[b-hebrew] Re: Job & Sumer

George F. Somsel gfsomsel at juno.com
Fri Jun 11 15:48:08 EDT 2004

You ask if the Bible as authoritative as Homer's Illiad, the Amarna
Letters, Enuma Elish, or Gilgamesh.  Surely you jest.  There is no way
that the Bible is as authoritative as these works.

These other works are not authortative at all.  Homer is a great work of
literature which undoubtedly has some relationship to history if only a
tenuous one.  The Amarna Letters are somewhat historical in that they
were at least trying to present their positions to the Pharaoh.  Enuma
Elish is the Babylonian mythology establishing Marduk as the head of
their pantheon and might come closest to the Bible is genre.  Gilgamesh
may have a connection with history (as a legend attached to an historical
person) but is not itself historical.  None of these, however, are
authoritative for faith.

The canon is the rule of faith.  But I must stress that it is the rule of
FAITH.  It is not the rule for ORTHO - DOXY.  Orthodoxy is gnostic in
origin, not Jewish or Christian.  If one only knew what he is, namely a
little piece of the divine (according to gnosticism), he would be OK. 
The "Christian" version is  "If one would only think the right thoughts: 
(doctrine 1), (doctrine 2), (doctrine 3), . . . he will be OK.  This is
in fact anti-Christian.  I think it's also contrary to the Jewish view,
but I'll leave that to those who hold that position to state.


On Fri, 11 Jun 2004 15:03:09 -0400 "Tony Costa" <tmcos at rogers.com>
> George, while you hold the Hebrew Bible and New Testament to be
> "authoritative", what do you mean by this? Are they just as 
> authoritative as
> Homer's Illiad? The Amarna letters? Would you regard the Enuma Elish 
> as
> authoritative on par with Gen 1-2? Is the Epic of Gilgamesh just as
> authoritative as the story of Noah in Gen 6-9? Why do choose the 
> biblical
> text  over contemporary writings of the time whether they be 
> Canaanite,
> Babylonian or Assyrian? Is this question really one of relativism? 
> In other
> words, what do you believe constitutes authority in the Bible? When 
> you
> allude to the fact that the Bible need not "be authoritative for 
> science,
> history, geography, cosmogony, etc." are you implying that truth and 
> fact
> are trivial matters in the Bible? Does not the Bible also contain 
> element of
> history, geography and cosmogony?
> Tony Costa
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "George F. Somsel" <gfsomsel at juno.com>
> To: <tmcos at rogers.com>
> Cc: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Friday, June 11, 2004 2:31 PM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Re: Job & Sumer
> > It may surprise some who have read my comments about mythology 
> and
> > literary criticism, but I myself consider the texts which form the 
> canon
> > of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament to be authoritative.  I 
> simply
> > don't require that they be authoritative for science, history, 
> geography,
> > cosmogony, etc.  If they are scientifically inaccurate by 
> reflecting the
> > viewpoints of their time, so what?  If they are historically 
> inaccurate
> > as being written at a time when the events were no longer 
> well-known, so
> > what?  Are these things what they are meant to inculcate?  It 
> seems to me
> > that such a view would reduce faith to a kind of knowledge -- if 
> you
> > "know" the right things, you're OK.  I view faith as a trusting in 
> God
> > for all things good which doesn't mean that I need to correctly 
> explain
> > them.  Thus it is not that anyone who doesn't accept these texts 
> as
> > historically accurate also doesn't accept them as "authoratative 
> [sic!]
> > and sacred text."
> >
> > gfsomsel
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