Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

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

Post by rgprice »

I should note that while I agree with much of Gmirkin's analysis of Genesis, I don't necessarily agree that the writers were directly or intentionally patterning the story on Plato's works. It seems to me more likely that they were simply operating within commonly held Hellenistic notions as opposed to specifically patterning the account on Timaeus-Critias.

At any rate, it seems to me that there is a longer explicit narrative running behind Genesis 2-11.

That longer story would seem to include:

1) The creation of man by terrestrial Yahweh - son of El
2) The presence of multiple terrestrial gods in the Garden of Eden - all sons of El
3) The creation of other peoples by other gods outside of Yahweh's territory
4) Interrelations between humans and the terrestrial gods beyond what is mentioned in 6:1-4
5) Narrative covering the period between the rise of the heroes from the union of gods and women and corruption of the world
6) The retreat of the terrestrial gods from earth up to heaven prior to or during the flood
7) The re-apportionment of the nations according to the sons of God, as opposed to Noah
8) The actions of the counsel of gods in confusing the people of the earth so that they could not longer live among the gods as they did before the flood

Now, the retreat of the terrestrial gods up to heaven is important, because this is where the Tower of Babble comes into play. The gods lived on earth prior to the flood. They lived among the people. When the flood was sent, they retreated up to heaven. This is why the Tower was being built, to re-unite the people with the gods. But the gods knew the errors of the past. They knew that they could no longer be in the presence of humans, which is why they needed to stop the Tower.

But see, details here have been left out, so that the story no longer goes together, it just seems like a collection of small anecdotes. But really, there must be an underlying narrative that existed that tied all of these elements together.
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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 6:25 am FWIW review of Gmirkin on Genesis by Johann Cook.
https://hts.org.za/index.php/hts/articl ... 7432/22081

Andrew Criddle

A joy to read! --- at least after the searing hostility and scorn heaped upon anyone who should entertain the possibility of Hellenistic influence on the Hebrew Bible that a couple of persons in this forum have spewed out. SG, take note how one can disagree in a civil and respectful tone.

For the record, here is the informative conclusion:
It is clear that there is still no consensus on the question of whether Platonism had a fundamental impact on the Septuagint and on the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. There are broadly speaking three positions in this regard.

Firstly, there is a group of scholars who find practically no evidence of Platonic thinking in the creation stories, for example, Van der Horst (2015 (#CIT0031_7432) :5–7), Van der Meer (2016 (#CIT0032_7432) :37–57; 2017 (#CIT0033_7432) ) and Runia (1996 (#CIT0025_7432) :37–57; 2001 (#CIT0026_7432) ).

Secondly, there is a group who can be deemed maximalists and who thinks that Platonic perspectives were applied not only in the Septuagint but in the Hebrew Bible as well. Gmirkin (2006 (#CIT0011_7432) :22) and Dafni (2015 (#CIT0010_7432) :1) fit into this group.

Finally, there is a group of scholars led cautiously by Hiebert (2019 (#CIT0016_7432) :87) from Trinity Western University, who argued that the translator(s) of Genesis were immersed in the Hellenistic milieu in which they operated and were educated and employed some of Plato’s ideas on creation as found in his dialogue, the Timaeus. It remains difficult to determine which ideas were in fact used (Rösel 2020 (#CIT0024_7432) ).

In the final analysis, I conclude that there is a relationship between Judaism and Hellenism (Platonism). As far as the impact of Plato on Judaism is concerned, I have reservations. For one thing, I do not see how the same persons who created the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch also immediately translated it into Greek. For one thing, I do not see how the same persons who created the Hebrew text of the Pentateuch also immediately translated it into Greek. I found no evidence of such an action anywhere. I miss a convincing historical perspective in this regard. This does not mean that there was no relationship between Judaism and Platonism.

To be sure, I am of the opinion that there was a relationship of sorts, but that it was not as intense or pervasive as Gmirkin suggests. In my view, the creators of the Hebrew Bible did not have first-hand knowledge of Plato’s writings, allegedly found in the great library of Alexandria. By saying this, I do not mean to imply that the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament shows no Hellenistic influence.
Cook's major source of disagreement with Gmirkin appears to be the lack of direct primary evidence for Gmirkin's model. He describes Gmirkin's model as "speculative".

Of course, there is no direct primary evidence and Gmirkin explains at the outset of his latest book that he is following a deductive approach: bringing his hypothesis to the data and seeing if the data "fits". One person's "speculation" is another person's "deductive method". The reader will have to decide whether Gmirkin's discussion is a fair and reasonable interpretation of the evidence in relation to his theory.

One thing I do have a problem with is statements like "such and such is not convincing" or "I do not find x persuasive". Those are descriptions of a subjective state of mind. What I prefer to see is a critic give specific examples to justify those "feelings". Cook may well have specific reasons and it may be for lack of space that he did not include any in his review. But that's where the discussion has to happen. So far it seems such a discussion is nowhere in sight on this forum with critics seeming to suggest we are fools even for taking the hypothesis with any seriousness at all.

In other words, what I am trying to say, for a useful discussion to take place it would be helpful if participants actually read the book or at least proposed questions that went beyond suspicious mind-reading straw man objections.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by MrMacSon »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:38 pm
Cook's major source of disagreement with Gmirkin appears to be the lack of direct primary evidence for Gmirkin's model. He describes Gmirkin's model as "speculative".

Of course there is no direct primary evidence and Gmirkin explains at the outset of his latest book that he is following a deductive approach*: bringing his hypothesis to the data and seeing if the data "fits". One person's "speculation" is another person's "deductive method".* The reader will have to decide whether Gmirkin's discussion is a fair and reasonable interpretation of the evidence in relation to his theory.

* I'd say that, if there is no direct primary evidence then, rather than following a deductive approach (or method), Gmirkin would be following an inductive approach
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Easy to mix them up. Gmirkin makes it easy by spelling it out from page 2.

From Gmirkin, Russell E. Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts: Cosmic Monotheism and Terrestrial Polytheism in the Primordial History. Abingdon, Oxon New York, NY: Routledge, 2022.
This book pursues a deductive approach to identifying the antecedent literary and intellectual influences on Genesis 1-11 by means of the wellknown academic disciplines of comparative studies and source criticism. (p. 2)
A well-executed comparative study typically takes place in five stages that broadly correspond to those of the modem scientific method.

1 Selection of topic. . . .
2 Identification of candidates for comparison. . . .
3 Inductive collection of data. . . .
4 Deductive testing of hypotheses. . . .

5 Establishing mechanisms of transmission. . . . (pp 2-5)
1 .4 Final Remarks on Methodology

The deductive framework of comparative method and source criticism allows the origins of the biblical notion of a supreme cosmic deity to be traced to the god of the eternal realm hypothesized in Plato’s Timaeus and provides insights into the agendas and conflicts of authorial groups involved in the creation of the Pentateuch. . . . (p. 23)
https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/ind ... reasoning/
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MrMacSon
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by MrMacSon »

I was thinking in terms of Inductive Reasoning vs. Deductive reasoning

iirc,

Deductive reasoning uses related factual premises to deduce a sound, true (or virtually true) conclusion

Inductive Reasoning uses inter-related and perhaps other propositions to induce a cogent, reasonable conclusion (that can't be, as yet, proven)
rgprice
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by rgprice »

Deuteronomy 32 states:
8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

Genesis 10 states:
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their descendants, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.

So here we have a direct contradiction.

Interestingly, about the only other place in the Jewish scriptures that mentions "sons of God" is Genesis 1-11. Does Deut 32 point to a different version of the Genesis story, in which the nations were divided among the sons of God mentioned throughout Genesis 1-11 as opposed to Noah? So is the allotment of the nations according to the sons of Noah a later revision to an older narrative, with Deut 32 preserving the original narrative?
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John T
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by John T »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Sep 12, 2022 6:38 pm
In other words, what I am trying to say, for a useful discussion to take place it would be helpful if participants actually read the book or at least proposed questions that went beyond suspicious mind-reading straw man objections.
Are you talking about your refusal to read Timaeus using Socrates method of inductive reasoning or Gmirkin's?
ABuddhist
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by ABuddhist »

rgprice wrote: Tue Sep 13, 2022 2:58 am Deuteronomy 32 states:
8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

Genesis 10 states:
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their descendants, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.

So here we have a direct contradiction.

Interestingly, about the only other place in the Jewish scriptures that mentions "sons of God" is Genesis 1-11.
What about Job 1:6 and Job 2:1?
StephenGoranson
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by StephenGoranson »

There are also other readings and translations of Deuteronomy 32: 8-9.
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John T
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Re: Was there a proto-Genesis-Creation writing?

Post by John T »

rgprice wrote: Sat Sep 10, 2022 9:16 pm
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.
On that we can agree.

Perhaps, you can now entertain the sticky point that some here on this thread are deliberately trying to ignore. That is how literature migrated from Mesopotamia 2,500 BCE in the form of cuneiform. That proto-Sinatic script goes back to 1,700 BCE in the land of Cannan. That when Abram left Ur it is only logical that he took with him stories of the first humans and the great flood as told in Gilgamesh? That by the time the Greeks conquered Canaan/Egypt and translated the stories of Genesis into Greek, the Enoch stories were already written down over a thousand years before Plato was born? That it is logical to think that the story of Enoch is older than the story of the Exodus?

Even so, would it make a difference with the mythicists?

John T is done with this thread.
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