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How do we know there's a God? What is he like?

Re: You are polytheistic

Postby Spiderman » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:20 pm

> The so-called monotheistic roots of Judaism found in the days of Pharaoh Aktenaten only lasted about 20 years.

i'm not convinced there is any connection at all. if there is, it likely goes the other way around. canaanites were already monolatrist when akhenaten was in contact with them, and it's possible that their religious practices influenced his own.

> Yahwism was unique in the sense that it was radically monotheistic, especially among its neighbors.

yes, but it wasn't radically monotheistic until pretty late -- at least 700 BCE, if not later, if i'm charitably accepting that dueteronomy represents radical monotheism. it certainly is the text that prompted later radical monotheism, i don't think we'll argue about that.

> The text of Deuteronomy doesn't allow for practical monotheism, but there are possible interpretations that potentially allow for henotheism and monolatry at the very least.

yes, this text we're talking about is one of the parts that leads scholars to think that there was monolatry (or some other form of henotheism) prior to deuteronomy. deuteronomy as a whole is fairly close to philosophical monotheism, i agree.

> Obviously later Israel follows philosophical monotheism. The debate may never end as to whether or not they always did.

later judah. it's not clear if israel was ever monotheistic. they disappear into the assyrian exile around the same time that judah begins to lean in the direction of monotheism. i don't think there's really much debate about whether judah was always monotheistic. the bible clearly says they weren't. and then there's archaeology...

> Except for texts like Dt. 32.39, which seems distinctively different from the Hymn to Amun-Ra, which speaks of "Chief of all the gods' (henotheism).

and indeed that's what the title "elyon" means. i agree that there's some difference between "better than all the gods" and "no god beside him", because one is a bit more vague -- and does read into later more philosophical monotheism.

> Some agree with this, and some don't.

i'm not aware of anyone who thinks that hilkiah's scroll wasn't deuteronomy, or some earlier source for deuteronomy.

> One of the shortcomings of this theory is what appears to be a quite clear reference to Genesis 10 and the list of nations, as well as to Ex. 1.5 and the record there of the families of Israel.

"70" is a common number for "a lot" in the ancient near east. it's also the number of the sons of el and asherah in ugarit, the elohim.
In Gn. 9-10 the deity is YHWH, as is the deity of Exodus 1-3. A reference is being made, and so we have to make the connection.
well, no. theology clearly changes over time; we can't assume that newer texts represent the theology of older texts or vice-versa. we can sometimes see some shared context across sources, but you have to be very careful when applying that kind of technique.

nearly all of the torah is written with the idea that yahweh and el are identical. this is a different period that when yahweh would have been elyon but distinct from el, and a different period from when yahweh would have been distinct from el, who was elyon. especially with cases like this that are very clearly inclusions of older traditions, we can't just assume that the theology one text should apply to this text too. particularly when the plain reading would seemingly indicate otherwise.
Spiderman
 

Re: You are polytheistic

Postby jimwalton » Mon Apr 30, 2018 6:10 pm

> yes, but it wasn't radically monotheistic until pretty late -- at least 700 BCE, if not later,

It wasn't distinctly and unarguably radically monotheistic until later. The question remains among scholars as to when they became such, or if they were always such but used the vocabulary of their cultural context. It's almost impossible to separate.

> later judah. it's not clear if israel was ever monotheistic.

Again, it's a tough line to draw. Though Deuteronomy is much debated, David in the Psalms not as much so, and David pre-dates Israel (the northern 10 tribes). As I said, this could be almost impossible to iron out.

> i'm not aware of anyone who thinks that hilkiah's scroll wasn't deuteronomy, or some earlier source for deuteronomy.

There is quite a bit of strength for the position that Moses was the primary tradent and source of the material of the Torah/Pentateuch. there is internal evidence such as Dt. 31.9, 24, as well as frequent references throughout the historical books to the Torah of Moses (Josh. 8.31 et al.) Deuteronomy purports to record the speeches of Moses, and there is little evidence against that Moses is the source material. Obviously the text was edited and assembled later (since Moses didn't even speak Hebrew), and that's where we get the pieces that seem to be from later eras.

> "70" is a common number for "a lot" in the ancient near east. it's also the number of the sons of el and asherah in ugarit, the elohim.

Agreed. Yes, "70" is a very symbolic number and it pops up in many contexts. It is used symbolically of historical situations, and used symbolically in symbolic situations. It has to be judged on individual bases. Since Genesis 10 is an historical rendering of people groups (most of which, surprisingly, are known!), though obviously only 70 were chosen to make a point (symbolic/theological), we have to do our best to interpret. My point, however, is that YHWH, not a council of gods, is the deity over the nations.

> nearly all of the torah is written with the idea that yahweh and el are identical

This is tricky. "El" is just generic, so of course YHWH fits the category.

> this is a different period that when yahweh would have been elyon but distinct from el, and a different period from when yahweh would have been distinct from el, who was elyon.

This is extremely difficult, if not impossible to prove. We just don't have enough information.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby Spiderman » Tue May 01, 2018 3:48 pm

> It wasn't distinctly and unarguably radically monotheistic until later. The question remains among scholars as to when they became such, or if they were always such but used the vocabulary of their cultural context. It's almost impossible to separate.

i don't think there's much debate, really, among scholarship. heiser and smith represent opposite ends of the spectrum, and they both accept that monotheistic yahwism has its roots in canaanite monolatry/henotheism.

> Though Deuteronomy is much debated, David in the Psalms not as much so, and David pre-dates Israel (the northern 10 tribes).

that on the other hand is hotly debated. there isn't particularly good evidence for a united kingdom. the best argument i've heard so far involves architectural similarities that may indicate a kingdom-wide civics project in the 10th century BCE. david himself is sort of attested to once in the archaeological record, and even then that's pretty hotly debated. ביתדוד on the tel dan stele may not indicate a person named דוד but may simply be referring to the throne as the "beloved house", and david may be a kind of eponymous/mythical ancestor, like jacob/israel, named after the already extant convention of calling the king "beloved".

i am agnostic on the united kingdom (i'd need more evidence one way or the other), and i think the tel dan stele is probably evidence of a king of judah named "david". but these are far from settled!

> There is quite a bit of strength for the position that Moses was the primary tradent and source of the material of the Torah/Pentateuch.

no, there is none at all. any ideas about moses disappear when you start to examine the historical contexts of the late bronze age, leading into the bronze age collapse, and the iron age i "dark age". the entire exodus narrative is anti-historical. israel didn't withdraw from egypt; egypt withdrew from israel. the egyptian borders at the time israel is supposed to be escaping into canaan included canaan. ramesses the great was busy fighting the hittite empire at qadesh in the best documented battle of bronze age, and then signing the world's oldest known peace treaty, which we have from both sides, right around the time he's supposed to be chasing israelites hundreds of miles to the south. the exodus assumes iron age egyptian borders; the whole thing is a giant anachronism.

> Deuteronomy purports to record the speeches of Moses, and there is little evidence against that Moses is the source material.

deuteronomy is a peculiar text in that it just repeats most of the law, with some additions that become suddenly relevant during the reign of josiah, towards the end of the kingdom of the judah. on it's face, it's a later reworking of earlier texts, which was unknown from the earlier periods of the divided kingdom (and potential united kingdom).

> Obviously the text was edited and assembled later (since Moses didn't even speak Hebrew),

why would you think that moses didn't speak hebrew?

> and that's where we get the pieces that seem to be from later eras.

but it's not pieces that seem to be from later eras. scholars pretty universally agree that deuteronomy is either a singular coherent work, or two coherent works intertwined, unlike the other sources in the torah. the whole thing is written from a different, later theological context.

> Since Genesis 10 is an historical rendering of people groups (most of which, surprisingly, are known!),

known how? none of this remotely aligns with archaeology.

> My point, however, is that YHWH, not a council of gods, is the deity over the nations.

you're coming at this all backward. the text of deuteronomy 32:8-9 indicates a council of gods, one per nation. later authors understood it differently, including the person who wrote deuteronomy itself. the text indicates monolatry, even if other texts are monotheistic.

> "El" is just generic, so of course YHWH fits the category.

"el" doesn't become generic until it's applied to yahweh. "el" is the proper name of the highest god in the canaanite pantheon. elohim is the proper name of his council. these both lose their specificity in later judean works that apply them both to yahweh.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby jimwalton » Tue May 01, 2018 3:48 pm

> there isn't particularly good evidence for a united kingdom.

I agree that it's hotly debated, but recent archaeological discoveries are revealing that the dynasty of David was a reality (the Tel Dan inscription), and that Jerusalem and other localities in Israel had far greater functions as administrative centers than previously thought. New information coming to light is changing scholarly understanding of the era. I know there is only one archaeological reference to David, and none to Solomon (by name and in specific). I agree that it's passionately argued.

> Moses as tradent. "no, there is none at all."

Obviously I disagree, and I listed some of my reasons, so you can't say there is "none at all." I gave you some. You obviously disagree with what I said, but it shows that there is internal evidence to the existence of Moses and his law/writings. That can't be denied. Possibly you feel the evidence is underwhelming, and obviously you're not convinced, but you just can't credibly say "there's none at all."

> the entire exodus narrative is anti-historical.

This isn't true either. There's much in the Exodus account that is dead-on historical. What we DON'T have yet, however, as everyone knows, is concrete evidence of the exodus itself. But there are many elements about the account that are incredibly historical, things that could not reasonably be known in later eras.

> israel didn't withdraw from egypt

You can't say this with certainty. There were many and even large Semitic and Bedouin groups in Egypt in the mid-2nd millennium BC. We know from extra-biblical sources that immigrant regularly entered and settled in Egypt, and that there was a strong influx of Canaanites into the Eastern Delta from 2030-1650 BC. Some are depicted in the tomb of Khnumhotep (1850 BC). The Hyksos even ruled over the Delta from 1650-1550.

> the egyptian borders at the time israel is supposed to be escaping into canaan included canaan.

There was a strong Egyptian presence in Canaan, but it was waning at the time of the Exodus and Joshua. The Amarna letters tell us that Canaan in the 15th century was an Egyptian province, but their interest there related mostly to trade. It wasn't technically within Egypt's border. The political situation at the time favored an escape and break-through into Canaan. By then the sovereignty of Egypt was hardly felt. The Hittites in the north were on the decline. Without a strong overlord, there was intense rivalry between the various city-states and regional kings (Joshua 12 alone mentions 31 kings). It was an ideal time for an exodus from Egypt and invasion of Canaan. There's a lot of historicity in the biblical story.

> deuteronomy is a peculiar text in that it just repeats most of the law, with some additions that become suddenly relevant during the reign of josiah, towards the end of the kingdom of the judah.

This is a scholarly opinion, but not the only one, and it's far from settled. Far from just repeating most of the law, Deuteronomy takes the form of a 2nd millennium treaty. Exodus gives the law, Deuteronomy forms it into a legal contract. While it's quite repetitious with Exodus, its place is not only to make a contractual treaty (the centrality of loving and obeying the covenant God), but also to emphasize one God, one people, one sanctuary, and one law. It's has its place different from Exodus.

> why would you think that moses didn't speak hebrew?

Hebrew did not evolve as a language until the time of the united monarchy. Some artifacts archaeologists have recovered (that are in the Jerusalem Museum) show a proto-Canaanite script, the forerunner of the Hebrew alphabet, from the Middle Bronze Age (1500s BC). Hebrew evolved as a language in the era of King David. It's impossible that Moses spoke Hebrew.

> scholars pretty universally agree that deuteronomy is either a singular coherent work, or two coherent works intertwined

This understanding is changing, and it's nowhere near universal anymore. There are at least 5 popular theories:

- One author, later editors
- Multiple authors, later editors
- As Deuteronomistic history from the era of Josiah and later (650-400 BC)
- Oral tradition of old (Moses?), multiple authors and later editors
- Later editors collecting Israelite folktales

The proposed dates of its writing go all the way from Moses (1400?) to Ezra (400ish).

You just can't make all these claims that you are throughout your post. This stuff is much debated and in flux.

> Genesis 10...known how? none of this remotely aligns with archaeology.

- Japhethites. A Babylonian map from the 7th or 8th c. BC names people identifiable with this list (Magog, Tubal, Meshek, Tyras, Togermah, Dodanim, etc.) There are also several that seem, based on Assyrian and Babylonian records, to have originated in the region of the Black Sea (Gomer, Ashkenaz, Madai, et al.)
- Gomer is the Cimmerians north of the Black Sea, possibly ancestors to Germans
- Magog, linked with Gyges of the Lydian kings, also spoken of in Plutarch and Herodotus, among others.
- Madai, later known as the Medes of Iran and Persia.
- Javan, the Ionians, or Greeks. Javan refers to all Greece.
- Tubal, possibly Asia Minor (Turks) or on the Tobal River in Russia.
- Meshech, possibly also from eastern Turkey or Russia (Moscow)
- Tiras. Josephus says the ancestors of the Thracians.
- Ashkenaz - German ancestors.
- Riphath. Josephus says ancestors of Paphlagonians.
- Togarmah. Armenians. This ancestry name has given us the names of Turkey and Turkestan. The Armenians came to be called the House of Targom.
- etc. through the whole list.

> the text indicates monolatry, even if other texts are monotheistic.

You can't say this with certainty. I respect your opinion, but that's what it is, and I know it is shared by many scholars. And I agreed that the Israelites believed in a divine council, but not a council of gods.

> "el" doesn't become generic until it's applied to yahweh.

'El occurs as the name of a specific deity in Ugaritic and Phoenician culture. Both Speiser and Walton say that in ancient Aramaic (the inscription from Sujin), the two are originally generic appellatives that are combined into a compound to be the personal names of deities. But in ancient Canaan, as best as we can tell, El Elyon is a generic identification of deity. Moshe Greenberg, also, claims that 'El is common noun and not necessarily an allusion to the Canaanite god 'El. Kittel also says they are generic terms for god.

All through your post you seem to think that your perspective is the only one and that it is a settled matter—that you are relating the only position on the table. It's just not so.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby Spiderman » Tue May 01, 2018 5:08 pm

> Sometimes it was, sometimes not (as in Num. 21.8-9).

...yeah, that's an idol. it's a graven image that people believe magical things about. that yahweh commands it isn't really relevant. archaeologically, we wouldn't be able to distinguish between these "legitimate" graven images like the nachushtan and the keruvim, and the "illegitimate" ones like asherah and baal. they're all statues people made of supernatural things for mystical reasons.

> In the ancient world the serpent would have been viewed as a chaos creature from the non-ordered realms, promoting disorder. There was nothing mundane about any of this.

i think you're mixing up serpents -- certainly livyatan is a chaos dragon, similar to litanu/lotan in ugarit, tiamat in babylon, or even typhon in greece. it's possible that the nachash of gen 3 is even meant to draw up imagery from this narrative, but the context is a sharp contrast. this is not a mighty serpent that only yahweh can slay, so that he go about creating order and populating the world. this a lowly animal, in a garden, who is punished to go about on his belly and lick the ground like an ordinary snake. it is demythologizing mythological serpents.

> Genesis is markedly different in nature and purpose than any of the ancient mythologies, separating it from them. Mythographies are not interested in portraying events (history), but want to show how it works and how it got that way.

yes, genesis 2-3 has several such etiologies:

why snakes have no legs/lick the ground
why child birth hurts
the origin of agriculture
the origin of different genders
the origin of marriage
the origin of sexual procreation

i fail to see how you can read other mythologies, like the sumerian creation myths, and not see a ton of things in common. i mean, one of them literally has the goddess of creation taken from a rib, only her name is actually a play on "rib" in sumerian!

these texts are clearly not historical in genre, and it requires a fair degree of initial bias to even think so. the genealogies in genesis are the closest thing to history by genre, and they are clearly trying to recontextualize obviously mythological works in J and E. those parts, like the one we're discussing here, are basically identical to sumerian, babylonian and canaanite mythology, except that they tend to involve people and animals instead of gods and demigods. the etiological nature of the myths don't change.

> A myth is an attempt to explain reality from theological vantage point, and are not meant to connect those stories, as stories, with events in the real world.

what are you talking about? plenty of myths are connected to the real world. see, like, all of homer. or gilgamesh -- who was an actual historical king of uruk.

> Dr. John Walton writes, ...

it's funny, that was the quote i was going to drum up to support my point about the serpent being mundane in gen 3.

> In other words, this story has almost nothing in common with the structure and purposes of ancient mythologies.

no, that doesn't follow. de-mythologizing implies starting with a mythology, and then recontextualizing it.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby jimwalton » Tue May 01, 2018 5:08 pm

> Num. 21.8-9. yeah, that's an idol. it's a graven image that people believe magical things about.

The text says nothing of worship of the snake sculpture, but only to look at it. It was common in the ancient Near East to believe that the image of something could protect against the thing itself, like an amulet. Egyptians (living as well as dead) sometimes wore snake shaped amulets to protect them from serpents. These weren't idols, but charms. It was a representation of God's power, not an idol or image of him. We see a similar event in 1 Sam. 6.5. Scholars call such practices "sympathetic magic." In this case, the cure for the snakes (sent because of disobedience) was obedience to the one more powerful than the snakes, YHWH. The eye contact served as the indicator of obedience to God and released His healing.

> i think you're mixing up serpents

Oh, not at all. The serpent of Gn. 3 would have been viewed as a chaos creature from the non-ordered realm, promoting disorder, as do Leviathan and Tiamat, which represented prevail chaos. Of particular interest is the Sumerian god Ningishzida who was portrayed in serpent shape and whose name means "Lord of the Productive/Steadfast Tree." He was considered a ruler in the netherworld and "throne-bearer of the earth." He was one of the deities that offered the bread of life to Adapa.

Wadjet, the patron goddess of Lower Egypt, is represented as a snake on the pharaoh's crown. This came to symbolize the power of the pharaoh. But additionally Apopis, the enemy of the gods, in the form of a snake, represented the forces of chaos.

> i fail to see how you can read other mythologies, like the sumerian creation myths, and not see a ton of things in common

It's not that they don't have terms and elements in common, but that their treatment of the subject (and undergirding theologies) are as different as night and day.

It wouldn't surprise me at all that the ancient mythologies were a distortion of the truth that preceded them—the narrative we read in the Bible. So many people a priori assume that the Bible is copying the old myths, but it's more likely that the old myths are distortions of the historical events written in the Bible.

> these texts are clearly not historical in genre, and it requires a fair degree of initial bias to even think so

Not at all. The texts of Gen. 1-2 portray the account of how God ordered the cosmos and earth to function, not the account of their material creation. They can easily be historical but not be talking about why snakes have no legs and the origin of different genders, marriage, and sexual procreation. Such viewpoints show a fundamental misunderstanding of the Genesis text.

So I'm not showing a fair degree of initial bias. I'm looking at the text in its more literal, historical, and cultural sense (through the eyes of the ancient Near East) rather than through a scientific lens and the culture of the modern West.

> they are clearly trying to recontextualize obviously mythological works in J and E

Yeah, I don't buy into the jigsaw puzzle critical analysis of JEPD. So I would argue it isn't so clear as you may assume.

> Dr. John Walton

You're familiar with his "Lost World of Genesis One"?

> A myth is an attempt to explain reality from theological vantage point, and are not meant to connect those stories, as stories, with events in the real world.

This comes from Dr. Walton's book "The Lost World of Scripture." There (p. 205) he explains that "mythography shows less interesting in portraying events than in rendering the world meaningful through addressing how the world works and how it got that way. ... It is generally not interest in those events as events that can be connected with the human world." They are giving the best explanation they have to offer that is consistent with their beliefs and perspectives. Then he quotes Mark Smith: "What myths seem to do is to evoke basic realities that humans face and to present a narration that links these realities to the world of the gods and goddesses. ... A myth's portrayal of the world is not explanatory in any modern sense; rather, it indicates that the problems of humanity are bound up with the divine world. In sum, myths narrate realities by presenting deities and their actions in or affecting our world." Then Walton concludes that "mythography has a different referent than historiography. ... [It] pertains to a different plane of reality." The Gilgamesh Epic and the Atrahasis Epic are considered mythography; Genesis is considered historiography.

> de-mythologizing implies starting with a mythology, and then recontextualizing it.

This is your assumption, and I think it's a false one. Certainly de-mythologizing implies starting with a mythology, etc., but the Bible starts with historiography through the lens of theology. It has no part in starting with myth or recontextualizing it.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby Spiderman » Wed May 02, 2018 2:05 pm

> there isn't particularly good evidence for a united kingdom.
> I agree that it's hotly debated, but recent archaeological discoveries are revealing that the dynasty of David was a reality (the Tel Dan inscription)

well, i mean, i literally covered this in my post above: "david himself is sort of attested to once in the archaeological record, and even then that's pretty hotly debated. ביתדוד on the tel dan stele may not indicate a person named דוד but may simply be referring to the throne as the "beloved house", and david may be a kind of eponymous/mythical ancestor, like jacob/israel, named after the already extant convention of calling the king "beloved"."

it's not a surprise that you would mention the tel dan stele -- it's the only archaeological artifact that potentially bears the name of david, and even then it's in reference to ahaziah (~841 BCE), and using it to mean king of judah, whom it lists alongside kings of israel. this is a possible indication that a king named david may have existed, but it's a far cry from evidence for a united kingdom.

> Obviously I disagree, and I listed some of my reasons, so you can't say there is "none at all." I gave you some. You obviously disagree with what I said, but it shows that there is internal evidence to the existence of Moses and his law/writings. That can't be denied.

those represent (possibly very early) traditions of mosaic authorship. but they aren't particularly good evidence that the torah was written by moses, particularly because in many of those we don't even know what they're referring to. there's a good argument that the book of the law hilkiah "found" was deuteronomy, but it's unknown which collection torah canon is even being ascribed to moses in these other references.

> This isn't true either. There's much in the Exodus account that is dead-on historical.

uh, no there's not? like i said, it gets the entire geo-political situation wildly incorrect, to such a degree that even their goal is rendered nonsense: they end up in egypt.

> things that could not reasonably be known in later eras.

...you mean things that couldn't have been known in earlier eras. for instance, they start from the "store cities" of pithom and ramesses. pi-ramesses was the name ramesses the great had as his capital, and was probably founded by ramesses 1. this is a pretty clear date for the earliest date the exodus narrative could have been written: 1292 BCE.

> You can't say this with certainty. There were many and even large Semitic and Bedouin groups in Egypt in the mid-2nd millennium BC.

the largest being the asiatic invasion around 1600-1500 BCE, followed by the rule of the hyksos, who seem to have spoken a semitic language, built four roomed houses, didn't eat pigs, and worshiped baal. indeed, the expansion of egypt into canaan was largely a response to the hyksos. ahmose 1 chased them out to sharuhen in gaza, killed them all, and then egypt just stayed on the warpath conquering all of canaan. this... doesn't really fit with the biblical narrative.

> There was a strong Egyptian presence in Canaan, but it was waning at the time of the Exodus and Joshua. The Amarna letters tell us that Canaan in the 15th century was an Egyptian province, but their interest there related mostly to trade. It wasn't technically within Egypt's border.

uh, yes it was. the canaanite kings were client-kings.

> The Hittites in the north were on the decline.

this is literally the height of the hittite empire, and the came into direct conflict with egypt a number of times, right up until the mid 1200s at qadesh.

>Without a strong overlord, there was intense rivalry between the various city-states and regional kings

yes, this is true. and they all wrote to egypt to ask for help.

> Far from just repeating most of the law, Deuteronomy takes the form of a 2nd millennium treaty.

...do you have an example of one? as far as i'm aware, this is about late 2nd millennium treaties. the egyptian-hittite one of the mid 1200's is on the oldest know, and doesn't follow this form at all (it's not a suzerainty, but between two empires). regardless, i find the argument that because it's more like a late 2nd millennium treaty than an early 1st millennium one, it must be from 2nd millennium unconvincing. there are plenty of other reasons to date the text later, and it's not like they couldn't follow that form. if anything it's based on older texts like J and E, whose law sections follow exactly the same form. so it's not even a mystery where deuteronomy got it from.

> Hebrew did not evolve as a language until the time of the united monarchy. Some artifacts archaeologists have recovered (that are in the Jerusalem Museum) show a proto-Canaanite script, the forerunner of the Hebrew alphabet, from the Middle Bronze Age (1500s BC). Hebrew evolved as a language in the era of King David. It's impossible that Moses spoke Hebrew.

i mean, i think it's impossible that moses existed, but if we're going to say he's the author of the torah... well a lot of the contents of that text only "work" in hebrew.

regardless, you're making a pretty big mistake in mixing up script and language. semitic languages related to hebrew go back 29th century BCE, with akkadian. it was just written in a different script, cuneiform. ugaritic, moabite, and phoenician are all more closely related, older, and were originally written in akkadian cuneiform.

> You just can't make all these claims that you are throughout your post. This stuff is much debated and in flux.

not nearly as much as you indicate!

> Genesis 10...known how? none of this remotely aligns with archaeology.

these are mostly speculative.

> Josephus says

josephus is working off of the bible, antiquities here is NOT an independent source.
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Re: You are polytheistic

Postby Spiderman » Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:15 pm

> The text says nothing of worship of the snake sculpture, but only to look at it.

archaeologically, we're left with the objects, not the rituals. as this specific example shows, the line between the two practices is effectively nonexistent. nonworship cultic objects can easily become objects of worship.

though i would argue, or course, that object-worship is a slander by later monotheists. all idols were "charms" in that nobody actually thought their gods were made of metal or stone.

> i think you're mixing up serpents
> Oh, not at all. The serpent of Gn. 3 would have been viewed as a chaos creature from the non-ordered realm, promoting disorder, as do Leviathan and Tiamat, which represented prevail chaos. Of particular interest is the Sumerian god Ningishzida who was portrayed in serpent shape and whose name means "Lord of the Productive/Steadfast Tree." He was considered a ruler in the netherworld and "throne-bearer of the earth." He was one of the deities that offered the bread of life to Adapa.

it's odd to me that you can connect these texts to older mythology, and still think they're historiography.

regardless, it's clear to me that this serpent is meant as a polemic against those kinds of serpents.

>It's not that they don't have terms and elements in common, but that their treatment of the subject (and undergirding theologies) are as different as night and day.

the early theology isn't that different, though...

> It wouldn't surprise me at all that the ancient mythologies were a distortion of the truth that preceded them—the narrative we read in the Bible. So many people a priori assume that the Bible is copying the old myths, but it's more likely that the old myths are distortions of the historical events written in the Bible.

well, yes, most of us think history goes from the past to the present, with the older sources preceding the newer ones.

> Not at all. The texts of Gen. 1-2 portray the account of how God ordered the cosmos and earth to function, not the account of their material creation. They can easily be historical but not be talking about why snakes have no legs and the origin of different genders, marriage, and sexual procreation.

except that they're not written at all like ancient (even biblical) histories, and literally do talk about those things?

> So I'm not showing a fair degree of initial bias. I'm looking at the text in its more literal, historical, and cultural sense (through the eyes of the ancient Near East) rather than through a scientific lens and the culture of the modern West.

uh, yes, that's what i'm doing.

> Yeah, I don't buy into the jigsaw puzzle critical analysis of JEPD. So I would argue it isn't so clear as you may assume.

a proper history is something of a mix between the genealogical content and the narrative content in genesis. genesis has clear separations in these blocks of text, whether or not you think they are different sources. it's obvious enough that even children know which parts to skip, because they're boring as hell.

> A myth is an attempt to explain reality from theological vantage point, and are not meant to connect those stories, as stories, with events in the real world.

yeah, that part is patently incorrect. plenty of myths connect to the real world.

> Then Walton concludes that "mythography has a different referent than historiography. ... [It] pertains to a different plane of reality."

yes, the idea of a demythologizing polemic is to respond to mythologies with a more mundane mythology. that necessarily connects it more to the reality.

though i don't understand this "different plane of reality" business. gods of the iron age lived here on earth. think mount olympus. it's a real, physical place.

> The Gilgamesh Epic and the Atrahasis Epic are considered mythography; Genesis is considered historiography.

again i remind you, gilgamesh was a historical person. he literally, physically existed, and ruled uruk.

adapa is present in sumerian king lists. this distinction between historiography and mythology is simply anachronistic. those genres were much more fluid in the ancient world.

> de-mythologizing implies starting with a mythology, and then recontextualizing it.
> This is your assumption, and I think it's a false one. Certainly de-mythologizing implies starting with a mythology, etc.,

...that's exactly what i said.

> but the Bible starts with historiography through the lens of theology.

AKA mythology.


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