Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by neilgodfrey »

rgprice wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 12:29 pm But it seems to me that what we have in the Bible is the abbreviation of a longer tale that included more details about the gods and what was going on in Eden prior to the casting out of Adam and Eve, and perhaps even more info on life outside of Eden.
Your observation reminds me of Sarah Iles Johnston's analysis of Greek myths. (https://vridar.org/tag/sarah-iles-johnston/) -- The abbreviated character of them functions as an invitation for the audience to actively participated and enquire imaginatively into the stories. The Gospel of Mark is similar. So many loose ends and questions raised. Example: why is it that the first disciples called just seem to drop everything and follow Jesus? Surely we are missing some of the story. The reader has to think and wonder and fill in the gaps him/her self.

These prompts for the reader to ask for further information about this or that are the spurs that draw the reader/listener deeper and deeper into the story world. This personal imaginative involvement encourages belief. (At least it encourages belief among those who are willing and wanting to believe.)

Such half-explained details invite others (or even the same author) to add more stories to flesh out the original, or to add sequels and prequels to the original. If we take the apocryphal writings of Enoch et al as post-Pentateuchal, then we may conclude that such a narrative device has worked its magic most successfully.
andrewcriddle
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

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One issue with Timaeus and Genesis is how far the Timaeus should be interpreted literally. Aristotle interpreted the Timaeus literally and criticised it for having the visible world created in time rather than being eternal. The standard response in the Old Academy (the early successors of Plato) was that Aristotle was correct that the visible world was eternal but wrong to regard the Timaeus as disagreeing. They (with a number of modern scholars) took the Timaeus as non-literal.

In order to use the Timaeus as a basis for the early chapters of Genesis one needs to i/ interpret the Timaeus more-or-less literally, ii/ regard the Timaeus as true. I'm not sure that there is anyone in the period 350-250 BCE who definitely took that position.

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John T
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Re: Satanael, Samael ...

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neilgodfrey wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 6:46 pm
Yes, John T. I've read Timaeus several times and know what his Demiurge was. Genesis is not Timaeus and is not an attempt to duplicate Timaeus. Now do you have any comment on the translated words of Plato that I cited? If you actually read what others say .....

If Timaeus is too long for you to be able to read, would you like me to quote for you Plato's words where he says the Demiurge created lesser gods to create the corruptible part of the universe?

It is not the length of Timaeus that gets people into trouble but rather its complexity. Plato did mention other kind of gods but how they fit in his scheme is not how most people understand it. In Plato's model, a lessor god is made from pure being, intellect, and vitality. Perhaps it is easier to understand it as ingredients rather than a creature. Or perhaps, how primary colors come from white light.

At least we agree on one thing. There is no connection between Timaeus and Genesis. :cheers:
rgprice
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

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Do not the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 speak to the likelihood that behind the account we have in the scriptures there was a longer story, in which the multiple "sons of God" are more prominent. Many scholars agree that Genesis 6:1-4 looks like the abbreviation of a longer story.

Does it not make sense that there was a longer story that encompassed material from Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 6? Some elements, such Genesis 5, may be insertions into the original story.

But we can imagine an original story in which we have the Highest God (Elohim), along with Yahweh and other terrestrial gods. After all, Enoch names a number of these figures. Might these or similar names have been in the original story as the other sons of God?

Later readers have long interpreted Genesis 6:1-4 to describe heavenly beings descending from the heavens to mate with women. But in Genesis 2-3 we see Yahweh living in the Garden of Eden on earth. Does it not make sense, then, that these "sons of God" also lived on earth, along with Yahweh? That is why they took daughters of men as mates. They weren't looking down on them, they were living amongst them.

6:1 Now it came about, when mankind began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

And why are the sons of God capable of teaching the women hidden mysteries as we read in Enoch? Because they still have access to the Tree of Knowledge and the special abilities bestowed by the Garden of Eden. So it makes sense to me that Genesis 6:1-4 is part of the same story as Genesis 2:4-4. In Genesis 4 we are told that, "Cain left the presence of Yahweh, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden."

Again we have an odd situation, where the story as we have it makes it appear as if Adam, Even, Cain and Abel are the only people on earth, and then Cain goes to existing territories. In so doing, he leaves the land where Yahweh lives.

So it is easy to envision a larger story that describes the creation of other races by other sons of God, which establishes that there were other lands already in existence prior to the statement that Cain left to go to these lands and among these people that the reader previously would not have known existed.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

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andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 3:31 am One issue with Timaeus and Genesis is how far the Timaeus should be interpreted literally. Aristotle interpreted the Timaeus literally and criticised it for having the visible world created in time rather than being eternal. The standard response in the Old Academy (the early successors of Plato) was that Aristotle was correct that the visible world was eternal but wrong to regard the Timaeus as disagreeing. They (with a number of modern scholars) took the Timaeus as non-literal.

In order to use the Timaeus as a basis for the early chapters of Genesis one needs to i/ interpret the Timaeus more-or-less literally, ii/ regard the Timaeus as true. I'm not sure that there is anyone in the period 350-250 BCE who definitely took that position.

Andrew Criddle
Plato couched his musings as "plausibilities"-- not certain, but "reasonable conjectures". I don't see how accepting them either as "reasonable conjectures" or as "dogmatic facts" makes any difference to the fact of clear links between Timaeus and Genesis -- which are acknowledged, by the way, in the scholarly literature on the Greek translation of Genesis.

Why do you think that regarding the Timaeus as dogmatically true as distinct from a plausible fable would have been a necessary precondition for anyone to use it as a model for Genesis?
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Satanael, Samael ...

Post by neilgodfrey »

John T wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:17 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 6:46 pm
Yes, John T. I've read Timaeus several times and know what his Demiurge was. Genesis is not Timaeus and is not an attempt to duplicate Timaeus. Now do you have any comment on the translated words of Plato that I cited? If you actually read what others say .....
At least we agree on one thing. There is no connection between Timaeus and Genesis. :cheers:
You don't seem to understand the basic meanings of words. I can see why you would find reading Timaeus to be beyond you.

To say X is not Y is not the same as saying that there is no relationship between X and Y.
To say X is not an attempt to duplicate Y is not the same as saying there is no relationship between X and Y.
To argue for a relationship between X and Y is arguing for a connection of some kind between X and Y. A relationship is a type of connection.
Last edited by neilgodfrey on Sat Sep 10, 2022 5:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by neilgodfrey »

rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:21 am Do not the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 speak to the likelihood that behind the account we have in the scriptures there was a longer story, in which the multiple "sons of God" are more prominent. Many scholars agree that Genesis 6:1-4 looks like the abbreviation of a longer story.

Does it not make sense that there was a longer story that encompassed material from Genesis 2:4 to Genesis 6?
Yes, it makes sense, agreed. For a long time I have thought along those same lines -- that Genesis 6:1-4, for example, was a shortened version of another story now lost.

However, I do wonder if Gmirkin has a point when he postulates literati who were well-versed in Plato's works and who wrote a narrative that was guided and shaped by Plato's myths. When one is writing a shorter form of a well-known story it is easy to skip over details one takes for granted as background to the story. Does that not sound reasonable, too?
rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:21 amBut we can imagine an original story in which we have the Highest God (Elohim), along with Yahweh and other terrestrial gods. After all, Enoch names a number of these figures. Might these or similar names have been in the original story as the other sons of God?

Later readers have long interpreted Genesis 6:1-4 to describe heavenly beings descending from the heavens to mate with women. But in Genesis 2-3 we see Yahweh living in the Garden of Eden on earth. Does it not make sense, then, that these "sons of God" also lived on earth, along with Yahweh? That is why they took daughters of men as mates. They weren't looking down on them, they were living amongst them.
Yes, but I think I must be missing something here. What you describe --- a situation of "sons of God", subordinate gods living on earth and among mortals -- is what we find by and large with the Greek myths: Zeus born in a cave; the gods living on Mount Olympus; the gods mating with humans. This is the scenario Gmirkin is assuming lies behind Genesis 6:1-4, is it not? It's what Plato describes.
rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:21 am
6:1 Now it came about, when mankind began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of mankind were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.

And why are the sons of God capable of teaching the women hidden mysteries as we read in Enoch? Because they still have access to the Tree of Knowledge and the special abilities bestowed by the Garden of Eden. So it makes sense to me that Genesis 6:1-4 is part of the same story as Genesis 2:4-4. In Genesis 4 we are told that, "Cain left the presence of Yahweh, and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden."
The commentaries I have seen on the passages speaking of revealing mysteries to the women suggest that the lines are either corrupt or missing in some manuscripts. Do you have access to Nickeslburg's commentary? But in Greek myths the gods did reveal the "secrets" or the "skills" of the various arts and crafts to mortals. You probably are aware of all of that, though.
rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:21 amAgain we have an odd situation, where the story as we have it makes it appear as if Adam, Even, Cain and Abel are the only people on earth, and then Cain goes to existing territories. In so doing, he leaves the land where Yahweh lives.

So it is easy to envision a larger story that describes the creation of other races by other sons of God, which establishes that there were other lands already in existence prior to the statement that Cain left to go to these lands and among these people that the reader previously would not have known existed.
Is not this an argument in favour of Plato's myth being the story behind the Genesis narrative? Once you know it, it is easy to read it into the Genesis account. Is there any need to hypothesize another story in between Plato's myths and Genesis?
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John T
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Re: Satanael, Samael ...

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neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:43 am You don't seem to understand the basic meanings of words. I can see why you would find reading Timaeus to be beyond you.
"If we assign names as well as pictures to objects, the right assignment of them we may call truth, and the wrong assignment of the falsehood...There may also be a wrong or inappropriate assignment of verbs; and if of names and verbs then of the sentences, which are made up of them."... Cratylus

Plato in Timaeus is using the Socratic method of dialogue to appease the ignorant all the while trying to get them to think better at the same time. In short, he inserted a parody of the Greek gods but it went over your head. Here, read it and see if you can figure out where you missed it.

"Concerning the other divinities, to discover and declare their origin is too great a task for us, and we must trust to those who have declared it aforetime, they being, as they affirmed, descendants of gods and knowing well, no doubt, their own forefathers. It is, as I say, impossible to disbelieve the children of gods, even though their statements lack either probable or necessary demonstration; and inasmuch as they profess to speak of family matters, we must follow custom and believe them. Therefore let the generation of these gods be stated by us, following their account, in this wise: Of Ge and Uranus were born the children Oceanus and Tethys; and of these, Phorkys, Cronos, Rhea, and all that go with them;" ...Timaeus 40d-40e.

Plato turns the Greek gods into a parody in hopes that the ignorant will see his forms as a better explanation for the universe. You know, placing science over mythology.
Got it now?
andrewcriddle
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:40 am
andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 3:31 am One issue with Timaeus and Genesis is how far the Timaeus should be interpreted literally. Aristotle interpreted the Timaeus literally and criticised it for having the visible world created in time rather than being eternal. The standard response in the Old Academy (the early successors of Plato) was that Aristotle was correct that the visible world was eternal but wrong to regard the Timaeus as disagreeing. They (with a number of modern scholars) took the Timaeus as non-literal.

In order to use the Timaeus as a basis for the early chapters of Genesis one needs to i/ interpret the Timaeus more-or-less literally, ii/ regard the Timaeus as true. I'm not sure that there is anyone in the period 350-250 BCE who definitely took that position.

Andrew Criddle
Plato couched his musings as "plausibilities"-- not certain, but "reasonable conjectures". I don't see how accepting them either as "reasonable conjectures" or as "dogmatic facts" makes any difference to the fact of clear links between Timaeus and Genesis -- which are acknowledged, by the way, in the scholarly literature on the Greek translation of Genesis.

Why do you think that regarding the Timaeus as dogmatically true as distinct from a plausible fable would have been a necessary precondition for anyone to use it as a model for Genesis?
My point is that in the period c 350 BCE to 250 BCE the Timaeus was either interpreted as straightforwardly false, or as false if taken literally and hence to be taken metaphorically. I'm not aware of anyone in that period who held that a/ Plato genuinely believed that the visible world had a beginning in time and that b/ Plato was probably correct in this position.

Andrew Criddle
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by neilgodfrey »

andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 6:03 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:40 am
andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 3:31 am One issue with Timaeus and Genesis is how far the Timaeus should be interpreted literally. Aristotle interpreted the Timaeus literally and criticised it for having the visible world created in time rather than being eternal. The standard response in the Old Academy (the early successors of Plato) was that Aristotle was correct that the visible world was eternal but wrong to regard the Timaeus as disagreeing. They (with a number of modern scholars) took the Timaeus as non-literal.

In order to use the Timaeus as a basis for the early chapters of Genesis one needs to i/ interpret the Timaeus more-or-less literally, ii/ regard the Timaeus as true. I'm not sure that there is anyone in the period 350-250 BCE who definitely took that position.

Andrew Criddle
Plato couched his musings as "plausibilities"-- not certain, but "reasonable conjectures". I don't see how accepting them either as "reasonable conjectures" or as "dogmatic facts" makes any difference to the fact of clear links between Timaeus and Genesis -- which are acknowledged, by the way, in the scholarly literature on the Greek translation of Genesis.

Why do you think that regarding the Timaeus as dogmatically true as distinct from a plausible fable would have been a necessary precondition for anyone to use it as a model for Genesis?
My point is that in the period c 350 BCE to 250 BCE the Timaeus was either interpreted as straightforwardly false, or as false if taken literally and hence to be taken metaphorically. I'm not aware of anyone in that period who held that a/ Plato genuinely believed that the visible world had a beginning in time and that b/ Plato was probably correct in this position.

Andrew Criddle
Sorry, I don't understand how that point relates to the hypothesis that Timaeus was behind Genesis.
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