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Contradictions in the bible

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Nice one, thanks.

I was expecting it to cost a lot more. lol You get a lot for your money then.

I dunno if to wait until I move out of the city though. I mean I don't want my neighbours thinking I'm using it to perv. LOL

I know what you mean... Gary usually puts Beckys telescope in the conservatory, which you know is glass all the way around including the roof..The telescope can be seen by our next door neighbor, be it is never pointed in the direction of anyones home, and our neighbors don't pay much attention, as they can see that is is always directed at the sky.... At the back of our house, there are no other houses around.. So when the moon and Jupiter can be seen, they are always in a certain area of the night sky that does not require us to point the telescope in the direction of anyones home.. Which is a good thing.. If the were located above people houses, that could look a bit suspect lol Becky sometimes takes pictures of birds she see's from a great distance perching on chimney pots.. I told her to be careful no one see's her looking at the chimney pot, they might think she is spying.. So I trust her to be most careful ..She has taken so many pictures of not just the moon and Jupiter, but during the day, some birds and animals too..She just loves the idea of taking pictures of things that are so far away...

Edited by Beckys_Mom
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I know what you mean... Gary usually puts Beckys telescope in the conservatory, which you know is glass all the way around including the roof..The telescope can be seen by our next door neighbor, be it is never pointed in the direction of anyones home, and our neighbors don't pay much attention, as they can see that is is always directed at the sky.... At the back of our house, there are no other houses around.. So when the moon and Jupiter can be seen, they are always in a certain area of the night sky that does not require us to point the telescope in the direction of anyones home.. Which is a good thing.. If the were located above people houses, that could look a bit suspect lol Becky sometimes takes pictures of birds she see's from a great distance perching on chimney pots.. I told her to be careful no one see's her looking at the chimney pot, they might think she is spying.. So I trust her to be most careful ..She has taken so many pictures of not just the moon and Jupiter, but during the day, some birds and animals too..She just loves the idea of taking pictures of things that are so far away...

Yeah I don't blame her, must be a lot of fun. :tu:

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If he truly is a just god (which he isn't I.M.O.) then he would have to treat everyone fairly.

If by treating everyone fairly, you mean giving everyone what s/he deserves, if he did that, I have a feeling we might all be unhappy campers.

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If by treating everyone fairly, you mean giving everyone what s/he deserves, if he did that, I have a feeling we might all be unhappy campers.

So you're saying he is unjust?

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So you're saying he is unjust?

What I mean is, we might not be as deserving of (good) things as we think we are. Tbh, I think we all, or at least most of us (myself included) have over-inflated opinions of ourselves. I heard a really good quote one time, "The problem with taking yourself too seriously is, if you do, no one else will."

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Science is not something a human invented, it is a collection of discoveries, study and how things work and evolve It also provides us with many facts..... Science cannot ever be put in the same boat as religion.

I would say the scientific method really is an invention. Humans don't have wings so we invented airplanes so get places faster.

Likewise humans are fallible, easily fooled or confused by what they think they see, and sometimes they're even intentionally deceptive about what they see. To avoid this we invented the scientific method so anyone can test a theory in an objective way and everyone can be as sure as possible that something is true. If we humans were naturally objective and were always able to know what's true or false we probably wouldn't have needed to create or use this method.

We humans were kind of going in circles trying to understand chemistry and biology because everyone had their own opinions. Once the "experiment" was invented and accepted as a practice to gain objective knowledge, mankind suddenly made incredible leaps in understanding the world.

Science does require faith but not blind faith. You have faith in your car to take you places. You have faith that the food you eat won't make you sick. In the same way, a scientist has faith that if they conduct an experiment repeatedly in the same way, they'll get the same results.

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I would say the scientific method really is an invention. Humans don't have wings so we invented airplanes so get places faster.

Likewise humans are fallible, easily fooled or confused by what they think they see, and sometimes they're even intentionally deceptive about what they see. To avoid this we invented the scientific method so anyone can test a theory in an objective way and everyone can be as sure as possible that something is true. If we humans were naturally objective and were always able to know what's true or false we probably wouldn't have needed to create or use this method.

We humans were kind of going in circles trying to understand chemistry and biology because everyone had their own opinions. Once the "experiment" was invented and accepted as a practice to gain objective knowledge, mankind suddenly made incredible leaps in understanding the world.

Science does require faith but not blind faith. You have faith in your car to take you places. You have faith that the food you eat won't make you sick. In the same way, a scientist has faith that if they conduct an experiment repeatedly in the same way, they'll get the same results.

Science was not invented, but the processes of how we make those discoveries was indeed invented as you point out... But these are two separate things, lets not get those mixed up

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Science was not invented, but the processes of how we make those discoveries was indeed invented as you point out... But these are two separate things, lets not get those mixed up

Those processes are the definition of science at least according to my dictionary.

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Science does require faith but not blind faith. You have faith in your car to take you places. You have faith that the food you eat won't make you sick. In the same way, a scientist has faith that if they conduct an experiment repeatedly in the same way, they'll get the same results.

Oh boy, that is the weirdest misdefinition of the scientific method I have ever seen.

I really suggest you look up some basic definitions before opining.

Edited by Zaphod222

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Who has seen God and what does it mean to see God 'face to face.?'

Did Abraham? Genesis 18:1-3 Note that Jehovah god is mistaken for one of the three men. Was God a man or an angel in the form of a man who represented God?

Did Moses? Numbers 12:8 - Note that it is an apperance of God that represents God to Moses.

Did Jacob? Genesis 32:30 - Note Hosea 12:2-4 points out that it was an angel who represented God that grappled with Jacob.

Did Manoah and his wife? Judges 13:2-22 - Note that the angel of Jehovah God is called Jehovah God.

Did Gideon? Judges 6:11-23 - Later Jehovah's angel came and sat under the big tree that was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while Gideon his son was beating out wheat in the winepress so as to get it quickly out of the sight of Midian. Then Jehovah's angel appeared to him and said to him: "Jehovah is with you, you valiant, mighty one." At this Gideon said to him: "Excuse me, my lord, but if Jehovah is with us, then why has all this come upon us, and where are all his wonderful acts that our fathers related to us, saying, 'Was it not out of Egypt that Jehovah brought us up?' And now Jehovah has deserted us, and he gives us into the palm of Midian." Upon that Jehovah faced him and said: "Go in this power of yours, and you will certainly save Israel out of Midian's palm. Do I not send you?" In turn he said to him: "Excuse me, Jehovah. With what shall I save Israel? Look! My thousand is the least in Manasseh, and I am the smallest in my father's house." But Jehovah said to him: "Because I shall prove to be with you, and you will certainly strike down Midian as if one man."

At this he said to him: "If, now, I have found favor in your eyes, you must also perform a sign for me that you are the one speaking with me. Do not, please, move away from here until I come to you and I have brought out my gift and set it before you." Accordingly he said: "I, for my part, shall keep sitting here until you return." And Gideon went in and proceeded to make ready a kid of the goats and an ephah of flour as unfermented cakes. The meat he put in the basket, and the broth he put in the cooking pot, after which he brought it out to him under the big tree and served it.

The angel of the [true] God now said to him: "Take the meat and the unfermented cakes and set them on the big rock there, and pour out the broth." At that he did so. Then Jehovah's angel thrust out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unfermented cakes, and fire began to ascend out of the rock and to consume the meat and the unfermented cakes. As for Jehovah's angel, he vanished from his sight. Consequently Gideon realized that it was Jehovah's angel.

At once Gideon said: "Alas, Sovereign Lord Jehovah, for the reason that I have seen Jehovah's angel face to face!" But Jehovah said to him: "Peace be yours. Do not fear. You will not die." So Gideon built an altar there to Jehovah, and it continues to be called Jehovah-shalom down to this day. It is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.

No man has seen God but a few have seen representations of him. The angels are, in a sense, at least to the people they deal with, the same as God.

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The Bible has been manipulated by man at the council of Nicea, and possibly by various others also

It would explain why there is contradiction's in the Bible, as there are certain Gospel's that was left out due to the council not wanting it in there

The council of Nicaea didn’t manipulate the Bible, they only gathered all of the acceptable books together for the first time. The books that were left out didn’t belong there.

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Do these contradictions bother christians? Does it make them question the bible's authenticity? Just wondering....

As a Bible student I enjoy examining the alleged contradictions, it teaches me in a different perspective than the one I'm accustomed to. I have never seen a contradiction that I couldn't correct as a misunderstanding or translation anomaly. The word of God is inspired and without error, but translation isn't. There are no perfect Bibles, they all have mistakes, some more than others, but there is such a vast quantity of manuscripts now we can easily ascertain whether there has been a error in translation (usually having to do with numbers rather than words) as well as spurious scripture.

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If the bible was inspired by the holy spirit of God, why then does God allow those errors to occur? If it really is his chance to communicate with mankind then why would he allow things to be less than perfect?

And questioning a book that major religions are based on, and these religions then go on to kill and destroy people's lives based on this book, is not demeaning it - it's asking for some kind of validation. If you or anyone else is offended by an atheist bringing up this subject then don't get involved with it, believe what you want and let atheists express themselves as they wish. I am merely stating facts about the bible. I haven't placed the 'darkening cave with pits' in the world, God has done this to the world....so the bible says.

Not exactly. God didn't bring about the destructive nature of the world, mankind did by rejecting his guidance and protection.

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As a Bible student I enjoy examining the alleged contradictions, it teaches me in a different perspective than the one I'm accustomed to. I have never seen a contradiction that I couldn't correct as a misunderstanding or translation anomaly. The word of God is inspired and without error, but translation isn't. There are no perfect Bibles, they all have mistakes, some more than others, but there is such a vast quantity of manuscripts now we can easily ascertain whether there has been a error in translation (usually having to do with numbers rather than words) as well as spurious scripture.

As a student of the Bible OR as a student of how these ancient texts were viewed by subsequent readers? It seems that you're imposing your own set of values, beliefs, prejudices, and presuppositions onto these texts rather than listening to the texts, to their manifold authors, to their vastly divergent audiences and the reasons for writing what they did in the first place, and to the literary and historical contexts within which they wrote. Instead, you "read" the Bible to have it conform to your own beliefs, views, values. If anything I would call this disingenuous to the biblical texts. Objective fact is, irregardles of one's bellief or non-belief, the Bible is composed of 70+ different AND variant textual traditions, authoral agendas, belief systems, etc. The Bible's 1000s of contraditions are the points of convergence between these textual traditions and the views of those who wrote them. To ignore this over and against one's own belief system is to value one's beliefs above the biblical texts --- which I cretainly understand. But this is not studying the Bible, it's "study" oneself. Reading them through a later created interpretive grid that see this as "the word of god" is again placing more validity and authority in a later generation's interpretive agenda than the actual texts and their authors.

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Here's a contradiction I enjoy: compare Genesis 6:19 and Genesis 7:1.

Can you help me with this? I don't see how these two verses could possibly be taken as contradictory.

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Hell, try to reconcile Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Some of the biggest contradictions in the book are between the first two chapters.

There is no real contradiction there. There are two different creation accounts. The first is chronological and the second is topical. They being in a different order doesn't imply contradiction. For example, if I say to one person that I'm going to the mall to buy a coat and to another person I bought a coat at the mall those two accounts are not contradictory they are simply in a different order.

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There is no real contradiction there. There are two different creation accounts. The first is chronological and the second is topical. They being in a different order doesn't imply contradiction. For example, if I say to one person that I'm going to the mall to buy a coat and to another person I bought a coat at the mall those two accounts are not contradictory they are simply in a different order.

Sorry David, you're just wrong. You're guilty of placing yout own (the reader's) concerns and beliefs and interpretive framework over these ancient texts. They were clearly written by two different authors, writing to two different communities, and to address two completely different historical concerns or needs, Until you can answer those questions, you have not tackled with the text and its authors head on, but have iinstead imposed your own interpretmive agenda. Frankly, I'm tired of the disrespect and neglect that these texts actually recieve by people, perhaps like yourself, who'd rather view them throught their own modernist agendas. I've written extensively on this contradiction AND MORE IMPORTANTLY the braoder differentce between these two authors and their unique theologies on my site. If you're really interested in a good academic read, the best scholarly book out there on the compositional history of the book of Genesis --- because talking about contradictions is talking about the texts many and conflicting layers --- is David Carr's Reading the Fractures of Genesis --- a bit pricey but damn good textual analysis.

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As a student of the Bible OR as a student of how these ancient texts were viewed by subsequent readers? It seems that you're imposing your own set of values, beliefs, prejudices, and presuppositions onto these texts rather than listening to the texts, to their manifold authors, to their vastly divergent audiences and the reasons for writing what they did in the first place, and to the literary and historical contexts within which they wrote. Instead, you "read" the Bible to have it conform to your own beliefs, views, values. If anything I would call this disingenuous to the biblical texts. Objective fact is, irregardles of one's bellief or non-belief, the Bible is composed of 70+ different AND variant textual traditions, authoral agendas, belief systems, etc. The Bible's 1000s of contraditions are the points of convergence between these textual traditions and the views of those who wrote them. To ignore this over and against one's own belief system is to value one's beliefs above the biblical texts --- which I cretainly understand. But this is not studying the Bible, it's "study" oneself. Reading them through a later created interpretive grid that see this as "the word of god" is again placing more validity and authority in a later generation's interpretive agenda than the actual texts and their authors.

Okay, then give me an example either of my doing so, in your opinion or where it is likely that I would do so. I think it is most likely that you are doing what you are accusing me of doing. My interpretation doesn't jive with yours so I must be reading into it.

The first account is chronological, the second topical. So the order comes out different. The second account being topical, in which Adam and his family are the subject, after a brief prologue, relates events in accordance to that. Adam is to live in the Garden so then the planting of the garden is given, Adam is to name the creatures so their creation is given. Its all relative to Adam.

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Sorry David, you're just wrong. You're guilty of placing yout own (the reader's) concerns and beliefs and interpretive framework over these ancient texts. They were clearly written by two different authors, writing to two different communities, and to address two completely different historical concerns or needs, Until you can answer those questions, you have not tackled with the text and its authors head on, but have iinstead imposed your own interpretmive agenda. Frankly, I'm tired of the disrespect and neglect that these texts actually recieve by people, perhaps like yourself, who'd rather view them throught their own modernist agendas. I've written extensively on this contradiction AND MORE IMPORTANTLY the braoder differentce between these two authors and their unique theologies on my site. If you're really interested in a good academic read, the best scholarly book out there on the compositional history of the book of Genesis --- because talking about contradictions is talking about the texts many and conflicting layers --- is David Carr's Reading the Fractures of Genesis --- a bit pricey but damn good textual analysis.

Actually, it is not at all clear that there were two authors. You seem to be doing what you're accusing David of doing. One has to remember the original texts did not have chapter, much less verse divisions. The account is one continuous account, first dealing with a synopsis of the period of creation of life on earth and then going into detail regarding God's interaction with the humans He created. Article, Article
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Those processes are the definition of science at least according to my dictionary.

What lucky dip did you get that dictionary from?

Edited by Beckys_Mom

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Actually, it is not at all clear that there were two authors. You seem to be doing what you're accusing David of doing. One has to remember the original texts did not have chapter, much less verse divisions. The account is one continuous account, first dealing with a synopsis of the period of creation of life on earth and then going into detail regarding God's interaction with the humans He created. Article, Article

Not at all, the hypothesis that the Genesis' accounts were part of two larger textual traditions first appeared in the 18th century by 3 INDEPENDENT critical readers. No scholar diputes this now. The best book of this topic, one that is honest to the text, the best book out there actually, is David Carr's Reading the Fractures of Genesis. As the title indicates, Carr, highly learned, takes as his starting point the text itself, so not even the documentary hypothesis, and by looking at the Hebrew texts, its "fractures" in the narratives, its resumptive repetions, diferent style and consistenly different use of vocabulary and theological point of views, etc. --- the textual data itself makes the claim of different authorships. Period. To deny this is to deny these texts and their authors and in lieu of them to impose later theological ideas of homogeneity and single authorship whether divine or human.

I have written on this extensively at my blog. Here's an excerpt:

The German Lutheran minister Henning Bernhard Witter, the French physician for Louis vx, Jean Astruc, and a professor of Göttingen University by the name of Johann Gottfried Eichhorn each separately came to the conclusion that the Pentatuech must be a composite of, primarily, two sources. It was Witter, who in the early century (1711) postulated a two-source hypothesis based on the distinction of two different appellations for Israel’s god in the opening creation accounts of the book of Genesis. Witter observed that Genesis 1:1-2:3 consistently and exclusively used the Hebrew word elohim ("god(s)"), while Genesis 2:4-3:24 consistently and exclusively used the Hebrew name Yahweh when referring to the deity.{{3}} It should also be mentioned that Witter was still working within the paradigm handed down to him by the previous century’s critics—namely that Moses used sources in his composition of Genesis. Thus for Witter, these two sources distinguished themselves from each other not only by the difference in portrait and appellation of Israel’s god, but also in terms of doublets and differing styles.

It was not, however, until the 1753 study by Astruc, Conjectures sur les mémoires originauz dont il paroit que Moyse s'est servi pour composer le livre de la Génèse (Conjectures on the original sources which Moses apparently used in composing the book of Genesis), that the impact of this discovery was felt. Astruc not only labeled these two sources the Elohistic (from the Hebrew elohim) and the Jehovistic (from the mistaken medieval pronunciation of the tetragrammaton, yhwh), but he also noticed that these two sources exhibited other differences besides the two distinct appellations of Israel’s deity, and furthermore that these differences extended throughout the book of Genesis. For example, these two sources also displayed differences in style, vocabulary, and even theological emphasis. Most impressively, this two source hypothesis was able to explain successfully the book of Genesis’ duplicate narratives, discordant chronologies, and even contradictions. Astruc claimed that these discrepancies were the result of the combination of these two sources by Moses. The work of Eichorn follows more or less that of Astruc: Moses used two identifiable and independent sources, whose separate identities are discernable from the difference in their appellation of Israel’s deity—Yahweh and elohim—as well as differences in style, and narrative repetitions of the same event.

It should be stressed that Witter, Astruc, and Eichorn were not arguing against Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Rather, the critical discussion revolved around the potential sources that Moses used in composing the Pentateuch, and the post-Mosaic sources used by later writers who appended material to the core Mosaic text. In fact Astruc was a stanch defender of Mosaic authorship: Moses had allegedly used antiquarian sources for his composition was the claim.

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Okay, then give me an example either of my doing so, in your opinion or where it is likely that I would do so. I think it is most likely that you are doing what you are accusing me of doing. My interpretation doesn't jive with yours so I must be reading into it.

The first account is chronological, the second topical. So the order comes out different. The second account being topical, in which Adam and his family are the subject, after a brief prologue, relates events in accordance to that. Adam is to live in the Garden so then the planting of the garden is given, Adam is to name the creatures so their creation is given. Its all relative to Adam.

Ok, if the camel doesn't what to go to the well, the water must be brought to the camel. Here is my post on Gen 1 & Gen 2. I reproduce it in full, to my reader's chagrin no doubt (this is copyrighted material, as it is part of a forthcoming book).

God creates the heavens and the earth, then plants, then animals, and then both male and female in his image OR Yahweh first forms man from the ground, then plants, then animals, and then woman last from man’s rib? (Gen 1:1-2:3 vs Gen 2:4b-23)

Ancient and modern readers alike have long recognized the stark differences between the seven-day creation account of Gen 1:1-2:3 and the latter garden of Eden account of Gen 2:4b-3:24. Even on stylistic grounds noticeable in an English translation, the first creation account, penned by the

Priestly writer, is lofty, formulaic, structured, heaven-centered, and awe-inspiring with its image of an utterly transcendent and impersonal creator deity who brings creation and order into existence by the mere force of his word. The second creation account, from the pen of the Yahwist, on the other hand, is informal and fable-like in its presentation, is earth-centered, is presented as a narrative dialogue, and is theologically more poignant with its etiological tale describing how man, crafted from the clay of the earth by a very personal and "human" deity, and prompted by a talking serpent, fell from the presence of its creator, and as a result human suffering and toil befell the lot of mankind. But perhaps the most obvious differences, indeed contradictions, lie in their presentation of the order of creation and the manner in which the created world comes into existence. For instance, after the creation of the heavens and the earth, the first account then proceeds to describe how God creates—the Hebrew word used is bara’—plants on the third day (1:11), then animals on the fifth and sixth days (1:20, 1:24), and lastly male and female together in his own image (1:27). The repeated emphasis is on a god who creates (bara’) by pronouncing the thing into existence and then claiming the goodness in the created thing and by extension in the created order of the cosmos. In the second creation account, however, we are informed that now Yahweh (here the deity’s name is specified) first forms—the Hebrew word is yeser—man from the dust of the earth (2:7), then plants (2:9), and then, so that the man should not be alone and that he should have a corresponding aid, Yahweh forms (yeser) animals from the earth (2:18-19), and finally since man is unable to find a satisfactory companion which corresponds to him among the animals, woman is built (banah) from the man’s rib (2:22). Thus in our first account plants and animals are created (bara’) before both male and female are created in the image of the god(s), but in the latter account man is formed (yeser) from the ground first, then plants and animals, and then, woman is built from the man’s rib.

Wordplay and puns are also particular to this second creation account, and help accentuate this account’s anthropological orientation. For instance, we are told that from the ground (’adamah) Yahweh forms man (’adam), but no other beast formed from the ground (’adamah) has a name, that is an essence, which corresponds to man, only woman (’ishah) corresponds to man (’ish): "This, now, is bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman (’ishah) because she was taken out of man (’ish)" (2:23). In the Priestly account, male and female are created together in the image of the deity and his divine counsel ("let us make," "in our image" (1:26)); while in the Yahwist account, the origin of both man and woman is presented through the use of wordplay which accentuates the created stuff from which the essence of man and woman were made: man (’adam) comes from the ground (’adamah), woman (’ishah) from man (’ish).

One of the most prominent and distinguishable differences between these two creation accounts, especially in the Hebrew, is the manner in which each creation account depicts the creator god. Genesis 1:1-2:3 refers to the deity with the Hebrew word for god (elohim) in all of its thirty-five occurrences. The second account, Genesis 2:4b-3:24, always refers to the deity as Yahweh{{1}} in all of its eleven occurrences, and as we have already seen is the Yahwist’s hallmark. The addition of the word "god" (elohim) after the name Yahweh in all of the eleven occurrences in the second creation story, yielding "god Yahweh" in the text’s current form (2:4, 5,7, 8, etc.), is the result of an editorial process that apparently attempted to soften the transition from the first account’s elohim to the second account’s Yahweh by inserting into the text of the second creation account the word elohim after Yahweh.{{2}} In support of this view, it should be mentioned that this double identification, "god Yahweh," is only found in these eleven occurrences, and nowhere else in the Pentateuch.{{3}} This is significant considering that the name Yahweh appears roughly 1,800 times throughout the Pentateuch alone.

Along with the different terms for the creator god in each account, both texts also portray their deity in strikingly different manners. In the Priestly account, for example, God speaks things into existence. He is presented as utterly transcendent; he never interacts with his creation and stands completely outside of the cosmos. By contrast, in the Yahwist account Yahweh is consistently portrayed in anthropomorphic terms, and communicates and interacts directly with his creation (and often with himself in the form of interior monologues).{{4}} Such anthropomorphism, that is presenting a deity in human terms, is readily visible throughout Gen 2:4b-3:24. Yahweh forms man from the dust of the earth, presumably with his hands (2:7),{{5}} breaths into the man’s nostrils, plants a garden (2:8), takes and puts the man in the garden (2:15), commands the man (2:16), forms animals from the ground (2:19), builds a woman from the man’s rib (2:22), walks in the garden (3:8), calls and speaks to his creation (3:9, 13-14), makes skins of garments for the human pair (2:21), and lastly puts the human pair outside the garden (3:23). This type of anthropomorphism is never found in the first creation account's portrait of God, nor in the Priestly source in general. It is unique to the Yahwist.

In addition to the varying portraits of the creator deity, the god’s lofty and grandiose transcendence or his stark and churlish anthropomorphism, there are other differences that set these two accounts apart. Although the subject matter is roughly parallel, its treatment by each account is hardly the same and each account’s underlying emphasis, whether theological or otherwise, is scarcely compatible. Where one attempts to give an orderly explanation of the creation of the cosmos via the word of an all-powerful transcendent deity, and, in short, is heaven-centered, the other attempts to answer questions of an anthropological nature, is earth-centered, and emphasizes man’s creation, relationship, disobedience towards, and finally expulsion from a very personal and "human" deity, Yahweh. It might furthermore be said that the first creation myth, for reasons that will be explored below, moves from chaos to order, within which there are repeated refrains where the god pronounces the created thing’s goodness and, finally, blesses humanity—a humanity, moreover, created in the image and likeness of its divine creator(s). The second account, on the other hand, moves from an infertile, barren, and humanless landscape through the formation of man from this ground and his placement in a fertile and fecund garden to, finally, his expulsion from that garden and (re)placement on a ground that has now become cursed (3:17, 4:11, 5:29). Unlike the former’s original state of creation which is represented as a watery chaos, the latter’s original state of creation is depicted as a waterless waste with no rain nor vegetation (Gen 2:5); it represents the dry, arid land of the geography of Palestine, which is mostly irrigated through its various underground springs that swell up from the ground to make the soil fertile, like the one mentioned in Gen 2:6. The toil required for man (’adam) to work this hard, dry soil (’adamah) is a prominent theme in this story. It is an etiological tale which provides a rationale for man’s current lot—how it came to be that ’adam must procure his livelihood by working the ’adamah, and at that a cursed ground. As we will see in numerous future entries, this anthropological theology of man toiling the cursed ground from which he was formed is part and parcel to retrojecting the author's geography onto these archaic narratives. That is to say, the author’s own perspective and experience of life as defined by his social and political world is retrojected into the past in the formation of a creation myth that then explains how and why man, as perceived from within the cultural perspective of our author, must toil the cursed ground for his livelihood. Thus contrary to the first creation’s account of celebration, affirmed goodness, and blessing, the latter account is a dramatic narrative with crisis and resolution in the form of punishment and curse.

In fact, in the redacted PJE text as it now stands, the Yahwist account completely negates the main theological message of the Priestly account—that God made both male and female in his likeness and that this is inherently good. As professor David Carr has astutely observed, in the former, humanity is created in the image and likeness of God and this is "good," while in the latter humanity is punished specifically for yearning to be like his god and this is deemed a transgression. "Gen 1:1-2:3 depicts an omnipotent God creating a godlike humanity. In contrast, Gen 2:4b-3:24 depicts a God who can both fail (Gen 2:19-20) and succeed (Gen 2:21-23). Humanity is not godlike but is created out of earth and punished for acts leading to humanity’s being like God (Gen 3:1-24)."{{6}} The implication that Carr deduces from this, as well as other strongly supportive data, is that the P creation text with its emphasis on order and goodness was written to replace and correct the image of man given in the Yahwist version. But because of the redactional process that eventually brought these two contradictory statements together, in an irony of sorts it is the Yahwist text that has now subverted the message of the Priestly writer. And this happens on numerous other occasions as well.

Noteworthy also is the fact that the first creation account emphasizes themes whose purpose and importance may be labeled as liturgical or cultic in nature, such as the importance of the Sabbath (2:3)—thus linking the cultic observance of the Sabbath to the created order of the cosmos—and in general all festivals and rituals governed by the appointed times as dictated by the movement of the celestial luminaries, which serve as signs for the appointed times of such festivals (1:14). In fact, there is a heightened emphasis between ritual observances and the ordered creation of the cosmos in this creation account. The second creation account displays no concern for these priestly matters, while on the other hand, emphasizing themes that are important to its own narrative, a sort of anthropological theology interested in such questions as man’s relationship to a personal deity, to the ground, obedience, theodicy, and man’s lot in life. Indeed, all these differences (in theme, style, vocabulary, theology, presentation of the deity, emphasis, and purpose) and specific contradictions in the order and manner of creation point, irrefutably, toward the fact that these two creation accounts were penned by two different authors. In other words, what accounts for these differences and contradictions is the very fact that these two creation accounts were penned by two different authors, and most likely in two different time periods and for two different purposes and two different audiences.

The first creation account is from the Priestly source and it readily displays this writer’s beliefs and worldview. The most obvious is the Sabbath observance. This is not only built into the cosmic order, but it is an expression of God’s presence in the weekly revolutions of this cosmic order. It is also an expression of God’s sanctity and blessing: "And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gen 2:3). Gen 1:14 seems to push this idea further by suggesting that the regulation of the cosmic order serves to establish a ritual calendar whose sole purpose is to provide "signs for appointed times"—that is days for the observance of cultic festivals and holy days such as the Sabbath. In other words, it is a cosmos created for ritual observances! The act of separation that occurs repeatedly throughout this creation account (Gen 1:4, 6, 7, 14, 18) also expresses Priestly ritual concerns and practices. In the book of Leviticus for example, also written by the Priestly writer, separating the clean from the unclean, whether in diet, the cult, or ethical matters, is part of keeping ritual purity, sanctification, and cosmic order. Everything was prescribed at creation to have its own place. This focus on ritual and order is even inherent in the rhetorical form of the Priestly creation account with its repetitive and formulaic structure.

That the opening chapter of the Pentateuch is from the Priestly source is not a coincidence. Rather it is a carefully implemented interpretive decision on the part of the Priestly redactor. It not only sets the interpretive framework for the next four books, but it introduces the central conviction inherent in the Priestly writer’s worldview, namely that the cultic system is woven directly into the fabric of creation itself. Ideas of ritual, order, blessing, the presence of God, and the observance of holy days are among the most visible aspects of the Priestly writer’s craft in this opening creation account. Thus the Priestly creation account establishes the importance of ritual as part of that which was inherent in the cosmos’ creation itself. In fact, the rituals of the cult themselves reestablish cosmic order; that is to say, officiating the cult and festival observances is part and parcel to maintaining cosmic order. It might further be concluded that in the Priestly creation account God is cast in the role of a priest who bestows blessings, ordains the ritual observance of the Sabbath, and in general safeguards the sanctification of the created world. Both the deity’s presence and sanctification is reestablished and reenacted through cultic and ritual observances. This is no coincidence. That God is imagined and presented in the role of its author, a priest, should not surprise us. Texts are the expressions of their authors. We will see more of this as we proceed through the Priestly writer’s composition. The role of the cult, its sacrifices, its rituals for separating the pure and the impure, its observances of the Sabbath and other festivals all function to reestablish the original sanctity inherent in the creation of the cosmos. It also functions to highlight the role of the cult and the priests for the audience to whom this was written. It subtly legitimates a worldview where priests are at the apex, and like the deity himself they too re-create the goodness of the established order through officiating ritual and cultic observances and bestowing blessings. These connections will become more pronounced in the book Exodus, where the establishment of the cult on the New Year’s day is presented, and in the book of Leviticus, where cultic and ritual legislation are set forth.

Many biblical scholars and attentive readers have noticed that the Priestly account of creation is not a creatio ex nihilo (a creation out of nothing). Before creation commences we are told that the earth was formless and void (tohu wabohu). We are also informed that the waters and the deep were present (1:2). Careful attention to these narrative details allows us to see more clearly the Priestly writer’s worldview and what exactly he hoped to convey through his creation account, and to whom!

That the Priestly writer has God create an ordered and habitable world from an unformed void or waste (tohu wabohu) is significant:{{7}} the image conveys that God can create a good and blessed cosmos from an initial condition of darkness, void, and waste. It is at core a message of hope, that even in the most dire of circumstances and conditions, goodness, order, and even holiness can be created. But we can learn more about this initial pre-creation state of tohu wabohu from other biblical passages that also speak of this. For example, foreseeing the imminent doom of Judah by the Babylonians and the coming desolation of the lands and the turning of fruitful fields into wildernesses, Jeremiah professes: "I looked on the earth and behold, it was void and waste (tohu wabohu), and to the heavens, and they had no light (Jer 4:23). The prophet uses the image of the reversal of creation to depict the harsh realities of the Babylonian destruction of the land of Judah and its people in 587 BC. In fact, references to Judah specifically, and the earth in general, as a tohu wabohu, a wasteland, a barren and sterile wilderness, are typical exilic descriptions of the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction as they laid siege to the land and utterly destroyed and burnt everything they encountered, from cities to fields. Yet also particular to this 6th century BC exilic literature is the theme of return and recreation, that Yahweh will bring his people back to their land and once again turn it from a wasteland (tohu wabohu) into a fertile and habitable land. Isaiah 45:18, for example, states that Yahweh has "formed the earth and made it; he established it. He created it not a wasteland (tohu), but he formed it to be habited." In its historical context, tohu refers to the desolation of the land of Judah in the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction and exile of 587 BC. Yet the allusion to (re)creation is also apparent here. It is a message of hope to the exilic community that Yahweh will turn Judah in the aftermath of this Babylonian destruction back into a habitable land. As in Genesis 1:2, an initial condition of a wasteland (tohu) is created into a habitable world. The passage continues: "I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness. I did not say to the children of Jacob, ‘Seek me in desolation (tohu)’" (45:19). Here the reference is to the Israelites in their exiled captivity in Babylon. In other words, these 6th century BC texts use tohu to speak of the wasteland, desolation, and darkness of the exilic condition, and the aftermath of the Babylonian destruction of Judah. What was brought about was tohu, a state of decreation. But these prophetic passages also express hope that this was not Yahweh’s intention—to have the exiles sitting in tohu. They express hope that Yahweh will (re)create a habitable world from this current condition of tohu, and bring his people out of tohu. They are in short, narratives of (re)creation designed to address the specific historical catastrophe brought about by the Babylonian destruction of 587 BC. The point I’m trying to make is that this specific vocabulary and imagery is unique to the exilic literature of the 6th century BC and reflects these authors’ reality, or at least how they perceived their reality—as a desolation, a wasteland. Since this word (tohu) and what it conveys is only found in the exilic literature of the 6th century BC, could the Priestly writer also be expressing the same idea in his creation account and to the same audience for the same purpose as these exilic texts? The tohu wabohu of the Priestly creation account would seem to serve two purposes then: it describes the state of desolation and waste wrought by the Babylonian aftermath of 587 BC, and on the cosmic level the waste and void that existed prior to creation. If this is so, then the Priestly creation account, like the Isaiah passage above, is a message of hope for the exiles. It is an expression of the very hopes and reality of an exilic community and how this community perceived its own condition. In other words, the Priestly creation account is very much representative of its 6th century BC date of composition and the worldview shared by the exilic community. It is an expression of hope, and faith, that God has created, and will recreate, the world a habitable place from an original state of void and wilderness. It reaffirms to this exilic community, the goodness and holiness in the created order of the world despite their current plight living in tohu!

The Yahwist creation account, on the other hand, expresses the very opposite, and portrays a dismal portrait of man and his precarious relationship to his creator. Furthermore, without even taking notice of the Priestly writer’s themes and message, the Yahwist’s creation account serves to explain the current lot of mankind, cursed to work the field. In fact this dismal picture gets increasingly worse as the Yahwist text continues with the murder of Abel by his own brother. Since the Priestly text was written after the Yahwist, many critics see the Priestly source and its strategically placed passages as an attempt to correct, readjust, or impose a new interpretive framework onto the JE narrative. By placing P’s creation account before J’s, the redactor makes a theological assertion that God created a good cosmos and a morally upright and divine-like humanity. It is only later that J’s less-than-perfect image of the human race with its disobedient and violent nature emerges. A further case can be made. There are good grounds for arguing that P’s creation account with its optimistic view of a godlike humanity, blessed and good, was intended as a refutation of or correction to J’s dismal portrait of a increasingly violent humanity. In this case, the Priestly writer would be involved in a program of reconceptualizing Israel’s prehistory in response to the concerns, ideas, and beliefs of a particular elite priestly guild in a specified socio-historical setting. Indeed, contrary to the redactor that brought these two creation myths together, the Priestly writer, since he is later than the Yahwist, might correctly be seen as writing a new creation of humanity that was meant to subvert, correct, and even replace the older tradition preserved in what we now call the Yahwist source (Gen 2:4b-25). Why? So that the primeval creation narrative offered up a poignant message to the exilic community it was drafted for, and answered their needs and concerns, while nevertheless expressing the views and beliefs of the Priestly guild that penned the account. Finally, what ever unique intentions, meanings, and purposes the J and P authors individually had in creating their creation accounts, they are gone. The combined PJ creation narrative now introduces unforeseen interpretive questions and meanings that neither the author of J nor P intended, one of which is the tendency among modern uninformed readers to harmonize these two accounts. This actually does disservice to both the J and P authors and their individual texts with their different meanings and purposes. It places the reader’s importance above those of the authors.

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Not at all, the hypothesis that the Genesis' accounts were part of two larger textual traditions first appeared in the 18th century by 3 INDEPENDENT critical readers. No scholar diputes this now. The best book of this topic, one that is honest to the text, the best book out there actually, is David Carr's Reading the Fractures of Genesis. As the title indicates, Carr, highly learned, takes as his starting point the text itself, so not even the documentary hypothesis, and by looking at the Hebrew texts, its "fractures" in the narratives, its resumptive repetions, diferent style and consistenly different use of vocabulary and theological point of views, etc. --- the textual data itself makes the claim of different authorships. Period. To deny this is to deny these texts and their authors and in lieu of them to impose later theological ideas of homogeneity and single authorship whether divine or human.

Actually, this is still very much a debated idea in theological circles, there may not be any liberal scholars who question it today, but that is hardly surprising. Edited by IamsSon
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Actually, this is still very much a debated idea in theological circles, there may not be any liberal scholars who question it today, but that is hardly surprising.

Its fascinating to watch, though. A bit like evolution. It starts out simple and gradually becomes more complicated like a boiling lobster. It evolves, embraced by those who need a reason not to believe, then before you know it if you don't buy into what all the "scholars" are saying you must be uneducated and stupid. You have to admit, that is the perfect way to do it. People eat it up like candy. Except for that it doesn't really matter because people will eat up anything like candy. They are sort of like turkeys. They look up, mouths wide upon, and drown.

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Not at all, the hypothesis that the Genesis' accounts were part of two larger textual traditions first appeared in the 18th century by 3 INDEPENDENT critical readers. No scholar diputes this now.

The account of Genesis 1-11 represent the oral tradition of pre-Hebrew history. Considering the idea of multiple traditions, it doesn't necessarily imply two authors in the creation account, just that the story came from oral traditions that were fused. The two oral traditions can then be considered to be two ways of explaining the same theological discourse, thus entirely justifying one author, two traditions, and one united narrative with one united purpose.

Just a thought,

~ PA

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