Between Babylon and Egypt: Mythology or Historical Traditions in the Book of Genesis. Part 2

Part 2. The Egyptian Origins and the Levitical Transmission of the Historical Traditions of the Book of Genesis.

Introduction
Duane Garrett makes a startling pronouncement at the beginning of his book, Rethinking Genesis, “The time has long passed for scholars of every theological persuasion to recognize that the Graf-Wellhausen theory, as a starting point for continued research, is dead. The Documentary Hypothesis and the arguments that support it have been effectively demolished by scholars from many different theological perspectives and areas of expertise.” [Duane Garrett, Rethinking Genesis (Grace Focus Pub, 2000), p. 11]

Nevertheless, the Documentary Hypothesis [DH] remains a major operating framework in Pentateuchal studies among critical scholars, even though its methodology has been shown to be based on flawed linguistics (Umberto Cassuto). Its reconstruction of the literary sources has also been shown to rely on arbitrary literary criteria and circular arguments (Oswald T. Allis and Gleason Archer). Finally, Egyptologists like Kenneth Kitchen have exposed the weakness of its historical foundations as new archaeological evidence shows that the historical milieu of the Pentateuch is more likely to be that of the milieu of Palestine in early second millennium BC rather than that of the milieu of Babylonian exile in the 5 th century BC. The DH is like a splendid academic castle floating magically in air since its foundations have been demolished even though its proponents continue to abide in it simply because they cannot agree on what new structure should replace it. Continue reading “Between Babylon and Egypt: Mythology or Historical Traditions in the Book of Genesis. Part 2”

Between Babylon and Egypt: Mythology or Historical Traditions in the Book of Genesis. Part 1

The Documentary Hypothesis (DH) posits that the Pentateuch is a compilation of four originally independent sources which Old Testament critics designate as J (Jahwist), E (Elohist), P (Priestly) and D (Deuteronomic). Julius Wellhausen, one of the chief architects of the DH suggested the following dates for the documents: J c. 850 BC, E c.750 BC, D c. 622 BC and P c. 500 BC. He further surmised that the documents were merged together by Jewish scribes during the Babylonian exile, so that the final redaction of the current Pentateuch was completed in the time of Ezra during the fifth century BC. However, critics of the DH have identified intractable problems which undermine the theory. As such, not many Old Testament scholars today overtly promote the DH. However, in the absence of an alternative critical theory, the DH remains the operating framework for many Old Testament critics today.

Two wide-ranging implications arise from the DH. First, if the Pentateuch assumed its conclusive redaction during the Babylonian period, that is, six centuries after Moses, then it cannot be relied on as reliable historical source of the Patriarchal period. Second, based on the DH, critics argue that the composition of Genesis 1-11 was influenced by Babylonian myths. Conversely, the purported influence of Babylonian myths in Genesis is forwarded as evidence of the DH.

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Part 1 seeks to demonstrate that the theory of Babylonian mythological influence on Genesis 1-11 rests of precarious foundations and thereby questions one of the assumptions of the DH that the book of Genesis (and the Pentateuch) was essentially shaped in a Babylonian context.

Part 2 offers an alternative understanding of the trajectory of the historical traditions of the book of Genesis developed by Duane Garrett who argues that the historical setting of the sources of the book of Genesis is Egyptian. In particular, it was the Levites who recorded and preserved the historical traditions of Israel handed to them by Moses. Continue reading “Between Babylon and Egypt: Mythology or Historical Traditions in the Book of Genesis. Part 1”

William Craig on the Historical Adam. Apologetics Impulse vs Doctrinal Formulation

This post should not be construed as an attempt to cast doubts on William Lane Craig’s (WLC) commitment to evangelical orthodoxy or to minimize his immense contribution to the intellectual defence of Christian faith. It only seeks to demonstrate how the tension between WLC’s apologetic impulse and theological formulation of doctrine may cause confusion for his readers, based on an analysis of his recent article published in First Things, “The Historical Adam.”

On the one hand, WLC’s categorization of the Genesis 1-11 as “mytho-history” raises questions about the existence of the historical Adam:

1) Regarding the book of Genesis
– “The primaeval history of Genesis 1–11, including the stories of Adam and Eve, functions as Israel’s foundational myth, laying the basis of Israel’s worldview…Rather, the claim is that the primaeval narratives belong to the genre of myth principally on the basis of their sharing common mythic themes and their effort to anchor present realities in the deep past.”

“In terms of genre, Genesis 1–11 has key characteristics of myth…On the basis of comparative studies of Sumerian literature, the eminent Assyriologist Thorkild Jacobsen proposed that we recognize a unique genre of literature, which he dubbed “mytho-history…If Genesis 1–11 functions as mytho-history, then these chapters need not be read literally. The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature, featuring as they do an anthropomorphic deity incompatible with the transcendent God of the creation account…Then there is the infamous snake in the Garden.” /1/

“Since the Pentateuchal author [is the use of the singular evidence of WLC’s evangelical commitment?] has an interest in history, he intends for his narrative to be at some level historical, to concern people who actually lived and events that really occurred. But those persons and events have been clothed in the metaphorical and figurative language of myth. If the stories are not meant to be read literally, what central truths do they convey?

After listing ten central truths conveyed by the Pentateuchal author on the nature of God, man and sin, WLC concludes, “Such truths do not depend upon reading the primaeval narratives literalistically.” Continue reading “William Craig on the Historical Adam. Apologetics Impulse vs Doctrinal Formulation”

Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG

Will you Walk into my Parlour? Said the Spider to the Fly PAS is exploiting its new-found powers in the Federal government to table a new bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions. A major element of PAS new legal initiative is the RU355 which was temporarily shelved in 2017 after … Continue reading “Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG”

Will you Walk into my Parlour? Said the Spider to the Fly

PAS is exploiting its new-found powers in the Federal government to table a new bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions. A major element of PAS new legal initiative is the RU355 which was temporarily shelved in 2017 after it met strong opposition from critics who argued that the bill would make Hudud which is a state-enacted law under the the Federal Constitution become Federal criminal law. As Federal law, Hudud will be applied to all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation. To be sure, Muslim politicians and justices have assured non-Muslims that they have nothing to fear, only to say in their next breath that Hudud must be applicable to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Anyone who accepts their facile assurances should remember the classic children poem, “The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt (1829).

Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

“I’m sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I’ll snugly tuck you in!”
Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I’ve often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”

[only 2 out of 7 stanzas reproduced here]

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[The materials below were first posted on 10 Feb 2017]

Related Post: Kelantan Salons Ordered To Remove Posters of ‘Sexy’ Hair Models

UMNO will be lending a helping hand to PAS to push a Bill through Parliament which would amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known as Act 355. The amendments would extend power to the Islamic courts to enforce heavier punishment for Islamic offences. PAS President Abdul Hadi Awang and UMNO leaders assure non-Muslims that the proposed amendments will not affect non-Muslims. Re: Hadi to Make More Amendments to Shariah Bill] [FMT 23 Nov 2016] Continue reading “Shariah Law has no Consequences on Non-Muslims? HUMBUG”

CFM Hudud Fact Sheet on Amendment to Act 355

Bad News Don’t Get Outdated: PAS Latest Attempt to Impose Shariah Law on non-Muslims with RUU355 Originally published on 4 March 2017 While the proposed amendments does not mention the word “hudud” nevertheless, the far-reaching provisions would permit the introduction of hudud law and hudud-prescribed punishments in Malaysia Excepts from CFM Fact Sheet on Hudud … Continue reading “CFM Hudud Fact Sheet on Amendment to Act 355”

Bad News Don’t Get Outdated: PAS Latest Attempt to Impose Shariah Law on non-Muslims with RUU355
Originally published on 4 March 2017

While the proposed amendments does not mention the word “hudud” nevertheless, the far-reaching provisions would permit the introduction of hudud law and hudud-prescribed punishments in Malaysia

Excepts from CFM Fact Sheet on Hudud Amendmenet Act 355:

7. The current proposed amendments deal only with the increase in the existing punishments. It is proposed that the current maximum sentences of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 3 years, a fine not exceeding RM 5,000, or not more than 6 strokes of the cane, or a combination thereof, be increased to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 30 years, a fine not exceeding RM100,000, or not more than 100 strokes of the cane, or a combination thereof.

8. “It is clear that while the proposed amendments to Act 355 again do not mention the word “hudud”, the fact is that the increase in the maximum punishments will allow for hudud-compliant punishments to be meted out. Continue reading “CFM Hudud Fact Sheet on Amendment to Act 355”

Monotheism in Ancient Israel

Introduction: One of the presuppositions held by many contemporary critical scholars of the Old Testament is that it is inappropriate to introduce the idea of revealed truths into their academic discipline. Instead, the Old Testament should be studied like any literary text set within the backdrop of Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET). Since the Old Testament inescapably shares the cultural and religious mindset of its milieu, it should be analyzed with reference to the dominant thought forms of the Ancient Near East in order to arrive at an accurate understanding of the text. It is natural that these scholars regard the (spiritual) insights found in the Old Testament to be the fruit of the religious genius of the Jewish people developed through their painful experience of history rather than to be truths of divine revelation.

However, Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889-1963), challenged the reigning paradigm of critical scholarship and argued that the ideas found in the ANET are not comparable to the distinctive ideas that flow from the monotheistic religion of ancient Israel. In this regard, a pertinent question to ask believers who have adopted the fashionable methods of critical scholarship today is whether faith for them is founded on the Old Testament, with the distinctive ideas of the Old Testament as its determining factors or whether faith is built on a sophisticated eclectic system which combines refine ideas of the Ancient Near East milieu. [c.f. Norman Snaith,  p. 187] Continue reading “Monotheism in Ancient Israel”

Worldview Apologetics in a Multi-Religious Society

* To register please click on LINK

This course will help students formulate a rational basis for believing in Christian theism expressed as a coherent worldview, followed by a comparison of the strengths and weaknesses of competing worldviews such as Naturalism, Islam and Buddhism.

Next, the course shall explore some of the crucial issues in the debate between Christians and non-Christians: the existence of God, the deity of Jesus Christ, evidence for the truth of the Bible in relation to history and science, the uniqueness of Christ and his salvation in the context of religious pluralism.

Course Outline: 3 hours each topic. Continue reading “Worldview Apologetics in a Multi-Religious Society”

Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 5. The Son from Pre-existence to the Consummation of Creation

A. Two Fundamental Roots of Christology – Promised Messiah and Resurrection
It is observed that various elements from the Old Testament and Jewish sources were incorporated in the development of the Son of God Christology in the first twenty years of the infant church leading to the development of Paul’s mission after the Apostolic Council. However, the Jewish categories were transformed through a creative process that was stimulated by the extraordinary event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Martin Hengel explains:

First and foremost, we must remember that what happened cannot just have been a simple reproduction of earlier Jewish speculations about hypostases and mediators. Earliest christology has a quite original stamp, and is ultimately rooted in the contingent event of the activity of Jesus, his death and resurrection appearances. A history-of-religions comparison can only explain the derivation of individual themes, traditions, phrases and functions, and not the phenomenon of the origin of christology as a whole. At the same time, we must also consider the possibility of ‘unparalleled’ innovation. [Martin Hengel, The Son of God (Fortress Press, 1976), pp. 56-57]

Hengel identifies two fundamental roots of Christology based on Rom. 1:3-4. First, the earthly Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s promise that the messiah is from the seed of David. Second, the crucified Jesus is declared to be the Son of God in power by virtue of his resurrection from the dead. Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 5. The Son from Pre-existence to the Consummation of Creation”

Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 4 – Reading on the Son of God in the Fourth Gospel

One of the most distinct differences between the Synoptics and John is the different role Jesus’ sonship to God plays. In the Synoptic tradition, Jesus is reticent to speak of his sonship and God’s Fatherhood. Pater is used by Jesus of God in Mark four times, Q eight or nine, Matthew some twenty-three times. In the Synoptics this form of speech is confined to the latter half of his ministry, and is used by Jesus only when speaking to his disciples. However, Jesus speaks of God as Father 106 times in John, and the usage is not restricted to any period of his ministry or to any group of hearers. He speaks of “my Father” twenty four times in John, eighteen in Matthew, six in Mark, three in Luke. It is obvious that Jesus’ sonship is the central christological idea in John, and that he writes his Gospel to make explicit what was implich in the Synoptics. The Gospel is written that people may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but more than Messiah; he is the Son of God (John 20:31)… Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 4 – Reading on the Son of God in the Fourth Gospel”

Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 3 – The Origin of Paul’s Divine Christology

Why bother to collect water with leaky buckets from distant wells when one can draw fresh water from the well in one’s backyard? [cf. endnote 7]

One of the most dramatic stories in the Bible is the transformation of Paul after he had a vision of the risen Christ. Paul was bent on destroying the church, but he suddenly turned into a preacher whose influence on the development of Christianity is second only to that of Jesus Christ. F.F. Bruce describes the significance of Paul’s conversion experience on Damascus Road,

No single event, apart from the Christ-even itself, has proved so determinant for the course of Christian history as the conversion and commissioning of Paul. For anyone who accepts Paul’s own explanation of his Damascus Road experience, it would be difficult to disagree with the observation of an eighteenth century writer [G. Lyttelton] that “the conversion and apostleship of St. Paul alone, duly considered was of itself a demonstration sufficient to prove Christianity to be a divine revelation.” /𝟏/

The cradle of Christianity was Judaism and Paul could rank himself as among to the finest elite of Judaism: He was born a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” sat at the feet of the outstanding teacher, Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the great rabbi Hillel. He was an emerging leader of the strict sect of the Pharisees who boasted that he was blameless in his observation of the Law (Phil. 3:6). He shared the same dogmatic assurance with his religious cohorts that the tradition handed down to them by their learned rabbis contained the whole truth of the religion. As such, there is no need for new revelation from God. Continue reading “Historical Origin of Divine Christology Part 3 – The Origin of Paul’s Divine Christology”