Understanding The Bible Part Four Chapters 1 11 Genesis

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Part Four examines some of the stories and consequent theology of the first eleven chapters of Genesis from the viewpoint of the historical-critical scholar.

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Understanding The Bible Part Four Chapters 1 11 Genesis

  1. 1. Understanding the Bible<br />A Six Week Bible Study Program Using the Historical-Critical Method<br />Edward J. Hahnenberg, BA, MA, MA, Ed.S<br />
  2. 2. From Oral tradition to Written text<br />Except for the priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24-26) on silver amulets from 600 BC, no Old Testament book composed wholly or in part before the Babylonian Exile (587-539 BC) has come down to us in even a fragment actually written that early. (Jerome Biblical Commentary 68:10)<br />Tests carried out in NASA laboratories confirm that these words were written around 600 BC in the days when Solomon's Temple still stood on the Jerusalem mountain.<br />
  3. 3. Methods of writing in Old Testament - Stone<br />Hebrew is a Semitic language, and Abraham was from the city of Ur, which was a very literate culture even during the times of Abraham. From the region of Babylon, one of the most famous written documents preserved in stone is the Code of Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.), who lived within 250 years of the life of Abraham.    On the stele,the laws of ancient Babylon were recorded for generations to come. <br />Code of Hammurabi Stele<br />
  4. 4. Methods of writing in Old Testament – clay Tablets<br />Among the most famous clay tablets found is the Cyrus Cylinder dated to about 539 B.C., verifying many of the events in the Bible, which correspond the Persian victory over Babylon. Clay was cheap and durable but the amount of information was limited and transportation was difficult due to the weight of the document.  A three-edged stylus was used with soft clay. The clay was then fired or dried preserving the words.  <br />The Cyrus Cylinder<br />
  5. 5. Methods of writing in Old Testament - Papyrus <br />Papyrus is a plant in the swamps along the Nile River. From Papyrus, we get the word “Paper”.  The pith (inside part) of the plant was cut into strips and laid in horizontal and vertical layers, allowing the natural sugars of the plant to bond the strips together. Papyrus was used for writing from the earliest periods.  According to Herodotus (484-430 B.C.), Papyrus was such a common material, he could not think of a civilized people using anything else (Herodotus Historia 5.58).<br />Papyrus was much easier to use then clay and stone, and could be easily transported, but it was not as durable as clay, and the source for it was limited to Egypt. However, dry climates like Qumran, were able to preserve papyrus writings.<br />One of the oldest New Testament Papyrus manuscripts is the John Rylands manuscript dated to 125 A.D., containing a portion of John 18:31-33. <br />
  6. 6. Methods of writing in Old Testament - Parchment<br />Parchment is also made of the hides of animals; however, they are soaked in limewater to make them white.  Younger hides gives a finer quality of material, some hides used were those of yet unborn calves.  Parchment was smooth, and the white color  and produced a very clear product.<br />The city of Pergamum in Asia Minor, one of the seven-churches in Revelation, was one of the centers of Parchment production. The name parchment is derived from the city. Use of parchment was widespread in the 2nd century B.C., and became the preferred writing material for scriptures. <br />10th Century AD parchment - OT<br />
  7. 7. Oral Transmission is converted to written history<br />Was the Bible transmitted orally? <br /> Before we understand this question, we need to understand Oral Transmission.  Oral transmission (tradition) is the process of verbal transmission as opposed to written transmission. Oral transmission relies on the ability of the previous generation, to pass on the stories, traditions and history verbally, from one generation to the next. <br />During the Exile, Hebrew scribes were subjected to many cultures and religions in Babylon. The decision to write down their unique history led to oral stories being transferred to writing.<br />The stories in Genesis, 1-11 were possibly drawn from popular stories extant in Babylon.<br />The exact amount of history in the Bible until 700 BC is unknown, although writing on clay tablets was done prior to Abraham’s time (2000 BC).<br />
  8. 8. Chapters 1-11 of Genesis<br />…The first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, …in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents. (HG, 38)<br />
  9. 9. Pius XII & Humani Generis<br />The previous excerpt from Pius XII’s Humani Generis, was an important statement for biblical exegetes in the decades since 1950. Pius tried very hard to provide a connection with Leo XIII and Pius X as regards their views regarding interpretation of scripture, while at the same time providing scholars the freedom to investigate whether the sacred author(s) of the stories in Genesis 1-11 drew upon pagan sources for the sacred text.<br />
  10. 10. The First Stories in the Bible<br />In those chapters, after all, we are confronted with the primal stories of the creation of the world, Adam and Eve, the Garden of Paradise, Original Sin, Cain and Abel, the Nephilim, Noah and the Flood, the tower of Babel, and a preliminary history of Abraham.<br />The historical-critical scholar may ask whether these stories are based upon a type of symbolic rhetoric … a metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured. Pius is all but saying that the “popular narrations” are pagan stories, from which the Mosaic author(s) drew information.<br />
  11. 11. Creation Stories from pagan cultures<br />Among the oldest known conceptions of the creation of man are those of the Hebrews and the Babylonians; the former is narrated in the book of Genesis, the latter forms part of the Babylonian "Epic of Creation." According to the Biblical story, or at least according to one of its versions, man was fashioned from clay for the purpose of ruling over all the animals. In the Babylonian myth, man was made of the blood of one of the more troublesome of the gods who was killed for that purpose; he was created primarily in order to serve the gods and free them from the need of working for their bread. According to the Sumerian poem, which antedates both the Hebrew and the Babylonian versions by more than a millennium, man was fashioned of clay as in the Biblical version. The purpose for which he was created, however, was to free the gods from labor.<br />
  12. 12. Questions raised…<br />So, did the Adam and Eve story come from pagan myths? What about Original Sin? Is the beginning of the Torah pagan in its origins based upon a dimly remembered past that the Hebrew author(s) adapted to their religious beliefs, or did it originate with the cultures of Sumeria or Babylonia? These are indeed tough questions for the person of faith who may have been brought up in an educational environment that accepted the biblical accounts as true history.<br />
  13. 13. The Creation Stories – No. 1<br />Day 1 - God created light and separated the light from the darkness, calling light "day" and darkness "night."<br />Day 2 - God created an expanse to separate the waters and called it "sky."<br />Day 3 - God created the dry ground and gathered the waters, calling the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters "seas." On day three, God also created vegetation (plants and trees).<br />Day 4 - God created the sun, moon, and the stars to give light to the earth and to govern and separate the day and the night. These would also serve as signs to mark seasons, days, and years.<br />Day 5 - God created every living creature of the seas and every winged bird, blessing them to multiply and fill the waters and the sky with life.<br />Day 6 - God created the animals to fill the earth. On day six, God also created man and woman in his own image to commune with him. He blessed them and gave them every creature and the whole earth to rule over, care for, and cultivate.<br />Day 7 - God had finished his work of creation and so he rested on the seventh day, blessing it and making it holy.<br />
  14. 14. Problems with Story 1<br />This sequence does contain some problems.<br />Light was listed as being created on day 1, but its source (the sun and stars) did not appear until day 4.<br /> Birds were said to be created before other land animals. Paleontologists, who almost universally support the theory of evolution, point out that  the fossil record shows the opposite order.  <br />The most controversial debate over this creation story relates to its time span. Genesis 1 and 2 explain how Creation of Earth's life forms, the Earth itself, and the rest of the universe took six days. Supporters of the theory of evolution find evidence for a universe that has been evolving for about 13.7 billion years.<br />
  15. 15. The Creation Stories – No. 2<br />The Second Creation Story; Genesis 2:4 to 2:25: This is a different description of the creation of earth's life forms. Most mainline and liberal biblical researchers attribute this section to "J," a writer who lived in the 9th century BC (some say 10th century; others say after the Babylonian exile). The author of Genesis 2 writes that at first, there were no plants or grain present, because God had not yet sent rain. God made Adam out of earth; this is a belief common to many early pagan religions in the Middle East. God created plants and herbs, Adam, the Garden of Eden, trees, birds and animals. God removed a rib from Adam and transformed it into the first woman, Eve.<br />
  16. 16. Adam and eve<br />Until the advent of the understanding of DNA, evolutionists scoffed at the idea that the human race descended from one set of biological parents. The idea that there could have been many Adams and many Eves is called polygenism. <br />In 1987, Allan Wilson, Rebecca Cann, and Mark Stoneking, researchers at the University of California-Berkeley, catapulted mitochondrial DNA into the headlines worldwide when they announced that they had traced it back 200,000 years to the oldest female ancestor of living humans--an African woman quickly dubbed Eve. <br />
  17. 17. A real “Eve”?<br />Eve's debut rocked the archaeological community, which had been arguing for decades over whether modern humans evolved on more than one continent or instead swept out of Africa to replace more archaic hominids around the world. Wilson's group was attacked for sloppy science, and in fact there were problems with the original calculations. But genetic data from dozens of researchers have since almost universally supported the "Out of Africa" theory.<br />
  18. 18. Monogenism – The Pope’s choice<br />"History has made a pretty consistent stamp on populations," says Lynn Jorde, a geneticist at the University of Utah, who has found African roots in nuclear DNA as well as in mitochondria and the Y. "Looking at more and more of the nuclear DNA is going to clarify the picture."<br />There is much work to be done in the study of genetics, and there may never be conclusive scientific evidence that monogenism(one Adam and Eve), as related in Genesis, really happened. However, many in the scientific community have given some credence to the African Eve; however, the question of Adam is still up in the air.<br />
  19. 19. What about “Adam”?<br />Some in the scientific community contend that Adam lived tens of thousands of years later, because of the y-chromosome issue. Y-chromosomal Adam probably lived between 60,000 and 90,000 years ago, judging from molecular clock and genetic marker studies. While their descendants certainly became close intimates, Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve are separated by at least 30,000 years.<br />Did Eve have “self-awareness” or a soul?<br />Could God’s infusion of human souls have occurred when Y-chromosomal Adam mated with a descendant of a primitive female progenitor?<br />
  20. 20. Pius XII and Monogenism<br />While science gives us some tantalizing evidence that humans descended from an African Eve (white supremacists, take note), Pius XII pointed out in Humani Generis that:<br />When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is no no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.<br />
  21. 21. Papal encyclicals<br />It must be pointed out that papal encyclicals, in and of themselves, are not considered infallible by any authority in the Catholic Church, including popes or church councils. However, this statement by Pius is one that Catholics cannot dismiss as inconsequential, since it references a dogma held by the Church as infallible, namely the existence of Original Sin, and thus the ordinary necessity of Baptism to remove it. Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Jews, and Muslims have their own opinions about papal writings and the existence of a monogenistic Adam and Eve.<br />
  22. 22. Original Sin<br />The Catechism of the Catholic Church says:<br />By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all humans. Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called "original sin". As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering and the domination of death, and inclined to sin (this inclination is called "concupiscence").<br />
  23. 23. The Nephilim<br />Genesis Chapter 6, verses 1 through 4 mentions Nephilim.<br />"Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.”<br />
  24. 24. Original Sin and Alien Life<br />In an interview in May 2008, Jesuit Fr. José Gabriel Funes, the current director of the Vatican Observatory stated that the possible existence of intelligent extraterrestrials did not contradict any church teachingand ruling out the existence of aliens would be like "putting limits" on God's creative freedom.He has speculated that such aliens could even be “free from Original Sin … [remaining] in full friendship with their creator.”[<br />
  25. 25. The Biblical Account of original Sin - 1<br />The doctrine of original sin is the identification given to the concept of the entrance of sin into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. God had prepared a perfect place for man and then gave them the gift of volition (the act of practicing free will). Volition comes with responsibility and consequences. God had placed trees in the midst of the garden. Adam and Eve could freely eat the fruit from any tree except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “But the LORD God gave him this warning: 'You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die' (Genesis 2:16-17). <br />
  26. 26. The Biblical Account of original Sin -2<br />With the choice to disobey God's command came the first sin, and the consequences of that sin was spiritual separation and eventually physical death. Because of their sin, all those who were born into their union were sinners and that has continued to the present. The only offspring that human beings can bring into the world are children with the sin nature and that requires a remedy.<br />
  27. 27. Necessity of Baptism - Scripture<br />NAB John 3:1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”<br />Jesus answered and said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”<br />Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother's womb and be born again, can he?”<br />Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”<br />
  28. 28. Necessity of Baptism – Scripture Cont’d<br />The necessity in this case is shown by the command of Christ to His Apostles (Matthew 28): “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them”, etc. Since the Apostles are commanded to baptize, the nations are commanded to receive baptism. <br />Christ makes no exception to this law and it is therefore general in its application.<br />However, the Council of Trent teaches of baptism of water, blood, and desire.<br />
  29. 29. Baptism of Infants<br />The Church has always held baptism to be "for the remission of sins", and, as mentioned in Catechism of the Catholic Church, 403, infants too have traditionally been baptized, though not guilty of any actual personal sin. The sin that through baptism was remitted for them could only be original sin, with which they were connected by the very fact of being a human. The first comprehensive theological explanation of this practice was given by Saint Augustine.<br />
  30. 30. Council of Constantinople I<br />In the Nicene–Constantinopolitan Creed of 381, the original Nicene Creed added the following:<br />We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.<br />
  31. 31. Council of Trent - Baptism<br />From the canons of the Council in the 16th century….<br />Canon 5. If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema.<br />Canon 13. If anyone says that children, because they have not the act of believing, are not after having received baptism to be numbered among the faithful, and that for this reason are to be rebaptized when they have reached the years of discretion;[14] or that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be baptized in the faith of the Church alone, let him be anathema.<br />
  32. 32. Vatican II – Lumen Gentium 16<br />16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. <br />
  33. 33. Lumen Gentium 16 Cont’d<br />Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Savior wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. <br />
  34. 34. The Great Flood<br />A skeptical approach might be to discount the biblical account of the Great Flood as folklore or as a fairy tale. The historical-critical scholar would probably point to the Epic of Gilgamesh as a pagan story from which the writer of Genesis would have drawn most his material. <br />
  35. 35. Sumarian story of the Flood<br />That the Biblical deluge story is not original with the Hebrew redactors of the Bible has been known now for more than half a century--from the time of the discovery and decipherment of the eleventh tablet of the Semitic Babylonian "Epic of Gilgamesh." The Babylonian deluge myth itself, however, is of Sumerian origin.<br />
  36. 36. Sumarian Story of the Flood – cont’d<br />The long passage giving the details of the construction of the boat is destroyed; when our text begins again it is in the midst of describing the flood:<br />All the windstorms, exceedingly powerful, attacked as one,The deluge raged over the surface of the earth. After, for seven days and seven nights,The deluge had raged in the land,And the huge boat had been tossed about on the great waters… <br />
  37. 37. The Epic of Gilgamesh<br />The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest written stories known. It comes to us from ancient Sumeria, and was originally written on twelve clay tablets in cuneiform. It is about the adventures of the historical King of Uruk (somewhere between 2750 and 2500 BC). Tablet XI (the Flood Story) has come down to us intact, containing some three hundred lines. The original date of composition is placed in the Ancient Near East Texts (1950) at the turn of the second millennium BC, if not earlier. <br />
  38. 38. The flood Story – Epic of Gilgamesh - 1<br />Just as dawn began to glow the land assembled around me- the carpenter carried his hatchet, the reed worker carried his (flattening) stone, ... the men ... The child carried the pitch, the weak brought whatever else was needed. On the fifth day I laid out her exterior. It was a field in area, its walls were each 10 times 12 cubits in height, the sides of its top were of equal length, 10 times It cubits each. I laid out its (interior) structure and drew a picture of it (?). I provided it with six decks, thus dividing it into seven (levels). The inside of it I divided into nine (compartments). I drove plugs (to keep out) water in its middle part. I saw to the punting poles and laid in what was necessary. Three times 3,600 (units) of raw bitumen I poured into the bitumen kiln, three times 3,600 (units of) pitch ...into it, there were three times 3,600 porters of casks who carried (vege- table) oil, apart from the 3,600 (units of) oil which they consumed (!) and two times 3,600 (units of) oil which the boatman stored away. I butchered oxen for the meat(!), and day upon day I slaughtered sheep. I gave the workmen(?) ale, beer, oil, and wine, as if it were river water, so they could make a party like the New Year's Festival. ... and I set my hand to the oiling(!). The boat was finished by sunset.<br />
  39. 39. The Flood Story -The Epic of Gilgamesh -2<br />The launching was very difficult. They had to keep carrying a runway of poles front to back, until two-thirds of it had gone into the water(?). Whatever I had I loaded on it: whatever silver I had I loaded on it, whatever gold I had I loaded on it. All the living beings that I had I loaded on it, I had all my kith and kin go up into the boat, all the beasts and animals of the field and the craftsmen I had go up. Shamash had set a stated time: 'In the morning I will let loaves of bread shower down, and in the evening a rain of wheat! Go inside the boat, seal the entry!' That stated time had arrived. In the morning he let loaves of bread shower down, and in the evening a rain of wheat. I watched the appearance of the weather-- the weather was frightful to behold! I went into the boat and sealed the entry. For the caulking of the boat, to Puzuramurri, the boatman, I gave the palace together with its contents. Just as dawn began to glow there arose from the horizon a black cloud<br />
  40. 40. The Flood Story -The Epic of Gilgamesh -3<br />Adadrumbled inside of it, before him went Shullat and Hanish, heralds going over mountain and land. Erragal pulled out the mooring poles, forth went Ninurta and made the dikes overflow. The Anunnaki lifted up the torches, setting the land ablaze with their flare. Stunned shock over Adad's deeds overtook the heavens, and turned to blackness all that had been light. The... land shattered like a... pot. All day long the South Wind blew ..., blowing fast, submerging the mountain in water, overwhelming the people like an attack. No one could see his fellow, they could not recognize each other in the torrent. The gods were frightened by the Flood, and retreated, ascending to the heaven of Anu. The gods were cowering like dogs, crouching by the outer wall. Ishtar shrieked like a woman in childbirth, the sweet-voiced Mistress of the Gods wailed: 'The olden days have alas turned to clay, because I said evil things in the Assembly of the Gods! <br />
  41. 41. The Flood Story -The Epic of Gilgamesh - 4<br />How could I say evil things in the Assembly of the Gods, ordering a catastrophe to destroy my people!! No sooner have I given birth to my dear people than they fill the sea like so many fish!' The gods--those of the Anunnaki--were weeping with her, the gods humbly sat weeping, sobbing with grief(?), their lips burning, parched with thirst. Six days and seven nights came the wind and flood, the storm flattening the land. When the seventh day arrived, the storm was pounding, the flood was a war--struggling with itself like a woman writhing (in labor). The sea calmed, fell still, the whirlwind (and) flood stopped up. I looked around all day long--quiet had set in and all the human beings had turned to clay! The terrain was as flat as a roof. I opened a vent and fresh air (daylight!) fell upon the side of my nose. I fell to my knees and sat weeping, tears streaming down the side of my nose. <br />
  42. 42. The Flood Story -The Epic of Gilgamesh - 5<br />I looked around for coastlines in the expanse of the sea, and at twelve leagues there emerged a region (of land). On Mt. Nimush the boat lodged firm, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. One day and a second Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. A third day, a fourth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. A fifth day, a sixth, Mt. Nimush held the boat, allowing no sway. When a seventh day arrived I sent forth a dove and released it. The dove went off, but came back to me; no perch was visible so it circled back to me. I sent forth a swallow and released it. The swallow went off, but came back to me; no perch was visible so it circled back to me. I sent forth a raven and released it. The raven went off, and saw the waters slither back. It eats, it scratches, it bobs, but does not circle back to me. <br />
  43. 43. Gilgamesh and Bible stories compared - 1<br /> The Genesis story describes how mankind had become obnoxious to God; they were hopelessly sinful and wicked. In the Babylonian story, they were too numerous and noisy. <br /> The gods (or God) decided to send a worldwide flood. This would drown men, women, children, babies and infants, as well as eliminate all of the land animals and birds. <br /> The gods (or God) knew of one righteous man, Ut-Napishtim or Noah. <br /> The gods (or God) ordered the hero to build a multi-story wooden ark <br /> The hero initially complained about the assignment to build the boat <br /> The ark would be sealed with pitch. <br /> The ark would have with many internal compartments <br /> It would have a single door <br /> It would have at least one window. <br />
  44. 44. Gilgamesh and Bible stories compared - 2<br />The ark was built and loaded with the hero, a few other humans, and samples from all species of other land animals. <br /> A great rain covered the land with water. <br /> The mountains were initially covered with water. <br /> The ark landed on a mountain in the Middle East. <br /> The hero sent out birds at regular intervals to find if any dry land was in the vicinity. <br /> The first two birds returned to the ark. The third bird apparently found dry land because it did not return. <br /> The hero and his family left the ark, ritually killed an animal, offered it as a sacrifice. <br /> God (or the gods in the Epic of Gilgamesh) smelled the roasted meat of the sacrifice. <br /> The hero was blessed. <br /> The Babylonian gods seemed genuinely sorry for the genocide that they had created. The God of Noah appears to have regretted his actions as well, because he promised never to do it again. <br />
  45. 45. Gilgamesh and Bible stories compared - 3<br />There are many differences between the two stories also. However, the commonalities are striking. It is generally accepted the Gilgamesh story was written before the story of Noah.<br />The Great Flood was a very unusual and singular event in its telling. Because of the magnitude of destruction, it would have left an indelible and permanent mark on the minds of any survivors. This story would have been told and retold, passing down from generation to generation. Over 600 of these stories throughout the entire world have been carried down to the present age.<br />
  46. 46. Gilgamesh and Bible stories compared - 4<br />There are other theories about the Great Flood. Some investigators have claimed that there was a great boat which was swallowed up by a glacier and is still on Mt. Ararat in Turkey. However, the flooding necessary in order to raise a craft to mountainous heights is impossible to explain. Rain alone simply could not raise global levels to such a height. In any case, the Great Flood story appears to have had as its basis a real event dimly remembered and passed on down through many cultures. So, if the flood was a global event, a tsunami flooding coastal regions would have more credibility and would explain why there are flood stories from every continent. <br />
  47. 47. The Tower of Babel<br />The biblical account makes several points:<br />Everyone spoke the same language.<br />Mankind was migrating east.<br />In order that mankind be remembered, the suggestion to build a city and a tower that reached to the sky was carried out.<br />The Lord went down to see the city which was being built.<br />The Lord appears threatened by the ambition of mankind’s project.<br />He decides to confuse their speech, so they could not understand each other.<br />The city building stops and the people scatter all over the earth, with different languages.<br />
  48. 48. The Tower of Babel – Cont’d<br />For the historical-critical scholar, the Tower of Babel is both an etiology and a story based an actual structure, the ziggurat. <br />Ziggurats were huge "stepped" structures, like square layer cakes, with, on their summit, far above the ground, a temple. This Temple would often have been dedicated to the city god. The city ziggurat would easily be the most conspicuous building in the city, towering above any visitors coming to their city. Therefore the ziggurat was not just a religious center but also a center of civic pride. Any visitor could not but see the ziggurat. The ziggurats were built on an immense scale: in the time of Hammurabi they would sometimes reach the height of 150 feet.<br />
  49. 49. The Tower of Babel –Cont’d<br />We have a Babylonian tablet that gives us the dimensions of the ziggurat at the time of Nebuchadnezzar II. The ziggurat’s condition declined and it was in ruins when Alexander arrived in 331 BC. <br />The Jewish writer of Genesis 11 could have explained the beginning of languages by means of the physical structure before his eyes, casting the story with an important but additional teaching that Yahweh disapproved of man’s pride and idolatry.<br />
  50. 50. Conclusions to Genesis 1-11<br />As Pius XII noted, the stories in the first eleven chapters contain history, but not the kind that we are familiar with.<br />To again quote from Pius XII’s Humani Generis:<br />“The first eleven chapters of Genesis… pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration.”<br />

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