence that we are more likely looking at divine truth. After all, do we not believe that Jesus used parables, and that Jesus is God? Jesus used parables, BECAUSE Jesus is God. That's how his disciples knew he was God, and how WE know he's God.

To deny the mythic quality of Scripture is as heretical as to deny the truth of it. It's like complaining that Shakespeare's plays are historically inaccurate, or arguing with historians and believing that Shakespeare's plays are historically accurate. Both are silly, and both show that you're completely missing the point of Shakespeare's plays.

Both atheists, who deny Scripture, and certain Christians who insist on taking it literally, are equally missing the point of Scripture, and have abandoned the words the Author gave us. They're both equally wrong. And they don't even realize it.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
What exactly does myth mean here?

For example, do you think the author(s) of Genesis believed the world was created in six days and is covered in a solid dome.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
What exactly does myth mean here?

For example, do you think the author(s) of Genesis believed the world was created in six days and is covered in a solid dome.
Well, first, it depends on who you mean as "the author(s) of Genesis," and second, you're asking two different questions.

First: if you're referring to the ancient Hebrew scribes, then

(1) I believe that they believed the earth was flat, and covered with a solid dome.

(2) I don't think they believed that the earth was created in six 24-hour days. I think even then, they knew the "it was morning and it was evening, the ___th day" was completely poetic, not intended to be taken literally. But they probably DID believe that earth was relatively recent. They certainly had no idea that it was billions of years old, as we know now, but we know that Hebrews at the time of Jesus didn't take the six 24-hour periods literally, so I think it's safe to assume that the Hebrew scribes knew that, too.

Look, according to Genesis 1, the sun and stars aren't created until 3 days after "light" is created. What is the source of this "light" if not the sun and stars? Anyone with even a little common sense and observation would know immediately that this is not literal, nor was it intended to be taken that way.

Second: if you're referring to "God" as the author, then of course the gods are aware that planet earth is round, the sky is not solid, and the earth is billions of years old. Just as Jesus knew that in the parable of the seed and the sewer, it was a parable, not literal. And all his listeners knew that was a parable, not literal.

For the most part, the ancient Hebrews were not stupid. They didn't have as much scientific knowledge as we have today, but they weren't stupid enough to believe that myth was supposed to be taken as literal. Rather, it's modern fundies who are stupid enough to believe that.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
Oh, and here's a quote from Joseph Campbell to define "myth" for you:

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words."​

 

HillsboroMom

Active member
If the story of Adam and Eve were about some actual guy named Adam and an actual woman named Eve, it would be meaningless. So what if some woman ate an apple and gave it to a guy and he ate? What does that have to do with me? Who cares?

The fact that this is NOT literal is the ONLY thing that gives it meaning and worth to us today. Adam and Eve aren't just "some people from thousands of years ago." They are you and me. They are us, every time we pluck the apple of temptation and eat it. Every time we disobey gods' commandments.

The ancients believed that, and that's why it was written down.

The Jews at the time of Jesus knew that, and that's why they quoted it.

Most Christians get it. A majority of us, at least. The Christians who are part of the traditional Church, who follow the succession of the apostles -- that is, Catholics and mainstream Protestants -- all understand this, and teach it accordingly. We disagree on specific points of theology, but we all understand Scripture the way God wrote it, and the way Jesus taught it.

This is the TRADITIONAL understanding of Scripture.

"Christians" who claim that it's supposed to be literal? That is not traditional. It's a new teaching. It started in the late 1800s, by two self-proclaimed "pastors" who had no formal training and no authority from any church. They started the fundamentalist movement, and it spread like a plague across the US and into other parts of the world.

Make no mistake, their teaching is NOT "traditional." It is not what Jesus believed and taught. It is not what the Church has taught for 2,000 years.

If you want to believe what they teach, by all means, go ahead. I will defend your right to believe it. But don't pretend that what you believe is "more Christian" than what Jesus himself believed, and what a majority of Christians believe, and what all of Christendom believed for most of its existence, and what ALL Judaism believed for its entire existence.

Believe what you will. For me and my house, we shall worship the Lord.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Well, first, it depends on who you mean as "the author(s) of Genesis," and second, you're asking two different questions.

First: if you're referring to the ancient Hebrew scribes, then
Yes, the Hebrew scribes, not God.

(1) I believe that they believed the earth was flat, and covered with a solid dome.
Agreed.

(2) I don't think they believed that the earth was created in six 24-hour days. I think even then, they knew the "it was morning and it was evening, the ___th day" was completely poetic, not intended to be taken literally. But they probably DID believe that earth was relatively recent. They certainly had no idea that it was billions of years old, as we know now, but we know that Hebrews at the time of Jesus didn't take the six 24-hour periods literally, so I think it's safe to assume that the Hebrew scribes knew that, too.
How do we know Hebrews at the time of Jesus did not take it literally? That is quite a surprise to me.

Look, according to Genesis 1, the sun and stars aren't created until 3 days after "light" is created. What is the source of this "light" if not the sun and stars? Anyone with even a little common sense and observation would know immediately that this is not literal, nor was it intended to be taken that way.
I disagree. I think they saw a distinction between sunlight and daylight. There can still be daylight when the sun is behind clouds. Remember, they believed the sun was pretty small - perhaps the size of baseball. Why would anyone think something that small could illuminate the entire world?

For the most part, the ancient Hebrews were not stupid. They didn't have as much scientific knowledge as we have today, but they weren't stupid enough to believe that myth was supposed to be taken as literal. Rather, it's modern fundies who are stupid enough to believe that.
Of course they were not stupid. But they believed what they could see and what made sense to them in their world view. Yes, they saw it as myth, but I do not think it necessarily follows that they did not think it was literally true too.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Oh, and here's a quote from Joseph Campbell to define "myth" for you:

“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth--penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words."
In that case, I would say Genesis was not recorded as myth, because the scribes - in my opinion - believed it was true.

If the story of Adam and Eve were about some actual guy named Adam and an actual woman named Eve, it would be meaningless. So what if some woman ate an apple and gave it to a guy and he ate? What does that have to do with me? Who cares?
Who care is anyone who is curious about why life is hard, why childbirth is so painful for women, why snakes have no legs and why people are ashamed to be naked. Myths were understood to explain why the world is how it is.

The fact that this is NOT literal is the ONLY thing that gives it meaning and worth to us today. Adam and Eve aren't just "some people from thousands of years ago." They are you and me. They are us, every time we pluck the apple of temptation and eat it. Every time we disobey gods' commandments.

The ancients believed that, and that's why it was written down.
So why is Jesus' genealogy traced to Adam?

"Christians" who claim that it's supposed to be literal? That is not traditional. It's a new teaching. It started in the late 1800s, by two self-proclaimed "pastors" who had no formal training and no authority from any church. They started the fundamentalist movement, and it spread like a plague across the US and into other parts of the world.
They were seventh day adventists I think, so really quite an obscure group. There is a good article on it here:

I strongly suspect a lot of modern creationist leaders are motivated by money. It has become very lucrative. Look at how much the guys in the Discovery Institute make (up to $250k), and Ken Ham and his family make millions every year between them. A long, long way from how Jesus lived.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
How do we know Hebrews at the time of Jesus did not take it literally? That is quite a surprise to me.
We know because the rabbis wrote a lot about it. I would recommend you ask some modern Jews about how their Scripture is understood, and how long it has been understood that way. Take a few classes at your local synagogue, or take classes in the history of Judaism at a community college.


Why would anyone think something that small could illuminate the entire world?
Because they noticed that when it fell below the horizon, it got dark.

Many ancient cultures noticed this, and knew that the Sun was responsible for all of the light during the day. This was observable and obvious, long before science came along and told us about heliocentricity.

There are writings in the Talmud about the many, many meanings of the stories in Hebrew Scripture, and not one of them talk about the literal. They all discuss the deeper meanings -- the different possible allegorical meanings, what the symbolism might mean.

They don't always agree about which metaphor is correct, but they all agree that it isn't literal.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
Because they noticed that when it fell below the horizon, it got dark.
Genesis suggests the sun, moon and stars are there to aid telling the date and time. It gets dark when daylight ends. God put the sun on a course so that it descends at the days end so people can judge the time.

Many ancient cultures noticed this, and knew that the Sun was responsible for all of the light during the day. This was observable and obvious, long before science came along and told us about heliocentricity.
How do you know what the beliefs were about the sun when Genesis was written? Our best source is Genesis, which suggests otherwise.

There are writings in the Talmud about the many, many meanings of the stories in Hebrew Scripture, and not one of them talk about the literal. They all discuss the deeper meanings -- the different possible allegorical meanings, what the symbolism might mean.
The Talmud dates from after the destruction of the second temple, while Genesis is certain pre-Exile. Judaism changed vastly in that time, like to monotheism, for one thing. It would be risky indeed to draw much of a conclusion from the Talmud.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I don't think they believed that the earth was created in six 24-hour days. I think even then, they knew the "it was morning and it was evening, the ___th day" was completely poetic, not intended to be taken literally.
I echo a number of TP's criticisms... the author(s) responsible for the Gen 1:1-2:3 creation account (that of 2:4b-3:24 is another matter entirely) have historical concerns and, as I pointed out to you several weeks ago here, there is a demythologizing approach to how the author(s) are reworking Egyptian and Babylonian creation stories... the framework of a six-day creation is among those tendencies. Appealing to poetic license only serves to rescue these texts from containing factual errors, which is typically driven by an apologetic agenda.

But they probably DID believe that earth was relatively recent. They certainly had no idea that it was billions of years old, as we know now, but we know that Hebrews at the time of Jesus didn't take the six 24-hour periods literally,
What is your evidence for this claim?

Look, according to Genesis 1, the sun and stars aren't created until 3 days after "light" is created. What is the source of this "light" if not the sun and stars? Anyone with even a little common sense and observation would know immediately that this is not literal, nor was it intended to be taken that way.
We know that the daily cycle of a light sky is caused by the sun (and concomitantly the dark sky by our side of the planet rotating out of the path of its light), but the ancients did not... the sun, moon and stars to them were simply luminaries of various intensities that adorned the sky dome, the brightest one governing the cycle of daylight, which they viewed as distinct from it. The interrelatedness of the sun and the light background against which it is set from the vantage point of an earth-bound observer is not common sense, it is information we have acquired with growing knowledge of the universe and how it works.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 
You find a book just sitting there. No title. No dewey decimal number to tell you what type of book it is. It could be a novel. It could be a phone book. It could be a blank journal waiting to be filled. How do you decide what kind of book it is?

Well, you open it up and read it, silly.

If the first line is, "Once upon a time...." then you know instantly what type of book you're reading.

You know that it's a fairy tale. You know that the author wants you to know that it's a fairy tale. The author has giving you all you need to know about what type of book it is, with those 4 words. You and the author have established a code language. It's not exactly a "secret code," because there's no "secret." It's a simple code, and one which you and the author both agree on, instantly. The author is not going to recite a historically accurate occurrence. If there are dragons and trolls in the book, you aren't going to say, "Wow, this author sure is stupid to think that dragons and trolls really exist." That would be as silly as it would be for you to believe that dragons and trolls really exist, just because they're written about in the book.

Genesis 1 begins, "Once upon a time."

The language of Genesis is that of myth. One doesn't even really need to understand ancient Hebrew to get it. I understood it decades before I learned Hebrew, though when I did learn Hebrew in my 20s it became that much more obvious, in the original language, that it was myth.

To say that the Bible is myth does not deny its divine authorship. On the contrary, symbolic speech is evidence that we are more likely looking at divine truth. After all, do we not believe that Jesus used parables, and that Jesus is God? Jesus used parables, BECAUSE Jesus is God. That's how his disciples knew he was God, and how WE know he's God.

To deny the mythic quality of Scripture is as heretical as to deny the truth of it. It's like complaining that Shakespeare's plays are historically inaccurate, or arguing with historians and believing that Shakespeare's plays are historically accurate. Both are silly, and both show that you're completely missing the point of Shakespeare's plays.

Both atheists, who deny Scripture, and certain Christians who insist on taking it literally, are equally missing the point of Scripture, and have abandoned the words the Author gave us. They're both equally wrong. And they don't even realize it.
"Once upon a time" is, I agree, a bit of a give away, but consider this, if we were completely ignorant of Sherlock Holmes, would we conclude it is fiction or fact on just a reading? To determine if writings are fact or fiction (or a mixture of the two) you need evidence to support either case.

IMO the Bible contains both fact and fiction. As an example some place names and some historical figures are factual, while some time lines and events are not. Given that, what evidence is there to support the claim "Jesus existed as a real person and that he is god"? because I don't understand how you get there by claiming "Jesus used parables, BECAUSE Jesus is God".
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
if we were completely ignorant of Sherlock Holmes, would we conclude it is fiction or fact on just a reading?
That is kinda my point: you need to know the literature of the time to understand fully. Although, as I said, when I read Genesis the first time at the age of 5 or 6, before I knew anything else, it was clear to me that it was fiction. It is more clear if you are familiar with Hebrew and understand ancient literature, but it is still pretty obvious without those extra clues.


because I don't understand how you get there by claiming "Jesus used parables, BECAUSE Jesus is God".
I guess I was arguing backwards, and you're right, it doesn't make sense. Let me deconstruct and reconstruct it.

Given #1: Jesus is God. (Anyone who doesn't accept this as a given isn't going to be arguing that any part of Scripture is literally true, so they're not part of my audience at this point.)

Given #2: Jesus used parables and other allegoric language to teach his disciples and other people. We know this because of the Biblical evidence for it.

Therefore -- based on these two givens -- we know that gods use figurative speech. We can accept that statement as true, and given.

Given #4: The Bible is written by God. Again, anyone who doesn't accept this as a given is not part of my audience. If you believe that the Bible is just a book written by fallible men, then you're not going to argue that it is literally true, so there's no argument.

Ergo: The Bible, if written by God (#4) is -- at least in part -- figurative, using allegory, myth, parable, and story.

To say that the Bible is not literal doesn't mean you reject that it is "true," or that you reject that it is written by God, any more than saying Jesus used parables to teach his disciples is the same as accusing Jesus of lying.

I hope that makes more sense. And you were right that I was arguing backwards. Thanks for giving me a chance to restate it.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
What is your evidence for this claim?

I would say their counting of the years -- the fact that we're in 5781 right now -- is pretty solid evidence that they think the earth, or at least humans' existence on it, is less than 10,000 years.


The interrelatedness of the sun and the light background against which it is set from the vantage point of an earth-bound observer is not common sense, it is information we have acquired with growing knowledge of the universe and how it works.
What is your evidence of this?

To me, the fact that when the sun sets, it gets dark, seems pretty obvious to me that the sun creates the light of day. Yes, I know the ancients believed that the moon created its own light (rather than reflecting the light of the sun, as we know now), but the very fact that they called it the "lesser light" as opposed to the "greater light," I just don't accept that ancient people didn't say, "Gee, when the sun goes down, it gets dark. That must just be coincidence." Ancient people didn't understand as much as we do, but they weren't idiots.

Yes, they believed the sun was much smaller than it is. But they also believed that the world was much smaller.

Look, the Genesis story can easily be broken down as follows:
FormUse
Day #1: Light and DarknessDay #4: Day and Night
Day #2: Oceans and SkiesDay #5: Fishes and Birds
Day #3: Land and vegetationDay #6: Animals and Humans
It isn't an accident or coincidence that God happened to create things in this order, and someone wrote that down, and look, it happens to fit into a neat pattern like this.

Genesis 1 is a song that someone purposely wrote, as a song. They formed verses with a poetic shape and a refrain: "And it was morning, and it was evening, the __th Day." They weren't writing a newspaper account. They were purposely being poetical, not literal.

And yes, if you know Hebrew literature, it's easier to see that. But it's obvious even in English.
 

The Pixie

Well-known member
To me, the fact that when the sun sets, it gets dark, seems pretty obvious to me that the sun creates the light of day. Yes, I know the ancients believed that the moon created its own light (rather than reflecting the light of the sun, as we know now), but the very fact that they called it the "lesser light" as opposed to the "greater light," I just don't accept that ancient people didn't say, "Gee, when the sun goes down, it gets dark. That must just be coincidence." Ancient people didn't understand as much as we do, but they weren't idiots.

Yes, they believed the sun was much smaller than it is. But they also believed that the world was much smaller.

Look, the Genesis story can easily be broken down as follows:
FormUse
Day #1: Light and DarknessDay #4: Day and Night
Day #2: Oceans and SkiesDay #5: Fishes and Birds
Day #3: Land and vegetationDay #6: Animals and Humans
It isn't an accident or coincidence that God happened to create things in this order, and someone wrote that down, and look, it happens to fit into a neat pattern like this.

Genesis 1 is a song that someone purposely wrote, as a song. They formed verses with a poetic shape and a refrain: "And it was morning, and it was evening, the __th Day." They weren't writing a newspaper account. They were purposely being poetical, not literal.

And yes, if you know Hebrew literature, it's easier to see that. But it's obvious even in English.
But day and night were there on day one. They had to be, otherwise there cannot be day one.

What appeared on day four was the celestial markers; lights to help people track the date and time. Of course it is not coincidence that the sun disappears at dusk - that is how God chose to arrange, so we can judge whether that will be sooner or later.

And the evidence for this is simply that day and night were created on day one, and these celestial markers were not created until day four. That still fits your pattern (which had not seen before), but you need to see the things in the second column as being things that reside in the things in the first column.

AbodeResident
Day #1: Day and NightDay #4: Celestial markers
Day #2: Oceans and SkiesDay #5: Fishes and Birds
Day #3: Land and vegetationDay #6: Animals and Humans
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I would say their counting of the years -- the fact that we're in 5781 right now -- is pretty solid evidence that they think the earth, or at least humans' existence on it, is less than 10,000 years.
My apologies for the lack of clarity in my question... I was asking what your evidence was for the final comment you made before I stopped quoting, namely that Jesus' contemporaries did not believe in the literalness of the Genesis 1 creation account.

What is your evidence of this?
The biblical text which differentiates between "light" (Hebrew: or) and the various "luminaries" (Hebrew: ma'oroth) of sun, moon and stars, as well as the observation that the light sky and the sun can be distinguished from each other... the causal link between them is specialized scientific knowledge that we are imparted at an early age and thus take for granted --- this is not obvious just by looking at these entities. I have nowhere suggested the author(s) of Genesis 1 or the ancients generally were "idiots". As TP has noted, of course the descent of the sun and the advent of the dark sky are not coincidence, the former was only given rule of the light sky by the Israelite deity so it naturally must disappear to allow the darkness and its governing luminary its daily cycle. Again, however, there is no obvious causal link between these phenomena for the standpoint of an earth-bound observer ignorant of the dynamics of our solar system.

Look, the Genesis story can easily be broken down as follows:
FormUse
Day #1: Light and DarknessDay #4: Day and Night
Day #2: Oceans and SkiesDay #5: Fishes and Birds
Day #3: Land and vegetationDay #6: Animals and Humans
It isn't an accident or coincidence that God happened to create things in this order, and someone wrote that down, and look, it happens to fit into a neat pattern like this.
Of course there is parallelism between the days, but that is not an argument against taking them as literal 24-hour periods. There are also overlaps in the patterns... for example, while the firmament is named on the second day, the water bodies that come to be identified as the habitat of the fish are not named until the third day when they become distinguished from the land. The firmament made on the second day is the locus of the luminaries created on the fourth day. The first three days are primarily devoted to the fashioning of phenomena and spaces while the final three days are primarily devoted to filling these with various entities, yet vegetation is an example of the latter whose creation is placed during the former.

Genesis 1 is a song that someone purposely wrote, as a song. They formed verses with a poetic shape and a refrain: "And it was morning, and it was evening, the __th Day." They weren't writing a newspaper account. They were purposely being poetical, not literal.

And yes, if you know Hebrew literature, it's easier to see that. But it's obvious even in English.
I began studying Hebrew in the late 90s and thus have over twenty years of experience with the biblical varieties of the language. Claims that Genesis 1 is a song or poetry are wrong, imposing modern ideas about these genres (such as the refrain) onto this ancient text. In its own cultural context, Genesis is straightforward narrative... the author(s) use the vav consecutive throughout, which is the basic building block of Hebrew narrative, even at the beginning of verse 27 whose second and third clauses are arguably the only poetry in the chapter, the verse often set apart and broken down by stich to show this. Is the chapter highly stylized and repetitious to a degree? Certainly, but so are the genealogies later in the book and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
My apologies for the lack of clarity in my question... I was asking what your evidence was for the final comment you made before I stopped quoting, namely that Jesus' contemporaries did not believe in the literalness of the Genesis 1 creation account.
I guess my only evidence for this is the fact that Jews weren't idiots.

The name "Adam" means "the man."

Anyone who reads a story about a man named "man" is going to know that it's not supposed to be taken literally.

Anyone who doesn't get it must be the biggest dunce on the planet.

Now, if you don't know that the name "Adam" means "the man" in Hebrew, you can be forgiven for not getting it, because, as I've said, it's not as obvious if you don't know Hebrew.

But Jesus' contemporaries would have known Hebrew, and this would have been clear and obvious to them.


The biblical text which differentiates between "light" (Hebrew: or) and the various "luminaries" (Hebrew: ma'oroth) of sun, moon and stars,....
But those aren't different words.

ma- is a prefix meaning from or of.
-oth is a suffix indicating that it is plural.

I don't know what translation you're using that translates "ma'or" as "luminary." The NIV, the KJV, and the RSV all translate "ma'or" as "light." I also checked several other translations that all had "light." I have no idea what you're reading that would translate it as "luminary."

Anyone who knows Hebrew would know that those are the same word. English translators knew that, and used the same word, "light," as a translation.


as well as the observation that the light sky and the sun can be distinguished from each other...
Except that this is absolutely false.

The observation is that when the sun is not out, it is dark. Even when it hides behind a cloud, the skies grow darker. Granted, it's still lighter than night time, but it is darker than when the sun is not hiding behind a cloud. There is clear, observational evidence that light in the sky IS connected to the presence of the sun. This was clear to medieval peasants who thought sun could be eaten up by monsters. It is not based on science, but on simple observation.


I began studying Hebrew in the late 90s and thus have over twenty years of experience with the biblical varieties of the language. Claims that Genesis 1 is a song or poetry are wrong, imposing modern ideas about these genres (such as the refrain) onto this ancient text. In its own cultural context,
(1) I've been teaching Hebrew longer than you've been studying it.
(2) I've been studying Hebrew for over 50 years.
(3) I can find at least a dozen Hebrew experts who will tell you that Genesis 1 is a song.
(4) This is not "imposing a modern idea onto an ancient text." On the contrary, insisting that it is literal is imposing a modern idea onto the ancient text.
(5) I would strongly suggest you request your money back from anyone you have paid for your Hebrew instruction. You have been swindled.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I guess my only evidence for this is the fact that Jews weren't idiots.
In other words you have no evidence whatsoever... you can't point to, for example, a text found at Qumran that supports your particular claim about what Jews around the turn of the common era believed about the days of Genesis 1.

The observation is that when the sun is not out, it is dark. Even when it hides behind a cloud, the skies grow darker. Granted, it's still lighter than night time, but it is darker than when the sun is not hiding behind a cloud. There is clear, observational evidence that light in the sky IS connected to the presence of the sun. This was clear to medieval peasants who thought sun could be eaten up by monsters. It is not based on science, but on simple observation.
As a light-bearing entity, clearly the sun does have an affect on the overall intensity of "light in the sky" as you here put it, but as you yourself admit it is still lighter than night time when the sun is obscured... in fact, much lighter, and therein lies the observational evidence you keep trying to dispute. If the sun is hiding behind cloud cover and the backing sky is still, relative to night, light, from a strictly observational standpoint they are distinct from each other, just as the author(s) of Genesis convey.

(1) I've been teaching Hebrew longer than you've been studying it.
(2) I've been studying Hebrew for over 50 years.
...
(5) I would strongly suggest you request your money back from anyone you have paid for your Hebrew instruction. You have been swindled
I certainly hope none of your students post or lurk on CARM to see this. You may very well have been studying Hebrew for over fifty years or teach it in some sort of lay church setting, but it's obvious you have not progressed beyond a rudimentary stage of understanding the language. If you think you can school me in Hebrew, ma'am, you are sorely mistaken... but I'd be more than happy to point out a few of your errors for the purpose of educating you and anyone who happens to be reading this exchange.

The name "Adam" means "the man."

Anyone who reads a story about a man named "man" is going to know that it's not supposed to be taken literally.

Anyone who doesn't get it must be the biggest dunce on the planet.

Now, if you don't know that the name "Adam" means "the man" in Hebrew, you can be forgiven for not getting it, because, as I've said, it's not as obvious if you don't know Hebrew.
First off, I have absolutely no idea why you brought 'Adam' into our conversation, which has been restricted to the proper interpretation of Genesis 1. As a proper name it doesn't occur without dispute in the Masoretic Text until the end of chapter 4... the three verses in the garden narrative pointed by the Masoretes to indicate a proper name (2:20; 3:17, 21) are disputed, which you should know if you can navigate the critical apparatus of BHS. Secondly, אדם (adam) does not mean "the man" but simply "man" --- the definite form of the word is האדם (ha'adam), found for example at 1:27 with the indefinite form of the word appearing in the previous verse. In both cases, these are references to humanity in general.

But those aren't different words.

ma- is a prefix meaning from or of.
-oth is a suffix indicating that it is plural.

I don't know what translation you're using that translates "ma'or" as "luminary." The NIV, the KJV, and the RSV all translate "ma'or" as "light." I also checked several other translations that all had "light." I have no idea what you're reading that would translate it as "luminary."

Anyone who knows Hebrew would know that those are the same word. English translators knew that, and used the same word, "light," as a translation.
They are not the same word. Since you appeal first to the NIV, אור (or) is assigned number 240 in the Goodrick/Kohlenberger system of HECOT while מאור is assigned number 4401. They are also listed separately in the standard lexicon used within the academy (HALOT 1.24-25; 539) --- if you look up this second word there you'll find under section 2. luminous body the definition luminary, followed by occurrences in both the Hebrew Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, including in the first case Gen 1:14-16 where the word is found five times. English translations avoid it because its use in reference to light-bearing entities is archaic... I used it to bring forth the difference in the underlying Hebrew undetectable in English translation --- the author(s) of Genesis 1 are careful to distinguish the two words and their referents. After creating the sun, moon and stars, the deity places them in the firmament to shine, to rule over the day and the night, and finally to separate between the light (אור) and the darkness. The sun as ruling celestial entity over the day is no more the cause of daylight than the moon as the ruling celestial entity over the night is the cause of darkness... these light-bearing entities are distinct form these phenomena named back on the first day. Incidentally, while the preposition מן (min) is sometimes prefixed to nouns where the nun assimilates, the vocalization is typically hireq (mi-) or tsere (me-) --- in any case, מאור is not the word אור prefixed with -מ as you have erroneously claimed, confusing how words can be built up from their roots with the grammatical features themselves.

I can find at least a dozen Hebrew experts who will tell you that Genesis 1 is a song.
Very well, in your next post I'd like to see a dozen such citations, keeping in mind that a "Hebrew expert" is a Hebrew linguist or Hebrew Bible scholar with a PhD in their field of study... I have no interest in popular books or devotional material, please supply peer-reviewed academic sources only. Good luck with that assignment...

In the meantime, you snipped everything in my final paragraph after "In its own cultural context..." and failed to respond to it. Here it is again:

In its own cultural context, Genesis is straightforward narrative... the author(s) use the vav consecutive throughout, which is the basic building block of Hebrew narrative, even at the beginning of verse 27 whose second and third clauses are arguably the only poetry in the chapter, the verse often set apart and broken down by stich to show this. Is the chapter highly stylized and repetitious to a degree? Certainly, but so are the genealogies later in the book and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible.

I don't doubt that you have some familiarity with Hebrew (though certainly not to my level despite your grandiose claim)... in fact, I suspect you ignored what I've restored above precisely because you know just enough to realize it poses a serious challenge to your claim --- the vav consecutive is extremely atypical of poetry/song, but is the syntactical foundation of all Hebrew prose conveying actions in the past. It is found over forty times in the chapter from verses 3 through 31. We are unmistakably dealing with narrative here, your continued protests to the contrary notwithstanding...

Kind regards,
Jonathan


Works cited:
Elliger, K. and W. Rudolf (eds). Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997.
Koehler, Ludwig and Walter Baumgartner (eds). The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. 2 vols. Brill: 2001.
Kohlenberger, John R. III and James A. Swanson. The Hebrew English Concordance to the Old Testament with the New International Version. Zondervan, 1998.
 
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Dizerner

Well-known member
If the first line is, "Once upon a time...." then you know instantly what type of book you're reading.

In the beginning does not equate to once upon a time for me. It sounds a lot more authoritative.

Not that I take the creation description woodenly literally, I don't. But it is meant to convey that something made everything.
 

HillsboroMom

Active member
..... אור (or) is assigned number 240 in the Goodrick/Kohlenberger system .....
I'm not going to quote your entire post, because it is clear that you and I studied Hebrew from vastly different sources, and for vastly different reasons.

Most of my Hebrew education is from a Jewish perspective. I did spend 3 years in a Christian seminary, and learned enough about the Christian interpretations of Scripture to understand what you are saying. I had already learned enough Hebrew at that point to know that I disagreed with most of it. Christians tend to try to put things into texts that just aren't there. They like to twist the text to say something to support what they already believe, rather than let the text speak for itself.

As I've said many times, you are welcome to your faith. I wish you the best in your path, as you continue your studies.

It seems pointless for us to continue this discussion, because I don't think I'm going to change your mind, and you're certainly not going to change mine.

For you to pretend that your interpretation is "better" than mine, however, would be insulting if it weren't so laughable. It's like a man trying to explain to a woman what it's like to get a period. Or a bird trying to teach a fish how to swim. Sorry, honey. Like I said, you're welcome to believe what you want, but if you're still using numbers to label your words -- whether it's the G/K system or the Strongs system or whatever system you want to use -- you aren't even close to the same level that I am. I grew out of using such systems when I sold my flashcards about 30 years ago.
 

En Hakkore

Well-known member
I'm not going to quote your entire post, because it is clear that you and I studied Hebrew from vastly different sources, and for vastly different reasons.

Most of my Hebrew education is from a Jewish perspective. I did spend 3 years in a Christian seminary, and learned enough about the Christian interpretations of Scripture to understand what you are saying. I had already learned enough Hebrew at that point to know that I disagreed with most of it. Christians tend to try to put things into texts that just aren't there. They like to twist the text to say something to support what they already believe, rather than let the text speak for itself.

As I've said many times, you are welcome to your faith. I wish you the best in your path, as you continue your studies.

It seems pointless for us to continue this discussion, because I don't think I'm going to change your mind, and you're certainly not going to change mine.

For you to pretend that your interpretation is "better" than mine, however, would be insulting if it weren't so laughable. It's like a man trying to explain to a woman what it's like to get a period. Or a bird trying to teach a fish how to swim. Sorry, honey. Like I said, you're welcome to believe what you want, but if you're still using numbers to label your words -- whether it's the G/K system or the Strongs system or whatever system you want to use -- you aren't even close to the same level that I am. I grew out of using such systems when I sold my flashcards about 30 years ago.
Your reply is more or less what I expected it to be... an attempt to salvage your earlier claim to superior (here toned down somewhat and referred to as "different") knowledge of Hebrew without addressing one single element in my post related to the language, even to meet your own self-imposed ability to cite a dozen "experts" in defense of your position. You stand corrected on the several erroneous assertions you made in your previous post, whether you ever acknowledge this publicly or not, and your position stands refuted on the basis of the prose literary form of Genesis 1.

Now, as to your erroneous assumptions about my position in your most recent post... I abandoned the G/K system about fifteen years ago --- it was invoked based on your reference to the NIV (an atrocious and evangelically-biased translation, by the way) for your benefit since that seemed to be the level you would be most comfortable with. I moved quickly to HALOT, which is the standard Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon within the academy, which is the context I am coming from --- rest assured that if my Hebrew (or Aramaic or Greek, which languages I also know) wasn't top notch I wouldn't have two graduate-level degrees and currently hold a research position at a university in the field of biblical studies. Furthermore, I have nowhere here characterized my engagement with Christian ideas in terms of "faith" --- I am epistemologically agnostic and follow a praxis-based form of Christianity rooted in the historical Jesus' ethic of love for neighbor and concern for the poor and oppressed.

From what I've read of your posts over the months, you gravitate toward the liberal/progressive end of Christianity, for which position I retain some sympathy as it was my own prior to about fifteen years ago... it therefore gave me no pleasure to compose my strongly-worded response to you yesterday, but I stand by it and what I've written above. While the social aims of progressive forms of Christianity resonate with me, I find their interpretations of biblical texts often deficient since they are unconvincing and apologetically-driven attempts to retain some level of divine inspiration for the collection... reading Genesis 1 "poetically" is a classic example of this approach.

Kind regards,
Jonathan
 
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