The book of Revelation was written many centuries after Genesis, so is not pertinent to what I am discussing.
The author of Revelation was a reader of Genesis in a culture nearly 2000 years closer to that of the author of Genesis (and far more directly related to it) than ours. I’d say it is at least as pertinent as anything we come up with just reading the English translation with a host of background assumptions which may be alien to author of Genesis.
But not nearly as pertinent as a reading that avoids all such assumptions.
Is your view that one cannot know anything, unless one has exhausted every other possibility under the sun?
Is it even possible to read a text without any background assumptions? Background assumptions are what determine meaning in the first place. To even understand what the word “God” means you need to bring in some background assumptions.
Thank you for that, I haven’t been able to explain that concept appropriately…also in regard to the conversation of whether God or the devil lied in those passages, this is a good point. Man did not become “fully” like God, but became “more” like God.
Thank you for this also.
No, that is not my view. I can’t really see how that question would arise from what I wrote, which was merely a reference to the likelihood that the story of Adam and Eve is based on a very ancient myth that predates Judaism.
I don’t see how. There is this character named “God” (or whatever, based on the translation), who does some stuff in the story. We can understand his actions solely in the context of what is described in the story, with no other extraneous information or assumptions.
Or we can attribute all sorts of traits to him like benevolence, omnipotence, omniscience, etc. which are not mentioned in the story at all. But then we are not reading the story on its own terms, but are just freighting in our own assumptions.
But what does the text mean when it labels a character with the name “The LORD God” (יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֗ים)? To properly translate that you need to understand what those words signify and mean. You can’t just assume “The LORD God” is some interchangeable human character name like Tom, Dick or Harry. “The LORD God” already implies some sort of title and position in the world of the story.
Furthermore, even if we’re just sticking to the context of Gen. 2-3, clearly this character named “The LORD God” is not just like any other human being. In fact, he is responsible for creating human beings in the first place. I don’t know if that automatically confers benevolence and omnipotence and everything, but it clearly makes him different in crucial attributes from Adam and Eve, for example.
Of course, he is not just another human with the same status as Adam and Eve. He created Adam and Eve, and obviously considers himself the Boss of Eden and everyone there has to do what he says. That’s all in the story.
Like you say, that does not “confer benevolence and omnipotence and everything.”
So given his powers and status as the creator of “the earth and heavens” (likely a Hebrew merism indicating “everything that exists”) including human beings, and being able to cause rain to fall down, does it make even sense to assume that he would ever feel “threatened” by human beings?
Secondly, you haven’t answered my first point, about the meaning of the term “LORD God”. Clearly if you want to understand this term properly, you have to understand the connotations that come with that term, which means studying the occurrences of that term in the entire book of Genesis at least, or better, the whole Pentateuch.
My point is that there is no “reading the story in its own terms” without consulting other sources of Hebrew literature, for these provide the context and meaning of the words used. The translators of the text into English no doubt also took these into account.
Sure, why not? Do you think powerful rulers are never afraid of those they rule over? Was Victor Frankenstein not afraid of the being he had brought to life?
In case it is not already clear, I am not convinced that this is not a story that existed long before the creation at least some of other books of the Pentateuch, and may very well belong to a religious tradition that far predates Judaism. The version that has come down to us still bears signs of the original story, including its depiction of a god still subject to human frailties and flaws, as is common in most other mythologies outside of JudeoChristianIslam.
Well, Victor Frankenstein didn’t create everything in the universe, for once. He was a limited human being who only took some pre-existing materials and manipulated its properties and powers to create something else, which he lost control over because the materials he was working had powers that he couldn’t fully control. But here, we have the LORD God of the universe, creator of heaven and earth (= everything), who obviously had the power to destroy humans if he wanted to after they disobeyed. Why did he not do that, given that he was perfectly able to kick them out of the Garden? Are you suggesting that the LORD God was powerless to kill or subjugate the human beings that he just created, if they were indeed threatening?
Furthermore, if the LORD God had to lie to prevent humans from eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good of Evil or the Tree of Life, why did he even bother putting the trees there in the first place? Your interpretation is incomplete, because it only talks about the events after the Fall, and nothing about why the LORD God created humans and the Garden and what his plan for this whole arrangement was.
First, if your goals are to distill some previous version of the story, then you actually need to do comparative work with neighboring ANE creation myths, as well as comparison with other features of the Hebrew worldview, so that you can identify which elements are likely to have been adapted from the Hebrew worldview, and which are in common with their neighbors (or forerunners). Simply “analyzing the story on its own terms” doesn’t work, because the version of the story as it is presented in the KJV (or ESV, NIV or any other translation) is the Hebrew version. Many of the terms in the story (such as יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֗ים, as well as the Tree of Life) are definitely Hebrew-specific terms and don’t make much sense apart from that context.
Second, why do you think distilling this older version of the story is important or significant? What point does it prove? After all, Jews and Christians regard this version of the story in Genesis as divinely inspired, not any pre-existing material which the author adopted to write the story as we receive it today.
Good questions. If the character of “God” in Genesis 2-3 was in fact the same god that Christians believe in, his actions and behaviour seem quite out of character.
That just further supports my claim that they are not the same person at all.
The story does not have much to say about that. Maybe there were other stories that filled in those details which have been lost to us.
I’d be very interested in knowing more about what kind of research has been done in this regard. But even from my position as a layperson, I can identify elements that clearly are not consistent with the usual Christian interpretation of this story.
That by itself would be a significant challenge to those who consider this, not just a “divinely inspired” story, but a literal historical record of things that actually happened. Such people actually exist, you may be surprised to know.
More likely that the character of God as we humans experience it is complex and not easily distillable to a simple set of rules. Christians do believe that God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent, but that doesn’t mean that God’s behavior should conform to 21st century Western conventional ideas of goodness.
Because you’re obviously interpreting the story using a different method compared to Christians. Jews presumably consider the whole Hebrew Bible. Christians consider the whole of Scripture including the Hebrew Bible and the NT. No Christian or Jew considers only Gen. 2-3 in isolation.
But people who regard this as a “literal historical record” likely won’t be troubled by the pagan parallels at all. Even for the most extreme of YECs, “literal historical record” != newspaper-like reporting of only the facts. (Not to mention that even modern newspaper reports are rarely “free of bias.”) Such people also freely admit the presence of symbolic and polemical elements in the presentation of the history, such as the Tree of Life. That doesn’t say anything against the existence of actual historical events that the story was based upon. Even if the story partially reused material from another one, who is to say that that older story wasn’t based on actual historical events?
My point is, I’m just not convinced that this way of reading Genesis that you’re advocating is going to convince anyone other than people who are already convinced that it is pure fictional myth.
It wasn’t a comment on this issue specifically. It just seems to be a pattern with you. You understand a religious claim and then question whether it really is true. You don’t have a solid counter-argument so you move on to another religious claim. When you understand that one, you question whether it could really be true. And so on, until you run out of excuses.
The actions of the character “God” in Genesis 2/3 are not those of someone who is omnipotent omnibenevolent. I do not doubt that Christians are able to overlook this issue.
Yes. That has been the point all along: That the Christian interpretation is not supported by the text alone.
Of course, that is certainly the case. “Adam” may well have been based on some real person. It would be similar to how most historians believe that Gilgamesh really existed, but don’t believe he really had a best friend who was a giant furry monster.
The Genesis story is almost entirely made up of the equivalent of giant furry monsters and the like…
I don’t see how the fact that something has not been demonstrated to be true is an “excuse” to not believe it is true. To me, it seems like a good reason to not believe it is true.
Christian interpretation is never by text alone. If a reader is not guided by the Holy Spirit, there is no understanding. Only unbelievers try to interpret by text alone, and fail. Christians rely on the Spirit of Truth for appropriate interpretation. (well, at least I do.) That said, the Word is living and changes as we change…much like science. There will never be a time when someone is accurate in saying, “that’s what it means, that’s the only meaning, that’s the only truth, there is no other way to look at it.”
John 16:13 - However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
John 14:16-17 - 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another [a]Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
1 John 4:6 - We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
I understand that.
I will again try to clarify: My intent here is to discuss how this story would be interpreted by someone who is not committed to Christianity being true, and is just objectively interpreting the text as it stands.
How a committed Christian who believes the “Holy Spirit” is guiding him in understanding the story would interpret it is of no relevance.
9 posts were split to a new topic: The Trinity and the Old Testament