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Old 08-18-2003, 10:19 AM   #11
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My two-cents worth on a number of issues in this fascinating thread.

Genesis 1 as poetry is an interesting topic.

In biblical studies, the definition of what is or is not Hebrew poetry is often the subject of debate. Some parallelism can be easily detected in Gen. 1:1-2:4a as well as an awful lot of markers of prose. I think the writers were plannign to lift teh this creation story above the level narrative. This is especially so in the "counting" refrain: "and there was evening and there was morning, the x-day". One can find a lot of evidence of a very developed structure in the sequence of creation too. To my mind, Genesis 1:1-2:4a is a brilliantly conceived piece. Poetry? Prose? Perhaps the distinction is anachronistic, or overly simplistic, and don't really apply to the ancient Hebrew genres of writing.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a as a proto-science? I don't think so.
It is a charter myth for the the seven day calandar and the Sabbath-day, which became a major cultual identifier for early Jews. The ordered "priestly" creation account might relate to their way of understanding the way the universe continued to operate: no resisance to the god of a rather powerless people.
The babylonian Enuma Elish myth, if I am not mistaken, had a lot to do with the New Year festival and the establishment of Marduk as ruler of the gods through defeating other deities("Chaoskampf") . It was a foundational myth/ritual complex that, in part, affirmed the power of Marduk's representative on earth, the king.

Traces of a Hebrew "Chaoskampf" remain the Hebrew Bible in terms of poetic metaphors in Job, Isaiah and other places (e.g, Yahweh fighting the dragon Leviathan and so forth). Other Hebrew Creation myths are Gen 2:4b onward (Adam and Eve) and in Proverbs 8 "Lady Wisdom" creates with God).

The survival of Genesis 1:1-2:4b has to do with the creation and survival of the Bible as a whole. Our cultural biases make it seem superior to other mythologies even if most of us say it has no basis in "scientific" fact. The hold the 7 day story has on people's imagination may also be due to our reading from the lens of our own conception of seems like a "natural" way of conceiving time. Most of us were probably somewhat aware of a seven day week long before we could read Genesis and just assumed that this is the way the universe "really" works.

P.S. Check out the following paper on the crucifiction story as influenced by the Chaoskampf motif: Maybe the subject of its own thread, if it hasn't been already.

D. Rudman, The Crucifixion as Chaoskampf: A New Reading of the Passion Narrative in the Synoptic Gospels, Biblica 84, 2003.
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Old 08-18-2003, 11:32 AM   #12
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Originally posted by DrJim
. This is especially so in the "counting" refrain: "and there was evening and there was morning, the x-day".
For sure Dr. Jim and I am glad you noticed the repeating pattern until the seventh day when evening did not follow the day because on that day we are born into eternal life and will be illuminated by the celestial light. See here Rev.22:5 where "the night shall be no more . . . ." Also, in Catholic tradition Easter is celebrated for two days because evening did not follow the first day and therefore from Good Friday to Easter is three days after all.

Opposite this we have Christ-mass which is the day on which morning did not follow the night and therefore is also celebrated for two days.

I should add here that this would make Sunday the seventh day of the week (such as it is in Europe) and not the first (unless we consciously want to put God first in our life, I guess).

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