Is Genesis just ancient Jewish mythology?

(Erik Nelson) #21

I’m not sure that the Bible makes any clear definitive unambiguous claims regarding. Other cradles of farming agriculture and a civilization outside of the ancient near East.

Archaeologists would say there are obvious similarities and parallels. So perhaps the Biblical narrative warrants an extension. To cover other cradles of farming agriculture and civilization? By analogy?


I am sure it says nothing about other cultures outside the ANE.

Not so sure I would want to add anything to the Bible. I seem to remember a verse that says not to. :wink:

The information from archaeologists and biologists should inform our interpretation the Bible.

(Erik Nelson) #23

Agree with that insightful interpretation

It’s all about Jealousy Envy, even as Genesis 3 was about Greed, Gluttony?

(Mitchell W McKain) #24

That sounds even more far fetched to me. There is no mention of hunting anywhere in the first chapters of Genesis and animals are not even talked about as food until after the flood (except for the possible inconsistency of Able’s offering “the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions”). In Genesis 1, it only speaks of plants being the source of food for both man and animals. Besides it is only Adam and Eve in this garden paradise where food is readily available and then the from the fall they are required to work for their sustenance. It’s not that I buy into the idea of mankind coming from only two individuals of course. But while I see evidence of other homo sapiens on the earth in Gen 4:14, 6:1-2, I see no reason to leap to a magical idea that the whole earth was transformed from a garden paradise (after all there are frankly many places on the earth which are very much like a garden paradise, especially if it is only for two people). More importantly, I am not buying this idea of farming and the ability to make bread being a curse any more than buy this idea that chapter 2 means God was forbidding the knowledge of good and evil to Adam and Eve. Both of these make the story nonsensical.

Instead I connect the story of the first curse up to the same theme I mentioned before of God trying to combat this bad habit Adam and Eve started of blaming others for their mistakes. What could be a more natural response to this than for God to require them to live by their own efforts where they must learn that they cannot blame anyone but themselves for their own mistakes.

The story Genesis tells is of a first human civilization destroyed by a flood and then survivors soon spreading from there to become diverse cultures. And while I would not match this up to the evidence of human migration to say that this flood was over 70,000 years ago (too early for civilization), I would suggest that the migration evidence does support the hypothesis which locates the earliest human civilization at the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. This is not only a likely place for a civilization devastating flood, but survivors could have at least spread the ideas of civilization (along with the flood story) around the world from there to populations which had migrated around the world at an earlier time.

Back to the hunter-gatherer to farming hypothesis, it would be reasonable to suppose that the ability of the land to support a growing population of gatherers (and hunters possibly) is what drove the human migration in the first place: 70,000 years ago from Mesopotamia to Asia, 50,000 years ago to Austrailia, 40,000 years ago to Europe, 25,000 years ago to Mongolia-Siberia, and 15,000 years ago to the Americas. The implication is that the need for agriculture in these areas would have followed a similar pattern. One might be tempted to connect civilization with agriculture, but the evidence has civilization spreading across the world more quickly, rather soon after its appearance in Mesopotamia around 3500 BC, and considerably later than farming (and herding).


What are you defining as civilization? A society that has adopted agriculture would be living in cities larger than the gatherings of hunter/gathers. To me that means an ordered society, i.e. civilization.

(Mitchell W McKain) #26

It is not my definition but that used by the scientific community when it tells us that we started using wild grains in our diet 20,000 to 23,000 years ago and started farming, using domesticated animals, and storing grain 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. And yet they date the oldest civilization from 3500 BC, and that seems to be about finding forms of writing which tells the scientists that people had some form of governmental organization. I don’t dispute that you can argue that this may be more about what scientists can verify than what actually happened. But I think this just points to the fact that civilization consists of a number of different developments acquired over millennia. This certainly makes dating a first civilization destroyed by a flood as told about in Genesis very difficult to date for certain.

I quite agree that it is very tempting to associate civilization with agriculture, but on the other hand, a single family can do quite a bit of this farming stuff all on their own far from anybody else. And I don’t know if that quite captures what we mean by the word “civilization.” But it wouldn’t take a terribly long time for such a family to grow into small community, would it? But perhaps the real driving force of civilization was the need of communities to protect themselves from those who would simply take the fruits of their labors for themselves.


I was just reading an article on the history of civilization and saw this

So we aren’t civilized until we get a bureaucracy. That would explain a lot of the problems we have. :wink:

(Mitchell W McKain) #28

There is probably considerable truth to this. Many tasks require specialized skills and focus of their time to do well (like civil defense) which means they have to live off the agricultural work of others which means there has to be some sort of redistribution of goods (like taxes) which is going to require some civil administration.

(system) closed #29

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