Genesis 1 & 2 (trying again)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Fri Dec 3 06:19:01 EST 1999


>>This is what I was talking about, you project your own understanding into
>>the past. You want the second account to be something more satisfying to
>>your understanding of creation for it to be a creation. As it isn't you
>>relegate it to some nice box.
>
>Sir, it is impossible to avoid projecting one's own understanding into the
past, 

One should at least try not to and to attempt to find ways of getting
around the problem. I'd recommend you start.

>as 
>one's own understanding is a lense which cannot be avoided. Take your notion 
>(completely unsupported by any evidence) that the mentioning of the 4
rivers in 
>chapter 2 describe the limits of the world. You do this because you were
taught in 
>school that we evolved from primitive hunter gatherers who initially
expressed their 
>local terrain as the whole world. 

Wot?

>Your desire to see the second account as a creation 
>of the world leads you to this interpretation as well.

Did God not create man in Gen2? Did God not create animals in Gen2? Did God
not create the four major rivers (or at least three of them known) of that
part of the world in Gen2? This sounds like creation to me. What is so
strange about calling it a creation account? Doesn't it fit your predefined
requirements?

>>>>If you mean by creation of the world, creatio ex nihilo, then neither
>>>>account fits your expectations.
>>>
>>>The second account is obviously not ex-nihilo, 
>
>>As is the first account. Please note the ancient understanding in Wisdom
>>11:17.
>
>The first account can be understood as ex-nihilo 

Did you at least look at what Wisdom said??? To understand what Jews at the
turn of the millenium thought? Of course not. You don't need to: you
believe in creatio ex nihilo.

>if Gen 1:1 is interpreted as a creation 
>of the formless and void of 1:2. You are arbitrarily interpreting it as a
summary of the 
>later verses. If you do this, then the actual events of the chapter
actually begin with 
>verse 2, and it is not an ex-nihilo account. But you are under no
circumstances bound 
>to this. The first account is NOT obviously not ex-nihilo. You can
interpret it how you 
>want. I (and the majority of people who concern themselves with the issue)
see it as 
>an ex-nihilo account.
>
>>>>It's very normal, given the construction of the biblical texts, that there
>>>>come to be "contending" or "contradictory" accounts of things. How many of
>>>>each animal did Noah bring into the ark? Who killed Goliath, David or
>>>>Elhanan? (Look at how Chr obscured the problem by making Elhanan kill
>>>>Goliath's brother!) Who was the king who the patriarch tricked into
>>>>thinking his wife was his sister, pharaoh or Abimelek? Who was the
>>>>patriarch, Abraham or Isaac?
>>>
>>>Well, the old "are there contradictions in the bible" question 
>
>>???????
>
>Certainly you have run into this question before.

Texts tend to show diversity over time. You're the fellah who comes out
with the 'old "are there contradictions in the bible" question', as though
you were oblivious to the question of textual tradition, being more
interested in the ghosts of "contradictions in the bible".

>>Oh my. Not of contradictions. Of variations in traditions. Groan.
>
>Speaking of the finished text as we have it, contradictions. Are you
really suggesting 
>with your groan that I am unaware as to the JEPD explanation for the
contradictions 
>in our finished text? 

JEPD is long dead. So is Wellhausen.

>(that they are the result of varying traditions edited together) 
>Please give me some credit.

Show some reason.

>>>>Because it is neither plain nor more logical. You would like God to have
>>>>created everything in the first account then go on to recreated things
>>>>specifically for the garden of Eden. The second account cannot be taken
>>>>literally: it is richly emblematic. It later wants you to understand that
>>>>all human beings were the children of Adam (and Eve), yet the first
account
>>>>has the creation of humankind (in God's image) as the last act of
creation.
>>>>(Either they all came from Adam or they were all created on day 6.) But
you
>>>>seem to want God to created human beings and animals on day 6 and then go
>>>>on to specially create them again for the garden of Eden.
>>>
>>>Both accounts are emblematic. Now if reality is also emblematic, which it
>>is, 
>
>>???????
>
>I expected as much.

I don't care about your expectations. We are attempting to do history, not
make speculations about reality.

>>>You get four rivers, not necessarily the whole world. Where does your
>>conjecture that 
>>>that was the known world come from? What evidence do you base that on? Yuo 
>>>most certainly do not get all the plants and animals. You get pretty and
>>edible plants, 
>>>and some large domesticatable animals. Where are the fish? Even the
>>Palestinians 
>>>fished. Chapter 2 is obviously a complete failure to explain the existence
>>of the world.
>
>>When you expect more than you get, you make the result a failure. It
>>doesn't reflect on the failure of the reader, does it? You want kangaroos
>>and wombats.
>
>I have no expectations. 

You have a lot of them.

>I just read the text and understand that a garden is being created. 

A garden, four rivers, the sources of humankind, a range of animals and
trees. The text says that God created them, not just a garden out of whack
with the first creation account but a general creations of a lot of what we
have in Gen1. So, it talks of a creation. You expect in some form of
fundamentalist belief that there was only one world creation account. You
expect that if the account given in Gen2 were in fact a creation account it
has to adhere to your ideas of creation accounts. It doesn't therefore your
expectation is not met, therefore it mustn't be a creation account. (Take a
look at other creation accounts. Imagine when Marduk killed the watery
chaos monster Tiamat [cognate = tehom] he slew her, and divided her to
become the waters above and the waters below, thus creating the world. Try
the Sumerian...)

>Your expectation that it is a second account of the creation of the world
just 
>happens to fit well with your notion that early man was a primitive beast
and so 
>nothing seems to get in the way of your expectation. 

Actually I look at the text and see God in a dry empty world, when no plant
of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung
up, with the coming of a mist fashioned man from the dust of the earth.
(This of course was unnecessary for you, seeing as humankind had been
created back in Gen1.) Note that is says the state of the earth ['rc] not
just a bit of land where one makes a garden grow.

State of the world:      dry and empty.
First act of creation:   creation of man.

>I do not take these 
>preconceptions with me to the text, 

Uh-huh.

>so when I read it, 

You decide that when God creates something he doesn't actually do that.

>I do not force it to be an 
>account of the creation of the world, 

Actually the process that you should consider is *how* the vast range of
scholars who understand the text came to their opinion that it was another
creation account. You show no desire to understand this so far.

>then beat down my rejection of such an analysis 
>with my second preconception that early man was an idiot.

I see no-one calling early man an idiot. But you are being polemic for want
of argument.

>>>>>Apparently the primitives that wrote it lived in an area of only 
>>>>>beautiful and edible trees? With no fish or bugs? 
>>>
>>>>Where are the bugs in the first account? And where is the opportunity to
>>>>talk about fish in the second?? And where exactly in the first account are
>>>>any trees created?
>>>
>>>remes make good bugs. And though the question is loaded (because the
>>second is 
>>>not designed to talk about fish because it is not an account of the
>>craetion of all 
>>>animal life) 
>
>>Neither is the first, though it is more comprehensive. You seem to want the
>>second creation account to be more comprehensive and so, as it is not, you
>>then want to turn it into a local creation, ie God creates the whole world
>>then recreates animals and humans especially for the garden, making all
>>humankind come from the specimens created in the garden -- let's forget all
>>about those created in the first account.
>
>Actually I believe that the description of the man created in the 2nd
account is a 
>redescription of the creation of the man in the 1st account. 

It ain't in the text. This is just your expectation.

>The animals and plants are specially created a second time. 

But hadn't they already been created in Gen1??

>Anyway, it is obvious that you want such a 
>scenario not to be in the text, 

It is illogical, unless you want early man to be an idiot.

>and I can't claim any greater bias than you. Here we just 
>have different interpretations. 

I try to work with what the text says.

>Here I reject the charge of my desires warping my ability 
>to see the text as it is. According to you, that would only be through my
understanding 
>anyway, which makes the whole excercise moot. Now if I saw everything
through your 
>understanding, then apparently I would be able to see everything as it
really was. 
>Please.
>
>>>I would, if describing the creation of all animal life, mention fish
>>sometime 
>>>around verse 19.
>
>>Perhaps you should have written the account, then you would now be happy.
>
>I will take this moment to slap the back of your hand and chastise you
about tone 
>here. I was only responding to your question. I have no need to change the
account at 
>all. You wanted me to. 

No, I didn't. I want you to call the creation of man in Gen2 for what it
is. God created humankind in the first account. Yet, he creates man and
then woman again in the second account, the start of humankind -- but
humankind was already created in Gen1 (you seem bent on ignoring this). God
created every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, ie
there is an attempt to be comprehensive in this creative act. But you want
this to be some special non-creation act. Perhaps the writer forgot all the
trees in the first account, so the writer sticks them in here.

>I mentioned this in my response when I said that the question 
>is loaded, as these elements are only needed if the account is an account
of the 
>creation of the world, which it is not. Sorry if I walked into a trap that
you laid. Don't 
>harrass me about it.
>
>>>>>Nice place! Completely contradictory to every creation account the world 
>>>>>has ever known, however, which state that we came from Chaos.
>>>
>>>>Would you like to list some of these accounts that are contradicted?
>>>
>>>Egypt starts with nun, Greece starts with chaos, etc. ad nauseum.
>
>>The world was formless and void. What does formless mean to you? Remember
>>the KJV: "waste and void" -- waste = chaos. Very Greek to me.
>
>If you read carefully, you will see that THE SECOND ACCOUNT does not mention 
>such things, and therefore is contradictory to every creation account
there is, 

It starts out with an empty dry world, just as one might expect in a desert
environment, and not the watery chaos of the Babylonian context. The earth,
as starting material, is a dry wasteland. So?

>which 
>says that we came from chaos. The first account is not Greek, however, as it 
>describes the creation of the chaos in verse 1:1. 

This is not in the text. This is more of your expectation, based on old
translations of the text, translations biased by the old Greek idea of
creatio ex nihilo. But look at the New RSV, which translates Gen1:1-2 as 

"In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was
a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind
from God swept over the face of the waters."

If you look at the translations into English done by Jewish scholars it
reads in like manner.

We are dealing with the starting material of the creation. The first act of
God was to use divine fiat: "Let there be light."

It might be better that you deal with what the text actually says and not
what you expect it to say.


Cheers,


Ian

(And I'll probably leave the thread here. I'm sure others would prefer me
to, so, unless you've got anything more constructive to say, forgive me if
I don't respond to your reply. This is very old stuff and I haven't seen
any reason to go through it completely again.)

>Greek chaos is pre-existing. It is, 
>however unified with all other creation accounts in that it names chaos as
primeval 
>stuff that everything came out of. The second account has no mention of
chaos, and 
>is therefore contradictory to every account that I have read. This
reinforces the 
>evidence that the 2nd account is not an account of the creation of the world.





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