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Genesis Authorship and Reality - Documentary Hypothesis


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#1 Kay

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 07:18 AM

Genesis Authorship and Reality - Documentary Hypothesis

More recent times and in discussion questions have been raised regarding the authenticity of the claimed authorship of Genesis (or understood to be so), and that of Moses as the Author.

The Jewish Philosopher, Barukh Spinoza (mid-late 1600's) or later Julius Wellhausen in the 19th Century, the JEDP Theory grew in popularity and as seen largely accepted by Scholarship today.

Does this acceptance also fit within the confines of the promotion of Theistic Evolution?

Such, the question of JEDP is not the only matter, but there seems to be and overall questioning of the legitimacy of the Bible Account, Genesis 1; 2 in particular (and also regarding previous discussions, and having to interpret the Bible Account in light of ANE - see these threads: here and here).

One of the many reasons this has been raised is the claim by a number of brethren that Moses may have written the Law, and probably so (they attest) but question the legitimacy of the early accounts, the beginnings. Yet, at the same time on two different groups, one claim is made yet on another the claim is contradicted and that Moses did pen the earlier Chapters by at least one of the brethren claiming Common Descent.

Is the JEDP Theory correct?

Comment made by Gleason Archer in A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (a little history of JEDP):

Summary of the Dialectical Development of the Documentary Hypothesis

1. Astruc said that different divine names point to different sources—J and E division; this idea was extended more thoroughly by Eichhorn (E earlier than J).

2. De Wette defined D as a manufacture of Josiah’s time (621 B.C.).

3. Hupfeld divided up E into the earlier El (or P) and the later E2 (which more closely resembles J). His order of documents was PEJD.

4. Graf thought that the legal portions of P were Exilic, latest of all, even though historical portions may be early. His order of documents was: P1EJD2.

5. Kuenen felt that historical portions of P must be as late as the legal. He gave as the order of documents: PEJD.

6. Wellhausen gave the Documentary Theory its classic expression, working out the JEDP sequence upon a systematic evolutionary pattern.

Observe the contradictions and reversals which characterize the development of this Documentary Theory. (1) Different divine name points to different author (Astruc, Eichhorn), each with his own circle of interest, style, and vocabulary. (2) Same divine name (Elohim), nevertheless employed by different authors (Hupfeld); whereas some E passages really do not greatly differ from J in circle of interest, style, or vocabulary. (3) That Elohist (P) which most differs from J in interest and style, must be the earliest (Jahweh being a later name for God than Elohim). (4) No, on the contrary, this P must be latest instead of earliest (for this fits in better with Evolutionary Theory about the development of Hebrew religion from the primitive polytheistic to the priest-ridden monotheistic.) (5) J of course is later than E (all the critics up to Graf); but no, J is really earlier than E (Kuenen and Wellhausen).

The most thoroughgoing refutation of the Wellhausen hypothesis to appear at the end of the nineteenth century in America was furnished by William Henry Green of Princeton, in his Unity of the Book of Genesis (New York: Scribner, 1895) and Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch (New York: Scribner, 1896). With great erudition and skill he showed how inadequately the hypothesis explained the actual data of the biblical text, and upon what illogical and self-contradictory bases the critical criteria rested.

A general discussion of the fallacies in the Documentary Theory which render it logically untenable will be found in chapter 8. The various criteria used by the Documentarians to prove diverse authorship will be discussed more in detail in chapters 9 and 10. Refutation of specific arguments dealing with particular books in the Pentateuch will be found in the chapters (14–18) which deal with those books.


Archer, G., Jr. (1994). A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.) (98). Chicago: Moody Press.

Though more to bring the attention to these two books, and available for download:

William Henry Green of Princeton, in his Unity of the Book of Genesis (New York: Scribner, 1895) (About 6 Mb Download - Linked to pdf)

and

Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch (New York: Scribner, 1896) (About 600 Kb Download - Linked to pdf)

Also, in the "claim" by brethren who promote Theistic Evolution to the brotherhood claim that Genesis 1; 2 contradict - but is this the reality or rather a perceived contradiction to discount God's Word, to support their claim that "Evolution is True"?
"seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" Matthew 6:33

#2 David Brown

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 06:32 PM

Oh, here we go again. Kay, those of us who uphold the integrity of the Bible by accepting the consistency of Scripture with the scientific evidence for evolution and common descent may well be happy to debate the subject – but not when you make knowingly disingenuous allegations. You know perfectly well that those of my opinion are not ‘questioning the legitimacy of the Bible Account’ or ‘discounting God's Word’, but presenting a non-literal interpretation of it – an interpretation which as I have shown at http://davidbrownuk....readgenesis.htm , is supported by the internal evidence of Scripture itself.

Please withdraw your false assertions and concentrate on presenting (concisely) arguments which you feel support your position.

#3 Mark Taunton

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Posted 17 November 2012 - 11:08 PM

David,

Jesus' teaching directly contradicts yours about the authorship of Genesis. So does the book of Genesis itself.

In your pamphlet you say:

In summary, a literal reading places Genesis chapter 1 in contradiction to chapter 2, but if we take a different, non-literal view, the chapters offer different perspectives, from different writers, on the creation story.


But In Mat 19:4-6, Jesus said:

Have you not read, that he who made at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.


Here Jesus quotes from both Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 in explaining the foundation of marriage:
  • "the beginning" is from Gen 1:1
  • "made them male and female" is from Gen 1:27 "male and female he created them" (which also comes in Gen 5:2)
  • "for this cause ... one flesh" is from Gen 2:24
In his reading, Jesus seamlessly flows these three quotations together into one, and argues from this compound statement about the nature of marriage. He is definitely not treating the two accounts of the creation of man and woman as contradictory, or even just different, having different perspectives as you claim. On the contrary, he treats them as one, and having an entirely consistent perspective, which is the basis of his teaching.

In fact, the detail I pointed out above, that "made/created male and female" comes in both Genesis 1 and again in Genesis 5 in the genealogy of Adam, is itself direct evidence of the unity and consistency of the entire creation record. Just as Jesus later does, Genesis 5 combines details from Genesis 1 and 2. It refers clearly back to Genesis 1 in saying Adam was made "in the likeness of God" and that God made them "male and female". But in using the name "Adam", explicitly as a name ("God called their name Adam"), it clearly refers to the man whose own creation, along with his wife's, is recorded in Genesis 2, the record of whom continues through chapters 3 and 4, and in particular identifies that man's son Seth, in Genesis 4:25, just as the genealogy of chapter 5 itself does. So according to Genesis 5, the "male" in "male and female" of Genesis 1:27 is the man Adam of Genesis 2-4.

All this gives the lie to the notion that Genesis 1 and 2 are in contradiction when read "literally", as you assert. The two are consistent, and are treated subsequently, in both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, as consistent and giving a single true testimony to the events of creation. As Jesus taught, they are in agreement in describing the creation (singular) of a man (singular) and his wife (singular), which two became one in the first marriage, the foundation for all later marriages.

Moreover, Jesus identifies the origin of the words, not as by two different human writers, but as coming from one individual, the creator himself, speaking. He says that it was the one who made them male and female who said "for this cause ... ". But in the text of Genesis, those latter words appear as part of the narrative, they are not presented as reported speech, as something God said. This shows that the narrator of Genesis is not a human writer at all, it is God himself. No doubt a man wrote the words down at some point (else we would not have the words to read today), but the one who is the author of the words is God, not man.

So Genesis is not presented in scripture itself as a combination of separately written human documents, giving different human perspectives, It is presented as God's singular word, giving his one true perspective.

David, you claim to uphold the integrity of the Bible. But you seek to divorce two pieces of scripture that scripture itself, and the Lord Jesus himself, join directly together and consider as one. You seek to limit their validity to a "non-literal" reading, claiming they are otherwise inconsistent and indeed in contradiction to each other. Yet the word of God in Genesis 5, and the Lord Jesus, the word become flesh, do the very opposite, showing that they speak in agreement. Are you truly upholding the integrity of the Bible?

Edited by Mark Taunton, 18 November 2012 - 09:05 AM.


#4 David Brown

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 11:03 AM

Yes Mark, I am. I am interpreting Scripture in a manner that recognises the consistency of its record with the overwhelming evidence of science: the 'two books' principle and the recognition, as Robert Roberts wrote, that all facts are of God - whether facts of palaeontology, of history, of genetics or revealed in scripture. Those of your persuasion are, I suggest, risking bringing the Bible into disrepute and ridicule - and by forcing a choice of Bible OR science, playing to the hands of the atheists and driving thoughtful young (and old) people away from faith.

#5 nsr

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 03:40 PM

...and driving thoughtful young (and old) people away from faith.

But this isn't actually happening, is it? This is just unhelpful scaremongering. The real problems facing young people in our community are:
- lack of sufficient Biblical instruction.
- lack of support, encouragement and advice in abstaining from the world.
- the idea that truth is relative and needs to be discovered by the individual rather than taught by an authority figure.
- reliance on human experience and emotion to determine what is true rather than going to the Bible.
- the idea that it doesn't matter what they believe; all churches' beliefs are equally valid and equally true.
- humanism and its underlying assumptions that man is the centre of everything and man is basically good.
- the growing lack of consideration and attention being given to the importance of repentance and forgiveness in our hope of salvation.
- excessive focus on outwards forms of worship and displays of righteousness.
- "love your neighbour" being exalted as the greatest commandment when it's actually the second greatest and needs to be understood within the context of the first commandment "Love God" which is largely ignored.

For starters anyway. The religion/science debate is a non-issue. If anyone has strong beliefs about it, good for them, but there is zero need to try and enforce their beliefs on anybody else. And yes, that applies to all sides. Just put it away in a box and get on with tackling the real issues.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#6 Mark Taunton

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 04:31 PM

Yes Mark, I am. I am interpreting Scripture in a manner that recognises the consistency of its record with the overwhelming evidence of science: the 'two books' principle and the recognition, as Robert Roberts wrote, that all facts are of God - whether facts of palaeontology, of history, of genetics or revealed in scripture. Those of your persuasion are, I suggest, risking bringing the Bible into disrepute and ridicule - and by forcing a choice of Bible OR science, playing to the hands of the atheists and driving thoughtful young (and old) people away from faith.


David, you need to answer the case that Jesus and the author of Genesis 5 make, about the consistency between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Despite the claim you make about interpreting scripture by scripture, you are not doing so. Instead you openly seek to interpret scripture in a way that conforms it to science, to merely human interpretation of the created world. This is quite different from, and indeed contradictory to, the interpretation that the creator, God himself, and his son provide for us in the scripture of truth. You are not upholding the integrity of the Bible. Rather you are upholding the integrity of human science, placing its teachings above the integrity of the Bible. You have it upside down. We should honour and serve the creator, more than the created things. To do otherwise brings us under condemnation, copying the behaviour of foolish and ignorant mankind (Rom 1:25).

#7 nsr

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 05:07 PM

The idea that God's word and God's creative works are two separate strands of communication which we have to reconcile together is not, as far as I can see, found anywhere in Scripture. The implicit assumption that modern man is in a better position to understand God than ancient man certainly sets alarm bells ringing.

I think with regard to God's creative works, his intention is actually for us to marvel at his awesomeness and become very aware of our own insignificance by comparison, not think that we are intelligent enough to work out how he did it all.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#8 David Brown

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:20 PM

I don't buy the Genesis 5 point - it's an ancient genealogical list with obviously exaggerated ages, as was often done in the ancient world to stress importance of those named. Nor do I see Jesus making a point about gen 1 &2 - I don't know whether he, or Paul, thought of the Genesis creation myth (in the proper sense of the term) as literal, any more than I know whether they could have explained general relativity or molecular biology. Perhaps Jesus just spoke in terms his hearers would relate to, without bothering about literal truth in a very modernist sort of way (cf, the way he used the rick man & lazarus, or demons). And yes, I am, unashamedly, interpreting scripture and science in harmony. Not 'above', but in harmony. I actively encourage all C'dns to do the same, and I'll do that loudly and often. Without, of course, questioning the sincerity or the genuineness of those like yourself who think otherwise - and I expect the same tolerance from your side of the community in return, please.

A word to nsr - what do you want, more earnest youngsters poring over ever more intense abstruse bible study with KJVs they don't understand - or people that think for themselves about how to apply Jesus to today's world? And another word, this time about wanting an 'authority figure'..... what an astonishing things for a C'dn to say. Tell you what, let's call it a pope....

#9 David Brown

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:21 PM

The idea that God's word and God's creative works are two separate strands of communication which we have to reconcile together is not, as far as I can see, found anywhere in Scripture. The implicit assumption that modern man is in a better position to understand God than ancient man certainly sets alarm bells ringing. I think with regard to God's creative works, his intention is actually for us to marvel at his awesomeness and become very aware of our own insignificance by comparison, not think that we are intelligent enough to work out how he did it all.


Oh, so the writer of Psalm 11 was wrong, then?

#10 nsr

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:46 PM

A word to nsr - what do you want, more earnest youngsters poring over ever more intense abstruse bible study with KJVs they don't understand - or people that think for themselves about how to apply Jesus to today's world?

Can you really only think in these kinds of extremes?

And another word, this time about wanting an 'authority figure'..... what an astonishing things for a C'dn to say. Tell you what, let's call it a pope....

I was thinking more along the lines of God.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#11 nsr

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 06:48 PM

Oh, so the writer of Psalm 11 was wrong, then?

You'll need to be more specific. Which part of Psalm 11 did you have in mind?
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#12 David Brown

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 07:31 PM


Oh, so the writer of Psalm 11 was wrong, then?

You'll need to be more specific. Which part of Psalm 11 did you have in mind?


Sorry, should be Ps 111 v 2

#13 nsr

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 07:39 PM

Ah, that makes more sense. To me that agrees entirely with what I said in #7. I think we need to consider it in the context of the psalmist's day rather than our own.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#14 Mark Taunton

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 12:25 AM

Ah, that makes more sense. To me that agrees entirely with what I said in #7. I think we need to consider it in the context of the psalmist's day rather than our own.


Indeed. The context of the psalm itself shows the error of thinking this verse has anything to do with "science" in the way that word is used today. It is not telling us to investigate the intricacy and wonder of the physical construction of this created world, amazing though that is. Rather, the psalm clearly speaks about God's works for the benefit of his people who trust in him.

Are we to suppose that when we read in verse 6 that God " has revealed to his people the power of his works" (the same word as in v2), he had put in front of them microscopes, so they could observe the extraordinary structure of the cell, or telescopes, to discern the beauty of a far-off galaxy glowing with billions of stars? How would that in any way relate to the explicitly stated purpose of this revelation, namely, "that he may given them the heritage of the nations"? It has nothing to do with it.

Or when at verse 7 we read that "the works" (same word again) "of his hands are truth and judgement; all his commandments are sure", are we to believe this is speaking of the peculiar behaviour of sub-atomic particles, or the amazing precision of his design of the eye, or the inverse-square law of the force of gravity? Of course not. Truth and judgement are moral qualities of God, as reflected in his actions of grace and compassion; likewise his righteousness, his uprightness, all of which are mentioned in this context. This psalm is not referring to scientifically-discovered properties of the created material world; it is rather referring to the greatness of God's works towards his people, to save them.

It matters not that the builders of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge chose to engrave the words of Psalm 111:2 above its doorway. Clearly, they had not considered carefully the context of those words, to understand their true meaning. The works of God that the psalm speaks of what are God has done and continues to do for his people, because of his graciousness and his compassion. The greatness of the power of those works is that by them he saves and redeems those who believe his word and trust in his deliverance.

And indeed, ironically in this context, that deliverance, already known from earlier scriptures by the psalmist, was so often achieved by miraculous means that science is powerless to explain. God sent plague after plague upon Egypt, far beyond mere natural explanation - even the magicians of Egypt recognised the finger of God at work! He dried up the depths of the Red Sea, freezing its waters into walls on either side, to let his people through. He fed them in the wilderness with manna, a food unknown to them and equally unknown to modern science. Their clothes, inexplicably, did not wear out, and nor did their feet swell, through all of forty years. He stopped the waters of the Jordan, like turning off a giant tap, so his nation could cross; then when the last foot was lifted from the river-bed, the waters immediately resumed their flow. The walls of Jericho fell down at their concerted shout. A day of battle was extended well beyond its normal length, so they could overcome their enemies.

All these sorts of things are the great works of God, which those who take pleasure in them seek out, striving to understand not the physical processes involved (which they never will, by any scientific method), but the meaning and wonder of how God has saved and will save his people who trust in him. To do that, to fear him, is the beginning of true wisdom. To heed and do his commandments demonstrates the sort of understanding that will never lead to a degree from a university, far less a Nobel prize, but is of infinitely greater value - of everlasting value - compared with the world's assessment of what constitutes progress and learning.

Lastly, here is the evidence that this is the right understanding of Psalm 111:2; it comes in Deuteronomy 11. Even in the KJV (which is easiest for me to copy and insert) it is perfectly understandable. The phrase I have highlighted uses the same Hebrew words as appear in Psa 111:2, directly showing us what they refer to, as the preceding verses summarise. Not only that, this context aligns perfectly with the words in the Psalm, concerning God's revelation of his mighty works to his people (Psa 111:6): through their fearing him, and consequently believing and obeying his word, he did give them "the heritage of the nations", when they took possession of the promised land, just as Moses said:

Deu 11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day;
5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did.
8 ¶ Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.


Edited by Mark Taunton, 19 November 2012 - 01:22 AM.


#15 Mark Taunton

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:45 AM

I don't buy the Genesis 5 point - it's an ancient genealogical list with obviously exaggerated ages, as was often done in the ancient world to stress importance of those named.


In other words, it's not true that Adam had his son Seth at age 130, or died at age 930. In other words, the author of Genesis is lying to us. Where is the "integrity of the Bible" you claimed to uphold, when you deny these plain factual statements? You indicated previously, when asked when the "myth" stops and reality begins, that the record of Abraham seemed more historically plausible to you than earlier ones. Does that mean you accept he had a son at the age of 100, by a 90-year-old wife? And that he died at age 175, and his son at age 180? Modern science has no record of such lifetimes. Are we to believe the author of Genesis, or not?

Nor do I see Jesus making a point about gen 1 &2 - I don't know whether he, or Paul, thought of the Genesis creation myth (in the proper sense of the term) as literal, any more than I know whether they could have explained general relativity or molecular biology. Perhaps Jesus just spoke in terms his hearers would relate to, without bothering about literal truth in a very modernist sort of way (cf, the way he used the rick man & lazarus, or demons).


Just because you don't see Jesus' use of Genesis 1 & 2 - his plainly treating the two sections of the creation narrative as one - as making a point, that doesn't mean there is no such logical case from his words. Moreover, he plainly shows that the author of both records is God himself, not two separate human writers with different perspectives. You have said nothing here to disprove either of these points.

And yes, I am, unashamedly, interpreting scripture and science in harmony. Not 'above', but in harmony.


No, you are not. According to you, if science has no knowledge of people living to 800 or 900, then it can never have happened. According to you, Genesis 5 is not to be read as if it did, despite the exact same form of words being used in scripture to speak of the ages of later men, whose lives were shorter, closer to current lifetimes (Terah in Gen 11:32, Isaac in Gen 35:28). This is not interpreting scripture as the authority it claims to be, the word of our creator who knows all things perfectly, and has told us all the truth, because his word is truth. This is not even interpreting scripture in harmony with science. This is interpreting scripture under the supposed authority of science.

What's more - and again it is quite ironic - you seem unaware of what modern science has discovered about lifetimes. By sometimes quite minor changes in genetic detail, diet or environment, it has been found that some creatures are able to continue living, for significantly longer than their current "normal" life span. If even today man can observe this, why do you suppose the creator of the universe could not have allowed the men and women of ancient times to live for so much longer than we do?

I actively encourage all C'dns to do the same, and I'll do that loudly and often. Without, of course, questioning the sincerity or the genuineness of those like yourself who think otherwise - and I expect the same tolerance from your side of the community in return, please.


I'm not questioning your sincerity. Evidently you believe what you say. What I question is whether it's true, and truly in agreement with the word of God. If it is not - and I am pointing out how scripture shows that it is not - then it is to be rejected, because whatever goes against the teaching of scripture must be rejected, and the error of those who teach it reproved.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 19 November 2012 - 06:00 PM.


#16 nsr

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:32 AM

Without, of course, questioning the sincerity or the genuineness of those like yourself who think otherwise - and I expect the same tolerance from your side of the community in return, please.

I agree with this, incidentally - I'm entirely happy to share fellowship with people regardless of their views on how God created the universe, the world and life on it. Whether that means God doing the whole thing from scratch in seven literal days, or God creating the universe/planet earlier then life from scratch later, or by some gradual evolutionary process - whatever, I'm really not bothered. I don't think God intended us to know and I don't think we are even capable of understanding how it worked from his end.

It's when we start moving into other areas such as whether Genesis was even literal at all, whether the earliest people in Christ's genealogy existed at all, whether we have to change our understanding of the Bible to match the wisdom of the world, and so on, that I have problems. Theistic evolution on its own I don't have a problem with; I don't particularly agree or disagree with it as I'm not bothered either way, but for me it seems like the whole issue opens up a crack that becomes wider and wider the deeper we go. I can't accept the idea that modern man is better equipped to understand what the Bible really means by virtue of what he's learned from science.

I'm not anti-science by any manner of means, I should point out. I have a lot to thank modern medicine for. I just don't think science can teach us anything about God, because things concerning God need to be spiritually discerned, and science doesn't work that way.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#17 David Brown

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:37 PM

Mark, you clearly don't understand how ancient writers used ages - you seem to be reading the OT without regard to context - or the word 'myth' which may or may not be based in fact. So no, I don't believe - or rather I don't see a compelling reason to believe - that 'Adam', if he was a real person, had a son at 130, etc. So we'll just have to agree to differ, and respect one another's sincerity, deluded though we may consider each other to be.

Just one point Be careful before you dismiss the thought behind the quote over the entrance of the New Cavendish, unless you've met the sincere Christian and scientist who had the idea of putting it there. I have.
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#18 Mark Taunton

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:42 PM

David:

I'm the one reading the OT without regard to context?! Please explain your grounds for seeing Psa 111:2 as having any relevance whatever to ordinary human scientific endeavour, when the context of the both psalm itself and other scriptural uses of the phrase in question provide a very different significance for those words, as I have shown.

Since you obviously believe that the genealogy in Genesis 5 does not mean exactly what it says, you will of course give the clear scriptural reason for that belief. Merely referring to extra-biblical mythological histories that also claim vast ages for certain important men will not do what you need to do, to justify this reading of the Bible. The Bible, whose integrity you claim to uphold, is the word of God, whereas such other documents clearly are not. They are not to be set alongside it, as claimed equals, in regards to value and validity.

In addition, you will be able explain why, if greater claimed age implies greater importance, Methuselah (about whom scripture gives us no particular further information) must be the most important of all, while Enoch, barely over 1/3rd his rank on that scale, is commended directly and strongly for his life of demonstrated faith - the biblical measure of importance - both there and in Hebrews 11. As for Abraham, well, he certainly outlived anyone of our own recent history, yet was a mere stripling by comparison with his forebears - pretty much a nobody, really, in respect of the supposed ancient measure of his merits. Really?

Further, you will kindly show how we are to understand not only the ages at death of the men in the genealogy, but the age of fathering the son who continued the line. If Mahalaleel was not actually 895 when he died, but only (say) 1/10th of that, a modern-day-scientifically acceptable 89, does this mean he fathered Jared at age 6 and a half? Clearly, that doesn't work - it would be more believable to modern science that he did so at the stated age, 65. Yet Methuselah is recorded as begetting Lamech at the age of 187, far beyond any modern lifespan. You need to make sense of this: if these ages at death are only symbolic, what is the symbology of the age of the father when his particular named son is born?

Lastly, you will be able to explain why the change from such extreme ages before the flood to those we consider reasonable today is not at all abrupt, but gradual, over the space of several generations following Noah. If the ages in early Genesis are to be understood only in a supposed symbolic sense - honourary age, indicative of importance, not the man's true age at death - why do we not see a sudden and obvious switch to "real" ages (as you would surely agree the recorded lifespans of later generations are)? Why a continuous, near-perfectly monotonic decline towards what we today consider normal?

I look forward to your detailed response.

Edited by Mark Taunton, 19 November 2012 - 09:54 PM.


#19 nsr

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:19 PM

The question I always have is at what point can we actually start taking the narrative in the OT literally? Did Moses really die at 120? Joshua at 110? Aaron at 123? Stephen in Acts 7 clearly believed that Exodus 7:7 should be taken literally when it describes Moses as being 80 when he spoke to Pharaoh, having spent 40 years in Egypt and then 40 years in Midian. We are told that there then followed 40 years' wandering in the wilderness after that, so if the 120 years ascribed to Moses' lifespan are not taken literally then we've got to revise a lot more of the time periods given in Exodus, and Stephen apparently saw no need to do so.

If the 120 years of Moses *are* taken literally, then why not the 110 years of Joseph, the 147 of Jacob, the 180 of Isaac, and the 175 of Abraham, and so on back to Adam? Where do we draw the line and why? Surely a man living 175 years is just as impossible, naturally speaking, as a man living 969 years?
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#20 David Brown

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:25 PM

Mark - You seem to be trying to give me instructions, to which the answer is No: I have other things to do.

You have my monograph on early Genesis, and if you read it you'll find Scriptural support for a non literal reading. I don't know why the ages trend downwards as they do - perhaps we're simply shifting gradually from myth to something more like embroidered history. And I am certainly not naive enough to suppose that the ages are scaled up by some mathematical factor, as if to say that if Fred died at 200 and had a son at 30 we have to divide both by three...

You're attempting to read Genesis as if it were a sober factual account. It clearly isn't; let's get over it.

#21 Mark Taunton

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:39 PM

Mark - You seem to be trying to give me instructions, to which the answer is No: I have other things to do.


I apologise for my tone, which was not ideal. But I am sure you can see the need to provide specific answers (not just brief speculations) for those points, if your case is to be sustained. And I'm quite prepared to wait, however long it takes you to do those other things. I'll gladly consider a detailed response, when you resume your side of this discussion.

You have my monograph on early Genesis, and if you read it you'll find Scriptural support for a non literal reading.


I have read it. I take issue with many points in it (too many to mention now - we have enough to be concerned with here already). And it does not answer those questions I have asked above.

Your approach on the particular point seems to be based mainly on the false supposition that just because metaphor exists in some places in scripture, we are at liberty to declare whatever passage we choose, such as early Genesis, to be metaphoric, because we would rather it wan't literally true. That is not a valid argument. You cannot just assert that early Genesis is a metaphor, just because other passages are. You must show that this context actually is a metaphor, not factual, by pointing outt what makes it so. (And by the way, an instance of metaphor within a passage, such as mention of the "face" of the waters in Gen 1:2, does not make the whole passage metaphoric, but rather the reverse: such usage commonly demonstrates that the context in which it occurs is not itself metaphoric.)

I don't know why the ages trend downwards as they do - perhaps we're simply shifting gradually from myth to something more like embroidered history.


Either the ages are symbolic as you claimed (indicative of importance, not related to true age) or they are not. You can't shift gradually between the two: it's like shifting gradually from false to true - there is no middle ground.

You're attempting to read Genesis as if it were a sober factual account. It clearly isn't; let's get over it.


It clearly is presented as a factual account. Specifically with regard to Genesis 5, there is nothing evidently metaphoric anywhere in it, apart from the idea of "walking with God" used of Enoch, which is clearly not about mere physical perambulation. The genealogy is written in an entirely direct manner, presenting the sober facts of father-to-son sequence, including details of every man's age at both the birth of his son in the line, and his own death. The only problem is, you aren't prepared to read it that way, because to do so means going beyond the limit of what present-day science asserts as possible. But that's inconsistent of you. Present day science has equally no explanation for the miracles of Jesus, or, most crucially, for his resurrection; but that doesn't stop you believing they really happened, does it?

Edited by Mark Taunton, 20 November 2012 - 12:19 AM.





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