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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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No Mind (TLS)

Five names (Genesis 1:5, 8, 10): A Jigsaw puzzle, but where's the picture on the box?

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(I'll get to the reports of the five names in a moment. First I've gotten so fixated on the more general nature of the issue that I've impulsively written the first five paragraphs below, and pasted in the sixth, seventh, and the first two thirds of the eighth.)


We've been taught too well to assent to the Bible. This has caused us to see it in a passively receptive way, at best: It is 'God's Word', so we should simply accept 'what it says' (this has cumulative adverse consequences for what we think it says). This is why even some of the most educated Biblically conservative theologians are wont to quote scripture instead of thoughtfully discuss it. I've lived my whole life in churches that taught the Bible this way. It makes for an ugly, ugly, knee-jerk kind of theology and sociology, and therefore an often even worse evangelism.


In short, this is the view that the Bible is some kind of Complete Idiot's Guide: it is part computer program that, in virtually fool-proof fashion, spells out every last thing that we need to know in order to interpret the rest of it correctly. For example, that, in specific fashion, it spells out everything that we need to know in order to properly interpret Genesis 22, including as to the presupposition of its person and manner of authorship which is effective to that end:


"Why, yes, Mr. Smith, Genesis 22 is God's side of the events that that account accurately describes. In fact, Mr. Smith, the entire book of Genesis can just as well have been dictated, word-for-word, by God, as it is to having actually been authored, respective to their portions, by many of the persons named in that book."


But as Amy Orr-Ewing, among others, points out, there is just nothing that approaches the intra-textual evidences of respective historical human authorship of the Bible's various texts. (see, for example, the youtube video of one of Orr-Ewing's talks entitled 'Jesus Legend // Amy Orr-Ewing // Unbelievable? Conference 2013') In other words, why would God put us on creative hold in some dictated play, when He actually created us in His image? Even today we know that, as witness even of Modern Sign Language, we humans naturally are driven to develop language if there is not already one being used by anyone with whom we want and need to converse.


The basic general point is a mutual two-fold. One, the Bible does not (not) advertise itself essentially as any kind of Complete Idiot's Guide. Two, given what it does plainly enough teach, it therefore assumes that its readers will grant...that it grants..that they just naturally will use their sense as to what is normal to human beings.


In other words, what most naturally is to be discovered about something is not the same as what we mentally might find least effortful to assume about that thing. For example, the Bible states something more-or-less along the lines of 'Moses wrote the book of Genesis', and we most easily just assume this means that the accounts of which the book of Genesis is comprised were first presented in human lives through Moses, and therefore first presented to any humans only at the time of Moses, no earlier. Essentially, all errors are errors of dissociation: neglecting or refusing to see, and otherwise failing to see, both what and how something either is connected, or ought to be connected.


For the case of who 'wrote' the accounts of which the book of Genesis is composed, the simple normative fact is that, for any prosthetic form of information-storage commonly available at a given place and time, that technology normally is used by anyone who has a compelling need to use it, and a ready access to the medium. Cord and fabric mediums may have been used briefly. But clay was far more abundant, cheaper, and had a certain kind of permanence that a record in cloth or knotted cord did not. Soft clay also is easy to inscribe, and this far more quickly per data bit than that for knotting cord or weaving fabric. Clay also either naturally dries to a most ready hardness, or is fire-hardened to a more durable hardness. It therefore is hard to change, unlike an angle on a cross-stitch panel or a sleeve on a knitted sweater. Also, unlike fabric, hardened inscribed tablets readily are used as stamp molds for the carefully handled convex copies that serve as stamps for making copies.


But, the problems unique to inscribed clay are many. The inscriptions are delicate, and are difficult to read in low light. Unlike fabric, clay is bulky and heavy per the amount of imprints it can take relative to a basically durable volume. Dried or fired clay easily breaks or shatters, and is heavy for the amount of data that durably can be put on a given size tablet. So the tablets must be small enough to maximally balance the need of information against the need of the handling-durability of the tablet, and this balanced with the size of inscriptions per their vulnerability to breaking.


Only upon the invention of flexible paper or vellum, and this invention mass-produced, could clay be abandoned as a normal medium for prosthetic storage of information. The vast advantages of handling, communication, and storage capacity which paper has over clay are immediately appreciated. This drove the innovation of paper production processes that use great economy of scale. Guttenberg (sp?) finally made his press, and the 'rest is history' until such things as the transistor and the expanded electric utility grid, the internet, and Steve Jobs.




Now, about those five names.


They bear every likeness to---are entirely consistent with---actual reports made by parties not named in those reports. This, I maintain, is not God relating to us what He said to Himself. Rather, this is reports of what God said in some kind of conversation with the reporter. This opens up vast, vast avenues of conceivable resources in the Genesis 1 account.


Are we supposed to assent, uncritically, to the idea that God said to the reporter, "Then I divided the light and the dark, and then said to myself out loud, "Dark, call I thee night!" In other words, was this reporter either just some passive or dutiful lump with whom God would never first simply converse on a personal level?


If God did first so converse with him, then what was that reporter's personal concern, and did God care about it?


But, as I said, we have been taught too well to assent to the Bible. It is about us (partly), but we approach it as if it is not about that same real object that it depicts. Even a simulated computing device is not that stupid.





Edited by No Mind (TLS)

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For example, the Bible states something more-or-less along the lines of 'Moses wrote the book of Genesis', and we most easily just assume this means that the accounts of which the book of Genesis is comprised were first presented in human lives through Moses, and therefore first presented to any humans only at the time of Moses, no earlier.

God inspired Moses to write the book of Genesis but that doesn't necessarily mean that the information in Genesis was not previously known. It is possible that Genesis was compiled from written records that Moses already possessed. That would mean that Moses is the editor of Genesis and not the author. We know that the account of the flood was already known because stories about it exist in so many other cultures.

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God inspired Moses to write the book of Genesis


This idea is thrown around a lot without realizing its entirely ordinary, fully human participation. Moses was not zapped by God with some 'inspiration' that Moses otherwise would not have had. If we take every natural detail that was Moses in his time and place, his inspiration to write the book of Genesis was not like some secret ingredient that God added to the mix. Moses found himself in the exact cross hairs in which he found himself, the nature-plus-nurture equation drove him toward the kind of ends that he already had the sense to do.


It's like picking up a baby lying in the street: no one has to tell you its the normal thing to do.


The fact that most of the world did not see that 'baby' is beside the point. Yes, Moses not only saw it but was finally afforded the opportunity. But that does not mean that there was no one else who could not, and would not, have taken his place had he, at any point, shrunk from the issue and gone home. The book of Esther makes that kind of reality very plain. God isn't fooling around, but He also hasn't created us a bunch of unknowing lumps that wait passively to be 'zapped' with the 'special' juice.




Some would have liked to have said that some of my words here reduce divine inspiration to the merely natural realm. But that cannot be further from the truth. Just to begin with, God never is purely aloof from the natural world. His 'inspiring' certain people is not like that of the deist's god who, despite that god's aloof inclinations, has specially zapped only those who wrote the Bible.


Secondly, Moses inherited much indirectly from God, and then was approached by God directly, at the burning bush, when both Moses and the rest of the two teams had reached the general point of no return.


Third, despite God's intimate involvement in His creatures, He indeed is aloof in a sense. We are not His buddies, despite that we might like to think He has nothing better to do than to simplistically say to us, 'Can't we all just get along?'. He is not going to be the Santa Claus to our 'good' behavior, much less personally relate to us like our own Instructo-Matic Schoolmarm/Wisdom Vending Machine. Rather, we humans all are on trial in a larger court, individually, collectively, and in various functional groupings.


Mark that: we human beings. Made in the image of God, not in the image either of cows or robots.




is possible that Genesis was compiled from written records that Moses already possessed


I would very much like to doubt that there is a better, and more normal, alternative. The Bible does not (not) advertise itself as being against what is normal (not necessarily common) in that sort of thing. So it is the epitome of a mindless loyalty to the Bible to think it does. They call it 'being silent where the Bible is silent.'


There already is plenty to deal with on the Bible's genuine silences without throwing that God-blessed baby into the fire.


So, the very fact that so many Biblically conservative theologians today (with formal degrees in Divinity, Hebrew, or what-have-you) are exactly that narrowly 'loyal' to "what the Bible says" shows how dull we have become to what the Bible says. Essentially, we think it is a computer program, and we the computers, just like the Pharisees of Jesus's time thought of the Torah and of how to please God:


The less we understand, the less we understand; all while being increasingly confident that we understand. As I mentioned in the beginning of my OP, it makes for ugly, ugly things.

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