Story Three: Recent Sole-Genealogical Progenitor Adam

Is this relevant? Do you think the natural reading of Genesis 2 is that those animals were not created in between Adam and Eve? Are you one of “Some”?

The “some” that would take this view are @Guy_Coe (i’m sure), John Walton, and several other OT Scholars. I think this might even be the RTB position.

The word translated “create” is “bara” in the Hebrew. It is virtually entirely absent from the second story, beginning at Genesis 2:5 ff.
Compare and contrast all you want; the two stories narrate completely different events, well-removed in time from each other.
There can be no inconsistencies between these two entirely different stories. It is a mistaken notion to try to conflate them.

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But not you, right?

How do you know all that? How do you know that there are not multiple ways to say “create”? What do you think caused the appearance of animals in Genesis 2? And why is God so confused about what sort of companion Adam needs?

It’s Adam who is gently awakened to his need. Read the original story. None of the ways to say “create” automatically mean “Poof! Viola! It’s suddenly there.” Those notions are not native to the connotations for the Hebrew verb “bara,” which refers instead to the creative, qualitative novelty of a thing, not how long it took to make it that way.

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@John_Harshman (@swamidass)

Genesis 2 is about what might almost be a laboratory setting. What happened in Eden doesnt be what the scribes think happened in the greater world.

Gen 1 says 6 days of creation… which has to be treated figuratively. All these elements in both Genesis 1 and 2 can be set aside or reinterpreted… as long as we have the bulk of humanity evolved and de novo Adam/Eve.

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Josh - John, below your post, denies he is citing the Documentary Hypothesis. But just for the record, it’s worth recording that Sailhamer comes well down the trail of similarly-minded scholarship.

The death-knell was first sounded for the Documentary hypothesis back in the 1970s (much as it was for the Neodarwinian Synthesis around the same time) arising from work done by Rolf Rendtorff, and carried on by various scholars such as Norman Whybray, John Van Seters, Norman Wagner, George Coats, and H. H. Schmid and, notably, by David Clines in Sheffield, who helped develop an entire “school” of scholarship treating the Pentateuchal text as a single literary product, with is sources deemed irrelevant (without denying that there were sources).

What is interesting is that, although the net result is that the former monolithic consensus disappeared, the question of the Pentateuch now being wide open, the Documentary Hypothesis was so entrenched that, contrary to many expectations, it failed to lie down and die decently, and still gets regarded by many as “mainstream.”

For any interested in the sociology of knowledge Clines wrote an interesting summary of the history around 12 years ago. #2, on how grand theories like the DH persist in academia, is instructive.

Why are those the two points that can’t be set aside or reinterpreted?

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I’m curious - if you arguing against that interpretation because of this issue, what is your answer to this, for your favored interpretation? In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that the original audience, in the original cultural context, would have viewed their God as a buffoon and passed down a story that made him out to be one, so any interpretation that makes him out to be one seems highly likely to be an indicator of a natural weakness of looking at it through a modern lens - regardless of which interpretation we are talking about.

There are plenty of stories around the world in which various gods are seen in a less than perfect light, and this story is no different. I would suppose that views of God changed through time, and this story preserves an earlier view. One may imagine (accent on “imagine”; I don’t know the explanation) that the text, by the time of the compilation of Genesis, had become sacred and thus major changes were not contemplated. One may reconcile the God who’s pictured there with the God one currently prefers in a variety of ways, just as Christians do today: interpret aspects of the story as untrue or allegorical; change the reading, if not the text itself, to fit; or just decline to think about it, which is a common response. I’m just going with a natural reading. Would you agree that I’m correct about what that natural reading is?

“Natural reading” is as elusive as “natural causes.” The most natural reading is that which would have occurred to the original readers, who were in a completely different thought-world from anyone today, but particularly from the context of philosophical naturalism. Any reading from that viewpoint is highly _un_natural.

And that’s why the work has to be done to recapture the worldview before attempting the interpretation.


I’m not sure I would agree. And I’m not approaching a natural reading from the context of philosophical naturalism, so I don’t know why you brought that up. But if you would explain what aspects of the original readers’ worldviews you have recaptured, and how that affects the natural reading, please continue.

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Have you read John Walton’s two books on Genesis 1-4 yet? I think you might find it very helpful.

No - it strikes me as possible but not necessarily so. In addition to Walton, a more general book on that topic is Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes - a fascinating whirlwind tour of numerous ways we bring hidden cultural assumptions to our “natural readings” of the Bible that we don’t even realize prior to being exposed to other cultures, both historical and modern, whose “natural readings” are empirically very different from ours but just as obvious to them!

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Ah - there we differ. I was absolutely sure you wouldn’t agree. But if you disagree that authroial intent and cultural context don’t provide the background for the most natural reeading of a text, then I don’t think there’s much to discuss.

To be fair, he did ask for some examples. I don’t want to assume John is completely unfamiliar with this concept, either generally or specifically with regard to the creation stories - but for anyone who is, sometimes it can be extremely hard to grasp but extremely illuminating to see a really good example or two - although what strikes someone as an extremely illuminating example may also differ from person to person.

The reference has slipped my mind, and I don’t locate it in a search. Which two books? Could you summarize an argument or two that’s relevant to the current situation?

You seem to be looking for reasons to stop talking to me. Now, it’s possible that our most natural reading would be different from another culture’s most natural reading, though that has yet to be demonstrated, but it seems more likely that what you’re talking about here is instead another culture’s acceptance of a less natural reading. Some real and relevant examples might help to clarify.

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Could you mention a few examples from that book that are directly relevant to the current discussion?