What the Text of Genesis 1–2 Reveals about Its Own Compositional Nature and the Beliefs and Views of Its Authors

The following is excerpted from the Conclusion to Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate (p. 117-120) First, when the text of Genesis 1:1—3:24 is read and understood on its own terms and from within its own cultural and literary contexts, we notice that the text itself reveals that the beginning chapters of the book of Genesis preserve two creation accounts—that it is in fact a composite text. We furthermore saw inRead More

#372. Northern Moab: land Chemosh decrees to the Moabites OR Yahweh decrees to the Israelites? (Num 21:29; Judg 11:24 & the Mesha stele vs Deut 2:24)

Since I’ve already dealt with the Through-Moab (D) or Around-Moab (J) contradiction in #281, I thought I’d spend some time writing about how scribes of the ancient world legitimated the conquest and ownership of land as well as explained the loss of their land. This was accomplished through the use of a commonly used literary topos or convention, and in our present case both the Bible and the 9th century BCERead More

#371. After passing through Edom, did Yahweh speak to Moses about the dispossession of Moab, Edom, and Ammon OR not? (Deut 2:9-23 vs Num 20-21)

Deuteronomy 2:9-23 is another passage uniquely crafted by the Deuteronomist (see others in Contradictions #349, #350, #351, and #370) and was designed to convey themes and ideological beliefs dear to this 7th century author and his scribal guild. Said differently, and on a textual level, despite “Moses’” insistence that after they passed through Edom—or around Edom or back toward the Red Sea or forward to Hor, depending on which tradition oneRead More

#1. Was earth created from preexistent matter OR nothing? (Gen 1:1-10; Is 45:18 vs Heb 11:3)?

Hebrews 11:3 is often invoked as a proof text for the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. While some may wish to debate this reading, since the verse can be read as an abstract statement about faith, literally, “not from that which is visible did the things that are seen come into being,” I shall nevertheless treat it as if it did proclaim this doctrine. For this allows us the occasion toRead More

#370. Does Deuteronomy recognize the tradition of exterminating the exodus generation OR not? (Deut 2:14-16 vs Deut 2:7, 8:2, 8:4, 9:7, 29:4)

And the days that we went from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the wadi Zered were 38 years, until the end of the generation (the men of war) from the camp as Yahweh swore to them. (Deut 2:14) We have already thoroughly looked at the contradictory traditions preserved in the Torah concerning Kadesh Contradiction #260. Where was Kadesh: in the Wilderness of Paran OR Zin? Contradiction #261. When did the Israelites arriveRead More

#364. Does Yahweh command the Israelites to pass through Edom OR does Moses send messengers to request passage? (Deut 2:2-4 [D] vs Num 20:14-17 [J])
#365. When this occurs, are the Israelites wandering about the hill country of Seir OR are they at Kadesh? (Deut 2:1-2 [D] vs Num 20:14 [J])
#366. The Edomites are afraid of Israel and thus do not provoke a battle OR they seek them out to fight and it is the Israelites who are afraid? (Deut 2:4-5 [D] vs Num 20:18-21 [J]; Judg 11:16-18)
#367. Do the Israelites acquire food and drink from the Edomites OR is this refused? (Deut 2:6-7, 2:28-29 [D] vs Num 20:19-20 [J])
#368. Do the Israelites pass through Edom OR are they refused passage and flee? (Deut 2:7-8, 2:28-29 [D]; Num 21:10, 33:41-44 [P] vs Num 20:21 [J])
#369. After the Israelites’ encounter with Edom, do they march on toward the wilderness of Moab OR around Moab OR into the Negeb against Hormah? (Deut 2:8 [D]; Num 33:43-44 [P] vs Num 21:12-20 [J] vs Num 21:1-3 [J])

Everyone knows that when the Israelites asked for food and water from the Edomites, the Israelites’ brothers from the line of Esau, and permission to pass through their country they were denied these things and forced to pass around Edom. This story we know from Numbers 20:14-21, which scholars have identified as part of the older southern Yahwist tradition [J]. Yet when Moses renarrates this story some 40 years later, narrativelyRead More

#357. Do the people initiate the plan to send spies to scout out the land OR does Moses command the people to do this? (Deut 1:22 [D] vs Num 13:17 [J])
#358. Is the plan to send spies presented as an alternative plan OR Yahweh’s original commandment? (Deut 1:21-22 [D] vs Num 13:1 [P])
#359. Are the Amorites in the land OR is it the Canaanites and the Amalekites? (Deut 1:20, 1:27, 1:44 [D] vs Num 13:29, 14:25, 14:43-45 [J])
#360. In the face of there being giants in the land, who encourages the people to have faith in Yahweh: Moses OR Caleb OR Caleb and Joshua? (Deut 1:29 [D] vs Num 13:30 [J] vs Num 14:6-9 [P])
#361. Does Moses intercede on the people’s behalf exhorting Yahweh not to wipe them out OR does he not? (Num 14:11-23 [J] vs Deut 1:29-40 [D])
#362. Is Yahweh also incensed with Moses OR is he not? (Deut 1:37, 3:26 [D] vs Num 14:11-35 [J/P])
#363. After the men are defeated at Hormah, do they turn back into the wilderness OR do they return to Kadesh? (Deut 1:40, 2:1 [D]; Num 14:25 [J] vs Deut 1:46 [D]; Num 20:14 [P])

The story of the spying of the promised land is initially recounted in Numbers 13-14, which as we have already seen is a composite text of the Yahwist and later Priestly traditions (see Contradictions #233, #234, #235-236, #237, and #238-240). When we say “composite text,” we mean that the text/story in the form that it has come to us modern readers is composite in nature; it is composed of two onceRead More