The Bible Reconsidered: A Second Historical Look at Scripture

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,392
Republika Srpska
Agree, my point was simply that initially God (in the OT) was NOT seen as omniscient and omnipotent... This came later
I always intepreted God as something Lovecraftian, something we cannot possibly understand or comprehend. We may see glimpses of God's intentions and actions, but they are not really understandable to us.
 
Likes: abram
Nov 2016
968
Germany
The second account is complementary to the first, dealing more fully with the creation of our first ancestors, while the initial account gives a descritption of the world which was being fashioned for Adam and Eve to occupy.
One problem with such attempts to harmonize the two versions of creation is the chronological question, because many exegetes regard the second report of creation as the older one, which under this condition of course excludes that it paints the other version (Gen 1) in detail. However, this chronological assessment is not uncontroversial.

Also problematic is the contradiction between the statement in Gen 1 that man is created after the image of God, and the very complicated process of creation in Gen 2, where woman is a secondary product, which does not even appear to exactly represent the image of a perfect god.

In this context two text layers have to be distinguished: one layer contains Gen 1,1-2,4 and 5,1 ff., the other Gen 2,5-4,26. The latter has been editorially inserted into the other layer in the course of the drafting of the Torah in the 5th century BCE.

This is part of the first layer without the inserted other layer:

2
1Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
4These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heaven.


5
1This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.


The other layer (2nd creation myth) was inserted between 2,4 and 5,1.

Creating Eve seems to follow from a process of trial-and-error elimination in God's search for a suitable companion for Adam.
The Talmudian interpretation that Adam, before he received Eve as a sex partner, had fun with animals should be pointed out. In the Babylonian Talmud it says:

(Tractate Yebamoth 63a)
R. Eleazar further stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh? This teaches that Adam had intercourse with every beast and animal but found no satisfaction until he cohabited with Eve.

The reason given is the "now", which indicates the relief of finally having to do with a species mate.

It should also be pointed out that Eve is called "Mother of all Living" at a later place (3:20), which was a typical epithet for the ancient oriental mother goddesses who no longer had a position in monotheistic-patriarchal Judaism. As is well known, the Jewish creation myth in Gen 2 is inspired by the Sumerian creation myth ´Atrahasis´. In this myth the creation of man is assigned to the goddess Ninmah, which corresponds to her role as mother goddess, but she makes the first human out of clay instead of giving birth to him. This shows the tendency of the patriarchate to devalue the role of the mother goddess. The Jewish tale goes even further and leaves the creation of mankind to a male god. But since it doesn't work without a woman, Eve assumes the role of "Mother of all Living" (3:2), which the goddess Ninmah has in the Sumerian myth.
 
Last edited:
Likes: abram

abram

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
2,177
oklahoma
Agree, my point was simply that initially God (in the OT) was NOT seen as omniscient and omnipotent... This came later
In Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, process theologian Charles Hartshorne argues that divine omnipotence and omniscience are misconceptions. Likewise, theologian Diogenes Allen says the Bible never claims that God is omnipotent, but instead claims He is almighty, which is not quite the same thing. Allen, 2010, Theology for a Troubled Believer.
 

abram

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
2,177
oklahoma
I would like to deal here with two subjects: (1) Eve´s rebellious character, (2) Adam´s role in the so-called Fall....
This interpretation is supported by a probable pun by the author which led to the name ´Havva´ (Eve) to which he attributes the meaning of ´Mother of all Living´ (Gen 3:20 / a frequent mother goddess epithet in the cultures of the ancient Near East). A Hebrew or Aramaic source of that word is not known. It is likely that the author had mixed two existing words to build his word creation ´Havva´: ´Hayya´ (Aramaic = who gives birth to life) and ´Hivya´ (Aramaic = serpent).
Fascinating analysis. I particularly like the psychoanalytic explanation of the serpent as a personification of part of eve's unconscious. I’d identify the genre of Gen. 2 as a combination of parable and fable—both designed to convey moral truths, with the latter involving talking animals, in this case a talking snake. There is also the aspect of “just so” stories designed to give mythical explanations about why things are the way they are—e.g., why do snakes crawl on their bellies, why do women experience pain in childbirth, etc. In particular, I’m reminded of the Greek myth about Pandora and her box of troubles. But the central story seems to be about a lost golden age of innocence, and how that loss came about.

The story gives us lots of symbols to unpack: Eden, the two trees, the snake and what all this tells us about us and the human condition.

Eden. Eden is generally regarded as Paradise, a golden age when humans (the two of them) existed in harmony with themselves, God and nature. In Sumerian, edin meant “plain”, which seems to be the root of the Akkadian edinnu. The Aramaic rendering adds that it was fertile and well-watered. In Hebrew it means pleasure garden. Where was the garden located? Genesis hints it might have been somewhere in the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley, since it mentions a spring in the garden which divides into four rivers, including the Euphrates. Yet the Haddakel (Tigris?) and Parat (Euphrates?) do not flow like spokes on a wheel from a central source, and the other two rivers don’t seem to exist, and none flow to Ethiopia. This seems to be a mythical Never Never Land.

The trees. There were lots of trees in the garden of Eden, but two receive particular attention: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God allowed humans to eat of the first tree, but not the second, for apparently if they did that and acquired both eternal life and knowledge of good and evil they would become fully divine: knowledge of good and evil + immortality=divinity. In the twelfth century C.E.,. Rabbi Moshe ben Nachmanides argued that the words eits hada’at , translated into English as “tree of knowledge”, are better translated as “tree of desire”. D’at is translated that way elsewhere. So it seems to me we’re getting close to Buddha’s second noble truth: that taṇhā (desire, craving) is the root of human misery.

The Snake. Snakes were prominent in ancient mythology, and often portrayed in a positive light, as symbols of immortality and healing (because they shed their skins). In Egypt, Nehebkau, a two -headed snake, was guardian of the underworld, while the cobra-headed goddess Wadjet became protector of Lower Egypt, and later co-protector of all Egypt. In Mesopotamia, snakes figure in the Gilgamesh epic. The quest of Gilgamesh for eternal life leads him to a miraculous life-giving plant, but while he is sleeping, a snake eats the plant and becomes immortal, robbing poor Gilgamesh of the fruit of his quest. In another tale, Gilgamesh kills a serpent that was nesting in a Huluppu tree his sister, the goddess Inanna, had wanted for her throne. Any connection with Genesis seems remote, but shows that they at least received some attention in the Babylonian literature. In Gen 2, the snake is described as “more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord has made.” But note: nothing in the story indicates that the snake was Satan, who does not enter the Bible as a tempter until the Persian period.

TBC
 
Likes: Tammuz

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,755
In Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, process theologian Charles Hartshorne argues that divine omnipotence and omniscience are misconceptions. Likewise, theologian Diogenes Allen says the Bible never claims that God is omnipotent, but instead claims He is almighty, which is not quite the same thing. Allen, 2010, Theology for a Troubled Believer.
And what is his definition of "almighty" ?

Also how about "omniscience" ? What is meant here by "misconception" ?
 

Ficino

Ad Honorem
Apr 2012
6,941
Romania
Likewise, theologian Diogenes Allen says the Bible never claims that God is omnipotent, but instead claims He is almighty, which is not quite the same thing. Allen, 2010, Theology for a Troubled Believer.
This is ridiculous, because "omnipotent" means "almighty".
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,392
Republika Srpska
Agree, my point was simply that initially God (in the OT) was NOT seen as omniscient and omnipotent... This came later
I would not say it applies to the whole OT:
Job 42.2: I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
This certainly seems to imply that God can do anything (omnipotent) and it is impossible to hide something from God (omniscient).
 
Nov 2016
968
Germany
I would not say it applies to the whole OT:
Job 42.2: I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
This certainly seems to imply that God can do anything (omnipotent) and it is impossible to hide something from God (omniscient).
There are even more passages in the OT where Yahweh says or it is said about him that he can accomplish everything if he wants, e.g. in Jer 32:27, Ps 135:6, Ps 145:3-6 and 1Chr 29:11. But because the god often seemed to abandon his people, Yahweh theologians switched to the construction that he wanted to punish the people´s infidelity (belief in the deities of polytheism) even by strategically favoring the enemies of Israel. Or they took refuge in the hollow formula that God's ways are unfathomable.

But where did the idea of the omnipotence of a god come from? The development towards monotheism ran parallel to the development of the idea of the Great Empire, as it was promoted by the kings of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian kings, like all ancient Oriental kings, stood in the function of mediators between the gods and the human world, more precisely: they were regarded as governors of the state god Assur, who was increasingly understood in the sense of an inclusive monotheism, i.e. all other gods, including the foreign states, functioned only as executive organs of Assur.

This dynamic was taken up by some influential Israelite Yahweh worshippers and gradually transferred to their god.

At the end of this process, Deutero-Isaiah´s version of Yahweh stood as the only god with authority over the whole world. This theological step contradicted the political impotence of the Israelite people, who were even stateless at the time of the Babylonian exile. The trick was to no longer interpret Yahweh as God of the state, but as a patron and war god of the ´people of Israel´ exclusively chosen by him. However, the monolatric process leading up to that time took place over several centuries and against the resistance of the people, who stubbornly wanted to hold on to the multiplicity of gods, above all to the worship of the goddess of love Ashera (a Syrian-Canaanite variant of Inanna/Ischtar).
 
Last edited:
Likes: abram

abram

Ad Honorem
Oct 2014
2,177
oklahoma
And what is his definition of "almighty" ?
According to Diogenes Allen,: "'Almighty'means to have authority over all thing; omnipotent' means to be able to do all things." (Theology for a Troubled Believer, p. Hartshorne, if I understand him, argues that pure omnipotence gets us into the paradoxes raised by mischievous atheists like Col. Ingersoll: Can god make a rock He can't lift? If He can't, where is the omnipotence? If He can, where is the omnipotence? A theologian can address this in one of two ways: semantically, by saying that omnipotence means to do all things that are not logically contradictory, or to say God is not omnipotent, only almighty. I think both work. The pagan gods weren't thought of as omnipotent, but were awfully powerful in their own jurisdictions. The Hebrew God claimed jurisdiction over the entire universe. The notion that God is omnipotent was devloped by phiosophers and theologians like Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas building upon the Greco-Roman metaphysical apparatus of Plato and Aristotle, respectively. The inability of God to do logically contradictory things isn't really a limitation on His power. God can exercise His will to limit His own exercise of powers without compromising His omnipotence, because it's His will. And he did this by giving humans free will. Hartshorne takes this ball and runs with it, so that God can limit His own exercise of powers over lots of things. Why would He do this? Because He want to. God works in mysterious ways. Maybe to make things more interesting. This, by the way, resembles the go around philosophers and scientists have over determinism in the aftermath of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. I'm skeptical of the theological arguments here, because it would be much like my dogs wondering why I get so upset about them making a mess on the carpet and writing a treatise about it. Way beyond our pay grade!

Also how about "omniscience" ? What is meant here by "misconception" ?
Hartshorne thinks omniscience is also a "mistake" (the word He uses), for similar reasons. Saint Augustine argues for both free will and predestination, which is the "solution" accepted by Calvinists. Arminians disagree. Six different views of predestination, what do calvinists and arminians believe? – The Reluctant Skeptic My own solution is to try to stay clear of such issues and look at the text at hand. I thin it's a myth that may teach us something important. What can we learn from it.
 
Last edited:

Similar History Discussions