George explores the meaning of concordism and the marketing of GA to creationists

(George Brooks) #21


I am constantly amazed at how poorly you understand my viewpoints - - on most any topic.

In reference to your Pharaoh comments: Yes. Very nice. But if we are going to compare apples to apples, you seem to have missed my point:

To paraphrase, McKnight asserts that Genesis is a figurative story, allegorizing Israel (in exile) as the “first man” (in exile). And, further, that this allegory ESCAPES the status of Concordism because it is conceivable that the original readers of Genesis could have well had these very same thoughts. Fine.

And so, now I am asking the reader to do two things with Joshua’s scenario:

[1] Would the original reader of the first chapters of Genesis have likely wondered if the writer was implying that there were other humans that existed before Adam was miraculously created to tend God’s garden?


[2] Would more readers have concluded that the first part of Genesis implied existence of pre-Adamite humanity …

OR, would there have been more readers who concluded that the first part of Genesis was an allegory about Judah in Exile?

In my own personal view, and partly due to McKnight’s own comments, a reader would not have needed any special knowledge of the mind set of the ANE and related world views in order to speculate: “Hey, if Cain had a son, and built a city, it sounds like there were other people around…” (rather than, hey, I wonder if this story about Adam is just a story to draw my attention to Judah’s future?/past? exile?).

(George Brooks) #22


Until such time that @Swamidass is allowed to post his thoughts on BioLogos, he is responding to questions (as above) at my own thread at PeacefulScience:


(Christy Hemphill) #23

George on PS:
“I wrote a few postings, with one specifically comparing many of the most widely known Concordist Views with Joshua’s work. It was a lot of investigations aggregated and boiled down into a single assessment! These posts attracted the responses of Ted Davis and some moderators.

LOL. That’s normally what happens when you start a post

and then tag Ted Davis. Don’t try and make it out like we are just lying in wait for you to mention Genealogical Adam so we can pounce on it.

To the contention that propping up literal interpretations with genealogical science is equivalent to propping up mythical interpretations with genetics science, I would say, sure, that is a fair thing to consider. Again, concordism is not a “charge” or an “accusation.” The question would be whether anyone is saying “genetic science is what makes this passage’s figurative meaning clear.”

I don’t think anyone is saying that. They are saying genetic science rules out a literal interpretation. To the extent that Joshua is saying genealogical science does not rule out a literal interpretation, I would not call that concordism, and I think of it in the same category as saying genetic science does not rule out a figurative interpretation. But if the argument is that it makes a literal interpretation or some extra layers of meaning clear (Eve becomes the mother of all living genealogically, what evolved pre-Adamite homo sapiens population gave birth to Cain’s wife) that is concordism.

(Jay Johnson) #24

Not for lack of trying …

No. That’s my off-the-cuff answer.

The concept of “pre-Adamite humanity” is an oxymoron that would not have occurred to the original audience. It’s the equivalent of “pre-human humanity.” In other words, a nonsensical concept in their world (and ours).

This, again, is nonsensical. We’re discussing the original audience. Special knowledge of the mindset of the ANE? They were immersed in the worldview of the ANE. They were surrounded by ANE mythology. They were the ANE! All of these parallels to ANE mythology that we have to discover and decipher and study would have sprung immediately into their minds, just as the phrase “East of Eden” immediately brings cultural associations into our minds, whether of Genesis or James Dean.

As for your last question, I would guess that a community in exile would find a story about the first man and woman being exiled for disobedience quite relevant to their own lives, whereas the question about Cain and “other people being around” has almost no relevance or practical application, either then or now. Which do you think they cared most about?

(Albert Leo) #25

In preparing to lead a RC adult Confirmation class, I thought it very important to present a rational view of how the scientific treatment of natural phenomena (and especially of Origins) was in concordance with an enlightened interpretation of Genesis. Since joining in this BioLogos Forum, I realize I could have done a much better job. However, I found it difficult to follow the ‘back and forth’ discussions presented in this current thread; i.e. all the nuances that can be seen in definitions of the word “concordance”. Finally I was forced to ask: SO WHAT? How much practical application is there in the degree that modern science concords with Scripture? Obviously we would much rather that the Faith which guides our lives is not an insult to our intelligence ( which should be seen as a treasured Gift from our Creator.) So we should not make it more difficult than need be to live a life guided by a Faith that we can be comfortable with, but one which challenges us to meet the demands of universal love and empathy which raises humans above the level of purely animal life.

IMHO we should be grateful for the Jewish Scripture that is the foundation for our Christian Faith. It was the fruit of a long intellectual struggle to discern the nature of our Creator and what purpose He had in mind in creating us. It certainly was an improvement over the prevailing ANE worldview, and should rightly be considered as God-inspired. Of course, Christians believe that this inspiration was insufficient, and God found it necessary to send His Son, Jesus, to ‘perfect’ it. But the acceptance of Jesus’ message was not a ‘fait accompli’. Soon after Jesus’ death, Paul had the rather painful ‘inspiration’ that Jesus’ message was meant for the gentiles also. And the missionaries that carried it ‘to the far corners of the earth’ too often garbled it in the process.

Perhaps it is the result of an over-active ego, but I like to keep my mind and heart open to direct inspiration from my Creator. I like to think that the German grenade that busted my skull was meant to get my attention for a forthcoming message–something like the bolt of lightning that scripture describes as knocking Paul of his horse on the way to Damascus. Art least it ‘opened my mind’ so I was attentive when the message finally did arrive.
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #26


Hmmmm… even when I parse the core of your discussion into separate points (that’s why I have appended [A], [B] & [C] next to your statements!), I really don’t see how you get from one point to the other. And I’ll show you what I mean by this:

Let’s suppose someone doesn’t think the Bible is literally true… and his real area of interest is, say, UFO’s and aliens! And without a smidge of commentary on this chapter or that verse … this fellow rights a whole book about aliens coming to Earth before the time of Solomon. And the book proposes that the kings of Israel were secretly endorsed and supported by Alien “powers”.

But he fills the book with real cosmological science… with estimates of where the most likely exo-planets could be found, and proposals for what kind of technology the aliens would have had to develop. Except for the “aliens” angle, … his book is chock full of real physics, real QM analysis, technology that is being explored by humans in the most advanced laboratories. BUTTTT … to save us all a little time, let me just end the scenario with “blah blah blah”!

Okay… is such a book about such a topic this Concordist? How could it be? He hasn’t proposed any interpretations of any verses … he hasn’t tried to integrate any of the story lines to any particular UFO patterns. But he talks about science being the answer to what happened 3000 years ago.

Frankly, I wouldn’t buy the book. But I also wouldn’t have the boldness to call it Concordist.

Every definition I’ve read on concordism focuses on just one thing: is the proposal trying to put technologically or scientifically “out-of-context” ideas and thinking into the minds of the biblical writers?

As you know, there are lots of people who look at what they think God would WANT us to discover in the Bible, so that, one day in this century, or in some future millenia, humans will be stunned to see that God’s book secretly had the information embedded in its most cryptic verses.

And rightly or wrongly, I think you and I would agree that this kind of thinking is Concordism. McKnight and Alexander consider attributing any kind of advanced science in the Bible to be one form of Concordism or another !!!

But accusing @Swamidass of making such attributions is just a pile of baloney. It’s a wrong-minded attempt to use “science” as a stick against a “scientist”.

@Swamidass’s scenario includes Genetic insights… and it includes Genealogical insights… but at no time does Joshua say these “discoveries” or “insights” were buried in the Bible’s texts just waiting for humanity to discover them.

Joshua uses only one premise buried in the Bible’s texts: he asks us to consider whether the original readers of the Bible might have considered the chapters of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 were not about the very same time and place?

If there is no sensible reason to imagine that any of the original readers might have made such a consideration, then he is promoting concordism plain-and-simple. But any honest examination of the disparities between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and the events of Cain’s life (Genesis 4) would leave any normal reader into thinking something very strange is being described.

Frankly, there is no way to avoid that conclusion. And that is what makes Joshua’s proposal something OTHER than concordism.

In the quote I take from your posting, the last thing you say is:

". . . if the argument [explains that] . . . Eve becomes the mother of all [the] living … [and that] pre-Adamite [humans] gave birth to Cain’s wife)… that is [C]oncordism."

At this point you will object. You will object because I have removed the references to Genealogy and to Evolution. These are the scientific elements enlisted into the overall understanding. But that’s not where concordism lies. There is always modern science that can be examined.

Concordism comes from what we say is “embedded” in the text! And Joshua is nowhere near Concordism in this regard:

the scenario is built on two categories of facts:

  1. the minor, but still obvious, differences between how Genesis 1 describes Humanity’s arrival, and how Genesis 2 describe’s the arrival of a specific Man. Any writer worth his salt would have been able to write those chapters without triggering inconsistencies.

  2. and the less minor, and very obvious, lacunae on the issue of who Cain feared, who mothered his child, and who was living in this city he founded? Any writer worth his salt could have written chapter 4 without eliciting all these “problems”.

And so this is what makes Joshua’s proposals non-Concordist: these are not modern concerns super-imposed on ancient biblical text. These are concerns immediately apprehended in the ancient text, apparent to any adult reader.

(Randy) #27

I am looking forward to his book.

(George Brooks) #28

I want to thank @aleo for getting me to look at this paragraph more closely. I can see that I was remiss in not tackling this paragraph when I responded to another part of your post.

If I were going to make an educated hypothesis in response to your question, I would say that the author was very quietly showing that “the pitch” that the priests were making about the origins of humanity was somehow wrong.

If author of the first chapters of Genesis was trying to smooth over the issues, he would have done so by eliminating the points of suspicion. But what we see is a different kind of literary behavior. He smooths things out just enough that he can credibly tell the High Priest (or his minions): “look at how I tied these two different ideas together into a seamless narrative!”

It must have been a pretty big mess of different texts, or what he left wouldn’t have been considered acceptable. It must have already represented a lion’s share of changes … and so “the bosses” left it as the “harmonization” left it.

Or perhaps they were all the scribes were of one mind: they wanted it to look coherent and seamless to those who didn’t really understand Jewish legend and history … but for those with more intimate knowledge, they all knew what the little incongruences would tell the next generation.

Here’s an example from another culture: Why would any Romans want to see a ridiculous story about a she-wolf raising twins - Romulus and Remus?! What was the point of that story?

Well, the real point is that the upper crust Romans didn’t like the story the way they had originally heard it told: the term “she-wolf” was the Roman slang for prostitutes that served the port area. And if there were historical twins… they certainly didn’t want them growing up in a bordello.

So the unpleasant story got sanitized … with a ridiculous story that was charming enough that future generations were quite happy with it.

(Christy Hemphill) #29

It would help if you would stop trying to find arguments in simple observations and descriptions. Your A, B, and C are not points intended to follow from one another. They are just observations.

Seriously? No, George, because he isn’t offering an exegetical interpretation of a Bible passage, he is writing a work of science fiction with biblical allusions.

Who would?

That is only one kind. The other kind finds scientific meaning in the text, even though the original writers didn’t know it at the time.

Yes, that is concordism.

Obviously not. No one is saying he’s getting scientific insight from the Bible. But if you say “Eve will become the mother of all living means at some point 2,000 years later, all humanity will be genealogically descended from her” isn’t that using modern scientific constructs to explain or add to biblical meaning? That is making the Bible concord with modern knowledge.

I’ll object because if you remove those things, you remove what is Joshua actually adding to the conversation. We know the text says Eve will become the mother of all living and lots of people have contended that Adam and Eve did not give birth to Cain’s wife. So what?

You should really read up on how most scholars believe Genesis was “written.” They don’t think a guy sat down with a quill and a papyrus one day and “wrote” the Genesis we have in our Bibles, that’s for sure.

(Christy Hemphill) #30


Make sure you convey this attitude toward Scripture when you are plugging your GA interpretation to your Creationist soon-to-be-converts. They’ll totally relate.

(George Brooks) #31


Yes, absolutely. You see this as a separate category. I would tend to lump them together.

In either case, @Swamidass does not need to do this to find a credible inconsistency in Genesis 1,2 & 4. He is not saying the original writers didn’t know about what cities were… or what it would mean if Cain had a son without mentioning anything about where the mother came from.

These “lacunae” would be evident to virtually anyone familiar with the language, or who expected a higher degree of credibility in sacred texts. The Romans had a difficult enough time taking their own religious texts seriously; so if they saw inconsistencies in the Hebrew Bible, they would hardly be surprised.

But, @Christy, let’s look at your objection:

I think you are forgetting who is using this text and why… and even why it was originally written.

The text was not written to prove Eve was the “sole female progenitor” on Earth.

The sentence was written, and put into Adam’s literary mouth, as an etymological explanation for how Eve got named. You know the practice. Isaac has his special etymology. Abraham’s wife has hers. And there are at least two different etymologies for where the name “Israel” comes from. Except for the most zealous literalists, most of us know these stories as relatively inconsequential plates of baloney.

But nowadays, the Evangelicals attempt to get the “etymological fiction” to carry twice the normal buckets of water! Evolution must be false, because otherwise, how can Eve be “mother of all”.

Here is a list of the popular English versions of that sentence:

NINE INSTANCES: “of all living [x]”
7=Past Tense; 1=Alt. Past Tense; 1=Present Tense.
YLT she hath been mother of all living.
DBY she is the mother of all living.
KJV she was the mother of all living.
NKJV she was the mother of all living.
RSV she was the mother of all living.
ASV she was the mother of all living.
WEB she was the mother of all living.
HNV she was the mother of all living.
ESV she was the mother of all living.

FOUR INSTANCES: “of all THE living [x? optional?]”
3=Past Tense; 1 = “would become”.
NIV she would become the mother of all the living.
CSB she was the mother of all the living.
NASB she was the mother of all the living.
NET she was the mother of all the living.

[I had just published them today in my own thread at Joshua’s site.]

In the Hebrew, the word “living” is left unspecified as a normal part of ancient Hebrew syntax. The same such usages are found in Latin. An adjective might be offered, with just a masculine, feminine or neutered ending, making the interpretation of the word or the whole sentence dependent on the context.

This is not a shocking practice. A Latin writer might refer to the “cold [ones]”, where the implicit “ones” are in the masculine case, and so are clearly a reference to the men discussed in the sentences before. Or, if the adjective is feminine, then it might refer to the “wives” that had been discussed above, or a barn full of egg-laying hens!

Here “living” is an implicit reference to what would be expected Eve to stand for: if you believe there were no humans before Adam, then you can leap all the way to all subsequent humans. However, if you suspect that Genesis is trying to let you know that there are oral traditions that refer to pre-Adamite humans, then the intentional vagueness of “all living” can easily accommodate “all Eve’s [offspring]” without violating any concordist niceties.

Frankly, however, I prefer the more middle eastern tone: Iraq’s dictator, Saddam, used to talk about the “Mother of All Battles” … American troops would talk about the “Mother of All Bombs”. In any case, the “Mother” is not a reference to origin, right? No. “the Mother” is a reference to excellence, or scale, or importance.

In this case, the pun may very well have been about Eve as “the Mother of all Life”, aka: “the Great Exemplar of Life” !!!

You say you know what Joshua is doing with that sentence, and I’ll say, sure … and he gave you his favorite color too.

I’ve read quite a bit about the various scenarios for how sacred scripture was or could have been put together. I can tell you enough stories to curdle your maypo:

But none of it makes concordist criteria apply to the obvious “talking points” that would trigger questions when the first chapters of Genesis were carefully read by any curious adult.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #32

It wasn’t a question for him, it was a question for you! You were the one who wrote the phrases and made the contrast between ‘special’ knowledge of the ANE and common sense reading of Genesis.

(George Brooks) #33

Yep… I understand that now, @pevaquark.

This morning I was in the unusual circumstances of reading Joshua’s response to your posting before I knew where your posting was!

It was only hours later when I realized he was attempting to respond to YOUR post in this thread …

This is one of the reasons it would simplify things if Joshua could just get his posting rights returned to him. Even if his posting were limited to ONLY a specific topic, it would be a great help to expand communication at a time when expanding communication would be more beneficial than usual.

(Christy Hemphill) #34


I think we have reached the point in the discussion where I don’t even really know what we are talking about anymore, but me repeating things I’ve said before isn’t going to help.

(John Dalton) #35

Maybe I don’t have to worry too much about taking this wildly off topic then :slight_smile: it’s very interesting to me that traditional Chinese/Taiwanese medicine has the seemingly exact same concept. It would be interesting to know how the categories match up and how prevalent such ideas are elsewhere.

(Jay Johnson) #36

That was the only part of the post you responded to.

I asked about the audience, and you answered with an educated hypothesis/baseless speculation about the possible author and his lack of competence. Does the phrase non sequitur mean anything to you?

Yes. My cue to bow out of this mess …

(Christy Hemphill) #37

They say Meso-America was settled by people from Asia, so maybe it is a very ancient system. Or it’s just something derived from similar observations. Esther Katz has done a lot of research on Mixtec food categories and traditional medicine, if you are interested in looking stuff up.

(George Brooks) #38


Hmmm… yes, you are absolutely right. I can see that I have confused this post with another one… or my memory is just getting worse… You know the old saying… Well, I hope you do… because I don’t remember what the Old Saying was! :wink:

Okay… you asked “Which do you think they cared most about?” So my response was completely irrelevant to you? I guess you really, really need “concrete connections” to get you through the day.

To reply to your odd question in the specific way you require:
If I were an ancient reader, reading a story where my beloved Judah (and its King) were being represented by a flawed Adam, and that Judah was doomed to be forever in Exile… I would get pretty depressed and sad. Which I suppose is a normal day in the life of being an ancient Judah-ite!

If we compare this to a reader’s response to Genesis 1, 2 and 4 … I would be rather determined to get to the bottom of the whole story! I would ask all my relatives if they knew about any oral traditions, or obscure writing, that deals with the question of who else was living during the time of Cain… or who Cain could have married … or who could have joined Cain in his brand new (empty?) city?

Between reading a story that says “Too bad, Judahite, you are stuck in exile for ETERNITY! But even though you will die in Exile … maybe you will have descendants who live to see the day they are RESTORED!”

OR: reading a story that hints at there being some other facts to discover, I would certainly want to learn more.

But I guess you are more interested in reading things that are depressing?

(Jay Johnson) #39

Yes, I am. Please keep posting more about GA.

(system) #40

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