raqia encore

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Wed Jul 24 04:10:49 EDT 2002


Dear Rolf,

I find it difficult to understand the 
impression I get that you wish to read the text 
outside its context which includes texts such 
as the Enuma Elish as well as material from 
within the biblical tradition itself.

When God divided the waters and broke the heads 
of the dragons of the waters, we are obviously 
dealing with part of the same tradition as we 
find in Marduk's victory over the dragon of the 
waters, Tiamat, cognate with tehom of Gen 1:2. 
Ps 74:14 goes on, "You broke the heads of 
Leviathan" (dragon in LXX) in parallel with the 
heads of the dragons of the water in the 
previous verse. We have what you would call 
mythological material which gives body to tehom 
in Gen 1:2, the dragon of the waters, 
Tiamat/tehom.

Ps 89:9  You rule the raging of the sea..., 
10 You crushed Rahab like a carcass

Isa 51:9 [you] cut Rahab to pieces, profaned 
the dragon

Again working on the unruly sea and slaying the 
dragon/Rahab/Leviathan. This latter is known 
from Ugarit where we find a phraseology rather 
similar to Isa 27:1 (which has turned the event 
into an eschatological event) of Lotan being 
defeated by Baal -- apparently the same story 
in Ugartic vestments.

As I said in a previous post, Genesis knows 
much that it doesn't say. One of those things 
is what the tradition says happened in 1:2, but 
obviously there is more than what is stated and 
we see it both in those biblical glimpses of the 
creator god's domination of the dragon of the 
waters.

In reading Gen 1 totally from within itself and 
from a belief that it must conform to a modern 
view of the world, you may be able to pull off 
a certain rehabilitation of an ancient text with 
ancient ideas for modern eyes with modern ideas, 
but the cost is saying that whatever doesn't fit 
those modern ideas must be metaphorical.

(Can you also rehabilitate the creation of man 
in the Gen 2 account, with all the animals being 
created out of the ground after the man in a 
failed attempt to keep him from being lonely and 
then woman being created out of man's rib, etc?)

>First, all of you who believe the world view of the Bible writers was 
>an earth on pillars in a cosmic ocean with a solid vault above, to 
>which the sun, moon and stars were fixed, could you refer to one 
>Semitic source from the first half of the 1st millennium B.C.E. or 
>earlier, and include its words? If such a source is lacking, what is 
>the earliest source where we find this whole picture?  Could you 
>supply its words as well?

With the exception of the pillars everything is 
in Gen 1. 

>Genesis 1 shows how the earth gradually was made fit for herbal and animal life
>and at last for man. My angle of approach is simply: Does this 
>account, which is written in the language of the day, conform with 
>scientific data and scientific views.
>
>
>1:1 The universe (earth and planets) has a beginning and is created 
>by God. This information is given either if we translate "When God" 
>or "In the beginning God". 

The universe as made by God had a beginning. 
This says nothing of the material from which the 
creation was fashioned. This is where the "When 
God" and "In the beginning God" comes into the 
picture.

>God is outside of science, 

This may be true, but you cannot assume it. It 
may be believed and it may be true, but it is 
something one cannot know about, therefore the 
statement has no *communicative significance*.

>but that the 
>universe has e beginning, definitely conforms with science 
>(radioactivity and temperature differences). Nothing is said 
>regarding the way God created, but that his power/energy, not already 
>existing matter, was the source, can be gathered from Isaiah 40:26.
>
>1:2 No life on the earth, and it was covered with water. 

The text does not say this. You are unfortunately 
shaping the text. There is nothing explaining the 
relationship between the earth and the water. 
Where did the water come from?
 
Is the first creative act in Gen 1:3 when God 
first speaks? If not what happens to the six days 
of creation and the seventh day of rest? Does a 
reading that sees acts of creation before Gen 1:3 
not make a mockery of the institution of the 
sabbath?

I don't know how many times I have stated this 
important consideration about the creation account, 
but it should be obvious that there is a specific 
structure to the account partially aimed at putting 
the necessity of the sabbath at the very beginning 
of time.

The waters pre-existed the Babylonian creation, as, 
to my understanding they pre-existed the Gen 1 
creation. It is on the defeat of the dragon of the 
sea that creation commences, a defeat brought about 
through the use of a divine wind. The elements of 
the two creation accounts are quite similar, except 
when one attempts to rationalise the creation, put 
aside these similarities, not consider the traces 
of the battle with the dragon of the waters because 
it is not explicit in Gen 1.

>Either if we 
>translate "the earth was" or "the earth became", at one point "the 
>earth was" without life and covered with water. The view of 
>geologists is that the early earth was covered with water, and that 
>life was not on the earth from the beginning.
>
>1:3-5 The sun was evidently included in "the heaven" which was 
>created in "the beginning". 

You cannot say this given that God creates the 
sun in v14. There is nothing evident about your 
claim here at all. I truly don't understand how 
you could possibly claim this.

>Light shone now on  that which sorrounded 
>the earth. We know very little about the formation of planets; 

Rolf, this simply isn't true. While there are 
still things which are unknown a lot is known 
due to the abundant evidence available, from 
simple data such as closeness of nearly all 
planets' orbital plane, direction of spin, 
spectral analysis giving the composition of 
each planet, obervations from space -- 
the Hubble telescope --, etc.

>it is 
>only in the last few years that clear evidence of planets outside our 
>solar system has appeared. 

This simply isn't true. Evidence for planets 
outside the solar system has been known for as 
long as the rhythmic wobbling of stars.

>However, there is no scientific data to 
>reject the suggestion that light may be prevented from shining on 
>particular spots by cosmic dust or similar matter. 

I knew people attempted this sort of 
subterfuge! We are dealing with daylight 
and night. Cosmic dust etc., has nothing 
to do with daylight -- remembering that 
the part that was light was called day in 
v5, while the sun was created in v14 in 
order to rule over the day.

>The account 
>implies that there was no atmosphere similar to our own at this 
>point, but matter sorrounded the earth; the aggregate form not being 
>stated.
>
>1:6-8. The atmosphere (RAQIA() was formed. 

The text talks nothing about an atmosphere. It 
text talks about something which can be 
physically created [`$h], of an expanse which 
was plainly solid as it was made to hold up the 
waters above and is therefore not the 
atmosphere. Job 37:18 clearly makes the 
etymological link between the verb rq` and the 
formation of that part of heaven that we see 
during the day. 

>A part of the water, the 
>aggreagate form not stated, existed now above the atmosphere. Science 
>believs that our atmosphere has been gradually formed, first there 
>was a reducing atmosphere (which is of course speculation), the 
>oxegen came to be as a by product of photo synthesis. A formation of 
>the atmosphere in steps, as the verses indicate, conforms well with 
>present views.

This has nothing at all to do with Gen 1.

>1:9-10 Dry ground appeared above the water. The oldest sediments are 
>marine. 

Sediments have to be left somehow. Yet there 
is no uniformity to the situation as you imply. 
Some areas were under water while others 
weren't. One can't generalise a period when all 
land was under water.

>In Oslo, for example, we have Cambro-Silurian sediments 
>standing vertically, indicating great forces inside the crust raising 
>them from horizontal to vertical position. No geologist would deny 
>that great movements occured in the crust of the earth in earlier 
>times; 

Earlier, and later. The Blue Mountains in Australia 
are much older than the Himalayas.

>even in recent times we se evidence for a thrusting up of 
>mountains. That land masses arose as the verses say is no problem.

Parts rose, parts sank. This has nothing to do with 
land appearing by the gathering the waters into one 
place.

>1:11-12 Plants and green matter came before the animals on the earth. 
>this conforms with "the Geologic Column", which of course is 
>hypothetical, but still tell something about the order of fossils in 
>local places..

Before the sun, Rolf?

>1:14-18  The sun, moon and stars became visible in the RAQIA(. 

"Became visible" is not what the text says. God 
spoke the sun, moon and stars into existence. 
Did the light in Gen 1:3 exist before God said 
"let there be light"?

>Note 
>that the verb (SH is used here  and not BRH as in verse 1. Different 
>verbs signal different concepts. Some verbs may cover much of the 
>same meaning, and because informants are lacking, it is difficult to 
>insist on this or that difference between the two verbs in question. 
>However, the use of two verbs shows that the conclusion you draw is 
>not necessary. the verb BRH in verse 1 could refer to the creation of 
>the heavenly bodies from God's power/energy, and )SH could refer to 
>something being made/done with the bodies that already were created, 
>for instance, the atmosphere now became thinner, and that they bacame 
>visible on the sky.
>
>As to your comments regarding the word YWM, please consider the 
>following: The word refers to three different time periods in Genesis 
>1 and 2. It refers to the light part of a day in 1:5, to the creation 
>of "heaven and earth" in 2:5 and to the creation days in chapter 1. 
>This shows that the word "day" does not necessarily refer to a period 
>of 24 hours. I see no reason to construe the writer to mean that each 
>creation day was 24 hours long, The universe was created "in the 
>beginning", which may be 4.5 billion years ago; the text simply does 
>not say, and the length of each creation day is not stated.

As I had noted some people manipulate 
the meaning of the word ywm. To do so 
seems to me to make a mockery out of 
the institution of the sabbath. This is 
hard for me to believe that you are 
proposing this.

I don't understand how one can read ywm 
to mean something other than a period of 
24 hours in Gen 1 and still derive 
understanding out of the seven day 
structure of the passage? Either we are 
dealing with seven days, the last being 
the sabbath or the notion has no sense 
because a day could be anything one would 
like it to mean.

>Please note that I do not say that the events regarding the earth 
>happend the way I outline above. I simply ask the humble question: Is 
>there anything in the chapter that is contradicted by scientific data 
>(allowing for a reasonable application of the words)? And I have 
>found nothing. My outline simply show in modern words how the events 
>could have happened

"How events could happen" as you put it 
does not reflect the source text.

>That matter was created out of water is nowhere stated!

We have uncreated water from which the 
dry land emerged. That's simply what the 
text says, for there is no indication of 
the water having been created. It existed 
before the first act of divine fiat, ergo, 
it wasn't created.

[..]

The Enuma Elish, as I said was written at 
least before 1200 BCE. It reflects its time. 
When was Gen 1 written? Until you can answer 
that in some conclusive manner, your citations 
of the Enuma Elish to show how "mythological" 
it is has little value in the argument. 

However, the dragon of the waters, Tiamat, is 
present in Gen 1:2, before the creation, as 
tehom. The divine wind is there -- though why 
Gen doesn't say, and, while in the EE it was 
used to defeat Tiamat -- such doesn't fit in 
the divine conception of Gen. We see the 
dragon of the waters with God's aggression 
against it in related biblical texts, though 
its status is not stated in Gen. Just as 
Tiamat is cut in half, so are the primaeval 
waters in Gen. Just as half the body of water 
is lifted up to the roof of the sky in the EE 
so is there waters placed above the rqy` in 
Gen. And, out of the lower half did the 
creation take place.

In works like From Ritual to Romance, the 
endurance of ancient ideas transfigured into 
the Grail legends is demonstrated. One needs 
to note that different times require different 
refigurings to suit the ideas of the times. 
Your work with Gen 1 appears to me to be within 
such a tradition. I also think Gen 1 is another 
example. 


Cheers,


Ian











More information about the b-hebrew mailing list