2014-04-29

Castration of Ouranos and the Drunkenness of Noah

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by Neil Godfrey

cronos-003This post complements my previous one about the Ham “seeing his father’s nakedness” story developing in three stages:

  1. Originally the story was an adaption of the myths of the youngest son castrating his father (the motive: to maintain an inheritance)
  2. Then it was more delicately shifted to a story of illicit sex
  3. And finally most bashfully of all the story left readers wondering if all Ham did was “have a look”.

Philippe Wajdenbaum (whose book, Argonauts of the Desert: Structural Analysis of the Hebrew Bible, I have discussed a few times before) gives a more detailed comparison between the Ham-Noah narrative and the Greek myth.

Recall that a number of scholars — Wajdenbaum among them — argue that Genesis was written relatively late, even as late as the second century by which time the Greeks had spread throughout the Near East. Such a late date opens a window for another perspective on how the story found its way into the Bible.

First recap the Genesis narrative — Genesis 9:20-27 (KJV)

20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said:

Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.”

26 And he said:

“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem,
And may Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he dwell in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his servant.”

Japheth is to be enlarged. That is, expanded — even into the tents of Shem. Hence the argument that this prophecy reflects a time after Alexander the Great’s conquests and the Hellenization of the Near East.

Greeks migrated everywhere -- the dark green and more. Map from http://www.atlasofworldhistory.com/
Greeks migrated everywhere — the dark green and more. Map from http://www.atlasofworldhistory.com/

Now we have more justification to compare the Greek myth as found in Hesiod’s Theogony. (I suspect Avigdor Shinan and Yair Zakovitch, our authors discussed in the previous post, were less enthusiastic about the comparison with the Greek version of the myth if they embrace a more traditional date for Genesis.)

Here is Hesiod’s account of the birth of the youngest son who was destined to castrate his father, Uranus (Heaven), and his older brother Iapetus:

And Earth first bare starry Heaven, equal to herself, to cover her on every side, and to be an ever-sure abiding-place for the blessed gods. And she brought forth long Hills, graceful haunts of the goddess-Nymphs who dwell amongst the glens of the hills. She bare also the fruitless deep with his raging swell, Pontus, without sweet union of love.

But afterwards she lay with Heaven and bare deep-swirling Oceanus, Coeus and Crius and Hyperion and Iapetus, Theia and Rhea, Themis and Mnemosyne and gold-crowned Phoebe and lovely Tethys. After them was born Cronos the wily, youngest and most terrible of her children, and he hated his lusty sire.

But we want to read how the evil deed was done and the curse placed upon Cronos.

(ll. 147-163) And again, three other sons were born of Earth and Heaven, great and doughty beyond telling, Cottus and Briareos and Gyes, presumptuous children. From their shoulders sprang an hundred arms, not to be approached, and each had fifty heads upon his shoulders on their strong limbs, and irresistible was the stubborn strength that was in their great forms. For of all the children that were born of Earth and Heaven, these were the most terrible, and they were hated by their own father from the first.

And he used to hide them all away in a secret place of Earth so soon as each was born, and would not suffer them to come up into the light: and Heaven rejoiced in his evil doing.

But vast Earth groaned within, being straitened, and she made the element of grey flint and shaped a great sickle, and told her plan to her dear sons. And she spoke, cheering them, while she was vexed in her dear heart:

(ll. 164-166) `My children, gotten of a sinful father, if you will obey me, we should punish the vile outrage of your father; for he first thought of doing shameful things.’

(ll. 167-169) So she said; but fear seized them all, and none of them uttered a word. But great Cronos the wily took courage and answered his dear mother:

(ll. 170-172) `Mother, I will undertake to do this deed, for I reverence not our father of evil name, for he first thought of doing shameful things.

(ll. 173-175) So he said: and vast Earth rejoiced greatly in spirit, and set and hid him in an ambush, and put in his hands a jagged sickle, and revealed to him the whole plot.

(ll. 176-206) And Heaven came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Earth spreading himself full upon her.

Then the son from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father’s members and cast them away to fall behind him.

7144327_f496And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Earth received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes and the great Giants with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the Nymphs whom they call Meliae all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and the foam-born goddess and rich-crowned Cytherea, because she grew amid the foam, and Cytherea because she reached Cythera, and Cyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros, and comely Desire followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods, — the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.

(ll. 207-210) But these sons whom be begot himself great Heaven used to call Titans (Strainers) in reproach, for he said that they strained and did presumptuously a fearful deed, and that vengeance for it would come afterwards.

What a beautiful story. So that’s how a certain personification, the goddess of “sweet delight and love and graciousness” was born!

Prudish Plato was scandalized. Such stories were not fit for public consumption. Wajdenbaum suggests that the authors of Genesis agreed with Plato. Some revision was called for. So the castration was slightly modified to “seeing his father naked”.

And as we read in the previous post, so Wajdenbaum alerts us to the tradition of the castration being preserved in the Jewish midrashim (Midrash Rabba).

Wajdenbaum sees other adaptations of the Greek myths in Genesis, too, but they will have to wait for future posts.

What is interesting here is that gods in other cultures were rewritten as humans in the Jewish one. Or rather, as a special type of human who lived an extraordinarily long time, so we might think of them as a species appropriate to fill the gap between gods and us normal humans. We know Euhemerus rationalized the myths be arguing that the gods were originally tales about great humans. The monotheistic (more or less) biblical authors took the same route and changed the gods into humans.

But back to the Ham story.

Canaan is cursed, for Israel, descended from Shem, is to possess the land. The proof that the biblical story is indeed inspired by Hesiod lies in the retention of the name Japhet, homonym of the Titan Iapetos. In both texts, the youngest son commits a shameless act against the father, and has a brother called Japhet.

This deliberate ‘fingerprint’ is furthermore the heralding of the coming of the Greeks.

One should mention how the Sibylline Oracles, a text of the Roman era, strangely confused the Japhet of the Bible with that of Greek tradition (Sib. Or. III, 105-13). This text considers the Greek gods to have been famous humans. . . . (Argonauts of the Desert, p. 108. My formatting)

argonauts

 

 

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42 Comments

  • 2014-04-29 22:14:20 UTC - 22:14 | Permalink

    Walter Mattfeld has proposed that these Greek myths were borrowed by Judahites living in Judah in Josiah’s time.
    http://www.bibleorigins.net/Japhethmadai.html

    • 2014-04-29 23:24:33 UTC - 23:24 | Permalink

      I have long wanted to do posts on the relationship between the Hebrew Bible, especially the Pentateuch, and Plato. I am fairly confident that a reasonable case can be made to demonstrate that the biblical author(s?) was(were?) applying the famous Hellenistic principles of what constituted an ideal state. Philippe Wajdenbaum has already researched and published his doctoral thesis making this case, and I have my own take on the question that overlaps with his, and there’s so much material it’s hard to know where to begin. I also consider the Hebrew Bible (it possibly even began as a Greek text that was translated into Hebrew, but I would need to update myself with specialist studies on this question) to have been a response to the Hellenistic culture that dominated Judea (or Jehud) in the third and second centuries BCE.

      • 2014-04-30 20:14:50 UTC - 20:14 | Permalink

        Funny, the Table of Nations doesn’t look Hellenistic. East of Caphtor, only Tarshish (Tartessos, a vibrant Phoenician settlement in Josiah’s time) is mentioned, and East of Media, nothing is mentioned (though South Arabia and Turkey are very well represented). This would be very unlikely in a post-Achaemenid, post Greco-Persian war context.
        http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/2012/12/14/grand-genesis-10-map/

      • 2014-04-30 22:34:08 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

        Also, from this review, it seems Wajdenbaum’s method is merely the Sharpshooter Fallacy writ large. If you do do later posts on this, could you respond to this objection?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-01 10:56:51 UTC - 10:56 | Permalink

          As I’ve explained in earlier posts on Argonauts Wajdenbaum is explains his method as an application of Claude Levi-Strauss’s structural analysis of myths. Some applications of the Sharpshooter Fallacy would put an end to anything like that and put an end to comparative studies generally. What is significant is not differences per se — without differences there would be nothing to compare in the first place — but the nature of the explanations for those differences and the extent to which those explanations are grounded in what we know of the relevant field (e.g. the literary culture, geological events, tribal branches, etc.)

          Some people go to extremes and if they cannot account for differences they even deny that similarities exist. But I sometimes see similarities between cloud shapes and something organic on earth. I do not deny the similarity but I seek the explain both similarities and differences. Do I resort to cognitive and other sciences or do I turn to magic? Do I find meaning in the way the universe functions or do I find it in supernatural beliefs? It is a mistake to limit one’s study to a point by point comparison of the similarities and differences: a genuine comparative — and structural — study requires a broader grappling with contexts, systems, cultures, etc.

          • 2014-05-01 19:35:58 UTC - 19:35 | Permalink

            It is a mistake to limit one’s study to a point by point comparison of the similarities and differences: a genuine comparative — and structural — study requires a broader grappling with contexts, systems, cultures, etc.

            -Can you please elaborate on this sentence or link to some posts relating to it? I’m interested in hearing more.

            • 2014-05-02 02:53:32 UTC - 02:53 | Permalink

              Levi-Strauss’s structural analysis of myths; comparative literary analysis. I have discussed both here at various times.

              One example of classical dot-point comparisons uninformed by theory and broader knowledge of literary culture and practices is Richard Burridge’s “What Are the Gospels?”. I say “classical” because when you examine how he constructs his argument it becomes evident that in reality a contemporary ideology of some sort is guiding his selection and interpretation of the points he chooses for comparison — there is little practical reference to the broader contextual literary practices of the day — to demonstrate that the gospels are a form of ancient bios/biography.

              On the other hand a positive example is my current debate (on another site) with exponents of astrotheology. Their argument is also an attempt to find dot-point matches and introduce their theories to explain differences and similarities without reference to theory and the wider cultural workings that produced the literature according to verifiable methods.

              I have found the dot-point adding up of differences and/or similarities to serve as a tool to dismiss or embrace any comparison they like or don’t like for whatever reasons. Those who use it negatively are as fallacious as those who use it positively.

              I don’t know of any theory to justify a hypothesis for borrowing or adaptation on the basis of a particular mathematical ratio of differences/similarities. I suspect that such an approach would lead us to conclude that Virgil was not the least influenced by Homer.

              If you have a particular point or criticism then just be up front and make it.

      • Richard G.
        2014-05-07 22:34:00 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

        Hi Neil,

        I’ve been reading your blog off & on since last year (I think), and I’ve been vary impressed. I regret that I wasn’t aware of it earlier. I’m an amateurs’ amateur in ancient history. 😉

        You said, “I also consider the Hebrew Bible (it possibly even began as a Greek text that was translated into Hebrew, but I would need to update myself with specialist studies on this question) to have been a response to the Hellenistic culture that dominated Judea (or Jehud) in the third and second centuries BCE”.

        Could this mean that the Septuagint is the original, earliest Hebrew Bible (aka Old Testament)? i.e. That the manuscripts that we have are, in fact, the originals? Nothing earlier? Fascinating, if that’s the case.

        Richard G.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-08 09:56:06 UTC - 09:56 | Permalink

          It’s not the popular view but I don’t know of any evidence that points to the earliest texts being in Hebrew. My impression is that the assumption that the earliest texts were in Hebrew is part of the traditional understanding that many of them dated to the time prior to and shortly after the Babylonian conquest of the Kingdom of Judah. But if the biblical texts were not composed until the Hellenistic era then why wouldn’t they have been written in Greek? (I seem to recall reading the suggestion in some scholarly journals or books some time back but can’t recall by whom or where — maybe it was my imagination. I don’t know.)

          It’s not something that can be proven as far as I know, but I am open to the possibility. I don’t discount the possibility that I’m wrong, either.

          • Richard G.
            2014-05-08 19:33:27 UTC - 19:33 | Permalink

            Hmm, definitely food for thought.

            Now I also have to wonder if the earliest manuscripts we have of the New Testament, might in fact be the original documents. i.e. the reason we don’t find earlier manuscripts is because we already have the original autographs (but we just don’t realize it).

            Richard G.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2014-05-08 21:11:05 UTC - 21:11 | Permalink

              I don’t mean to suggest we date the original compositions by surviving manuscripts. It’s most unlikely we have the original autographs. Surviving manuscripts at best can give us the very latest possible date. On the other hand, a work cannot be any earlier than the dates of its contents — e.g. a document referring to the destruction of Jerusalem by Romans cannot be any earlier than 70 CE. There is always the possibility a later passage has been edited into an earlier document, so literary analysis is also important to help us assess the likelihood of that having happened, too, with passages that are used to date a text.

              • Richard G.
                2014-05-08 21:24:53 UTC - 21:24 | Permalink

                I often hear/read this, but why do scholars conclude that this is the case?
                How would we know if we had originals of any ancient manuscripts (as opposed to wall carvings which would obviously be originals)?

                Richard G.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2014-05-09 09:43:05 UTC - 09:43 | Permalink

                Are you asking why scholars conclude they don’t have the autographs but only later manuscripts? If so, there are several reasons:

                manuscripts we have are often dated [by means of lettering styles, manuscript format such as codex etc, carbon 14, provenance record] much later than we know the original was composed — we date the original composition by means of its contents, its allusions to contemporary or earlier events but failure to indicate awareness of later events that would have affected the author’s content;

                the odds against an original surviving are very small: writings that had a reasonable audience over time were necessarily copied many times and it is far more likely that we have copies of copies than the original;

                the manuscripts are usually found in monasteries and other places where we know monks etc copied texts for preservation; or in deposits that indicate a library or collection of some sort that implies copies of texts for a particular readership.

              • Richard G.
                2014-05-12 04:04:50 UTC - 04:04 | Permalink

                Hi Neil,

                Thanks for the replies.

                BTW, (& I don’t wish to be a bother, but) a few days ago I sent you an email to your gmail account. You’re not obligated to reply, of course, but I wanted to make sure that it didn’t get directed to your junk mail folder by mistake.

                Richard G.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2014-05-12 10:44:42 UTC - 10:44 | Permalink

                Sorry for the delay in replying. I have several long outstanding emails waiting — other things taking over my time lately. (I have scarcely even skimmed comments here recently.)

  • 2014-04-30 01:21:51 UTC - 01:21 | Permalink

    SO let me get this straight…the Greeks go for a translation of HEBREW scriptures, mistranslate it in a lot of places, and then you’re telling me that people think the Jews swiped back what effectively was their own material FROM the Greeks? With the Greeks claiming it was theirs first?

    Reminds me how much of the early Jesus material came from the same mistranslated Greek version of Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint.

    No surprise about Plato…cosmic crosses, his own Son of God concept, basically the Timaeus.

    But seriously…

    I have to say I’m really rolling on the floor laughing at the thought of the Greeks trying to say the Jews filched the Septuagint material from them.

  • 2014-04-30 01:27:43 UTC - 01:27 | Permalink

    SO let me get this straight…the Greeks go for a translation of HEBREW scriptures, mistranslate it in a lot of places, and then you’re telling me that people think the Jews swiped back what effectively was their own material FROM the Greeks? With the Greeks claiming it was theirs first?

    No, not at all. I don’t know how you got that idea, sorry.

  • 2014-04-30 01:33:35 UTC - 01:33 | Permalink

    Was it in Against Apion that Josephus countered such canards?

    Beautifully, I might add.

    One thing interesting was Josephus being able to match the names of the patriarchs of the 70 nations to places still existing in his day.

    In the next 2000 years, with all the migrations all over Europe and the Middle East, such places and their names and that connection has been obscured…but it was still one thing I think Josephus proved well…the various peoples from Noah’s sons and grandsons still left a faint footprint in the first century.

    I suggest this…that the Noah story is actually more truer than a lot of histories of those seventy nations, since those seventy nations eventually started telling their own narratives…making up their own Gods. AND there seems to have been a desire to make the God of the Flood a minor god in each pantheon…or a nasty minor god.

    And funnily enough, in the first century, they were back at it again with the “Demiurge” concept.

    Though let’s be fair to Plato, he considered the Demiurge a “craftsman,” didn’t he?

    Now THAT way, the Ham story is technically the original story, and the Pagans merely wrote it according to their own cultural biases.

    Even cultures as far away as China, too, have a flood story with eight people on a boat.

    • 2014-04-30 02:10:14 UTC - 02:10 | Permalink

      Against Apion or Apian’s views have nothing to do with my point. I’m simply concurring with those scholars who place primary reliance upon the archaeological evidence and interpret the texts in the light of those archaeological finds.

      Traditionally scholars tended to do the reverse: interpret the archaeological finds through the Bible. But that method is not valid for historical reconstruction in other fields of inquiry and should not be followed with history of Palestine region either.

      I agree with the overall methods and general conclusions of scholars like Lemche, Davies, Thompson, Whitelam and a good many others now who are publishing in the journals. That is – – – –

      — that the Kingdom of Israel, centred around Samaria, was a natural indigenous kingdom that flourished to the north of what later emerged as the Kingdom of Judah and continued until it was destroyed by the Assyrians;

      — that in the wake of the Assyrian invasions and destructions of old economic centres the Kingdom of Judah emerged, centred around Jerusalem, and this continued until the Babylonian conquest;

      — that both the above kingdoms were indigenous to the land and not the descendants of invading tribes such as we picture when we imagine scenes of Joshua — and Yahweh was only one of their many deities;

      — that the deportations from Judah only involved the administrators and elites of society and the land-workers remained;

      — that there was no religious revival or religious community of Jews lamenting their fate as Yahweh worshipers in a “Babylonian captivity”;

      — that the Persian empire later continued the policies of the Assyrians and Babylonians of deporting peoples for a range of reasons and pretexts, sometimes claiming that they were being “returned” to the lands of their ancestors to restore the worship of the original gods (though real reasons were often economic and military);

      — that one such relocation of peoples was to establish the province of Jehud; these new arrivals saw themselves as the true god-ordained inheritors of the land and kept themselves aloof from the original inhabitants; (and this sort of thing was not unique to Jehud — it was the sort of thing that had been done elsewhere and by other powers and one of the reasons for the survival of the Jewish religious experience as opposed to the others was its ability to adapt to Hellenism);

      — the new arrivals created their own myths to justify their own new identities and their new migration to the land;

      — that the biblical literature was an outgrowth of this new cultural identity formation; various scribal schools debated and worked through their respective ideologies over time;

      — that this literature incorporated some of the myths and historical names of the existing inhabitants and incorporated those in their new stories;

      — that the book of Genesis contains internal evidence that it was not composed until the third or second centuries.

      Other scholars (e.g. Philip Davies) disagree with such a late date for the creation of the biblical literature and argue it happened earlier under the Persian regime.

      In general this is what an increasing number of scholars are coming to see as the uncontroversial background to the biblical literature of today.

      Some archaeologists (e.g.Finkelstein) have also published their interpretations and argue along similar lines, although Finkelstein and Silberman argue that there was a renaissance of Jewish literature in the last days of the kingdom under Josiah. Davies and others suspect the Josiah narrative is itself a myth.

      But only conservative diehards, as far as I am aware (and they may be many, still, of course, given the religious affiliations of many such scholars) still cling to the arguments that Israelites entered the land as conquerors or immigrants and that there was a united kingdom of David and Solomon. Others think if there was a kingdom of David we know nothing about it and it could not have been much more than a small “bandit” kingdom.

      I’m surprised at your comments on the Flood. Are you suggesting that there was a universal flood? Are you claiming that the Jews somehow have the original and true stories and all others are corruptions? What is your position on these things?

      • 2014-04-30 20:28:58 UTC - 20:28 | Permalink

        Question: Who built Tel Beersheba V?
        http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/arch_files/info/TA31-2_Redifining_the_Centre.pdf
        I have strong suspicions your general picture of Iron Age Palestine was formed almost entirely from works or ideas dating to before 1996 put into writing by a small cadre of non-archaeologists.
        Your idea that the Persian-era priesthood was non-native Palestinian is not impossible, but does not explain the preservation of clear Iron Age realia in the Bible.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2014-05-01 08:52:59 UTC - 08:52 | Permalink

          Before I enter into any discussion of sources it would be helpful to lay all our cards out on the table. To what or whom are you referring by “small cadre of non-archaeologists”? Small? Cadre? Non-archaeologists? Are you suggesting that historians have no right or ability to study archaeological reports and write histories based on them? Or should “history” based on archaeology only be written by archaeologists to be credible?

          • 2014-05-01 09:38:48 UTC - 09:38 | Permalink

            “small cadre of non-archaeologists”

            -Thompson, Davies, Whitelam, etc. These are not archaeologists, and they form a rather small group of scholars.

            Are you suggesting that historians have no right or ability to study archaeological reports and write histories based on them?

            -Heavens, no! My suggestion is, when dealing with discussions of archaeological finds, to always go to the sources-the archaeological reports and articles based on them, which are almost invariably written by archaeologists. As almost all of our information about archaeological finds is derived from claims of archaeologists, all non-archaeologists have to rely on archaeologists for information about archaeological finds. So almost all claims by non-archaeologists about archaeological finds have to be grounded, directly or indirectly, in the claims of archaeologists. Plenty of Thompson’s assertions about Iron Age Palestine do not seem to me to be solidly grounded in archaeologists’ claims.

            For example, if an archaeologist draws a piece of pottery and presents his interpretation of it, a non-archaeologist certainly may dispute that interpretation, but that non-archaeologist’s interpretation must be grounded in the archaeologist’s drawing (unless the non-archaeologist has access to other drawings or the original piece).

            Note that even some archaeologists (e.g., Gabriel Barkay) also have a tendency to be unreliable about matters relating to archaeology.

            • 2014-05-01 10:10:23 UTC - 10:10 | Permalink

              Why the guessing game? Why not just tell us what assertions Thompson makes that are not grounded in the reports of archaeologists? We’re all open to the evidence and learning all the time and have nothing to hide.

              What do you mean by “the preservation of clear Iron Age realia in the Bible”?

            • 2014-05-02 00:48:23 UTC - 00:48 | Permalink

              Well, at least that answers some questions I had about the findings of these people.

    • junego
      2014-04-30 03:23:06 UTC - 03:23 | Permalink

      Hi, I don’t post often but I couldn’t let the Chinese flood claim slide by without comment. I spent years on the talk.origins newsgroup and this was a creationist claim that came up occasionally.

      It is not true that the Chinese have a story or a written character that represents “eight people on a boat”.

      The original claims were that certain Chinese characters show an awareness of claims/tales found in the book of Genesis by the ancient Chinese people/civilization. There was a book, The Discovery of Genesis, which, I believe, started the whole rigmarole. (See second link.) Unfortunately, the stories, exaggerations, tall tales and myths among creationists, and even regular Christians, have ballooned from that point. Now you see claims that the Chinese have a flood story just like the Bible!!! (Or other such nonsense.)

      Here’s a link to the talk.origins web page that deals briefly with this claim.

      http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CG/CG101.html

      and here’s link to page of the person (a Mandarin Chinese translator) who, iirc, participated in the talk.origins discussion that debunked this creationist myth.

      http://www.raccoonbend.com/languages/chinchar/chinchar.html

      The above page explains the genesis 😉 of these misconceptions. Go to the bottom of that page and click on The Flood link to go directly to his analysis of that particular claim. Or use your google to find other links that debunk these stories.

      I’m sorry, you’ve been misinformed about this idea.

  • 2014-04-30 01:43:00 UTC - 01:43 | Permalink

    I have to quote you to see where I got that idea, Neil…
    “I also consider the Hebrew Bible (it possibly even began as a Greek text that was translated into Hebrew, but I would need to update myself with specialist studies on this question) to have been a response to the Hellenistic culture that dominated Judea (or Jehud) in the third and second centuries BCE.”

    That’s how you put it. Which would give the impression the Greeks “came up with” the Hebrew bible first as the Septuagint.

    • 2014-04-30 02:12:38 UTC - 02:12 | Permalink

      Not at all. No. Greek was the lingua franca of the ancient world (at least the Near East) in the third and second centuries. The cultural elite among Jews spoke and wrote Greek; they learned to read and write Greek from Greek texts.

  • 2014-04-30 02:19:09 UTC - 02:19 | Permalink

    On a universal flood…too many separate cultures of the ancient world had a flood myth with exactly the same symbols, including the idea of 8 people on a boat/ark/ship. Too many cultures to be coincidental or just local floods being the basis.

    On the rest of what you’ve covered and the research…isn’t it weird that such research backs the Samaritan narrative of things?

    This is where Stephan Huller’s awareness of the Samaritans is most handy…as I’ve been reading his posts on the Samaritan position on the Pentateuch and OT. Interestingly enough, the researchers you quoted seem to take that Samaritan narrative verbatim.

    Except for one thing…the Samaritans are down to only 700 and a bit people in the entire world now…so that’s not exactly a point in favor of their narrative.

    Samaritan thinking also seems to play into a lot of the early Gnostic Christian stuff, too…hence something I’ve noticed just recently, that the NT has a strong PRO-Samaritan bias, while being very anti-Jewish.

    Yep, that’s still pointing back to that Simonian origin of it all, isn’t it?

    • 2014-04-30 02:41:34 UTC - 02:41 | Permalink

      I don’t know what you mean by the Samaritan narrative. I doubt very much the scholars are considering it at all — as I pointed out, the method is to use archaeology as the control through which to interpret the narratives in the Bible. That’s the way historians work normally — only biblical studies has for too long been the exception. I am quite sure the scholars have no Samaritan affiliations at all. I don’t subscribe to any conspiracy theory and I certainly don’t believe for a minute that there is anything anti-Jewish about the above scenarios if that’s what you are implying. My god, Jews themselves — historians and archaeologists — are on record as concurring with it, and I mentioned Finkelstein and Silberman. But I do acknowledge that the science of archaeology — its finds — are not popular among many of the more conservative Israeli nationalists. There is controversy in Israel itself over some of this — not unlike the Intelligent Design debate in America, I suppose.

      As for the common experience of the floods throughout world cultures, science is showing us what most likely happened — and I broached this topic, and others added more resources, @ http://vridar.org/2014/01/02/universal-floods-and-australian-dreamtime-myths/

      I don’t know if it’s true that “too many separate cultures” had “exactly the same symbols” or the “idea of 8 people on a boat” — what cultures can you cite for this claim? I do know of many cultural variants — variant symbols and variant numbers and means of survival.

      May I ask if you are a believer in the literal interpretation of the Bible? I took your word at face value when you said you originally went to Israel with an open mind — I took that as indicating that you had no religious or other reasons to lean towards a biblical or Jewish view of things any more than you had to prefer the interpretations of any others. But it seems you have strong biblical beliefs?

      • 2014-04-30 03:49:37 UTC - 03:49 | Permalink

        Okay, the Chinese I remember reading had their own flood myth, but it still had the factor of there being eight people on a boat.

        I’ve also read up on Huller’s discussions about the Samaritan view of things, which is not exactly as we’ve usually heard it in churches or even the Jewish understanding of the Samaritans. However, they’re not big on anything after Joshua in the OT, seem to think that Mt Gerizim is where things should be instead of Jerusalem, and see the Jews after Babylon as the fakes.

        Perhaps it’s worth a read of Huller’s discussions about the Samaritan culture and liturgy.

        About the only reason I’d take anything biblical as literal is…no-one can adequately explain to me how a single people ended up with the most super-accurate health codes, hygiene codes and nutrition codes 3500 years ago all within a forty-year period. Most people don’t even read the Law of Moses and never learn of that factor. Sounds like they didn’t understand that in either the Gnostic OR pro-Catholic forms of Christianity either.

        I just keep an open mind that all the evidence for “ice ages” is exactly the same evidence as for a global flood. I don’t discount the biblical view just because science reacts more against Catholicism.

        From what I’ve gleaned of Judaism, they don’t discount the scientific view…heck, they’re more able to take the fact that science and the bible do agree on sequencing…they’ll only debate the amount of zeroes involved.

        Unlike Christians who sometimes still haven’t progressed from the Flat Earth theory…

        Science has heaps of disagreement with the Catholic cosmology…no debate there…but let’s not confuse Jews with Christians OR think they’re identical.

        Same too, let’s not confuse Jews with Samaritans…

    • junego
      2014-04-30 04:35:09 UTC - 04:35 | Permalink

      George Hall said:

      “On a universal flood…too many separate cultures of the ancient world had a flood myth with exactly the same symbols, including the idea of 8 people on a boat/ark/ship. Too many cultures to be coincidental or just local floods being the basis.”

      Again, you’ve been misinformed. There are few flood myths from other cultures around the world that closely track the Genesis (or the earlier Sumerian or Akkadian) flood story.

      Some cultures in contact with the ANE have some elements that are similar to Noah’s tale, but most do not include “8 people on a boat/ark/ship”. Some folk tales may have also been influenced by Christian missionaries in the last few centuries.

      Back to talk.origins, but that newsgroup dealt with creationist claims for, literally, decades (and is still going over at Google.groups) and used their website to collect research done by dozens of people over the years. Here’s a link to a fairly comprehensive collection of the world’s flood myths.

      http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/flood-myths.html

      We should expect flood stories to be common because *floods* are common, especially in the river valleys where many early people settled to farm. Many stories are strikingly different from the Genesis account even when they include a supposed worldwide event. I see no evidence of some common historical event being preserved in folk myths.

      • junego
        2014-04-30 04:44:42 UTC - 04:44 | Permalink

        Plus there’s NO geologic/scientific evidence for a worldwide flood in the earth’s history.

      • 2014-04-30 05:21:28 UTC - 05:21 | Permalink

        I’m disappointed with George’s latest comments. It is evident he has been hiding his true colours for some time.

        There is no room for discussion with people who seek to shoe-horn science to make it fit what they want it to prove or support in the Bible.

        • 2014-04-30 07:54:16 UTC - 07:54 | Permalink

          Neil, I try not to make personal comments. Please show me the same courtesy.

          I’m simply one ordinary person who likes to really examine truth when it comes to the whole subject related to religion.

          If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be at the point where I finally consider Jesus only to be a FICTION. Real evidence is overwhelming that I accept it.

          That annoys some of my Christian friends, too, by the way. They keep mistaking me for an atheist now.

          I also have an objection to the anti-scientific Christians of the fourth-century who murdered Hypatia. Note that. Hypatia was exceptional in her theories which have since been proven. On HER side, not her murderers.

          By the same token I also know some sciences is a reaction AGAINST Catholic dogma. Don’t have any problem with that, as Roman cosmology is not necessarily based on anything evidential. But I wonder if some sciences react against the Catholic church a tad TOO far.

          • Neil Godfrey
            2014-04-30 10:39:15 UTC - 10:39 | Permalink

            I tend to take people at their word and ask that you be completely open about your viewpoints and where you stand on any issue you discuss, political or religious, and try to be sure nothing is left open to misinterpretation — especially with where your sympathies and beliefs lie. And I do not expect the slightest innuendo that I am somehow supporting anything at all “anti-Jewish”. If you think I am doing anything like that then I ask you to read a blog that is more in line with your way of thinking.

            Be open and up-front. I still have absolutely no idea what you mean by a Samaritan narrative. I am quite sure if I met a Samaritan and said what I wrote here I would be thinking of something entirely different from what he understands even if there are overlaps with the words used. If you think biblical scholars like Thompson, Lemche and others are supporting a Samaritan agenda then I reject that claim entirely. Tell us exactly, without ambiguity, what you mean. I have naively been strung along by too many others in the past who profess they are only trying to learn and to ask questions to understand a view expressed here and I do tend to feel just a little pissed off when I so often learn I’ve been played for a fool by so many people like that.

            • 2014-04-30 11:49:08 UTC - 11:49 | Permalink

              Okay, the bits you quoted and which I then listed are the basic tenets of the Samaritan view of the Jews who came back from Babylon.

              These are exactly the same points for months and a few years Huller has been mentioning about the Samaritan narrative. Practically identically.

              These are the things Samaritans think about their own identity, why they consider the Jews and the Jerusalem temple as not the right place, why they still look, both in the 1st century and now, to Mt Gerizim. Why they don’t look to any part of the Old Testament after Joshua.

              Because Huller takes a look at how Samaritan thought of the first century may have tied intimately into the earliest “those of Mark” Marcionites, it’s been something that’s intrigued me and led to me not exactly considering Jesus “Jewish” any more. And thinking an allegorical one effectively a “fiction.”

              You’ve pointed out the archaeology…I’ve simply observed that based on how Huller has identified the Samaritan self-identification and narrative, that the archaeology, on the surface, bears out their narrative.

              After that ALL I did was ask if it’s still possible there could be an interpretive problem with the archaeological evidence…as for all that, the Samaritans are practically an endangered species now. All this archaeology on the surface backing their narrative doesn’t exactly do a thing for their survival as even an ethnic group.

              The only other observation I may make is…before proto-Catholics and proto-Orthodox, in the Gnostics, there may have been that same narrative, that this may tie into the Simonian origins of Christianity…and that would indicate instead of having a Catholic or Protestant view, I’m open to the possibility the “handed-down wisdom” on the topic may favor the Gnostics and Simonians as being the originators of Christianity.

              And I’m open to the fact Simon may have BEEN Jesus…which still makes Jesus a fiction as far as I’m concerned.

              But I still like examining things from different angles. I see, until proven one way OR the other…that we have TWO ways to look at the archaeology. One…that the SAMARITAN story was the truer, as these people you’ve quoted show…or TWO…that the evidence still seems to have a Samaritan narrative that affects interpretation of the archaeology.

              One of those WILL prove…and whichever DOES prove, it’s going to be a shock to someone.

              Those scholars have pointed out all those things you bullet-pointed.

              Huller has noted those as the Samaritan idea of how things went in the ancient Holy Land.

              Technically the scholars and the Samaritan idea of their own history agree.

              Basic-simple-observation.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2014-04-30 12:12:19 UTC - 12:12 | Permalink

                I am not interested in Huller’s arguments. From what you have said here I see nothing in common between what I said and some “Samaritan narrative”.

                No more comments on this, please. I don’t see any relevance of any of your views to the post.

  • 2014-04-30 03:58:26 UTC - 03:58 | Permalink

    I’ll cite the archaeological claims that match the Samaritan views on the Jews:

    <q cite="– that the Kingdom of Israel, centred around Samaria, was a natural indigenous kingdom that flourished to the north of what later emerged as the Kingdom of Judah and continued until it was destroyed by the Assyrians;

    – that in the wake of the Assyrian invasions and destructions of old economic centres the Kingdom of Judah emerged, centred around Jerusalem, and this continued until the Babylonian conquest;

    – that both the above kingdoms were indigenous to the land and not the descendants of invading tribes such as we picture when we imagine scenes of Joshua — and Yahweh was only one of their many deities;

    – that the deportations from Judah only involved the administrators and elites of society and the land-workers remained;

    – that there was no religious revival or religious community of Jews lamenting their fate as Yahweh worshipers in a “Babylonian captivity”;

    – that the Persian empire later continued the policies of the Assyrians and Babylonians of deporting peoples for a range of reasons and pretexts, sometimes claiming that they were being “returned” to the lands of their ancestors to restore the worship of the original gods (though real reasons were often economic and military);

    – that one such relocation of peoples was to establish the province of Jehud; these new arrivals saw themselves as the true god-ordained inheritors of the land and kept themselves aloof from the original inhabitants; (and this sort of thing was not unique to Jehud — it was the sort of thing that had been done elsewhere and by other powers and one of the reasons for the survival of the Jewish religious experience as opposed to the others was its ability to adapt to Hellenism);

    – the new arrivals created their own myths to justify their own new identities and their new migration to the land;

    – that the biblical literature was an outgrowth of this new cultural identity formation; various scribal schools debated and worked through their respective ideologies over time;"

    Perfect match to what Huller's information on the Samaritan view of things was. That's the way the Samaritans view things.

  • 2014-04-30 04:05:19 UTC - 04:05 | Permalink

    So I have a question…is it that the archaeology really backs the Samaritan view?

    Or is it that the interpretation of the archaeology might be skewed to favor a Samaritan view?

    Sometimes it is a matter of interpretation, is it not?

    That’s not necessarily a “conspiracy theory.”

    It’s a possibility.

    Sometimes people interpret to suit a bias and sometimes science will interpret to suit an anti-Catholic bias (often partly-justified).

    And there’s always someone with an anti-Jewish bias.

    But if the Samaritan view of things was really backed up by the archaeology…it really doesn’t seem to have done them much good, because they’re almost extinct (700 and a bit).

    And this is where we get back to the whole topic of early Christianity…it’s not really derived from the Jews or the OT as much as people think. The indicators are it’s more derived from a Samaritan/Simonian origin.

    And that pro-Samaritan bias in the NT gets noticeable after a while.

  • 2014-04-30 05:16:58 UTC - 05:16 | Permalink

    I’d rather you tell me the Samaritan narrative itself and not quote my own words because I am quite sure I am not thinking of anything like a Samaritan narrative when I write that. I don’t even know what the Samaritan narrative is. Can you either tell me or show me where I can read it?

    I reject your claim that “there is always someone with an anti-Jewish bias”. I don’t think there is anything more to talk about here. You seem to be bent on proving some sort of bias — both pro one side and anti another — that I reject utterly.

    If you are interested in a racially unbiased scholarly discussion of the methods and conclusions of the historical method and archaeology you are welcome to continue commenting. But I find the direction of your latest comments here unsavoury with their implicit and false accusations of antisemitism.

  • 2014-04-30 07:35:01 UTC - 07:35 | Permalink

    Didn’t say you, Neil.

    Anti-Jewish bias seems to happen every century regardless.

    Don’t read yourself into the comment about there always being someone with anti-Jewish bias.

    But the history of Christian anti-Semitism is usually that…an anti-Jewish bias.

    However if we look at a Samaritan/Simonian origin for Christianity which you yourself have examined…the particular Samaritan viewpoint comes out as…anti-Jewish. Competing narratives.

    You’re familiar with Stephan Huller, so you know where his blog is…and while he takes a more intuitive way of investigating things, he knows his stuff on the Samaritan culture and has explained a few things about it.

    ALL I’ve done is made an observation…since gaining a somewhat better idea of what the Samaritans themselves think through Huller’s blog…I’m just noting that the things you’ve mentioned, which by the way are from other people, discussing the archaeology, match up with the Samaritan viewpoint.

    Simply put, there’s been a Samaritan narrative that classed with the Jewish narrative. No racism in that whatsoever.

    However, prior to reading Huller, all I had to go by on Samaritans was from the Christian information on them, which, to say the least, doesn’t even give a really strong idea at all. Can’t say any church I’ve ever heard would even mention the Memar Marqeh liturgical document.

    However, let’s remember that the early MODERN sciences of the post-Middle Ages period arose in NOT taking what the Catholic Church cosmology said as gospel. Scientific process is really not taking ANYTHING as gospel.

    Sometimes that includes scientific opinion, too.

  • Christine
    2018-11-20 21:06:17 UTC - 21:06 | Permalink

    Well, if you want, you can go back to Egypt into its divinatory dynasties and notice the “nun” symbol–the symbol for divination. Noah was a diviner and in preChristian cultures, Noah’s name was spelled nuh. The preChristian world was not god-worshipping, but divining. The prophets were diviners and any mention of them going with God or walking with God is Christian redaction and removal of divination information. The symbol “nun” is the symbol of the serpent. It moves side to side, winding, undulating–nununununununun–like a drunk man (recall drunk Noah).

    Nun was also the Egyptian divination symbol for the visible and invisible (or under-world) The under-world cannot be seen or detected, but is still there holding it’s shape. It is also the symbol of the serpent that swallows it’s tail, where there is no beginning and no end, where the end and beginning are in the same place. It is also the invisible which becomes visible in the sun. You can see the undulation (serpent) in the “s” letter combined with “un”. These are pictographs, not letters.

    In preChristian so-called religion, which wasn’t religion but divination, nun was also shown as 121212121. It was shown as 2 men and 1 man. It was shown male-female-male or vice versa. It was shown as left going to right, then right going back to left.

    Picture again the movement of the snake between two polarities. 121212121. The story of castrating Ouranos is the story of losing the ancient divination. It is also the symbolic language of de-manning, removing testicles leaving only the penis, a penis without vigor. It is only symbolic language. The penis and testicles used to be the symbol for divination and healing.

    The Ouranos and Noah story are similar. In Noah’s story, there is one man in the tent with drunk Noah (“nun” or serpent energy from the sun moving side to side). There are two brothers outside. They come into the tent as two separate entities, throw a shawl around their shoulders becoming one entity, and go out backwards (or go BACK to one). The shawl over them makes them one. The code is barely seen. 121, or nun. This is a very old fragment and can hardly be deciphered unless one as basic knowledge of ancient divination. This divination was known on every continent prior to the Deluge. It was some sort of catastrophe that sent advanced civilization back to hunter and gatherer, but pockets of humanity still had the divination. Then came Christianity and erected the one true God by cutting off the testicles. God is just a large phallus with no testicles and in fact no female polarity.

    The ancients knew that energy (serpent, nun) goes from female to male polarity, or positive to negative. Cutting off the testicles was absolutely the destruction of ancient divination.

    In many cultures the phallus originally meant light. In the Gospel of Thomas which is a divination and healing text about light. The one who recorded Jesus’ 114 sayings was Didymos Judas Thomas. Didymos means testicles, or twins. Thomas means betrayer or doubter, Judas means betrayer. However, Judas and Thomas both mean light. How can that be? After so many centuries and convolutions and lost language and lost symbolic meaning, phallus becomes testicles and vice versa.

    Very far back, these stories were secret stories that told the knowledge. Those “in the know” knew what the numbers in the stories meant. The stories were all really about numbers in the energy matrix, but over thousands of years their meaning was lost. The stories were still told. What remains are stories like Noah and the flood, drunkenness, castration, one in the tent and two outside, two come in, turn and go back outside with a shawl over their shoulders. Makes no sense unless you’ve studied ancient divination.

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