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Book of Genesis
| Light iron-age reading|
|Gabbin' with God|
“”This is like the most exciting shit — it's a book about a guy collecting every animal! It's like, the original Pokémon.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It is considered to be an allegorical or mythological account by most rational people, though some Biblical literalists like to think that these events actually happened. Most biblical scholars think the book is a confused melding of three distinct sources and an editor, making it highly self-contradictory. If you are a biblical literalist, those contradictions magically disappear. When citing verses, Genesis is abbreviated as Gen.
"Genesis" comes from the Greek word Γένεσις, 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.
|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 Deut. 34 has mysteriously changed few fundamentalist whackjobs' opinions.
Based on similarities in both the story itself as well as 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 Enuma Elish.
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.)
- 6 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 Greek myth, after assorted divine fuckery, Zeus takes the secret of creating fire (ie, 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 believer, 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.
Still, Genesis is ripe 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 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.
- 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 is 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 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!
Jacob and genetics
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.
- What does Genesis 1:26 say in Hebrew?
- 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."
-  Read it for yourself.
- A brief look at Sumerian Myth
- Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, S02E01, The Bible - Fact or Fiction