Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

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

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 6:11 am
andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 6:03 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 4:40 am

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.
I'm assuming that the author of Genesis intended to uphold a creation in time of the visible world.
If so, and if the author was using the Timaeus as an authority, then the Timaeus must be regarded as both plausibly true and as upholding a creation in time of the visible world. I am suggesting that this would have been an unusual attitude to the Timaeus at that time.

Andrew Criddle
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.
...............
Links between the LXX of Genesis and the Timaeus may well be true, but there is no scholarly consensus.
See Septuagint Theology

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

Post by andrewcriddle »

FWIW review of Gmirkin on Genesis by Johann Cook.
https://hts.org.za/index.php/hts/articl ... 7432/22081

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

Post by rgprice »

@neil I don't think the writer(s) of Genesis 2:4-6 would have intended or assumed that readers of the narrative would understand its potential relationship to Plato's works. There are clearly missing pieces to the story. You acknowledge this.

If we assume Gmirkin's thesis is correct, what you are postulating is that Genesis is produced directly from Timaeus and that any details that appear to be missing from the biblical narrative are to be inferred from Plato's work.

I'm proposing that some longer work was derived from Timaeus first, and that the biblical narrative is a redacted version of the longer narrative, with Genesis 5 inserted into a narrative that spanned from Genesis 2:4-6:4. I would think that the longer narrative would more thoroughly cover the sons of God and account for the creation of the nations of the earth, with Yahweh being the son of God who creates the people of Israel, while other sons of God create the people of other nations.

From Enoch:
(I) Asael taught men to make swords of iron and breast-plates of bronze
and every weapon for war; and he showed them the metals of the earth. how
to work gold, to fashion [adornments] and about silver. to make bracelets
for women; and he instructed them about antimony, and eye-shadow, and
all manner of precious stones and about dyes and varieties ofadornmenrs; and
the children of men fashioned them for themselves and for their
daughters and transgressed; (2) and there arose much impiety on the
earth and they committed fornication and went astray and corrupted their
ways_ (3) Semhazah taught spell-binding and the cutting of roots; Hermoni
taught the loosing of spells, magic, sorcery and sophistry. Baraqel taught the
auguries of the lightning; Kokabiel taught the auguries of the stars; Zikiel
taught the auguries of fire-balls; Arteqif taught the auguries of earth; Simsel
taught the auguries of the sun; Sahrel taught the auguries of the moon. And
they all began to reveal secrets to their wives. (4) Then the giants began to
devour the flesh of men, and mankind began to become few upon the earth;
and as men perished from the earth, their voice went up to heaven: 'Bring our
cause before the Most High, and our destruction before the glory of the Great
One'.

This certainly reads more like Greek mythology. Here the sons of God have been reinterpreted as angels, but I can easily see this being part of the original story, in which these are terrestrial gods like Yahweh-Elohim of Genesis 2-3.

From the LXX:
Gen 3:
4 And the snake said to the woman, "You will not die by death, for God knew that on the day you eat of it your eyes would be opened, and you would be like gods, knowing good and evil."

"Die by death"? What did this really say? Did this really say that she would not be killed by Mot (i.e. another god) or something of that nature?

From the NASB, with name replacement:
Gen 3:
22 Then Yahweh Elohim said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out with his hand, and take fruit also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore Yahweh Elohim sent him out of the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.

Who is Yahweh talking to? Must be other sons of Elohim. As Gmirkin says, this could be taking place in the divine counsel. But if so, surely the divine counsel would have been introduced in the story. I simply don't think the writer would have left so much to the imagination nor would they have left so much to implied assumption based on prior lore. Surely this was a story that sought to explain everything.

As such, the story must have explained who Yahweh was talking to at some point. And you can't go back to Plato to understand who Yahweh is talking to, because Yahweh doesn't exist in Plato's works. So there must be an intermediate longer story.

The "Us" of Gen 3:22 must be the same as the "sons of God" mentioned in Gen 6:2 & 4.

Where might this lead?

It is important not to put the cart before the horse, and I can't make assertion simply to reach the proposed conclusion.

If it is the case that there was a Hebrew proto-Genesis, i.e. not simply Timaeus, but a longer Hebrew narrative, then would such a narrative not go a long way toward explaining the development of Gnostic accounts?

Gnostics essentially claimed that Yahweh was a liar, and that the Jews had been fooled into believing that Yahweh alone was the creator of the cosmos and humanity. However, they claimed, the "real story" involved many more actors. They claim, essentially, that the story in Genesis is a redacted and biased version of the real and much longer story.

Enoch essentially make the same claim, though in a different way.

Jubilees is interesting, because Jubilees harmonizes Gen 1 & 2 and gets rid of all the distinctions between Elohim and Yahweh. Jubilees also eliminates any talk of sons of God or "Us" and "We" type references, making for a much more clearly monotheistic account. Obviously, this was an issue of concern.

So is it not possible then that first century Gnostics were working from traditions that could be traced back to knowledge of such a proposed proto-Genesis?
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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 6:18 am
I'm assuming that the author of Genesis intended to uphold a creation in time of the visible world.
If so, and if the author was using the Timaeus as an authority, then the Timaeus must be regarded as both plausibly true and as upholding a creation in time of the visible world. I am suggesting that this would have been an unusual attitude to the Timaeus at that time.

Andrew Criddle
I can't see why "attitudes" and beliefs/interpretations about a myth and "scientific" cosmogony of various authors precludes a likelihood of authors adapting or illustrating a myth/cosmogony as it is written and read. How do we read the minds of the authors of Genesis?
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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 6:51 am As such, the story must have explained who Yahweh was talking to at some point. And you can't go back to Plato to understand who Yahweh is talking to, because Yahweh doesn't exist in Plato's works. So there must be an intermediate longer story.
Possibly, or the mere application of a Canaanite/Syrian god and pantheon being reinterpreted through Plato was sufficient to explain who Yahweh was talking with?

rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 6:51 am If it is the case that there was a Hebrew proto-Genesis, i.e. not simply Timaeus, but a longer Hebrew narrative, then would such a narrative not go a long way toward explaining the development of Gnostic accounts?

Gnostics essentially claimed that Yahweh was a liar, and that the Jews had been fooled into believing that Yahweh alone was the creator of the cosmos and humanity. However, they claimed, the "real story" involved many more actors. They claim, essentially, that the story in Genesis is a redacted and biased version of the real and much longer story.

. . . . .

So is it not possible then that first century Gnostics were working from traditions that could be traced back to knowledge of such a proposed proto-Genesis?
My subjective bias leads me to prefer to find a solution with the known texts (including texts without surviving manuscripts but known only by being cited in existing manuscripts) by any and all means possible before opting for the "missing link". Unless, that is, there the "missing link" can be inferred by suggestive details in textual analysis.
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John T
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by John T »

neilgodfrey wrote: Fri Sep 09, 2022 3:44 pm You don't think that Plato's account might be that longer tale on which parts of Genesis are based?
As has been thoroughly demonstrated, no!
The only question left to ask is: Can Neil be humble enough to admit he was completely wrong? Or is he like Michael Scott of the Office?

Don't bother, we already know the answer.

Now, for those who would rather have this thread turn into something constructive, I propose that once again we factor in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Any one, any one, Bueller, Bueller?

https://youtu.be/uhiCFdWeQfA
rgprice
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by rgprice »

neilgodfrey wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 7:50 am My subjective bias leads me to prefer to find a solution with the known texts (including texts without surviving manuscripts but known only by being cited in existing manuscripts) by any and all means possible before opting for the "missing link". Unless, that is, there the "missing link" can be inferred by suggestive details in textual analysis.
I understand the impulse, and its a good one, but I've come to the conclusion that we are actually missing quite a bit. Also, look at how many works we've found in the DSS that were previously never alluded to. I also no longer think that we posses the earliest versions of the Gospels. I don't think that either Mark or Marcion were the first Gospel. There are actually quite a few documents we have that are never discussed in other known sources.

So, while I think that its good not to rely on concepts like Q, we also have to acknowledge that less has been preserved that we would like to imagine.

That there is something missing behind G 6:1-4 acknowledged by many scholars.

I also think that its clear the sons of God in G 6:1-4 were meant by the original writers to be terrestrial gods, despite the fact that all ancient sources (that I know of) interpret them as either heavenly beings or "holy men" of an entirely different context. I would go so far as to say that there isn't a single known ancient source, based on the study by Jaap Doedens that correctly understood, that correctly understood who the sons of God were. This leads me to believe that the sons of God come from part of a lost narrative that was unknown to all of our known witnesses.
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John T
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by John T »

Daniel Machiela from McMaster University in his reading/translation of the Aramaic, Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20) 19, 24-26 indicates that the Book of Enoch was already in writing before Exodus. In the story, Abram was approached by 3 noble men of Pharaoh Zoan. They were seeking scribal knowledge, wisdom, and truth. Abram then read to them from the words of Enoch.

If true, this places the Book of Enoch hundreds of years before the Torah was written. It also helps solidify the argument that in general, the scrolls at Qumran written in Aramaic are much older than those written in Hebrew.

Still, we need to wait for the C-14 test results.
ABuddhist
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by ABuddhist »

John T wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 5:17 am Daniel Machiela from McMaster University in his reading/translation of the Aramaic, Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20) 19, 24-26 indicates that the Book of Enoch was already in writing before Exodus. In the story, Abram was approached by 3 noble men of Pharaoh Zoan. They were seeking scribal knowledge, wisdom, and truth. Abram then read to them from the words of Enoch.

If true, this places the Book of Enoch hundreds of years before the Torah was written.
Why should we assume that this is true, given that the scholarly mainstream regards Abraham as on the same level as, for example, Heracles and Enkidu?

Even if Abraham were conceded to be a real figure, the fact that stories claim that he used certain texts are not proof that the texts predate Abraham; such assertions could be anachronistic - perhaps made in order to lend authority to the texts.
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