Book of Genesis
|Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
a British rock band the first book of the Bible. Most people consider Genesis to be allegorical or mythological account. Most Biblical scholars think that the book is a confused melding of three distinct sources by an editor, making it highly self-contradictory. Biblical literalists and Young Earth Creationists consider its events to be literally, absolutely true. Except the parts they ignore, such as man and woman being created simultaneously in Genesis 1:27 and at different times in Genesis 2:21-23.
"Genesis" comes from the Greek word Γένεσις (génesis), meaning something along the lines of "origin" or "birth". This came from the Hebrew word בְּרֵאשִׁית (B'reshit, literally "in the beginning"). The title is in fact an incipit — i.e. it's the first word that appears in the document (Hebrew בְּרֵאשִׁית, Greek Γένεσις). The Hebrew titles for the books of the Torah are all incipits, while the traditional Greek names (the ones used in English) deviate from this formula.
Genesis runs from the Creation of the Universe™ all the way to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and it's considered by experts divided on the Primeval history (the first eleven chapters) and the Patriarchal age (also known as "Ancestral history", and encompassing the rest of the chapters):
|It's a long one.|
Traditionally, Genesis and the other four Mosaic books were considered to have been written by Moses himself. Although a minority among conservative Christians still hold to this view, the greater part of modern scholarship believes that they were collected in the middle of the first millennium BCE from a number of older sources. Literary criticism and analysis suggests three sources for the original material which was then edited by a redactor. The fact that Moses' death is related in Deuteronomy 34 has mysteriously changed few fundamentalist whackjobs' opinions.
A still controversial theory despite having gained interest is that Genesis was written down to unite the two most powerful groups of Israel's community: priests, who claimed to descend from Moses, and major landowning families, who claimed to descend from Abraham, after Persians promised more autonomy for said region within their empire, assuming they wrote a single law code common for both.
Based on similarities in both the story itself and shared cultural worldviews, many scholars argue that the story of Creation Week in Genesis is strongly influenced by (if not based on) the Babylonian creation myth Enûma Eliš.
Similarities with Enuma Elish
- Order of Creation
- "Order" from "Chaos" (The Torah places more emphasis on the organization of things rather than the 'something from nothing' aspect of creation that is emphasized by the Christian Old Testament.)
- Six periods of time before the creation of "man" or of "savage god". In the Enuma Elish, it is six prior generations of gods, not six days, and man is to be slave to the gods.
- Concept that man is created in God's image.
- Gods are created from clay (the ground) and man from the Gods' blood. "Adamah" means "red dirt", so the Bible seems to have gone for a little of column A and a little of column B.
- The strange idea of light being created before the Sun.
Similarities with Sumerian myths
The Sumerian myth and the Eden story share some similar aspects.
- The setting: a garden paradise (Dilmun) surrounded by desert, where all is peaceful and no animals harm one another.
- Variation of the creation of Eve: in Sumerian myth, Ninhursag curses the God Enki for eating forbidden fruit, then regrets her actions and creates seven goddesses from his semen to heal his seven wounds. One, Ninti, was created to heal his injured rib, and was the goddess of healing afflictions of the chest.
- The meaning of the female names; Eve (life), Ninti (lady of life)
- Flood myth, with Utnapishtim replaced with Noah and the angry God Enlil (who essentially wanted humanity to stop playing their fucking music so loud) and the sympathetic Ea / Enki folded into crazy ol' Pentateuch YHWH
- Gilgamesh finds a fruit that will grant him eternal life, but it is eaten by a serpent before he can try it out
Similarities with Greek mythology
- In Hesiod's Theogony, it is stated that Gaia (earth) is born out of the primordial chaos along with Nyx (night) and Erebus (darkness). Nyx and Erebus's children are Aether (upper sky) and Hemera (day). Gaia's then gives birth to Ouranos (sky) and brings apart hills and plains on one side, then she gives birth to Pontus (sea).
- In Greek myth, after assorted divine fuckery, Zeus takes the secret of creating fire (i.e., the gift of knowledge) from man, and the Titan Prometheus, creator of mankind, restores it. For this, Zeus condemns Prometheus to eternal punishment and dicks over mankind, doing the latter by presenting a jar containing all the world's evils to Pandora, the first woman, who promptly opens it. The essential idea that Zeus was a massive asshole seems to have been lost on the writers of the Bible, who made God the good guy in all of this.
- Both Deucalion and Noah are commissioned to build boats and dump animals on, ignoring plants and marine life, and also without any sense of scale.
- Both Noah and Deucalion get free kids.
Jewish vs. Christian versions
It is worth noting that the Jewish and Christian versions of Genesis have quite a few differences (as do much of the Hebrew scriptures in general), including the order of sentences and passages, the structure of passages, emphasis on the importance of particular stories, and, in fact, word choice when translating into non-Hebrew languages which can drastically alter meanings of particular verses.
Contradictions and other nonsense
“”We can start right off with the first two books of the bible, in Genesis.
In the first chapter, God creates Adam and Eve at the same time.
In the second chapter, God creates Adam, and then Adam does a few things, he names the animals, he does this and he does that, and he gets lonely. So he talks to God and says, you know, "I'm lonely". God then says "Allright, I'll provide you with a mate", and then he takes the rib, and creates Eve out of his rib and so on...We all know these stories. These are two different creation stories.
Most biblical scholars believe that the first two chapters of Genesis actually contain two creation myths spliced together, along with "editorial comments" from the compiler (which some believe to be the spiritual precursor of WikiEditors, since he or she adds meticulous details like lists of "begats", pages of cubit measurements for a boat, and repetitive, redundant, recurring language). Dr. Paul L. Maier, who is himself a Christian, puts it as follows:
“”Well, I wouldn't call them contradictions as much as commentaries the one on the other. Again, let's point out we probably do have two different authors here, whose work was blended together then, in an editorial revisioning, somewhat.
Which in itself makes an important point about the fact that scholarly consensus regarding the Bible neither supports infallibility, nor a literal reading, and indeed about the inherently man-made nature of scripture. It's also quite telling that the characters and events described on the first part of the narrative (Adam and Eve, Noah, the Tower of Babel, etc) are almost forgotten for the rest of the Torah/Old Testament and especially, barring the attempts of some apologists to shoehorn on its verses modern scientific knowledge and often failing hard, there are no mentions of anything unknown in the epoch the authors of Genesis lived, including the kind of stuff that requires sophisticated equipment far beyond their reach to be discovered, as that there are several land masses and not just one, the Moon does not emit light and just reflects the Sun's light, bacteria, subatomic particles, galaxies, etc. as one would expect had it been the product of divine revelation.
Still, Genesis is rife with blatant contradiction from which the text cannot hope to revive. To name a few examples:
- In the first myth, the stages of creation are separated into six days. The second myth does not mention any separation of time periods.
- In Genesis 1:6-8, the Earth is covered in water. God (Elohim) commands the waters covering the Earth to separate, forming land and sea. In Genesis 2:5-6, the Earth is dry. God (v.2 YHWH-Elohim) had not caused it to rain yet. He then causes water to spring up from beneath the Earth.
- In Genesis 1:27-28, God (Elohim) creates man and woman (both unnamed) together, then tells them to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. In Genesis 2:7, the LORD (YHWH-Elohim) creates Adam, then all the animals, then (apparently some time later) creates Eve from Adam's rib in Genesis 2:21-22. Adam and Eve are not told to be fruitful and multiply.
- In the first myth, God gives the man and woman dominion over the earth. In the second myth, the LORD does not; he decrees instead that man will have to work for his living, debasing him rather than elevating him.
- The first myth contains no reference to a self-contained Garden of Eden where the man and woman must remain. The Garden of Eden first appears in the second myth.
- The first myth lacks geographical references. In the second myth, the Editors inserted names of the rivers and lands near the Garden of Eden.
- In the first myth, the animals of the sea and air were created on Thursday, while the animals of the land, including man, were created on Friday. In the second myth, man was created before any plants are even created, let alone any animals to eat them.
Because of the two scrolls and the additions of the Editors, Genesis contains many conflicts. The Noah story has many fun examples.
- Genesis 6:11 repeats Genesis 6:1. Perfect gods need to state things 2 or more times.
- Genesis 6:19 God commands Noah to bring 2 of every kind. Yet in Genesis 7:1 he is to take either 7 or 7 pairs of each clean animal, and (presumably) 2 of all the rest.
- Genesis 7:12, it rained for 40 days, and the waters abate after 150 days and the ark lands. Genesis 8:1-3, it rains for 150 days, and the waters abate after 10 months, the ark landing after 7 months (I know, 7 ≠ 10 in my math book, either.)
- Genesis 8:7 Noah sends a raven to find land. Genesis 8:8 he sends a dove to do the same. Modern translations use "then" as a conjunction, but the original Hebrew Torah makes no such correction for the sudden change in bird species.
- Finally, the land dries up. Either on the first day of the first month, or the 27th day of the 2nd month. Clearly, conservative math is not a new concept!
- Sunday: God creates light. The light is divided from the darkness, and "day" and "night" are named.
- Monday: God creates a firmament and divides the waters above it from the waters below. The firmament is named "heaven".
- Tuesday: God gathers the waters together, and dry land appears. "Earth" and "sea" are named. Then God brings forth grass, herbs and fruit-bearing trees on the Earth.
- Wednesday: God creates lights in the firmament of Heaven, to separate light from darkness and to mark days, seasons and years. Two great lights are made, as well as the stars.
- Thursday: God creates birds and sea creatures, including "great sea serpents" or "great whales". They are commanded to be fruitful and multiply.
- Friday: God creates wild beasts (the goat came to be and there was much rejoicing), livestock and reptiles upon the Earth. He then creates Man and Woman in His "image" and "likeness". They are told to "be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [or shepherd it: God seems to have mumbled a little at this part]." Humans and animals are given plants to eat. The totality of creation is described by God as "very good".
- Saturday: God finishes his work of creation, and rests from His work he reaches into his cooler, grabs a cold one and says "this day shall be for the boys."
To complicate things the second chapter of Genesis beginning in Genesis 2:4 has a different creation story. In this one the order goes as follows:
- Earth and heavens
- Mist and water on the earth
- Adam, the first man on what seems to be an empty earth
- Eve, the first woman (from Adam's rib)
The Sun-Day Paradox
The Sun-Day Paradox is the name given to a serious question asked of creationists who take a literal view of the Bible — in particular, Genesis 1. The question, in its simplest form, is 'What would happen if the Sun were to go out?' Since the Sun was created on the fourth day of Creation Week to rule part of an already established light/dark cycle—rather than be the source of that light — creationists must be of the view that nothing will change: day and night should continue in the same way as before[note 3]
In the debate between science and creationism, rather than arguing from different and opposing premises, this question raises an issue from within the logical confines that a literal belief in the Biblical creation story places upon itself. Furthermore, it is a question that applies equally to different forms of creationism such as Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism and Day-Age Creationism.
A peculiar detail can be seen in Genesis 1:14-15, which reads as follows:
And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
Apparently the lights in the sky were also created to act as signs. The idea that the movement, configuration, and appearance of celestial bodies conveyed personal messages was really common in primitive societies. This idea is now generally referred to as astrology, which is forbidden and ridiculed in many other scriptural references. Genesis 1 apparently endorses astrological thinking.
Before Creation Week
There are a lot of things which predate Creation Week (6000 years ago). Items are given here, followed by when they were invented (In this case, animals and plants are listed when they were domesticated).
- Stone tools (3 million years ago)
- Fire (making it) (790,000 years ago)
- Hafting (attaching handles to stone tools) (500,000 years ago)
- Spear (400,000 years ago)
- Mining (40,000 years ago)
- Needle (40,000 years ago)
- Drill (35,000 years ago)
- Burin (35,000 years ago)
- Fishhook (35,000 years ago)
- Atlatl (spear thrower) (35,000 years ago)
- Archery (30,000 years ago)
- Paintbrush (30,000 years ago)
- House (25,000 years ago)
- Boomerang (20,000 years ago)
- Pottery (15,000 years ago)
- Dog domestication (13,000 years ago)
- Trepanning (12,000 years ago)
- Whistle (12,000 years ago)
- Agriculture (11,000 years ago)
- Oven (11,000 years ago)
- Goat domestication (11,000 years ago)
- Sheep domestication (10,000 years ago)
- Wheat domestication (9,500 years ago)
- Chisel (9,000 years ago)
- Flax domestication (9,000 years ago)
- Mortise-tenon Joint (9,000 years ago)
- Sickle (9,000 years ago)
- Pig domestication (9,000 years ago)
- Drop spindle (tool for making thread or yarn) (~9,000 years ago)
- Copper utilization (8,500 years ago)
- Lead utilization (8,500 years ago)
- Glue (8,200 years ago)
- Cow (8,000 years ago)
- Axe (8,000 years ago)
- Drum (8,000 years ago)
- Boat (8,000 years ago)
- Weaving (7,500 years ago)
- Quern (7,000 years ago)
- Leather (7,000 years ago)
- Irrigation (7,000 years ago)
- Loom (7,000 years ago)
- Plow (7,000 years ago)
- Seal (of a document) (6,500 years ago)
Jacob and genetics
In Genesis, Jacob for some reason wants his livestock to have speckled coats, so he forces them to eat in front of speckled rods (Genesis 30:37-40):
Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban's animals.
What we learned here is that the external markings of calves can thus be controlled by having their mothers look at markings on sticks when they are conceived. According to scripture, this actually works. However, anyone who didn't sleep through high school biology class will tell you that the coloring of livestock is completely independent from what color rods their parents stare at. Of course, it's best not to take things for granted, so testing should be done as prescribed by the passage. This would make an excellent topic for creationists to make new excuses for, and much joy could be had by all.
- We're not saying that this sort of relationship won't work today, but he'd need a lot of stamina and some really willing partners to try it. It probably wouldn't work, unless you call them mistresses instead of concubines, because concubines may require some sort of formal ceremony/registrations.
- In case the context, which is rather vague since being a mistress does not preclude one from the ability to seduce a lover that one already has, does not make this obvious, "mistress" here means "owner's wife," not "lover."
- Or that we would see God, given that some have claimed as plants appeared before the Sun and they need it (ie, light) to perform photosynthesis the light of God replaced the Daystar.
- See the Wikipedia article on Genesis (band).
- What does Genesis 1:26 say in Hebrew?
- The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel by Mark S. Smith (2002) Eerdmans. 2nd ed. ISBN 080283972X.
- Ska, Jean-Louis (2006). Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 9781575061221. , pp 169, 217-8
- Enûma Eliš by L. W. King (1902) Wikisource.
- A brief look at Sumerian Myth
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, S02E11, The Bible - Fact or Fiction
- KJV First day.
- KJV Second day.
- KJV Third day.
- KJV Fourth day.
- KJV Fifth day.
- KJV Sixth day.
- KJV Seventh day.
- Version 2 — Earth and Heavens
- Version 2 — Mist and Water
- Version 2 — Adam
- Version 2 - Plants
- Version 2 — Animals
- Version 2 — Eve
- The Sun-Day Paradox.