TedBro at aol.com
TedBro at aol.com
Sun Sep 2 12:53:12 EDT 2012
You raise two good and critical questions.
1) in Ps. 29, with its parallels to the Ugaritic Baal as Rider on the
Clouds is a delightful text. Doesn't the passage use "clouds" and "flood"
interchangeably, showing that the two terms refer to the same waters? Rather
than picturing the clouds and the celestial ocean as different, doesn't this
text show them to the same? and מבול therefore representing clouds, a
poetic figure for the potential source of the flood waters?
2) You ask: Are you seeing only the pillars of the sky as metaphorical? If
so, why? What is your method for slicing off a metaphor here from reality
in this bigger cosmological picture?
Yep, I see pillars of the earth as part of the metaphor comparing Creation
to the human activity of constructing a building. The "method of slicing
off" metaphor from literal speech is based on the same structure / activity
described at times in literal terms and in other contexts as poetic. Job
26's "hanging the earth upon nothing" juxtaposes against Job 38's "pillars of
Just to clarify, I'm not advocating a 100% scientifically accurate Biblical
text, but rather pointing out that medieval / fundamentalist sort of
literal interpretations of poetic texts do not necessarily represent the meaning
of the text itself in its original context. The ancients made some but not
all of the off-based errors that we moderns often attribute to them. :-)
In a message dated 9/2/2012 2:55:23 A.M. Central Daylight Time,
George.Athas at moore.edu.au writes:
Thanks for your post. There is a difference between the clouds that bring
rain and the waters above the sky-dome (רקיע). In the flood narrative,
the water is not brought by clouds, but rather by the opening of the sluice
gates in the רקיע above allowing the celestial sea to inundate the earth
below, and the bursting open of the springs of the deep (תהום). See
Genesis 7.11–12. The separation of waters that is mentioned in Gen 1 is undone in
the flood, such that the flood is envisioned not merely as a big deluge of
rain, but rather as an act of uncreation leading to a new beginning—a
second genesis. The flood () is, in fact, the celestial sea allowed to inundate
the earth below. This is confirmed in Ps 29, where Yahweh is pictured as
enthroned permanently at this celestial sea — that is, at the , the same word
for 'flood'. After all, Yahweh is pictured as the God of the Heavens,
whose dwelling is above the waters — that is, on the other side of the רקיע,
which is generally why he can't usually be seen.
Also, you quoted Job 26, but did not mention 26.11:
עַמּוּדֵ֣י שָׁמַ֣יִם יְרוֹפָ֑פוּ וְ֝יִתְמְה֗וּ
The pillars of the sky totter, but freeze at his reprimand.
The fuller picture in Job is this: an earth seemingly suspended in an
ether (in this, Job probably differs from other biblical writers who see the
earth floating on water), with pillars holding up a sky that can totter. The
next few verses imply that these were created by Yahweh's conquest of Rahab
the sea snake. Are you seeing only the pillars of the sky as metaphorical?
If so, why? What is your method for slicing off a metaphor here from
reality in this bigger cosmological picture? Or is it the case that Job sees
creation as the result of Yahweh's successful conquest of a chaos monster,
resulting in a hard-panelled sky that balances on pillars.
Dean of Research,
Moore Theological College (moore.edu.au)
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