raqia encore

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon Jul 22 06:59:13 EDT 2002


Dear Rolf,

Regarding Genesis 7:10-12

>Gen. 7:10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth.
>Gen. 7:11  In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the 
>seventeenth day of the second month - on that day all the springs of 
>the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were 
>opened.

It is worthwhile reading how the rain stopped:

Gen 8:2 The springs of thwm and the windows of 
heaven were shut (up) [skr] and the rain from 
heaven was restrained [kl'].

Just as they were opened in 7:11, they were 
closed, shut up, restrained in 8:2. They didn't 
run out: they were held back from further 
flooding. This is consistent with a literal 
reading of our text: there were waters above 
the rqy` and waters below it. What evidence 
from the text points away from a literal 
reading of these things in any other direction?

As I've said, the waters above and the waters 
below are straight from the tradition of the 
Enuma Elish: they are part of the religious 
cultural background. This is not figurative 
language.

>If we accept "the rising of the sun" as a natural expression, there 
>is no need to see any mythological thoughts in the words of Genesis 
>7:11 - an extraordinary event must be expressed in a language that is 
>somewhat figurative. 

You go to any astronomy book and you'll see 
what the "real" situation is with regard to 
the rising of the sun. Go to the astronomy 
book of the ancient Hebrews and you'll see 
that it is in accord with the common ideas 
of the time.

>Please note that even large crops of grain and 
>olives etc. come through the "floodgates of heaven" (Malachi 3:10).

Now this is metaphor, not metaphor of metaphor. 

"Bring the full tithe... and I will open the 
windows of heaven and pour out... blessing."

This can only work if there is a natural 
understanding of windows of heaven through 
which waters could be poured out. Turning the 
metaphor into a simile, the blessing will be 
like rain, ie like that which comes out when 
the windows of heaven are opened.

>If you read Enuma elish, Gilgamesh and Atrahasis you will never doubt 
>that you are reading myths, in many cases there is just one 
>interpretation. 

Atrahasis and Gilgamesh were written well before 
1500 BCE. Enuma Elish is harder to date, though 
it goes back to the 2nd millennium BCE. All were 
written in a polytheistic environment. They may 
have been written 1000 years or more before the 
material we are considering. It would seem to me 
that the comparison is as useful as comparing 
biblical astronomy with Babylonian astronomy. 
Whereas the latter is on a clear proto-scientific 
basis, the former is not. 

>If you read Genesis, several texts can be interpreted 
>in two ways, either as expressing mythology, or as expressing natural 
>things in an everyday language. Our paradigm  will be the deciding 
>factor.

Do you mean that you find the notion that the 
cosmos was created out of water realistic? 
That the earth was a collection of dry from 
wet? That daylight was created before the sun? 
And that it all happened in six days? 

Which paradigm sees this material as simply 
"everyday language" expressing natural things? 


Cheers,


Ian





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