#19. Yahweh promises never to curse the ground again or Yahweh does curse the ground again? (Gen 8:21 vs Is 24:1-6; Zeph 1:3, 18)

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And Yahweh said in his heart: “I will not curse the ground again on account of man; for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will not strike all the living again.” (Gen 8:21)

The ending of J’s flood narrative leaves us with a startling revelation—nothing was resolved by wiping out the human race with a flood! The reason given for the cataclysmic event in the first place was the growing evil inclination of man’s heart: “And Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great upon the earth, and every inclination of their heart’s thoughts was only evil all the day” (Gen 6:5). Yet the flood does not change this. For the recognition that man’s heart inclines toward evil is also reinstated at the end of J’s flood narrative.

In fact, the author of Genesis 8:21 would seem to be stating an axiom about human nature: man is inclined toward wickedness. This is how the author of J sees humanity, and he places this axiom on the lips of his god as a truth about human nature in general. No cataclysmic event aimed at destroying evil men will change this — a sober, and frightening, realization!

We might observe that the promise not to curse the ground again because of man holds true if we confine ourselves to the rest of the J narrative. But the Yahwist (J) text was a pre-exilic creation. Biblical scribes that witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem wrought by the Babylonians in 587 BC, or of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC, however, presented Yahweh doing just that: cursing the ground, mankind, and its animals.

Behold, Yahweh makes the earth empty and makes it a waste; he turns it upside down, and scatters abroad the inhabitants thereof…

For Yahweh has spoken thus: “The earth withers, and fades away, the world fails and fades away, the lofty people of the earth do fail. The earth also is defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statute, broken the everlasting covenant.

Therefore a curse has devoured the earth.  (Is 24:1-6)

This particular text was written in the wake of the Assyrian invasion of Judah and the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib in 703-701 BC (20 years after he had already wiped out Israel). Here the author resorts to hyperbole (exaggeration) in describing the utter destruction of the land of Judah: that is, the destruction of Judah is envisioned as the destruction of the whole earth. 2 Kings 18:13-17 briefly alludes to this destruction.

The idea of a god cursing the land, his people, etc. due to their disloyalty and disobedience is a common theological and literary trope in ancient Near Eastern literature. In other words, this is not exclusive to the Bible! National disasters were theologically explained as the result of the people’s disobedience toward their national deity. The Moabite stela (9th c. BC) and the Babylonian cylinder seal (6th c. BC) are just two examples of this.

The word of Yahweh: “I will utterly consume all things from off the face of the earth! I will consume man and beast. I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea. And I will cut off man from the face of the earth. Thus saith Yahweh! (Zeph 1:3)

And the whole earth shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy. For he will make an end, yea, a terrible end of all them that dwell in the earth. (Zeph 1:18)

The destruction depicted here in Zephaniah is typical of all post-exilic prophetic literature. Most of it is literature written ex eventu (i.e., after the event). The historical event was the destruction of Judah, Jerusalem, Yahweh’s temple, his people, and the land by the Babylonians in 587 BC. Since the theological given was that Yahweh is sovereign and Yahweh is just (see the section on the Deuteronomist’s theology in #6), the national disaster must be explained as the fault of the people, as we saw above in the citation from Isaiah. The author of the book of Jeremiah even expresses this by speaking of Nebuchadnezzar as Yahweh’s servant! The use of fire or destruction by fire is not haphazard. It was how a city was razed to the ground in the ancient world. The archaeological record also attests a burnt destruction layer.

In much of the prophetic literature, the historical destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon, err, by Yahweh, was seen as the day of Yahweh’s wrath or judgement. Again, since Yahweh is sovereign and Yahweh is just, the appropriate theological response to the question of why would Yahweh destroy his own people, temple, etc. was that the people must have sinned. In other words, the empirical “evidence” dictates the theology (see #6). Here in Zephaniah that sin mostly takes the form of social injustices—the wealthy exploiting the poor (cf. Amos).

As a final note, I might add that no biblical “prophecy” predicts a coming future day of Judgement or Armageddon. This too is part and parcel to the general public’s misunderstanding about, and misuse of, the Bible. Certainly an ancient “prophet” could have seen the inevitable coming in 589 BC—the Babylonian destruction of Judah—and could have written about it as Yahweh’s imminent day of wrath/judgement. But the coming event was understood as the Babylonian event. This is especially so for the book of Daniel as well, which “prophesies” an imminent coming Judgement where Yahweh would pass judgment on Antiochus IV who was persecuting the Jews (see Daniel section in #6).

Because wars and national disasters continued to occur, and due to later readers of these texts who knew nothing of the historical contexts within which they were written or which they spoke of—much like modern readers—these “prophetic” texts were read and reinterpreted as revealing current or future events of a coming day of Judgment/Wrath. Indeed it was under this apocalyptic fervor that the Jesus movement and later Christianity was born. Such abusive interpretive practices continue to this day by readers who likewise know nothing about, and neglect, the historical and literary contexts of these texts.

25 thoughts on “#19. Yahweh promises never to curse the ground again or Yahweh does curse the ground again? (Gen 8:21 vs Is 24:1-6; Zeph 1:3, 18)

  1. The poignant two words from Genesis 8:21 that would clarify this rainbow promise as written is “never again shall I deal EVERY LIVING THING A BLOW”.. Deuteronomy 28:1-17 promises blessings for Israel that they should keep the Covenant agreement to listen to the voice of their redeemer YHWH God from Deut. 28:18-58 there is given the warning of consequence to Israel for disobedience and apostasy. “If you will not take care to carry out all the words of this law that are written in this scroll so as to fear his glorious and fear-inspiring name, even Yahuaweh your God. Yahuaweh your God will certainly bring upon you severe, great and long-lasting plagues”. The ten tribe kingdom from Jeroboam to the last king Hoshea who it is written came to doing bad but not as bad as those kings before him 2 Kings 17:2. From Jeroboam (ten tribe Israel) came the beginning of worshipping in disobedience to the covenant by erecting two golden calves. This abomination developed into more cruel and disgusting sacrilege against the commandments of God with whom the covenant promise was made by obedience to His law. Every king of the ten tribe kingdom of Israel was Idolatrous. About four kings who ruled the two tribe and Levitical kingdom were notably principled men and obedient to their God. These kings are named Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah it seems all other kings failed their commission until Judah became even worse than the nations that were driven from before them so that God carried out his judgment upon them as the forefather’s from Exodus agreed but quickly turned away from Almighty God and continued in pagan worship. These facts seem incredulous to me when reading these accounts. However so does this world today seem incredulous to me. How can we comprehend and justify three planned world wars, revolutions and plans to depopulate this world in this day by lies and intrigue by idolatrous rulers claiming to be Christian or Zion? The Sovereign God opposes this and a warning should be given because punishment is imminent. I know there is a bottomless pit where the ungodly who will not listen and change their ways will go. If people don’t turn from hatred of other people and the committing of atrocities against all other people there will be punishment to the extent they have disobeyed. They will not escape this. It is written all through the scriptures and I know this first hand when Almighty God chose a lady from heaven to give me instruction from Almighty God. Amen and Selah!

  2. Sabba AbuShy. Do I understand you correctly, that you believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch while he was out in the desert wandering around? Can you tell me on what he wrote, with what did he write, and in what language? I read of the Ten Commandments being written on stone tablets, but if Moses wrote everything else on stone as well, it must have been difficult carrying all those rocks around. It certainly was not Hebrew since Hebrew did not become a written language until centuries after Moses was said to have lived. The earliest example of written Hebrew of which I am aware does not appear until about the time od King David.

  3. Wow. People could just read this comment section to understand Dr. DiMattei’s insistence on being honest to the texts without wanting to touch on the theological/metaphysical side (he leaves that for you to decide, or not…) while also seeing a prime example of a later read dogmatically imposing his own modern theological worldview on it. A somewhat schizophrenic one, at that.

  4. KW
    I meant to get back with you. Thanks for your “heads-up”. I went to the link and now find myself commenting over there as well.

    Yes, I am aware. I had some comparative religions and eastern religions classes back home in Colorado in the early 1970s, so Dr. Steve’s approach is not new to me. Just as he likes to keep things in context, I’m acquainted with the historical, cultural, and religious context of German liberal philosophy and the ideas that were coming from the Enlightenment and it’s foundation in the Reformation. I love history, keep up with our current events and can put it all in context with the Bible and where things will go as per the details in Genesis to Revelation. I came here to this site because I hoped to find a different perspective on a question I was pursuing not long ago about “just exactly why Moses was not allowed to go into the Promises Land.”

    So I didn’t come with an axe to grind. I see one though in Dr. Steve’s comments and I understand.

  5. Sabba, just a quick note — Dr. DiMattei was simply summarizing the beliefs of the ancient Bible writers. The actual basis for his summary (particularly the more controversial items like God forming the earth from pre-existing unordered material) is found throughout this blog. He is not expecting anyone to take his word for anything; regular readers of the blog have already seen him support these statements with Bible analysis.

    Anyway, Dr. DiMattei was not making reference to planetary evolution in any way, but only connecting the Bible’s creation language to the chaos myths that we see in other ancient civilizations contemporary with Israel. I would suggest starting here: http://contradictionsinthebible.com/genesis-1-not-a-creatio-ex-nihilo.

  6. I reference the very first item on your list of the Genesis 1 account that you listed above on 2/22/15. And I quote:

    • That God created the earth (dry habitable land, never the planet) and the skies out of preexistent undefined and inhabitable earth that was immersed in a deep, dark watery abyss.

    The first item illustrates why we will have so many “differences of opinion”. You make a comprehensive premise with no attribution from the source material. After all, we’re talking Bible, not evolution, but you quote evolution. Not the Bible! “In the beginning, God created the HEAVENS (emphasis mine since you excluded the very first thing mentioned) and the earth.” Nothing more is said, nothing about preexisting anything. Just God.

    So from the ‘get go’ you assume that all of your readers are either brain washed enough to accept your assertion like trained rats without the ability to mentally resist.

    That is your style. Who knows, maybe it is the way you lecture in your classes there in Houston or how you expect eyour students to think if they want a passing grade. After all, everything you say and assert assumes that your premise is correct and you can simply induce it into everything you surmise instead of citing “ANYTHING” as proof of your positions. Positions that anyone can deduce from the facts that you present. The touble is, you make all the assertions with no facts to back them up. Just a bunch of circular inductive “reasoning”. The factual elements, those that can be deduced and tested empirically like a scientist would use facts to prove a thesis and move it from the theoretical to that of scientific evidence are ALWAYS missing in ALL of your assertions about ANY and EVERY Bible Contradiction that is found on this blog.

    I can state this with complete confidence because your basic arguments all have to be taken at face value as being of impeccable in character and nature. After all, they are the basis, the foundation for your whole life’s work. Therefore they must be true…hardly!

    And as you say, you figure that I will be able to agree with “… I would surmise that you might share about a half dozen” out of 30 presumptions you list that supposedly are based upon or found in Genesis 1. So you figure that for every 5 beliefs that you have, I will agree with one of them. Not a very high percentage, would you not say?

    Let me pick one perspective that seems to be a normal “qwirk” that you bring to this presentation. I think it is the basic animus that you accentuate through-out your presentations and form the basis for your need to find “contradictions” with the God of the Bible. I think it is one that you share with the readers who basically agree with you. That of a God who threatens and demands death if he is not explicitly obeyed. It sounds like you have a personal sin issue here somewhere that you may need to go to a shrink to assess. Then to God to confess (without a mediary of any kind).

    For example, and all of this is given as proof for your view on the original passage of Scripture that details the first six days of Creation and chapter 1 of Genesis. Chapter two which begins with the seventh day and Sabbath, and later the account of the forbidden tree and the first mention of death are found later in the second chapter…but you give three examples of what you believe, taken, you say, from chapter 1:

    • That the observance of these festivals or holy days were eternal laws punishable by death or excommunication.
    • That anyone caught doing work on the 7th day from the new moon, that is not observing the Sabbath, was to be stoned to death by commandment from the creator god himself.
    • That the Sabbath was an eternal covenant, to be observed forever, on penalty of death.

    Yes, yes, I know. Ideas like this will be found elsewhere in Scripture. As I mentioned before in the comments in some of my previous posts, your approach to Bible exegesis reminds me of the fellow who wanted to do what the Bible said and just opened the Holy Book and read, “Judas went out and killed himself”. After putting it down, and contemplating what he read, he decided to give it another try. Opening it once more he read, “Go and do likewise”.

    As I have said before, show me where you get this knowledge from the passage in Genesis 1. Your comments look like those of someone who just thinks anything that comes out of his mouth will be taken as the gospel by everyone who reads. Attribute por favor! Even a brain-washed rat can disagree with your approach at least half of the time. These are assertions that just cannot be found in the first verses of the Bible listed in chapter 1. You take off, out of control, and assume that you can just go anywhere and however fast and loose with the facts.

    So let me ask once again, (addressing another on of your “qwirks” that you use) to lay your foundation with a pretty basic, but extremely weak “foundational stone”: the (to quote you) “70+” authors of the Bible. Name names! Some of us (one of us?) have/has a need to know who they are. We can do our own background check, so to speak. Lacking this, everything else that you’re talking about is only a house of cards, flimsy at best. It may work for people who only are looking for a reason to believe or stay, I should say, in unbelief.

    That lack of belief system is on even shakier ground than that you reside on, I think! (;~))

    israelvideonetwork.com/science-has-finally-proven-that-atheism-defies-any-logic-and-reason

    Evolution has a big problem. It has to start with “SOMETHING”. Something that by itself came from nothing. Who created that something? Who created the “pre-existent undefined”. Answer that first. Where did and how did this material come from nothing to start with?

    1. Thanks KW!

      Sabba,

      As I stated above, this list was drawn as a conclusion to a series of in-depth posts that attempted to shed light on the text of Genesis 1 and its author’s beliefs by reading and understanding this text as a product of its own culture and literary and historical contexts. Furthermore, it is usually the style in academic writing anyhow that an author puts forth his thesis early on and then sets forth, in this case, the cultural, textual, and historical data that support it.

      Second, and most significantly, the above ascertain—That God created the earth (dry habitable land, never the planet) and the skies out of preexistent undefined and inhabitable earth that was immersed in a deep, dark watery abyss—is actually not too far from what the text says! Genesis 1:2 explicitly states that the earth (’eretz) was tohû wabohû. It is our responsibility to understand what the Hebrew of this verse means—both ’eretz and tohû wa bohû—by referencing this author’s cultural, literary, and historical contexts, all of which are done in the post that deals with this verse (cited above by KW). Genesis 1:2 also informs us that a primordial body of surging water or ‘the deep’ (tehôm) existed as well, and it can furthermore be inferred that this earth as tohû wabohû was initially submerged in this deep since in verses 9-10 when earth proper is created—that is per our text, dry habitable land (yabbashah)—it emerges out from these primordial waters below which are now tamed bodies of seas: “Let it be seen” literally or “Let it appear” is what the Hebrew states. All of this has been put forward in a rather lengthy, detailed, and objectively and culturally-contextualized reading of this verse in the post cited above. Certainly, I invite you to discuss, challenge, disagree, etc. with my presentation of the text, but again I caution this has to be done on the terms of the text—not through the terms of later theological grids that presuppose and impose later meanings onto the text. Our goal here is to faithfully and as objectively as possible re-present this author’s beliefs, worldview, etc. and attempt to understand these by referencing his cultural, historical, and literary contexts.

      Lastly, if you’re claiming that the text of Genesis 1 claims that its God created earth a tohû wabohû—as an inhabitable wasteland (see post for the cultural, textual, and historical support of this understanding)—then you’re mistaken. This smacks in the face of our author’s theology and his beliefs. And it is ultimately his beliefs and theology that I am attempting to faithfully and objectively as possible represent—not yours, not mine, not the authors of the NT. This is what academia does. Furthermore, the author of Isaiah 45:18, a passage I use to support what this 6th c. BCE expression means in its historical context, has Yahweh specifically declare that “He did not create earth an inhabitable wasteland (tohû).” Both this word tohû or tohû wabohû and the imagery invoked in this expression are endemic to the historical crisis of the 6th century BCE and reflect how these authors viewed their historical circumstances. This too is treated in detail in the above mentioned post (the end section). Finally, there are specific theological, historical, cultural, and even textual grounds that support this author’s theological conviction—namely that God did not create earth, that is dry habitable land, from nothing! It was created from earth’s initial state as tohû wabohû!

      This is all borne from the text itself and an understanding of that text as a product of its own cultural context. And again, when given the choice, I will defend this author’s theology against modern abuses and misuses of the text that, not coincidentally, support these modern readers’ beliefs and theological convictions. These texts are not here to legitimate our beliefs! And it’s a shame that in today’s day and age one has to argue that ancient texts do in fact represent the beliefs and worldviews of ancient peoples! So it seems as though your concern is first and foremost about your beliefs and your beliefs about the text—all of which I sincerely understand. But what I am proposing here is that we start with the texts on their authors’ terms and from within their own cultural and literary contexts.

      Furthermore, all biblical scholars and historians of the Bible acknowledge that both the text of Genesis 1 and its cultural context acknowledge that the creator deity does not create earth (’eretz), or in the terms of our author ’eretz as yabbashah (‘dry habitable land’), from nothing. Such later theological views would and do totally neglect this author’s theological claims here, and that involves presenting Yahweh with the power to create life-sustaining earth from earth that is in a state of desolation and inhabitable. And this claim was drawn out of the specific historical crisis of the early 6th c. BCE and the perception of that crisis by our biblical scribe. He was composing a text that had meaning to him and his audience! And you’re attempting to take that away from him!

      This is not even the conversation that I ultimately wish to have with and in the public realm. The real conversation starts when we as a culture can acknowledge, honestly, sincerely, and with humility and intelligence . . . ok, this ancient scribe had vastly different beliefs about the nature and origin of the world than we do today (only natural) and what we thought these texts actually claimed. What is the significance of this? And where do we go from there? That is ultimately the conversation we should be having; but we as a culture will never get there if we can’t be intellectually and spiritually honest to these ancient texts and the beliefs of their authors.

      Furthermore, it is just plain ridiculous, illogical, and self-serving to assert that if we don’t know who authored these texts then we can’t say anything about them or can manipulate them to say and be authored by whomever we want. Texts were anonymously written in the ancient Near East, period. And more specifically, our 21st century notion of authorship is actually incorrect. Much of the Hebrew literature was composed, copied, edited, and transmitted by scribes who themselves received these texts as part of this or that textual/scribal tradition. They then copied these traditions, even updated and altered them to suit their own perspectives or ideologies, and transmitted them to later scribes and scribal schools. Properly we are talking about “transmitters of traditions” rather than authors. Again, the Bible as a collection of diverse traditions, archival material, cultic law, liturgy, political and religious propaganda, historical narrative, etiological stories, poetry, personal correspondences, etc., all of which went through complex processes of transmission, collection, editing, and finally canonization, is one of our best literary examples in support of this. Indeed, the claim itself emerged from studying the biblical literature itself, comparatively to other texts in this anthology of ancient literature and alongside other texts from the ancient Near East. Of course any anthology of texts of this dimension will evidence variant traditions, variant and changing religious and cultic laws to suit an ever-changing audience, competing theological and political perspectives, and divergent views on monarchy, prophecy, the priesthood, and even Israel’s deity.

      So in the end it is you who are creating authorship here—God! And of course that is a very subjective God since it conforms, legitimates, affirms, etc. your beliefs. . . about the world and about these texts. And as an unfortunate byproduct of this centuries-later interpretive grid: you’re not listening to the texts on their terms—the beliefs of its author and his God! You have already preconceived and prejudiced these texts on your terms or the terms of later interpretive claims.

      I’m saying stop; let the text reveal its own composite nature and history—and there is much scholarship on this already—and let the author present his own perspectives, beliefs, views of the world—even if we don’t know who that author is. The text itself nevertheless conveys his message, beliefs, and perceptions. For example, the text of Leviticus tells us that is was written by an elite priest who traced his origins back to Aaron. When this was written and to whom, granted, scholars still debate. But that an elite priest or priestly guild wrote it is irrefutable. Why? Because the text is telling us that! And likewise the text of Deuteronomy, for example, is revealing that it was not authored by the same person or guild. Likewise, on textual, linguistic, thematic, and stylistic grounds we know that this priestly guild also penned Genesis 1. This is actually the content of chapter 2 of the book I’ve completed and cited above.

      Indeed scholars debate who authored these texts, to whom, when, and why, etc. But one constant in the scholarly literature has been the Priestly source, of which Genesis 1 is a part as well as most if not all of Leviticus. It’s the same author, or priestly guild. These were highly educated, elite priests who had a unique priestly vision of the word, one of which was the idea that the Sabbath was created as a holy day when God created the world. Thus any non-observance of this holy day not only, from their perspective, profaned the day which the creator deity made sacred himself, but also his creation and ultimately God too. Furthermore, this Sabbath was to be determined by the luminaries that God himself creates and establishes for this purpose, according to our author, and his God! All this too I have extensively wrote about. Again, I am interested in, fascinated by, this author’s worldview, which was one that saw space, time, objects, and human actions as divided into sacred and profane, clean or unclean categories, and it is my job to re-present his beliefs and theology to the best of my abilities, regardless of my beliefs, your beliefs, or the beliefs of later writers.

      Finally, you keep bringing God into the equation. I have expressed often enough now, that I’m not talking about God, for or against, in any theological, metaphysical, ontological, or psychological sense here. This site is devoted to the texts, the authors who wrote these texts, and their—yes—their competing beliefs, ideologies, perceptions of the God of Israel, etc. If you are imposing later interpretive ideas that these texts are God’s words, then it is you who are bringing God into the equation here. Let the texts say what they have to say; try to stop imposing later ideas about the text onto the text in an attempt to have it say and affirm your beliefs. Certainly I am interested in this later theological interpretive grid that gets applied to these texts, and how and why later writer’s viewed this collection of texts as God’s word, but that is a later development. For now, I am interested in understanding the text as a product of its author, his culture, and his perception of his world.

      Lastly, please stop with the ad hominem attacks. They are not constructive, nor even accurate, and do nothing to further a conversation about the texts. If you’d like to discuss the text, then ok, I’m open to that. Again, I direct you here http://contradictionsinthebible.com/genesis-1-not-a-creatio-ex-nihilo/ I’ve thrown the first stone, and in summation I might say what I’ve presented, what I’ve attempted to faithfully present, on these pages, with textual, cultural, and historical data, is the beliefs and worldview of the author of Genesis 1. You’re free to disagree, contest certain points, etc. but then you’ll also need to support your counter-proposal through a culturally-contextualized reading of the text on the terms of the texts and from within its own historical and literary context. In other words, not on theological, apologetic, or canonical grounds.

      Our object of study here—why I have labeled this as an objective study—are the texts not our subjective beliefs about the texts, nor the texts through a later created subjective (= reader-dictated) theological framework. Here, I try to support the theologies of the authors of these texts, not yours, not mine, nor any other reader’s. That is my one true agenda. Certainly you are invited to critique my attempts to objectively re-present these authors’ beliefs as revealed through the texts they themselves wrote and in response to their unique historical and literary worlds.

  7. Dear Daniel,

    If you are still out there, this video from Prager University came in my e-mail and I pass it on to you.

    ogic-and-reason/?omhide=true&utm_source=MadMimi&utm_medium=email&utm_content=Breaking+News+Video%3A+Netanyahu+%E2%80%98Astonished%E2%80%99+over+Continuing+Nuclear+Talks&utm_campaign=20150222_m124529009_2%2F22+Breaking+News+Video%3A+Netanyahu+%E2%80%98Astonished%E2%80%99+over+Continuing+Nuclear+Talks&utm_term=god-sience_png_3F1424617356

    It is almost six minutes in length. It is time well spent in watching…(;~))

  8. I am not a Jew. I speak Hebrew and several other languages, but Hebrew fluently and read it in that same capacity. I also study it like a Jewish Rabbi, and “midrash” it every Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours or so, like any other Messianic, non-Jewish fellowship does, with everyone sharing his of her perspective in turn. As I said in my first or second post here on your Contradictions site, I came here while contemplating why Moshe was not permitted to enter the Promised Land, aka, Israel. Btw, I have entered and lived there on two separate occasions, for a total of about 3 1/2 years in duration, went to school at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, met and became friends with people like Benjamin Netanyahu (who will address Congress on March 3) and worked in the Israeli Oilfield in 1986-87. My life is practical. I have my own business, am retired, have plenty of grandchildren and am blessed. It is a natural and inevitable result of standing with the nation and people of Israel.

    One practical aspect of this is to help you, Steve, understand how the Bible works. It is not a diverse collection of author’s views of God and life that had nothing to do with each other and the resulting chaos that you try to depict on this website. Put it another way, it is not like a room of (you say 70+, I say about 40) authors writing down their thoughts totally disconnected from each other and totally unaware of each other or in some kind of competition to dominate the illiterate masses (which did happen in the Dark Ages with the Catholic Church in charge)—-all in the same room and BOOM! the lights go out and everyone makes a mad dash for the door.

    Starting with “b’resheet bara Elohim…” the Hebrew Bible begins to not only tell the historical account of Creation, but uses the language of Hebrew that it developes as each page is turned. Hebrew thinking is cyclical. The Greek thinking you rely on is linear. So your attempt to analyse a circle with a straight line is, well, shallow at best. Hebrew is also Spiritual. Your way is not even intellectual, but pseudo because you throw out the basis for intellect. Your position is that of the fool who says there is no God.

    That being said, let us go to your approach. Let us pick it up in Leviticus. By this time, Israel had been at the base of Sinai, where it has resided for one year, after the exodus from Egypt. This is in modern day Saudi Arabia. Later, in Biblical history, the Apostle Paul would start his “career ” in the same area. This is but one example of the cyclic aspect of the Bible which is dominated by the Jewish, Hebrew point of view. That is why people like me are going back to our roots as Believers, including the injunction to keep the Sabbath day holy. And no Steve, in case you didn’t notice it, there is no execution for not observing it. The Church, xtianity, whatever you want to call it, is actually in churches all around us as I write this on a Sunday morning. No death, no stoning, no contradiction. Man was not made for the Sabbath. It is the other way around.

    By the time Leviticus is being written, the Tabernacle had just been completed. Before the year that Israel camped at Sinai, 1) the presence of God’s glory had never formally resided among the Israelites. 2) A central place of worship, like the tabernacle had never existed. 3) A structured and regulated set of sacrifices and feasts had not been given. 4) A High Priest, a formal priesthood and a bevy of tabernacle workers had not been appointed.

    At the conclusion of the book of Exodus, 1) and 2) had been accomplished requiring that elements 3) and 4) be inaugurated. That is where Leviticus fits in. Israel, up to that point, had only the historical records of the Patriarchs to find a way to properly worship God. Exodus 19:6 called Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” and this is quoted and expanded upon later in Israel’s history found in the New Testament. Peter said the same thing. Jesus said that if our righteousness did not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, we would not enter the Kingdom of God.

    Leviticus, in turn, is God’s instuctions for His newly redeemed people, teaching them how to worship and obey HIM.

    That you feel so compelled to be “willingly ignorant” of how this process of nationhood began only accentuates how trying to deal with the Bible from only an intellectual framework is mindless futility on steroids. No Lampoon there, only the facts.

    As far as Deuteronomy is concerned, the name tells you that the audience is different and the book itself makes it clear that the context is 40 years out of phase. The generation that was given Leviticus, while the rules are still there, the PEOPLE ARE NOT! Except for Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, basically. All the rest of that generation had died in the wilderness experience and now Moses was addressing their children who were about to enter the Promised Land. Heaven help you man, if you do not know the difference between wandering around aimlessly and as punishment, and that of warning and the impending entrance. As I have said before, I will say again by way of example: It is like the need you have to become truly spiritual. Don’t think it strange when I say to you, “you must be born again”. By way of illustration, imagine the wind. Everyone knows what it is, and feels it every day, in some way, shape, matter or form. Maybe it is while hurtling down the highway on the way to work. Or using a hair blower before that. Or, or course, the gale of wind you feel as you go to your car as a “blue norther” comes in from Colorado.

    So is everyone who has been born of God’s Spirit. Each of us is unique. What we all have in common is our relationship with the living God. You must let Him in and start that relationship and guide you instead of you obstinately being on the throne of your life. It is that simple and it requires humility and repentance TO GET STARTED. Then the dictums of Leviticus along with the rest of the Bible come into play. For instance, God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness, sacrifice, and God’s presence in the sanctuary are the book’s most common themes. The book sets forth instruction, at the urging of God, for mankind to develope personal holiness. While the ritual aspect is emphasized for national purity, personal holiness in response to God’s holiness is as well. The motive for such holiness is stated in two repeated phrases: “I Am YHVH” “I AM HOLY” . Used 50 times, in fact. See Leviticus
    11:41-45 for example.

  9. You have way too much stuff here to address right away. But I’m glad you got back. It has been about a month. It is obvious that we are going to have to agree that we disagree on many things. You’re intellectual. I’m practical. Yes, I have the ability to “push back” on your single dimension approach, which is to divide the Bible into 66 different books that have nothing to do with each other. Divide and conquere. Please, please! As I said in my last post, please do me a favor and tell me who these 70+ authors are. Unless you can do that, all the books you list above built on the shifting and unstable sand of the German Higher Critical School that came into existence in the “Enlightenment” that emerged in the 1800s as a counter movement to the Reformation, all that is exposed for the fraudulent thinking upon which you are building your career and whole worldview. Which is tragic but is your choice. The Reformation enabled people to read the Bible themselves and come to their own conclusions instead of depending on priests who were the only ones who could read Latin. This translation process also opened the door for those who rejected God to come up with their interpretations of the same biblical texts. That is where you come in. You have thrown your lot with the pseudo-intellectual gnostic tradition. So while there will be some overlap in that we’re looking at the same material, what is between us is like a telescope. You’re looking through one end and I the other , at the same time. Our perspectives will therefore be quite different.

    One thing I wish you hadn’t done, while acknowledging that this is your website, is completely removing my reply to Daniel. I responded right away to his post on January 24. It WAS ON THIS SITE. Now it is not.

    And yes, of course I believe in Genesis 1. I also personally observe Shabbat. I went into that fact with Daniel to some detail, so in response to your “bullshit” (this is what you said, not me!) I openly and proudly tell everyone (without pointing out, as I am doing now—I use satire, tongue in cheek, lampoon, etc.) I don’t “bs”. “bs” comes out of the fertilizer production/methane digester aka, the cow. I work with the bullqorn. That is what goes into the cow. Pure, yellow, Grade A, bullcorn comes out of my mouth. Jesus said that unless a corn of wheat is planted into the ground and dies, it abides by itself alone. But if it dies (He also talked about sowing seed), it will bear much fruit.

    As I have already stated, (maybe in the post to Daniel that was expunged), I grew up in the land of 60, 1400 foot peaks. Some of which where included in the former Republic of Texas, the lower part thereof is where I now reside. That does not stop me from using that 14,000 platform to start all these Texas Tall Tales that come out of my mouth. Your “bullshit” expletive only shows me that, “you must first be born again before you can even see, much less enter the Kingdom Of ELOHIM” (read John chapter 3), that you are looking at life from only the “enlightened end” of the telescope, and basically, as it concerns me and this 14,000 foot avalanche of bullqorn you find yourself buried in AND UNDER , JUST DIG OUT AND DUST OFF! (;~))

    1. No Sabba, a quick reply — I have thrown my lot in with the biblical authors, period. It’s all about the texts on their terms, the individual authors on their terms and their beliefs — my mantra that just seems not to be getting through. I am on their side, I am defending their unique messages, beliefs, worldviews, etc., not the side of readers and codifiers, and those who imposed an exterior theological framework called “the Holy Book” onto these texts and then proceeded to appropriate them—now on It—as theirs and impregnate them with a meaning and belief system that miraculously adheres to and reaffirms these very readers’ beliefs. It’s all about the texts, their authors (regardless if we can identify them concretely or not), and their beliefs as represented in the very texts that they wrote before they were codified, scripturalized, and labeled something other b readers who had their own agendas. Understanding these texts and their messages as their individual authors intended is my sole aim, and that means defending them when need be. We can definitely talk about how successfully I’m doing that or not, but again I caution that that is a conversation about the texts in their original cultural and literary contexts.

      As for a deleted post, I have not done that. I too remember your reply to Daniel. If it’s not there (I will check), then . . . Je ne sais pas ce qui se passé.

      If you want to engage in textual conversations, what I am all about, then I encourage you to read through the 14 posts on Genesis 1 and 2, whose goal is to faithfully reproduce these authors’ beliefs and messages, as they intended and saw it from within their own cultural and literary contexts—again, not from the contexts of later readers.

  10. Dear Dr Steven, I noticed the following anomaly given what I know about you. Check this out.

    Addressed to *cough* in #19

    Steven DiMattei says:

    March 19, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for the contribution. The claims I’m staking my career on are those that the biblical texts themselves are making…the claims themselves come from the once individual voices of the 70+ different authors who wrote these texts under divergent political and religious convictions over a period of 1,000 years.

    Addressed to Paul in #13

    Steven DiMattei says:

    January 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Paul,

    Notice how careful I’ve been in the wording on several of my posts…And this is perfectly understandable when we realize that the Bible is a compilation of texts written over a 1,000 year period by over 60 different authors, and in vastly different political and religious contexts.

    ***In other words Steve, in 2013, in 2 months and a little less than a week, you found at least 10+ more authors than existed, January 2013. And this is not than “who existed 66 days before the 60” who were there in January of 2013. All of this “new revelation” happened 13 years into the 3rd millennium after the Christian Era. Am I right in assuming this is just an oversight, right? It’s got to be.***

    But as I have been wading through your stuff I felt it would be in order for me to ask a couple of questions or so. Could you list the 60-70+ authors you refer to? I think it is actually around 40 given the 66 books that are in the so-called Protestant Bible, like the Coverdale Bible of the 1500s and 1600s. Maybe you’re referring to the Catholic Version which has the Apocrypha. There would be maybe another dozen or so there but that would still come up short of 60 much less 70+. Then there is that matter of the 1,000 year period you mention in which these 60-70+ authors lived. Circa? Could you clear that up for me?

    Maybe you have all ready addressed this in more detail and I just need to be directed to it.

    I’m not trying to be pushy or “jockular”…thanks ahead of time!

  11. Thanks for your response! Yours is a very unique interpretation, one that I’ve never seen before, and it’s very interesting. I feel like it contains a little too much of a departure from what the text actually says, but maybe that’s my background in my old evangelical fellowship talking. It certainly sounds intriguing though.

    The argument that entropy is a problem for evolution has been soundly debunked for years, however. In the simplest terms, our Earth is not a closed system, new energy is being supplied (albeit for a limited time astronomically speaking) by the sun, and there are other points to consider. Creationist organizations misrepresent both evolution and thermodynamics when thy continue to use that canard. Plus, the fossils and genetic evidence don’t disappear whether or not there’s a God; humans still have the no-longer-functional genetic means for creating tails and (from more distant ancestors) egg yolk, for example, and that’s still true if God exists and guided our evolution. But that’s a bit of a tangent. A full explanation of how entropy does not preclude evolution, with articles by evangelicals as well, can be found here. Actually check
    out the whole site if you have time:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo.html

  12. Hi Daniel–hey, I am new here and don’t know if I am only to talk to Dr. Steve or if that includes interacting with fine folks like you too. Anyway, here goes…

    I happen to take the Genesis account literally. And while the concept of 200,000 years of existence is certainly possible (in fact I would say a literal eternity more would be in order—I’ll explain in a bit but first…) the geological records and finding hairy Mastadons with vegetation still in it’s mouth encased in the ice of Siberia and now the latest findings that technology is literally digging through the ice of the south pole of Antartica and finding amazing records of things we have never seen before…this and more lends itself to the fact, as far as I can see, that the Biblical account can be taken literally and explained scientifically. No myths or legends about it!

    Now about my parenthetical comment I said I would explain. If you look at the account of the 3rd chapter in Genesis, the famous Serpent and Eve @ the Tree, the author states that YHVH had a relationship with Adam and Eve. And that meant it was (you have to wrap you mind around it) in eternity. You might say from our perspective, “eternity past:. That is what was lost when they were dispelled and the reason why the Creator said, (to whom–Jesus?)

    Genesis 3:22 “And YHVH Elohim said, ‘The man has become like ONE OF US (emphasis mine), knowing good from evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life (i.e. ‘eternal life’) and eat, AND LIVE FOREVER (again, I am highlighting this to buttress my point. An added observation here: If man and all mankind to follow, which would manifest the fallen nature that happened though this disobedience— that later in a few chapters is called an “inclination to dwell upon and only do evil continually”—see chapters 6:6 and 8:21—If they in this state of spiritual alienation and punishment were to be enabled to have this “codified” by eating from the Tree of {eternal} Life—which was obviously legit—then they/all mankind to follow would have been consigned for all eternity to NEVER AGAIN HAVING ANY CONTACT WITH THE CREATOR GOD) AND THAT WOULD BE HELL—ETERNAL DAMNATION.

    All right, this is not a hellfire and brimstone sermon. Getting back to my point. The way I can agree with you and yet believe literally about the Flood and the other facts in the Bible which point to us, today, as actually living only about 6000 years after the events described in the account of Noah and the Flood is this: It is not a contradiction to believe in both even though 200,000 and 6,000 are not in the same ball park. But a close reading of chapter 3 in Genesis tells us that not only was mankind’s walk in eternity ended at that point, BUT TIME AS WE KNOW IT BEGAN. Therefore the 6000 years are counted from the “Tree” and not the creation before it which happened in eternity.

    There are other points but the law of entropy, that everything if given more time gets more disorganized and decays instead of (as evolution says, gets more organized) and evolves from nothing into everything, makes sense…

  13. While flood stories are common, they aren’t entirely universal or homogenous. Granted, since most civilizations started near rivers or large bodies of water, we would expect flood stories to be common. But details, how characters survived the flood, vary from culture to culture (mountain peaks are a cross-cultural favorite). The cultures in the Ancient Near East have strikingly similar flood stories, but cultures farther away, less so. So while all flood myths aren’t due to one floor that happened in Mesopotamia, there’s also nothing to suggest they originate from one historical flood either, but probably from many.

    Of course, no matter what ancient texts may say, the physical evidence shows that ancient myth-tellers were exaggerating when they assumed their local floods covered the world. Nothing in archaeology or geology points to the world being submerged in water anytime within the last 200,000 years Homo sapiens as we know them have existed. So why not analyze the flood story as a narrative from an ancient culture instead of disrespecting the nature of the myth and trying to take it literally?

    In case anyone’s interested in reading the amazing diversity of flood myths by region:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html

  14. OK, I’m back and this will be a bit shorter. I read some of your background: after learning how to play a classical guitar you delved into Eastern Religions and Comparative Religious studies, got your Ph D, and now you’re using this insight into Religion to teach the Bible. Very commendable. I’m about to share with you some jokes that tell a little about me and you too. As I said, your road to Houston is at the very least, commendable. In fact, I don’t know for sure, but that may be all it is. One thing I do know though (Since you’re in Houston and I live about 3 hours north of you, you’re probably not entirely ignorant of the culture known as “Oilfield”. Like your approach to the Bible, my context as a roughneck of 14 years in East Texas (and Israel) with this profession was different from that of today. As I write this, the “Oilfield” of today is beginning to resemble that of mine, but only in that the price of oil has plummeted. When I worked it stayed around $10-15/ barrel. As did my “subsistence living” wages. But as the price goes down, history can never be changed. When I started in 1980, the “Oilfield” of that day extended back to the 1930s. It was still a “shoot first and ask questions later” type of boomtown wild west rodeo. Not so today. Anyway, back then the saying for “ed-gee-qaded” folks like you {BTW I grew up in Colorado where the accent was lacking in a southern drawl} would go like this:)

    “You’re sharper than a rat-terd!”

    That was considered a back handed compliment, courtesy of my fellow roughnecks who only knew me by my handle, “Pray-cher!” If you were sharper than a rat terd and didn’t understand, they’d compare it to other animal feces to make their point. If you were only “sharp as a rat terd” then that was more of an insult since sharper was a grade or so better. That and the fact that if they meant “smart” when they said sharp, then (well, think about it!) in and of themselves rat terds are pretty dumb. When they said “dumber” than one…

    OK that is one joke.

    The next two are more like parables and have an element of self-effacing humor…

    When the national park Rangers fail to properly empty their dumpsters so that their valuable garbage can be deposited in the local landfill, it enables all the deaf, dumb, and blind chipmunks like me who have also almost completely lost their sense of smell, to eventually, through a lot of trial and error and almost getting run over on the state hiway, actually reach that trash can that brims over with plenty of 1/2 eaten boxes of Cracker Jacks (jokes?) and other popped “bull-corn”.

    Or put another way, “you heard about the infidel who decided to become a preacher didn’t you? ‘Yeah, he wanted to be for real.’ “Yup! So he just got him a Bible, opened it up and the first thing he read was, ‘Judas, after betraying Christ, went out and hung himself’. Then he closed it. Wow, he couldn’t believe it! But then he opened it back up again and read, ‘Go and do thou likewise.’ And that is exactly what he did!”

    One chipmunk to another, the other night as I was reading your view on “cursing the ground because of man” and the apparent Biblical contradictions therein, I couldn’t help notice when you were pointing out your “even handedness” as if it was a needed PSA. And the “PSA” that I saw, even before reading your short auto-biography that I did today just a little while ago (I know there is more) was just another one of those acronyms. In this case, P seudo-intellecutal S ecular-humanistic A theism. When you pointed out that Moslems also do Biblical exegesis, I saw that, as co-Bible Thumpers, we were in a somewhat similar mission field. You, delving into Middle Eastern documents and traditions that became “Bible” and me, on the other side of this universe, having actually lived and worked in this part of the world,

    with all the secular Jews on the kibbutzim; the Orthodox while going to school in Jerusalem at the Hebrew U. while living downtown in Mea Shearim; the Moslems and the Christians and the Druze–all different except that their Arabs, if you know what I mean!

    OK, enough with the rhythms.

    By the way, when it comes to Noah and the Flood, it wasn’t just a localized phenomenon limited to the Mesopotamian River Basin and the code of Hammurabi. Just about every people group, culture and ethnicity on this planet has some legend about that Boat.

    At any rate, keep up the good work. You know how the English language works. So “don’t do anything/nothing I wouldn’t do!” And finally (I had 4 years of Latin by my junior year in High School in Denver)—- “Illegitimi (think: ‘fundies’) non carborendum!”

  15. You’re an interesting study in contradictions. Your last sentence speaks of “lost voices” that you think are crying out, like a specter from the graveyards of neglected and misrepresented history. I can almost envision the great “dry bones” image found in Ezekiel 37… (;~))

    But let’s get straight. The great discovery is that the Bible is, at the very least, an amazing and integrated message system, written in an encryption code that was there in the prophet’s day and looked forward to and has the same application to our own. Something that these people knew as they served both the people that heard them in their historical context was that this would also be extended and those in the future annals of world and prophetic history who would find guidance and meaning and purpose and without whom, these authors of the Divine Writ knew that they themselves would not be complete if those in the future, “the remnant”, did not in fact carry out and fulfill the revelations that even they (the original authors, eg Daniel) in giving them still, NEVERTHELESS, did not completely know about what, exactly they were “seeing” and giving witness to as they were faithfully putting this insight down in writing. They only knew that what they put down as any author would was exactly as it came to them and the details would come to pass. They were not required to be anything but faithful as authors in this regard. What was true then was what would always be true: that only “those who have ears to hear” will ever understand it.

    But this amazingly integrated, encryption coded (only to the faithful) system of Divine communicating with the mortal is not exclusive. Any and everyone is invited to partake. In fact, the Spirit and the Bride say “come”. So anyone who is hungry and thirsty may come and eat and drink from the Water of Life Free of Charge! Whosoever wills! It’s not simply 66 books penned by 40 authors over thousands of years, the Bible is an intricately designed “self professed” revelation. The whole of which bears evidence of supernatural engineering in every detail!

    And there is no death there, or “lost voices” there, my friend. Except for those who reject it, and in so doing the One who not only designed this edifice but is at the same time this corner stone and foundation for life indeed for all who in wisdom decide to build their lives upon it.

    … and the other night when I stumbled upon but not over your blog and did not fall down like a rock of offense and stone of spiritual stumbling into a dark eternity as someone else easily could—over your well intentioned(?) but “lost” voice, I came as led by that still, small, and quiet voice that has guided me these last 44 years or so of my 3 score and 3 upon this planet. In other words, I am a witness, a Notzree.

    A couple of days ago, I was somehow piqued by the paradox that provoked and prevented Moshe from entering into the Promised Land. Even though in my cyber surfing I was not satisfied on that quest, I did, as I mentioned before, come across your stone of contradictions and rocks of offense. I ground to a halt on your post sticking up on Isaiah. This one, right above us….

    ***Before I go on with a kind of disclaimer or “informed consent clause”, let me give another example of how your approach is a study in contradictions. Maybe that is why you’ve picked that subject for your title and maybe your main premise (in life?). And so let me quote you and find common ground so that you won’t think in the rest of my reply here that I hate you or something, “And certainly we may disagree on that matter (which is ok)”.***

    In my opening statement (go up there and read it if you can’t remember), take your point #1 made in the first paragraph:

    “I noticed that you think YHVH …” That would be pretty near impossible. I do not articulate things on this site in such theological garb, nor do I actually think in these terms. I may think that the author of a biblical text thinks something…. I may even think an author thinks that Yahweh is or thinks something…. etc. But I do not think Yahweh; I do not think Jesus…. This is the language of theologians, and I might add haughty language.”

    OK, got it. You’re not a JudeoChristianzionist, Bible Thumpin’ Messianic Jesus Freak. But YHVH is the transliterated English for the Hebrew letters Yod Hay Vav Hay which are often translated “Lord” in the Holy Scriptures. With the “necudote” that a regular Hebrew Bible uses to tell you how to pronounce the ineffable Name, it is understandable why some folks call Him, Jehovah. There are many variations on that theme but what is not understandable, AND A FREAKIN’ CONTRADICTION btw, is the fact that while you disdain thinking in this “theological garb that you find haughty” you nevertheless use your version of YHVH when you constantly refer to ‘Yahweh’. Not Jehovah, or Ya-ho-vay, nor Yahvey but your choice of “theological garb”.

    Now if you want, I could concoct a nice acronym for you from some of your other disclaimers on Yahveh. Like the one where you say, that The Bible is not a “homogeneous narrative of divine revelation” and it’s ‘god’. So taking the first letter of each word of that sentence, beginning with the “T” in The and ending with the g in the last word of (in your ‘even-handed, and self-professed unopinionated way’) the man made up idea (that/who) doesn’t exist anyway. So like any acronym that refers to a philosophy, it might be a little unwieldy like this one: TBinahnodraig. But it would be accurate, and more succinct than explaining each time in the form of some kind of public service announcement (PSA) how you have decided to overcome the CONTRADICTION OF USING THEOLOGICAL GARB THAT YOU CONDEMN IN OTHERS WHILE IGNORANTLY INDULGING IN IT YOURSELF. Each time the (let’s call Him the “ineffable”) comes up in your studies on this (very commendable, BYW) blog, all you have to do is use the acronym I have for you or one even shorter that you can devise and have a special post that anyone who is new can refer to like going to a FAQ page. Like, “what does the author mean by that acronym?”

    In fact, if you decide to repent as per 2Chronicles 7:14, and no longer even mention the Creator anymore because of your “theological garb” doctrine, you could just go back and insert it in every instance on this blog where you inadvertently used the “ineffable”…’just sayin’ (:~))

    *** So, part of my disclaimer that I have now come back to is: I Am who I Am and will Be, who inhabits eternity, is well pleased with thee! Especially when self-professed attempts at “do-gooderism” (it takes one to know one who attempts to do one ) and who takes the time to communicate with kindred spirits, those who were maybe even “separated @ birth”. It is a sacrifice to do so and from your response to my input on your blog the other night (again, see your comments above), you made a noble one IMHO. I too work in “overkill” when it comes to communication.

    For the last 44 years or so I am a “friendship evangelism missionary” from Lebanon to Egypt and especially the area in between. And I appreciate your comments to me…I’ll stop here, get a breath and pick up this “informed consent clause” in the next post I make.

    Later, gator

    1. Sabba,

      I still think you haven’t quite grasped my point—as a biblical scholar I am invested in understanding and re-presenting to the best of my objective and unbiased abilities the varying and at times competing beliefs, messages, ideologies, etc. of the Bible’s many authors. That is the texts, and their independent historical and literary contexts, are the focus of my investigation before later readers collected them together, codified them as scripture, and impregnated them with new, exterior, and reader-subjective meanings—i.e., what these texts now repackaged as a “Holy Book” mean subjectively to its later readers, that is a meaning now dictated by the readers’ beliefs about these texts—texts which under this new interpretive grid no longer exist! Now it is The Text and what that means to its readers.

      So believing—that is starting from reader-defined subjective beliefs about the text—that the text is “encrypted,” “divinely-inspired,” “inerrant,” etc. are all interpretive assumptions and prejudices dictated by later readers under the influence of later interpretive frameworks, most notably that which goes by the name “the Holy Book.” Furthermore, in many instances a thorough study of the texts on their terms, the beliefs of these authors on their own terms, etc. would refute this centuries-later theological construct! The texts independently themselves bear this out—the content of this website.

      Contrariwise, the Bible’s once independent texts, their authors and their beliefs and contexts, are my starting point—not what later readers claim, think, or believe about these texts. Certainly I’m interested in that, but that is a later process and development.

      So to take a specific example. I am fascinated (sincerely) by the author of Leviticus—his worldview, belief system, views on sacrifice, purity, sacred space and time, etc. My task—our task as sentient beings of the 21st century I would argue—is to be able to objectively reproduce his beliefs, his message, his theology, his agenda, and to be able to understand why he wrote his text, to whom, and in response to what historical circumstances or concerns and in relation to what other texts that either presented similar or competing views, etc. A careful, culturally-contextualized reading of the text will provide many of the answers to these queries.

      At the next level, proper knowledge of the ancient Near Eastern world that our author was a part of would allow us to enter into more speculative avenues of inquiry, such as not only what he believed as re-presented in his text, but why he believed what he did, what cultural perspectives influenced his beliefs, what literary techniques did scribes employ to legitimate their beliefs, etc.

      Reading his text as it was originally intended in his historical and literary contexts—not those of later readers—we would also come to realize that one of the literary techniques that scribes of the ancient world employed in legitimating their beliefs, messages, and even ideologies was to place them on the lips of that culture’s deity. This has nothing to do with me, my beliefs, or the subjective reader and his beliefs. It has everything to do with the objective study of these texts as products of their own unique historical and literary worlds. In this context, one readily sees, and understands, to take one small example, why in the book of Leviticus Yahweh is portrayed as voicing pro-Aaronid priestly legislation—and only in this text! Frankly that is because a culturally contextualized reading of the text itself informs us that it was written by an elite priestly guild that traced their lineage back to Aaron, indeed that legitimated their right to rule as Yahweh’s sole anointed priests by creating a narrative set in the archaic past where Yahweh chose Aaron and his seed to rule as his unique priests.

      On even a further level out, when one does the same objective study of the book of Deuteronomy, for example (and all other books for that matter), one sees that the Yahweh of Deuteronomy, at times, expresses a contrary message and ideology. Here Yahweh selects all Levites—not just Aaronids—as his priests. Additionally, compared with the beliefs and message of the Yahweh of Leviticus, the Yahweh of Deuteronomy places less emphasis on sacrifice (sacrifice is not viewed as the sole means to atone for sin as it is dictated by the Yahweh of Leviticus), and contrary to the pro-Aaronid Yahweh of Leviticus that commands only the Aaronids can eat sacrificial meals, burn incense, enter Yahweh’s presence in the Tent of Meeting, etc., the Yahweh of Deuteronomy proclaims that all Levites can enjoy these privileges. This speaks violently against the views uttered from the Yahweh of Leviticus. For a good summary of these differences and competing priestly ideologies see #222.

      There are numerous other contradictions between these texts—Leviticus and Deuteronomy (see Book categories above)—and between what the Yahweh of Leviticus says and the Yahweh of Deuteronomy says. This is one small example out of literally hundreds! In other words, what the Bible of its own accord as a collection of texts spanning 1,000 years informs us, and confirmed by bringing into the discussion other texts of the ancient Near East, is that the “Yahweh’s” of these texts says contradictory and competing things because they were written by two different priestly guilds, each one vying for the priesthood, and each one composing a text set int the archaic past that used Yahweh as a spokesperson for their unique beliefs and messages in order to legitimate their right to rule as Yahweh’s priests. That is because these Yahwehs are literary creations of the authors who wrote these texts! This is, properly, what ancient literature was all about! The same literary technique is found in other books of the Hebrew canon, and New Testament writers likewise used Jesus as a mouthpiece to expresses their, at times, competing theologies and interpretations. The object of this investigation are the biblical texts. That is the study of these texts reveal this. Again this is different than “reading” these texts through the subjective interpretive framework implied in the label “the Holy Book.”

      Note: I have made no theological arguments about/against God, however one wishes to define this. I am talking about ancient texts and the literary conventions scribes used in writing these texts, who these scribes were, to whom they wrote and why, prompted by what historical concerns or needs, etc. This is what I mean by my claim that I don’t dabble in theological nonsense. I am interested in how the biblical scribes viewed, wrote about, and believed in Yahweh. The Yahweh referred to here in these posts is always their Yahweh. . . or more so Yahwehs. How he is presented, talked about, etc. It is a textual and cultural argument and demonstration—not theological.

      Now, centuries later in a editorial endeavor to preserve Israel’s sacred texts, these two once separate texts—the scrolls that eventually became Leviticus and Deuteronomy—with their competing ideologies and their competing Yahwehs were combined together, and promulgated for reasons endemic of the 5th century BCE as “the Torah of Moses that Yahweh commanded” (Neh 8:1)—note the singular Torah, teaching, and not (competing) torahs as the texts themselves bear witness. A compromise was struck between these 2 priestly rivalries. Again, just one example.

      Even later, and increased a hundredfold, these texts were combined with others to form from the perspective of later readers “the Holy Book” and impregnated with a new homogenous narrative meaning that now legitimated the beliefs of these later readers! — and, I might add, at the expense of the messages, beliefs, and ideologies of these once independent authors! The individual voices and messages of the author of Leviticus and his Yahweh, for example, are now drowned, buried, neglected, interpreted away, re-packaged in order to confirm and reaffirm the beliefs of later readers! My goal—re-produce, defend, and understand the authors’ beliefs, not those of later readers!

      Example 2.
      As for the book of Daniel, again you’re not being honest to the text as a product of its own historical and literary world, nor to its author and his beliefs. This text was written as a response to the persecution of the Jewish people by Antiochus IV circa 167-165 BCE, who outlawed Judaism, both its practice and the reading of the Torah. The text of Daniel was written for and served as an example exhorting these Jews that were being persecuted to stay loyal to the Torah even though that meant death at the hands of Antiochus (See 1 Macc 1 & 2 Macc 7)! What this author envisioned through the literary genre of revelation was that his god would only allow Antiochus to persecute the Jews for a fixed period of time. For this author expresses through the literary genre of apocalypse that Antiochus will—a past event from our author’s historical perspective—abolish the daily tamid for 1,150 days (Dan 8:13, 11:31), the duration of the “abomination of desolation”—that is the erection of a statue of Antiochus as Zeus in Yahweh’s temple! See Maccabees. At this point, our author muses, hopes, believes, etc. that Yahweh will end Antiochus’ reign of persecution and inaugurate a just, divine reign on earth, where those who remained loyal to Yahweh’s Torah and meet their deaths at the hands of Antiochus’ persecution (i.e., martyrs) would be vindicated and raised from their graves (Dan 12:2)—the only reference to resurrection and a post-mortem existence in all of the Hebrew Bible, a late development and creation of the 2nd century BCE! That is, the belief in resurrection and a post-mortem reanimated life emerges as a response to the historical circumstances of this time period—a conversation for another time.

      These were the beliefs of this author, his beliefs and hopes. And this has been documented not only by reading the text in its own historical context and on its own terms, but by countless other scholarly works on Daniel and the books of Maccabees. This hoped for event, the reign of “god’s kingdom,” which I would even accredit our author with firmly believing in its coming, did not happen! Later readers even amended different imminent dates: 1,290 days from Dec 8, 167 BCE, then 1,335 days (Dan 12:11-12). Even later readers, notably the Jews of Qumran, and the early church, not knowing anything about the historical and literary contexts and conventions of this text, and because of the text’s highly symbolic nature, imposed later re-interpretive frameworks onto this text and read Daniel’s “prophecy” as an opened ended yet to come future prophecy about them! For the Jews at Qumran, the text spoke of their salvation, for the early church their salvation, and for modern uninformed readers their salvation. These are all later subjective reader-imposed interpretive frameworks whose goals are to “read” the text with an eye toward providing meaning for the reader! Fuck the reader! Sorry, but it’s not about the reader. It’s about the texts, understanding them, and their authors’ beliefs. Once we as a culture can do this honestly, then let’s bring in the whys and hows of later readers’ beliefs and reinterpretations (including NT writers). But these too will need to be studied objectively.

      So yes, these later imposed theological constructs do indeed drown out the once independent voices of these texts. Indeed, you “kill” them every time you “read” the text with your beliefs at center stage! I realize the sensitivity behind yours and our culture’s belief systems and the narratives that provide meaning to our lives—a conversation I would eventually love to have—but being honest to these ancient texts, the beliefs of their authors not those of the readers, I feel, needs to be our first step.

      So your talk of “rejecting it” i.e., the Bible’s message, is mere talk. The message that you mean when you say such a thing is the message implied in what is meant in the label “the Holy Book,” and not the messages nor meanings as voiced by our once independent authors—whose independent and competing messages and meanings, I might humbly remind you, you reject! And rightly so: after all we’re talking about the beliefs of a people and culture that are approximately 3,000 years old! Certainly you, I, we as a culture, may share in some of these beliefs, but we do not share in their beliefs as a whole, their worldview, their perception of the world, even their conception of God! Bart Ehrman for one has come out publically and said the same thing: Anyone claiming belief in the Bible is just being dishonest and disingenuous to these texts, with their competing beliefs, ideologies, conceptions of God, the priesthood, prophecy, kingship, etc.

      The point is that the label “the Holy Bible” has became more authoritative for you, for our culture, in determining the meaning of this collection of texts, rather than what the texts themselves on their own terms say, claim, etc.—and that is my whole point. What about the author of Leviticus and his beliefs? They don’t count anymore? His beliefs are now subservient to your/later readers’ beliefs, to the beliefs and message implied in a centuries-later label “the Holy Bible”?

      You strike me as an intelligent individual. There has been much uncovered, discovered, and learned about the texts of the Bible over the last century, mainly due to other texts of the ancient Near East that have shed light on what ancient Near Eastern literature is and is not, and advances in the field of Hebrew and manuscript traditions thanks largely to the Qumran finds. Again, I am making no pronouncements against God, against belief in God, against faith. Rather I am trying to share this scholarship with the public, yes, in a provocative manner, and in an often misunderstood and mismanaged debate “Contradictions in the Bible” by both camps, atheists and apologists—both non-experts in the field. Here are some books I would recommend if interested in learning about the texts, their authors, and the cultures that produced them.

      Carr, Reading the Fractures of Genesis: Historical and Literary Approaches, 1996.
      Finkelstein & Silberman, The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origins of Its Sacred Texts, 2001.
      Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel, 1990.
      Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch: An Introduction to the First Five Books of the Bible, 1992.
      Levinson, Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation, 1997.
      Doorly, The Laws of Yahweh: A Handbook of Biblical Law, 2002.
      Van der Toorn, Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible, 2007.
      Friedman, The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses, 2003.
      Baden, The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis, 2012
      Campbell & O’Brien, Unfolding the Deuteronomistic History: Origins, Upgrades, Present Text, 2000.

      Finally, I have to call ‘Bullshit’ on your alleged claim of believing in Genesis 1. And again this has nothing to do with my beliefs, what I believe about the texts. Rather, and again, like a broken harp, it’s about the beliefs, worldview, message, audience, cultural context, literary precursors, etc of the author of this ancient text! Do you even know what this author believed, and more challenging, why? Not what later tradition has dictated to you that he believes. Not what “reading” his message, beliefs, and worldview through later imposed interpretive prisms, such as that dictated by what the label “the Holy Bible” implies. But his beliefs. I do! For that is my job! And I can assure you that the text itself challenges your very claim here.

      I have just finished a book on this topic, entitled Genesis 1 and the Creationism Debate: Being Honest to the Text, Its Author, and His Beliefs—Not Ours! And I have posted in a series of 14 posts an early draft of Chapter 1: Genesis’ 2 Creation Accounts. The goals of this chapter, as I define them in this forthcoming book are: 1) to put forward the textual data that convincingly demonstrate the hand of two different authors for Genesis 1:1-2:3 and 2:4b-25; 2) to demonstrate that the depiction of the creation of the world and of mankind in both these accounts were conditioned and shaped by subjective and culturally formed beliefs and ideas about the nature of the world as perceived by the ancient scribes who wrote these accounts. They are not, in other words, divinely dictated, divinely inspired, nor intended as objective/scientific descriptions of the world and its origins. This claim will be supported by the forthcoming textual data and what the texts themselves reveal about their own compositional natures and the beliefs and worldviews of their authors. And lastly (3), to expose why the claims made by modern day Creationists about Genesis 1 are disingenuous and negligent of the very beliefs and claims made in this ancient text by its author.

      I’d certainly be interested in your feedback if you were so inclined to read any of these posts—again about the text and the beliefs of its authors and his cultural contexts.

      At the end of Chapter 1’s extensive examination of Genesis 1, a summary is put forth of this author’s beliefs. Here is that list. I would surmise that you might share about a half dozen of his beliefs.

      • That God created the earth (dry habitable land, never the planet) and the skies out of preexistent undefined and inhabitable earth that was immersed in a deep, dark watery abyss.
      • That creation was an act of separating this primordial matter (earth and water) out, subduing it, and forming it into an habitable, life-sustaining world.
      • That the source of day’s light is an inherent and essential property of day itself; its source is not the sun.
      • That God created day as light itself or daylight.
      • That night is the original primordial darkness.
      • That God subdued the primordial untamed waters by creating a domed barrier in between these waters, thereby separating them, now above and below this barrier.
      • That the sky is this solid transparent domed barrier.
      • That the sky’s function, as God created it, is to keep back the waters above.
      • That the sky is blue because of the waters above it.
      • That the sky, this domed barrier holding back the waters above, touched the waters below at the horizons.
      • That God subdued the waters below and caused them to gather together, thereby creating seas.
      • That earth, specifically dry habitable life-supporting land—not the planet—emerged from the depths of these now tamed seas, previously the untamed primordial waters.
      • That this earth “floated” upon or was supported by the waters below.
      • That earth itself brought forth plants and vegetation, each by its own kind.
      • That God created and placed the sun, moon, and all the stars together in the domed barrier that he had made earlier, above which were the waters above.
      • That these luminaries were created to regulate and to distinguish between the day and the night, not to create day (daylight) and night.
      • That these luminaries moved through this domed barrier.
      • That the moon produces its own light.
      • That God created the luminaries, in part, to indicate when the months began, and on what days Yahweh’s festivals (Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Horn-Blast Holy Day, Day of Atonement, and Booths) fell and were to be observed.
      • That the observance of these festivals or holy days were eternal laws punishable by death or excommunication.
      • That God created the luminaries, particularly the moon, to serve as a calendar system, each new moon beginning a new month.
      • That God created the living beings of the waters below, each by their kind.
      • That God created the birds, each by their kind.
      • That God created the animals of the earth, each by their kind.
      • That in opposition to the creation of the animals according to their kinds, God created mankind, male and female together, after his image.
      • That there existed a plurality of divine beings or a divine counsel of some sort.
      • That God created all of this in 6 days.
      • That God created and consecrated the 7th day as holy.
      • That God rested from his work on the 7th day and therefore man too must rest from his work on the 7th day, as reckoned from the new moon and then each 7th consecutive day afterward.
      • That anyone caught doing work on the 7th day from the new moon, that is not observing the Sabbath, was to be stoned to death by commandment from the creator god himself.
      • That the Sabbath was an eternal covenant, to be observed forever, on penalty of death.

  16. I noticed that you think YHVH intended to change mankind’s sin nature by means of the Flood. For instance, here is only a small part of your poorly thought out premise:

    “Yet the flood does not change this. For the recognition that man’s heart inclines toward evil is also reinstated at the end of J’s flood narrative.”

    In other words, as far as you are concerned, it is obvious from the paragraph from which that statement is taken that this is just another of your ways of saying, “Hah! Here is just another of all the plethora of contradictions!”

    Attribute, por favor! How did a so called contradiction happen that never existed in the first place? Another of your straw- dogs you like to beat with your schtik of higher criticism!

    Where did the CREATOR make such a claim? Go ahead, knock yourself out. Quote the text, in context there in Genesis where YHVH thought that he could change mankind’s “evil inclination” that HE was sorry for and grieved over by simply wiping it out (Noah et al, notwithstanding). By drowning it into oblivion………. I’m waiting…(;~))

    Maybe you can explain why HE (oh yes, I know, this was written way after the fact by some bloak named “PJ” or some other pseudo-intellectual acronymn—who knew about Goliath) so why does HE make the comment, “The Nephilim were on the earth and also afterward.”? Why is this included in the Biblical Flood assessment of what is about to happen? Surely if the intention is to make sure that all mankind after the Flood will never be a problem again, the very least HE could do would be to insure that the “worst of the worst”, the Nephilim would (like the dinosaurs?) be extinct. Not survive!

    It is obvious that HIS comments on mankind’s unchanged sin nature found in 8:21 only confirm that your premise is way off. YHVH never intended to deal with this issue via a world wide eradication of humanity. In fact, the place in time HE solves the “sin nature problem”, or at least makes that a tangible, empirical reality “down payment” with the promise of future “redemption of the purchased possession” is about 24 centuries later on an atonement tree in Jerusalem.

    You might also look back to when He mentions a curse on the earth. For instance, see if you can find the phrase, “Cursed is the ground because of you”. Now try to stay in context and don’t whirl off into you presupposed mindset (which as I have just pointed out all ready “is way off”) and read once again this point that YHVH makes about mankind even though HE knows that the sin nature that it inherited from Adam remains, EVEN AFTER THE FLOOD (emphasis mine). And I quote, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man.” This is right after Noah worships HIM in a “soothing” way. YHVH is not mad, in fact, the text tells us that as long as “the earth remains…day and night will not cease”. That’s 8:22.

    And this is before all those views (and I quote you),

    “… of a centuries-later reading group, nor any of the hundreds and hundreds of later and different interpretive agendas. It’s about time we gave these ancient texts back to their authors, and were honest to them, not their millions and millions of readers!”

    You’re one of those readers, my friend. So let the author of this Flood account, (let’s call him Moshe, just for fun!) make the obvious point: unlike the curse of Adam having to work with infertile ground that refuses to respond like it used to back in The Garden, this particular curse has been (in some way) lifted. Who knows? Maybe part of the reason why things got so bad on the earth was the fact that it wouldn’t produce any food and the fact that YHVH hadn’t given permission to eat the animals yet. (;~)) See Genesis 1:28-29. Then compare this with 9:3.

    YHVH said mankind could rule over and even subdue but that when it came to food, “seeds, plants, trees and fruit…shall be food for you.” The animals too. Not each other. Not sons of Adam. Ditto mankind. No animals, just be vegetarians! Then Adam messed up. Basically no food except with a lot of “blood sweat and tears”.
    It was probably the greatest miracle the world back then ever saw—mankind not just living for 120 years (6:4) but from the Bible’s different genealogical records and tracing back from AC/BC (i.e. about 2015 years back as the starting point) the miracle was that it even existed for very long after the scene at “The Tree in the Garden”. Chapter 3. The world that resulted would be under a curse that would make any and all famines (since the Flood) pale in comparison. And all of this lasted for about 1600-1700 years until “the flood gates of heaven were opened and the fountains of the deep burst open”. Until that time, there may have been practically nothing to eat and a world gone insane…

    And going on to another of your errors, and related to the points above, such as the phrase, “While the earth remains”. This is heavy with the portent that someday it will not REMAIN. And do I need to quote some “weighty” words from other OT prophets—including those you took out of context above— or let’s say the Apostle Peter talking about the “new heavens and the new earth”? The context of this whole passage is not another of your so called “contra-inanities”. It says that YHVH will not destroy the earth by a flood. Period. Hence the rainbow.

    1. Sabba,

      Allow me to make a couple of points in rebuttal since you’ve seemed to miss my point, and perhaps also the authors of these texts’ point.

      1) “I noticed that you think YHVH …” That would be pretty near impossible. I do not articulate things on this site in such theological garb, nor do I actually think in these terms. I may think that the author of a biblical text thinks something…. I may even think an author thinks that Yahweh is or thinks something…. etc. But I do not think Yahweh; I do not think Jesus…. This is the language of theologians, and I might add haughty language.

      As an extension of this comment, I don’t express my thoughts here, nor my beliefs, at least I try hard not to. This is a site dedicated not to my beliefs, nor yours, but to those ancient scribes who penned these ancient texts long before they were co-opted by later readers and made into a “Holy Book” to serve the needs and concerns of a later generation of readers. So your “In other words, as far as you are concerned…” and “another of your ways of saying” is not correct. Rather what I am claiming is that the author of these texts claim, believe, think something. And certainly we may disagree on that matter (which is ok), but any evaluation of the text itself, and thus its author’s beliefs, must address the text on the text’s terms and from within the said text’s cultural and literary world—in other words not from the context of later readers who collected these texts together, deemed them holy writ, and placed and read them in a different historical and literary context. I am interested in this, but that is a later process.

      2) Following from 1, it is therefore not I that you’ve misunderstood, but the author of this text. Indeed your claim after your “I noticed that you think YHVH …” is not only a claim that I myself never made concerning Yahweh, but it’s also a claim that I didn’t make about the beliefs of the author of this text! Here is what the author of this text expresses, and it is from his words—not from what later interpreters and theological frameworks say what his words are—that we try to deduce his beliefs—not mine, not yours, not those of later New Testament authors.

      And Yahweh saw that man’s wickedness was multiplied on the earth, and every inclination of man’s heart was only evil all the day. And Yahweh regretted that he had made man on earth, and he was grieved to his heart. And Yahweh said, “I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created…” (Gen 6:5-7a [J])

      And Yahweh said in his heart: “I will not curse the ground again on account of man; for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will not wipe out all the living again.” (Gen 8:21 [J])

      My comment and interpretation of these words: that the author of this text is expressing his thoughts about Yahweh and human nature. He claims that because man’s heart is inclined toward evil, Yahweh regrets having made man, and the solution is to wipe mankind out [insert ancient Near Eastern flood tradition here].

      At the end of this flood, our author has Yahweh express the same axiom about human nature—man’s heart still inclines toward evil! [Our author is writing in the 9th- 8th c. BCE]. In other words, our author reluctantly expresses a sober reality about mankind’s nature—from his perspective. Namely, that not even a flood that wipes man out can eradicate man’s evil inclination. Thus my, “The ending of J’s flood narrative leaves us with a startling revelation—nothing was resolved by wiping out the human race with a flood!” This is me expressing as objectively and honestly as possible our author’s beliefs and what he has just expressed himself.

      This, as it seems to me, is our author’s point, belief, message! If the flood was meant to eradicate wickedness, well it didn’t. Man’s nature—our author muses—is bent on evil. Now, we can even speculate that this particular author believed this axiom about human nature, and even placed it on his god’s mouth, because of the cultural climate he lived in. In other words, it seems to be a conclusion that one would draw from their empirical reality.

      3) You’re interjecting way too much personal subjective-oriented theology here. This gets back to my 1st point, that only brazen theologians, apologists, and fundies attempt to arrogantly claim what God thinks, intends, believes, etc. I would tone this down quite a bit. Moreover, it looks like again you may have misconstrued what ancient literature is and the conventions ancient scribes used to legitimate their beliefs. One such literary technique disseminated throughout the ancient Near East was placing the scribes beliefs, views, interpretation of history in the mouth of ancient heroes and even gods. There is ample textual evidence to illustrate this point (I have just quoted the Moabite stele in a recent post that has a Moabite scribe place his beliefs and commandments into the mouth of his god), and a close study of the Hebrew Bible’s own 40 some texts written over 7 centuries by varying scribal guilds, prophetic schools, and rival priestly clans will attest this alone.

      So, now, taking your claims about the godhead—“YHVH never intended to deal with this issue via a world wide eradication of humanity”—other than being an external theological claimant, the text, its author, and his presentation of Yahweh contradict your assessment. For in Gen 6:5-7 the author clearly presents Yahweh attempting to do just that! Our author creates this narrative: 1) Yahweh saw that man’s heart was inclined to evil; 2) Yahweh regrets having made man on account of this; 3) Yahweh therefore decides to eradicate (machah, “erase” “wipe out”) man from earth because of man’s inherent evil bent.

      Again I remind you that our goal as readers of these ancient texts is not to bend and manipulate them to fit our theological perspectives and premisses, but to enter into this writer’s world and understand his beliefs, and perhaps even why he believed what he did to the point that I’m inclined to say that he believed that his god also believed what he believed! This is the same narrative that many modern fundies create to this day—their beliefs are projected onto God! And from there they merely profess what God thinks, intends, believes, etc., and of course this all miraculously conforms to what they themselves believe! I do not do such brazen things here!

      4) Your claim again, that the Yahweh of this texts thinks, beliefs, claims, etc… “with the promise of future “redemption of the purchased possession” is about 24 centuries later on an atonement tree in Jerusalem.” This is what I’ve been trying to get my readers such as yourself to at least see, to see what you’re doing here. You are imposing later theological lenses and your belief system onto this ancient text. The text itself, its author, his beliefs, and his portrait of Yahweh nowhere say, elude, or claim such a statement. This theology is brought into and upon the text by you the reader, period. This ancient text nowhere supports such later theological musings. And if you’re going to give credence to such later subjective interpretively imposed frameworks, then you might as well not stop there, because, as one small example, Muslims have and still are also imposing their own subjective theological frameworks onto these ancient texts and legitimating them with the same theological premise and hermeneutics that you are using—appealing to a god, God, who now believes what you believe, and even legitimates those beliefs! Let’s start being honest to what we are doing when we impose such later and exterior constructs onto these ancient once independent compositions. And let’s start being honest to these ancient texts and their authors, and their beliefs! What you have done neglects the text and its author’s beliefs, one of which is what he believed about Yahweh.

      5) Our author, realizing that no cataclysmic flood or event will change man’s evil inclination, then has Yahweh utter these words:

      ““I will never curse again the ground because of man …. nor will I ever again destroy every living being.”

      As noted in the entry, the author who penned this and admittedly believed it lived before the utter destruction of Israel by Assyria in 722 BCE and the utter annihilation of Jerusalem by Babylon (or by Yahweh according to the theological prism that ancient writers used to explain historical events) in 587 BCE. Biblical scribes who lived later than this—other writers that is—interpreted and expressed, even if in hyperbole, the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, its people, Yahweh’s temple, etc. as Yahweh cursing the earth and wiping out all living beings!

      “The earth withers, and fades away, the world falls and fades away, the lofty people of the earth do fall. The earth also is defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, violated the statute, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse has devoured the earth.” (Is 24:1-6)

      “I will utterly consume all [living] things from off the face of the earth! And I will cut off man from the face of the earth.” (Zeph 1:13)

      And the whole earth shall be devoured by the fire… a terrible end of all them that dwell in the earth. (Zeph 1:18)

      Again, being honest to what the text is saying (and conversely not saying), the literary conventions employed by ancient scribes for saying what they said, and the historical circumstances that produced this text and its very beliefs, we must first acknowledge that this text is speaking of the utter destruction of Judah, here expressed in hyperbole as the utter destruction of the earth and its inhabitants. Furthermore “this curse” that has devoured the earth again, and has consumed all living things has precisely come about, our author informs us, because of man! It is once again because of man’s wickedness that Yahweh has cursed the earth — thus the contradiction for this entry. Again, this is not what Yahweh has done, said, thinks, etc. but rather what this ancient author thinks, beliefs claims Yahweh has done said, etc. Yahweh is used as a mouthpiece of this author to express his own beliefs.

      So when we juxtapose these two authors, writing to express their views and interpretations at two different historical eras, juxtapose these two texts separated by 3 to 4 centuries, written independently and only brought together under the interpretive framework of a “Holy Book” by readers living a century or two later… what we do in fact end up with is Yahweh “again cursing the ground on account of man!”

      That is my whole point behind every contradiction in this website— the contradiction only exists because we have two once independent scribes that either blatantly disagreed about issues of sacrifice, the priesthood, the monarchy, interpretations of history, etc. or in this case wrote from the theological prism dictated by their different historical circumstances and cultural perspectives. This is being honest to the individual texts, not to the interpretive framework of a later generation of readers who then imposed their own beliefs onto these ancient texts while nevertheless neglecting the once independent and often competing and contradictory views and beliefs expressed in these texts each by their own unique authors.

      6) The remainder of your comment is just imposed theological ideas and concepts of a later period, attempting to read the Bible as this title dictates that you read it—as a homogeneous narrative of divine revelation. But reading the texts on their own words tells a different story— indeed it tells many stories, or I might be inclined to say it tells the same or similar story over and over again with variations, changing perspectives, differences of opinions, etc. — our contradictions— which would not be shocking to find in an anthology of texts written from 70 some different authors over a 1,000 year period. Again, our goal as responsible modern homo sapiens is to listen to each voice on their terms, not to repackage earlier voices and texts on the terms of New Testament authors. In that instance one has become honest to later readers and their beliefs about these texts (now the writers of NT texts), not the writers of these once independent ancient texts and their beliefs. As a biblical scholar my goal, my work, is to reproduce to the best of my abilities an accurate, unbiased, and culturally-contextualized presentation of the beliefs and worldviews of the authors of these ancient texts. And they had competing messages, beliefs, interpretations of history. Isn’t it about time we listened to these lost voices?

  17. ……

    Sir, contrary to yours and many others opinions, not only are some Christians quite informed about these events, but most. I’m a new believer. Of course I’ve known “stuff” a lot of my life, but I have only within a year surrounded to Jesus, or Yeshua, as risen Lord. So, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that my own opinion of Christian ignorance of their faith, has been quite wrong. Again, most are aware of these allegations.

    It seems you’re staking your claims around the theory of 4 writers for Torah, and the assumption that texts on major national disasters for Israel are after the fact. Or at least it seems that way to me – the rest, about the affect of exile upon the national religion, and the comparison to surrounding cultures, seem secondary to those points.
    Because, if both of those are unfounded, then the rest of your points don’t hold much water. They just serve to prop up the 4-writer hypothesis and denial of possibility of prophecy.

    So, the first “contradiction” you seem to focus on are the contrary statements from God concerning a kind of judgment, correct? Simple context takes a lot of ground out from under this position. God spoke specifically in Genesis of the entire world , and the later judgment on Israel were specifically in reference to their breaking of the covenant.

    Since you have no *definitive* proof that the prophecies were after the fact, its probably best to leave it open and make no definite conclusion, other than take note of common arguments for currently accepted dates of origin. There are strong and convincing arguments for traditionally accepted dates – something I would bet you are aware of. So to accuse the writers of appropriating events ex post facto to the national religion is not truly supported, and while might be convincing for a skeptic, is not definitive for anyone.

    The only true “contradiction” you’ve hinted at is God’s judgment of the nature of man when He created man. There is a paradox in that. No believer denies it – there is something beyond understanding. We are made with free will, and can make choices – proof of that seems to be, largely, that we consistently make the wrong ones due to our weaknesses. What believers say is that God has made us in His Image, as is written, we have the choice to do righteousness or wickedness, as is said, and our nature has been revealed over time to always fail, and we are accountable. Its why Christ is come; the mystery of reconciliation, that a man freely turns to God and his heart is changed, by the indwelling Spirit. And though he is responsible for his repentance, only those called by God will come. This is an admitted mystery.

    The stab at the OT’s historicity is not, though.

    Also, Day of Judgment is often referenced in OT. Jesus too references it, at large. The first chapter of John’s gospel, explicitly explained: judgment comes on those who reject the Light

    1. Thanks for the contribution. The claims I’m staking my career on are those that the biblical texts themselves are making—i.e., not the claims of those who codified these ancient texts, authenticated them as scripture, and labeled and marketed them as “the Book.” In other words, the claims themselves come from the once individual voices of the 70+ different authors who wrote these texts under divergent political and religious convictions over a period of 1,000 years. It is the biblical texts that are making the claims here. You might be interested in how and why I say this and its support, as well as why this is different than saying the claims of the Bible by reading these:

      What is the Bible?
      What is studying the Bible objectively?
      How do we know that the biblical texts themselves tells they are not historical accounts?
      How was it that the Bible came to reveal itself as a collection of competing and contradictory texts.

      I admire the passion in your response and respect the sensitivity of the issues here, but your wording clearly indicates many of your presuppositions about the text, which the texts upon closer examination would dispute: that “God” is speaking and to “the entire world” — wrong. You’re imposing your beliefs onto the text, and thus using the text as a mere vehicle to promulgate and legitimate your own beliefs and views. I understand this phenomenon, and it deserves serious and honest discussion. But if you think being ignorant about who wrote these texts, to whom, why, to address what historical circumstances, and in opposition or support of which other texts, how they came to be collected, and why a centuries-later generation of readers labeled it the book, and even a centuries-later generation then claimed it was the word of God—which again the biblical texts themselves refute repeatedly as do their individual authors— if the lack of this knowledge has no bearing on how you extrapolate meaning from these texts, then you’re abusing these texts and manipulating them to say what you want them to say instead. This is to let the reader’s meaning trump, and I would argue disrespect, that of the 70+ different authors, and the hows, whys, and whens of their texts.

      In other words you have adopted the opinion and views of a centuries-later generation of readers who prescribed, not described, that you read these divergent texts as a Book. And frankly this is the power of an interpretive tradition. We will examine in detail this same phenomenon when we get to Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Chronicles, Daniel, Job, etc. and certainly the NT writers, who prescribed their own interpretive agendas onto the texts regardless and ignorant of these texts’ authors, historical circumstances, literary contexts, etc., etc. The agenda of this site is to cut through all these later mis-interpretive and authoritative traditions and to hear the once independent voices of the authors in their own historical and literary contexts, not ours, nor those of a centuries-later reading group, nor any of the hundreds and hundreds of later and different interpretive agendas. It’s about time we gave these ancient texts back to their authors, and were honest to them, not their millions and millions of readers!

  18. Steven
    You keep mentioning “pre-exilic” and “post-exilic”. I know that traditionally the Israelites were supposedly captive in Egypt at some point (although historical evidence disputes this), and that Jerusalem was destroyed a few times, but other than that I’m not really familiar with the history.
    Is the “exilic” period or event the destruction in 587BC..? Or something else?

    Perhaps a small crash-course might be in order, if only to define terms? :)

    1. Sure.

      In the wake of the Babylonian destruction of Judah in 587 BC, the Jerusalemite aristocracy, scribes, priests, etc. were taken into captivity/exile in Babylon. When Cyrus, king of Persia defeated Babylon in 539 BC the Jewish captives were allowed to return home and rebuild. Many however stayed. At any rate, the period from 587-539 BC is referred to as the exilic period. It is believed that a lot of scribal activity happened at this time, and that the Torah was compiled. Pre-exilic is therefore prior to 587 BC and post-exilic after 539 BC. The exile is an event that left its mark on many biblical texts.

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