September 23, 2017

Blogging through The Lost World of Adam and Eve (3)

61Y4wiWbWOL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Blogging through “The Lost World of Adam and Eve”, by John Walton
• Post #3: Propositions 7-11

Here are the next propositions John Walton makes regarding Adam and Eve and the account of Genesis 2-3:

  • The second creation account can be viewed as a sequel to the creation account in Genesis 1 (not a recapitulation of the sixth day).
  • “Forming from dust” and “building from rib” are archetypical claims and not claims of material origins.
  • Forming of humans in ANE literature is archetypical, so it would not be unusual for Israelites to think that way.
  • The New Testament is more interested in Adam and Eve as archetypes than as biological progrenitors.
  • Though Adam and Eve are archetypal, they are nonetheless real people who lived in a real past.

With these propositions, John Walton attempts to solidify the main argument of his book:

Genesis (and the rest of the Bible) treats Adam primarily as an archetype, nevertheless he was a real historical person.

Proposition 7: This point has been self-evident to me ever since I came to understand the structure of Genesis. Genesis is organized according to ten statements introduced by a phrase using the the word toledot: “These are the generations of…” Essentially, these statements introduce a new section that builds upon the previous one, telling “what came forth” from the main character of the previous section. Genesis begins with the ordering of the “heavens and the earth.” Genesis 2:4ff tells “what became of” the heavens and the earth. Creationists see Genesis 2 as a recapitulation of the sixth day in Genesis 1, but Walton points out why that cannot be so. One implication of this is that Genesis 1 describes the creation of humankind while Genesis 2 describes another, later election by God of a particular couple of human beings. Adam in chapter 1 does not equal adam in chapter 2, and the particular adam in chapter 2ff was not necessarily the first human being.

Proposition 8: This is a key section of the book. Walton attempts to show that Genesis 2 is not necessarily an account of the “de novo” creation of the first human beings. Rather than portraying a unique, individual event, the “creation” of Adam and Eve is an archetypical representation of the nature of human beings. He gives evidence from throughout the Bible that all human beings are viewed as being formed from “dust” (mortal). Furthermore, he makes the case that the account of Eve being created from Adam’s “side” represents a vision Adam saw rather than an actual “surgical” procedure, and that the subsequent context shows the woman’s archetypical role as the ontological complement to the male.

Previously in this chapter, we found reason to conclude that “formed from dust” was archetypal rather than a description pertaining to Adam alone. We have also seen reason to believe that “rib” should be understood as “side.” Furthermore, we have suggested that Adam has seen Eve’s formation in a vision but that the vision conveys an ontological truth with Eve serving as an archetype. In both cases, the archetypal interpretation offers the reader significant theology about the identity of mankind and womankind. As such, it does not, however, make definitive claims about the material origins of either Adam or Eve. If Genesis 2 makes no claims about material human origins, one would find no other statement in the Bible to offer details beyond the fact that we are all God’s creatures. (p. 81)

adameve1

Adam and Eve, Crabeth

Proposition 9: I won’t spend a lot of time on this section, but Walton reviews pertinent Ancient Near Eastern accounts of human origins and finds that they universally focus on the role and function of humans in the cosmos, rather than trying to merely explain where humans came from (their biological existence). He does this to provide a cultural context for how the Israelites might likewise have thought.

Proposition 10: In this section, John Walton leaves Genesis and takes a look at how the New Testament presents Adam. There are five passages in the NT that name Adam and Eve:

  • Romans 5
  • 1Corinthians 15:21-22
  • 1Corinthians 15:45-49
  • 2Corinthians 11 (Eve)
  • 1Timothy 2

He finds that these passages pay little attention to the question of human origins (were Adam and Eve the first created humans) and focus more on the subject of the fall. Adam is viewed as an archetype representing mortal humanity and as the one through whom all sinned. At this point, Walton is not concerned to elucidate all the details, merely to show that an archetypal interpretation is consistent with the NT perspective.

Proposition 11: John Walton is convinced, in the end, that Adam and Eve were real individuals who lived in real space-time history, and that, even though the Bible portrays them as archetypes who represent certain spiritual truths, their historicity is unquestionable.

When we identify Adam and Eve as historical figures, we mean that they are real people involved in real events in a real past. They are not inherently mythological or legendary, though their roles may contribute to them being treated that way in some of the reception history. Likewise they are not fictional. At the same time, there may be some elements in their profile that are not intended to convey historical elements. I have already noted (chap. 6) that their name are not their historical names. Likewise, if the forming accounts are archetypal, those are presenting truths about the identity of Adam and Eve rather than historical events. Despite these qualifications and caveats, I believe the textual information leads to the conclusion that Adam and Eve should be considered real people in a real past for several important reasons. (p. 101)

The two primary reasons Walton finds for believing in a historical Adam are:

  • The genealogies: “By putting Adam in ancestor lists, the authors of Scripture are treating him as a historical person.” (p. 102)
  • The fall: “…we observe that the punctiliar nature of the redemptive act is compared to the punctiliar nature of the fall, which therefore requires a historical even played out by historical people.” (p. 103)

Though Walton sees them as historical, he does not think we are required to view Adam and Eve as the first human beings or the universal ancestors of all human beings. “In other words, the question of the historical Adam has more to do with sin’s origins than with material human origins” (p. 103).

Comments

  1. I’m getting flashbacks to Francis Schaeffer’s Genesis in Space and Time.

    As for “historical,” i do wish Walton had chosen another term or phrase, because (as someone who has training as a historian), it is, imo, inaccurate and misleading to ascribe historicity to people who lived prior to the actual beginnings of recorded history. We can verify the existence of many actual people who lived in Greece, in Greek colonies, and in Rome, but this is utterly impossible in this case.

    • Robert F says:

      Walton believes that the scriptures assert the actual existence of Adam and Eve, and, as a traditional evangelical, he believes that whatever the scriptures, when properly interpreted, actually assert cannot be incorrect, and is better than mountains of ordinary historical evidence. His reinterpretation of certain passages of Genesis does nothing more than make room for harmonization of traditional Christian theology and scriptural interpretation with scientific evidence that seem to contradict it, thereby also making securing a little space for a god-of-the-gaps (at least for now).

  2. Robert F says:

    So let me get this straight: Walton assert that Adam and Eve were actual persons because:

    1) He believes that the scriptures assert the actual existence of them as persons by including them in ancestor lists (This must mean that Walton believes the scriptures cannot be incorrect in anything they actually assert).

    2) He believes that the Church’s traditional theology of the fall requires the existence of Adam and Eve, so they must have existed.

    Both of these are the kind of circular thinking that makes non-evangelical scholars cringe. And the net result is that, so far as introducing anything really new to evangelical scholarship, one may say about Walton’s interpretations, “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

    • The way I see it is that Walton is cracking doors open that evangelicals have been unwilling to touch. Personally, I don’t think he goes nearly far enough, but his interpretations are: (1) a fascinating example of evangelicals testing the bounds of acceptable interpretation, and (2) a frustrating example of the hold “inerrancy” has upon the evangelical mind.

      I too am willing to say there must be some ancestral memory of a first Israelite couple, that I don’t think Adam and Eve were just made up out of whole cloth, but I wouldn’t argue that on the basis that “the Bible proves it.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “The Bible Proves It” sounds too much like a Ken Ham Q.E.D. it weakens his point. Like after all this interpretation from ANE headspace, the wall in the mind slams down and “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

        Or he could be trying to head off the Born-Again Heretic Hunters by parading his credentials — “See? I’m really a Literalist!”

      • Walton is an important stepping stone for those of us getting out of YEC.

        • Half a thought – what would be a fun list of apologetic books/essays/etc to give to someone deprogramming themselves from the fundy/evangelical machine?

        • I agree. It is one reason I’m posting this series. Studying Genesis carefully was an important step for me in my journey.

          • Reading IM’s Walton and Genesis and creation series that were done back in 2010 is what helped push me out of an extreme YEC church (the fundy charismatic one). That, catching the resident YEC evangelists in an open consistent lie (that I had heard several years in a row), ignoring my rhetoric classes to just mainline OEC sources, and then going home one day, sitting on the couch, and reading all I could on the YEC/OEC/etc positions for 8 straight hours…things broke up quickly.

            Walton is important, and has his niche. I don’t think he’s the final say on this subject, but he’s a waystation.

          • Was talking to a friend a few weeks ago, and she mentioned something about “darwinian altruism”. No idea what that is. She also grew up in more typical YEC environments, yet evolution and the rest made her God bigger and more powerful to her.

            I realize I have such huge (HUGE) gaps in my knowledge, having grown up in the AiG system for 25 years, that I barely know anything about evolution, modern science, astrology, any of it. Kind of makes me angry and depressed how little I know.

            I mentioned Interstellar a while back as being like a sermon or whatever to me. Watch the parent/teacher conference scene at the beginning of the film. It sums up living in an AiG/YEC environment pretty well.

            I used to be big into science as a kid, reading all those popular science books (“Star Trek and Metaphysics!”) for fun. But then at some point, theology became more important, the YEC mindset cracked down, and I lost all that. I grieve for the loss of the child I once was, the path I may have taken, and then years in the wilderness since then.

            Now…I don’t know where to begin to start learning. Or whether i”ll have the time and attention to learn and grow.

            The church lost something incredible and special at the scopes trial. Not only our place at the table in the science discussion, but also our place in God’s creation. He’s abandoned us because we spat in his face and turned our back on him.

          • Replying to Stuart here…

            Your experience is precisely what I fear most of the effects of the more narrow-minded presentations of YEC on children: you early on learned to distance yourself from science. (I was much luckier in that my YEC parents insisted we kids make up our minds on such matters as we grew up.)

            Yes, it is hard to know where to START, but at least you know that you can start, rather than living in the perpetual END of YEC, which has no open questions with which to wrestle. (It’s called “Answers in Genesis” rather than “Questions about Genesis”, after all!)

            I know you’re reading widely already, but I’d recommend my own personal favorite, John Haught’s “Deeper than Darwin.” His take is that there are many levels on which the subject can be engaged, so I think you may find it very helpful given where you find yourself right now.

            Heads up, my friend. You”ve got many years ahead of you in which to grow. Don’t be discouraged — we’re all pulling for you.

          • To Stuart,

            But then at some point, theology became more important, the YEC mindset cracked down, and I lost all that. I grieve for the loss of the child I once was, the path I may have taken, and then years in the wilderness since then.

            I can really relate to this, and it’s reality becomes most glaring for me with questions of science and origins. The intellectual and theological gymnastics, the fear and manipulation, the way that all the world (especially science) is viewed with suspicion and communities isolate themselves – so destructive.

            Finding ways to leave this is akin to going through the stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, etc.

          • Your experience is precisely what I fear most of the effects of the more narrow-minded presentations of YEC on children: you early on learned to distance yourself from science. (I was much luckier in that my YEC parents insisted we kids make up our minds on such matters as we grew up.)

            I took the DNR’s hunter safety class this past weekend (for work, mostly). In the class was the 12 yr old brother of an upper classman of my own 5 year younger brother (confusing time gap). I don’t know this kid, but I grew up in the same environment.

            The education we received was excellent, and one of the instructor’s went into a bit of detail about what we know about the history of the earth, animals, evolution of man’s hunting ability, etc. And I could see this kid, a few rows in front of me…just shut down. A hyper attentive 12 year old always eager to raise his hand for every single question, and his mind just shut down because he was being told lies. I grieved a little because I saw myself in that kid, and wanted to shake him awake…you are hearing great information, knowledge you need, pay attention! But, no.

            It’s much more than than just distancing yourself from science. It’s standing firm on truth against the liberal lies. All science must be filtered through the proper worldview, the properly tinted glasses, to remove the liberal lies and atheist agenda and to get whatever meat is there. It gives you the ability to smile and smirk, wink wink, we know that’s not true because God’s word. And plenty of experts agree, cite AiG, why don’t our views get respected, shouldn’t we have a seat at the table, grand unified conspiracy theory.

            Truly, we are the persecuted. We’re the smart ones for not believing such foolishness.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I realize I have such huge (HUGE) gaps in my knowledge, having grown up in the AiG system for 25 years, that I barely know anything about evolution, modern science, astrology, any of it. Kind of makes me angry and depressed how little I know.

            First, I think you meant “Astronomy” instead of “Astrology”. Not sure where to begin about that, as astronomy was one of my passions until my time in-country in the Evangelical Bubble, when the knee-jerk Jesus Jukes every time I mentioned the subject burned it out of me. And the damage is still there.

            That said, astronomy is one of those subjects where there’s always a stream of new discoveries. And it casts a broad net from stars to galaxies to planets to asteroids to cosmology and origins. So wide that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

            But for a quick primer on evolution with interesting asides into the history of science, I recommend Steven Jay Gould’s essay collections such as Ever Since Darwin, The Panda’s Thumb, etc. You should be able to find them in used bookstores (either Meatspace or online). For a bit more technical look, the Biologos website presents both technical explanations and philosophical essays on reconciling evolutionary evidence with Christianity.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            The education we received was excellent, and one of the instructor’s went into a bit of detail about what we know about the history of the earth, animals, evolution of man’s hunting ability, etc. And I could see this kid, a few rows in front of me…just shut down.

            Like that Army Intel guy telling me about working with the locals in Iraq. How you can take them only so far, then the wall in the mind slams down, the thoughtstoppers engage, and there is only “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I mentioned Interstellar a while back as being like a sermon or whatever to me. Watch the parent/teacher conference scene at the beginning of the film. It sums up living in an AiG/YEC environment pretty well.

            That’s what good SF is supposed to do. It’s been called the genre of ideas, and the “S” can stand for “Speculative” as well as “Science”. Most people think SF “predicts the future”, It does not. It explores POSSIBLE futures, and possible alternate pasts & presents. A better description would be “The Great What If?”

            And then there’s the “Sensawunda” that’s been eclipsed by the Seinfeld Sneer and Appropriate Ironic Quip. The Wonders of What If? The scene from Interstellar works on this level, too. In the movie, Earth is dying, humans will become extinct if nothing is done. And the Seinfeld Sneer of the Powers that Be in that culture have given up; all that can be done is to “be realistic” — teach the kids to Accept Humanity’s Inevitable Extinction, don’t give them “false hopes”, it’s all over but the screaming, will the last human remember to turn out the lights with an Appropriate Ironic Quip.

            It’s like an old posting by the original Internet Monk about “MAO Inhibitors”, the “MAO” in that case being “Mystery, Awe, and Otherness”.

            The church lost something incredible and special at the scopes trial. Not only our place at the table in the science discussion, but also our place in God’s creation. He’s abandoned us because we spat in his face and turned our back on him.

            Some years ago in one of the comment threads, somebody recounted a Private Revelation that said exactly that in the context of Christianese creative media. Since Christians dropped the ball so completely, God was withdrawing His mantle from them and putting it over the secular creative arts. Henceforth secular fiction, movies, and TV would start saying what God wanted said while the Christians kept congratulating themselves on their Left Behinds and God’s Not Deads and Omega Codes to Witness to the Evangelical Bubble Choir.

          • That Other Jean says:

            StuartB, for help filling in the gaps in your education, I can recommend Carl Sagan’s _Cosmos_, both the book and the TV series, as well as his _The Demon-Haunted World_”. The TV series is, I think, still available on YouTube, and both books from online used-book stores. I’m a fan of abebooks, myself.. Both Sagan ad Stephen Jay Gould are excellent writers, and highly engaging without being overwhelmingly technical even when their subjects get complicated.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            StuartB – I can’t tell you how much I resonate with your comment. And I even studied science -but the internal mental blocks kept me from going further, from advancing in my field, because I kept having this massive disconnect between the science in front of me, and the beliefs I was taught.

            I could have done so, so much in my career, but it is hard to make up for it when you discover your mistake later in life, with a stagnated career, and a family to take care of.

            Sometimes people may wonder why i tend to react to YEC and related arguments pretty strongly and intensely here. This is why. Because they Bloody well stole my life, that is why.

          • Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I’ve been reading BioLogos off and on for many years now, but I’m still looking for more simplistic, “popular” scientific works. The original Cosmos is something I definitely need to see too. (Last summer I watched some episodes of the new Cosmos with a friend, and we went through some discomfort with another friend because he’s strong YEC or close enough and he couldn’t understand why we’d be watching the Cosmos series and liking it, especially without “listening to the other side”. No thanks, I did that for too long. And in hindsight, there is no other side.)

            HUG – I was a huge Trekkie back in the day too. I’ve always appreciated science fiction over fantasy, and especially speculative over HARD science fiction. The more scientific my SF gets, the least interesting it is.

          • That’s what good SF is supposed to do. It’s been called the genre of ideas, and the “S” can stand for “Speculative” as well as “Science”. Most people think SF “predicts the future”, It does not. It explores POSSIBLE futures, and possible alternate pasts & presents. A better description would be “The Great What If?”

            You want to talk about the slippery slope of questioning inerrancy? I’ve always known and acknowledged HUG’s quote, but there was always the instant mindstop of “but that’s fiction, while the Bible is TRUE”. This is false, this is true. So any big ideas that literature work up MUST be held at arms length and evaluated in a vacuum separate from other ideas.

            Now, I don’t have that mind check in place anymore. And the big ideas can be honestly engaged with.

            See my to be written post about Safeworld/Assassin’sCreed/DragonAge for more, lol.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            You want to talk about the slippery slope of questioning inerrancy? I’ve always known and acknowledged HUG’s quote, but there was always the instant mindstop of “but that’s fiction, while the Bible is TRUE”. This is false, this is true.

            Don’t forget “Everything that is Not True is FALSE.”
            Followed by “Only SCRIPTURE(TM) is TRUE.”
            And the list of What Is FALSE (and Forbidden) becomes longer and longer, and what is Not Forbidden becomes Absolutely Compulsory.

        • To the degree that Walton’s approach allows for more productive conversation between faith and science his approach will be a good thing. In some ways though, I think it’s doubling down on the same approaches. The overarching paradigm is one with a specific set of presuppositions about the nature of the Bible in which so many particulars need to be harmonized so technically and perfectly or it comes crashing down.

          Within Walton’s paradigm and from a theological standpoint, prop #7 in particular (the idea that Genesis 2 doesn’t reference “original” humans combined with the Lost World of Genesis One) should lead to conversations about death before the fall (and “the fall” itself) which is desperately needed.

        • Stuart – I really appreciate your comments. Like Robert F, I have not struggled with YEC and science the way many of you have, since, even though I was in churches that were basically YEC-supportive for a long time, I was not raised in that kind of church. So I believed that science was real and reconcilable with Scripture, though for many years, I had uneasy thoughts about having to suppress my beliefs about science in the YEC-leaning atmosphere of those churches.

          It took me some years to detox from that kind of thinking after I was kicked out, but that was more about the historicity of many OT accounts/stories than it was about science.

          So yes, as CM said to Robert just below, it is hard for those of us who weren’t exposed to this stuff from childhood onward to appreciate the role Walton’s work might play for those who were – like you.

  3. This may open another can of worms, but in Orthodox iconography, Adam and Eve are usually portrayed as representatives of sinful humanity, rather than represented as individual objects of veneration. In an icon, The Church is telling you, “this is a person, someone with whom you may form a relationship, whom you may come to know”.

    I have seen an icon of the Holy Forefather Seth. It is a very ancient Russian icon.

    The only icon of Adam I found on the Internet is Adam as a member of the Holy Forefathers, who are celebrated on the Sunday before Christmas. He has a nimbus in the icon of the Resurrection, but I have never heard of any Orthodox Christian requesting the intercessions of Adam or Eve.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Never heard of it on my side of the Adriatic, either.

      • Robert F says:

        According to the Wikipedia article on Catholicism and Evolution, Roman Catholic theology asserts the actual existence of Adam and Eve as real persons, and their responsibility for the Fall, though it does not insist on the historical accuracy of all the details regarding them in Genesis.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      That is an interesting point, one seemingly worthy of consideration in the mix of all this.

  4. It’s interesting that ‘rational’ religion is pretty axiomatically less rational than rational not-religion. Sure, they’ll get up what seems like a good head of steam, parsing language, reconciling seeming contradictions, incorporating historical and scientific evidence, but however long the chain of paper dolls is, some shield-of-dogma always, always comes down before one reaches what really seems like the logical conclusion.

    A “god of the gaps” is one thing. A “god of the gaps that you yourself created” is just mental self-sabotage, straight-up.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I might be able to agree with you, if I knew what you mean by “rational non-religion.” Can you explain what you mean by that, or what you think “rational non-religion” entails?

  5. Rick Ro. says:

    Just thinking out loud here, so bear with my rambling to see if it gets anywhere…

    Whenever there are articles like this at iMonk, in my mind I try to bring them back around to “Jesus-shaped spirituality.” With that said, I’m trying to think about what it is in the Adam and Eve story and in the in-depth analysis and breakdown of Adam and Eve’s part of the creation story that brings out Jesus-shaped spirituality. So the big question to me is: How does the Adam and Eve story bring out the Jesus-shaped spirituality in us?

    I’ll open that question up to anyone to answer, but here are some of my own thoughts…
    1) If the word (the Bible) points to the Word (Jesus), then there is something in Adam and Eve that points to Him.
    2) Jesus came from Adam and Eve, just like we all do. That makes him human. In whatever way God brought about life, whether through instantaneous creation or millions of years worth of evolution, whether by a real Adam and Eve or a “notional” Adam and Eve, Jesus was human. His lineage goes all the way back to original man.
    3) The Adam and Eve story, regardless of the mysterious details, point to a fall from a relationship with each other and a fall from a relationship with God. It points to a need for a fix to relationships with each other and a fix to relationship with God. That ultimately points to the need for Jesus.

    To me, anything else that is brought up in regards to the Adam and Eve story that doesn’t help us use it to shape our spirituality around Jesus, is just noise and (potentially) fun to ar

    • Rick Ro. says:

      (ooops…got distracted and hit “Reply” before finishing my final thought…)

      “…and (potentially) fun to argue, but ultimately doesn’t mean a whole lot in terms of relationship with God and relationship with each other, not unless we try to bring Jesus into it.”

    • To me, anything else that is brought up in regards to the Adam and Eve story that doesn’t help us use it to shape our spirituality around Jesus, is just noise and (potentially) fun to ar etc, lol

      I’d say this post and similar fit under the other mission of IM, the “post-evangelical wasteland”. Because for some of us who grew up in this stuff, it’s not that it’s fun to argue and noise, it’s the all or nothing mindset we are coming out from. It deeply, truly MATTERS, even more so I’d argue than “Jesus-shaped spirituality”, because of the hardline approach so many take.

      After all, Jesus himself is at stake if you are wrong on a literal YEC interpretation, so best sort out the latter before you can get to know the former.

      Fundamentalism, as a whole, is about issues more important than Jesus himself. Because if you are wrong about those issues, Jesus doesn’t matter, is irrelevant, is a liar or a lunatic.

      Fundamentalism: more important than Jesus.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        I hear what you’re saying. For damaged folks, this is incredibly important. I’d still argue that shaping discussions like this around Jesus is paramount to becoming “healthy.”

        • Rick, of course I agree with you and am thankful for your reminder. However, there is a process involved here too, that we’re trying to lay bare anytime we do a post on biblical interpretation. That process doesn’t always involve jumping right to Jesus but may start with helping us think through how the Bible leads us in his direction.

          • Q: How is walking barefoot like leaving out Jesus?

            A: In both cases you are leaving behind Yeshua

            : )

    • Good thoughts Rick. Thanks for always reminding us of this.

  6. Some suggestions:

    Donald Prothero “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters”
    Jerry Coyne “Why Evolution Is True”
    Richard Dawkins “The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” (Yes I know but don’t let the name scare you. Whatever else the man might be he is a master explainer. This book is not about atheism. It’s about biology. And it’s one of the clearest explanations of the whole shebang I’ve ever read.)

    Neil deGrasse Tyson “Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution” (Published late last year, this is a well written, up to date guide to what secular scientists think happened.)
    Lawrence Krauss “A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing” (ditto)

    Irving Finkel “The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood” (Finkel is an Assyriologist and an expert in cuneiform and discovered a previously unknown account of the flood in the archived materials in the British Museum. This book is a wonderful account of how the stories in the Bible came to be, focusing on the Flood story.)
    James L. Kugel “The God of Old: Inside the Lost World of the Bible” (Kugel is a Jewish scholar who investigates what the ancient texts meant to the ancient peoples themselves. A terrific book!)

    And finally, Hebrew scholar and translator Robert Alter, after a lifetime of study, has been publishing translations and commentaries of the Hebrew Bible. Start with Genesis and work your way forward. Currently he’s working on the Prophets. I can’t recommend Alter’s work more highly. Aside from the beautiful translations his notes are priceless.

    • Great suggestions, thanks!

      • I’m not sure if anyone else posting today is familiar with this site, but I find the “Just Genesis” web site to be very interesting. Not YEC in any shape. Viewpoint is more from an anthropological perspective. If you decide to check it out do a search on Just Genesis Index of Topics.

    • Seconding the Allter rec!

  7. Robert F says:

    I think it’s hard for me to relate to this whole discussion because I’m not a recovering fundamentalist. I’m an alienated Roman Catholic, which is a horse of a completely different color. None of this stuff about the historicity of the scriptures was drilled into my head (although quite a bit of crazy-making moral theology was), nor was the accuracy of the Bible as a history book made central to the central affirmations of Catholic faith. I was never taught that belief in evolution was antithetical to Christian faith. The first Bible I ever received, the Saint Joseph Edition of the New American Standard Bible, which was given to me at my first Communion, contained prefatory chapters that frankly and openly discussed the legendary and mythical nature of much of the Old Testament, and the idea that the Bible, both OT and NT, is not primarily history or biography, but proclamation. In all this, the Roman Catholic Church did me a great service; I’m thankful that I’ve not had to go through the same deprogramming torments that so many here at iMonk struggle with.

  8. The TRVTH, if we ever become worthy of it, is likely to be stranger and more wonderful than either Stephen Jay Gould or Ken Ham could ever have imagined.

    I keep saying the Bibley-ibley-ibley crowd “It’s not that the Bible isn’t true. It’s that what you call true isn’t true, or at least doesn’t cover all the ways in which it can be true.”

    • Rick Ro. says:

      “… It’s that what you call true isn’t true, or at least doesn’t cover all the ways in which it can be true.”

      Bingo. I’ve come to realize this in myself over the past 5 years of my walk with Jesus. I think most of what we believe and present as “truth” is actually opinion, because what we think is truth actually isn’t. So all these hills we fight on and die for will prove to be pointless battles that did nothing to further God’s Kingdom.

    • Christiane says:

      Hi BURRO,

      I think you are right about this: ” “It’s not that the Bible isn’t true. It’s that what you call true isn’t true, or at least doesn’t cover all the ways in which it can be true.”

      because of this, I do believe that unbeknownst to many of the fundamentalists, their literal interpretations have actually disrespected the more mysterious depths of sacred Scripture.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        “…literal interpretations have actually disrespected the more mysterious depths of sacred Scripture.”

        Bingo, also, Christiane! I had a similar conversation with someone just yesterday, with me saying that the more I study the Bible and mature in my walk, the MORE mysterious God becomes, not less, and that I LOVE that God is far bigger than any box my puny mind can put Him in. I think some people like their God in a box, like a God they can wrap their heads around, and literal interpretations do that. (I’d suggest that so do denominations and theologies.)