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Genesis 2-3 Part 2 (RJS)

posted by Jesus Creed Admin

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Genesis 3 is one of the cornerstone passages of the Bible.  Bill Arnold in his commentary on Genesis reflects that Gen 3 starts a new subject and introduces a new character, the serpent or snake.  The significance and identity of the snake has been a subject of much reflection through the years. The picture to the right is a carving on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris depicting the temptation.  In this rendition the serpent is portrayed as a woman. In Christian and late (ca. 1st century) Jewish literature, especially apocalyptic literature, the serpent is identified as Satan.  In the New Testament this reference is oblique in one verse each in John and Romans and somewhat more clearly made in Revelation (if anything in Revelation can said to be clear). It also may be implicit in the temptation of Jesus.

But what about the text of Genesis itself? How are we to read and interpret Genesis 3?

Genesis 3 tells the story of the temptation of the man and woman to disobedience, the consequence of the disobedience, and sets the stage for the stories to follow – and ultimately for the Gospel and the work of God through Jesus.  But what of the text itself?  Again mytho-historical appears the best approach.  This is not literal history and was never intended to be.

First: The snake.  Arnold is slightly more circumspect than I might be – but it seems clear that the portrayal of the tempter as a snake is an appropriation of the common knowledge of the day, elements of local culture, to convey a theological truth.

The power of snake-imagery in the ancient world cannot be denied. Serpents were noted for their wisdom, protection, healing, and knowledge of death. … One possibility is that the mythological figure behind the serpent is Canaanite Baal, appearing in the form most tempting to ancient Israel, that of a serpent. In this theory, the Garden of Eden reflects an old Canaanite myth of a sacred grove, with a tree of life, living waters, guardians at the entrance, and especially a serpent.  Thus it is possible an ancient story has been demythologized … God has created everything, including even the insidious serpent, which some unenlightened Israelites are tempted to follow. The transformation is profound because the serpent has no special power beyond his ability to lie, trick, and confuse. But even these powers are only available to him when standing (or slithering) before humans. Before God himself his answer will be one of resolute silence (3:14-15).(p. 62-63)

Second: The trees.  Another common symbol of the ANE – “Trees were a nearly universal symbol of life in the Ancient Near East, and “trees-of-life” particularly represented the divine power responsible for fertility in plant life” (p. 58) In the Garden we have two symbols – two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – which imparts moral culpability.

Third: The temptation. With half-truths and twisted phrase Eve is tempted – they will not die, they will gain knowledge.  When the man and woman eat they lose their innocence and acquire moral culpability – an irreversible process.

Fourth: The consequence. Arnold considers the consequences of sin as descriptive rather than prescriptive.

The judgments of 3:15-19 are announcements of the consequences of their actions and those consequences are perfectly commensurate with their crimes. The ancient Israelites were unconcerned about secondary causes, and therefore all of these consequences are related directly to Yahweh God: … But in so announcing the judgments, God is describing the new circumstances of life on earth for the serpent, the woman, and the man, rather than decreeing his first and best will for them.(p. 70)

According to Arnold Genesis 2-3 does not teach original sin, but is consistent with this much later doctrine.  Genesis 3 lays the foundation for the rest of the human story when it “situates humankind’s position vis-a-vis God as one of opposition and estrangement, and gives explanation only for the common experience of all humans in alienation, guilt, and death. (73)”  Humans are alienated – and yet still have the potential for life with God.  Genesis 2-3 also does not teach the subordination of woman to man (Arnold has quite a lot to say about this).

So is the story true? The story is true in what it intends to teach. We have broken the relationship with God, innocence is irretrievable and the guilt and the consequences of guilt afflict all of humankind.  The consequences (not curses) include broken relationships with each other, and with the earth. But there is little doubt that the story incorporates ANE mythic elements. Genesis is mytho-historical. To take it first and foremost as literal-historical fact is to ignore the cultural situation, ignore the obvious literary elements, and to distort the message.

I’ve had my say – what do you think? 



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:mic

posted February 12, 2009 at 6:48 am


I agree, specifically with the comment about this being mytho-historical – a phrase I’ve not paused over before but think captures the scene well. There are still many elements here that are difficult to share with many students and laity, perhaps because of the hyper-sensitivity to the creationism debates . . . a spillover from chaps 1-2??
I recall Karl Barth, when challenged by an older woman if he thought the serpent actually spoke (my quote is inexact): “Madam, it doesn’t matter whether or not the serpent spoke. What matters is what the serpent said.”



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Rich Scheenstra

posted February 12, 2009 at 6:56 am


I often tell my congregation that the Bible contains both true stories and truth stories. For example, virtually all the stories that Jesus told were truth stories, so we shouldn’t be surprised or offended when the biblical authors tell truth stories as well as true stories. Every biblical story lies somewhere along a continuum. Jesus’ parables were along the extreme end of being truth stories. The four gospels, on the other hand, are both true stories and truth stories. The differing order of events, the different ways the parables are told, details that are created either for the flow of the story or theological emphasis, are all part of the mix that might be compared to historical fiction. It seems to me that the drastic differences between John’s gospel and the synoptics can only be explained in this way. If this pattern is true of the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, we can expect it to be true of the rest of the Bible as well.
The fact that Genesis 3 begins with a talking snake, one that is described as being “more crafty than the other animals,” thus emphasizing its animal nature as opposed to its demonic nature, signals the reader to the fact that this is meant to be a truth story (e.g. parabolic) rather than a true (i.e. factual) story. This doesn’t change one iota the fact that the story is inspired by God. Like with Jesus’ parables, we now have to discern what God is trying to teach us through the story.
I picked up Arnold’s commentary several months ago and have found it very helpful.



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Rick

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:22 am


RJS-
There seems to be little mentioned about the man’s (“Adam’s”?) role. Since much is attributed to “Adam” (man), does Arnold go into that a little more?



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ChrisB

posted February 12, 2009 at 9:59 am


“This is not literal history and was never intended to be.”
Could you defend that statement?
What justification does he offer for believing this to be non-historical?



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:03 am


Rich #2
“Bible contains both true stories and truth stories.”
I like it!



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Derek Leman

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:10 am


RJS:
Arnold said, “In this theory, the Garden of Eden reflects an old Canaanite myth of a sacred grove, with a tree of life, living waters, guardians at the entrance, and especially a serpent.”
Hmm, I’m not familiar with any myth with such specificity as this sentence claims. I am a tad rusty on my ANE mythology, but this sentence strikes me as saying more than we really know. I have a good number of ANE resources and books. Any references on this sentence. It makes a neat package, but is it based on anything?
You said, “To take it first and foremost as literal-historical fact is to ignore the cultural situation, ignore the obvious literary elements, and to distort the message.”
I think you have overstated your case. I have no dog in this fight and I am open to discover in the world to come a great many things. But what certainty do we have about the “literalness” of this story? Talking snakes don’t seem literal, but beyond that obvious fact, your points seem overstated.
To take the story literally overlooks the cultural element? That assumes there is some cultural element about sacred groves with magical serpents, but I am waiting for a reference. Obvious literary elements? These have nothing to do with fiction vs. history. History has literary elements just as fiction does (a la Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative). Distort the message? If the story is literal, I don’t see how the message is distorted.
Derek Leman



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BOB

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:38 am


While on the topic of the serpent, how might this passage be understood?
Numbers 21:6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, ?We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.? So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, ?Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.? 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.



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dopderbeck

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:40 am


Well… it’s not quite that simple, right? Gen. 2 opens with a toledot clause, which signifies a “lineage” or “account” (as I understand it — I don’t know Hebrew at all). “Man” is made into the personal name “Adam” in Ch. 4 and then is connected to a geneological line of other personal names. Those geneologies are picked up throughout the OT and in the NT. And, of course, “Adam” is highlighted in Paul’s theology, apparently as an individual person.
So, I think we have multiple overlapping exegetical hermeuentical issues here:
– what did the sources (presumably an oral tradition or traditions stretching back to Egypt and Mesopotamia) underlying Gen. 2 understand and intend those stories to mean;
– what did the Yahwist author / community that first encoded this oral tradition “intend” Gen. 2 to mean;
– what did the redacting community that compiled the Priestly and Yahwist traditions in Gen. 1 and 2 into a canonical text intend and understand it to mean;
– what did the Apostolic authors of the NT literature referring to the canonical Hebrew scriptures intend and understand about their use of the Hebrew scriptures.
I would add at least one more: what did / does the Holy Spirit intend for this text to mean as inspired scripture?
I’m becoming more and more convinced that seeking out an individual, unified “authorial intent” isn’t really all that helpful with this sort of text.



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Darren King

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:42 am


ChrisB,
I’m not sure where the disconnect is for you. Genre studies of comparative ANE literature/worldviews suggest people of the time did not assume a descriptive text like Genesis was meant to be a fact-for-fact, scientific description of actual cosmic events. Why? Because such thinking and categories just didn’t exist then. It might look like an obvious fact-for-fact account to you – but that’s an anachronistic back-reading based on your cultural inheritance as a 21st century, post-Enlightenment westerner. And secondly, when we try and read the Genesis account like a fact-for-fact account, it just doesn’t line up with what we now know about the forming of the universe, geology, biology, etc.



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm


Darren #9 (or anyone else)
Could you list the top 2 or 3 things in Gen 1-3 that you believe just don’t line up with what we know from science? I’m just trying to get some specifics because there are a lot of generalities being discussed on these threads. Hard for me to really dig in. Bullet points are fine.



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Your Name

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:44 pm


ChrisE (#10): here are some problems if you want to read Gen. 1-2 “literally”. Note: I’m not trying to be snarky here or to discredit the text, which I take to be God’s word. It can be helpful to note some of these literary features of the text so that we can take it seriously on its own terms.
Gen 1:
– the universe, the earth, and life on earth were not created in 6 days. It’s more like 14 billion years.
– the earth was not in existence or in place before the Sun; the earth, like every other planet, arose through the gradual accretion of debris that coalesced over a long period of orbit around the Sun;
– there is not and never was an expanse of waters above the earth
– seed bearing plants were not the first kind of plants
– the moon does not produce light
– animals and humans were not all vegetarian
Gen. 2:
– there was a weather cycle including rain by the time plants appeared
– human beings did not appear suddenly out of nothing
– the geography of the three rivers flowing out of Eden never existed (we know of two of the rivers, not the third, and they do not have a common headwater above the Persian Gulf)
– conflict with Gen. 1: man created before animals in Gen. 2
– male and female humans evolved together; women were not cloned from a man’s rib
– no angel with a flaming sword has yet been discovered in Iraq.
Gen. 3:
– snakes do not talk
– God does not walk



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dopderbeck

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:45 pm


# 11 was me



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Tyler (Man of Depravity)

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:47 pm


Great post. I don’t think I can disagree with much here. To say this absolutely was a true human event might be too narrow of thinking, but to also say it is only a mythical story is going too far as well. Thanks for entertaining both sides.



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:57 pm


Thanks Dopderbeck. If you’re interested, C. John Collins’s “Genesis 1-4″ eliminates many of these problems. I am not, unfortunately, as up on my Hebrew as I’d need to be to fully evaluate some of his exegetical claims, but much of what he writes is convincing.
So, taking Gen 3 as an example, if I say, “Yes snakes in general do not talk, but could that particular snake not have talked? Is that less probable or acceptable than a man who has been dead for 4 days (Lazarus) rising from the dead? Where do we draw the line?” does that get us anywhere?



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RJS

posted February 12, 2009 at 1:11 pm


Chris E,
Comparing Lazarus to the snake talking is a red herring – a distraction. You could say the same of any of the miracle stories in the NT. But this is not the issue, the snake talking is not a miracle of God for a purpose.
The issue I have here is with the form of the story in Gen 3. The story does not say that God performed a miracle. The story says that God created another beast besides man (male and female) as a sentient being – flesh and blood (if snakes have blood) who had already fallen and was now tempting man to fall as well.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
Later tradition correlates this serpent with Satan – which is reasonable, but even this correlation means that the story is not intended to be literal – it is a “truth story” not a “true story.”



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BeckyR

posted February 12, 2009 at 1:21 pm


You said : “To take it first and foremost as literal-historical fact is to ignore the cultural situation, ignore the obvious literary elements, and to distort the message.” How so?



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dopderbeck

posted February 12, 2009 at 1:50 pm


Chris E(#14) — I’ve read that commentary. It’s excellent, but I don’t think it eliminates the problems. For example, his interpretation of the location of the garden seems tendentious to me, and he basically interprest the “trees” figuratively — which I agree with but which is not otherwise consistent with literalism.



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MarkE

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:01 pm


I am curious about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? How do literalists think of this tree? What is just a plain old fruit tree and the command not to eat of it was just a test of obediance? Or was it literally a tree with fruit that would give one the knowledge of good and evil? If the former, why name the tree in this way? If the latter, what was man like before he got the knowledge of good and evil?
I would be interested in some thoughts about this. I have assumed that this “story” was just a metaphor for the fact that man is a rational and moral agent with a propensity toward self and not other.



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm


>>>the snake talking is not a miracle of God for a purpose.



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RJS

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:12 pm


ChrisE (#19)
Do you think that the talking snake is a miracle performed by God to tempt the man and woman?



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Derek Leman

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:18 pm


Hmm, not sure if my comment (#6) got missed or if it didn’t seem like it needed a response. I thought I asked some pertinent and focused questions.
Of course, I don’t answer every question on my blog by any means. RJS, you do an amazing job.
Derek Leman



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:25 pm


RJS-
I just think what the text says, that God created the snake, apparently it could talk, and it deceived and tempted the woman who tempted the man. God’s purposes for creating the snake are not discussed in Genesis or the Pentateuch.
However, I think I see your point. No, wait, no I don’t. I thought I had it but it just escaped me. But my point, the one I was originally making with dopderbeck, is that the presence of a talking snake should not be used as a proof of the type of literature this is, /unless/ you have come to the text with an a priori assumption that anything supernatural or that falls outside our currently observable natural laws /must/ mean that that text is mythical to some degree.



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RJS

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:26 pm


Derek,
There is always the issue of time…I was busy most of the morning.
I also don’t have the commentary with me just now – and would need to look up Arnold’s references. Some of the conclusions in the post are mine (and Arnold may or may not agree with me) – but the comparisons with ANE myths in the quotes are Arnold’s.



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RJS

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:41 pm


ChrisE,
My point is that the talking snake is a problem for a literal interpretation not because it is “supernatural” but because it is presented in the story as natural, sentient, already fallen, and one of the beasts that God had just created.



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Bill H

posted February 12, 2009 at 2:51 pm


Why is the issue of the talking snake significant? If the purpose of the passage is to present the understanding of the fall and the consequences, then the snake, as to its talking, seems of no importance. Sentience and ability to communicate do not seem all that out of the question – until Babel wasn’t there a universal language. Isn’t it possible, the brokenness between humanity and God was broad and set humanity against the rest of creation (the animals) in opposition as well? The impulses from the Genesis account seem to indicate no danger to humans from the animals until much later in the story. Alternatively is a literal view essential or is it possible the redactor, if you will, told a story to describe the events that were long past and that story was the best way to convey the necessary meaning?
Bill



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Phil M

posted February 12, 2009 at 3:08 pm


ANE is not something I have ever studied so this is a genuine question, not a troll:
Why is the assumption that “Genesis is just another representation of common ANE mythology” (not quoting – just paraphrasing) rather than: “ANE mythology in general seems to be fairly consistent across cultures because they all derive from the same source, namely Genesis”? Has this possibility been researched?



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Phil M

posted February 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm


I don’t think my last post quite made it – so forgive me if this appears twice.
ANE is not something I have ever studied so this is a genuine question, not a troll:
Why is the assumption that “Genesis is just another representation of common ANE mythology” (not quoting – just paraphrasing) rather than: “ANE mythology in general seems to be fairly consistent across cultures because they all derive from the same source, namely the events we read about in Genesis”?
Has this possibility been researched?



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ChrisB

posted February 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm


Ooh, a lot’s happened while I was away.
Let me just say that reading the comments it sure seems like a lot of people made up their minds that Gen 3 was ahistorical because of a priori assumptions that have nothing to do with the actual text.
Phil M: The question’s been asked, but generally the academics turn up their noses at the very notion. And yet the idea that someone should take a complicated myth (e.g., Enuma Elish) and simplify it (e.g., Gen) in the ancient world would be surprising if not entirely unprecedented.
Though in fairness, all of our friends here do seem to think the text (which was borrowed from and/or based on ANE sources and reflects a very superstitious worldview) is somehow inspired by God (whatever that means to them).



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Rob

posted February 12, 2009 at 3:56 pm


#28 – Phil M: The question’s been asked, but generally the academics turn up their noses at the very notion. And yet the idea that someone should take a complicated myth (e.g., Enuma Elish) and simplify it (e.g., Gen) in the ancient world would be surprising if not entirely unprecedented.
So, your contention is that God can make a snake talk, but can’t inspire ancient writers to borrow from culture to communicate a truth via myth?



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 12, 2009 at 4:06 pm


Phil M #26
I remember being in a sociological theory class in grad school and the Prof. want off on how these chapters we of human origin. He took the flood story as an example and pointed out that there were cultures all around he Jews had flood stories and the Jews had clearly just incorporated them into their tradition. At the point I asked him a question. “If there had been a flood event that affected all humanity, then wouldn’t the presence of these stories in so many cultures be evidence of the historical event, not evidence that the Jews had borrowed an ahistorical myth?” After a moment he smiled and said “You’re right.” (As I recall, I don’t think I did very well in his class after that. :-) )
I’m no expert in this area either, but it makes perfect sense to me that different cultures might have taken actual historical events and reworked stories according to what version of truth they wanted to communicate. But it is also seems possible to me that there was a story (or stories) that predate written language from which these various creation stories emerged.
On a related topic about which I know even less, I read once about the ancient Chinese symbol for create, which dates back to about 2500 BCE. The upper right part of the symbol has characters meaning “dust” or “mud.” It is accompanied by a stroke that signifies “life” or “motion.” The left and bottom part of the symbol signifies “walking”. At the center right is the symbol for “mouth.”
A mouth that animates the dust of the earth and causes it to walk around? Written 1,000 years before Moses? If anyone knows more about the veracity of this stuff I’d love to learn more.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 12, 2009 at 5:38 pm


Chris E #14, 19, 22, Chris B #28
Occam?s Razor, an axiom that emerged by the Middle Ages, says that when competing hypotheses are equal in other aspects, the hypothesis that requires fewest assumptions and fewest variables is the most likely answer. The burden of proof is on those who want to champion more extraordinary circumstances (and sometimes they will be right.)
A Mom comes in from working in the garden and finds the cookie jar empty when no one else has been in the house but her six year old. She asks her six year old if he ate the cookies. He says a ghost ate them. What is the most likely of the two hypotheses? Who has the burden of proof?
We know there were ANE myths. We know that the Genesis accounts in many ways resemble these myths (and in some ways do not.) We know that fact-for-fact accounts of such events were unheard of in these cultures. We know that throughout recorded human history snakes have not talked and trees have not had supernatural properties. Thus, the hypothesis with the least assumptions and fewest variables is that these Genesis stories are some type of myth-history. That doesn?t mean it is the correct hypothesis but the burden of proof is on those who would make the extraordinary claims.
It is generally true that the church more or less took the Genesis accounts on face value for the first millennium or more, but as I noted in the previous post there were significant departures as well. Separating hard fact from story was largely meaningless for folks. It is in the years leading up to the Enlightenment that this obsession with fact emerges. (For a fascinating study read Alfred Crosby?s The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600. It is during the Enlightenment and following that we get this hardening of positions on literal historical interpretation passages like these in Genesis (particularly after the advent of Scotish Common Sense Realism which so heavily influenced the U. S.) and literal historical interpretation becomes an a priori belief without critical support.
So on the one hand, we now have philosophical naturalist crowing about the invalidity of the Bible because they erroneously believe they have undermined what they think are fact-for-fact accounts in the Bible. On the other hand, we have Christians who have shut their eyes and ears to general revelation discovered through science because it will mean abandoning basic tenets Bible, when in fact it is simply means abandonment of some tenets of Common Sense Realism.



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Bill Crawford

posted February 12, 2009 at 9:28 pm


Does Gen 3 necessitate the serpent speaking a human language? Wouldn’t Eve understanding the serpent make the same point? IOW, could not pre-fall humans have understood animals, an ability lost in the alienation between humans and creation caused by the fall?
Not that this matters to anyone who has decided this is not an historical even to begin with….



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Chris E

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:03 pm


Michael #31
If I am standing in the literalist (more or less) camp of Bible interpretation, from my point of view the naturalist expalanations of creation, by far, requires more assumptions and imported variables. The burden of proof is on you to prove that the words do not mean what they say; that there was not a talking snake; that God did not make it all in the order that the text says he did (something, btw, that CJ Collins sheds much light on). Don’t you think that the naturalist position requires far more ‘splainin’ than the Biblical literalist?



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RJS

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:11 pm


Chris and others
I don’t care that the snake walks or talks you can rationalize this any number of ways – I care that the snake is in the story in the first place.
In the supposed perfect creation there is already a tempter – one of God’s newly minted creatures is crafty and tempts the woman to eat the forbidden fruit. This fact alone leads me to a non-literal reading of the text. The story itself doesn’t support the notion that all was perfect until the disobedience of the man and woman introduced sin into the world (thereby leading to animal death, carnivorous animals, and natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, ….)
If you name the snake as Satan you have also assumed a non-literal reading because this is not in Genesis 3 and cannot be gotten from Genesis 3 alone – the snake is a real snake in this story, cursed to slither ever after.
I cannot see how this is anything but a story, I think that it tells an important theological truth, but I cannot see it as literal-history. It takes logical gymnastics with the text itself to make that work … and then we start to talk about science, history, culture, …
If we want to get to the actual meaning of the story, and it is a cornerstone story – and discuss the elements of the story, we have to get passed the issue of literal or mytho-historical.



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Rebeccat

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:25 pm


I would like to 2nd MarkE’s (#18) question about the tree in question. It seems to me that this is probably one of the most significant parts of the story. Why was the forbidden tree the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Aren’t we supposed to learn what is good and evil so that we can behave rightly? Or is there something about good and evil as God sees it that we cannot have access to? What is the significance of Adam and Eve’s behavior after eating the fruit as it relates to this “knowing of good and evil”? And what kind of negligent parent would put something so tempting and dangerous on the low shelf, without protection? Was that intentional? Why are we not struggling with what the story is really telling us?
Please excuse my rudeness, but whether a snake ever really talked matters not a whit. If it did – whoopty freaking do. Look a talking snake – let’s stare at it! If it didn’t, well the story is EXACTLY THE SAME! Do we really think that God wanted us to know that once a snake talked or is He actually trying to tell us something that matters? This whole literalism/mytho-historical divide violates the unity we are called to and unnecessarily makes discussions over things that actually matter very difficult. So, why don’t we agree to disagree and have a conversation about the actual text and what it is telling us. (And if the most important thing its telling us is about a flipping talking snake, then I’m converting to zorastronism poste haste so I can find a religion with some substance to it.)



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:24 pm


RJS – you raise a good point that I have not considered before. If creation is good, what is up with the dirty snake…who talks (I couldn’t resist)? This doesn’t lead me to think the text is mytho-whatever, but it does raise questions about the accepted idea that it was Adam & Eve’s sin that brought evil into the world. Something to ponder.
Rebeccat – Yes, you were rude. Get ahold of yourself. Just because something isn’t important to you doesn’t make it meaningless.



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Rebeccat

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:35 pm


ChrisE, I erased 3 other versions of what I wrote before I could come up with something remotely polite. Please pray for me because I am not a mean, rude person, but a deeply faithful Christian. Yet on this topic, I find it almost impossible to be civil. I cannot for the life of my understand how this topic does anything other than destroy the faith that I hold so dear.



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ChrisE

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm


Thanks Rebeccat for your honesty. I have just prayed for you. I sorta know how you feel. Sometimes I have to just unplug from certain threads on this (or other) blogs.
I do think the topic is incredibly important, and not just for the sake of an argument. I firmly believe that science and an essentially literal reading of the Bible can be harmonized and God will receive glory because of it. Obviously, I am a minority in this thread, but I learn alot and so I just hang in here. The scope of RJS’s knowledge and his (her?) generosity with it is one big thing that keeps me coming back.
Whether the snake talked is not the main thing, for sure, but it is Scripture and so I take it seriously. I want to be as slow as possible to reject a literal reading in favor of a symbolic one unless the text clearly indicates that I should. I don’t think it’s so clear. Anyway, glad you’re hear and I pray you get something good out of it.



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Tom

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:01 am


Nice take on the snake.
Sad that many American evangelicals still have to debate your obvious points. So many more pertinent things to talk about among serious people who want to do something practical for others.
I have little interest right now in trying to persuade fundamentalists after decades in that biz, but I’m glad somebody is making the effort.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:05 am


?Don’t you think that the naturalist position requires far more ‘splainin’ than the Biblical literalist??
I don?t know what you mean by ?naturalist position? (not mine) but the historical-myth position doesn?t.
If this creation story were not in the Bible, then we would look at it for evidence of what kind of story it is; what genre it comes from. We would compare it to other literature of the day and find it has similarities to other ANE literature. We would ask about the contents of the story and discover elements that are without precedent in the natural world. The most straightforward answer would be that this was some sort of fiction or myth. The burden of proof would be on those who thought otherwise to explain the coincidence between the story and other literature of the era, and to justify why we should give credibility to such peculiar unnatural events (again, such evidence may be there.) Now if the story was utterly dissimilar from the contemporary mythical literature, and there were no peculiar story elements, then I think burden would be to demonstrate why the story should not be received as a more or less factual account.
But the story is in the Bible, therefore, for some, the story must be a fact-for-fact account, not because of anything the story claims for itself but because of a Western post-Enlightenment grid that has predetermined that the Bible gives fact-for-fact accounts the way we moderns would. The presumption that it has to be a fact-for-fact account is brought to the text. It does not originate from it.
?The burden of proof is on you to prove that the words do not mean what they say; that there was not a talking snake; that God did not make it all in the order that the text says he did.?
I believe the words mean exactly what they say! When I read Lord of the Rings and see what Frodo says, I believe his words mean exactly what they say. Why would Tolkien have published the dialog in the book the way he did if that isn?t what he meant for Frodo to say? These are factual events within the fictional world created by Tolkien.
Similarly, I believe the words of Genesis 2 mean just what they say. There was a snake, the snake talked and the world was created in just the order it says within the world created by the author (except in this case I believe there is an attempt to unveil an historical reality through story as opposed to simply communicating values and ideals in the case of Tolkien, thus ?historical myth?)
The issue is not the words. The issue is the context in which the words are spoken. Are they spoken from inside a fact-for-fact account or from inside some other genre? I?m going to the story and processing it against a number of standards to determine just what exactly I?m reading. I?m not dictating to the story in advance what genre it must be as I come to it.
Again, the burden of proof is to show why this is an historical fact-for-fact only account.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:11 am


ChrisE #33
?Don’t you think that the naturalist position requires far more ‘splainin’ than the Biblical literalist??
I don?t know what you mean by ?naturalist position? (not mine) but the historical-myth position doesn?t.
If this creation story were not in the Bible, then we would look at it for evidence of what kind of story it is; what genre it comes from. We would compare it to other literature of the day and find it has similarities to other ANE literature. We would ask about the contents of the story and discover elements that are without precedent in the natural world. The most straightforward answer would be that this was some sort of fiction or myth. The burden of proof would be on those who thought otherwise to explain the coincidence between the story and other literature of the era, and to justify why we should give credibility to such peculiar unnatural events (again, such evidence may be there.) Now if the story was utterly dissimilar from the contemporary mythical literature, and there were no peculiar story elements, then I think burden would be to demonstrate why the story should not be received as a more or less factual account.
But the story is in the Bible, therefore, for some, the story must be a fact-for-fact account, not because of anything the story claims for itself but because of a Western post-Enlightenment grid that has predetermined that the Bible gives fact-for-fact accounts the way we moderns would. The presumption that it has to be a fact-for-fact account is brought to the text. It does not originate from it.
?The burden of proof is on you to prove that the words do not mean what they say; that there was not a talking snake; that God did not make it all in the order that the text says he did.?
I believe the words mean exactly what they say! When I read Lord of the Rings and see what Frodo says, I believe his words mean exactly what they say. Why would Tolkien have published the dialog in the book the way he did if that isn?t what he meant for Frodo to say? These are factual events within the fictional world created by Tolkien.
Similarly, I believe the words of Genesis 2 mean just what they say. There was a snake, the snake talked and the world was created in just the order it says within the world created by the author (except in this case I believe there is an attempt to unveil an historical reality through story as opposed to simply communicating values and ideals in the case of Tolkien, thus ?historical myth?)
The issue is not the words. The issue is the context in which the words are spoken. Are they spoken from inside a fact-for-fact account or from inside some other genre? I?m going to the story and processing it against a number of standards to determine just what exactly I?m reading. I?m not dictating to the story in advance what genre it must be as I come to it.
Again, the burden of proof is to show why this is an historical fact-for-fact only account.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2009 at 2:04 am


#35 Rebeccat
The issue is whether or not these stories must be taken as historical factual accounts. The snake debate is merely an effort to use a concrete example to explore the question rather than talk in the abstract.
Whether the snake spoke or not isn?t important to theological lessons of the passage. So when you write, ?So, why don’t we agree to disagree and have a conversation about the actual text and what it is telling us,? that is certainly possible if our only objective is the theological importance.
But the literalists are taking it beyond just its theological importance to the point of insisting on a fact-for-fact rendering, and that is the rub. This brings the special revelation in scripture and general revelation learned through science into needless conflict. That conflict presents a needless stumbling block for scientists in particular, and large segments of the population in general. Millions are going to tune out your theological discussion of this story if the insistence on a literal interpretation is present.



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RJS

posted February 13, 2009 at 7:16 am


Michael,
I think that some who take this story literally do so because it is integral to their theology and gospel – but I also think that this is a distorted gospel.
Is the gospel: (Story 1)
God created a perfect world – a paradise, no death, no evil, …
The man and woman disobeyed thereby introducing death, destruction, evil, into the world and changing the very essence of their being and by the way the physics and matter of the world as well.
The covenant with Israel was a stopgap and a failure – mankind cannot obey.
God sent his Son Jesus to bear the punishment for our sin rooted in Adam’s sin.
With the resurrection God is victorious and we now await the destruction of this world and the institution of a new heaven and earth – a perfect one where the Fall cannot happen.
Doesn’t this view rely on a literal-historical interpretation of Genesis?
I think that this view of the gospel, while not entirely wrong, is seriously distorted. If we look hard at what the Gospel is (say from Scot’s work, or Wright’s work, or others) Genesis 3 is still key – but need not be “literal-history.”
Perhaps the framing story (gospel) is: (Story 2)
We rebelled against God and this rebellion has very real consequence. This rebellion taints the entire race. We broke the relationships.
God still loves his people created in his image (actually this is one of Arnold’s major points in his discussion of Gen. 3).
The story of the Bible is God working in his creation to build a people of God.
The Messiah, Jesus, as God incarnate, through his life, death, and resurrection, broke the bonds of sin, paid the price, did for us what we cannot do for ourselves to make us right with God …
Now we rest in this assurance and follow God. The gospel changes everything.
New creation involves not destruction but renewal and restoration. We await the second coming … Read Wright or Scot or others to fill in details here.
I think that much of our current conflict rests squarely on the gospel story – what is the gospel?



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RJS

posted February 13, 2009 at 7:51 am


Rebeccat (#35)
Your first paragraph contains great questions – and if the gospel is closer to the second of the two I give in #42 then we can agree to disagree and talk about the meaning of the elements of the story – such as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and so forth.
If the gospel is the first story – there is much less common ground. I think that this is why so many struggle over questions you find pointless.
But perhaps others have a different take.



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Bill Crawford

posted February 13, 2009 at 8:37 am


In Blue Parakeet, Scot talks about the Story. The first element of the Story is that there was a oneness – oneness between God and humans, between humans themselves, between humans and creation, even within the human personality.
However, something happened and this oneness got broken. Gen 3 describes what this “something” was – humans listened to God’s adversary and not to God.
First, if Gen 3 does not describe the way in which the oneness was broken, then why did God not tell us what did break the oneness?
Second, if Gen 3 does not describe the way in which the oneness was broken, and we do not have some other historical explanation, and if science tells us there never was a paradise (but that death, destruction, conflict has always been true in science’s accout of origins), then it seems the idea that there was ever oneness is undermined.
For folks who do not believe Gen 3 describes an actual event, how did the oneness crucial to the Story get broken? Why did God choose to give us the account we have rather than the real account?



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RJS

posted February 13, 2009 at 8:46 am


Bill Crawford,
But in Gen 3 the crucial oneness of creation is already broken before the first verse.
The story describes the rebellion of man and woman from God, destroying their relationship with God, with each other, and with the world. The man and woman put themselves in the place of God, aspire to be as God. I think this is mytho-historical. The historical reality is that mankind has rebelled, did rebel, fundamentally and from the very beginning. We bear the moral and judicial culpability for this state of being.
But – God still loves and cares for the man and the woman and we move on to the rest of the Bible.



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dopderbeck

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:01 am


Bill (#44) — you ask a great question. I don’t know that there’s one answer to it. My take is that Gen. 3 does describe something that literally happened — but the description is offered in the clothing of ANE mythology. The harmony of the Garden represents the potential in the harmony of relationships between humans and God, among humans with each other, and between humans and the rest of creation.
If every person alive today truly loved God with all his/her heart, mind, soul and strength, and truly loved his/her neighbor as him/herself, what kind of world would this be? It would be radically different than our present world. I might even suggest that it would be physically radically different in the sense that human technological capacity could be fully realized (imagine, say, the promise of biotechnology if all the resources ever expended on wars and violence were directed towards peaceful ends).
In this sense, I like to think the Garden represents the potential before the first “humans,” the first homo sapiens sapiens with the spark of divine consciousness. The portrait of the Garden is a sort of realized eschatology. But these first humans take “door number 2″ as it were and turn away from God. The realized eschatology of the Garden becomes then a future eschatology that will be realized only in the “second man,” Jesus Christ.
What I’m suggesting above is pretty typical of “neo-Orthodox” views of the Fall, except that I believe the story has to be “true” in that it’s rooted in a real decision by a real first pair of representative humans with a real potential for realized eschatology before them that really is lost when they turn away from God. So the story, in my view, is neither “literal” nor “figurative” in an absolute sense. It is mythopoetic literature with a true historical referent. Karl Barth uses a genre category of “saga” which I think is helpful here. But this is just my personal best stab at it. Perhaps it’s something more strange and more deeply true than we can imagine right now.



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dopderbeck

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:10 am


Oh and Bill you asked why does God give us the account in this form? Well, I don’t know. I think it is “the true account,” but it’s truth conveyed by a particular kind of literature. Perhaps the beauty, economy and imagination in the story God gave us is also part of what God is telling us in the story. And perhaps most of the people in history who have ever heard or ever will hear the story would have had no clue as to it’s meaning if God had made it scientifically precise.



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Bill Crawford

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:17 am


RJS
“But in Gen 3 the crucial oneness of creation is already broken before the first verse.”
Although I agree that the presence of the tempter shows a flaw in the previously pronounced goodness of creation (indicating to me that evil had entered creation since the pronouncement that all was good), it seems the brokeness of creation is toed spcifcally to the act(s) of the first couple (Romans 8)
The tempter’s presence and whatever that being did to become flawed certainly had cosmic consequences (he had lots of followers), but is not seen as the crucial step toward brokenness. It took people to do that.



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Eric

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:18 am


The discussion got very interesting since last night!
Dopderbeck, I think that the ideas you outline have a lot of promise, but I’m on the fence. Here is a question: You said that “I believe the story has to be ‘true’ in that it’s rooted in a real decision by a real first pair of representative humans with a real potential for realized eschatology before them that really is lost when they turn away from God.” But aren’t the key points that we have free will and we are in fact fallen — not how the fall happened? In that sense, what you outline doesn’t have to be true for “orthodox Christianity” (I know — whatever that means!) to make sense?
RJS,
I think Wright would disagree with some of what you are saying (see Surprised by Hope and his book from a few years ago about evil). He seems to agree that death and decay existed before the fall, but that there is a second layer of evil that resulted from the fall that impacts creation. I’ve been troubled by what that means, so I asked him at a conference in December. He pointed to Genesis 3 and Romans 8, candidly admitted that its not an easy question, and didn’t offer a lot more. I think Dopderbeck’s explanation of what this second layer of evil that affects creation might be is a good one (and supported by Polkinghorne). Whether its true or necessary is another question. Again, I’m on the fence because I think the key point is that we are fallen — not the precise details of how it happened, so I’m not necessarily disagreeing with your main points.



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Chris E

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:43 am


Re: Gen 3 and fallenness
I’m only interested in the mechanics of fallenness to the extent that the Bible is. Eric, how we came to be fallen is important to later authors because it relates to the solution for fallenness. As Paul writes in Rom 5 and I Cor 15, the problem began with the proto-man, Adam, and the solution is the deutero-man, Jesus. So our understanding of how sin and death came to mankind is crucial to our understanding of how Jesus conquers sin and death.



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RJS

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:50 am


Chris E,
I agree with you – and this is why my outline back in January (see this post) lists Genesis as only one of the topics we need to discuss.



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Doug Allen

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:01 am


Michael Kruse #31 and #40,
Thank you for your helpful comments. My area of scholarship is literature, and as a teacher I’ve found that some people are perhaps incapable of understanding a story because their fact-for-fact literalness prevents them from appreciating how stories, and especially poetry, differ from the descriptive language of science and social science. I’ve heard people refer to this as a kind of tone deafness. Scientists who exhibit this trait are unable to appreciate religious stories and therefore much religious meaning and therefore reject it out of hand. Christians who exhibit this trait, and insist on literalism, have similar problems. Both tend to a fallback dualist position, the one you’ve seen by some participants in this series and at other times on the Jesus Creed blog. If the particular isn’t factually true (some verse or verses) then the whole isn’t true, and as one poster said (Genesis 2-3 part 1), “I’d have to become an agnostic.” Let me push back a little more on some of my Christian friends. I think it might be good for such literalists to become agnostics. I think it might help them to break through to an understanding of what’s important- trust in God and the Jesus Creed- as opposed to the illusion or idolatry, as I see it, that they have or can obtain absolute certainty of knowledge about meanings and, it usually comes down to this (for those who don’t trust?), their own salvation. Although I agree there are many interesting questions that aren’t being considered (thanks Rebecacat), I always am distressed when those here seemingly elevate the importance of things that Jesus did not consider critical enough to address while, at the same time, not relating them to what Jesus did say was important: the Jesus Creed. Yes, I think it is a kind of idolatry (and demonstrates one of the meanings of Genesis 2-3) to elevate in importance your understanding and your own salvation when there is the reality that Jesus always referred to- the suffering, the injustice, the poor who have needs much greater than our need to be confident in a verse’s meaning.
Doug



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dopderbeck

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:17 am


Eric (#49) — here I basically agree with ChrisE (#50) — I think a historical referent for the event of the “fall” is important because it is taken up as important in the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s theology of the atonement. I want to be careful here — I’m not entirely convinced by the argument that “if Paul thought it was ‘historical’ we must think it was ‘historical.’” Paul, after all, refers on occasion to some strange contemporary traditions, such as the ‘moveable well.’” But, theologically, there does seem to be something very important about the parallel between the representative nature of Adam as the initiator of the trajectory of human sin and the representative nature of Christ as the initiator / consummator of the trajectory of redemption. I wouldn’t want to say that someone who sees the “Adam” role here as entirely figurative is in virtue of that a heretic. I would just say that making Adam entirely figurative seems to cause more problems than it solves.



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Scott W

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:21 am


#46 Dopderbeck-
Great post! The idea of a prisitne, perfect creation and humanity spoiled by the Fall is a distortion of the text. In the first creation account, the initial state of creation (formless void) bespeaks of a cosmic/terrestrial chaos which God brings into order(the process of creation). Of course, this is a demythologization of the divine combat myth in which any sort of dualism is denied through the uniqueness of YHWH/Elohim’s creative activity. In the “second” creation account, the role of the “earth creature” Adam is to instantiate and further implement this process in this inchoate state of creation so that it images YHWH’s purposes. The potential for good and evil lies within this state of being,just as is in humanity,who is given free will as YHWH’s eikons.
The traditional “Augustinian” view which sets up the the creation and the Fall in the stark, blunt terms of a fall from “perfection” (and the ramifications for humanity!) doesn’t do justice to the text, whereas the Eastern Fathers tended to see it in terms more amendable to the ANE background. For a good discussion of this in terms of Patristic theology see Elaine Pagel’s book ‘Adam,Eve and the Serpent’.



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ChrisE

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:47 am


Hey, somebody get Travis Greene in here – I want him to see this! RJS and dopderbeck both agreed with me at the same time. I think I’ll go out on a high note! :)



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Eric

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:54 am


Chris E, Dopderbeck and RJS,
I think we need to be careful of taking too strict a reading of Romans 5, because the evidence is very strong that death existed before the fall (and from what I understand two of the three of you probably agree that death pre-existed the fall). So while I see Romans 5 as an issue that needs to be discussed, I don’t agree that we should assume there is only one answer that works. I look forward to the full discussion on that topic when RJS addresses it in a future post.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:26 pm


#46 dopderbeck
Great stuff! I fully agree that this about an historical event of some sort. Thus, it is mytho-historical.



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SteveT

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:34 pm


Doug #52 — That is quite a condescending attitude. How would you take if I were to say something like….
“For all of you who see some need to fit this into ANE mythology and dismiss Scripture as the true word of God, it really might be good for you to become agnostics. It might help you to break through to what is really important — that God has moved powerfully in history and that He is quite capable of communicating exactly what he did — as opposed to your idolatry of holding up these vain speculations and insisting that everything have such naturalistic explainations.”
Would you not find that deeply offensive? Would a comment like that really advance the conversation?
Is you post really an example of “an understanding of what’s important- trust in God and the Jesus Creed”?



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ChrisE

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm


SteveT #58
Being told it would be good for you to lose your faith so that you could then come over to the light is pretty ridiculous rhetoric, but we all make many assumptions about others, in fact we need to do this to survive and make our way in a culture. Since a blog is pretty low-context communication, I find that almost all of us make pretty huge assumptions about others based on the snippets of text that we choose to reveal. I think Doug, in crafting his post, imagined (=assumed) that you are a certain kind of person and so he made some pretty sweeping, possibly uncharitable, statements. I am trying to not let this kind of stuff derail me too much from the topic at hand. It is very easy to get into a sparring match over real or imagined slights. RJS and Scot are pretty good models of staying on track until the comments just get too mean.



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Doug Allen

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:49 pm


SteveT,
Thank you for your reply. No. I don’t find your paragraph particularly offensive. I do apologize if you found mine offensive, but some of the most profound, humble, and spiritual people I know did drop out and become agnostics when the conflict between their literalism and science or biblical criticism became too painful. Their return was a wonderful rebirth! If I volunteered the observation made so often that many scientists reject religious stories out of hand because they are fact-for-fact literalists (as explained before), would you object to that? And I’m sure you’ve read about the different kinds of idolatry. I think there’s a word or phrase for Bible idolatry, but my old brain can’t come up with it so I googled and, surprisingly, I came up with this-
http://www.mainstreambaptists.org/mob1/bible_idolatry.htm
Maybe I have some sort of Jesus Creed idolatry! Anyway, I can’t for the life of me understand how such knowledgeable and good people like you can find this so important. I am definitely one of the “large segments of the population” (Michael Kruse’s phrase) who finds Christianity offensive to mind and spirit when argued from a fact-for-fact literalism. More importantly…well, I’ll let the link above speak for itself.
Doug



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ChrisE

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm


Doug-
Bibliolatry is what you’re looking for.
You make good points. Could I ask, how old you are and what age you began following Jesus? It can make a difference because of a shared history that many older evangelicals have.



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Carl

posted February 13, 2009 at 6:54 pm


I appreciate the conversation here and have not had the time to participate. My question is has anyone seen homeschooling curriculum that presents any of this material? Most of what I have seen is YEC or pure evolution. Without creating my own curriculum, is there anything that begins to explore the mytho-historical elements and the scientific and put it all in the context of a Creator? (My kids are 8, 6, 4) Maybe I will have to write my own …



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Carl

posted February 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm


Question from a pastoral point of view (also a dad’s): what curriculum or studies are out there that present this for the congregation? This is a lot to take in for many people and I was wondering if anyone had seen any studies for the non-science, non-biblical studies person that begins to address these issues and present the mytho-historical view or whatever you want to call it. Along the same lines – what about homeschool curriculum? I have an 8, 6 and 4 year old. Most of what I have seen from any Christian perspective is YEC. Anybody know of anything else, or do I need to create my own? Apologies if this is a little off topic.



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Carl

posted February 13, 2009 at 7:32 pm


Sorry, that was me in both #62 and #63 – aargh, I don’t like Beliefnet’s posting; the one didn’t seem to go through, so I re-posted.



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Matt Stephens

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:55 pm


Just because a biblical story has elements that appear to overlap with non-biblical ANE forms does not prove that the biblical writer borrowed from them, much less that they distorted an otherwise historically accurate account to fit their mold. Evidence of authorial redaction in no way jeopardizes historicity, even if stylistic elements are employed (which they obviously often are).
Once we set ourselves up as sovereign re-interpreters of Scripture, attempting to distill the “true,” underlying meaning of a passage (“what it intends to teach”), we exercise magisterial authority over the text, rather than being ministers of the text. This was Origen and the Alexandrian school’s major downfall, as well as one of the weaknesses of Enlightenment, liberal biblical scholarship. Clothing your allegorical hermeneutic in attempts to “defend the intent from distortion” is nothing more than a rhetorical stunt.
I heartily oppose your hermeneutic.



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Michael W. Kruse

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:40 pm


#65 Matt
I don’t know who you were addressing but if the text was written as mytho-historical, then to interpret it as fact-to-fact history is re-interpretation. Again, referring back to #40 your presumption that this is a fact-to-fact is exactly that, a presumption. You are bringing it to the text. The text is not claiming it for itself. We must first determine genre before we can correctly relate to the passage.
I’m also unaware anyone claimed that the Genesis accounts, “distorted an otherwise historically accurate account.” The idea is that mythical imagery was used to relate truths that would otherwise have been beyond the comprehension of the audience.
“Clothing your allegorical hermeneutic in attempts to “defend the intent from distortion” is nothing more than a rhetorical stunt.”
I haven’t seen anyone remotely suggesting allegorical hermeneutics. The hermeneutic is to treat each passage “literally”; “literally” in the sense that we will be true to the literary devices and genres the biblical authors used and not impose predetermined formulas on the texts.



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Patrick

posted February 14, 2009 at 12:32 am


In other words, which is “liberal biblical scholarship”?
a. to attempt to determine the type of literature of a passage before looking for “meaning”
or
b. to say that all passages are (or a given passage is) to be read as historical fact-for-fact when any uncertainty exists as to the author’s original intention regarding the type of literature he/she wrote.



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Percival

posted February 14, 2009 at 1:23 am


Carl (#62)
I don’t know if this fits your needs for your homeschooling, but check out “God’s Creation series” by Michael Carroll on Amazon. This is a real need not only for homeschoolers but for all parents.



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RJS

posted February 14, 2009 at 7:38 am


Matt Stephens,
I went and looked at your blog (as posted with your comment). Good stuff and good reflections – but not entirely consistent with the tone of your comment here.
I don’t think that Gen 3 was ever intended to be a historically accurate statement of fact – and that interpreters who force such on the text distort it.
What hermeneutic do you propose?



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Rick

posted February 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm

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