What can I say? Genesis 1 is not poetry, nor is it some weird hybrid of poetry and prose. Genesis 1:27 alone is poetry, but the rest of the chapter is pretty much stock-standard biblical Hebrew narrative in regards to its syntax. It is not poetry!
Why is this an issue? It’s an issue because debates about Genesis 1 seem to align figurative reading (of some sort) with poetry and literal reading with prose. This is a manifestly false disjunction. It is perfectly possible to have “literal” poetry, and it is quite common to have figurative prose. In other words, the whole argument is daft!
I was simply going to title this “Common Misunderstandings of Genesis 2,” but then I thought the title could be spiced up a little bit, particularly because there’s a tendency to see sexual activity lying behind so much of what happens, particularly in the latter part of the chapter. Anyway, here are some of the common misunderstandings of Genesis 2:
Eerdmans have recently published a new volume by David Penchansky entitled Understanding Wisdom Literature. This is a book which examines the biblical and post-biblical wisdom literature and raises questions and issues which are sometimes uncomfortable but are nonetheless (or perhaps I should say “are thus”) important. Below is my review of Penchansky’s book.
Otto Procksch described Genesis 4:7 as the most obscure verse in Genesis, and he may well be right. One of the more curious things to note about this verse is that it is clearly intended to remind the reader of Genesis 3:16, the punishment of the woman. This is clear because the syntax and terminology in the two verses is virtually identical, and yet in both instances rather unusual.
Compare the verses, first Gen 3:16b:
ואל אישך תשוקתך והוא ימשל בך
then Gen 4:7b:
ואליך תשוקתו ואתה תמשל בו
The existence of the parallel is indisputable, but what is the significance? Read on for my thoughts…
Translators and scholars have long debated the best translation for the term הבל (hebel, traditionally “vanity”) in Qohelet (Ecclesiastes). The term refers to vapour, something intangible, but is almost always used metaphorically in the Hebrew Bible.
Now rather than discuss all possible meanings, in this post I’d like to examine one particular proposal: that הבל means ‘fleeting’.1 I’ve come across this a couple of times recently, first at The Briefing, and second from Gary Millar who’s recently taken up the post of Principal at Queensland Theological College and who spoke at Katoomba Men’s Convention.
For why “fleeting” isn’t an adequate translation of הבל, read on…
During a recent online debate the question of the meaning of Deut 32:8–9 was raised as evidence of the Bible’s affirmation of polytheism and the subordinate status of the God of Israel, Yhwh. The essence of the claim is that the version of this passage preserved in the DSS identifies El Elyon as head of a pantheon who assigns nations to various subordinate deities, and Israel is assigned to Yhwh in this process.
The argument rests upon the alternate reading found in a fragment from cave 4 at Qumran (4Q37 or 4QDeutj).1 This fragment only preserves a few words from these verses.
The most obvious place to start when discussing suffering is with sin. The opening chapters of the Bible (Gen 2–3) are an aetiological tale which functions to describe the original state of the world and explain why it is no longer in that original state.
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Opponents of the doctrine of the Trinity occasionally throw up the assertion that the word ‘Trinity’ never appears in the Bible as a supposed problem for the doctrine.
The objection is, however, largely without merit. Read below the link for an assessment of this contention!
This looks like it’ll be a fantastic resource: the Digital Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum. Still many more manuscripts to go, but a fantastic start, and just in time for the Dead Sea Scrolls Conference in Memory of Emeritus Professor Alan Crown to be held in about one month’s time.
H/T Jim West.
On a recent Q&A one of the viewers asked about God’s silence:
My question is: why has God gone so quiet? Just a few thousand years ago he appeared to people quite regularly. He turned rivers to blood, he parted seas, he flooded the world etc. He provided us with people like Moses, Jesus & Mohammed who had direct lines of communication. These days the only time you hear from God is through TV evangelists. You know, it’s almost as though the more educated we get, the less God wants to do with us. So, why has God gone so quiet?
John Lennox suggested that the problem was not that God was silent, it was that we aren’t listening. Now, of course, there’s something to this, but it got me thinking about Elijah’s encounter with Yhwh in 1Kings 19 again. It is a fascinating passage and the source of the “still, small voice” which prompted generations of preachers to proclaim that God’s preferred mode of communication was this mysterious whisper.1
They were, however, wrong. Read on for more…