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 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
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Hello all... I have been studying and wondering about some ancient texts.. primarily the texts of the Sumerians (for those who don't know the very first civilization on earth that also had writing.. and they actually wrote A LOT) They were based in what is now Iraq.. mainly north of Baghdad (Babylon) Many of their texts are very similar to the Bible...actually theirs is much more detailed. I am first going to skip over the actual creation of the universe.. but maybe come back to it later... I can tell you that their description of the creation of the solar system is quite accurate according to modern science, thought the language is couched in "gods" and goddessesss" for the planets. The point is they seemed to have a lot of knowledge about things they should not have been able to know. However what I would like to discuss is the similarities from the Sumerian "Epic of Creation" and Genesis in the Bible. I would love to have those who are familiar with these texts chime in!

Genesis

The first book of the Bible is a fascinating document. On the one hand, it is the basis for many religions -- either as a matter of faith or one of historical precedence. At the same time, it is a complete history spanning eons, but still capable of telling unique stories of individuals. In the original Hebrew, it is a masterpiece of Sacred Geometry -- wherein it incorporates the Geometry of Alphabets while recreating the story of mankind. But it is also the subject of a massive number of interpretations (and probably misinterpretations as well). In this latter respect, it is often more that of “a puzzle wrapped in an enigma.”

There is, for example, in the King James version a distinction between “God”(YVHW) and the “Lord God”(Adonai). Chapter One is exclusively the province of “God”, the creator of the heaven and the earth, while beginning at Genesis 2:4, the Lord God is supposedly in charge. It is almost as if “God” was the universal creator, while the “Lord God” was an earth-based deity. In fact, it was when (or after) God was resting on the “seventh day” that the Lord God began the “generations” on a whole new regimen. God created man in his image, and the Lord God used a dusty clay model. It’s possible they’re the same being, but the evidence is not strong in that regard. On the contrary...

There are the paradoxes, the apparent contradictions, the strange twists and turns of first one thing, and then, curiously, the seemingly opposite. Consider one the most obvious:

"And God (Elohim - plural) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." -- Genesis 1: 26-27 [emphasis added]

Why the plural tense? Are we talking about the “royal we”? If so, then why was the proposal to make man in the plural tense, but the actual act, in the singular? Basically, we must ask, “What do you mean, “we”, white man?” All of which is also applicable to:

"And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;" -- Genesis 3: 22

Become one of us, become a God? Man? Eat of the Tree of Life and live forever? It might be justifiable as punishment to send Man packing, but why bring up the tree of life thing? Obviously the tree’s fruit was an eye opener for the naked couple, but...?

"And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, [and presumably to do long division as well] and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God (Nephilim) saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose." -- Genesis 6: 1-2

I can appreciate the daughters being fair, but “the sons of God” is not at all clear -- at least in the context of there being only one god. But if there were two or more... Then the “us” is clear, even if only one “he” was the final version of created man. And if more than two, why not have sons of God? (And presumably daughters?) A pantheon!

Biblical Scholars, including the Jesuits of the Catholic Church, have reluctantly had to admit that there must have been at least two gods in the story of Genesis. In fact, if the role model for Genesis was the Sumerian Epic of Creation, then it’s pretty much of a done deal that there was a whole flock of Gods and Goddesses in the time before man. Not necessarily before the Chapter One Creator God, but by the time of the Garden, Adam and Eve, and so forth. This group of “lesser" gods and goddesses -- as distinct from the Creator God -- may indeed have been troubled by the possibility of man inadvertently joining their ranks by eating of the Tree of Life. They might have also been concerned about man’s attempts to build new and wondrous things, such as:

"And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." -- Genesis 11: 6-7

If the local gods and goddesses are not omnipotent, but simply superior beings, then the concern for man’s getting “uppity” makes sense. Otherwise, why would a tower built to reach heaven give any concern to a true Supreme Being. Did God actually think the Tower of Babel might reach the heavens? If your kid tells you of his or her decision to build a Giza size pyramid in the backyard, is this going to cause you a great deal of worry?

Alternatively, was it simply a “tower” or something a bit more? Like a means of lifting off the planet? Ah, then, now there’s a case of concern! Because the key phrase is: “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”

This latter phrase hasn’t received a lot of press, even though it has been echoed in the words of Jesus Christ, i.e.

“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” -- Mark 11:24

But the idea is probably noteworthy. [The latter statement is the Grand Prize Winner for the Biggest Understatement within this website! Congratulations to the winner!]

Obviously, much of the early chapters in Genesis are perplexing in their interpretation. If one ignores the two creation of man stories -- Genesis 1:27 (the image thing) and Genesis 2:7 (the dust one) -- you’ve still got a lot of reversals and inconsistencies. For example:

[ God placed Man in the Garden of Eden -- then threw him out. In the process, He blessed Man (Genesis 1:28), and then cursed him (Genesis 3:17-19), as in:

"...cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Hey man, you’re dirt! On the other hand...

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

Just as God show Adam and Eve the door, He gives them a door prize!?

[ He cursed Cain...

"Now art thou cursed from the earth... When thou tillest the ground; it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and vagabond shalt thou be in the earth." -- Genesis 4:11-12

And then He protected Cain!!!

"...Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him." -- Genesis 4:15

[ Man fell out of favor...

"And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." -- Genesis 6:6

But then...

"But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." -- Genesis 6:8

We’re either talking about a very inconsistent God -- even one possibly schizophrenic. Either than or something else.

The simplest answer is often the best. Therefore, how about the idea that there was more than one local god? This does not discount the possibility of a truly Supreme, Singular Being from creating the heaven and the earth, but the down-to-earth activities are inevitably the work -- and possibly the conflict -- of two or more gods.

Over the last fifty years or so, there have been found and interpreted, libraries of clay tablets from the Sumerian Civilization, circa 4,000 to 2,000 B.C.E. The Sumerian texts, specifically the Epic of Creation is essentially the long version of Genesis (or Genesis is the edited, condensed Reader’s Digest version, or the executive summary of the Sumerian account. The Sumerian texts are on six tablets, with a 7th glorifying God -- akin to the 7 days of Genesis. The Epic details the creation of the planets (aka the firmament), and the separation of the “waters”. (Keep in mind also that the Sumerian texts described the creation and some characteristics of Uranus, Neptune and Pluto -- with modern astronomy finding these planets only in the last 150 years or so.)

The latter brings up the critical question of: “How was the Sumerian knowledge obtained (who told them!)?
 romanticoptimist
Joined: 10/1/2007
Msg: 2
Sumerians
Posted: 4/1/2008 8:25:40 AM

Biblical Scholars, including the Jesuits of the Catholic Church, have reluctantly had to admit that there must have been at least two gods in the story of Genesis.

There's no mystery - and no "reluctant" Jesuits - here. The use of "us" and "we" in reference to God are usually seen as a first clue of the Trinity. Or the use of the "royal we" such as a monarch might use. For example, Queen Victoria saying, "We are not amused" meaning that England is not amused.

As for 4000-2000 BC Sumerian tablets referring to Uranus, Neptune and Pluto, I'd have to see the whole text in context to understand whether there were actual references or it's a fanciful re-interpretation overlaying modern-day knowledge onto the words. Do you have any online references to copies (in English as I don't read Sumerian)?

Lost knowledge? It happens throughout history. Look at Roman history. Many of the buildings they built could not be built by modern man prior to the invention of computers, CAD/CAM, and modern engineering techniques, and even with them would be incredibly difficult. Concrete, which the Romans routinely used, had to be re-discovered for modern man to make use of it. If you look at the structure of the great cathedrals like Salisbury, St. Paul's, Marburg, Notre Dame in Paris, and thousands more you see how difficult, if not impossible, it would be to build them to last as long as they have lasted (and will last) using modern techniques and materials. And yet they were built before modern knowledge and science by a very uneducated people using primitive tools and techniques. Alien visitors helping out, Gods at work, or the fact that cultures routinely gain and lose knowledge? The latter simply makes more sense.

As for the reference to "the sons of God" (ben Elohim) and the Nephilim, tradition* has it that they were angels that had been cast out of heaven or the presence of God for joining Satan against God. They fell to Earth, seduced women (daughters of man), had sex with them and the resulting offspring were giants (the Nephilim). David's Goliath is supposed to a descendant of the Nephilim, as were the Anakim (so big they scared the spies who checked out the Promised Land) and the Rephaim (Og, King of Bashan is referred to as having a 13 ft long bed). There's plenty of evidence that such giants existed. Bones and skeletal remains have been found that indicate heights as great as 25', thought most seem to be in the 12-16' range.

* Midrash, early Jewish writings, Apocryphal writings such as the Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees, Judith, Sirach, Baruch, 3 Maccabees, and Wisdom of Solomon, the NT Letter of Jude, and assorted other places in the Hebrew Bible.
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
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Posted: 4/1/2008 9:56:01 AM
The Sumerians are a bit of a cipher... and there are a lot of their texts that haven't even been translated yet... But they intrigue me. Their culture seems to have been quite advanced...as well as their technology... a fair amount of their writings do have a lot of similarities to the Bible (And Abraham for all intensive purposes came out of Sumeria.. or at least his father did)

There is a lot of controversy over some of the interpretations of the texts and images from Sumeria, but for this thread I'd like to open up the possibility that they were very influencial in the mythological, technological and cultural basis of people's who came after them (ie: the Semites, Egyptians, Akkadians and Babylonians... maybe even the Indus Valley culture which disappeared)


One of the greatest enigmas in the studies of ancient history is the emergence of the Sumerians, who supposedly migrated from some unknown place and, with no apparent preliminary development, immediately began to build cities, observatories, libraries, and the civil infrastructures which accompany such undertakings.
Only a fraction of the known Sumerian writing has been translated, and the translation efforts have been hampered by the fact that no known language has been found that relates to Sumerian.

Sumerian-Akkadian documents provided some of the initial keys, but linguistic comparisons are still difficult since Akkadian and other languages borrowed the cuneiform style of writing used by the Sumerians, and a great deal of confusion still exists.
The amazing architecture of their cities and ziggurats is fairly well known, but there are many other accomplishments which are not so well known. They had a very advanced financial and economic system, complete with stock markets and commodities trading. (There were even complex accounting tables which reconciled lunar and solar calendars in the calculation of debt, annual percentages, and compound interest earnings.)
There was thriving commerce along the Euphrates River, where large, pontoon barges carried goods from city to city. Advanced medicine, law, metallurgy and chemurgy were practiced, and sophisticated

But perhaps the most amazing knowledge possessed by the Sumerians was in the field of astronomy. Their earliest writings show that they knew the three-dimensional arrangement and mechanics of the Solar System. They knew the Sun (Utu) was a sphere, and that all of the planets (Mul-Apin), including the Earth, traveled around it. They created accurate tables of lunar and solar eclipses, and knew of the phases of Venus. They claimed twelve celestial bodies inhabited the Solar System, (Sun, Moon, and ten planets) and correctly divided them into two categories: inner and outer planets.
They acknowledged that the outermost three could not be seen, but they correctly identified the colors of the first two�green and blue, respectively. The fact that we only recognize nine planets (until the recent demotion of Pluto) is potentially solved by a variety of conflicting Sumerian legends involving the destruction of one of the planets�often in conjunction with the time of the flood.
Supposedly a planet named Nibiru, traveling between the first and second outer worlds (Mars and Jupiter), once existed in the regions now occupied by the Asteroid Belt, but was either destroyed or somehow �went away�. Whatever the case, they were convinced it

However, the most remarkable item in the vast reservoir of Sumerian astronomical awareness is the accurate measurement of the Earth�s precession. This is the slight wobble in the Earth�s axis which causes a line from the North Pole to draw a slow circle in the sky as the years progress. As a result, the "North Star" can change over the course of several centuries. The Sumerians accurately knew that it takes 25,800 years for this circle to return to its original "North Star", and made reference to it (calling it the "Great Year") in some of their writings as a warning to future generations of navigators and astronomers.
Now it must be stated clearly that there is absolutely no indication that the Sumerians had any of the necessary equipment, or even the optical tools needed for making these observations or determining
Knowing that something is possible (and perhaps once existed) makes it much easier and more likely to accomplish it—or replicate it.
these measurements. They simply knew it. Many Sumerian legends claim that this knowledge came from ancient races, or gods from before the flood.
In the context of The Days of Peleg (The site this is quoted from) , it makes perfect sense that, although all monuments and manifestation of advanced science were destroyed during the flood, the knowledge of the various sciences would have survived. Knowing that something is possible (and perhaps once existed) makes it much easier and more likely to accomplish it�or replicate it.
It should also be noted that subsequent civilizations, such as Babylonia, Egypt, and Arabia also knew a great deal of astronomical knowledge, including precession and other planetary formulae, but were only able to use this information for calculation purposes such as eclipses and the development of astrological charts. There is no indication that these later civilizations understood the foundations of this knowledge. Indeed, they all freely admit their astronomical prowess was inherited from the Sumerians.
Strangely, later Sumerian (and Babylonian) writings indicate a loss of astronomical comprehension; referring to the sky as a bowl inverted upon a flat earth. By the time these regressive Sumerian astronomers were writing such things, Egyptian and Greek mathematician/astronomers were measuring the circumference of the Earth and the distance to the moon.
Rather than the steady, Darwinian progress of social and technological achievements, ancient history is, instead, a testimony to the rise and fall of numerous, co-existing civilizations and the many times that scientific knowledge has arisen, atrophied, and ultimately been buried by the passage of time.


also
The Sumerians had a very advanced financial and economic system, complete with stock markets and commodities trading.
The Sumerians accurately knew that it takes 25,800 years for this circle to return to its original "North Star".
should be there. (For the sake of The Days of Peleg, it was assumed destroyed, and the object seen by astronomers in Chapter 5 was most likely Vesta, an asteroid orbiting in the same path�and the only one regularly visible to the naked eye).
Their earliest writings show that they knew the three-dimensional arrangement and mechanics of the Solar System.
agriculture, with irrigation canals, crop rotation, and the utilization of grains for non-culinary use was abundant.
Finely crafted artwork such as pottery, sculptures, and paintings abounded, and there was even a large market for cosmetics. Special schools taught art, music, and theater, and graduates from these schools formed an important, professional class.
 Overrated Algorithm
Joined: 3/17/2008
Msg: 4
Sumerians
Posted: 4/1/2008 10:30:29 AM
Good afternoon Ravenstar66,

You state:
“There is, for example, in the King James version a distinction between “God”(YVHW) and the “Lord G[-]d”(Adonai)”

I just wanted to point out that the term “Adonai” is actually an aversion towards using the Tetragrammation in “vain” (YHWH/Yahweh). The vowel points of Adonai were inserted into the Tetragrammation by the Masoretes (circa 800 CE IIRC) as a reminder to use “Adonai” in lieu of the Tetragrammation. The term “Lord G-d” would actually be “Adonai elohim” (or “YHWH elohim” if one were reading a text that didn’t have an aversion towards usage of the Tetragrammation). Usually when the KJV text has “LORD” in small caps, it is a designation that the Tetragrammation occurred in the text at that particular point.

Humble regards,
DS
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
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Posted: 4/1/2008 10:55:12 AM
But wouldn't that actually be "Lord Gods"? as elohim is a plural? (and neither masculine nor feminine - it could be the Lords Gods and Goddesses) ( I don't buy the "royal we" thing actually...considering that monotheism was a new idea to the ancients...even in the Bible there is evidence that the early jews believed in more than one god...but theirs was the "supreme" one. Even in the ten commandments the very first one states NOT that there is only one god, but that worship was to be afforded to only one)

I wish we had an ancient hebrew scholar on board

Thanks!

It's ALL in translation, isn't it?
 Overrated Algorithm
Joined: 3/17/2008
Msg: 6
Sumerians
Posted: 4/1/2008 11:40:30 AM
Hello Ravenstar66,

I’m going to give the quote function a try here, so hopefully the quote function here operates upon the same coding as on other message boards:


But wouldn't that actually be "Lord Gods"? as elohim is a plural? (and neither masculine nor feminine - it could be the Lords Gods and Goddesses)


Short answer would be yes and no. ;-) Sometimes elohim is accompanied with verbs that are inflected as a singular masculine perfect (as with the creation account and “bara” [to form, or create]). Dr. Michael Heiser (one of the leading scholars of the divine council) states in his paper “So What Exactly is an Elohim?” that “Yahweh is an elohim (a god), but no other elohim (gods) are Yahweh.” Confusing? It most certainly can be. It all depends on the context as to whether it is meant to be singular or plural (a context that is not easily identifiable and in many instances may be impossible to ascertain). Probably one of the best examples of elohim being a singular would be 1 Samuel 28:13. In that verse it states:

“I see a god [elohim] coming up out of the earth.”

How do we know that this elohim is singular? The following verses make it clear that the woman was seeing Samuel. A singular “old man… wrapped in a robe” is the “elohim.” For the most part, elohim can be viewed as an intensive plural. Basically it has a plural ending, but often the verbs and adjectives that accompany it are singular. IIRC, the purpose of utilizing a plural in order to refer to a singular entity was a way to denote greatness.

I have heard some hypothesizing that elohim when used within the creation account is actually a father god and a mother goddess. It is an intriguing hypothesis, but I don’t think much weight can be given to it. The recent studies into the divine council seem more likely. There was most definitely a goddess in ancient Israel though (Asherah). William Dever discusses this at great length in his book (which I highly recommend) “Did God Have A Wife? Archeology And Folk Religion In Ancient Israel” -- there should be a soft back copy out by now if you don’t want to fork out the bucks for the hardcover.


( I don't buy the "royal we" thing actually...considering that monotheism was a new idea to the ancients...even in the Bible there is evidence that the early jews believed in more than one god...but theirs was the "supreme" one.


I think that the recent studies into the divine council make the “royal we” argument fall flat on its face. It is a position of yesteryears that would best be abandoned, IMO. I have never really found any compelling verses or lexiconal evidence to advocate the “royal we” position from unbiased or non-apologetic sources either.

If you’re looking to expand your library at all, you may find Margaret Barker’s book “The Great Angel, A Study of Israel’s Second God” of interest.


Even in the ten commandments the very first one states NOT that there is only one god, but that worship was to be afforded to only one)


Indeed. Furthermore, some have suggested that the first five commandments all deal with G-d (that the commandments are supposed to be divided up 5 per each tablet, one pertaining to what man is to do towards God, and what man is to do towards mankind). If this position is taken, we end up with some fascinating implications in regards to the 5th commandment that you should honor your mother and father. Of course this is a fringe theory, so take it with a large dose of salt.


I wish we had an ancient hebrew scholar on board


I think every board could use one of those. ;-)


Thanks!

It's ALL in translation, isn't it?


Not only in translation, but in interpretation as well. We have a translator (or translators) who are attempting to figure out how to best convey the written thoughts of someone who lived in an ancient culture and society into the written words of a modern culture and society. And even then, the translation can be interpreted in various ways. But dang if it ain’t fun to speculate over.

Thank you for the excellent conversation.

Regards,
DS
 Overrated Algorithm
Joined: 3/17/2008
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Posted: 4/1/2008 3:10:18 PM
One more thing regarding Genesis 6: 1-2 (I imagine I’m boring the snot out of you with this, for which I apologize). You may want to pick up a copy of the Ethiopic Book of Enoch (which was found in the Bodlian Library) as it gives important background and expounds a bit more on the Nephilim. Reproductions of Richard Lawrence’s mid 1800’s translation can be picked up for pretty cheap (try to get at least a reproduction of the 1838, or 1842 editions as they have important additional notes).

Also, here is Dr. Heiser’s website on the divine council: http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/ --- He of course things that YHWH was a separate and unique species, which individuals such as David Bokovoy have argued against. His article on Psalm 82 is probably the one you will mostly likely want to read.

And here is Margaret Barker’s website: http://www.margaretbarker.com/ --- The first couple of chapters of her book are available at Kevin Graham’s site here: http://kevingraham.org/BARKER.htm

Also some aspects of Josiah’s reform and the Documentary hypothesis are probably pertinent to the evolving monotheism of Judaism.

I’ll step away from the keyboard now…

-Stu
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
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Posted: 4/1/2008 4:54:44 PM

I wish we had an ancient hebrew scholar on board
Speaking.

It's ALL in translation, isn't it?
Yes, it is. One big problem with English translations is that in English, there isn't much difference between genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) or in size (singular and plural) in English. For instance "the fish swam". Is that one fish or lots of fish? Is that a male fish, a female fish, or a neuter fish? We cannot be sure, because the word "swam" is the same for all. But in Hebrew, there is a different prefix and suffix combination for the past and future tenses of any verb for for the following forms: I, you male singular, you female singular, he, she, we, you male plural, you female plural, and they. There are similar suffixes for pronouns. So when you are looking at the Hebrew text, the verb determines if the subject is single or plural, and if it is male, or female, or both, and the same goes for the object. Further, the order of words in English is generally "subject verb object". But in Hebrew, these can be put in any order, which gives Hebrew a much greater amount of flexibility of expression in far fewer words. Where there is confusion between the subject and the object, the word Et is added to indicate the object. So English translations lose a lot, because many grammatical structures need to be added that are there in the Hebrew, but are never used in English. In addition, such verbs as "be", "is" and "have" are implicated, and not stated, in Hebrew, but they need to be added in English, which again adds to the confusion. This all will help when understanding the verses.

There is, for example, in the King James version a distinction between “God”(YVHW) and the “Lord God”(Adonai). Chapter One is exclusively the province of “God”, the creator of the heaven and the earth, while beginning at Genesis 2:4, the Lord God is supposedly in charge.
Let's get a few things straight.
First, from verses 1:1 to 2:3, which are the Seven Days of Creation, the narration uses the term Elohim exclusively for G-d.
Then the narration uses verse 2:4 to the end of Chapter 3, which describes the Garden of Eden and the Sin in the Garden of Eden, the narration uses YHVH Elohim exclusively for G-d.
Then in the whole of Chapter 4, which describes the actions of Cain and Abel, the narration uses the term YHVH exclusively for G-d.
Then when Adam or Eve or the snake are speaking, in verses 3:1-3:6, and in verse 4:25, they use the term Elohim exclusively for G-d.
The terms Elohim, YHVH, and YHVH Elohim, all seem to change all over the place, but they seem to be generally consistent in the narration, in that one name seems to be used predominantly for each story. But the problem is that in every case, the verb is in the SINGULAR form, with the exception of verses 1:26 and 3:22, which I will cover later. Not only that, but in every case of the use of the word G-d in further chapters, we see the exact same problem, that every verb that takes G-d as the subject always takes the singular form. So the Hebrew grammar of the verbs indicates that Elohim is a singular Being, YHVH is a singular Being, and YHVH Elohim is a singular Being.
But then we've got another problem. If we assume that Elohim and YHVH are different Beings because they have different names, then how do we view YHVH Elohim?
I might claim that it's like claiming that John, Paul and John Paul are all separate people. But that is because John is a proper name, and not a noun, and is merely a descriptive label, with no value.

But this gets even more complicated in the Ten commandments. In Exodus 20:1-20:4, it says: Elohim spoke all the (following) words saying:
I (am) Your YHVH Elohim (YHVH Eloheicha) that I caused you to come out of (the) land of Egypt from (the) house of slaves. (There) will not be to you, Elohim (that are) others, upon my face. You will not make for yourself an idol, and any image that is in (the) heavens from above or that is in (the) land from below, or that is in (the) water from below to (the) land.


As you can see, it seems that Elohim (singular) is telling us to not have any "other" Elohim (plural). Very confusing. It gets worse, when you take into account that we know have an YHVH Eloheicha, that could be another G-d, but grammatically would be "Your YHVH Elohim". Then in verse 6, we have YHVH Eloheicha and YHVH, in the same verse. Then in verse 11, we have another YHVH. It goes on in this very confusing manner. If I didn't know better, I'd say that the Bible was deliberately trying to confuse me. However, if you look at if as though each name is the same Being, but a different expression of his attributes, then YHVH Eloheicha is G-d speaking to the people in the more direct "you" form, and the YHVH name is G-d referring to G-d in the more impersonal "He/She" form.

But you still have the problem of what this "other" Elohim (plural) is. If we assume Elohim to be a name, like John, or Paul, then it's like the G-d is saying don't worship the other Paul (plural). So Elohim appears to be a word like "fish", which is the same for one fish or many fish. But that doesn't make sense if you describe Elohim to be like Paul, only if Elohim is a description of a type of thing, like fish is a description of a type of living creature, and Elohim could mean "powerful superbeing". But then Elohim is a description, and therefore YHVH Elohim means "superbeing YHVH". So then YHVH Elohim and YHVH would probably be the same being. But then what is Elohim (singular), "superbeing"? Well, looking at the Ten Commandments, if Elohim (singular) is different than YHVH Elohim, then Elohim is narrating about what YHVH Elohim, which seems very odd, especially as in 19:24, YHVH tells Moses to go down, and then to go up (onto the mountain), and then in verse 19:25, the narration says that "Moses went down to the people and he said to them" (everything that came in verses 20:1-20:14). So YHVH told Moses to go something, then Moses speaks to the people that Elohim narrated what YHVH said. It makes it much easier to understand if the Elohim "superbeing" is YHVH, and they are just all the same Being. That's the way I read it when I first learned to read it in Hebrew, by myself, using a dictionary a book on grammar, and a translation to help me figure it all out.

I suggest that you look at Machon Mamre for Hebrew and English at http://www.mechon-mamre.org
See http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0101.htm for Chapter 1 of Genesis.

It might be possible to understand all this in terms of different names. But this is already giving me a massive headache. Trying to re-learn the Bible all the way through with different names is just going to give me a migraine, because I'd have a lot of contradictions that I just don't need to have otherwise. It's much easier to just take it that different aspects of G-d are showing depending on if G-d is speaking directly (You) or indirectly (He/She), and depending on G-d's place in each story.

Now, let's go back to verses 1:26 and 3:22:
"And God (Elohim) said, Let us make (a single) man in our image, after our likeness. They (plural) shall rule over the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and the animal, and the whole Earth, and every creeping them that creeps on the Earth." "So God created man in His (singular) own image, in the image of God (G-d) created him (the singular man); male and female (G-d) created them (plural)." -- Genesis 1: 26-27
I just thought I'd quote it more exactly. First, we see that man (singular) becomes they (plural), becomes he (singular), becomes (they - male and female).
But more, we see that here too, the words "said", "created", and "created", are all in the singular, so Elohim is also in the singular. So what does it mean "we"? It cannot mean "Elohim". Further, although Elohim says to make man in our image, that's not what happens. The narration says that G-d created man in HIS image, not THEIR image. Singular. So this "we" is not literal at all.

Why the plural tense? Are we talking about the “royal we”? If so, then why was the proposal to make man in the plural tense, but the actual act, in the singular? Basically, we must ask, “What do you mean, “we”, white man?”
There is another question: in what way is man created like G-d? How can a finite man be like Elohim "superbeing"?

There is one way to look at it. If the royal "we" is not just a concept, then it might mean other beings who G-d talks to. Who might that be? It could be the angels. That might explain in what way man has G-d's image. G-d has no particular image. He's a lot more than a man with a white beard. But he has power to transform, to change the natural order of things, and that is his image, because we only see G-d by what G-d does. So do the angels, but they only act according to G-d's directions, and that is their "image" too, because we really have no idea what an angel appears like, except for some dream-state prophecies, which we cannot take to be definite descriptions, so we only really can imagine what an angel looks like by what the angel does as well. So G-d's "image" is an anthropomorphism and is our "image" of the angels. So when man is created "in G-d's image", it would make a lot more sense if it means that man was created with attributes that are applicable to G-d and to angels, and are not applicable to other living beings, such as animals and plants. What attributes would that be? The power to transform, to invent, to make things, like nuclear fission, for good or bad, to change the natural order of things. Does that mean that animals cannot do this? No. It just means that man has the mess with nature, for good or bad, and other species on Earth just don't make these kind of large changes in a short space of a few years.

"And the Lord God said, Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;" -- Genesis 3: 22

Become one of us, become a God? Man? Eat of the Tree of Life and live forever? It might be justifiable as punishment to send Man packing, but why bring up the tree of life thing? Obviously the tree’s fruit was an eye opener for the naked couple, but...?
This is another difficult verse. Mainly because even if man could live forever, creating and terraforming a whole planet, like G-d did, would not be within man's capability for thousands of years, and even so, G-d also does stuff like in the story of the Tower of Babel, making people who all speak the same language, speak a different language. So according to the narrative of the Bible, G-d has the capacity to create planets, to terraform planets, to make lifeforms, and to alter one's memories of language. Anyone who can play with many peoples' heads like that, has nothing to fear from even a thousand immortal men and women. That leaves us with 2 alternatives, that Adam would have gained supernatural powers that would make him uncontrollable, or that the passage doesn't mean that Adam would haev been a threat to G-d at all. But if Adam would have gained supernatural powers, then that is something different to "and live forever". Either way, we aren't seeing an accurate picture.

So, let's examine the verse in Hebrew. The Hebrew word "pen", meaning "lest", meaning "in case", is used by Moses in Deuteronomy 4:9:
"Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life."
Now, there is nothing threatening Moses. The only "threat" is that the people will forget the things that they have seen, and they come to depart from G-d, and that will cause them harm. But no harm would come to Moses, only the people who forget.

So it seems that the word "pen", seems to refer to something that you might cause to yourself, or to others in some form of indirect incidence.

If this is so, and given that there is little or no harm that Adam can bring to G-d, because even if Adam was capable of eventually hurting G-d, G-d could just do what the Buddha did to Monkey in the series "Monkey", which is just to encase Adam in rock, trapping him forever, then we have to see that it is Adam who will be hurt, and that G-d would then be hurt because he cares about what happens to Adam. So it seems that there is an inherent danger to Adam in some way, that by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that by becoming immortal after that, that he will suffer.

I've given an explanation about this before, that before the sin, Adam was ruled by his intellect, but that after the sin, Adam was capable of being swayed by his emotions, to make him do things that would end up causing himself problems, just like we can screw ourselves up. If you really mess up your life, but it's going to end at some point, then you can live with it. But if you were immortal, and you could not die, but that you could still mess up really badly, imagine living with that guilt forever. Imagine if you invented a vaccine against cancer, only that the side effects were that everyone would become sterile in 5 years, would die in their years, and that all the children born in the intervening years would all be sterile and die before they reached 30. But you don't know this. Your miracle is heralded as a breakthrough, so millions would take it. Then in 30 years, you would know that millions would be extinguished, and slowly but surely, every death would be a stab through the heart. Every day someone would die, and it would be your fault. Or you might develop a T-virus, that brings the dead back to life as flesh-eating zombies, like in Resident Evil. If you are ruled completely by your intellect, you wouldn't take the chance to release such an abominable thing, until you are sure of the consequences. But if you affected by your emotions, then they could sway you to get the fame for having saved millions. You would probably keep making such advancements, again and again and again, until one time, your emotions sway you to be over-confident, or to not check everything through, and you would kill millions. You would wish for death. Even if you were willing to live with it, you would still hurt until you die. It's one thing to live with this until the end of your life. It's quite another to live with this forever.

You could justify such things as "the end justifies the means", but then who knows how far you might push that.
You must justify such things as that finite humans are a lesser species, like animals to you, and are justifiable for experiments, but then you might think of humans like animals, and come to think of them as "just another piece of meat". You might regard human flesh as a delicacy.
You could become a monster.

Either way, the alternatives sound horrific. Immortality is a very heavy price to bear, if you can make stupid mistakes, because you get swayed by your emotions.

That's it for the verses for today. I'll get to the rest another day.

However, I'll just point out that it's easier to suggest to us that the Old Testament is based on polytheism. In our melting-pot society, everyone is the same. They are all "just like us". If people aren't like us, they are "delusional". I'll give you a couple of examples.

When I was in Israel, a friend of mine told me that his brother had become a Rabbi of a community in Florida. Well, he didn't want a TV. So he didn't buy one. But the people in his community thought it so incredulous that he didn't have a TV, that they all assumed that he couldn't afford one, which wasn't true at all on his salary. So they all clubbed together and bought him one, even though he clearly had the money to buy one. A nice gesture, but completely misguided, based on the assumption that "we all want to have TVs, so everyone else must want one too".

When I was a kid, I didn't like meat that much. I hardly ever ate meat. My family thought I was crazy. So every time we had meat, I would get served with meat, and I wouldn't eat it. My older brother would look at my plate, and ask me if I was going to eat that, and I said no. So he's take it off my plate, and eat it. Despite this happening every time, I still got meat on my plate, every time we got meat. I haven't changed that way. I have 2 friends who love meat, and every time the subject comes up, they look at me like I'm "delusional". They seem to think that because they cannot imagine going without meat, that I must feel the same way too.

We know that Europe, North America, and most cultures used to be pantheistic. So to us, we think that everyone must have been pantheistic, including the religion of the Bible. We cannot imagine that anyone could be different.

Also, I just wanted to comment on the culture and knowledge of the ancient Sumerians.

It makes total sense to me that there was an advanced culture in Babylon (Babel), ancient Iraq, because the Garden of Eden was around that area, and so were the people of the Tower of Babel, and Abraham came from Ur, which also appears to be around the area of Sumer, which would have been around the same area. So it makes total sense that if the Bible was in any way accurate, that there was already a civilisation there in the time of Abraham, and before. In fact, I always had more of a problem resolving the Bible with the idea that I used to hear that the ancient Sumerian culture came from the Egyptian culture, because that would have implied that the Egyptian culture preceded the culture of people in the Middle East and in Babel, which seemed to go counter to the descriptions in the Bible. Funny that it's switched to what I understood from the Bible.

Also, it only makes sense to me that the ancient Sumerians had an advanced culture, because Rashi comments that in the time before Noah, the people could tell what plants would grow on a piece of land simply by sniffing or tasting the soil, so it would make a lot of sense to me that an ancient civilisation in that area would be very advanced in agriculture.

Further, it is no surprise to me that there were banking and financial systems there, because the Talmud goes into great length at discussing laws of interest and all sorts of laws of business, but in all my reading, gives no claim or implication that such systems were invented by the Jews, but that they were there all along.

It also makes complete sense to me that the ancient Sumerians were skilled in astronomy, because the Talmud states that each month starts at the New Moon, and must be declared by a court of Jewish Rabbis who were all made Rabbis in the land of Israel. However, towards the time when the Jews ended up leaving Israel during the Roman occupation, it became clear that the Jews would not be living there any more, and therefore there would be no more Jewish Rabbis who would be made Rabbis in the land of Israel, and so no more months would be declared, and that would make all the festivals null and void. So the head Rabbi of his time, declared all future months, in advance. However, the Jewish festivals always fall in certain months, and the Jewish festivals must always fall close to the equinoxes, and each month must start very close to the New Moon, and each month can have only 29 or 30 days, so that Rabbi and his fellow Rabbis all had to give a calculation that would ensure that all these months would fit into 29 or 30 days, fall in a few days of the astronomical New Moon (the Molad), and yet still keep in the same proximity to the equinoxes, and be put in a system that all future Rabbis could follow. That's quite a feat. But even more so, you cannot make corrections, because it all has to based on the days that that Rabbi declared, and your fixes would do no good whatsoever. To make a calculation that has held true for 2000 years, and stil does, with no changes, is mind-bogglingly accurate.

Remember, that these Rabbis even knew of Halley's comet:
Rabbi Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua went together on a voyage at sea. Rabbi Gamliel carried a supply of bread, Rabbi Yehoshua carried a similar amount of bread and in addition a reserve of flour. At sea, they used up the entire supply of bread and had to utilize Rabbi Yehoshua's flour reserve. Rabbi Gamliel then asked Rabbi Yehoshua - "Did you know that this trip would last longer than usual, when you decided to carry this flour reserve?" Rabbi Yehoshua answered - "There is a star that appears every 70 years and induces navigational errors. I thought it might appear and cause us to go astray.
Babylonian Talmud, Horayoth, 10a.

Yet I've never seen any implication that this feat was capable only of the Jews, and Maimonides quotes some astronomical calculations from Greek sources as being impeccable. So it seems that to the Jews of the Talmud, that such detailed knowledge of astronomy was quite common.

Anyway, maybe I'll get back to the rest another day.

It's a good subject, Ravenstar66. Glad you made the thread.
 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 9
Sumerians
Posted: 4/1/2008 7:22:22 PM
But then we've got another problem. If we assume that Elohim and YHVH are different Beings because they have different names, then how do we view YHVH Elohim?

As I'm sure you're aware, in ancient times the same god could have multiple names. IMO, El and YHWH were originally two separate gods but were later merged together when Israel became monotheistic (or maybe henotheistic). The word El apparently isn't even a name. It simply means god. And yet El was the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon, which was collectively known as Elohim. It's probably similar to the situation today when people say God to mean the god of Abraham, even though God isn't his name.

But more, we see that here too, the words "said", "created", and "created", are all in the singular, so Elohim is also in the singular. So what does it mean "we"? It cannot mean "Elohim". Further, although Elohim says to make man in our image, that's not what happens. The narration says that G-d created man in HIS image, not THEIR image. Singular. So this "we" is not literal at all.


My suggestion is thus that Elohim is a collective noun, basically meaning the gods as a whole. So while the noun itself is a plural because it refers to the whole pantheon of gods, the verbs are conjugated in the singular because a pantheon is singular.

Incidentally, the word Eden is probably of Sumerian origin meaning the steppe land between two rivers.
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
Msg: 10
view profile
History
Sumerians
Posted: 4/2/2008 8:06:19 AM
ED.IN is Sumerian but I would have to look up what those two words translate to.

Scorpio...thanks so much..great stuff. I still think the Genesis verses are speaking about two or more "gods"..especially when you take the differences in the attitudes and behavior of the "God"... there seems to be at least two different "personalities" acting out. But I can see where it can get confusing with the translations...I'm sure the people of the time were quite clear on what (or who) YHVH they meant, or what they were referring to when they used the different combinations of the "elohim".. unfortunately we don't, because our references, language and culture are so different. Still the possibility that they were speaking about different gods, or aspects of god or pantheons or whatever is still there. Then there is the reference to the "Sons of God"(Nephilim) who seem quite distinct from the humans... they COULD be Angels..or maybe lesser members of a pantheon. It isn't completely clear.

It brings to mind that the "creator god" seems to be one thing...but the god of eden seems to be different...as well as one one hand Adam is cursed and then he is clothed... Cain is evicted..then protected.. there seems to be two separate attitudes towards humans. There are a few other instances of diametrically opposed behavior from "God".... Just an observation.

In the Ancient world many Gods had many names...some because of regional differences, and some because the "gods" played different roles... example, Inanna was the Goddess of love and fertility, but she was also a Goddess of war...AND she was also known as the Queen of Heaven...she was also the Egyptian Isis (which also later took on aspects of Hathor).. and the Syrian Astarte...all the same Goddess, but known by different names throughout the middle east. Other Gods were merged with others...in the Egyptian Book of the Dead sometimes Osiris and Horus are used interchangeably. Another consideration is that we are looking at THOUSANDS of years of religious evolution.. and the Gods did change form and symbolism over time. Genesis covers a fairly huge chunk of time... and that could explain why the discrepancy in the "personality" of YHVH... it had evolved along with the people's understanding of th oral traditions.

In the creation pat..it almost reads as two separate creation... one is "made in his image" (humanity as a whole)and the other is "formed from clay"(Adapa, or Adama - "red earth") Two distinct stories...which are taken as the same account, but MAYBE they ARE different accounts? It's possible.

The Sumerian account has the "clay" version... much later after the creation of the world account...and the creatrix (the goddess given credit for forming humans) name is NIN.KI, which can be translated as "rib" of "earth" (KI being the term for the earth..as the "god" of wisdom was named EN.KI.."EN" meaning "lord"...so "Lord of Earth".. however the main God of the Sumerians was above EN.KI, and his title(name) was EN.LIL, or "Lord of the Command" or the one who brings commandments (rules?)... and these gods belonged to a pantheon called, the AN.NU.NA.KI, which translates as "Those who from Heaven to Earth came". Poetic... the languages of old.

I think there is a lot in names, but it is for us to try to figure out what kind of meaning they had for those who had these stories and accounts.. and THAT is the hard part. It is easy to go from EN as a title or name to EL as the same thing a bit later in Canaan.

Oh...UR was one of the main cities of the Sumerians, so yes, Abraham was a Sumerian. But the funny thing is that the language of the Sumerians has no equal anywhere.. it isn't related to semitic or arabic or sanskrit or egyptian... or chaldean.. it seems to stand on it's own (?). It's a etymological anomaly.
 Overrated Algorithm
Joined: 3/17/2008
Msg: 11
Sumerians
Posted: 4/2/2008 8:39:16 AM

I have heard that the genesis story may be an amalgamation of two seperate accounts of the same god, hence the differences in the one god, but basically similar story. The same god but a reflection of what each author's perception of that same god was. Any truth to this?

I believe you are referring to the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). Essentially, according to this hypothesis (which still has its critics) the first five books of the Pentateuch are actually a combination (or perhaps redaction might be a better term) of four separate sources.

There is the J source (or Jahwish/Yahwist) that was purported written mid 900 BCE.

There is the E source (or Elohist) that was purported written mid 800 BCE.

Then there is the D source (or Deuteronomist) which is dates to about 620 BCE (or around the reformation period).

And finally there is the P source (or Priestly) that was written mid 400 BCE.

Richard Friedman's book "Who Wrote the Bible" is probably the best resource regarding the DH; or at the very least a good jumping off point. Or if you have an Anchor Bible Dictionary, the overview there gives a fairly good synopsis.

The University of Maryland provides a brief overview here: http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mvz/bible/doc-hyp.pdf

Regards,
DS
 Overrated Algorithm
Joined: 3/17/2008
Msg: 12
Sumerians
Posted: 4/2/2008 10:08:50 AM

^^^^ Thanks for the reminder, I forgot about the bible redaction theory. I'm going to brush up and see how this might have bearing on sumerian influence on biblical writings.

Regards,

AF

Groovy. Let us (or at least me) know if you happen upon anything, as I’ve kind of moved away from this stuff and am currently knee-deep in the early backgrounds of Christianity. I recall (but my memory is rarely to be trusted) that the early years of the DH seemed to focus quite a bit on Babylonian literature. As the creation/garden accounts seemingly borrow from Sumerian mythology, perhaps the E source drew from this culture/mythoi (?)

Thanks,
DS
 scorpiomover
Joined: 4/19/2007
Msg: 13
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History
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Posted: 4/3/2008 11:00:46 PM
RE msg 10 by CountIbli:

And yet El was the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon, which was collectively known as Elohim.
The plural Hebrew form is attained by adding an -im on the end of a word. Par (bull) becomes parim. Eiz (goat) becomes eizim. El becomes elim.

The word El apparently isn't even a name. It simply means god.

It's probably similar to the situation today when people say God to mean the god of Abraham, even though God isn't his name.
That is true in Hebrew as well. But in Hebrew, you don't use a noun as a name of a definite thing, unless you either add the definite article "Ha" to indicate that you are talking about a specific object, or there is a unique object that everyone thinks of when you use that noun, so it doesn't need to be said. Kind of like saying "I went to see reds". It makes perfect sense, if there is only one team in the whole world who wear red. But if there is more than one team that wears red, you need to say "the Reds". In the same way, it only makes sense to talk about the Canaanite god El in Hebrew, if you say "El HaCanaanim", the god of the Canaanites, or there is one god that stands out so much, that if you didn't specify anything else, you would never think of any other god. That makes sense if you are talking about a single monotheistic G-d, because there is only ONE G-d in monotheism. But if you are talking about multiple god, even if one is the head of the other gods, you have to be far more specific in Hebrew.

Classic examples are:
1) Hillel. It's a common name for very religious Jews, but if you don't say anything but Hillel, it means the unique Hillel that headed the Sanhedrin about 40 B.C.E.
3) Rebbi. It's Hebrew for a rabbi, any rabbi. If you don't say anything but Rebbi, it means the unique Rebbi that codified the Mishnah.
2) Rav. It's Aramaic for a rabbi, any rabbi. If you don't say anything but Rav, it means the unique Rav that was the pupil of Rebbi, that was the head of the Jews in Babylon after the destruction of the Temple, in about 230 C.E.

"El", meaning "G-d", has the same issue. If you don't say anything but "El", you mean the unique G-d, the monotheistic G-d.

My suggestion is thus that Elohim is a collective noun, basically meaning the gods as a whole. So while the noun itself is a plural because it refers to the whole pantheon of gods, the verbs are conjugated in the singular because a pantheon is singular.
Didn't know what you meant by "collective noun". So I googled it:
Definitions of collective noun on the Web:

* a noun that is singular in form but refers to a group of people or things
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn
I looked up examples. They are ALL singular words, that imply a plural and take a plural form of the verb. If the OT used "El" with the plural of the verb, then I would see the argument. But what we see is a plural noun, with a singular form of the verb, the very opposite of the behaviour of a collective noun.

RE msg 11 by Ravenstar66:
there seems to be at least two different "personalities" acting out.
I really wondered about this, because when I read it, I see no a complete consistency in behaviour. But then today, it struck me that I also thought the same when I read the English. I wondered about this, until something else struck me: that English has value judgements in its language. A G-d that creates is a "good" G-d. A G-d that destroys or causes death, is a "bad" G-d. But then I realised that in Hebrew, the word "barah", "create", has no value judgement in it at all. A creation can be good or bad, and so can the act of creation. I had another thought about it, and then I realised that Hebrew has value judgements as well, but completely different ones. To "go up", or to "go down", just means you changed your altitude, but apart from, it has no intrinsic meaning in English. But in Hebrew, to "go up" means that you've gained in some way, that you've elevated yourself to a higher and better plane of existence, and to "go down", means that you've been demoted or self-destructed in some way. The word "fell" in English has no special connotation, and can just be used to say "I fell over". But in Hebrew, the word "fell" means a radical fall that is self-destructive, such as "I fell into drugs". When I realised this, I realised that most of the words that we give a positive or negative connotation in the English text have no such connotation in the Hebrew text, and that most of the words that have no positive or negative connotation in the English text have very strong connotations in the Hebrew text.

There are plenty of other differences. In the Ten Commandments, it doesn't say "Don't steal". It says "Lo Tignov", which means "Don't burgle or pickpocket", because Geneivah is to take someone's property without their knowledge", which includes burglary and pickpockets, and borrowing something from a friend who never said it was OK, even though he would consent to it if you asked. Gezeilah is to rob at gunpoint, or to mug someone, which is covered elsewhere. But in English, "stealing" means taking someone's property without their consent, but so it includes pickpocketing, and robbery at gunpoint and mugging, but doesn't include borrowing something from a friend who never said it was OK, even though he would consent to it if you asked.

So I can understand it seeming this way. But ever since I learned to read the OT in Hebrew, I stopped comparing Hebrew and English. They're too different. If I go to my relatives, I don't translate English into Hebrew. I think of what I mean, and then I think how I would say that in Hebrew. I cannot translate it, because it would mean something completely different in Hebrew.

...I'm sure the people of the time were quite clear on what (or who) YHVH they meant, or what they were referring to when they used the different combinations of the "elohim".. unfortunately we don't, because our references, language and culture are so different.
My language, my culture, my references. It's my history.

Still the possibility that they were speaking about different gods, or aspects of god or pantheons or whatever is still there. Then there is the reference to the "Sons of God"(Nephilim) who seem quite distinct from the humans... they COULD be Angels..or maybe lesser members of a pantheon. It isn't completely clear.
I checked the text. If says "Ha-Elohim". "The" Elohim. When the OT mentions "other gods", it never says "Ha". It's clearly an Elohim that is known in the context. But it never says WHICH Elohim it's referring to, and when you use the definite article in Hebrew, you always have to indicate WHICH article or articles you are talking about.

It brings to mind that the "creator god" seems to be one thing...but the god of eden seems to be different...as well as one one hand Adam is cursed and then he is clothed... Cain is evicted..then protected.. there seems to be two separate attitudes towards humans. There are a few other instances of diametrically opposed behavior from "God".... Just an observation.
A good observation. But it makes perfect sense in Hebrew, because in Hebrew, just because you do something hurtful to someone, doesn't mean that you are abusing the person, and you may do something hurtful, but then do something else to mitigate it, because you don't want to cause a more extreme hurt than you intended.

In the Ancient world many Gods had many names...some because of regional differences, and some because the "gods" played different roles... example, Inanna was the Goddess of love and fertility, but she was also a Goddess of war...AND she was also known as the Queen of Heaven...she was also the Egyptian Isis (which also later took on aspects of Hathor).. and the Syrian Astarte...all the same Goddess, but known by different names throughout the middle east. Other Gods were merged with others...in the Egyptian Book of the Dead sometimes Osiris and Horus are used interchangeably.
Quite true that names changed with different cultures. But it's usually the same name with the same culture.

Another consideration is that we are looking at THOUSANDS of years of religious evolution.. and the Gods did change form and symbolism over time. Genesis covers a fairly huge chunk of time... and that could explain why the discrepancy in the "personality" of YHVH... it had evolved along with the people's understanding of th oral traditions.
Again true if we talk about the same story, written in 2 different accounts, that were written in 2 different centuries. Not usually when it's the same account.

In the creation pat..it almost reads as two separate creation... one is "made in his image" (humanity as a whole)and the other is "formed from clay"(Adapa, or Adama - "red earth") Two distinct stories...which are taken as the same account, but MAYBE they ARE different accounts? It's possible.
BOTH are used in the SAME VERSE. And G-d created Adam (man, " of red", "of earth") in his image". I could see this in different books, but in the same verse, even in the same phrase? It has to be the same story, using both concepts.

The Sumerian account has the "clay" version... much later after the creation of the world account...and the creatrix (the goddess given credit for forming humans) name is NIN.KI, which can be translated as "rib" of "earth" (KI being the term for the earth..as the "god" of wisdom was named EN.KI.."EN" meaning "lord"...so "Lord of Earth".. however the main God of the Sumerians was above EN.KI, and his title(name) was EN.LIL, or "Lord of the Command" or the one who brings commandments (rules?)... and these gods belonged to a pantheon called, the AN.NU.NA.KI, which translates as "Those who from Heaven to Earth came". Poetic... the languages of old.
You could see this happening in English, because you can change a lot of letters in English, and the meaning is still the same. I cannot see this happening in Hebrew, because if you certain letters in Hebrew, the meaning is so different, that it wouldn't get past the first time it was said. It's like switching D for R in English, and saying "My partner is well-dead", instead of "My partner is well-read". People are going to pick on "little" things like that, immediately. If they don't, you find people telling you how sorry they are, and how if you want, they know a very nice single man your age, and your partner keeps meeting people who shout "Zombie", and run off screaming the minute they see him, and your partner keeps finding all his credit cards no longer work, because the bank thinks he's dead. Rumours like that don't last very long, because of the situations they create.

I think there is a lot in names, but it is for us to try to figure out what kind of meaning they had for those who had these stories and accounts.. and THAT is the hard part. It is easy to go from EN as a title or name to EL as the same thing a bit later in Canaan.
In English, definitely, because L, M & N occupy similar places in the English language. But in Hebrew, N and L occupy very different places in verbs, because Hebrew letters are connected to where they are pronounced in the mouth, and these letters are in different places of the mouth. But a B is switchable with a P, because they both come off the lips. If you get hold of a good book on Classical Hebrew, such as that by Weinstein, it lists all the letters and where they are in the mouth, and how that affects grammar, because when a particular sequence of letters is difficult to pronounce, another letter that is easier to pronounce but in the same area of the mouth is often switched.

Oh...UR was one of the main cities of the Sumerians, so yes, Abraham was a Sumerian.
Well, technically, Abraham came from Ur Casdim, Ur of the Chaldeans. That's where his father Terach grew up, and where he and his brothers grew up. It also appears that Abraham was born somewhere around 1812 BCE, which puts his birth AFTER the Sumerian Ur fell to the Elamites. Since it was Chaldean at the time, some people reckon that Ur Casdim was a different city. However, I suppose it's possible that it was the same Ur, because the Sumerian Ur fell to the Elamites around 1950 BCE, and the Elamites were close allies of the Chaldeans, and the term Chaldean appears to quite a loose term, that applies more to the ruling class of the Babylonian Empire, rather than a people in their own right. So it could easily be that because the Elamites were so close with the Chaldeans, that the city was considered under the protection of the Chaldeans, and a "Chaldean" city.

But the funny thing is that the language of the Sumerians has no equal anywhere.. it isn't related to semitic or arabic or sanskrit or egyptian... or chaldean.. it seems to stand on it's own (?). It's a etymological anomaly.
I had a look at Sumerian grammar. It seemed quite easy to follow, because it uses suffixes and prefixes in a similar way to Hebrew. But it is considered a language-isolate, so obviously other languages did not come from Sumerian. I did a bit of looking this stuff up. It seems that first there was Sumer. Then Akkad sprang up beside it. Then Akkad developed an empire with a common language, that everybody in the Akkadian Empire spoke. Then eventually the Akkadian Empire took over Sumer, and so Akkadian became the primary spoken language, although it was kept as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in by the Akkadians and the Babylonians until the first century AD. I would imagine that Sumerian was to the the Akkadians and the Babylonians what Latin has meant to Europe for the past thousand years, and is probably connected to Akkadian in a similar way as Latin is related to English. In another 2,000 years, it might be that everyone speaks English, and that our descendants might say that Latin is an isolate, unlike English, or other languages. I suspect that there were other races at the time of the Sumerians, who spoke a similar language, but because we have so little knowledge of that time, it seems that our knowledge is mostly restricted to evidence of the larger empires of those times, and therefore, there could have been many smaller peoples who we just don't know even existed, that spoke languages very similar to Sumerian, but that all of those peoples got absorbed into the various empires of the time, and their languages were slowly replaced by Akkadian, or Babylonian, or Persian, until they became forgotten in the annals of history. But I'm just speculating here. I'd love to know where Sumerian really came from.

RE msg 12 by A Fortiori:
I have heard that the genesis story may be an amalgamation of two seperate accounts of the same god, hence the differences in the one god, but basically similar story. The same god but a reflection of what each author's perception of that same god was. Any truth to this?
Well, I re-read the Chapters when someone or other started discussing it. The first thing that stuck out at me is that:
Chapter 1 and the first 3 verses of Chapter 2 is an account of Creation, of the six days of Creation, and of the seventh day that G-d "rested".
Chapter 2 from verse 4 onwards, till the end of Chapter 3, is an account of the Garden of Eden. It describes the making of the Garden of Eden, of Adam's placement in the Garden of Eden, of the making of Eve, of Adam and Eve sinning, and being thrown out of the Garden.
Chapter 4 is an account of the lives of Cain and Abel, of their birth, of Cain's killing of Abel, and of Cain's death.
It really seems to me as though they are 3 separate accounts, and probably happened one after the other. Creation, Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel. It's true that there is a bit of repetition in the beginning of each story, a bit like when you watch a TV series, and the first 2 minutes of the episode does a quick flashback that catches you up on what was has been going on so far.

I was thinking about this, and it may be that a lot of our understanding of the accounts is down to divisions of punctuation. In English, we divide documents into books, chapters, paragraphs and sentences. Sentences are further divided into clauses, which are then divided into words. In the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, we find similar divisions.

English documents are put on pieces of paper, called pages, which are then collected into separate volumes, called books, such as the 3 books of the Lord of The Rings. Each page has the same number of lines.
Each book is divided into chapters, which always begin on a new page, even if the last chapter ends in the middle of the page.
Each chapter is divided into paragraphs, which always begins on a new line.
Each sentence is separated from another sentence by a dot, and a space that is larger than the space used to separate words, usually 2 spaces.
Each sentence consists of words which are grouped into clauses, and each clause or section of a sentence is separated by punctuation marks, although sometimes extra punctuation marks are used to indicate a continuance, such as the commas in a list of items.
If a sentence or a paragraph runs over a page, it just continues on the next page.

The Hebrew text of the Old Testament was originally written on scrolls of parchment. It is broken into separate scrolls.
Each scroll is separated into columns, which have the same number of lines.
So each column appears to be the equivalent of a page, and each scroll the equivalent of a volume, or a "book".
The Pentateuch is written on ONE scroll, as if it was ONE book.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy all begin on a new column, a new "page", as if they were separate chapters.
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are further divided, in that in many places, the next word begins on a new line, as if it was a new paragraph, and this usually happens in a place where it makes a lot of sense to do so, as if it really was a new paragraph.
Each "paragraph" is further divided, in that in several places, the next word is separated from the previous word by a large space but still on the same line, as if it was a new sentence division or semi-paragraph, and this usually happens in a place where it makes a lot of sense to do so, as if it really was a new sentence.
Each semi-paragraph is comprised of words that have punctuation marks, that are not written, but are sung as cantillations, musical notes. I believe that this idea of punctuation as cantillations is not uncommon in ancient languages, because quite a few years ago, a Greek scholar told me that ancient Greek was not spoken but sung in the same way, with the notes representing punctuation, which group them into similar clauses.

It is quite amazing how our systems of division by appropriate spacing exactly match the layout of the Old Testament. However, when we examine the divisions in the English version of the Old Testament to the Hebrew divisions, we find they don't match at all. But if we approach it in the same way as we divide English books, we find that books are often much larger, but sometimes are much smaller, that chapters are usually much larger, that paragraphs are sometimes much larger and sometimes much smaller, and that semi-paragraphs are usually much larger than our sentences, but sometimes much smaller. Verses in the English version generally end at the same place as the Etnachta cantillation, which are called Pesukim in Hebrew, meaning "breaks", where the religious reading of the Old Testament may be paused, even for a week or longer.

When you take this into account, and re-read the first 4 Chapters of Genesis, each day of Creation is a separate paragraph. Everything from Genesis 3:4 to Genesis 6:4, including the Garden of Eden, the making of Eve, the sin of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the listing of the generations from Adam to Noah, and the Nephilim is a single paragraph, with semi-paragraph breaks between the curse of the snake and the curse of Eve, between the curse of Eve and the curse of Adam, at the Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, at the beginning of the story of Cain and Abel, at the beginning of the listing of the generations from Adam to Noah, and a semi-paragraph between each generation. The generation of Noah begins with Noah, and continues onto the Nephilim as one semi-paragraph.

When I used to read it in English, I used to break it up into the chapters listed in English. But they are divisions that were made solely for reference purposes, either by Cardinal Hugo of St Cher between 1244 and 1248, or by Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, between 1207 and 1228. Wikipedia says that the divisions that we use today are from Archbishop Langton.
http://www.bible-researcher.com/chapter-verse.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_of_St_Cher
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Langton

These aren't meant to help us understand the verses better. But that is how I and everyone else I know, used them. Since there are already such divisions, and they are ignored in the English versions, it might again account for us believing that 2 Chapters were 2 different accounts, when they are not outlined in that way at all.

RE msg 13 by Overrated Algorithm:
I believe you are referring to the Documentary Hypothesis (DH). Essentially, according to this hypothesis (which still has its critics) the first five books of the Pentateuch are actually a combination (or perhaps redaction might be a better term) of four separate sources.

There is the J source (or Jahwish/Yahwist) that was purported written mid 900 BCE.

There is the E source (or Elohist) that was purported written mid 800 BCE.

Then there is the D source (or Deuteronomist) which is dates to about 620 BCE (or around the reformation period).

And finally there is the P source (or Priestly) that was written mid 400 BCE.

Richard Friedman's book "Who Wrote the Bible" is probably the best resource regarding the DH; or at the very least a good jumping off point. Or if you have an Anchor Bible Dictionary, the overview there gives a fairly good synopsis.

The University of Maryland provides a brief overview here: http://www.cs.umd.edu/~mvz/bible/doc-hyp.pdf
I looked this up, and found several problems with it. I followed the PDF to its sources, and I will quote from each.


A. Definitions

Modern literary conventions forbid plagiarism, and require authors to identify and acknowledge any material they have borrowed from another writer. But in ancient times it was common to “write” a book by transcribing existing material, adapting and adding to it from other documents as required, and not indicating which parts were original and which borrowed.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~eslinger/genrels/DocHypothesis.html

My first observation is that according to this, all books that are not plagiarised list all sources, in a bibliography. But to do this, one must list the correct book, author, publication, volume, and page, in the appropriate footnote, using the appropriate punctuation mark. As I pointed out, English has punctuation marks, but Hebrew punctuation marks are vocalised, not written. Further, it cannot be true to say that all books list all sources, for if you read any book on Mathematics, it doesn't state the sources for the author's knowledge on arithmetic, or on algebra, or even which teachers taught him those subjects. The only sources that are listed, are the sources that the author quotes exactly, and in the same words, or when the author wishes to give an argument of authority to his words, or when the author has summarised what he has read in another book in the process of researching his material. But if an author were to quote everything that was not of his own mind, then any bibliography would be much larger than the book itself, in the exception of books were 90% of the book was developed without any reading of any text, or any inspiration from discussions with someone else. Since many authors have discussed ideas with their colleagues and wives, and only given a formal note of thanks in the introduction, but not referenced the sources of inspiration or the ideas themselves within the book, those books cannot conform to this convention, in a truly rigorous way, but rather in a more general way, like the way POF posts are littered with quotes, but are built upon bigger ideas.

However, when we read such books such as the OT, and others of this nature, we find that the whole language and structure of these books is completely different than modern academic publications. Examples are Rashi's commentary on the Talmud, which only quotes the name of the chapter he quotes from, often without saying the word "Chapter" or its equivalent Perek, never saying the page, and often quotes from the Old Testament merely by quoting the verse itself, or even only a few words, sometimes even only a single word, but never the full verse. Later publishers added in the references for ease of use. But it is quite clear that Rashi assumed that you were already familiar enough with the Old Testament enough that you could identify the source of any word from the OT at will. This was true for the Rabbis of Rashi's period, who quote so much all over the OT and the Talmud, quoting 7-10 references in a single breath, to prove that a phrase has a certain meaning, that it is very clear that they had this kind of in-depth vast knowledge of their subject. It's well-known that the Rabbis of this era had complete memory of the Old Testament and the Talmud.

Further, the style of writing does not match in any way the style of academic books of today, because instruction of law is interspersed with stories, with almost no division between the 2, and little in the way of clarification. It is clear to me that there is an expectation of a large and detailed breadth of knowledge, that most modern academics would find impossible to believe that anyone had such mastery. I personally knew people who had such mastery at will. One such example is of the old Rabbi of Binyamina, who a friend of mine used to look after in his old age. After a heart attack following the death of his wife, he was forbidden by his doctor to look at any book of the Talmud, because he would get very into it, and really put a strain on his heart. It's true, because he loved to read the Talmud, and nothing but a doctor's explicit instructions would have stopped him, and there is no way a doctor would have done that just for reading books, unless it was real. Anyway, my friend used to read stuff to him, and one day he read a ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein, a contemporary of this rabbi. He immediately said this was wrong. He demanded tractate Niddah of the Babylonian Talmud, and my friend didn't want to get him upset further, so he complied and got him one. This old man, who my friend told me hadn't looked at a single volume of the Talmud in the 5 years my friend had been looking after him, opened straight to the right page, and pointed right with his finger on the right line, without looking where his finger was, as if he had read the same page every day for the past 20 years. My friend was shocked that anyone could do this, let alone an old man in his 90s, who hadn't looked at a single volume in 5 years. From what I have been told, Rav Moshe Feinstein could do the same thing, and was the top man of his generation. Yer RAv Moshe said that a hundred years ago, he would have been an average guy. There is much documentation that indicates that our level of knowledge and expertise is not what it was, and that we could not imagine that a single person could write a book that Rabbis are known to have written a few centuries ago.

Also, there is not the same criteria in quoting sources in any of these books, as even in the end of the Book of Esther, it merely says that you can find the rest of the deeds of Mordechai in the books of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. So references to other sources are made, but in a very general way, and not with the same regard to a need to quote and source, but rather to state things in their own right.

If I didn't know better, I would say that in our time, it would be true of many authors to say: "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." (Isaac Newton). However, it is rare to see a book where an author starts from scratch and just invents a whole topic. I've seen such books. One is the "Laws of Form" by G.K.Brown. I've only seen it quoted ONCE, and that was in a magazine about computers, PC World, in 1980.

It is quite possible to identify source criticism. But one must follow the chain of events, such as where it is expected that such sources must have been available to the author. A classic example of this is Rabbeinu Channanel's commentary on the Talmud, where he quotes from the same parts of the Talmud as do the other commentators of his time, but he never quotes from tractate Avodah Zarah, and further makes conclusions in places where parts of tractate Avodah Zarah are relevent, that go against the unanimous decision of all the other Rabbis, that would make perfect sense if the tractate did not exist, but make no sense at all if it did. So it's generally believed that Rabbeinu Channanel didn't have access to tractate Avodah Zarah, and this was perfectly possible in his time, because books were written by hand, and travel was very difficult, and dangerous to the Jews of that time, and with 20 volumes of the Talmud, it's quite possible he just couldn't lay his hands on that volume. Since he was in North Africa, with towns very far from each other, he may never have come across anyone travelling with a full set of the Talmud.

Source criticism is to be distinguished from other critical methods. Where original documents prove not to have been free compositions, but to rest on older, oral tradition, FORM CRITICISM may then be used to penetrate behind the written text.
This would be of the form: "You solved a problem, and someone else solved the same problem using a somewhat similar solution, so you plagiarised it." However, if this was true, then in every class, only ONE student ever solved a problem, and every other child copied his answer. I was accused of this once, because I did a computer project in my first year of university, and I let a few other people see my initial solution to have an idea of what to do. As per usual, I handed my solution in a bit late. What I didn't know, and what the demonstrator told me, was that 4 other students had handed the exact same program in, with no changes whatsoever. It took a bit of convincing and explaining that I knew my work inside out, and he eventually realised it was mine. One might accuse Newton of plagiarising Leibnitz's work on Calculus, or the other way around. But it is clear that Newton approached Calculus from an approach of differentiation, and then developed integration as a reverse process, while Leibnitz approached Calculus from an approach of integration, and then developed differentiation as a reverse process, merely by the way that each described the process of differentiation and integration, which though both approach the same values do differ vastly in the method of analysis and mental approach, Newton taking a gradient that approaches zero over any pathway, and then shows the reversal would be integration, and Leibnitz taking a maxima and minima of the area of a region that approach each other over any variation of division of the area, and then shows the reversal would be differentiation.

It is quite possible to do form criticism yet again, if one follows the logic of the form. One would expect a variant in the form that would conform to the author's beliefs in a way that is common to the mind, and in a way that would be in keeping with the beliefs and practises of the author's town. But to have an extreme departure from that, would be like a scholar claiming that the ideas of Terry Pratchett's novels were plagiarism from Stephen King novels. The stories might have a connection in that they are both quite extremely imaginative, but if anything, Pratchett's ideas seem to be more in line with English folklore stories about witches, leprechauns, werewolves and the like.

The study of the editing process, whereby the sources have been linked together and incorporated into the present, finished text belongs to the province of REDACTION CRITICISM.
Again, this is something that one can quite clearly identify, because each author writes in an expressive style and way of thinking that is his own, but can be learned to be copied, but rarely duplicated. It's just like the fact that only rarely have art forgers been so good at learning other's styles, that they have been able to claim to have found new works of art, that were perfectly in the style and mannerisms of artists like Rembrandt and Monet, and fooled most art critics. But this skill is exactly what art critics use to identify the authors of previously hidden works of art. I find that such redaction criticism is something that is used all the time to identify the makers and year of production of antiques, such as the antique experts on the Antique Roadshow. These experts even know the type of brushstrokes used on pottery, for each year and each maker. It's amazing what people learn to identify.

C. Evidence for Composite Character

1. Inconsistencies. Suspicion that a book is not the work of a single author, composing freely, is most readily aroused when inconsistencies are noticed. These may be of various kinds. In narrative texts it may be impossible to extract a coherent sequence of events. For example, in Gen 12:1, Abram is told to leave Haran after the death of his father, Terah. According to 11:26, Abram was born when Terah was 70; according to 11:32 Terah died at the age of 205; hence Abram must have been 135 when he was called to leave Ur. But 12:4 says that he was only 75 when he left Haran. The difficulty is explained if the story in Genesis 12 is drawn from a different source from the genealogical information in Genesis 11.
If we are to believe that this is an accurate objection, then we must treat the Bible as a book written in perfect chronology. But Terach died when Isaac was 35. In which case, Terach's death would have to have been mentioned in Chapter 21, just before the test of sacrificing Isaac, who was 37 at the time. But that's 10 chapters later, and is completely out of line with the story.

Of course, this would be true if all books only ever quoted things in the exact chronological order they happened, even if the interspersal of the details of the stories, such as the varying campaigns in World War II, would have made it impossible to get a decent picture of what happened in any one campaign. However, we know that we do quote things in an order that resembles chronology, but is not fully chronological, where there is a reason to do so, and putting Terach's death next to his life makes a perfect sense to do so, especially for someone who is only mentioned in a single paragraph.

2. Repetitions and Doublets. In almost every narrative book in the OT a careful reading reveals difficulties in following the sequence of events because the same incident seems to be related more than once. The earliest example is in Genesis 1-2, where in 1:27, “God created man in his own image,” but then in 2:7, “the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground,” just as if the man’s creation had not been mentioned before. Where this kind of repetition is found, the simplest explanation is often that two versions of the same story have both been allowed to remain in the finished form of the book, unreconciled with each other.
If this were true, it would prove that every single episode of Buffy, Reaper and most TV series were written by a different writer for every single episode, because each episode begins with an intro, that repeats and doubles the events of the previous episode, but in a shortened and slightly edited fashion. But we know that's not true, and that it's usually a collection of writers who all write in a joint venture for all the episodes, and where one writer is involved, he wrote all the episodes for any one series.

You can usually tell when a writer leaves a series, because writers like to involve the same types of plotlines, and the whole style of the series changes, often making it unenjoyable to previous fans. One writer will always have cliffhangers involving near-death accidents, or prisons where the convicted party is portrayed that he will almost certinly not survive prison, or the like. If you watch Kevin Smith films, they all have a very similar style and theme. So you can identify on TV who wrote what. Some people can watch programmes and tell you who directed them, and who wrote them, just by the style of the action, the style of the diction, the plotline, and others, without ever looking at the credits. Heck, you can tell when David Lean made a film.

If anything, I would say that if the plotlines changed, that would be a better indicator.

Also, I have to ask: Why on Earth does Numbers 7:12-83 list the exact same story for the 12 princes, again and again, in a purely repetitious fashion? Doesn't that mean that this bit was written by 12 authors? There are plenty of other examples of such needless repetition in such short proximity that it is impossible to claim that multiple authors were used.

Obviously, one cannot use a basis for repetition and doubling of events alone as a source for multiple authors.

In the case of the making of Adam, the words used are different, "formed", for Chapter 2 and "created" for Chapter 1, which in English is the same, but in Hebrew, "created" means ex nihilo but without defining form, of which a similarity is conception, and "formed" represents the gradual formation of the finished product, such as the 9 months of development of an embryo which takes the Hebrew word from the word for formation. If we take this on board, then all conceptions must be 9 months long, or all babies must be born as soon as the egg is fertilised. Clearly this doesn't happen, because one process is not the same as another.

The real question we must ask is: "Why is there repetition in the first place?" Why can't the Bible just tell me something once properly and then I'd know it? Well, life isn't like that. If you are an expert in any field, then you know that the first time you were taught something, you understood it. But then a year later, your teacher covered the same material again from a different angle, and you got a whole new meaning from it. The same thing happened the third time.

This is exactly the approach my driving instructor has taken to teaching me driving. He told me that you cannot learn one part of driving independently of the others, and you cannot just learn it in one go perfectly. You have to cover all the parts of driving, again and again and again. But each time he teaches me about driving, it's a little different, with some bits he didn't say before, and other bits left out, because he said them before, and knows I remembered, and some bits he repeats to put me back in the picture, and some just to make sure I fill in the gaps. We must have covered the clutch about 5 times at least, and every time he taught me some new approach that I didn't quite get before. I couldn't have learned it in one time, no matter how much I wanted to. How can G-d expect more of me in understanding the Bible than my driving instructor, whose words are tailored just for me?

3. Stylistic Differences. Some OT books show extraordinary variations of style, ranging from a preference for particular words or phrases to peculiarities of grammar and syntax. In the Pentateuch, variation is particularly marked in Genesis and Exodus, where some sections are written in a lively narrative style akin to that of the books of Samuel, while others are marked by a stylized and repetitive manner, full of recurring formulas, lists, and technical terms. Compare, for example, the vivid narrative of Exodus 2—the childhood and early career of Moses—with the ponderous accounts of the building and equipping of the tent sanctuary in Exodus 36-40. Such variations in style can also be found in poetic books. Among the oracles in Jeremiah, for example, there are some (e.g., chapters 30 and 31) whose similarity to the style of Isaiah 40-55 (the so-called “Second Isaiah”) is so close, and whose dissimilarity from the rest of Jeremiah is so great, that they seem likely to derive from a different hand than the rest of the book. Other chapters in Jeremiah, especially those in prose, seem close to the style of the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua-2 Kings). While an appreciation of stylistic difference is often to some extent subjective, the variations within books such as these are wide enough to make it unlikely that a single author is responsible for all the material. English translations of the Bible tend to flatten out such differences by using a uniform “biblical English,” but in the Hebrew they are easily detected.
Now, this is quite a lot more likely. However, I realised quite early on, that if you make a list, you will use a completely different style than if you are praising G-d, or if you are discussing a series of miracles, or if you are discussing sacrifices, or if you are giving a speech. If you are monotonic, and very bland, you might say everything in the same style. But those books are really boring. Reads like academic books. Would you write a book that no-one wanted to read, if you could write one with a bit more flair? I think so. But you'd be consistent, in that where you are writing a list, it would be a similar style of list, and there is this consistency right throughout.

Further, there seems to be a general implication here that the WHOLE of the Bible was written by G-d. However, only the Pentateuch is said to have been dictated by G-d to Moses, and even Deuteronomy is mostly a direct quote of a series of speeches given by Moses. But I was taught that the rest of the books were each written by their own authors, with the influence of the Divine Spirit, but were still primarily written by a specific author, and that even where prophecy was described, it was no more than a description of the prophecy written by the prophet, but that it was still written in the style of the prophet, not necessarily in G-d's style, if G-d has a style.

Joshua was written by Joshua.
Esther was written by Mordechai.
If I remember right, Lamentations was written by Jeremiah.
Psalms is a question, where each individual Psalm was written by its own author, but the entire book could have been written by a combination of a few authors, amongst them being King David, Moses, and Job, and one person later on put them together in one book.
Song of Songs, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were all written by King Solomon.

You get the picture.

But the only book that I know was said to be written by Moses was the Pentateuch, with the exception of the last few verses after Moses died, which I believe I was informed was written by Joshua.

However, if we are going to claim that the books were written by different authors like the Gospels, then why not go the whole way? Why not claim that there are clear contradictions between the books, and that each book was written by a different author? These arguments are never applied in the same way at all to the Old Testament and the New Testament, yet the argument of multiple authenticity is the same.

D. Stages of Source-Critical Analysis

1. Breaking Up the Text. Source-critical analysis begins not with a quest for continuous sources, but with an analysis, into fragments, of each section of the biblical book under consideration. The source critic must note each point where there is a break, inconsistency, or discontinuity in the text, and so establish for each chapter how many different pieces of underlying material are present. ...
Here we have a break. The last big of this page was more personal, and this bit is very abstract. So this bit was written by someone else. A student of the author, perhaps? Plagiarism. Should be mentioning the name of the student, and the work he quoted from! Obviously either this work was plagiarised, or it wasn't, and such source analysis requires a lot more backup, than mere fragmentation. Especially when there is a break in the text that actually makes sense but is considered discontinuous because the Chapter reference divisions don't match up, such as the fact that SEVEN days are mentioned in Creation, but Chapter 1 only lists the first SIX days! Either the seventh day was a later addition, say in 1950, or more likely, the Chapter structure was not so great, and there are seven days in the account of Creation.

I can go on and on like this. For this to be valid, I'd need to see someone take apart every Alistair Maclean novel in the same way, having never met Alistair Maclean, and deduced which stories were written by himself and which by Ghost writers, to a near perfect match, including which pieces were written by which Ghost writers. Then I'd have to see that done for say 100 such authors, and then have them corroborated to 99% accuracy. I'll forgo the other 1%. Then I'd need to see the full analysis of comparance of style, language, plotline, vocab, grammar, nomenclature, mental reasoning, physical description of entities and a bit more, for every single verse, compared. Again, all this can easily be stuffed into a single database for the whole of the Old Testament, and for 10,000 other such books, and then statistical analyses could easily be run. If someone can get such a database, and then give the programmable rules for defining these differences, I am sure that I or someone else could input them in a matter of days at the most, and it would be easy to produce a Mathematically accurate statistical probability that would show if this theory holds water or not.

Maybe I'll do it myself one day, if I can figure out the rules for myself and I can be motivated. But as far as I can see, there is no evidence stated that provides enough corroboration to justify this, without assuming a lot of things that people never do except in theory, and the Old Testament is not a theory, but reality, and neither is it intended as an academic work that purports to some ideals of writing that it only approximates and that sits on a library, is referenced on the odd occasion, but hardly anyone reads.

I've questioned these things, because I've always analysed books in this way, from a child to the present day. Books were my friends, so I built up a mental picture of the author, how he thinks, how he expresses himself, everything. For instance, Moses tends to be short and sharp when he is angry or emotional, such as when he says to Korach: "It's too much for you, the sons of levi!" (Numbers 16:7) But when he is less emotional, he tends to be exact and more detailed in his speech. Abraham is a bit different, longer, and more metaphoric, when angry, such as when he says "If so much as a thread to a shoestring or if I shall take anything of yours! So you shall not say 'It is I who made Abram rich.'" (Genesis 14:22). It's not abstract for me. Been doing it my whole life.

Oh, and you might note that in my more personal and emotional comments, I tend to talk a lot, in my more intellectual phases, I go off the deep end, and in my practical and joking phases, I use one liners, or only few lines at most. That's just so you can see how you can analyse anyone's words in this way.

P.S. Everyone on POF has their own style, and if you look at their history, you can figure it out quite easily. Once done, you can identify who wrote what by reading the words without any clue on who wrote it.
 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 14
Sumerians
Posted: 4/3/2008 11:59:56 PM
The plural Hebrew form is attained by adding an -im on the end of a word. Par (bull) becomes parim. Eiz (goat) becomes eizim. El becomes elim.


In Arabic the name Allah comes from ?al-ilah, meaning "the god." In Aramaic it's ?Elaha and in Syriac it's ?Aloho. Akkadian has ilu. Ugaritic is interesting because it as two variant plural forms, ?-l-m and ?il-h-m (the question mark indicates a glottal stop). Semitic languages often have roots with two consonants (like ?-l) that get extended by adding a third consonant (like ?-l-h). Much like Ugaritic, the Hebrew word may have added the h in the plural. There are a small number of examples where Hebrew does have elim.

But if you are talking about multiple god, even if one is the head of the other gods, you have to be far more specific in Hebrew.

You mean something like the Hebrew El Shaddai? 2 Samuel 22.31,33–48 has Ha?el.

Didn't know what you meant by "collective noun". So I googled it:


Definitions of collective noun on the Web:

* a noun that is singular in form but refers to a group of people or things
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

I looked up examples. They are ALL singular words, that imply a plural and take a plural form of the verb. If the OT used "El" with the plural of the verb, then I would see the argument. But what we see is a plural noun, with a singular form of the verb, the very opposite of the behaviour of a collective noun.


I have no idea how Hebrew would handle a collective noun. In some languages (like Proto-Indo-European) the collective form of a noun is a plural used with a singular verb.
 NERO1
Joined: 3/8/2008
Msg: 15
Sumerians
Posted: 4/4/2008 1:28:55 PM
Elohim is the "royal plural", for instance the way in the Qu'ran when God is speaking (through Gabriel, to Muhammad), "He" refers to himself as "We" (in English translations at least).

The reason for the great similarities between the much older, truly ancient Middle Eastern faiths and Judaic / Judeo-Christian beliefs is basically because Judaism emerged out of, & was formed within, the same relative area(s). Whoever the man was (or men perhaps) upon whom "Abraham" is based, he came out of Uruk, according to the legend. That would be near, I believe, Basra, in present-day southern Iraq. Obviously he, or they, would have absorbed the prevailing religious beliefs of their time and place. A "great flood", etc, for example, something which I think the Sumerians had as well. This may have represented (in reality) a great overflow of the Tigris or Euphrates perhaps, or maybe even the Gulf, which washed out several early villages or some such thing and was quite a little disaster (for the time).
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
Msg: 16
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History
Sumerians
Posted: 4/5/2008 8:27:17 AM
Wow

I have a lot of stuff to go through to make any kind of response, and contribution to this thread.

Oh.. As far as I understand the Sumerians were far before even the Egyptians.. and it is interesting that we have vry little info on the smaller cultures surrounding them.. BECAUSE the Sumerians were the first to have a written language.. any oral traditions from other people would have either faded away or been absorbed by the Sumerians. AND no one knows where they originally come from, they seem to have sprung up with this amazing culture from nowhere. I can't quite remember but I did read that they were not the semitic race (according to linguistics I believe)...I will have to check that again though, I could be wrong.

Thanks all...I'll be back!

Peace
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
Msg: 17
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History
Sumerians
Posted: 4/6/2008 9:43:59 AM
Thank you for your opinion... but I fail to see how this relates to the Sumerians and the FACT that a large portion of Genesis is echoed in much older myths from Sumeria...sometimes the wording is almost verbatim. It's the difference from Sumerian to ancient Hebrew and the translations that is being discussed, and therefore their original meaning. And as our resident Hebrew Scholar has pointed out... languages don't really translate that well. I do not have much faith in the English versions of the OT. Especially since English is a mixture of Briton, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Germanic.. with a healthy dose of Latin thrown in. And ALL of these languages are originally pagan in origin... and not related to Semitic or Hebrew. There is a case here for there being a completely different base of thought and symbology.. and hence the difficulty in translating from one to the other. Also the Sumerian are basically the very first culture on the face of the earth (that we know of) and being a large nation influenced the peoples around it rather profoundly.

As to the "Father will chastise ...blah blah blah" It is a mindset I do not subscribe to nor do I see the logic of giving someone free-will then revoking it because it was exercised. Silly, and illogical. I agree to disagree on this subject.

Peace
 Ravenstar66
Joined: 8/27/2007
Msg: 18
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History
Sumerians
Posted: 4/7/2008 8:04:33 AM
Humans did NOT evolve from apes... there was a common ancestor.. but humans and the apes diverged long before there was anything like a chimpanzee or a gorilla. This is a fallacy that is frequently repeated ad nauseum.

Sumeria was not a hidden society.. it was the largest and oldest society in the world.. the very FIRST with any kind of written word...and there are thousands of Sumerian documents. The very first with any kind of codified law...and they existed long before the Hebrews, or the Egyptians, or the Syrians, Chaldeans, Akkadians, Canaanites, Hittites, Babylonians or any of the other cultures in the middle east (or anywhere else that we know of) They had governments, city states, they had temples, they had taxes..they had culture and art and literature and commerce (all written down for us to read)

I did not create this thread to attack the Bible, and specifically Genesis. I created it because it is apparent that a lot of Genesis comes FROM the Sumerian creation record... so I find it interesting to explore what was there, what they wrote about and how that was adopted or translated, or added to, or originated the Genesis account...Sumerian literature is the OLDEST writing we have... WAY older than any other.. and that includes the Bible account. The very first Sumerian writing dates from 2600 B.C....(Early Bronze Age.) But Hebrew documents don't show up until 900 - 600 B.C. (Iron Age) That's a difference of almost 2000 years..The Hebrews didn't even exist as a people when the Sumerian account of creation was written down... Abraham's (who came out of Sumeria) life is given a tentative date of 1441 B.C. , that's still 1800 years AFTER the first Sumerian accounts. That's a long time...and even looking at the last 1800 years a lot can change in that time. This threads purpose is to look at the Sumerian accounts and see where Genesis, at least parts of it, may have came from and what might have been lost over time and translation..

My attitude towards the Bible (especially the OT) is that is a collection of documents that expresses the "history" of the Jewish/Hebrew people.. and their mythology and their identity, but they came from somewhere and the historical and biblical record has them coming from the Sumerian city/state of Ur. They brought their beliefs with them.. therefore the roots of their history and beliefs are from Sumeria.. and progressed with their travels through the middle east (mainly Egypt and Canaan). Therefore I think it pertinent to explore the origins of their beliefs and history... and THAT is in Sumeria.

It's not an attack...it is an exploration, hopefully an open-minded one. I seek truth, not dogma. I want and insist on facts..and I search for them even if they are uncomfortable. It is not an attack to place ANY ancient writing under a microscope and really look at it objectively and compare it with others.. it's called research.

Peace
 NERO1
Joined: 3/8/2008
Msg: 19
Sumerians
Posted: 4/7/2008 8:23:13 AM
QUOTE: I seek truth, not dogma. I want and insist on facts..and I search for them even if they are uncomfortable.

>>> Good idea. The thing is , when you seek and insist on facts, and on historical truths and not dogma, then you'll probably find you're best served by not even feeding the responses of any devout Xians who might happen to invade your thread.
 RDtoo
Joined: 1/30/2005
Msg: 20
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History
Sumerians
Posted: 5/12/2008 11:19:07 PM
I picked up a copy of the book "History begins at Sumer" many years ago. It was fascinating. The author seemed to think the Bible was borrowing from the Sumerians as many of the accounts were similar. I have no problem with that. There was no official religion set down by God in the beginning of history. Gods chosen people began with Abraham. For all we know, Job, which supposedly is the oldest book of the Bible, could have been a Sumerian. I see what the Sumerians wrote down as more confirmation of the Bible being accurate than not. For example, there is an ancient list of Sumerian kings who lived impossibly long lives, like 800 and 900 years, which is similar to lives lived in the early chapters of Genesis. The Babyloanians surely got much info from the Sumerians, and they made up seals (pictures on clay) of the Adam and Eve story. One of these seals is at the University Museum in Philadelphia. Though the Sumerians had a different take of things than the Bible, I do not see much of a conflict in them negating what is set down in Genesis.
 Vancer
Joined: 10/29/2006
Msg: 21
Sumerians
Posted: 5/12/2008 11:34:22 PM
I don't know much about the Sumerians, so I'm hoping someone here can help me.
Does anyone know why the Sumerians used base 60 in their mathematics?
I heard we use base 10 more often, probably as a result of having 10 fingers, but where did 60 come from? Why was 60 important to them?
 NERO1
Joined: 3/8/2008
Msg: 22
Sumerians
Posted: 5/13/2008 8:58:46 AM
^^^ Here: http://history-world.org/sumeria.htm
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Sumerians but were afraid to ask.

Or, if you just want to know more about their use of '60', scroll down to where it says, "The Sumerian Achievement" and read that section.

"...the planning of the vast public works under their control led the priests to develop a useful mathematical notation, including both a decimal notation and a system based upon 60, which has given us our sixty-second minute, our sixty-minute hour and our division of the circle into 360 degrees. They invented mathematical tables and used quadratic equations. Both for religious and agricultural purposes, they studied the heavens, and they created a lunar calendar with a day of 24 hours and a week of seven days. Much of this science was transmitted to the West by the Greeks and later by the Arabs. It is not surprising, however, that the achievement which the Sumerians themselves admired most was the city itself."

"...The Sumerians based their number system on 10, but they multiplied 10 by 6 to get the next unit. They multiplied 60 by 10, then multiplied 600 by 6, and so on. (The number 60 has the advantage of being divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20, and 30.) The Sumerians also divided the circle into 360 degrees. From these early people came the word dozen (a fifth of 60) and the division of the clock to measure hours, minutes, and seconds.

The Sumerians had standard measures, with units of length, area, and capacity. Their standard weight was the mina, made up of 60 shekels--about the same weight as a pound. There was no coined money. Standard weights of silver served as measures of value and as a means of exchange."
 Phoebus2k9
Joined: 3/15/2008
Msg: 23
Sumerians
Posted: 5/14/2008 9:09:02 AM
I really like the reading on this thread, i 2 have had alot of questions about this. There are so many things in the bible that make you scratch your head.

I think you might be reading quite alot into the simple words that are written, i would have to go by Occam's razor which would say usually the simplest answer is the correct one. Your makings this alot more confusing then it realyl should be.

Its says he created man out of our image and of our likeness, So we look like our creator correct. If this wasn't the case why would it be stated then? to confuse us and assume this or that is what is meant ? why do so many ppl try and throw the words off track. Keep it simple stupid.

There is the whole creation, the bible does it within a few statements and the sumerians go into quite some detail with it. Now the one say when we die we will return to dust. now the other one states that we were from from red clay or something along those line. So if thats true then it would make sense as to why we return to dust when we die.

So many record have been destroyed which would clear up alot of this confusion that we have today with these old passages. If you really read the bible for what it is instead of a bunch of assumptions of what you think they might have meant or what others before you assumed. Whats wrong with taking it at face value. I have alot more to say but im at work and cannot gather my thoughts properly at this moment hahaha damn

anywho have a good day
 Phoebus2k9
Joined: 3/15/2008
Msg: 24
Sumerians
Posted: 5/14/2008 12:20:06 PM
Ok if it is not the oldest then please provide some info on this ? If anything i would say the natives of the Americas would be the next oldest if not around the same era.

Alot of the teachings and painting are really close in detail with the information from the Sumerians, as well as the pyramid making and sacrifices. There is alot of info people should start cross referencing with these cultures from The Americas
 RDtoo
Joined: 1/30/2005
Msg: 25
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History
Sumerians
Posted: 5/15/2008 8:02:25 AM
Ok Andy, I am curious too. Everything I can find on the topic states that the Sumerians are the oldest known civilization, which includes writing that they left. Unless you are talking about cave paintings, which could hardly be considered a civilization, I cannot imagine who else would qualify for the title.

Ok, I just did a quick search. There was some writings found in Egypt that they say "may" predate the Sumerians.
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