Monday, January 21, 2019

Noah’s Flood: When did it occur?

The following was posted as a comment to: 
The Younger Dryas 10,900 BC to 9,700 BC (nominally) preceded the improving climate that would have made agriculture sustainable. While a bit of progress might have been made on that front prior to 10,900 BC, the Younger Dryas would have been punishing to those efforts. 
Genesis 8:22 English Standard Version (ESV)
22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
Genesis 8:22 promises the needed climactic stability for sustainable agriculture. Noah lived for 500 years after the Flood, so sometime during his post-flood life, he received this promise.
I would nominally date the Flood to around 9700 BC, a time of rapid warming, rising sea levels, and rising ocean temperatures that might trigger super storms. 
The Younger Dryas itself may have been precipitated by an exploding comet 1200 years prior. 
Jude 14-15 “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
Judgement by 10,000s holy angels may correspond to the punishment of the blazing shards of an exploding comet, possibly witnessed by Enoch.
That would put Enoch at about 10,900 BC.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Structure of Genesis: Colophon Examples

In a previous post, I wrote about the Book of Genesis being structured through the use of colophon postscripts to each narrative or genealogical section.  The postscripts appear to resemble the pattern of colophons as used in Mesopotamian writings suggesting that source material for the Book of Genesis was written contemporaneously to other ancient works that exhibit similar structure.

The Book of Genesis includes multiple uses of the following phraseology:
"These are the toledot (generations/account/historical writings) of..."
In the Tablet Theory, these phrases are taken as postscript colophons for the preceding narrative or genealogical text in Genesis.

Here are some examples of colophons from other ancient writings for comparison:

Mathematical colophons:
“26 sections on canal”
“31 sections on trenches”
Musical colophon:

"This [is] a song [in the] nitkibli, a zaluzi … written down by Ammurabi"
Medicinal colophon:
Palace of Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of the land Assyria, to whom (the gods) Nabû and Tašmētu granted understanding, (who) acquired insight (and) a high level of scribal proficiency, that skill which among the kings, my predecessor(s) no one has acquired. I (i.e. Ashurbanipal) wrote, checked, and collated tablets with medical prescriptions from head to the (toe-) nail, non-canonical material, elaborate teaching(s) (and) the advanced healing art(s) of (the gods) Ninurta and Gula, as much as exists, (and) I placed (them) within my palace for my reading/reciting. (BAK, no. 329)

As we can see, the content of a colophon may vary greatly between one document and another, and we see some diversity between colophons used in Genesis.  As text was transcribed from clay tablets to scrolls, colophons that were originally on the side, back, or end of a tablet would be placed at the end of the content as a postscript.  The practice of summarizing or terminating a narrative with a postscript is not limited to Genesis.

Perhaps the most compelling examples come from the books of Numbers and Leviticus.
Leviticus 27:34 These are the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses for the people of Israel on Mount Sinai.
The last sentence in Leviticus is an especially potent example.  Read out of context, one would expect a list of commands to follow.  But in fact, it is the final line of the book, stating what the content was that was just read.  This is precisely the style that the Tablet Theory proposes for the Book of Genesis.
Numbers 36:13 These are the commandments and the rules that the Lord commanded through Moses to the people of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho.
As seen above, the book of Numbers finishes in the same manner.

We should not wonder that the books containing the Law would end with colophons since they were originally created by God as tablets.
Exodus 24:12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”
The original tablets may have had a colophon statement such as, "These are the law and commandment of the Lord".  Copied onto scrolls, these colophon statements may have been written at the end of the scroll including a postscript identifying the communicator (in this case Moses), the audience (Israel), and the location (Mount Sinai, the plains of Moab).

As we analyze the colophon statements of the book of Genesis, it is prudent to consider how the original statements from multiple tablets may have been augemented when being collated into a longer document.  For example, Genesis 2:4 reads
a:   "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
b:   in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens."
Sometimes the colophon for the creation account is considered to be Genesis 2:4a.  Genesis 2:4b, on the other hand, has two possibilities:
  1. the phrase was part of the original colophon identifying the time (in the day) and the author (the LORD God) and the content (the making of the earth and the heavens).
  2. it was added, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as a parallel statement to Genesis 1:1 identifying Elohim of Genesis 1:1 with Yahweh.
In either case, Genesis 2:4 comprises the complete colophon for the creation account of the heavens and the earth.

Other Biblical Colophon Examples

Within the Bible itself, see Numbers 5:11-31 for a possible example.

Author Michael Fishbane describes Numbers 5:29-30 as a "colophon-like resumptive subscript purporting to summarize the content of the preceding text."  This he compares to the title-lines and colophons found in cuneiform and other ancient Near Eastern literature.

Numbers 5:11-28 starts with
11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘If any man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him... 
This is followed by a narrative description of the somewhat strange legal procedures.

Finally, Numbers 5:29-31 contains a postscript summarizing the previous 18 verses. 
29 ‘This is the law of jealousy: when a wife, being under the authority of her husband, goes astray and defiles herself, 30 or when a spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife, he shall then make the woman stand before the Lord, and the priest shall apply all this law to her. 31 Moreover, the man will be free from guilt, but that woman shall bear her guilt.’”
The colophon title phrase is "This is the torah [law] of ..." is similar to the Genesis colophon title phrase "This is the toledot [account] of ...".

While Numbers 5 may provide an example of usage of an extended colophon, much of the Law is presented without such a pattern, indicating that the use of a colophon is up to the needs of the scribe.

Other Suggested Biblical Colophon Examples
Job 31:40 "The words of Job are ended."
Psalm 72:20 "The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended."

Postscripts Used At The End of Biblical Narratives

The Book of Genesis ends with a beautifully structured postscript pertaining to Joseph.

Genesis 50:22-26
  • So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father's house. 
    • Joseph lived 110 years.
      • And Joseph saw 
        • Ephraim's children of the third generation. 
        • The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own.
      • And Joseph said to his brothers, 
        • “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
      • Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, 
        • “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”
    • So Joseph died, being 110 years old. 
  • They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

When written out in prose, it is easy to miss the parallelism that is evident upon closer inspection.  This structured text was obviously not written by Joseph since it records his death, but was added as a finale.  Joseph's narrative in Genesis was not necessarily written on clay tablets using cuneiform, since he would have had access to the writing technology and conventions of Egypt.  So it is reasonable that Joseph's narrative would not have a tablet-style colophon, but rather contributed a more modern (at the time) postscript.

We see this style used in other Biblical texts.

Ecclesiastes is considered to end with a colophon comprised of 12:9-14.

The book of Ruth ends with a colophon comprised of the genealogy of David.

And the book of Job ends with a colophon comprised of a summary of blessings experienced after Job's time of testing.

In Conclusion

The practice of introducing a "postscript" at the end of a section of text in the Bible is an occasional, but not rare, occurrence.  The examples on this page are provided to help readers of Ages of Joy evaluate the colophon-based Tablet Theory of the structure of Genesis.  The postscript-colophon as used by Cuneiform clay tablets may be largely peculiar to the Book of Genesis, with Genesis being perhaps the oldest content in the Bible, but we also see shades of it in Leviticus and Numbers, whose content expressly comes in part from tablets.  Furthermore, we understand that in transcribing a colophon from a tablet to a scroll, especially when compiled as part of a larger work, the author, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may have augmented the original colophon-title.  Therefore, we must strive to correctly identify where each section of text is joined to the next.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The Structure of Genesis

The Tablet Theory of the origin of Genesis, as further developed by Curt Sewell (here), identified 11 tablets, and minimal colophon content.  Here I have expanded the colophon content to include relevant verses according to context.  Sewell's primary contribution to the Tablet Theory was to propose Tablets 8 and 10 as sub-tablets of 7 and 9, respectively.  I have preserved that below.

In addition to expanded colophon content, I propose that Tablet 5 may really be two separate documents.  Additionally, instead of listing section 11 as spanning the end of Genesis and the beginning of Exodus, as Sewell does, I recognize that Genesis ends with a highly structured postscript of it own.  The Joseph Postscript adopts a different style than that of the earlier colophon-derived postscripts, probably because it was written under a different literary era.  None-the-less, its presence indicates the writer's intent to maintain the "postscript structure" of Genesis.

The end result is a proposal in which Genesis is composed of the 10 sections as listed below.

For those not familiar with the word "colophon" it refers to a postscript, as used in Babylonian and Mesopotamian writing, that is often located at the end of a text and provides information relative to the scribe who wrote the text, and sometimes additional information about the place it was written, its content, its purpose, or its owner.

Tablet Verses Content Owner or  Writer
Section 1

1 Gen. 1:1-2:3 {Creation of the heavens and the earth} revealed by God
(to Melchizedek?)

Colophon 1 Gen. 2:4 These are <toledot> of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.
Section 2

2 Gen. 2:5-4:26 {Story of Adam and Eve; the fall; sin} as first told by Adam (probably transmitted orally until finally written)
Colophon 2 Gen. 5:1-2 This is the book of the <toledot> of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
Section 3

3 Gen. 5:3-6:8 {Adam to Noah, death ages, but not of Noah; corruption of mankind; mentions 3 sons of Noah} by Noah
Colophon 3 Gen. 6:9-10 These are <toledot> of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. 10 Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Section 4

4 Gen. 6:11-9:29 {The flood narrative with some repetition. The death of Noah.} by Shem, Ham & Japheth (possibly blended account)
Colophon 4 Gen. 10:1 These are <toledot> of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood.
Section 5

5a Gen. 10:2-10:31 {Descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth} by the Clans of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (compilation by ?)
Colophon 5a Gen. 10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their <toledot>s, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.
Section 6

5b Gen. 11:1-11:9 {Tower of Babel story} by Shem
Colophon 5b Gen. 11:10a These are <toledot> of Shem.
Section 7

6 Gen. 11:10b-11:26 {Simple genealogy from Shem to Terah, including death age of all individuals except Terah} by Terah
Colophon 6 Gen. 11:27a Now these are <toledot> of Terah.
Section 8

7 Gen. 11:27b-25:11 {Abraham's life and death beginning with his father Terah, Terah's death, Isaac's life and details about Rebecca, details about Ishmael} by Isaac
Sub-Title 78 Gen. 25:12 Now these are <toledot> of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham
78 Gen. 25:13-18 {12 sons of Ishmael; Ishmael's death} by Isaac, from Ishmael
(Isaac lived to 180, Ishmael to 137)

Colophon 7 Gen. 25:19a These are <toledot> of Isaac, Abraham's son:
Section 9

9 Gen. 25:19b-35:29 {Jacob's life story and the death of Isaac} by Jacob
Sub-Title 910 Gen. 36:1 These are <toledot> of Esau (that is, Edom).
910 Gen. 36:2-43 {Esau's descendants and chiefs of Edom, some redundancy} by Jacob, from Esau
9 Gen. 37:1 Jacob lived in the land of his father's sojournings, in the land of Canaan.
Colophon 9 Gen. 37:1-2a These are <toledot> of Jacob.
Section 10

11 Gen. 37:2b-50:21 {Joseph's life story, but not his death; story about Judah; Jacob's death} by Joseph
Postscript 11 Gen. 50:22-26 {Structured postscript to Joseph's intimate account of his life:

-Joseph lived to 110
--Ephraim's children
--Manasseh's children
--Joseph's promise
--Joseph's command
-Joseph died at 110
Joseph's body...Egypt
by Ephraim?

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Quick Quotes: Understanding how GOD engineered major evolutionary advances

One of the purposes of this blog is to help Christians appreciate scientific discovery washed of it's metaphysical naturalism bias and also see where the discoveries fit in a Creationist perspective on Genesis 1.

The article on Early animals: Death near the shoreline, not life on land includes reference to a few supporting facts for the Ages of Joy creation model, as well as a quote worth looking at.

The article's author, not the scientists themselves, sums up the article with this quote:
Understanding how life engineered major evolutionary advances within environments, and the rate and impact of these advances on the functioning of the Earth system, provides vital context for understanding global change at the present day, and underlines the inseparable relationship between life and the planet.
The AOJ perspective is that "life" cannot "engineer".  Life is an abstract phenomena.  It can't "plan, design, operate", aka engineer, on it's own, per se.

 The quote would better stand as:
Understanding how life GOD engineered major evolutionary advances within environments, and the rate and impact of these advances on the functioning of the Earth system, provides vital context for understanding global change at the present day, and underlines the inseparable relationship between life and the planet.
This quote would then reflect the Theistic Engineering philosophy behind the Ages of Joy creation model.

We can use this quote to differentiate three views:
  • Metaphysical Naturalism:  "life engineered major evolutionary advances"
  • Theistic Evolution: "God used major evolutionary advances"
  • Theistic Engineering: "God engineered major evolutionary advances" 
Reflect on these differences and please post your thoughts below.

The conclusion of the research finds the following:
Shillito notes, "It reveals how even surprising events can be preserved in the ancient rock record, but -- by removing the 'earliest' outlier of evidence -- suggests that the invasion of the continents happened globally at the same time."
This is consistent with the descriptions in Genesis 1 of God working powerfully to engineer life and bless it to flourish.  The "simultaneous explosion of complexity" is something AOJ attributes to God's engineering prowess.

Facts uncovered in the article include:
  • first animals on land emerged globally during the latest Silurian.
The Silurian is part of the mid-Paleozoic which AOJ places in the first part of Day 3 at about the same time that the first vegetation appeared, such as the bryophytes.  These first land animals were created by God when He first separated the land from the seas, but, unlike the plants created on Day 3, they would later go extinct to be replaced by the fauna created on Day 5 and Day 6.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Your name, O Lord, endures throughout all ages

In Psalm 135:13, the psalmist praises God and provides these reassuring words:

Psalm 135:13 English Standard Version (ESV)

Your name, O Lord, endures forever,
your renown,[a] O Lord, throughout all ages.

In this passage, a parallel chiastic structure is used which is an element of Hebrew poetry.  The two lines of the poem accentuate the concept by stating the same idea in two ways.

Translated from literal Hebrew at, the passage reads as follows:
Yahweh Your name [endures] forever
Yahweh Your memorial throughout generation and generation
God's name is parallel to God's renown (or remembrance): this is a reference to God's fame and glory.

The phrase endures forever is parallel to throughout all ages: this parallels the ages of this world's existence to the longest timeframe that the Hebrew language can communicate.

The literal meaning of throughout all ages is generation and generation.
And the Hebrew word translated as forever is olam meaning includes variations on the theme of long duration such as antiquity, everlasting, unending, and forever.

Therefore, God's fame and glory lasts throughout all generations which equates to the longest imaginable timeframe which is captured by the Hebrew word olam.

Genesis 2:4 contains the colophon statement for Genesis 1: "These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created in the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens."

Ages of Joy interprets these generations in the same manner that the ESV renders Psalm 135:13, that is, as "ages".  In other words, the "generations" or "ages" of Genesis 1, plus all the ages that followed up to the time when the Psalmist wrote his words, plus the rest of the ages yet to come, span a timeframe corresponding to forever, meaning the longest imaginable and communicable timeframe available to the Hebrew language.  The everlasting nature of God is attested to by His creation.  He is eternal and His creation is from of old.

At Ages of Joy, we purport that each Day of Genesis 1 corresponds to an Age or a Generation as stated in Genesis 2:4.  Taken together, these generations contribute substantially to the overall time frame of "generation and generation", that is, the time from the beginning in Genesis 1:1 through to the next beginning in Revelation 21:1.

The ages have a "day-like" structure, with a time in which God works, and then a night/morning element that mark major transitions, like the passing of a day or the ending of an age.  Said another way, each Day is like a generation, having a beginning, but also an ending and a passing-on.

God's fame endures through the ages of creation as all the "sons of God shouted for joy" Job 38:7b.

Ages of Joy takes an expansive view of God's creative handiwork and His enduring fame and glory, first before angels and then among mankind.  Whether the ages of Genesis 1 are each thousands of years long, or million or billions of years long, cannot be discerned from the Hebrew text alone, but the implication of these passages of Scripture is that the creation week spanned a very long period of time.

Some may argue that Psalm 135 is poetry and therefore we cannot take it literally.  To this, I would respond that poetry must be interpreted and the intent of the author is to convey that God is big and His creation is old; time goes on and on, but God is always present, always renowned.  Some think of the creation week as a mere passing of several dozen hours of time, but I think we need to extend that view to think of the ages past in which God was at work and see the finiteness of man against God's eternality.

This analysis does not constitute a proof of the day-age interpretation, but does lend support to the validity of such an interpretation.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Genesis 1:1-2:4: An Epic Narrative

Correct interpretation of a Biblical text relies substantially upon determining the genre and style of the passage to be interpreted.  With regard to Genesis 1, there is no small amount of debate on the origin, authorship, and style of the text.

Bible Archeology contains an insightful article on three theories of the origin of the book of Genesis which is well worth reading if this topic interests you.

For the purposes Ages of Joy, I will highlight the Clay Tablet theory, which asserts that the bulk of Genesis was developed based on 11 clay tablets that were handed down to Moses.
  • Tablet 1: Genesis 1:1 - 2:4. The origins of the cosmos 
  • Tablet 2: Genesis 2:5 - 5:2. The origins of mankind 
  • Tablet 3: Genesis 5:3 - 6:9a. The histories of Noah 
  • Tablet 4: Genesis 6:9b - 10:1. The histories of the sons of Noah 
  • Tablet 5: Genesis 10:2 - 11:10a. The histories of Shem 
  • Tablet 6: Genesis 11:10b - 11:27a. The histories of Terah 
  • Tablet 7: Genesis 11:27b - 25:12. The histories of Ishmael 
  • Tablet 8: Genesis 25:13 - 25:19a. The histories of Isaac 
  • Tablet 9: Genesis 25:19b - 36:1. The histories of Esau 
  • Tablet 10: Genesis 36:2 - 36:9. The histories of Esau 
  • Tablet 11: Genesis 36:10 - 37:2. The histories of Jacob
Tablets 2 through 11 are taken as potentially eye-witness accounts inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Tablet 1 was written as a revelation of the Holy Spirit.  Potentially this content came to Abraham through Melchizedek or to Moses through Jephthah.

It is suggested that Tablet 1: Genesis 1:1-2:4 was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Moses (or possibly Abraham) after the style of the Sumerians in order to teach and correct them.
If Moses, in composing Genesis, was not dependent on Near Eastern literature that exhibits parallels to Genesis, neither did he ignore it. But it would seem that, where he deliberately develops the biblical account of an event so as to mirror features of the pagan version, it turns out to be for the polemical purpose of exposing and correcting the world's vain wisdom by the light of revealed theology. The elaboration of this is not possible here, but an illustrative case would be the treatment of the Babylonian epic account of creation, known (from its opening words) as Enuma Elish. Acquaintance with it is evidenced in the Genesis accounts of creation and of Babel-building, but in both passages the epic's world-view is repudiated, even ridiculed, and most effectively so at the points of obvious formal correspondence. (Kline 1970: 80).

An implication of this mode of origin and transmission is that the style of Genesis 1 is therefore to be understood as an Epic Historical Narrative.

Whereas the standard Literary Framework all but dispenses with the chronological nature of Genesis 1 in favor of a topical approach, treating Genesis 1 as an Historical Epic requires a maintenance of its intrinsic sequential flow, albeit allowing for the "flash back" or "temporal recapitulation" common to the Epic style.

Meredith Kline is both an advocate of the Epic view and an advocate of the Literary Framework view.  It will be necessary to study his works in more detail to evaluate the level of support or conflict that could exist between these two views.

Link to detailed chart depicting the structure of Genesis 1:1-2:4

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Framework Theory Revisited

Here is something for you to think about. This is a graphical representation of the poetic structure of Genesis 1.

Noah’s Flood: When did it occur?

The following was posted as a comment to: