Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Fri Jan 25 12:08:46 EST 2002


Re: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..
  -----Original Message-----
  From: Rolf Furuli [mailto:furuli at online.no]
  Sent: Fri, January 25, 2002 11:13 AM
  To: Biblical Hebrew
  Subject: Re: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..



  The Babylonian gods are clearly the invention of men, having all the
degraded characteristics of men ##., while my judgement is that the God in
the Genesis account is  of a completely different nature.

  OK, I'll bite, What is the difference between the god(s) in Genesis and
the gods in the Atrahasis account?

  Some years ago we read the laws of Hammurapi in class and it bacame
evident for the students how different these are from the laws in the
Pentateuch, even though there are similarities as well. So it seems to me
that there generally is a clear quality difference between the Hebrew
documents of the Tanach and other documents of antiquity.

  OK What differences do you see here?

  Since I'm getting ready to teach all these subjects in a few weeks, I'd
like to know.


  It seems to me that something like a dogmatic religion has been built up
around modern critical scholarship. Noth's theory of a deuteronomistic
history etc and many other speculative hypotheses have almost been elevated
to data, while the truth is that hard facts regarding when the different
books were written and who were the writers are completely lacking. For
instance,in my linguistic analysis of the participles of the Tanach I found
a use which was uniform throughout the book of Isaiah but almost
non-existent in other books. I will not say that this proves that there was
one author of the books, but the evidence for two or three authors is very
weak indeed.

  P eople do now argue for one author of the book of Isaiah but they place
him in the fifth century.


  As to my position, I am very positive to the text of the Hebrew documents,
because of all the single data I have found to be of a higher quality that
that of contemporaneous documents. It is my impression that the concept of
God in the Tanach is sublime and elevated, in stark contrast to that of
other nations around. Your interpretations regarding the divine suzerain and
polytheism are possible but hardly the only alternative. I see no conflict
between Isaiah 41-- and Exodus 20 because the subject is addressed from
different angles. Isaiah does not deny the existence of the $EDIM, but he
points out to those who think that carved images have intrinsic life and
power that this is a false view. And similarly, the writer of Exodus does
not say that the carved images have life and power. In view of the sublime
descriptions of the one Creator I take the implication of the writer of
Exodus of other living gods to refer to the $EDIM.

  I suggest that you have a view of the god of the HB that is colored by
Christian and
  Hellenistic conceptions. I suggest, respectfully, that you are falling
into the trap
  that many fall into, and you are not reading the text that is printed, but
the text that is
  in your head. I give a lecture called "What does God Look Like ? the view
from the
  Bible." It sure does wake people up to the text.

  Best,
  Liz Fried
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