Spoke to Kent Hovind!


(John Harshman) #41

Did they? Back when the Hebrew was written? And do Greek translations of Genesis include the article there?


(George) #42

The first chapters of Genesis appear to have a strong Persian contact… so at the very least, the Hebrew priests were familiar with Indo-European grammars.

I dont have access to the Greek at the moment. That is an interesting question!

And lets not forget that the Philistines, present in the Levant as early as 1130 bce, were quite Greek-ish!

It would be very surprising if the priestly clans didnt have several family members (each) - - fluent in the Philistine language… if only just to speak with informants about Philistine war plans!


(John Harshman) #43

How Greekish were they? What I see is that they may have originally spoken an Indo-European language, though the evidence for that is sparse, but that fairly early they adopted a West Semitic language.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #44

@deuteroKJ does Hebrew have definitive articles?


(John Harshman) #45

And if so are they habitually used in situations where English would use them?


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #46

@John_Harshman it is genuinely silly to care so much about the English translation ignoring the meaning of the Hebrew.


(John Mercer) #47

How many of the points in your exercise can be translated in multiple ways from the original Hebrew?


(John Harshman) #48

I agree. But you’re the one who brought up your preferred English translation. I merely pointed out what it means. If you want to argue that the Hebrew means something different, by all means do so.


(Guy Coe) #49

My exercise wasn’t written in Hebrew. They are, however, good points to notice in forming an interpretation. Thanks for asking.


(Kenneth Turner) #50

Yes, and it often works quite similar to English (at least closer than the Greek article does). I haven’t read the thread, but it seems we’re discussing Gen 3:20? If so, the Hebrew does not use the article (or its equivalent) in the phrase “(the) mother of all (the) living” (the phrase, called a construct phrase, is either all definite or indefinite). (The Greek does not have it for “mother” but does for “living.”) However, this does not then mean necessarily that it is indefinite (i.e., “a mother of a living”). Context and other tools must be used. It seems to me that adding “the” in English is most natural (but see KJV, NRSV), but still leaves the interpretation a bit open.

Another point of interest is the use of the so-called Perfect verb form for the existential verb (the verb is missing in the Greek, which is not uncommon). This is usually (but not always) rendered with past tense…though the whole tense vs. aspect thing of verbs opens up a can of worms. See the struggle in some of the English versions: past tense “was” in most; but “is” in CEB and “would become” in NIV (cf. NLT).

Sorry I won’t have time to keep up with this thread. Too many looming deadlines and course prep.


(George) #51

@DeuteroKJ

Very nice! I appreciate the care you have used to spell out the parameters and interesting nuances!


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #52

I don’t prefer the translation. I was asking what you disputed in the translation. I dispute the use of the word “the” because the Hebrew does not actually say “THE mother of all the living.” For that reason…

Well, “the” does not part of the original text.


(Retired Professor & Minister.) #53

Joshua, your theological instincts, hermeneutical inclinations, and common sense often impress me! And this is another one of those times. I constantly remind people that the Bible records many statements and explains the thoughts of people without necessarily endorsing them.

Now that’s not at all to say that HAADAM (“the red-soil dirt-man” as my favorite Hebrew professor, a Jewish rabbi, used to say) was entirely wrong in calling the woman CHAVAH/HAVAH (“living”). Not at all! But we should keep in mind that the author of Genesis is simply explaining why Adam chose to call the woman EVE (“living”.)

We must also keep in mind that etymology is not lexicography. (That is one of my obsessions. I should trademark the slogan.) Just as nobody would necessarily expect to draw formal definitions (much less good technical translations) from modern English words like “butterfly” [“a fly made of butter” or “a fly that lives on butter”], we can’t go overboard on the word which Adam chose as a name for his wife.

By the way, do NOT assume that the “H-” at the beginning of the Hebrew word HAVAH is the definite article (“the”). This “H” in the English rendering is NOT the same transliteration-H that appears in HAADAM (the man.) That is why I prefer to transliterate Eve’s name as CHAVVAH or KHAVVAH, so that the initial letter is emphasized as more like the hacking sound one makes in clearing one’s throat—not the “soft H” breathy sound (an aspirant) of HAADAM which indicates “the”. So the word by itself doesn’t mean “the Eve” or “the living female one”. [By the way, if someone unfamiliar with the language looked at the Hebrew text, they might think that the first letter of HAADAM and CHAVVAH were the very same letter—but they aren’t. What may at first look identical reveals on closer examination to differ by a small space between two of the ink-strokes in the initial H of HAADAM. And that makes it a “the” and not the “CH” hacking sound!]

I don’t see it as rebellious. Indeed, verse 20 could be nothing more than the author’s explanatory comment to remind the reader that Adam had before the Fall named the woman (his wife)—just as he also gave appropriate names to all of the animals (Genesis 2:20.) There is no evidence that Adam gave Eve a new name after the Fall. Because the previous sentences have described Eve’s childbearing burdens, it is appropriate that the author reminds the reader that even though Eve still hasn’t yet born any children, that role as mother to Imago Dei humans had been known to all from the beginning!

I might have preferred “Imago-Dei-creature life” to capture what I glean fromr the context but I don’t expect that of Hovind or anybody else. Translation is about the best approximation of meaning in the target language which retains sufficient clarity without undue wordiness.

Yes, this is yet another example where hyper-literalness would lead one astray.

Is Eve the mother of all living animals, living plants, including living trees, including the Tree of Life? No. [Of course, the semantic fields for life and live in ancient Hebrew were very different than our semantic fields for such words in English today. So in a technical linguistic sense, my rhetorical question is flawed. Yet, it really doesn’t matter for my purposes because the answer to that question is no.]

By the way, if Adam was created de novo, he may not at that time know about other contemporary hominids. (Cain went off and married one—as well as founded a city, which requires more than just an immediate family—so Eve wasn’t the mother of those contemporary hominids. I call them hominids in order to avoid the complex tangle of whether or not they were Homo sapiens per se and also the sometimes incendiary question of whether they were non-Imago-Dei. Yes, many claim that Cain married a sister but I’ve covered on several occasions the problems with that idea, such as the necessity of a mark for those who otherwise wouldn’t recognize Cain. If potential avengers of Abel’s death knew the family well enough to know about Abel, why wouldn’t they be able to recognize Cain? Why was a mark necessary?)

NOTE: Translation and paraphrase committees have sometimes argued whether Eve “was” versus “would become” the mother of all living. If I recall correctly, NASB, NIV, and ESV and most other modern translations go with something like “was the mother of all living”. The exegetical arguments from both can get quite technical. However, even in English we don’t always apply such temporal indicators in a “technically correct” manner. For example:

“U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin.”

That is an entirely acceptable statement. Yet, at the time Lincoln was born, he wasn’t a president. That doesn’t make it a false statement. And even native English speakers sometimes struggle over how best to apply verbal auxiliaries to statements with complex relative time considerations. To cut to the chase: Bible readers should be cautious about dissecting relative time details from the English text to assume what is stated in the Hebrew text. Remember: translation is always about achieving the best possible approximation of the original text’s meaning. (If professional translators struggle to choose the best possible wording–even though they know that some details will be left behind in the process—readers of the translated text should be all the more cautious about jumping to conclusions without consulting multiple detailed commentaries.)

Some assert that Adam’s reference to living was meant in an Imago Dei (image of God) “spiritual sense” rather than biological. I’ll not explore the arguments here but I’ll just say that such nuances are not at all foreign to the rabbinical literature, where man is the only creature able to be “spiritually alive” toward God. (Warning: I’m not at all an expert on the rabbinical literature. I have no doubt that some of my Jewish colleagues would strongly object to my using such English language terminology, “spiritually alive”, which is too burdened by modern connotations which would be foreign to the Biblical text and quite anachronistic. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this forum, I think it is a reasonable concession to reader comprehension and being concise. This is not an AAR/SBL conference paper.)

Some would assume that the lack of the explicit definite article prefix “H-” before the word EM (“mother”) would thereby require the indefinite article (“a”). [By the way, Jehovah’s Witnesses often makes these kinds of arguments involving the English uses of articles, forgetting or ignoring the fact that other languages use their article-equivalents in different ways. For example, in the Greek New Testament, a hyper-literal translation of many references to God would lead to “The God”, yet most English translation correctly avoid using the definite article!] Moreover, there is actually a third option for this “the mother” versus “a mother” situation: simply “mother”. That is, I would seriously be tempted to translate the phrase as “she would become mother of all the living.” This rendering recognizes that the English language preference for applying an article of some sort (whether “the” or “a”) does not necessarily apply in Hebrew. Nevertheless, some may find “she would become mother of all the living” awkward in English. So most translation committees have supplied an article. A few others have not. (Young’s Literal Translation says: “And the man calleth his wife’s name Eve: for she hath been mother of all living.” Notice that in addition to no article, the tense rendering differs—for reasons that concur what I was explaining about relative time considerations. And there is no article before the word “living”.)

One other observation is noteworthy concerning “mother of all living.” Do you remember what Saddam Hussein and his “press secretary” (Baghdad Bob) said about the impending confrontation with the United States? He called it “the mother of all battles.” How can battles have a mother? This is a common Middle Eastern idiom for referring to importance and magnitude. Now I’m not a historical linguist of Ancient Near Eastern languages, so I don’t know how far back this type of idiom can be traced. Yet I do wonder if similar wording in Genesis has idiomatic implications in addition to the literal ones. A lot of my library is in storage and I must soon leave for an appointment so I’ve not even done a quick search online. Yet, even if there is not documented evidence to support including idiomatic notions, we must always keep in mind when dealing with ancient languages that a text may contain idioms which were familiar to the original audience but which are entirely lost to us today.

{Disclaimer: I am not a Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern Languages & Cultures nor in Hebrew & Cognate Languages. I am also retired and largely outside of the current dialogue. Others are far more qualified to write on this topic. }


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #54

I like this point immensely. I will probably be using it going forward. Thank you @AllenWitmerMiller :smile:.


(Retired Professor & Minister.) #55

“U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin.”

Notice that if some linguistically-naive scholar of the distant future were to dig up a document containing the aforementioned sentence about Abraham Lincoln, he might erroneously state:

“From this newly discovered text we can logically assume that in the ancient nation of the United States of America, the title and status of “President” was apparently conferred at birth, probably through an hereditary line of succession similar to that of a prince.”


(George) #56

@AllenWitmerMiller :
You wrote: “Cain went off and married one [a hominid] - - as well as founded a city, which requires more than just an immediate family—so Eve wasn’t the mother of those contemporary hominids. I call them hominids in order to avoid the complex tangle of whether or not they were Homo sapiens per se and also the sometimes incendiary question of whether they were non-Imago-Dei.”

I certainly appreciate your caution in these matters. But I think I can safely assure you that your abundance of caution is (in this particular context) not necessary. Genesis 1, which is proposed as the first mention of the pre-Adamite humans, specifically addresses this group as Image-Bearing persons as well. So, unless “image-bearing” is something you think could even be extended to gorillas and chimpanzees, I think you can safely describe the Pre-Adamites as “humans”. This is, after all, where the writer refers to the humans with the non-personal use of the term “adam” - - i.e., not “the” Adam, but all of “adam”, as humans or humanity.

You also wrote this: “. . . many claim that Cain married a sister but I’ve covered on several occasions the problems with that idea, such as the necessity of a mark for those who otherwise wouldn’t recognize Cain. If potential avengers of Abel’s death knew the family well enough to know about Abel, why wouldn’t they be able to recognize Cain? Why was a mark necessary?”

Yes, this is a wonderful way of assessing the situation. And it is part of why I argue that the original readers of Genesis would have been jumping to these same conclusions without any special urging - - but just by the mysterious “gaps” left in a story that any ordinary narrator would have addressed. But the story is not your typical story. And it would appear that the writer didn’t want to come right out and say these things in a written document!

And the beautiful simplicity you use to describe the issue of chronology and considerations of “relative time” was quite delicious!

You wrote: “… even in English we don’t always apply such temporal queues in a “technically correct” manner. For example: “U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin.” . . . . is an entirely acceptable statement. Yet, at the time Lincoln was born, he wasn’t a president. That doesn’t make it a false statement. And even native English speakers sometimes struggle over how best to apply verbal auxiliaries to statements with complex relative time considerations. To cut to the chase: Bible readers should be cautious about dissecting relative time details from the English text to assume what is stated in the Hebrew text.”

And finally, there is this last accolade:
John_Harshman asked: "All that aside, are there grounds for assuming ‘a’, not ‘the’?

@AllenWitmerMiller responds:
“Some would assume that the lack of the explicit definite article prefix “H-” before the word EM (“mother”) would thereby require the indefinite article (“a”).” My reaction was "Wow!, I hadn’t even thought of that particular option!"


#57

First, I’m going to say that I love stories, that’s why I’m studying English language and literature, and there’s no better fanfic fuel (google fanfiction for those who don’t know) in the entirety of Bible than the story of Cain and Abel because of it’s open ended nature (indeed, there are so many modern depictions of Cain and what his curse is that I couldn’t number all of them here. Those that come to mind is World of Darkness pen and paper game where Cain is the first vampire, Supernatural tv show where he’s the general of army of demons and, most recently, in the tv show Lucifer, which is a buddy cop dramedy where Lucifer gets bored with ruling hell and goes to LA where he opens a night club and fights crime. It makes sense in the context.) so, when I was younger even before I knew a lot about evolution, I always thought about, if there were no people around but the children of Adam and Eve, who did Cain need protection from? And, how exactly did he have children if there were no women but Eve around? I only came to one conclusion about the second part, but that was a big no no, so, in the end a twelve year old me decided that there were other people apart from Adam and Eve.

I know you’re all expecting a point but I really don’t have one. Just thought to share a bit.


(John Harshman) #58

But I don’t dispute anything in the translation, and I already said that. Apparently, you’re the one who disputes it. This is all quite confusing.

The question is what the original text means. “The” would have helped, but does Biblical Hebrew typically add it in such situations? My claim is that the most reasonable reading is that it was intended to say that Eve was the sole female ancestor of everyone. While there’s some ambiguity within which you can wedge genealogical Eve, that’s uncomfortably close in plausibility to the claim that the sun and stars were not created on day 4, that’s just when they became visible from the surface.

Cain’s wife is not relevant unless you further assume that Genesis is a unified story, the different parts of which must be reconciled.


(S. Joshua Swamidass) #59

I think most of us believe it is a unified story, as did most interpreters though history.

I thought you would have disputed “becomes.”

This view is not supported by evidence. If you look over the last 2,000 years, there are just so many readers across time and space that are independently concluding something else. Most of them are not motivated by any concerns from science because science did not even exist yet. Even in the Babylonian mythology (e.g. Enkidu), gods were making people de novo while there was a larger population around them. There is just no evidence behind your instinct here.


(John Harshman) #60

I can account for that only by the hypothesis that you expect a unified story and make excuses for the inconsistencies. But I don’t have a problem with that.

No. I don’t think it bears any weight. It certainly does nothing to support genealogical Eve as opposed to genetic Eve.

Are there? I think the vast majority of readers in the last 2,000 years have concluded that A&E were the first and only initial humans. You disagree?