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jypsijemini

In The Beginning

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jypsijemini

Some just believe that the Creation story in Genesis is a metaphor.

And some Christians believe that you can't deny one part of the Bible without having to throw out the rest as well.

I grew up believing the latter - that every single story in the Bible was truthful, accurate and historical.

When I began to dissect my faith and really look at the things I believed, the Creation story stuck out for me as one of the biggest inconsistencies in the whole book.

I'd like to discuss!

 

So let's take the view that the Bible is a historically accurate document and discuss the Creation story with direct reference to Genesis, where it's depicted and described in detail.

Because it's a big book, let's chip away at it in chunks...

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jypsijemini

Genesis 1 New International Version (NIV)

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Hold up. So God existed, eternally, omnipotently, timelessly, formlessly... had all the angels hanging out with him, has no beginning or end - and here he is, creating "the heavens and the earth". Heavens, as in sky? Doubtful. Jesus prays, "Our Father, who art in Heaven..." - so we can presume that this is the same Heaven as the one he creates here in Genesis.

He creates the Earth, but it's "formless" and "empty". Yet, there's a 'surface of the deep' that darkness covered, and the "Spirit of God" was "hovering over the waters". How is that "formless"? Water still has a form, and if there's a surface of anything, that suggests there's a form of something, even if it's water. :hmm:

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

There was light - but it's not until the fourth day that God creates the light sources (sun, moon, stars). There were day and night, light and dark without any source. Evening and morning - without a sun to create such a thing. :hmm:

 

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

So he's just been working with a huge blob of water this whole time? There's water above the vault? Because the vault is sky, and it's said that there's water above the vault. So there's water above the sky? :hmm: Can anyone say, "Firmament"? That means that the Heavens indeed does not refer to the sky, because he's already created the Heavens and now he's taken an extra couple days to get around to creating the sky. Again, where was he residing or existing if he had to create the Heavens, and if Jesus prays to his Father "in Heaven"? What was going on before that?

 

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Third day, he made the land and the vegetation. Nothing real weird about that bit, so it wasn't worth noting to me. Fourth day, three days after he's created day and night, God decides it's time to create lights in the vault of the sky to give light to the earth. Did I just read that right? The "two great lights" are in the vault: in the sky. The sky is the vault between the water below (on the earth) and the water above the earth. This is where he's said to have put the lights. Not light years away from the earth. Not in orbit around the earth. WITHIN THE VAULT. As well as the stars. He "set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth". They "govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness".

Seriously. Read that one again. The sun, moon and stars are in the sky according to Genesis.

 

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

"...let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky" - the same place where the Sun and Moon and stars are residing. He wants the birds to fly above the earth in the same space where he's set the lights for the earth. Same sky. Same vault.

 

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

It's interesting that he's determined different types of animals - that livestock are different to wild animals. As if they were actually intended and designed for human use compared to the others which would remain wild - and even then, he specifies the "creatures that move along the ground" as being another class in and of themselves.

The sixth day - the last day of creation, he creates the second round of life. He's already got the sea and sky dwellers. He's already created the vegetation needed to sustain life. Now he's filling the earth with creatures.

And to complete it all, he creates man.

Not in "my" image. Not in "my" likeness. He's quoted to have said, "in our image, in our likeness".

Hang on a sec. God is later depicted as a jealous God and claims that there is only one God, and that's him. Was he talking to his other selves, the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost) - of whom only appear in the New Testament, decades after Genesis was written? Or was he talking to the angels?

This is contradicted by the very next verse: "So God created mankind in HIS own image, in the image of God he created them..."

Lolwot? He created them in our image, in his own image, and in the image of God. Which fecking one is it?!

 

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

"...fill the earth and subdue it." Well we certainly took that one a bit too literally, didn't we?

"I give you every green plant for food." - so he's not saying that the animals (even the livestock) are intended for food. The plants and vegetation are all meant for food, for humans, animals - "everything that has the breath of life in it". Ruling over the animals didn't seem to insinuate that we should be killing and eating them. But what of the 'wild beasts' that are clearly purely carnivorous? He just created them with teeth, claws and digestive systems that are meant for killing and eating meat - yet they're meant to survive off eggplants and broccoli? :hmm:

 

And thus concludes my dissection of Chapter 1...

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Rlyeh

Without the creation myth, what did Jesus die for?

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Habitat

I remember many years ago being told that the Queensland Railways, which had a reputation for very slow travel, was mentioned in the Bible. This was explained by the saying, "God made all things that crawl on the face of the Earth". I think it might have been a joke.

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jypsijemini
10 minutes ago, Habitat said:

I remember many years ago being told that the Queensland Railways, which had a reputation for very slow travel, was mentioned in the Bible. This was explained by the saying, "God made all things that crawl on the face of the Earth". I think it might have been a joke.

Well we can be sure that ScoMo certainly isn't the second coming of Christ then...

Jesus said, "I will be with you to the end of the age", not "I'm gonna take off to Hawaii when the fires of hell descend upon you".

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zep73

There are actually two creation narratives, the younger (Genesis 1 + 2:1-4) and the older (Genesis 2:5-25). They both start with water, although geological evidence clearly shows that water was the last substance to arrive on Earth.
Btw, I made a whole thread about the part where God says "us" (it's called 'Elohim'). There's also some gender confusion there, because Elohim means "the male and female gods".

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Paranoid Android

 

10 hours ago, jypsijemini said:

Some just believe that the Creation story in Genesis is a metaphor.

And some Christians believe that you can't deny one part of the Bible without having to throw out the rest as well.

I grew up believing the latter - that every single story in the Bible was truthful, accurate and historical.

When I began to dissect my faith and really look at the things I believed, the Creation story stuck out for me as one of the biggest inconsistencies in the whole book.

I'd like to discuss!

 

So let's take the view that the Bible is a historically accurate document and discuss the Creation story with direct reference to Genesis, where it's depicted and described in detail.

Because it's a big book, let's chip away at it in chunks...

Sounds like fun. Unlike you when I was a Christian I belonged to a Church that wasn't very dogmatic about issues like creation. I don't think that's "denying one part of the Bible without having to throw out the rest as well". Does that mean the story of the prodigal son was a literal story about a literal son who dissed his father, ended up sleeping in pig troughs and then returned home? Of course not, we know that the prodigal son story was a parable, we know how to interpret parables and know that they are not historical recounts of actual people. 

Thanks for your very detailed breakdown of chapter 1, btw. It was interesting to read. I think you have made a mistake taking it literally, I don't think it was intended to be literal. You took the time to give a paragraph by paragraph breakdown of that chapter, I'm going to try and give a whole chapter overview in as brief a way as possible to help illustrate my point, and you'll notice that the narrative breaks down into three distinct sections - the first three days (1-3), the second three days (4-6), and the final day (7). Moreover, the first three days have a direct relationship to the second three days (Days 1 and 4; 2 and 5; 3 and 6).

Day 1 - God creates light

Day 4 - God creates source of light

Day 2 - God creates the sky and water

Day 5 - God creates fish and birds to live in the water and sky

Day 3 - God creates land

Day 6 - God creates animals (including humans) to live on the land

Day 7 - God rests.

The first three days provide the right conditions in which the actions of the second set of three days can be accomplished, in sequential order. The light is made, and then the source of the light is made on the fourth day. The living conditions for birds and fish are made, and then birds and fish are created on day five. The living conditions for land animals is created, and then on the sixth day the land animals (including humans) are made. This is a poetic device used in Hebrew poetry called Parallelism (link)

Like you said, God didn't even create the sun until day 4, and yet every day ends with, "And there was evening and there was morning, the nth day". Without a sun or moon, evening and mornings do not exist. But they do provide a very good structural basis for poetry - the repetition of the phrase, "And there was evening and there was morning", sets a good touchstone to separate each day of creation – a form of micro-resolution at the end of each day, leading into the next creative event. It's clearly a poetic device.

I'd also like to highlight one further point concerning the purpose of the seventh day within this narrative structure. So far, each day ends with an act of creation - something tangible and/or physical is made (light, water, land, etc). These are physical things, compared to the seventh day which focuses back to God. The numbers 6 and 7 are often contrasted in Hebrew poetry - the number 6 is representative of mankind, imperfect and flawed, and the number 7 is God's number, representative of all that is right and holy (link). In this light, the author ends Genesis 1 not on the sixth day as would be representative of mankind in Hebrew culture, but instead on the seventh day, as symbolically representing God's perfection/completion. It seems pretty obvious that a piece of Hebrew poetry about the creation of everything would finish on God's number rather than man's, it would be a very unfulfilling piece if it wasn't.

This account of creation in Genesis 1 shows that the author was not intending to write this as an historical approach to HOW God created the world. It is far too stylised and embedded in Hebrew imagery. The point was to convey that God created mankind – the focus is entirely on God's actions as the supreme and only God. God spoke, and things happened. You could even argue it was an explicit rejection of other contemporary creation myths. This story (link), for example is very much par for the course as far as creation stories go back then. The universe was created as a result of a battle between the gods, and then humans had to be created to clean up the gods' mess. One of my old Bible commentaries put it best, imo: 

"Genesis is implicitly rejecting other views of the gods and their relationship with the world. Here we have no story of how gods fought, married and bore children; there is but one God, beyond time and sex, who was there in the beginning. He created all things, even the sun, moon and stars, which other people often held to be gods in their own right. He required no magic to do this; his word was sufficient by itself."

~ New Bible Commentary, 21st Century Edition. p59

Considering this, I think it more than fair to accept a non-literal reading of creation. There might have even been a real event somewhere far enough back in history on which the Eden story was actually based. But how much remains of that event in the story now is recognisable after centuries or millennia of oral tradition changed it, I don't think we can really know. Anyway, if you want to read more about this, what I've written here is an excerpted version of an old post I wrote on UM about seven or eight years ago now. The original link is here and deals with the broader issues of Genesis 1-11, not just the first chapter. 

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Dejarma
Posted (edited)

this sums it up for me;)

 

 

Edited by Dejarma

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Paranoid Android
22 minutes ago, Dejarma said:

this sums it up for me;)

 

 

That video's a fake from a couple of years ago! 

 

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Sherapy
Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, jypsijemini said:

Some just believe that the Creation story in Genesis is a metaphor.

And some Christians believe that you can't deny one part of the Bible without having to throw out the rest as well.

I grew up believing the latter - that every single story in the Bible was truthful, accurate and historical.

When I began to dissect my faith and really look at the things I believed, the Creation story stuck out for me as one of the biggest inconsistencies in the whole book.

I'd like to discuss!

 

So let's take the view that the Bible is a historically accurate document and discuss the Creation story with direct reference to Genesis, where it's depicted and described in detail.

Because it's a big book, let's chip away at it in chunks...

Jypsi, Genesis is considered a creation story in fact, it is two different creation stories the rule of thumb is if one is dealing with the OT one wants to include the Jewish lens. 
It is a unique Christan practice to value literal interpretation as the end all be all, this it is not a Jewish practice. 
I would recommend the book by James Kugel “How to Read the Bible” it is exceptional and sheds the scholarly and academic approach and the different beliefs giving a much more rounded perspective of how humans used religion to advance their values. 

Edited by Sherapy
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Paranoid Android
2 minutes ago, Sherapy said:

It is a unique Christan practice to value literal interpretation as the end all be all, this it is not a Jewish practice. 
 

Keep in mind that it wasn't so long ago that Pope Francis endorsed evolution as God's vehicle of choice to bring forth creation. As the head of the largest single denomination of Christianity (roughly one billion humans are alleged to belong to this denomination) it's unfair to say that standard Christian practise is to stampede straight to the literal interpretation. 

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Sherapy
Posted (edited)
8 minutes ago, Paranoid Android said:

Keep in mind that it wasn't so long ago that Pope Francis endorsed evolution as God's vehicle of choice to bring forth creation. As the head of the largest single denomination of Christianity (roughly one billion humans are alleged to belong to this denomination) it's unfair to say that standard Christian practise is to stampede straight to the literal interpretation. 

Revised: it was traditional to see through a literal lens until recently. 
 

On a personal inquiry, I have never even read a Christian include the Jewish lens in the Genesis analysis have you? 
 

 

Edited by Sherapy
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Hammerclaw
Posted (edited)

There are five principal branches of contemporary Judaism today, some diverging radically from the beliefs of others, ranging in a spectrum of literal belief from the orthodox to the humanist. 

https://www.gotquestions.org/Judaism.html

Edited by Hammerclaw
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Paranoid Android
1 minute ago, Sherapy said:

On a personal inquiry, I have never even read a Christian consider the Jewish lens in the Genesis analysis have you? 

Yes. My post earlier in this thread, for example, cites Hebrew poetry and embeds the creation narrative firmly within the Jewish context. The core of what I wrote was written in 2012, when I was a Christian. And they are not unique, I was not the first or the last Christian to arrive at that view. In saying that, I think a lot of Christians who go to church probably don't understand the Jewish lens well enough to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion of their own, but that's a different matter for a different question I think. 

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Dejarma
28 minutes ago, Paranoid Android said:

That video's a fake from a couple of years ago! 

 

yep.. most comedy isn't real

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Paranoid Android
2 minutes ago, Dejarma said:

yep.. most comedy isn't real

But if it's not real, it's not even funny!  It's only funny if Jacob Zuma really can't pronounce beningging. At least to me....

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Dejarma
Just now, Paranoid Android said:

But if it's not real, it's not even funny!  It's only funny if Jacob Zuma really can't pronounce beningging.  

oh ok then

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Sherapy
29 minutes ago, Paranoid Android said:

Yes. My post earlier in this thread, for example, cites Hebrew poetry and embeds the creation narrative firmly within the Jewish context. The core of what I wrote was written in 2012, when I was a Christian. And they are not unique, I was not the first or the last Christian to arrive at that view. In saying that, I think a lot of Christians who go to church probably don't understand the Jewish lens well enough to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion of their own, but that's a different matter for a different question I think. 

Hmmm, I will read your post shortly. 
Thanks for the response. 
You make a great point, until I became friends with MKLSGL in 2005, I would say I had no exposure to Judaism to even know how to  make a distinction, 
 

 

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Hammerclaw
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Paranoid Android said:

Yes. My post earlier in this thread, for example, cites Hebrew poetry and embeds the creation narrative firmly within the Jewish context. The core of what I wrote was written in 2012, when I was a Christian. And they are not unique, I was not the first or the last Christian to arrive at that view. In saying that, I think a lot of Christians who go to church probably don't understand the Jewish lens well enough to arrive at a well-reasoned conclusion of their own, but that's a different matter for a different question I think. 

The Church, for almost two thousand years, has projected Christianity back in time, even claiming some historical figures as "Christian" before their was a Christ. It's not a matter of contemporary ignorance, but ancient Church doctrine that permeates all branches of the Faith. So it's little wonder the Jewish origin story and religious literature are given the same treatment. 

Most of Justin Martyr's works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue did survive. The First Apology, his most well known text, passionately defends the morality of the Christian life, and provides various ethical and philosophical arguments to convince the Roman emperor, Antoninus, to abandon the persecution of the Church. Further, he also indicates, as St. Augustine would later regarding the "true religion" that predated Christianity,[8] that the "seeds of Christianity" (manifestations of the Logos acting in history) actually predated Christ's incarnation. This notion allows him to claim many historical Greek philosophers (including Socrates and Plato), in whose works he was well studied, as unknowing Christians.  Wikipedia

Edited by Hammerclaw
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Sherapy
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Hammerclaw said:

There are five principal branches of contemporary Judaism today, some diverging radically from the beliefs of others, ranging in a spectrum of literal belief from the orthodox to the humanist. 

https://www.gotquestions.org/Judaism.html

Good point, Most early Christians were Jewish, it is very possible the literal translation of the ancient interpreters stuck. 
Apparently, ancient interpreters prior to the rise of the Documentary Hypothesis dubbed Genesis as The Fall of Man, Piney or Paul can give more insight into this than me.

Enter Modern Scholarship the idea that Genesis was actually two different accounts, suggesting that it was written by more than one hand. 
One theory is Genesis was a reflection of the ending of the hunter and gatherer culture to the beginning of agriculture. 
Gen. 2:25, 2:24 3:19 etc. ( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 56). 

The second half of Genesis are folklore motifs, Gen. 3:22 for ex. 

In a nutshell Gen 1-3 “Is about Priestly promotion of sabbath observance, and the discovery of agriculture and the resulting change in societal organization” ( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 57).

“It was an account of different approaches, different names for god, different agendas, different programs and interests”

( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 57).

Edited by Sherapy
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Hammerclaw
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Sherapy said:

Good point, Most early Christians were Jewish, it is very possible the literal translation of the ancient interpreters stuck. 
Apparently, ancient interpreters prior to the rise of the Documentary Hypothesis dubbed Genesis as The Fall of Man, Piney or Paul can give more insight into this than me.

Enter Modern Scholarship the idea that Genesis was actually two different accounts, suggesting that it was written by more than one hand. 
One theory is Genesis was a reflection of the ending of the hunter and gatherer culture to the beginning of agriculture. 
Gen. 2:25, 2:24 3:19 etc. ( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 56). 

The second half of Genesis are folklore motifs, Gen. 3:22 for ex. 

In a nutshell Gen 1-3 “Is about Priestly promotion of sabbath observance, and the discovery of agriculture and the resulting change in societal organization” ( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 57).

“It was an account of different approaches, different names for god, different agendas, different programs and interests”

( Kugel, How to Read the Bible, page 57).

Genesis is a conflation of different accounts--even that of the creation of man and women. Genesis 1:26-28 is the first account. The other more familiar one has man being formed from clay and woman from his rib, two very distinct and different accounts. This led to the story of Adam having two wives, the first naughty and disobedient who left him. We know her as Lilith. 

Edited by Hammerclaw
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Paranoid Android

 

2 hours ago, Hammerclaw said:

Genesis is a conflation of different accounts--even that of the creation of man and women. Genesis 1:26-28 is the first account. The other more familiar one has man being formed from clay and woman from his rib, two very distinct and different accounts. This led to the story of Adam having two wives, the first naughty and disobedient who left him. We know her as Lilith. 

And of course, I'm sure you know there is zero ancient textual tradition for this narrative. The first time Lilith is ever associated with being Adam's wife is in a text from the Middle Ages which we call The Alphabet of Ben Sira. This text is a piece of satire (if my memory serves, this is also the text where one of the Old Testament prophets [Nathan, maybe] farts embarrassingly every time he makes a successful prophecy), so it's maybe not the best source to go by. 

Before this Lilith is a rather mysterious figure. The name appears only once in the Bible, the book of Isaiah from my memory, and it was referencing some kind of night bird, like an owl or similar. Outside of the Bible, Lilith is more prominent as a demon in various schools of ancient Hebrew mythology. But nowhere in Hebrew literature is she ever associated with Adam. Like I said, that's 8-10th Century AD satire.  

But you're right, there is evidence of two textual traditions. If you are a fan of the JEDP hypothesis then you probably already accept things like this anyway :tu: 

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Hammerclaw
Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, Paranoid Android said:

 

And of course, I'm sure you know there is zero ancient textual tradition for this narrative. The first time Lilith is ever associated with being Adam's wife is in a text from the Middle Ages which we call The Alphabet of Ben Sira. This text is a piece of satire (if my memory serves, this is also the text where one of the Old Testament prophets [Nathan, maybe] farts embarrassingly every time he makes a successful prophecy), so it's maybe not the best source to go by. 

Before this Lilith is a rather mysterious figure. The name appears only once in the Bible, the book of Isaiah from my memory, and it was referencing some kind of night bird, like an owl or similar. Outside of the Bible, Lilith is more prominent as a demon in various schools of ancient Hebrew mythology. But nowhere in Hebrew literature is she ever associated with Adam. Like I said, that's 8-10th Century AD satire.  

But you're right, there is evidence of two textual traditions. If you are a fan of the JEDP hypothesis then you probably already accept things like this anyway :tu: 

Sounds like Ereshkigal, Goddess of the Underworld. Lilith or Lilitu is first mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud third century as some sort of mischievous night demon. She became associated with Adam in the seventh century CE.

500.jpg?v=1485682040

Edited by Hammerclaw
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jypsijemini
11 hours ago, Paranoid Android said:

 Considering this, I think it more than fair to accept a non-literal reading of creation. There might have even been a real event somewhere far enough back in history on which the Eden story was actually based. But how much remains of that event in the story now is recognisable after centuries or millennia of oral tradition changed it, I don't think we can really know. Anyway, if you want to read more about this, what I've written here is an excerpted version of an old post I wrote on UM about seven or eight years ago now. The original link is here and deals with the broader issues of Genesis 1-11, not just the first chapter. 

Thank you P.A.,

i hadn't considered that.

It sounds like I need to get some more input from my younger brother, who is a Lutheran pastor and Bible scholar on these matters and to branch out and do a bit more research independently, considering the interpretations of others and their findings like yours.

My view is quite limited because I grew up being taught to take it all as truth - that the poetry was only limited to Psalms and Song of Solomon, and that there was no myth involved whatsoever. I abandoned the faith almost a decade ago which means I'm deciphering the text now from the outside and basing it on my childhood interpretations and understanding.

Which I guess is what these forums are for - presenting an opinion and gaining insight and deeper understanding from those who know and understand it from a different perspective, so thank you for enlightening me! ^_^

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jypsijemini
11 hours ago, Sherapy said:

Jypsi, Genesis is considered a creation story in fact, it is two different creation stories the rule of thumb is if one is dealing with the OT one wants to include the Jewish lens. 
It is a unique Christan practice to value literal interpretation as the end all be all, this it is not a Jewish practice. 
I would recommend the book by James Kugel “How to Read the Bible” it is exceptional and sheds the scholarly and academic approach and the different beliefs giving a much more rounded perspective of how humans used religion to advance their values. 

Thank you, lovely!

I'll look into it. x

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