Adam as Israel/Levi


(RiderOnTheClouds) #1

I recently watched InspiringPhilosophy’s video on the Garden of Eden, which you can watch here:


I found it fascinating, however IP only sees it as evidence for an early date to Genesis 2-3. I would agree with him here, but I see something more.

As Pete Enns notes, there are considerable parallels between the story of Adam and that of Israel. Though I would argue (especially if Richard E Friedman’s theory on the Exodus is correct) that the parallels between Adam and the tribe of Levi are greater, since Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to work and keep it, a priestly role. Indeed, the descriptions of Eden in Ezekiel 28 seem to match the description of the temple.

So I was wondering, in Genesis 1-3, do we have an astonishingly accurate prophecy of the rest of the Hebrew Bible? And is a being who is outside of time the best explanation for this?


(Phil) #2

Or was it written in the exile or post-exile period, incorporating those things in recording oral history?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #3

Funny how no one else in the ANE remembered it


(Matthew Pevarnik) #4

Where’s the prophecy here now? I’m not sure how one argues for an early Genesis 1-3 date either as your response to @jpm makes no sense to me:

Why can’t there be a uniquely Israelite oral tradition that was incorporated into the temple priesthood framework?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #5

The story of Adam is a prefigurement of the story of Israel. Also watch the video.

Why would the Mesopotamians not have a more accurate memory of the events, when they were much closer to Eden than Israel, and had a much more advanced historical tradition.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #6

I understand the parallels between the two, but we only say its a prefigurement because it appears first in the Bible.

Maybe because all humans didn’t descend from a garden in the ANE a few thousand years ago and this story would have been just a part of their local traditions.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #7

Did you watch the video? Can you respond to it?


(Phil) #8

What Matthew said, if you maintain a literal interpretation. Personally, I tend to think the stories are figurative, not historical, so see no problem as just being in the tradition and culture of Israel.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #9

First he takes a look at the Biblical description of this place noting that because the rivers don’t appear to match anything in the present day, then scholars believe the place must be mythical. I’m not sure about that claim, but you don’t need a map to have that position. It does highlight the reason why we should probably shun concordism though as it makes us look for things that aren’t meant to be there. In a predicable way though, he turns to past climate reconstructions and then will try to find a suitable place for Eden to be so that his belief that it was describing real events could have occurred. A river that dried up in the third millenia B.C. that requires some Hebrew magic isn’t particularly impressive. I.e. if you change the Hebrew letters a bit, it could mean a different river that matches with a particular historical river.

After this head spinning attempt at concordism what have we learned? If theologians reject a historical Eden due to modern geography, that’s not a good excuse. But if theologians reject a historical Eden for a different reason, then this video tells us nothing. And the video tells us nothing about an early date for Genesis 2-3 nor does it tell us that Genesis 2-3 has anything to do with prophecy. It could establish that the story incorporates elements of an oral tradition that retains some elements of eyewitness accounts but that’s it. It says nothing of the rest of the story, i.e. the parts that are framed in a way very similar to the priesthood. It makes a lot more sense if the story was repurposed to speak to theological concerns of the present.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #10

I disagree, I think there is only so many places the river could be referring to. You reject it because it leads to ‘concordism’, but this could be applied to ‘any’ piece of history in the Bible, by your standards. Hence I propose that we only speak of concordism when it comes to scientific issues.

Are we going to discount the following facts?

  1. There is no reason why ksh cannot be referring to the Kassites.
  2. There was a river stretching from the land of the Kassites to the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, alongside one from Arabia, just as the Bible says.
  3. This land was incredibly lush, so fits the description of Eden.
  4. The Ancient Babylonians believed in an island paradise in the Persian Gulf (Dilmun). They did NOT however, believe in the confluence of rivers.

Also, I never said the video mentioned anything about Prophecy, that is my conclusion, not his.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #11

That’s fine and all, but I’m not sure what the significance of this is supposed to be. Can you help me unpack this?

Sorry, I meant that the substance of the video does nothing to establish Genesis 1-3 as prophecy. At best it means that there was a culture memory of how the land used to be. It makes a lot of sense for Genesis 1-3 to describe a world that no longer exists, it would be stranger if they described the world as of 500 BCE.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #12

It means that the story of Eden could have a basis in reality.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #13

Righto. But the problem is that you can do this with nearly every ancient cosmogony story. As per geologist David Montgomery who wrote a book called The Rocks Don’t Lie:

“To me, that [factual basis for tales that virtually everyone considered fables] was one of the real eye openers,” Montgomery told me recently. “I was pretty astounded to find that when you start reading” those stories and looking at the underlying geology, “some of them start to make more sense rather than less.”

Of course, people tell stories of events that took place hundreds or even thousands of years ago. It seems unlikely that the details have been passed down accurately for that long. But unlikely or not, it seems to be true. “How long could stories of a great flood survive oral transmission from one generation to the next?” he writes. “Examples of stories that have been passed down through oral transmission for thousands of years have been reported from several continents. My favorite is a Klamath Indian story, recorded in 1865. It provides a compelling eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Mazama, which formed Oregon’s Crater Lake more than 7,600 years ago.”

Arguably, such a story by the same metric as IP presented is far more impressive than squinting at some rivers in ancient reconstructions as this was a very long oral transmission with accurate geological details for over 7,000 years. At best, the Eden story was orally transmitted for a few thousand (or at least details of what Eden used to be like).


(Phil) #14

Of course, if you believe a literal physical Eden, you probably also believe in a literal physical worldwide flood, and if Eden were in the Middle East, it would physically be beneath thousands of feet of sedimentary rocks.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #15

No, I don’t believe in a worldwide flood, nor does John Walton.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #16

Technically one could be an OEC concordist and argue for a literal physical Eden with a regional flood, i.e.: https://www.reasons.org/explore/publications/nrtb-e-zine/read/nrtb-e-zine/2011/06/01/research-studies-shed-light-on-the-garden-and-the-flood


(Phil) #17

True, that. But sort of odd to believe in actual talking snakes and magic trees, but choke on a world wide flood.


(Tim) #18

If Zoroaster is the non-biblical “Noah”, we have such religious oral tradition older than the Hebrew’s Bible. The writings may be arguably the same age. I would say there is a greater chance of that being the oral tradition of Noah and the antediluvian earth than Genesis.

The Mesopotamian’s historical account starts at the Flood. The Enuma Elish is about their god who recently re-arranged the solar system. The Flood being a tame version of the account because the Hebrews claimed their descendants lived through the cataclysmic event. But the Mesopotamians claimed that humans came after the moon event. Sounds like today’s notion that the moon was formed millions of years before humanity. However, the Mesopotamians thought this god actually lived among them, and was benevolent until the Sodom event. Which also coincides with the physical appearance of God to Abraham. Today we do not even accept the Flood, much less that there was a more substantial spiritual envolment in humanity at one time. This history got lost in the mythology of the early religions. Which being dogmatic in form, held a tighter mysticism than any actual history as viewed today in western philosophy.

Not viewing the Bible as the closest proximation of history is as foolish as getting history from the news media. But sometimes that is all humans can tolerate. God gave Moses enough history to establish God’s plan in written form. But scribes and the written account happened before the Palestinian incursion. That it was constant during the kingdom years is another matter altogether. Sometimes the king killed as many scribes as could be found, and tried to destroy the written account. Sometimes a king would seek after God. Sounds about like the current political climate in the US.

God was not giving Moses a prophecy. God gave him an accurate account of God’s plan for the human experience and the allowance of free will.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #19

You (i assume) believe a man who was born of a virgin came back from the dead.


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