Sunday, November 06, 2005

Was Man Created Before or After the Animals?

An oldie but goodie:

Version 1

1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.


Version 2

2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul...
2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.


Therefore, the Bible is not literally true.

8 comments:

Isitmoraltopostanonymously said...

Thank you for creating a entirely stimulating blog.

I've actually spent some time studying these verses in the original Hebrew and as you undboubtedly know, there are many, many examples in the Torah of apparent anachronisms (even by the text's own standards).

The professional Bible critics themselves have concluded that whoever wrote these words in the form we have them was a genius - and it's hard to reconcile that observation with quirks like the one you've pointed out.

Of course, there have been smart commentators over the generations, several of whom (eg the Talmud) state, "the Torah does not follow a strictly linear chronology". That simple. Sometimes it tells events out of order or retells events. A better example even than the one you gave is the first 2 sentences of the Bible:

1. In the beginning God created heaven and earth etc.
2. The world was empty and void...etc

...and eventually heaven and earth are created...again?!!

Thus, I've come to learn to read the Torah as narrative poetry that demands interpretation in order to get its "literal" meaning. If a king signed a decree to condemn 1000 people to death, and a poet later wrote of the "quiver that drowned a thousand men", would that be literally true or false?

By the way, I posted below but you may not see bcs they are old discussions, see this take on the historicity of Adam: rabbiseinfeld

Random said...

[Shrug] I suspect I may lose some of the others here, which is a pity:-( But, that sort of confusion is what you get when you cut and paste several documents into one. See the "documentary hypothesis" article on Wikipedia for a discussion of how Genesis was probably compiled. Genesis is a myth (to be precise, a collection of myths) that teach us of the central involvement of the Creator in the Creation. I doubt even the original scribes intended them to be taken literally.

Look, I know that biblical literalism, etc. is a big debate in the USA, but it really isn't in the rest of the world. Only recently for example the Vatican (which speaks for well over half the world's Christians) issued a statement calling on believers to listen to and learn from science as offerring the best way of understanding the world and specifically lambasting intelligent design in favour of evolution:

"During the press conference, another official at the press conference affirmed a 1996 statement by the late Pope John Paul II in support of evolution, who called it “more than just a hypothesis.”

“A hypothesis asks whether something is true or false,” said Monsignor Gianfranco Basti, who is the director of a Vatican Project called the Science, Theology and Ontological Quest. “(Evolution) is more than a hypothesis because there is proof,” he said.

[Cardinal] Poupard, however, emphasized that “the universe wasn’t made by itself, but has a Creator.” "

http://www.christianpost.com/article/europe/557/section/catholic.official.says.faithful.should.listen.to.secular.modern.science/1.htm

(Apologies for the length of the link - googling on "Vatican" and "intelligent design" will produce loads of stories about this)

Jewish Atheist said...

isitmoral:

1. In the beginning God created heaven and earth etc.
2. The world was empty and void...etc


In that case, I think an obvious reading is that the first sentence is a summary, and the second is the beginning of the details.

Thus, I've come to learn to read the Torah as narrative poetry that demands interpretation in order to get its "literal" meaning.

I'm fine with the Torah as narrative poetry, but I don't see how you can call an interpretation "literal."

random:

I doubt even the original scribes intended them to be taken literally.

I very much agree.

Look, I know that biblical literalism, etc. is a big debate in the USA, but it really isn't in the rest of the world.

Don't I know it. I honestly don't know what the problem is in America. Somehow, an anti-intellectualism has taken hold. In a previous post, a commenter actually called me an "egghead."

Shlomo said...

Any movement that attacks intellectuals (a buzz word for people who see through their bullshit) brings about the ruination of a society.

Don't just be an egghead. be a hard-boiled egghead.

asher said...

The documentary theory says that there are numerous authors of the bible and the Redactor put all the versions together. Either this Redactor was high or drunk when he did his work. There has Bible criticism since the bible was made accessable to the masses through the printing press. But anyone reading it would find problems. This is what troubled me with the version called Pe'shat which translates as "plain translation", one of the ways of learning the hebrew bible. You can't just read the plain words and hope to make meaning out of it.

Laura said...

I pesonally think it's sad that we have to come to such an example as this to argue whether the Bible is literally true. I mean, as if a talking shrub, a chick turned into a pillar of salt, some dude getting swallowed by (and LIVING) in a whale... We might as well add Paul Bunyon and Babe his Blue Ox. It's a tall tale. Why is it such a bad thing if it's not literally true? It's still a moral code. It's still allegorical stories of how to be a good person. It doesn't negate the message of the faith at all. Get over it.

Mereadlin said...

"I honestly don't know what the problem is in America. Somehow, an anti-intellectualism has taken hold."

I can't understand it either. I am so confused by people who get so offended by the idea that the Bible is not literally true. I'm not sure why people get so upset about figurative language and equate "literal" with "truth". I had a discussion with someone once about being created "in the image of God". He insisted that it had to mean we were created in God's physical image. Another person told me that J*sus (not sure how you all feel about that name here, so I'll not write it out just in case) only spoke in the literal and never figuratively. I asked her if she had ever read the parables. I don't think she answered me. I end up giving up on the conversation because I can't take it anymore. Of course, then they think that they have won...

I like your blog, JA.

Jewish Atheist said...

I'm not sure why people get so upset about figurative language and equate "literal" with "truth".

Karen Armstrong, in her book The Battle for God, thinks it's a response to modernity.

not sure how you all feel about that name here, so I'll not write it out just in case

You can write whatever you want here. :) I just ask posters to stay away from insulting each other too much.

I like your blog, JA.

Thanks!