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Essorant
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50 posted 02-11-2005 06:39 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


What, when, and where was man's first religion?  

~DreamChild~
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51 posted 02-11-2005 09:23 PM       View Profile for ~DreamChild~   Email ~DreamChild~   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ~DreamChild~

That's a good question...


-Merriam Webster-

Main Entry: re·li·gion
Pronunciation: ri-'li-j&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back -- more at RELY
1 a : the state of a religious b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
- re·li·gion·less adjective  


If the bible is correct, Adam and his sons began exercizing religious activities after mans fall into sin. Adam and his sons offered sacrifices to God by means of burning them.

I'm not an expert on the subject, but I don't recall reading of a commandment from God, or law requiring burnt offerings, until the time of Moses, or after.

God required these burnt offerings and sacrifices as "pentance" , so to say, to appease his long-suffering wrath for the sins of man.

I would think to say, that according to the bible, religion originated during the exodus of the Hebrew people from egypt. That is when God gave his commandments to the Hebrews. I believe that this was when the ideah was officially born, that man would inherit eternal life and happiness by works and sacrifice.

In regard to Adam's offerings, they were offered in grief, and repentance. This pleased God. And so perhaps the ideah that sacrifices please "gods" was around even before God's commandments were.

So in sum, i would say religion is as old as man.

fractal007
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52 posted 02-12-2005 02:08 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Stephanos:

I'm glad to have come back and seen you continuing around here.  Perhaps you could clarify this claim:

the host of problems, philosophical, psychological, and theological, I encounter when I would disregard the Bible as false, more than convince me that it is a book of certain truth.


It seems as though you are discussing a personal preference rather than some more objective argument for the authority of scripture.  

As for my own beliefs about the existence of God?  I must confess that I have neglected philosophical arguments for the existence of God.  I have seen a belief in Him as more of a choice of fundamental beliefs.  For example, one might place a measure of faith in science as a legitimate means for arriveing at the truth.  Perhaps logic (a foundation whose validity Philmont seems to be having some trouble with) serves as a foundation.  Essentially, it is impossible to go through life without some fundamental set of beliefs - metaphysical or otherwise.  God, at least for the religious person (or rather, perhaps one whose religion holds that He exists) finds a place in that set of underlying propositions.  

So, the reader can tell, no doubt that I am a Christian theist, but not one who feels in some way obligated to demonstrate the existence of God.  But I suppose that demonstrating the truth of our own fundamental propositions would be a challenge - no matter what those propositions are.  Can one demonstrate the validity of science as a means for arriving at the pure, unadulterated and obviously unbiased truth?

The debate between yourself and Aenimal is very fascinating and I've enjoyed reading both sides of the argument.  Reminds me of the days when I used to be interested in apologetics.  Maybe I should get back into that again....

As for what defines religion....heh.  I don't know.  That's a tough question and one that assumes that religion is some abstract entity one can simply crawl out from at one's liesure to examine and critique.  I have been surprised at the variety of definitions for it.  For some it implies staunch hypocritical conservativism - as though the two terms hypicritical and conservative were guaranteed to walk hand in hand - while for others it implies rules and regulations or a "way of life."  Obviously not everyone is arguing about the same thing.  

I will not propose a definition here, though I am itching to do so.  Were I to define it I would only add to the confusion primarily because, as C.S. Lewis often said of himself in relation to theology, I am merely a layperson.

Any idiot can see that the result is true.
-- argumentum ad idiotum
Me!

Stephanos
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53 posted 02-13-2005 12:07 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Frac,

Also good to see you peeking in from time to time.


I said:
quote:
the host of problems, philosophical, psychological, and theological, I encounter when I would disregard the Bible as false, more than convince me that it is a book of certain truth.


you said:
quote:
It seems as though you are discussing a personal preference rather than some more objective argument for the authority of scripture.



Though I believe in the authority of scripture, I also believe that that authority is confirmed and verified in many different fields.  That really isn't so much "personal preference".  For example, I do believe there's a great amount of objectivity to philosophy, psychology, and theology.  But the subjective part is that we all have to make the call.  There's a certain amount of "faith" involved, no matter which way you believe.  I've always liked to say that I haven't quite got the faith to believe in an impersonal naturalistic process that gave rise to what we now see.  I have to just believe that God did it.  We all have to decide in one way or another.  


So I guess my answer is that I believe there is objectivity to the faith which matches reality .... so much so that, as the creed says, "Every knee will bow and every tongue confess".  But I also believe that "personal preference" is involved, in that we will believe what we really want to believe.  No amount of objectivity will be able to take away our choice of one path or the other.  Truth may rule out the lie, but it also creates the possibility of it.  The lie has to be strong, because the truth is so strong in itself.  


Stephen.     
Aenimal
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54 posted 02-14-2005 09:48 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Stephanos:


quote:
So my first question to you, before we proceed to questions of internal and external evidences, is:  Do you hold the same standard (necessity of originals) to other widely accepted ancient works, before you consider them to be authentic?


In the case of Christianity, non edited, non-Pauline, non-Greek/Roman friendly manuscripts would suffice. Manuscripts from the pre-Pauline christian sects. Where the intent was the restoration of the Temple and Jewish Law. I suscribe to Robert Eisenmann's view that the Dead Sea Scrolls are such a source, and were the stranglehold of the scrolls loosened I'd like to see the debate furthered.

quote:
From the only real and living God.
No, the Biblical God is not the same as the Sumerian gods.



Well, I disagree, I believe they are one and the same. It seems quite evident the biblical God is an ammalgamation of Mesopotamian(Sumerian,Akkadian,Babylonian) dieties and that much of Genesis is an abridged version of more ancient tablets.

quote:
Much of what I find compelling about the Old Testament, is in what it says about mankind in general.  It's not such a flattering story that would be written by men, about themselves.


But not exclusive to the bible. The Mesopotamian tales are painfully human at times. And of course the  tales of ancient Greece were no less flattering to men, or for that matter, to the Gods being worshipped. As we mature,we discover that our parents were not the infallible, 'godlike' creatures we viewed them to be. That doesn't make us revere or l#ve them any less. Instead it makes us understand them, and ultimately, ourselves better. The Mesopotamian/Greek and other Pagan religions mythologies capture that wonderfully. By writing of gods and men as they did,  followers better understood themselves and the universe around them.

quote:
When anyone talks history with the Old Testament, I've found that their reconstructions are at least as doubtful as the traditional views.


The historical accuracy of the tales themselves or the history/roots of the stories told? If its the latter then I strongly disagree, reading Mesopotamian mythology challenges the assertion of the bible as an original, let alone, divinely dictated text. If the tales were indeed, handed from God to Moses, then I'd challenge that God was a plagiarist.

quote:
But very complex things can be put in catechismal forms.  Therefore, it's much too easy to think that when someone seems to rip apart the catechism, they've ripped apart the truths behind it


No arguments there, but then why not view god and other mythologies as poetic interpretations of natural processes? I find scientific/rational explanations no less wonderous or awe inspiring. A flower is no less beautiful through the eyes of science then by the hand of god. I'm no less spiritually fulfilled by the kiss of a l#ver than by a belief in an all l#ving/omnipresent diety.

quote:
What could you lead me to, specifically,  to suggest that Judaism was merely a conglomeration of previous paganisms?


Again, the Mesopotamian tales are a great start. You'll find parallels between creation myths, the flood story, and an Assyrian 'Tower of babel' tale. Read the works of Benjamin Foster, Stephanie Dalley, L.W King for excellent translations and commentary.  
Aenimal
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55 posted 02-14-2005 10:08 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Sue:

quote:
In my opinion, they all overlap each other and myth was probably at one time, fact.  In short, I, personally see many instances of myth flooding into religion without it being recognized as old practice


Undoubtedly, I wish more people would realize this before desparaging other beliefs as false, or mythology. Also,a good point discussing the link between Catholicism and Pagan/Celtic myth. Few know that many saints and their churces were Celtic deities/temples modified to appease, and ease, the transition to Catholicisim in amongst the conquered.

quote:
That's it, freewill, the choice to believe what we choose. (whatever works for us)


I haven't questioned the right to choose, but am curious of the reasoning behind the choice/dismissal of others.
littlewing
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56 posted 02-14-2005 10:16 AM       View Profile for littlewing   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for littlewing

gotcha, ok hmmm . . . I would have to say that their reasoning behind what one believes originates with their upbringing and then escalates into their adulthood/teen years where they then deduce what works for them dependant upon their lifestyle, their hurts, their experience, their successes and failures, all adding to their spiritual beliefs, outlook on one's self and soul and true love for oneself.

It also helps to have positive/helpful/life-experienced people around you to help you discern what it is you are looking for, even though you have to find that yourself.  

I tend to believe that the more one is hurt internally and the more loss one experiences, the more chance that person has to lose any belief.  I was there, many days I am there.  Many days I am not.  I say this only because it seems to me the people I have met that have been through complete Hell, either come out of it shining or they go down in flames, while the rest sit staring wondering when they can go spend their tax return on an inground pool.

Ok, I am rambling.  Lil' off the subject.

Aenimal
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57 posted 02-14-2005 11:36 AM       View Profile for Aenimal   Email Aenimal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Aenimal

Stephanos:

I might add that when we discuss biblical history, you have to take into consideration that the control of religious and historical manuscripts by the Vatican.

There are manuscripts that will never see the light of day, do you honestly believe they would release non-edited manuscripts, religious or historical, that may conflict with their teachings?

We know for certain documents exist(ed) and have been hidden or edited.

I've mentioned it before but its worth mentioning again. The discovery of a letter from Clement to Theodore casts light on the church's editing and coverup of the original gospel of Mark. Its an example of the church releasing only what it feels should be released, and not neccesarily what is written.

There are others of course, more important too. Missing or edited historical manuscripts such as the work of Hegesippus and Josephus.

If the church is so sure in its path, release it all and let scholars and followers truly decide for themselves.
Copperbell
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58 posted 02-16-2005 12:58 AM       View Profile for Copperbell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Copperbell

Raphael do you mind explaining more about Josephus?

"If the church is so sure in its path, release it all and let scholars and followers truly decide for themselves."

I agree - if its true, it will prove itself
Stephanos
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59 posted 02-16-2005 02:00 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

(Raph, please excuse the length of my next several replies ... I'm trying to be thorough.  I'm enjoying this exchange BTW.)


quote:
Stephen:  So my first question to you, before we proceed to questions of internal and external evidences, is:  Do you hold the same standard (necessity of originals) to other widely accepted ancient works, before you consider them to be authentic?


Raph:  In the case of Christianity, non edited, non-Pauline, non-Greek/Roman friendly manuscripts would suffice. Manuscripts from the pre-Pauline christian sects. Where the intent was the restoration of the Temple and Jewish Law. I suscribe to Robert Eisenmann's view that the Dead Sea Scrolls are such a source, and were the stranglehold of the scrolls loosened I'd like to see the debate furthered.


Hold on a sec ...  All I asked you was whether the New Testament manuscripts could be reasonably doubted on the basis of an absence of autographs, seeing that  we possess the originals for virtually NO ancient literature, and that the copies we do have of the NT documents are closer to the original date of writing than ANY other ancient writing.  For that's the reason you gave earlier.  I'm assuming that your answer is "No", since you are now arguing that the authenticity of the Gospels should be doubted on the basis of the supposed existence of earlier, more pure and unaltered manuscripts ... not on the basis of a lack of autographs.  So you're not clarifying your argument so much as introducing a new one.    


But your present argument also requires some verification/ explanation.  All I've heard so far is your suspicion.  Why should we assume there are documents from a "purer" time of pre-Pauline Christianity, which invalidate the canonical Gospels?  From what I've seen, the differences between Jesus and Pauline theology are exaggerated.  And the claim that "purer" gospels were deliberately altered by Paul and his retinue, for political reasons, is an attempt at reconstruction based upon something already assumed ... namely that there ARE such documents.  It's a reconstruction based upon a theory, and a suspicion, but with very little evidence to back it up, in my opinion.  Of course I'd be open to follow you where the evidence leads, if you have anything substantial that you could point me to.  


Likewise, saying that the Vatican may hold captive such supposed documents does little in the way of argument.  How do you know this, seeing there is no other historical indicators of such “Gospels”?  I could just as easily suspect that Left-wing Bible Scholars are hiding even earlier documents (written before the ones you claim the Vatican holds) which accord completely with the Canonical Gospels.  Conspiracy theories are great for the movies, but that’s about it.  (again, unless you have something more substantial you can share)  


And as to the "secret Gospel of Mark", there are several things to remember ...


1)  There is stronger evidence that it is a gnostic “gospel” that was not at all written by Mark.  There’s actually textual evidence that the “Secret Gospel of Mark” was derived from John (since the Gospel of John is the closest thing to Gnosticism that Orthodoxy can afford).  And since Much of John was derived from Mark, the claim that the SGM was written by Mark doesn’t comport with textual evidence ... The SGM can’t be the source of John, and derived from John at the same time.  


2)  Clement (though not clearly a heretic) had a tendency both toward gnosticism and the uncritical acceptance of other pseudo-gospels ... that were in no way reflective of what the Church recognized as a whole.  


3)  A common gnostic practice and theme was “hiding texts for the initiated, and elite” ... In other words, not a common practice of Orthodoxy.  Therefore Clement’s letter shows that the SGM was a gnostic work, and was hid for that elitist reason, rather than for concealing information as a cover-up.


So, the Markian authorship of this document is highly doubtful.  Clement's reputation for only accepting historically verifiable texts is extremely doubtful.  Clement's tendency toward gnosticism lends support to the claim that the SGM was a Gnostic work, not from the pen of Mark.  And the whole context of Clement's reference to hiding the text, fits most naturally with the elitist heresy of the Gnostics, not an ecclesiastical cover-up of damning information.  It's just a bad example for you to use.  It doesn't fit your purposes when closely examined.


  
When you mentioned the SGM (in a similar fashion) at an earlier date, I replied in greater detail (it’s in the second part of my reply).  But you never responded to what I presented.  If you want to review what I wrote, here is the link.  (you have to scroll down to get to the part about the "secret Gospel"- in which I quoted the entire fragment of the letter, in case anyone wants to read the letter for proper context).

http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000466-4.html#95





So in summary (to avoid muddling the issue) ...


1)  You seem to be conceding / admitting that it's not valid to doubt the Bible, due to a lack of autographs alone.


2)  You are putting forth another argument of supposed textual corruption, by Paul and his aficionados.  
Is that pretty much correct?
  


quote:
Stephen:  No, the Biblical God is not the same as the Sumerian gods.

Raph:  I disagree, I believe they are one and the same. It seems quite evident the biblical God is an ammalgamation of Mesopotamian(Sumerian,Akkadian,Babylonian) dieties and that much of Genesis is an abridged version of more ancient tablets.



I think the parallels of Genesis in particular, and of the Old Testament in general, with pagan literature is overplayed.  Yes, there are similarities.  But do these similarities prove that the Bible Narratives are simply “borrowing” from earlier works?  I don’t think so.  Many scholars don’t think so either (which I’ll get back to, in a bit).  


One thing to remember is that even the writers of the Bible were often Pagans, who were immersed in Pagan culture.  Moses was an Egyptian, educated and brought up in the Royal family long before he came to identify with the Hebrews.  Abraham came from Ur in Mesopotamia.  Daniel was dragged off into captivity into Babylon, where he was educated in the Babylonian “wisdom”.  So, having come up in religious / cultural climates of religious idolatry, is it incredible that some Jews would use the same idioms, themes, or even phrases in their writings about the one true God once that revelation came to them?
  

For example, Psalm 104 states “... O Lord my God, you are very great.  You are clothed with honor and majesty... He makes the clouds his chariot, who walks on the wings of the wind.”  Of course the god Baal was portrayed as “The rider of the clouds”.  And no doubt this Old Testament phrase was a direct application of a description of Baal to the One True God.  But understanding the mindset of the monotheistic Jew, who would naturally consider all praises of pagan idols to be usurped in a sense from YHWH, makes this phenomenon completely understandable.  I see no problem here.  There are many other examples too, but they are similar to what I just described.  


There are also similarities between the “Wisdom Literature” of the Jews and other Ancient Near East nations.  Most of the similarities exist in literary forms.  Even the format of Proverbs (a book of thirty three chapters) is most likely using the pattern of a type of  Pagan instruction manual for young men.  The Biblical “Proverbs” is thirty chapters, and in chapter 22:20, it reads “Have I not written for you thirty sayings of admonition and knowledge to show you what is right and true?”  This is very similar to the Egyptian writing, “Instruction of Amenemope”, which has a line that reads “see thou these thirty chapters ...”.  There are also similarities of theme in these works.


But what exactly does a common culture, and a common vernacular suggest?  Certainly not inauthenticity.  And I would also add (though that is a separate argument entirely, and we haven’t gone there yet), it would not cast doubt on Divine Inspiration either.  The Church has never held that God gave scripture via dictation method, but used the available personality and mindset of the writer.  So the need for “total originality” is not necessary at all.  It’s a false criteria.  Actually I think there’s a strong argument that since pagans have always attempted to describe “creation” and “worship” in their legends, it seems that such a tendency is something that it is pervasive among peoples and cultures, and represents a universal knowledge of God, though imperfect and mistaken.  And that’s precisely what Paul tells us in Romans chapter one.


As for Genesis ... There are many scholars who recognize similarities, but have not come to the conclusion that there is “borrowing” involved.  I’ll quote just a few of them for you in my next reply, without adding any comments of my own.  Then I’ll try to comment more on this afterward.


Stephen.
Stephanos
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60 posted 02-16-2005 02:32 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
The individual themes of creation and flood ... recur in other writings. Thus the Babylonian epic Enuma Elish (called 'Babylonian creation' in most books), completed by circa 1000 from older sources, has been repeatedly compared with Gen. 1-2. But despite the reiterated claims of an older generation of biblical scholars, Enuma Elish and Gen. 1-2 in fact share no direct relationship. Thus the word tehom/thm is common to both Hebrew and Ugaritic (north Syria) and means nothing more than 'deep, abyss.' It is not a deity, like Ti'amat, a goddess in Enuma Elish. In terms of theme, creation is the massively central concern of Gen. 1-2, but it is a mere tailpiece in Enuma Elish, which is dedicated to portraying the supremacy of the god Marduk of Babylon. The only clear comparisons between the two are the inevitable banalities: creation of earth and sky before the plants are put on the earth, and of plants before animals (that need to eat them) and humans; it could hardly have been otherwise! The creation of light before the luminaries is the only peculiarity that might indicate any link between the Hebrew and Enuma Elish narrative; but where did it earlier come from? Not known, as yet. Thus most Assyriologists have long since rejected the idea of any direct link between Gen. 1-11 and Enuma Elish, and nothing else better can be found between Gen. 1-11 and any other Mesopotamian fragments.

(K A Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament)


and ...

quote:
Similarities between Genesis and Enuma Elish have been frequently cited in great detail. While superficial parallels may be noted and do exist, the only substantial similarity occurs in the dividing of the body of Tiamat by Marduk to create the two separated spheres of water. This is comparable to God's dividing the waters of the firmament on the second day of creation...In summary, then, it is difficult to discuss comparisons between Israelite and Mesopotamian literature concerning creation of the cosmos because the disparity is so marked. Differences include basic elemental issues such as theogony verus cosmogony, polytheism versus monotheism, and emphasis on organization versus emphasis on creative act. Similarities are either linguistic in nature or, as in most cases, due to the fact that the accounts are descriptive of the cosmos of which both are a part. . .
. . . The similarities between Genesis and Enuma Elish are too few to think that the author of Genesis was in any way addressing the piece of literature we know as Enuma Elish. . .


. . . The second possibility, that the Israelite account was borrowed from the Babylonians, has enjoyed an overabundance of popularity. In reality, there is nothing that would lend substantiating credence to this belief. The fact that Israel on occasion exhibits cultural characteristics assimilated from Babylon, as did most of the Ancient Near East, can in no way serve as independent proof that any given item was borrowed. Each potential case of borrowing must be studied on its own merits, for it is clear that there are several cultural elements from Mesopotamia that Israel rejected... The only evidence that can be produced to support the case for Israelite borrowing is the similarities we have already identified. These are hardly convincing, in that most of the similarities occur in situations where cosmological choices are limited. For example, the belief in a primeval watery mass is perfectly logical and one of only a few possibilities... Since there is little to suggest direct borrowing on the part of the Israelites, we would be inclined to accept a more cautious position...

(John H. Walton, Ancient Israelite Literature in it’s Cultural Context)


and ...

quote:
The similarities between the Genesis account and the 'Atra-Hasis Epic' do not support the idea that Genesis is a direct borrowing form the Mesopotamian but do indicate that Mesopotamian materials could have served as models for Genesis 1-11, as Jacobsen holds. P.D. Miller also admits that 'there were Mesopotamian models that anticipate the structure of Genesis 1-11 as a whole.' K. A. Kitchen notes a similar outline, namely 'creation-flood-later times,' and a common theme, namely 'creation, crisis, continuance of man,' of the 'primeval proto-history' in the 'Atra-Hasis Epic,' the Sumerian Flood story, and the Sumerian King List, as well as in the Genesis account. He recognizes here 'a common literary heritage, formulated in each case in Mesopotamia in the early 2nd millennium b.c.'...However, there are also many differences between the Mesopotamian traditions and the Genesis account, in addition to the basic concepts of divine-human relationship. . .

(David Tsumura, “I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood": Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11)


and ...

quote:
the differences between the biblical and the Mesopotamian accounts are much more striking that their similarities; each of them embodies the world outlook of their respective civilizations. In Genesis there is a total rejection of all mythology...[Differences include:]...Cosmogony is not linked to theogony. The pre-existence of god is assumed--it is not linked to the genesis of the universe. there is no suggestion of any primordial battle or internecine ware which eventually led to the creation of the universe...The primeval water, earth, sky, and luminaries are not pictured as deities or as parts of disembodied deities, but are all parts of the manifold work of the Creator...The story in Genesis, moreover, is nonpolitical: unlike Enuma Elish, which is a monument to Marduk and to Babylon and its temple, Genesis makes no allusion to Israel, Jerusalem, or the temple.

(S.M. Paul, Encyclopedia Judaica, s.v. “creation”)


and ...

quote:
"Genesis I is obviously a cosmogony, though (as will be seen) its dependence on other ancient cosmogonies cannot be specified with any exactness... Though its prefatory function is paralleled in Mesopotamia, attempts to show that Genesis I is directly dependent on Enuma elish cannot be judged successful. . .


Given our present knowledge, however, it is difficult to prove that any single work is the source of Genesis I. . .


Genesis 2-11 moves in a different direction than the creation-flood genre of Mesopotamian literature...Atrahasis is a critique of the gods; their assembly is bumbling and fragmented; their leader is the bullying and cowardly Enlil [sic]. This unflattering picture is relieved only by the introduction of the wise and compassionate Enlil [sic] and Nintu. Fault lies with the gods rather than with human beings. The gods' miscalculations lead to the annihilation of the race, and their needs to its restoration. In Genesis, God does it right the first time and after the flood re-blesses the human race with his original words...Both Atrahasis and Genesis were written with a sense of confidence. Atrahasis shows confidence in the human race; people are necessary because the gods are generally lazy, shortsighted, and impetuous. Confidence in Genesis is founded on God's justice and mercy, and the reliability of the created world. . .


Though Egyptian wisdom literature directly influenced such biblical books as Proverbs, Egyptian cosmogonies evidently have no direct influence. . .

(Richard J. Clifford, Creation Accounts in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible)


and ...

quote:
myths about a cosmic battle at the beginning of time appear in the Bible in fragmentary form, and the several allusions have to be pieced together to produce some kind of coherent unit. Still, the fact that these myths appear in literary compositions in ancient Israel indicates clearly that they had achieved wide currency over a long period of time. They have survived in the Bible solely as obscure, picturesque metaphors and exclusively in the language of poetry. Never are these creatures accorded divine attributes, nor is there anywhere a suggestion that their struggle against God could in any way have posed a challenge to His sovereign rule.

This is of particular significance in light of the fact that one of the inherent characteristics of all other ancient Near Eastern cosmologies is the internecine strife of the gods. Polytheistic accounts of creation always begin with the predominance of the divinized powers of nature and then describe in detail a titanic struggle between the opposing forces. They inevitably regard the achievement of world order as the outgrowth of an overwhelming exhibition of power on the part of one god who then manages to impose his will upon all other gods.

(Nahum Sarna, JPS Torah commentary, Genesis)


and ...

quote:
As a literary production, Genesis 2 and 3 have no parallel in ancient Near Eastern literature. The Epic of Adapa, often presented as a parallel, is not really so, either in literary structure, in moral emphasis, or in theological content.

(G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch in its Cultural Environment)

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Raph,

My whole aim in giving you the quotes above, is to show that the assumption of overt "borrowing" is not at all certain.  And even that, in a common culture, a kind of unconscious "borrowing" is unavoidable.  Also, that in light of the differences and uniqueness of the Hebrew texts, such borrowing is inconsequential.  


Stephen.

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I never need a religion to be perfect to believe in it.
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No, but if a historically based religion is false, then you end up believing a myth.  Christianity is different in that it claims to be sharply different from paganism in this very category.  Furthermore, it claims to be of no particular benefit (by one of it's own Apostles) unless these things about it are true.


I'm not trying to show that it is "perfect".  I'm trying to show that the best conclusion we can come to, is that the central events which it claims to have happened, really happened.  Or at least that most of the common objections are more problematic than the original problem.


Stephen.    
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First, let me be completely honest, I haven't the time or patience for this argument in my current state of mind so i'll keep this brief.

quote:
Hold on a sec ...  All I asked you was whether the New Testament manuscripts could be reasonably
doubted on the basis of an absence of autographs..So you're not clarifying your argument so much as introducing a new one.    



For the sake of moving the conversation along, I gave you the standard by which the NT would be acceptable
to me. I never put forward the argument of autographed versions, so what am I to clarify but my initial proposal?
No new proposal, just a continuation of my earlier comments.

quote:
But your present argument also requires some verification/ explanation.  All I've heard so far is your suspicion. Why should we assume there are documents from a "purer" time of pre-Pauline Christianity, which invalidate the canonical Gospels?


If you suscribed to certain views I've mentioned on the Dead Sea Scrolls,  then you'd view them as evidence of such documents. If you
do not, there's nothing I can say that you wouldn't dub suspicion or reconstruction.

quote:
From what I've seen, the differences between Jesus and Pauline theology are exaggerated.  And the claim that "purer" gospels were deliberately altered by Paul and his retinue, for political reasons, is an attempt at reconstruction based upon something already assumed ... namely that there ARE such documents.  It's a reconstruction based upon a theory, and a suspicion, but with very little evidence to back it up, in my opinion.  Of course I'd be open to follow you where the evidence leads, if you have anything substantial that you could point me to.


As you said, in your opinion. That you see them as a exaggerated, or reconstructions, doesn't make them any less feasible. Detached from
beliefs, many of those arguments as plausible, in my opinion. Many of the counter arguments and dismissals I've read seem religiously
biased and heavily dependent on faith which to me is insubstantial as these views are to you.
I won't elaborate but have offered you some of the authors that have.

quote:
Likewise, saying that the Vatican may hold captive such supposed documents does little in the way of argument.  How do you know
this, seeing there is no other historical indicators of such “Gospels”?


Well, the clearest modern example is the handling and control of the Dead Sea Scrolls by the Vatican through the Ecole Biblique.
I won't go into that, again Eisenman's work, if you chose to read it, mentions their role (as does Baigent/Leigh's interesting but layman  
Dea Sea Scrolls Deception) in suppressing what could be a link to the sect led by James and the apostles. Information supression/destruction
is not a new or bold accusation against the Vatican. If a church adamant on supressing scientific theories, like those of Galileo, because
they conflicted with its views isn't it at least possible they would have the same determination against texts/historical documents that
would do the same?

A few years agao, when Vatican archives were explored. A Vatican official, Father Pagano, stated in an interview that the Church had
a tradition of burning many of the more delicate files.  For example, the inquisition's archive was almost entirely burned on Pope Paul IV's
death in 1559.  More than 2,000 volumes were burned in 1810. The Vatican only 4,500 volumes, of which only a small part referred to
heresy trials still exist.  The rest detail theological controversies and spiritual questions.

Does this prove the Vatican has or destroyed pre-Pauline texts. No. Does it raise point to a serious potential to do so? Yes.
quote:
1)  You seem to be conceding / admitting that it's not valid to doubt the Bible, due to a lack of autographs alone.


There are no autographed versions of Homer's work. While it's wildly accepted that both the Illiad and the Odyssey are Homer's,
there are convincing arguments against this. Or at least, that portions of the latter are decisively nonHomeric either by editing or
addition. In this case tone, inconsistencies and historical cast doubt on the text(specifically the ending). Those, not autograph alone,
are what cast doubts on the NT.


2)  You are putting forth another argument of supposed textual corruption, by Paul and his aficionados.  
Is that pretty much correct?

Actually, my argument against Paul is not so much textual corruption, but corruption of the entire message and ideals of Jesus.
My argument against the church and others is yes, textual corruption in order to better serve a roman/gentile audience or the
vaticans needs.

quote:
I think the parallels of Genesis in particular, and of the Old Testament in general, with pagan literature is overplayed.  Yes,
there are similarities.  But do these similarities prove that the Bible Narratives are simply “borrowing” from earlier works?  I don’t
think so.


There's more than just a passing similarity between the stories Stephanos, the similarities are striking. Would you dismiss the statement
that many modern movies are simply revised/transformed versions of older literature? The comedy Clueless was a transformation of
Jane Austen's Emma, West Side Story is a transformation Romeo and Juliet the list goes on.

Here's a very small, and brief comparison for example http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-285.htm

quote:
As for Genesis ... There are many scholars who recognize similarities, but have not come to the conclusion that there is “borrowing” involved.


And there many who have lol. We can bounce around quotes and theories for days, the intent of the thread was not to prove/disprove
your religion, but I got caught up in the questions and it seems that's where it's now going.
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quote:
I'm not trying to show that it is "perfect".  I'm trying to show that the best conclusion we can come to, is that the central events which it claims to have happened, really happened.  Or at least that most of the common objections are more problematic than the original problem


More, no, at the most I'll concede equally problematic.
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"No, but if a historically based religion is false, then you end up believing a myth.  Christianity is different in that it claims to be sharply different from paganism in this very category. "

But even history doesn't claim to be without myths.  
Myths are not false stephenos.  They are just a part of telling the truth.  In the course of cherishing someone, or something, and telling about those, glorification happens.  Maybe it changes the accuracy a bit but it doesn't change the basic truth and the sentiment.  It is still the truth, it's just not perfect.  But even a truth without a myth is not perfect because there is always some specification or reality that may be seen or believed as missing. This is where it comes in that truth shouldn't need to be perfect to be acknowledged as a truth.  If it is strongly true, that is still a strong truth.  And That may be the closest thing to perfection any religion may get      
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quote:
Me:  But your present argument also requires some verification/ explanation.  All I've heard so far is your suspicion. Why should we assume there are documents from a "purer" time of pre-Pauline Christianity, which invalidate the canonical Gospels?


RaphIf you suscribed to certain views I've mentioned on the Dead Sea Scrolls,  then you'd view them as evidence of such documents. If you
do not, there's nothing I can say that you wouldn't dub suspicion or reconstruction.



That's not exactly true.  Go ahead and say it.  The evidence for the Gospels accurately reflecting the "cradle" of Christianity is textual evidence, and can be looked at in light of the standards of historiography.  I mentioned those earlier.


But what textual evidence is there, even from the Dead Sea Scrolls, which would lead us to think there might be an earlier "purer" form of Christianity?  

If you say, there were indeed texts but they were all destroyed or suppressed, what evidence is there of that?  Is that speculation, or have such texts been seen and documented by anyone before they were destroyed?  It still sounds purely speculative to me.  I know there is speculation involved with any view ... but there has to be something more substantial and supportive alongside it, or it's not very convincing.  Again, I'd like to hear more, if you can provide it.  I love to learn.


quote:
As you said, in your opinion. That you see them as a exaggerated, or reconstructions, doesn't make them any less feasible. Detached from
beliefs, many of those arguments as plausible, in my opinion. Many of the counter arguments and dismissals I've read seem religiously
biased and heavily dependent on faith which to me is insubstantial as these views are to you.
I won't elaborate but have offered you some of the authors that have.



Please do elaborate.  It lets me know that you've thought these issue through in detail and aren't just repeating someone else's conclusions.  You don't have to understand or express them the way a historian would, just show that you understand what they're saying.  And it also gives me a chance to consider and respond.  You may change my outlook on certain points.  I don't have all the answers.  


If it's a matter of lacking the time to do so, don't let that stop you.  Take your time.  Since when have you known me to take a very long leave from philosophy 101?  


But, if you don't, it's cool.  I will look into the authors you have mentioned.


quote:
Information supression/destruction
is not a new or bold accusation against the Vatican. If a church adamant on supressing scientific theories, like those of Galileo, because
they conflicted with its views isn't it at least possible they would have the same determination against texts/historical documents that
would do the same?



Yes, but each allegation must be examined in turn, and supported by it's own merits.


Since the "church" has equally or more often been a means of preserving and elucidating texts  ... it can't so easily be construed that she has been deceptive across the board.  There always were tares in a wheat field.


The Church, leaning too heavily on the accepted science of the day (Aristotelian views), made the mistake of persecuting someone really bright who went against the tide.  But since these issues were markedly extrabiblical, not being supported or refuted by scripture in any convincing way, they are different issues altogether.  The questions we are dealing with are more historical / textual in nature and are more easily settled by those methods.  But I admit that the dishonesty, or the cruelty of churchmen in the time of Galileo is lamentable.  It reflects badly on the Church as a whole (rightly or wrongly), and may even help others to carelessly doubt her testimonies when they have been pure.


quote:
There are no autographed versions of Homer's work. While it's wildly accepted that both the Illiad and the Odyssey are Homer's,
there are convincing arguments against this. Or at least, that portions of the latter are decisively nonHomeric either by editing or
addition. In this case tone, inconsistencies and historical cast doubt on the text(specifically the ending). Those, not autograph alone,
are what cast doubts on the NT.



I think you might have misunderstood what I meant by "autographs".  I do not mean "autographed versions", in the sense of signing something.  One definition of autograph, is the original text.  The first edition.  Even anonymous works may be an "autograph" in this sense.


And before you go too far in trying to cast doubt on Homer's Iliad ... even if that's true, that's another issue.  The period of time between Homer and the first extant copy is very long in comparison to the period of time between the events of the NT, and its first copies.  


So, though I don't know enough about such arguments to debate you about the Iliad being authentic, I do know that it matters little to our discussion.  Why?  Because if you care to look, virtually ALL ancient literature is in the same boat of having a large span of time between the time of writing and the first copy.  So pick whichever accepted text you want to.  Surely there is some undoubted authentic text in the ancient world that you could find.  That ONE will prove my point.  It is accepted despite it's lack of autographs, and despite the fact that it's manuscripts are few.  


The New Testament literally has the best textual attestation in the garden of ancient writings.  


It passes the Bibliographical test with flying colors.
That was my point.


quote:
There's more than just a passing similarity between the stories Stephanos, the similarities are striking. Would you dismiss the statement
that many modern movies are simply revised/transformed versions of older literature? The comedy Clueless was a transformation of
Jane Austen's Emma, West Side Story is a transformation Romeo and Juliet the list goes on.



No I don't dismiss that.  It's true.  But do mere similarities warrant this claim?


There is an ancient hymn called "The Cannibal Hymn to Pharaoh Unis", in which cannibalism is described.


Cannibalism is a very unusual thing in literature (not an extremely popular thing to write about).  Does that mean that Apion's "Blood Libel" against the Jews was derived from the Egyptians?


Or that the movie "Dahmer" borrowed from both?


Or let's say that the producer of "Dahmer" influenced by the fictitious movie "Halloween", used some of it's screen effects and motifs in the movie about Jeffery Dahmer.  Does this mean that Jeffery Dahmer, the cannibalistic serial killer did not exist?  


To say the least, determining "borrowing" is not a simple question.  And jumping to the wrong conclusion is easier than you may think.
  

quote:
Me:  As for Genesis ... There are many scholars who recognize similarities, but have not come to the conclusion that there is “borrowing” involved.


Raph:  And there many who have lol. We can bounce around quotes and theories for days, the intent of the thread was not to prove/disprove
your religion, but I got caught up in the questions and it seems that's where it's now going.

Again, I like to "bounce around quotes and theories", and mostly to hear them expounded in our own words.  That's the only way to analyze something and consider how reasonable each perspective view may be.


But if the threads gone awry in your eyes, it's yours, and you have the prerogative to pull it back in the direction you prefer.


Stephen.
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Copperbell, sorry i missed your question earlier. Flavius Josephus is an ancient historian whose book 'Jewish Antiquities' purports to encapsulate Jewish history from the Creation to the revolt of A.D. 66. Quotes from this text were used in other historical documents, but these quotes are now absent from the versions we read today.
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Stephanos, I'll return to this later to at least address your last replies.
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Stephanos, i answered your question, in part, about textual links of the scrolls to the early sect in the sermon thread, but i'll return to address the ot tales with mesopotamian versions here later.
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Aenimal

LeeJ, i think you have to ask yourself these questions, whether you're a true believer or a non-believer. how do you truly know what you believe in without questioning or challenging it. It's why, while i don't necessarily agree with them, i do greatly respect believers like Stephanos.

I do believe in God, very much so...but not as others believe...and I do respect believers like Stephanos...please don't ever think I meant any insult to them or their beliefs...this is how we learn....and if I in anyway, wrote anything to lead you to believe that I don't respect other people for their opinions and beliefs...for that I greatly apologize....forgive me for not being able to articulate myself in a better way...

Also, when it comes to questions about God, I don't believe all our questions will be answered until the day we meet God and then all will be made known to us..but until then, I remain patient in the Lord's ability to give me the answers in His time...not mine....and He has given me answers along the way for my own personal journey...really He has.  But I think there are things not for us to know, until then...and so, we can debate this issue until the cows come home, but no one really knows for certain...do they?  Look at all the scholors, scientists and sheeshh, I am merely a woman with a high school education, never holding a candle to some of you...perhaps that is why I love this page so much...but long story short...no one really knows...do they?  And I believe it states that in the Bible somewhere as well, something like, all will be made known to you then....

And I was never one who could quote the Bible or remember what books I read what out of, geezze Louise, I'm lucky if I can remember how old I am????

I have learned a great many things from this web site...and it's forums, and it's many many opinions & beliefs....and I hope I never reach a point in my life when I think I know all there is to know, I pray, always to remain open minded, that nothing anyone writes is written in stone...I believe books, thoughts, movies, etc are one persons opinion, and it is from those opinions we grow, but as in everything else, God gives us choice of belief, as well as fee will...as I want to learn more....but...in the same....my beliefs in God are different from most religions now...and whose to say, I'm right, as I'm always open for debate and thoughts....but how does anyone really really know for certain?  

Sorry...my apologies to all of you....but I meant nor ever mean any insult or condiscention of anyone's beliefs, just sharing my thoughts....and learning from yours
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Raph,

Look forward to your replies.  I've begun to respond to your points about the DSS in the "Sermon" thread too.  


LeeJ:
quote:
my beliefs in God are different from most religions now...and whose to say, I'm right, as I'm always open for debate and thoughts....but how does anyone really really know for certain? 



So you don't think anyone can be right?  Or do you merely think no one can know or prove that they are right?  


Just remember that the assumption that "know one can really know anything" is an absolute epistemological claim ... not exactly religious, but of the same nature as religious belief.


Humility, and the admission of partial knowledge is one thing.  The doubt that anyone can know anything of religious matters for sure, is another.


Not sure if that's what you were getting at.  But it sounded like it.


Stephen
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quote:
Yes, but each allegation must be examined in turn, and supported by it's own merits.Since the "church" has equally or more often been a means of preserving and elucidating texts  ... it can't so easily be construed that she has been deceptive across the board.  There always were tares in a wheat field.


Elucidating texts makes the church's views sound definitive, they are merely interpretations that serve their particular interests.
By no means are they definitive interpretations, the continued debate amongst christian factions/historical/biblical scholars
is proof of this. Your church's 'elucidations' are the 'heresies' of another. Consider for example, Marian doctrine or the argument of
Jesus having siblings.

When historical evidence suggests, and the church's admission verifies, a policy of destroying and suppressing 'heretical' texts (heretical being anything that did not fit into the rigid interpretations of the church) the potential for deception greatly increases. The Roman Catholic church's monopoly and suppression over the dead sea scrolls is evidence enough of how the church reacts
to any threats to it's dogma.

While I agree, each allegation should be examined in turn, it's difficult to do when countless texts have been destroyed and knowledge of
their contents lost or hidden. Call it of profiling, but in the case of the church, where there's smoke there's fire, too often, literally.

Tell me, had their been definitive evidence linking the scrolls to the early sect, do you honestly believe the church would release it, toppling
2 millenia of power and spiritual authority?

quote:
think you might have misunderstood what I meant by "autographs".  I do not mean "autographed versions", in the sense of signing something.  One definition of autograph, is the original text.  The first edition.  Even anonymous works may be an "autograph" in this sense. And before you go too far in trying to cast doubt on Homer's Iliad ... even if that's true, that's another issue.  The period of time between Homer and the first extant copy is very long in comparison to the period of time between the events of the NT, and its first copies.


No Stephanos, I understood, and no it's not another issue. Nor is time an issue concerning authenticity. Let's deal with time first. The
span of time between the editing and release of a modern book, cd or film is miniscule in comparison to the events that lead into the NT.
Yet, the difference in the original or intended works and those released are often collosal. How many overzealous editors and producers
have altered works to soothe or appease certain groups and their pandering publishers? It is not at all unreasonable to assume that the NT works did or could have been edited to suit specific views or targets.

As for the Illiad it's a valid point, regardless of non-autographed versions or the passage of time, doubts on the authorship of its ending and allegations of editing or additions were based on tone and inconsistencies. Allegations that can and have been leveled against the NT books.

quote:
No I don't dismiss that.  It's true.  But do mere similarities warrant this claim?


No, but they're not mere similarities Stephanos. The biggest difference between the flood stories is simply the amount of gods
involved. But let's look at the similarities:

God(s), angered by humankind, decree that all shall be destroyed by means of a flood. Someone is chosen to carry on the human race. This person is given incredibly detailed instructions on building an ark, and told to store it with all manner of animal species to repopulate the earth after the flood.

Mere similarities, motifs and themes? Hardly, this alone would be enough to win a plagiarism suit. Surely the use of incredibly specific dimensions between the Babylonian and the Genesis myth is more than mere coincedence? Also, consider this passage:

"And when Yahweh smelled the pleasing odor, Yahweh said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from yourth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done" (Genesis 8:21).

God expresses what seems to be remorse, after smelling Noah's first offering after the Flood. In the Sumerian myth, after smelling the
offering from the ark survivors, Anu realizes and admits the folly of his actions against humankind.

There are of course more themes and motifs linking Genesis to Sumerian/Mesopotamian 'mythologies' and if you wish to discuss them I
will. The irony is that few, if any, would argue the evolution of Sumerian mythology to Akkadian to Babylonian, but applied to the OT,
many become adamant in seperating them.
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LeeJ, i found nothing offensive about your views and thank you for adding them to the discussion.
 
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