The Creation Narratives

NickImage(First published January 13, 2006)

The God Who appears in the creation narrative of Genesis 1 is a good, benevolent being. He fashions humanity in His image, placing people in a good world made for their use. He pronounces His blessing upon humans, then initiates a rest that implies delight in Him and His works.

The goodness of this God is further highlighted in the second creation narrative, which occupies Genesis 2:5‐24. In this narrative, Moses recapitulates the story of creation with a significant shift in perspective. This retelling of the story allows him to focus the reader’s attention more specifically upon God’s purpose for humanity.

God’s goodness is emphasized from the beginning of the account. The original creation had no weeds, no harsh weather, and no hard labor. Rather, God provided everything for the man whom He created, placing him in a garden or sheltered park. Moses specifies the location of this garden by naming four rivers that would have been familiar to the people of his day. The Tigris (Hiddekel) and Euphrates are known to moderns. The Pison is unknown. The Gihon, while not known, is said to flow through the land of Cush, which places it somewhere in the western Arabian peninsula or east Africa. The Gihon may be another name for the Nile (though this is doubtful). It could be another reference to the “River of Egypt” that evidently marked the border of that country.

In any case, Moses depicts Eden as a place that was larger than a farm or even a city. It stretched from modern‐day Iraq all the way (approximately) to modern‐day Egypt. The garden was larger than many entire nations. Incidentally, it also appears to correspond to the boundaries of the land that was later promised to Abraham (Gen. 15:18), as well as the territory that was tributary to Solomon (2 Chr. 9:26).

Eden was a beautiful park that God prepared for humanity. God “rested” the man in the garden (Gen. 2:15), which carries implications of shelter and safety. God caused trees to grow there for the man’s nourishment. He also caused other trees to grow: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad.

The name of the second tree is what ties this narrative to the first creation account in Genesis 1. The emphasis of the first account was on the goodness of the Creator. The second account reemphasizes the Creator’s benevolence in many ways. The expansive dimensions of the garden, its nature as a sheltered park, the provision of food, and above all, God’s provision of safety reflect the kind nature of the good God who blesses.

The tree also draws attention to God’s purpose for humanity. This has already been intimated in Genesis 2:14, which should probably be translated that God “rested” the man in the garden “for worship and obedience” (see Cassuto or Sailhamer for the reasons). If this translation is correct, then the man was made to be a priest, not a farmer. He was made to walk with His Maker, to adore Him, and to obey Him.

Obedience should be easy when every command comes from a completely benevolent deity. Both creation narratives emphasize God’s goodness repeatedly. This alerts readers that God is worth obeying, that His commands stem only from His interest in blessing humans.

That is why God confronts the man with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad. Throughout this context, good means useful or beneficial. This hints at the purpose of the tree. Surely it was a real tree with real fruit, but it was also a symbolic tree that represented the knowledge good and bad. To this point, God has always been the one to say what is good. Human responsibility has consisted entirely in the willingness to receive whatever good the Creator has provided. Human knowledge of the bad is non‐existent, and human knowledge of the good is a derived knowledge that comes strictly from trusting the Creator. Therefore, the tree must represent the intention for the man to determine good and bad for himself. If the man will not trust the Creator to determine what is good, then he will have to decide for himself. He will gain his own knowledge of good and bad.

In other words, what was being tested was Adam’s willingness to trust God. By not eating of the tree, the man would be submitting himself to God’s decisions about what was good and what was bad. If he ate of the tree, however, that would signify his declaration of independence from God and his choice to determine good and bad for himself. This would be the worst sort of treason, for it would imply that the man now considered the Creator to be untrustworthy. In this test, obedience and trust are inextricably linked.

If the man rejected the Creator, pronounced Him untrustworthy, and declared independence, he would come under sentence of death. How could it be otherwise? The Creator is the origin of life. To separate one’s self from Him is to choose death. God warned that if the man ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Bad, then sentence of death would be passed on the same day.

At this point, all of the pieces are in place for the great drama of temptation that will follow in Genesis 3. Before the man is allowed to face temptation, however, one further episode intervenes. This episode begins when God declares that something is not good. He says that it is not good for the man to be alone, and He purposes to make for the man a helper “like himself.” This comes as a surprise, because up until this point everything has been very good. Why choose this stage of the narrative at which to announce what is not good?

The crucial question is whether the Creator really deserves the trust that He requires from the man. Can humans truly rely upon the Creator to supply everything that is good for them? Will the Creator notice any deficiencies, and can He be trusted to supply them?

God was aware of Adam’s need even before Adam had noticed it. In fact, God had to show Adam the need by putting him through an exercise in taxonomy. By comparing and classifying (naming) animals, the man discovered that he was alone in the world. No one else like him existed.

God was now in the position to meet the need. He caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, took one of his ribs, and fashioned a woman. He then brought her to the man and presented her to him. Adam’s response takes the form of the first poem to be composed by any human being.

She is bone of my bones,
Flesh of my flesh,
She shall be called Ishah,
Because she was taken out of Ish.

Adam’s poem draws attention to the likeness between the man and the woman, which in turn provides the basis for the intimacy that God intended them to enjoy. This is an expression of ecstatic joy. Not only did the Creator notice the need before Adam was aware of it, but He also met the need in a way that was beyond anything Adam could imagine.

The Creator God—our God—is absolutely worthy of our trust. He is good and benevolent by His very nature. He desires our trust and obedience, but He does not compel it. To worship God by our trust and obedience is that for which we were made. It is our highest good, and no lesser good can satisfy us.

By Night When Others Soundly Slept
Anne Bradstreet (c.1612‐1672)

BY night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.
I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bowʹd his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.
My hungry Soul he fillʹd with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.
What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
Iʹll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.

[node:bio/kevin-t-bauder body]

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There are 33 Comments

Huw's picture

What is sometimes over looked in the creation narrative and the fall is the wisdom that would necessitate the incarnation and reveal the attributes of the Eternal such as forgiveness and everlasting love.
His justice and wrath were known by the heavenly host and experienced in the swiftness with which a part of them were cast out. The heavenly host knew nothing of His ability to forgive, knew nothing of justification, repentance or salvation

Adam was not forbidden to eat of the tree of life, which was in close proximity to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were both in the midst (center or middle) of the garden.
The temptation Havvah felt would not have been to eat of that tree of life. If it had been and she had eaten, the revelation of everlasting love and forgiveness would never have been revealed. In fact there was no need for a temptation to eat of the tree of life, because there was no restriction. 

When Havvah ate she became a sinner and Adam, who was the one who had been warned, knew the consequence and yet he took and he did eat. What happened here was the beginning of the greatest love story.
Adam willingly became a sinner for his woman/bride so that the Last Adam would become sin for His bride. 

Adam was created mutable, but the Heirs of grace are under the immutable purpose of the Eternal Almighty for His elect. Which places us in a far greater and steadfast  position than Adam.

Amazing grace….

alex o.'s picture

can't say I agree with your idea that Adam's fall was beneficial: "like Adam they have broken the covenant"

you have some interesting ideas though regarding eternal purposes.

In my mind Adam should have loved God more than the woman because God is worthy, not the woman if it is a question of one over the other. Surely this concept is reflected in the first commandment: "you shall have no other gods before me."

Huw, it may be beneficial to see what others have thought about on these matters before formulating interpretations of what transpired in the account. I take nothing away from you but surely others have insight also?

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

alex o.'s picture

Moses never claimed he wrote Genesis and he wasn't an eyewitness. The dictation theory is not correct either I don't believe.

If I am right, this early record was written on clay tablets after years of oral trans mission and kept by the Hebrews. Moses' part, with divine guidance, was the authentication and compiling of the record.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

http://beliefspeak2.net

Huw's picture

You can't agree that the fall was beneficial? Without the fall we would not need salvation and the attributes of forgiveness and love would not have been known. If not known then there would be an attribute that couldn be admired and praised. If you can't agree it's beneficial could you agree on it being necessary?

 

The reason for Adams love of his bride is taken from the love the Last Adam has for his bride, the church or eclessia. I found a description of this in Ephesians; ''even exactly as the Messiah loved the ecclesia, and surrendered himself for it; that He might hallow and purify it''....

I'm doing a study on that word 'surrendered' and it holds a great deal of promise. 

Alex, if the fall was not predetermined, it means the Almighty was caught by surprise and that could never happen. It was purposed and that purpose was fulfilled in the Last Adam and the love He has for his bride was the self same love that was expressed in Eden, by Adam for Eve. She was Gods gift to man after all!

 

 

 

 

James K's picture

Where is that one verse that says anything about clay tablets and oral tradition?

Old Testament
Exodus 17:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven."
Numbers 33:2 Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:
Joshua 1:7–8 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Joshua 8:31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: "an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool." And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. (see Exodus 20:24–25)
Joshua 23:6 Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.
1 Kings 2:3 And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
2 Kings 14:6 But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, in which the Lord commanded, saying, "Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin." (see Deuteronomy 24:16)
1 Chronicles 22:13 Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.
Ezra 6:18 They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses. (This is taught in the books of Exodus and Leviticus.)
Nehemiah 13:1 On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God. (see Deuteronomy 23:3–5)
Daniel 9:11 Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
Malachi 4:4 Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
New Testament
Matthew 8:4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them." (see Leviticus 14:1–32)
Mark 12:26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"? (see Exodus 3:6)
Luke 16:29 Abraham said to him, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."
Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24:44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
John 5:46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
John 7:22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
Acts 3:22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. (see Deuteronomy 18:15)
Acts 15:1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."
Acts 28:23 So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
Romans 10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, "The man who does those things shall live by them." (see Leviticus 18:1–5)
Romans 10:19 But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: "I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation." (see Deuteronomy 32:21)
1 Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain." Is it oxen God is concerned about? (see Deuteronomy 25:4)
2 Corinthians 3:15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

The authorship of Genesis, and, indeed, of the entire Pentateuch, has been an area of considerable controversy over the past couple of centuries. The so-called "documentary hypothesis" (the Graf-Wellhausen or JEDP theory) flatly rejects the Mosaic authorship of most or all of the Pentateuch. This theory is rightly rejected by all who hold a high view of Scripture. To reject Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (including Genesis) is to reject the authority of Christ Himself.

Nevertheless, that leaves the question of how Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Certain problems must be addressed. First, Moses was certainly not an eyewitness to many of the events that he records. How did he gain his information? Second, the phenomena that liberal higher critics have noticed actually do often exist in the text, e.g., doubling of accounts, shifts in the names of God, etc. Third, apparent anachronisms sometimes show up in the text. How to explain these?

The common-sense hypothesis states more-or-less that Moses sat down and started writing at the beginning of Genesis and just kept going until he got to the end of Deuteronomy. Along the way, God directly revealed whatever Moses needed to know. The literary shifts in the text can be attributed to Moses' own different moods and altered circumstances as he was writing.

Many conservatives have found the common-sense hypothesis to be unsatisfactory. While they certainly affirm the Mosaic authorship of the text, they believe that something more must be taking place. Different conservatives have advocated at least two other hypotheses to help explain the actual phenomena that can be found in the text.

One is called the "fragmentary hypothesis." This theory suggests that, in certain portions of the Pentateuch, Moses relied heavily upon earlier sources (whether oral or written), much as Luke employed sources in the composition of his gospel. Some authors (e.g., Sailhamer) suggest that Moses' appropriation of those sources was virtually verbatim for extended sections of the text. As I recall, a version of the fragmentary hypothesis was defended by Franz Delitzsch in his discussion of the authorship of the Pentateuch.

The other theory is called the "supplementary hypothesis." This theory presupposes Mosaic authorship, but suggests that some later figure edited the text to produce an updated version that would be comprehensible to his contemporaries. For example, the Fundamentalist scholar Allan MacRae argued that Ezra may have done a divinely-authorized revamping of the text when he explained its meaning to the people. [The nearly-forgotten MacRae was a significant figure in his own generation, an Old Testament scholar who participated in the founding of both Westminster Theological Seminary, was president of Faith Theological Seminary for decades, and who became the principal founder of Biblical Theological Seminary.]

James asks, "Where is there one verse that says anything about clay tablets and oral tradition?" But that is the wrong question. If such a verse existed, we would not be having this conversation. One of the above hypotheses would cease to be a hypothesis and would become an article of faith. Better to ask, "Where is one verse that denies clay tablets or oral tradition?"

A still more appropriate question is, "What about the text indicates which aspects of these three hypotheses (common sense, fragmentary, supplementary) are most likely true?" We might wish to be a bit more careful than Alex in how we phrase it, but neither the fragmentary nor supplementary hypothesis necessarily violates a high view of Scripture. I understand Alex to be advocating some form of the fragmentary hypothesis, and, if I am understanding him correctly, then he is in perfectly orthodox company.

This is not a topic for rants or for concordance-like skipping through proof texts. It is a topic that calls for careful examination of the biblical text, comparing it with what we know about the composition of other historical narratives in Scripture (e.g., Samuel-Kings, Luke-Acts, etc.). Most importantly, it is a discussion within the community of those committed to Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and a high view of Scripture.

Huw's picture

Oral tradition is all that there was until Moses had the call to write. During the times of the Patriarchs Adam was a walking, talking testament. Upon His death the knowledge of the fall and the promise of a coming redeemer was passed from patriarch to patriarch. 

With regard the clay tablets perhaps Alex was talking of the stone tablets that Moses brought down off the mountain. Or maybe the many clay tablets that give evidence of ancient Biblical cites lost in the sands of time. 

 

Whichever he meant I thank him for reminding us how the word and testament has been preserved. 

Steve Newman's picture

Shouldn't Adam have PREVENTED Eve from taking the fruit of the tree? 

To whom did God give the leadership role in the Garden and why did he abdicate it at this critical time? Adam had responsibility for the original sin - God asked him first, but he hid first, then shifted the blame. And we are supposed to believe that Adam following Eve in sin is supposed to be a good thing? Why is he thinking less of the commands of God and more of the fellowship of Eve? It looks like a clear case of idolatry to me. Tell me what I am missing here.

dgszweda's picture

Huw wrote:

You can't agree that the fall was beneficial? Without the fall we would not need salvation and the attributes of forgiveness and love would not have been known. If not known then there would be an attribute that couldn be admired and praised. If you can't agree it's beneficial could you agree on it being necessary?

 

The fall was not beneficial.  By stating that, you are stating that sin (or complete rebellion to God) is beneficial over obedience to God.  Secondly, we know the fall was not beneficial because of the consequences and death that were administered by the Judge.  Beneficial activities do not have such an aweful consequence.  You are vastly confusing God's desire to show His mercy and back extrapolating it to the first activity that generated the need for Him to reveal His mercy.  God's desire is that none should perish,  but that doesn't mean that those perishing do not reveal an attribute about God.  Yes, despite the fall, God is in complete control, He had a plan, and that plan provided a merciful resolution, that wasn't deserved to rescue man, and without it we are doomed, but that doesn't mean that the fall was beneficial.

Quote:

The reason for Adams love of his bride is taken from the love the Last Adam has for his bride, the church or eclessia. I found a description of this in Ephesians; ''even exactly as the Messiah loved the ecclesia, and surrendered himself for it; that He might hallow and purify it''....

I'm doing a study on that word 'surrendered' and it holds a great deal of promise. 

 

Again, you are twisting Scripture around and hacking pieces together.  Adam did not take of the fruit because of his sacrificial love for his wife.  You seriously need to read Genesis 3.  You can't hodge podge pieces together around Scripture to fit your ideas.

 

 

 

 

[/quote]

Huw's picture

Sin was already present in creation and if you read the scriptures you'll discover *sin entered the world by one man. Sin was present within creation in the disobedience of the fallen angels and that particular fall had been **dealt with. In that dealing the swift justice, wrath and vengeance of the Almighty was manifest to the host of heaven. It pleased the Almighty to also reveal His loving kindness, mercy, grace and ***forgiveness. It pleased Him to do this not for the fallen angels, but for mankind. If this is not the case how could Paul have said, ****'' According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world''?

 

Think carefully about that verse and then apply it to what I have said. The Eternal made the choice of who he would save before He said ''let there be light''. Why did He choose before the foundation of the world? Because He predetermined the the salvation of some before the fall.

Some of the host of heaven was created mutable, some immutable. Mankind was created mutable, so that in salvation they would come under the immutable purpose of the Almighty Father for His elect.

*Romans 5:12

** Matthew 25:41

*** Ephesians 2:7

**** Ephesians 1:4

***** Acts 2:23

****** Isaiah 45:7

*7 1 Timothy 2:14

Hebrews 2:16 is often interpreted as Messiah did not take on the nature of angels to help them, but the seed of Abraham to save His people from within humanity. I choose that interpretation and if you don't then it's up to you.

In summary. If the Eternal Almighty didn't know about the fall why did He choose a particular or peculiar people to receive grace in salvation before the foundation of the world, before Adam was created and before sin entered in to the world? 

There is something that people sometimes overlook and it is this; The Eternal Almighty does not perform things because they are good. Whatever He performs IS GOOD because that is His character. ''My ways are not your way says HE''. He gives account to no one!

The fact of *****His determinate council and foreknowledge in His Son being delivered is proof of that. The destruction of the world in the days of Noah proves that. The destruction during the OT proves that. The fact ******He creates evil proves that. 

In this last verse of Isaiah it's necessary to point out that although all sin is evil, not all evil is sin. Selah. 

 

If Adam did not take the fruit of of love for his wife then why did he take it? According to the scripture: *7''And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression''. So if he was not deceived, he was well aware of what he was doing, and if it was not for love, what do you say it was for? 

 

You might not like what I have said, but please don't accuse me twisting the scriptures. 

Huw's picture

If you believe Adam had free will then I'm not going to attempt to answer your question. If on the other hand you believe that the first Adam was fulfilling the Will of His Father, then I can direct you to the fact the last Adam was also fulfilling the Will of His Father.

 

Both of them were in perfect harmony in their obedience.The first became a sinner and the second became sin. I honestly think that the reason for both was love of his bride and obviously love of the Father.  

It is sometimes a step to far for some in declaring the good and perfect will, pleasure and sovereignty in all that has ever, is, and will ever come to pass. Some say that makes us puppets. OK I'm a puppet for the Almighty, who are they puppets for? The answer is in Ephesians The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.

It was a matter of time before sin would enter the world. How it did, when it did was under the  the control and authority of the Eternal Father who works all things according to His own good pleasure. He did not create sin (perish the thought) but he directs the minds and hearts of sinful men and devils. You'll find many references to that in scripture.

 

 

 

dgszweda's picture

Huw wrote:

Sin was already present in creation and if you read the scriptures you'll discover *sin entered the world by one man.

???

 

Quote:

You might not like what I have said, but please don't accuse me twisting the scriptures. 

 

Oh, but you are.  And I won't waste my time on this one, because I am not even sure where to start.  All I can say is wow!

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Augustine, Enchiridion 8:27.

Melius enim iudicavit de malis benefacere, quam mala nulla esse permittere.

The statement is part of this paragraph:

"This, then, was the situation: the whole mass of the human race stood condemned, lying ruined and wallowing in evil, being plunged from evil into evil and, having joined causes with the angels who had sinned, it was paying the fully deserved penalty for impious desertion. Certainly the anger of God rests, in full justice, on the deeds that the wicked do freely in blind and unbridled lust; and it is manifest in whatever penalties they are called on to suffer, both openly and secretly. Yet the Creator's goodness does not cease to sustain life and vitality even in the evil angels, for were this sustenance withdrawn, they would simply cease to exist. As for mankind, although born of a corrupted and condemned stock, he still retains the power to form and animate his seed, to direct his members in their temporal order, to enliven his senses in their spatial relations, and to provide bodily nourishment. For God judged it better to bring good out of evil than not to permit any evil to exist. And if he had willed that there should be no reformation in the case of men, as there is none for the wicked angels, would it not have been just if the nature that deserted God and, through the evil use of his powers, trampled and transgressed the precepts of his Creator, which could have been easily kept--the same creature who stubbornly turned away from His Light and violated the image of the Creator in himself, who had in the evil use of his free will broken away from the wholesome discipline of God's law--would it not have been just if such a being had been abandoned by God wholly and forever and laid under the everlasting punishment which he deserved? Clearly God would have done this if he were only just and not also merciful and if he had not willed to show far more striking evidence of his mercy by pardoning some who were unworthy of it."

Huw may or may not be right, but clearly the notion of a "happy fall" has been part of Christian theology longer than he's been around.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Kevin, Isn't this related to the "best possible world" argument, which I believe argues along the lines that had there been a better world, surely God would have created that one. But he created this one, including sin, because it is the best possible world to achieve the ends for which God created the world? I may not have that exactly right (or perhaps not even close for that matter). So be gentle with me here, please.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

Well, I'm trying to learn.

Here's how the argument would run in updated terms:

Did God know when He created the world that the fall would occur?

Certainly.

Could God have made the world such that the fall would not have occurred?

Very probably, for example, by keeping the tempter out of the garden.

Could God have refused to permit any fall at all?

Absolutely. He was under no obligation to create. If the only possible creation was one in which the fall would necessarily occur, then God did not have to create at all. There would have been no fall.

We do not know all of God's purposes. What we do know is that He made a world in which a fall was certain to occur. In some sense, the fall was part of His purpose, if only by permission.

If God knew what He was doing, then a world with a fall must have suited His purpose better than whatever situation would have prevented the fall. Rather than refusing to permit a fall (which God could have done), God is has chosen to bring greater good from the existence of evil than the good that would have existed without it.

Whether this means that we have the best possible world, I'm not sure. It seems problematic to say that God was obligated to create the best possible world, for God is subject to no necessity except that which His own nature imposes. Any obligation that God owes, He owes ultimately only to Himself. But I think that an all-wise, all loving God would want to create the best possible world.

Gentle enough?

James K's picture

Kevin, I appreciate what you said, but I will ask the questions I find important as well.

Alex made this statement:

If I am right, this early record was written on clay tablets after years of oral trans mission and kept by the Hebrews. Moses' part, with divine guidance, was the authentication and compiling of the record.

Whether you considered my point a rant or a concordance drive by isn't all that important.  Alex's statement has no basis in Scriptural text.  I simply pointed out from the actual text of Scripture that Moses is considered the author.  I couldn't find any verses about him being an editor.  At least with Luke, we are told that he utilized many resources, so they are not comparable.

To be sure, the Moses as editor view is better than others and falls within what is conservative, but is that what we want to settle for?  The entire Bible witnesses that Moses is credited for Genesis, but never mentions him as an editor.  That is witness enough for me.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Larry's picture

Moderator

I simply pointed out from the actual text of Scripture that Moses is considered the author.  I couldn't find any verses about him being an editor.  At least with Luke, we are told that he utilized many resources, so they are not comparable.

But Luke is still considered the author, not an editor. So the use of sources does not have any necessary connection to attributions of authorship.

Furthermore, we do have explicit reference that Moses used at least one source (the Book of the Wars of the Lord).

So the use of sources (of whatever type they may be) is not incompatible with authorship.

 

James K's picture

Larry, Luke said that he did research.  Even in his case he didn't say he organized the material of others.  What he did is similar to what we do when we do research papers.  I happen to believe he had access to at least Matthew, but it is clear he didn't copy Matthew.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Larry's picture

Moderator

As you point out, Luke doesn't say he organized the material of others, but it is clear that he did (since his work shows organization). Which makes the point is that the use of sources is not a necessary reflection on authorship. It is clear that Moses used sources. The text explicitly says this. How he used them is a matter of some debate, but it does not necessarily minimize inspiration or Mosaic authorship to say so. Luke is inspired evidence of this.

Let's use another example: Matthew 1. It is indisputable that Matthew used a source (genealogical record) and edited it (since it omits certain names). Yet no one argues that Matthew wasn't the author or that Matthew's authorship is disputed because Matthew didn't include a verse telling us that he used sources.

So if your argument is that the Pentateuch is not largely or primarily the work of unnamed people that was later arranged by Moses, then I doubt that any conservative disputes that, certainly not here.

But if your argument is that Moses used no sources, then that simply will not stand. How many sources and how he used them is of some debate.

As a side note, that there is a final form of the OT text with updated names/places is widely acknowledged (similar to the supplementary hypothesis) even by conservatives.

So it is hard to see what your complaint is other than that there is no verse telling how Moses wrote. But we don't have verses for a lot of things that are apparent and accepted at face value. I would argue that the Scripture is pretty clear about Moses using at least one source and most likely others in some way (such as the books of the generations ... Even Henry Morris, who no one ever accused of being liberal, says the geneaology of Gen 5 is a book perhaps written by Adam himself). Did Moses edit it to pick out certain names or generations that were useful to him? We simply don't know, although we know that this happened elsewhere in Scripture (e.g., Matt 1). So the possibility is there, at the very least. And it doesn't compromise either authorship or inspiration.

James K's picture

Larry, let me point out again that it was this statement that I was objecting to:

 

Alex said, "If I am right, this early record was written on clay tablets after years of oral trans mission and kept by the Hebrews. Moses' part, with divine guidance, was the authentication and compiling of the record."

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Yes I know. But I think your argument against it (that we have no verse that says that Moses did this) is an inadequate argument. We do have record of Moses doing something very similar to this. Whether it involved clay tablets or not, we don't know. How much Moses used, we don't know. But we know that Moses used other records in his writing. Whether you like Alex's wording or not, the concept seems beyond dispute, based on Moses' wording which we should accept.

James K's picture

If I do a research paper, I am still the author despite alluding to and directly quoting others.  That doesn't make me an editor or compiler.  It is that idea that I am objecting to.  There is nothing within Scripture that indicates Moses did that.  If there were outside sources (and by outside I mean not the Holy Spirit) that Moses looked at, it doesn't make those writings authoritative or inerrant.  In that case, Moses through the Spirit would have been moved to only write down what was actually inspired.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

DavidO's picture

James K wrote:
. . . There is nothing within Scripture that indicates Moses did that.  If there were outside sources (and by outside I mean not the Holy Spirit) that Moses looked at, it doesn't make those writings authoritative or inerrant.  In that case, Moses through the Spirit would have been moved to only write down what was actually inspired.

Whether or not there is any express indication in Scripture, what is wrong with conjecture (based on technical evaluation of the original text) that such a thing happened?  Alex prefaced his with, "If I am right . . ."  Fair enough, it seems to me.   If the Spirit moved Moses to incorporate other sources wholesale, it's inspired writing, no? 

Larry's picture

Moderator

So James, it seems that you don't actually object to anything that was said here. I don't see where anything that anyone has said here, in the context of the doctrinal confines of SI, would elicit your response.

James K's picture

Wow Larry, it isn't like I didn't say it multiple times, but in case you didn't see the previous times, here it is again:

"Moses' part, with divine guidance, was the authentication and compiling of the record."

There is nothing within the text of Scripture to indicate Moses compiled anything.  The scripture is overwhelmingly in favor of Moses as author though.  The comparison given is either this or dictation.  And of course, dictation would just be silly.  Surely Moses just had to have clay tablets.

David, have at it.  Use conjecture all you want.  I have personally never understood the draw of speculative theology. I think we should leave that to the covenantalists and amills.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Larry's picture

Moderator

"Moses' part, with divine guidance, was the authentication and compiling of the record."

There is nothing within the text of Scripture to indicate Moses compiled anything.

If the observation is correct that the toledoth parts are records that Moses used (and it seems a most reasonable observation), then it seems beyond argument that Moses compiled them into a meaningful structure under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I suppose the alternative is that the Holy Spirit dictated names to Moses. In addition you have information from the Book of the Wars of the Lord that was included. And there may be more. I am not sure why you need a verse that explicitly says that in order to see it. But hey ... that's fine ... 

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

James,

I've already stipulated that Alex was careless (at best) in how he framed his position. I'm not particularly interested in defending his locutions.

Nevertheless, it seems evident that you and Alex (at least as he phrased himself) are committed to the same basic assumption, i.e., that there is a strong disjunction between "author" on the one hand and "editor/compiler" on the other. This assumption is what I wish to challenge, for a whole range of reasons. For the moment, however, I'll simply adopt your own method of procedure. Can you produce a verse from the Bible that gives clear and compelling evidence for supposing that authors are never editors and editors are never authors?

In fact, in the ancient world it was common for authors to pursue their task by means of what we would now call editing or compiling. To be sure, that is not the only thing that they did, but it is one of the things. A man could legitimately claim to be the author of a work that incorporated a good bit of preexisting material. Typically, he shaped this material according to his own interests and incorporated it in such as way as to support his own arguments. For that reason, even preexisting materials became contributing parts of his own work.

This is almost certainly what the authors of the Synoptics did, and there is no reason to suppose that Moses did not or could not. It is, of course, possible that God simply revealed to Moses directly all of the information that is incorporated into the book of Genesis, just as He might have revealed directly how Moses would die and that there would not be another prophet like him unto "this day"--though that theory seems to be freighted with more assumptions and contortions than almost any other that we could devise. The point is, we do not have biblical statements that tell us whether or not Moses was relying on sources and to what extent he stitched them into his text verbatim. Any position--including yours--is, to some degree speculative.

Whatever sources Moses may have used, and however he may have incorporated them into his text, he is the author of the Pentateuch. Earlier sources (if they existed and were employed) were simply uninspired documents or traditions. The biblical text is what is God-breathed, and its inspiration would have prevented Moses from incorporating any errors that existed in older sources.

You and Alex both seem to assume that if Moses were the author, he could not have been an editor/compiler, and if Moses were an editor/compiler, he could not have been the author. Alex chose one side of the disjunction (at least as he worded his position), and you have chosen the other. What I am asking you to do is to defend this disjunction biblically. Give me the verse that precludes authors from being editors and vice versa.

Now, one other thing. I am a pretty strong traditional dispensationalist, a premillennialist, and a pretribulationist. I think that covenant theology and amillennialism are significant theological errors. If, however, I were to accuse those men of mere conjecture and speculative theology, I should become guilty of bearing false witness. I don't see how anyone who has read their writings with any degree of care could repeat this kind of insult. And I don't see why anyone who has not read their writings with that kind of care would have the right to comment on their position.

Blessed Epiphany,

Kevin

James K's picture

It is one thing to say that Moses may have done this or that.  You could compare it to ancient practices and make a reasonable observation.  However, the Scripture is not some typical ancient document.  My objection was to the absolute statement that Moses DID do something that Scripture is silent.  That is speculative.

Kevin, the covenant of works, redemption, and grace, being unnamed and not mentioned in Scripture and theologically created are all speculative.  We aren't all right, with equal views about reality just because we are believers who can put together lengthy treatises.  It is a sad reality that so much of scholastic thought has given way to that way of thinking.  This just leads to more and more theological reductionism.  Although I don't know you well enough to say this is where you are, your statements did make me think of this.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Kevin T. Bauder's picture

James,

From your tone, I think that perhaps I should be offended by what you just wrote. But to tell the truth, your meaning is not at all clear, and so I take no offense. Perhaps that is where we should leave it.

Kevin

alex o.'s picture

James K wrote:

It is one thing to say that Moses may have done this or that.  You could compare it to ancient practices and make a reasonable observation.  However, the Scripture is not some typical ancient document.  My objection was to the absolute statement that Moses DID do something that Scripture is silent.  That is speculative.

Kevin, the covenant of works, redemption, and grace, being unnamed and not mentioned in Scripture and theologically created are all speculative.  We aren't all right, with equal views about reality just because we are believers who can put together lengthy treatises.  It is a sad reality that so much of scholastic thought has given way to that way of thinking.  This just leads to more and more theological reductionism.  Although I don't know you well enough to say this is where you are, your statements did make me think of this.

 

I apologize unreservedly for not defending what I wrote. This was not my intention, it was an oversight. I do not check this site every day and somehow missed this back and forth.

 

  On the other hand, I do not wish to be a keyboard warrior in any sense either.

 

Kevin and Larry however contended much more eloquently for the position which seems most plausible to me: a supplement or fragment based on the tolodeths. 

 

My position is that Genesis is God-breathed and authoritative. Moses authenticated the accounts. In my mind also (I find it reasonable) Ezra may have been the final authenticator by God's Holy Spirit as the position of Allen McRae.

"Our faith itself... is not our saviour. We have but one Saviour; and that one Saviour is Jesus Christ our Lord.  B.B. Warfield

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