Re: The Flood Hoax - correction & apology

From: george murphy (
Date: Sat Jul 27 2002 - 19:57:38 EDT

  • Next message: george murphy: "Re: The Flood Hoax"

             Well, I note with some embarassment that I didn't read Dick's
    earlier post
    carefully enough & I apologize to him for that. In fact, I wasn't
    responding to the
    interpretation of Gen.6:1-4 that he was presenting but was setting
    out what seems to
    be an adequate one over against those that see this as an account of
    an historical
    account of angelic-human intercourse & offspring. Dick's
    interpretation is in fact
    close to Luther's which I sketch below - with the exception, of
    course, that Luther
    thought that _all_ the people involved were descendants of Adam.
             But it should be noted that I was not _endorsing_ Luther's
    interpretation &
    in fact don't think it's correct, interesting demythologizing as it is. (Among
    other things, I think _bene elohim_ here ought to be read "sons of
    the gods" rather
    than "sons of God," so interpreting this phrase to mean godly people
    is forced.)
             & I think that this illustrates the difference between an
    that made sense in 1540 & one that does in 2002. Luther - & every
    other European
    theologian - in the 16th century new virtually nothing about the
    history of Ancient
    Mesopotamia beyond what there is in the Bible, just as they knew nothing about
    prehistoric humanity. It was quite reasonable for them to read Genesis 1-11 as
    straight history because they had no other histories of the time
    before Abraham.
    Our situation is of course quite different. & just as Luther's belief in 6 day
    creation was sensible in 1540 but nonsense now, so it is with his
    reading of other
    parts of Genesis as straight historical reporting.



    George L. Murphy
    "The Science-Theology Interface"

    george murphy wrote:

    > Dick Fischer wrote:
    > > George Murphy wrote:
    > >
    > > > Myths about gods & goddesses having affairs with humans &
    >negetting or
    > > >giving birth to "hybrid" divine-humans abound in many cultures -
    > >think of all
    > > >the stories about Zeus & Leda, Europa &c & offspring like
    > >Hercules. Gen.6:1-4
    > > >makes use of such a myth but not in undigested form. As we have it
    > > >in Scripture
    > > >it is "broken myth," a pagan myth modified to make a theological
    > >point in the
    > > >service of the God of Israel. As used here it denies the popular
    > >notion found
    > > >in those pagan myths that divinity is something that can be
    >transmitted by
    > > >biological means. & placed where it is in Genesis it represents
    > >the ultimate
    > > >transgression of boundaries & breakdown in the ordering of
    > >creation that will
    > > >bring on the flood.
    > > >
    > > > Later ideas about angels in the NT - e.g., that they "neither
    > > >marry nor are
    > > >given in marriage" - cannot be read back into the OT. They
    > > >represent a further
    > > >development.
    > > >
    > > > There are other examples of "broken myth" in the OT. (The term
    > > >comes from
    > > >Brevard Childs who discusses the idea & examples in _Myth and Reality
    > > >in the Old
    > > >Testament_.) E.g., Is.14:12-15 is based on a Canaanite myth
    > >about the revolt
    > > >of the younger against the elder gods (cf. the Greek war of gods
    > >vs. titans),
    > > >but is used here to speak of the doom of historical Babylon. It is most
    > > >unfortunate that this & Gen.6:1-4 have been _re_mythologized by
    > >Christians and
    > > >made into an elaborate Christian myth about the fall of Satan &c.
    > >But in fact
    > > >the Bible contains at most little hints about any such
    >prehistoric fall of
    > > >angels. What most people think of as the biblical version of this
    > >story is in
    > > >fact Milton's account in _Paradise Lost_.
    > > >
    > > > & any attempt to find some historical niche for Gen.6:1-4 &
    > >perhaps some
    > > >historical evidence for the _nephilim_, the descendants of the
    >"sons of the
    > > >gods" and "the daughters on men," seems to me to be a _reductio ad
    > > >absurdum_ of
    > > >concordism.
    > >
    > > Always nice to get a liberal perspective. I find it curious, though,
    > > that a Lutheran theologian has so many views that are not generally
    > > attributed to Martin Luther's own theology. Did I miss something in
    > > seminary?
    > I note that you don't even try to engage the argument itself
    > but think that
    > you can dismiss it simply by calling it "liberal" - a label I won't bother to
    > debate since it has nothing to do with the subtance of the issue.
    >Why don't we
    > look at the text & its context rather than try to dismiss arguments with lame
    > putdowns?
    > As to Luther, I suggest that you actually look at his
    > Lectures on Genesis.
    > There you'll see that he interprets the sexual relationships between
    > "the sons of
    > God" and "the daughters of men" as between those who had "the promise of the
    > blessed seed" and the Cainites, and their offspring as "giants" -
    > i.e., "those who
    > arrogate to themselves power." (In the Lutherbibel _nephilim_ is translated
    > _Tyrannen_.) Luther certainly believed in the reality of devils but in his
    > lectures he specifically rejects the idea that the "sons of God" are
    > "demon-lechers." In fact what he is doing is demythologizing the
    >passage even
    > further than the biblical writer did. Of course Luther was a
    > notorious "liberal"!
    > In reality, Luther was a brilliant 16th century theologian,
    > but even the
    > most conservative Lutheran theologians don't feel required to
    >accept all of his
    > biblical interpretations & theological views. His fundamental
    > theological insights
    > were great & I adhere to them but he also believed a lot of things
    >that we know
    > today just aren't true. He was, among other things, a YEC - like
    > almost everybody
    > else then. There was no compelling scientific evidence to show that
    > the earth was
    > much older than a few thousand years. It's as wrong to think that
    >Luther would
    > have insisted on a young earth if he lived today as to think that
    >Newton would
    > insist on absolute space & time.
    > It looks to as if one thing you missed in seminary is
    >what's happened in
    > theology over the past 400 years.
    > Shalom,
    > George
    > George L. Murphy
    > "The Science-Theology Interface"

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