I’m in a familiar place, McInnis Auditorium, getting ready for Peter Enns to start his talk on Genesis and the Ancient Near East context.
I already had to help him get his mac working with his laptop, glad I was hear (he traded me an autograph for it). And here we go, Dwight Peterson is doing intros.
Peter Enns is preaching a class at Eastern now… yay for my old school.
Peter doesn’t sermon paint (hee hee hee).
Four important issues in the Modern Study of Genesis:
- Philosophy: Enlightment
- (suspician of ecclesiastical authority)
- Spinoza tried to undermine the Church by undermining Scripture (to free up Judaism, btw)
- Biblical Studies: Source Criticism
- rethinking the Bible from within
- People began asking questions about why there seems to be different and repeated stories.
- Source Criticism tried to explain Genesis
- the Bible is a product of a developmental process (post-exilic)
- The idea of one author was no longer accepted
- The Tanakh was put together over a long period of time as traditions were passed on, and written down.
- e.g. Pentateuch, Isaiah, Psalms
- Pentateuch is considered to be post-exilic product (Jerome around 400 AD already had the seeds of this idea in place)
- What people freaked out about was the idea that the Law was post-exilic “fabrication”
- How many Isaiahs?
- Psalms are very clear in their compiled nature (DSS have variation late)
- Biblical Stuides: Archaeology
- Rethinking the Bible from without
- Comparative religions
- similar ancient texts to stories in the Bible
- what to do with those texts (which are invariably older)
- Comparing religions (setting Israel in context) – we ask, “What’s so special to our book?”
- Science: Geology and Evolution
- Everything got re-thought
- Geology uprooted diluvialism (my research, not his)
- Death was around before humanity was apparently on the earth.
- Evolution seems to displace humanity as the pre-eminent species
- Enns is not of the opinion that Science and Genesis need to be meshed (two different genres.
Enns, “For Christians, the 19th Century was a rough century.” (paraphrase George Wills)
Problem is that Christians work from a pre-modern standpoint – and so the four points were threats that had to be held at bay. Genesis was always the focus – all the points of modern Biblical studies start there.
Enns is putting Hebrew into it’s Semitic context (Jim, you’d like this and could probably argue with it).
Out of the Northwest Semitic Lanugage family – a direct descendant of Canaanite.
Biblical Hebrew morphs into Mishnaic – Medieval – and Modern Hebrew. It’s not a special language it’s quite common.
Temples, priests, sacrifices (like the Biblical ones) appeared long before Sinai (and even Abraham was sacrificing on altars pre-sinai). Israel’s format for sacrifices was not significantly different.
Prophets were found in other cultures as well, they functioned central (in the court) and peripheral (yelling from without). Book to read Prophesy and Society in Ancient Israel by Robert R. Wilson (1984). One thing that was unusual in Israel was the presence of central prophets who were critical of kingship (a distinct trait).
Kings were similar to ANE ideologies:
- The king as “sons of God” – mediators of the high god of the culture
- They protected the people
- They maintained justice and mercy (not abstract)
- They modeled wisdom
In their modeling they tried to desplay the presence of Gods.
Laws were similar:
Moses and Hammurabi (1700 BCE) have similarities – case laws were very similar. The notions of law seem to be just the way that ANE cultures worked so when Israel came along they codified laws that reflected their setting.
Genesis Issues: Creation and the Flood
Creation: Enuma Elish (discovered in 19th Century – people went ???)
- 18th Century BCE (Hammurabi?)
- Marduk as the supreme God
- numerous similarities to Genesis 1, including the division of the waters above/below and the firmament (he needs to sermon paint, he just said he should have had an image of the cosmology of the Enuma Elish on a slide – I’m happy)
Gilgamish and Atrahasis Epics (Flood)
- Numerous similarities to the Genesis flood – including the building of an huge boat (with specific dimensions – the waterproofing with tar, the release of birds, the boat coming to rest on a mountain.
What the problem? Genesis doesn’t to be unique, and so maybe it’s not inspired.
- Dismissive of Genesis (“liberal” position)
Modern scholars proved that genesis is myth, and that proves that Christianity is a lie
- Defensive of Genesis (“fundamentalist” position)
Since Genesis is the world of God, it doesnt’ matter what hte ANE texts are like, Genesis is different. (they always lose, it’s not either/or)
- Synthetic (are Hegelian dialectic, arrgh arrrgh)
Genesis fully participates in the mythic context of the ANE (Ancient Near East, btw), and it is also the word of God. They are not antithetical – and Evangelicalism is changing.
Incarnational approach to the Bible’s non-Uniqueness
Jesus is divine:human
Jesus divinity: Birth, John 1, Equality with Father, Yahweh passages, authority
Jesus humanity: Jesus was clothed, ate, breathed, slept, spoke aramaic, had limited knowledge, share ancient perspectives?, “faulty” knowledge? (mustard seed problem)
Jesus humanity (sinless): Is the fact that he shared ancient perspectives or had limited knowledge an example of his humanity or a reference to the fact that he wasn’t perfect (and was therefor sinful)? People freak out there.
Bible is divine:human
Bible’s Humanity – everything in it refelcts eh historical context of the events of the author’s lives. Does that extend to: historiography, faulty science, myth?
Enns, “No, it’s not a perfect model, it’s a model – they all break down.”
Enns, “Oh, and by the way, I didn’t make this up – this is old in the Church” (umm, examples would be nice – I’ll ask that later I hope)
Crud, the Eastern guest service timed me out at an hour! Arrrgh!
We’re taking questions now.
Someone’s askng the “If evolution is true when did sin happen? question….
Enns is ok with evolution (duh?) – unfortunately no one’s been doing the project of dealing with the “when did sin/death enter into the picture?” question because people have been working from a combative question. There is a theological problem – what do you do with NT Adam typology.
Next question: what do you do with geneaology in Enn’s synthetic (I&I) approach?
Enns: The purpose of Genesis 1-11 is theologically set up the narrative to reveal the people who would “reverse the curse.” He believes that Genesis 1-11 is back-written from it’s later experiences and realities.
Someone is currently asking a question that reveals how the Evangelical™ methodology is bankrupt – “If it’s myth and shares ideas with the ancient world, then how I can get anything that’s applicable to me out of it?”
Enn’s is being gentle, I’d just respond with Martin Luther…
ROFL, Enns just made an off-hand reference to Spinal Tap!
Enn’s point is that this is accomadation – God speaks in the way people speak (Calvin, “God spoke baby talk to us”), BTW, that’s a theological term with one specific definition.
I would like to take a class with Enns… he’s fun. Or maybe I’d just like to drink coffee with him and talk for several hours…
I’m going to shut down now – I’ll try to ask my question and get it on this post later…