Contextual interpretation in Genesis: Cain’s mark

I suppose it goes without saying that approaching the Bible as contextually bound literature leaves you asking different questions and giving different answers.

In the comments of one my posts awhile back, someone expressed bemusement about why God protected Cain after he killed Abel. Not striking him down is easily answerable as an early expression of divine mercy — but did He have to go and make sure nobody killed him? Would it not have been more in line with God’s general practice (especially the OT God) to respond to Cain’s plea for clemency, “Yes, they probably will kill you. He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” Think of the cataclysmic consequence of the wickedness of Cain’s line (the Flood) that God could have nipped in the bud by simply allowing vengeance to be taken on Cain. One might make an argument from within a certain theological system that this was an example of God essentially ordaining evil for His own sovereign purposes. The pernicious hermeneutical principle referred to as analogia fidei (the analogy of faith; “letting Scripture interpret Scripture”) goes about interpreting passages like these by ignoring relevant context and stringing unrelated Scriptures together along the flimsy string of theology the interpreter started with and insists upon reading into every nook and cranny.

This question is indeed puzzling so long as one approaches the Cain and Abel narrative as history. But I wouldn’t expect to learn much about Cain as an historical figure, since Genesis is not eyewitness history, and probably not sourced by written documents, either. Of course, I doubt there is much in Genesis that wasn’t based in the cultural memory of the Israelites or their neighboring cultures. However, the remnants of actual oral history in Genesis (more legendary than mythological) don’t seem to kick in until Abraham in chapter 12 where the style markedly changes. This material, while based on relatively recent oral history compared to the antiquity of the material in the first chapters, has been stylized and edited by the writer(s) in a fashion similar to what we refer to as saga in Icelandic literature: stories of family history, idealizing the exploits of revered ancestors and cultural heroes, at times reveling even in their mistakes.

What we read in Genesis should not be interpreted outside of a recognition of its original value and purpose: in the Old Testament, in which the heritage and history of the Hebrews’ interaction with YHWH is the main attraction, the cultural background of the Hebrews is the stage upon which it plays out. The historicity of these events does not matter in terms of redemptive history; what is important is that Israel began and maintained a covenant relationship with YHWH, and so a precise play by play of the events in historiographic fashion was not so important to them as it would be to us.

To date, I’ve seen no compelling reason to doubt that there were indeed important individuals in the anterior tribal history who correspond to the patriarchs and the children of Jacob (although I don’t know that we should bank on the precise familial relationship between them). However, the actual names of many individuals credited with being the single progenitor of people groups were probably based upon the supposition that tribal names continued patronyms — a reasonable, if not particularly reliable, extrapolation. This ancient crosscultural practice of depositing eponyms as characters in stories of the ancient past resulted in stories of individuals who, like the fabled founder of Rome, Romulus, may have never existed; in Scripture, the historicity of Ammon and Moab, whose parentage was perhaps not coincidentally as scandalous as their descendants the Ammonites and Moabites were problematic from the viewpoint of Israel. It seems likely that the name variation between Abraham/Abram and Jacob/Israel was an etiological explanation unifying the differences between multiple cultural traditions. The stories about how God changed their names are obviously just as instructive of God’s character and illustrative of the unfolding relationship between Him and Israel as if the stories were historical.

When we look at the Cain story within its literary context, we notice that Cain’s survival has an important place within the overall narrative of Genesis. God’s forbearance and even protection was a necessary plot device – how could there be ungodly descendants of Cain (an important story line in Genesis that probably came from an older tradition) inversely paralleling the godly descendants of Seth if Cain got struck down before he begat someone who would make his line a contender with Seth’s? Another consideration is that perhaps “the mark of Cain” was something already a part of their cultural lexicon and that this story was a way of situating that well-known idea within a context that made it relevant and helped along the story line.

However, given the moralistic intent of the Pentateuch, it seems likely to me that these stories also served as morality tales, which suggests that the story of God’s protection of Cain was included for other reasons than showing why he lived long enough to have offspring. This story ostensibly had a place within the larger redemptive context like the rest of Genesis (and the Bible, for that matter). Along those lines, one lesson from this story that I think was quite likely to be in the minds of the redactors was that the wicked can only live and prosper because God allows it; He has a special path for His followers, but allows the wicked a place in His economy, or they wouldn’t be here.

And so I end this little exercise with a lesson not so different from what I might have (and others probably have) drawn out without even considering the literary and cultural context. But I certainly don’t mean to imply that we needn’t bother reconstructing literary and cultural background. In fact, the opposite is true. My proposition of what the authors may have meant may not be correct after all, and I’ll gladly listen to other options. But my point is that:

  1. We should focus our efforts on extracting the theological intent(s) of the authors of Scripture based upon reading them in their context (cultural and literary) rather than fooling ourselves into expecting that every conceivable inference we might make a good sermon out of was actually intended by the authors and by God (this all too popular hermeneutic philosophy is sometimes called interpretive maximalism).
  2. While sometimes interpreting obscure Scripture based upon our pre-determined theological constructs may end up pointing roughly in the right direction (and indeed may corroborate the validity of the construct), this is precisely the reverse order of what it should be. We can be confident in our coordinating systems only as long as the interpretations composing them are sound contextual readings.

In short, we don’t use our heirloom china to feed the dog or to prop open a window; likewise, we show more respect for the sacred text when we are doing our best to use it in the precise manner in which it was intended to be used.

Any other thoughts on Cain?

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  • Doug Moody

    Steve,

    It depends on the dog! You don’t know MY dog! 🙂

  • Doug Moody

    Steve,

    It depends on the dog! You don’t know MY dog! 🙂

  • Since context includes the logical conclusion of a voluminous amount of missing back story, honesty with the text should moderate explanations and delimit speculations. Are there any certainties for knowing what a “mark” is or of what a “sevenfold vengeance” might consist? And how about the cultural or theological constructs of “brother’s keeper”, “cursed from the ground”, “fugitive and a wanderer”, or “presence of the LORD”? How one handles the account depends on the conceptual framework used.

    I question whether there is a prescribed “… precise manner in which it was intended to be used”. There are things told them then that don’t inform others later or us now. Can’t those parts that do inform have layers, levels and nuances of meaning and application? Can one intended use of reading be to cause one to think and reason?

    I consider two approaches to evaluating truth in the account. There are probably others. You will no doubt find conflict over whether the incidences are “factually” true. Someone would have to be dense or in deep denial to disagree about the “archetypically” true elements. The same or comparable choices and circumstances found in Cain’s murder of Abel that lead to Seth and progeny are found in my own conception. Is there any refutation to the conclusion that Hitler’s slaughter of millions had impact on forbearers’ zygote formation? During the War Between the States, was there not lying, thieving and killing affecting the mix of situations that lead to ancestral coupling? That basic archetype is reasonably assumed to apply at any historical moment.

    From a site with quotes of Heinlein I found an interesting observation:

    “A zygote is a gamete’s way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.”

    If all, believes and nonbelievers, can agree to the truth of an ancestral zygote model, the obvious conclusion is that all of pro-life persuasions are dependent on previously aborted life. What, then, is the derived morality?

    More later …

    G1

    …………………….
    .-= Windpressor´s last blog ..GidjaJuan Wind commented on Sharon Nichols’s blog post ‘New Tag Name for our Group’ =-.

  • Since context includes the logical conclusion of a voluminous amount of missing back story, honesty with the text should moderate explanations and delimit speculations. Are there any certainties for knowing what a “mark” is or of what a “sevenfold vengeance” might consist? And how about the cultural or theological constructs of “brother’s keeper”, “cursed from the ground”, “fugitive and a wanderer”, or “presence of the LORD”? How one handles the account depends on the conceptual framework used.

    I question whether there is a prescribed “… precise manner in which it was intended to be used”. There are things told them then that don’t inform others later or us now. Can’t those parts that do inform have layers, levels and nuances of meaning and application? Can one intended use of reading be to cause one to think and reason?

    I consider two approaches to evaluating truth in the account. There are probably others. You will no doubt find conflict over whether the incidences are “factually” true. Someone would have to be dense or in deep denial to disagree about the “archetypically” true elements. The same or comparable choices and circumstances found in Cain’s murder of Abel that lead to Seth and progeny are found in my own conception. Is there any refutation to the conclusion that Hitler’s slaughter of millions had impact on forbearers’ zygote formation? During the War Between the States, was there not lying, thieving and killing affecting the mix of situations that lead to ancestral coupling? That basic archetype is reasonably assumed to apply at any historical moment.

    From a site with quotes of Heinlein I found an interesting observation:

    “A zygote is a gamete’s way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.”

    If all, believes and nonbelievers, can agree to the truth of an ancestral zygote model, the obvious conclusion is that all of pro-life persuasions are dependent on previously aborted life. What, then, is the derived morality?

    More later …

    G1

    …………………….
    .-= Windpressor´s last blog ..GidjaJuan Wind commented on Sharon Nichols’s blog post ‘New Tag Name for our Group’ =-.

  • Ages before the internet, the common place for me to browse was book stores. The usual practice was to look at volumes in the general religion section, open titles of interest and read portions to get an idea if worth a full read and purchase. Of all the times that I briefly surveyed books only a few topics skimmed remain in recollection. One book posited the doctrine that it was Cain that did right by **sacrificing Abel as the properly understood command of God**. Memory is fuzzy, but I think the whole of Gen 4 was “exegeted” to favor exoneration of Cain. I was too offended by the cultic spin so I passed on further research. The exposure has remained as referent to the puzzling ability of rational argumentation to be made in support of any position. My impression is that the work was by some secret society type of organization.

    Wiki has some interesting examples of historical variants to the story of Cain but is no help on any resemblance to my youthful encounter. GOOGLE and the way-back machine can not display memory regression hits. Now that I have matured and actually have some grasp of the concepts of hermeneutics and exegesis, would a comparative study exceed novelty? Perhaps. The reason I relate the foregoing is because it broaches the question of intentions. There are questions about the author’s intent. There is inquiry into what God intended.

    The Cain and Abel account is a case where an accursed killer is given a badge of immunity and protective orders in an after the fact scenario where one who offered an acceptable sacrifice was not protected. Abel was not “kept” from harm. What was God thinking? There is easy cop-out and retreat to the claim of “mysterious ways” or quoting something about the “foolishness of God greater than the wisdom of man”. How is it that there is wisdom in a foolishness that has all the appearance of closing gates after livestock has fled the corrals? One can choose to dismiss it as foolish or display specious folly in explanations or investigate for sound reason due to sensing that there is.

    Quality extractions?
    Good expositions?

    Contemplating …

  • Ages before the internet, the common place for me to browse was book stores. The usual practice was to look at volumes in the general religion section, open titles of interest and read portions to get an idea if worth a full read and purchase. Of all the times that I briefly surveyed books only a few topics skimmed remain in recollection. One book posited the doctrine that it was Cain that did right by **sacrificing Abel as the properly understood command of God**. Memory is fuzzy, but I think the whole of Gen 4 was “exegeted” to favor exoneration of Cain. I was too offended by the cultic spin so I passed on further research. The exposure has remained as referent to the puzzling ability of rational argumentation to be made in support of any position. My impression is that the work was by some secret society type of organization.

    Wiki has some interesting examples of historical variants to the story of Cain but is no help on any resemblance to my youthful encounter. GOOGLE and the way-back machine can not display memory regression hits. Now that I have matured and actually have some grasp of the concepts of hermeneutics and exegesis, would a comparative study exceed novelty? Perhaps. The reason I relate the foregoing is because it broaches the question of intentions. There are questions about the author’s intent. There is inquiry into what God intended.

    The Cain and Abel account is a case where an accursed killer is given a badge of immunity and protective orders in an after the fact scenario where one who offered an acceptable sacrifice was not protected. Abel was not “kept” from harm. What was God thinking? There is easy cop-out and retreat to the claim of “mysterious ways” or quoting something about the “foolishness of God greater than the wisdom of man”. How is it that there is wisdom in a foolishness that has all the appearance of closing gates after livestock has fled the corrals? One can choose to dismiss it as foolish or display specious folly in explanations or investigate for sound reason due to sensing that there is.

    Quality extractions?
    Good expositions?

    Contemplating …

  • Doug Moody

    windpressor,

    one who offered an acceptable sacrifice was not protected. Abel was not “kept” from harm. What was God thinking?

    Don’t you think the best place to start would be to NOT start with an assumption about God “protecting” the righteous?

    I find nothing in God’s nature about protecting the righteous as being His modus operandi. Protection of God’s people under the old covenant was a matter of God’s agreement with a certain people. But in the NEW covenant, we are called to pick up our cross and count our lives as of no value except inasmuch as they glorify God. In other words, our lives are not our own, and therefore “protection” is not part of the promises of the new covenant.

    Why then should it be a given that BEFORE the old covenant was given to a particular people, under particular conditions, that it should have been EXPECTED by anyone prior to Sinai?

    It is reading in to (eisegesis) scripture that even makes one ask the question about Cain being ‘protected” He would have had no expectation of such, and in fact, I think he actually EXPECTED God to take vengeance on him. The story instead belies God’s transcending plan for the human race by keeping the line of Cain alive, not to mention God’s natural extension of love and grace, which is in God’s nature far more than the “punishing” nature of God implied by your question.

  • Doug Moody

    windpressor,

    one who offered an acceptable sacrifice was not protected. Abel was not “kept” from harm. What was God thinking?

    Don’t you think the best place to start would be to NOT start with an assumption about God “protecting” the righteous?

    I find nothing in God’s nature about protecting the righteous as being His modus operandi. Protection of God’s people under the old covenant was a matter of God’s agreement with a certain people. But in the NEW covenant, we are called to pick up our cross and count our lives as of no value except inasmuch as they glorify God. In other words, our lives are not our own, and therefore “protection” is not part of the promises of the new covenant.

    Why then should it be a given that BEFORE the old covenant was given to a particular people, under particular conditions, that it should have been EXPECTED by anyone prior to Sinai?

    It is reading in to (eisegesis) scripture that even makes one ask the question about Cain being ‘protected” He would have had no expectation of such, and in fact, I think he actually EXPECTED God to take vengeance on him. The story instead belies God’s transcending plan for the human race by keeping the line of Cain alive, not to mention God’s natural extension of love and grace, which is in God’s nature far more than the “punishing” nature of God implied by your question.

  • Hello Doug,

    Re: your question —

    Don’t you think the best place to start would be to NOT start with an assumption about God “protecting” the righteous?

    I think the early accounts serve to disabuse of unrealistic expectations of protection. Sorry if my writing did not distinguish my paraphrase of possibly common perceptions from my use as a point of inquiry.

    Steve made the point about Cain receiving protection even though Cain expressed his angst and expectations about being killed. I simply added the juxtaposed observation that Abel had no preemptive protection and God shows up in what some may consider a “Johnny come lately” fashion and bestows pronouncements and prophylaxis against death by vengeance or predation.[Note: to me the English: ” ‘… whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” can refer to either general predatory slaughter due to his dejected vagabondage or specific kin vengeance protocols. If Steve has linguistic or ANE cultural relevance info, he might demonstrate a preferential reading.]

    The questions of protection and human suffering are a constant theme in scripture and real life. It reaches from the common expressions of loss like “why me?” to the profound “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    Stating that we live in a culture where some people struggle to survive and some others have million dollar prosperity ministries is simply a matter of observation which can be evaluated from a number of viewpoints. I think context is the primary determinant of validity yet we can’t escape our cultural bias which may or may not have utility for lifting out a passage for comparative analysis. It has not been too long since a common understanding of Cain’s mark was the firmly held belief that it was hereditary dark skin. That perversion was used as justification for persecution and racial discrimination by respectable religious and social institutions.

    One can take Cain’s query about whether he was his brother’s keeper and examine it from a number of angles. Is the concept a legitimate libertarian concept wrongfully used as his excuse? Is there a level of meaning that might have acceptable consideration or is it entirely remiss?

    Would it be too much in the way of eisegesis to read from Cain’s report the implication: “… where was God to stay my hand?” God took it under advisement and addressed it. This is not exoneration for “… the way of Cain …” (Jude 1:11), but acknowledgement of God’s responsive mercy that was subsequently exhibited on Cain’s behalf.
    .-= Windpressor´s last blog ..GidjaJuan Wind commented on Sharon Nichols’s blog post ‘New Tag Name for our Group’ =-.

  • Hello Doug,

    Re: your question —

    Don’t you think the best place to start would be to NOT start with an assumption about God “protecting” the righteous?

    I think the early accounts serve to disabuse of unrealistic expectations of protection. Sorry if my writing did not distinguish my paraphrase of possibly common perceptions from my use as a point of inquiry.

    Steve made the point about Cain receiving protection even though Cain expressed his angst and expectations about being killed. I simply added the juxtaposed observation that Abel had no preemptive protection and God shows up in what some may consider a “Johnny come lately” fashion and bestows pronouncements and prophylaxis against death by vengeance or predation.[Note: to me the English: ” ‘… whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” can refer to either general predatory slaughter due to his dejected vagabondage or specific kin vengeance protocols. If Steve has linguistic or ANE cultural relevance info, he might demonstrate a preferential reading.]

    The questions of protection and human suffering are a constant theme in scripture and real life. It reaches from the common expressions of loss like “why me?” to the profound “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    Stating that we live in a culture where some people struggle to survive and some others have million dollar prosperity ministries is simply a matter of observation which can be evaluated from a number of viewpoints. I think context is the primary determinant of validity yet we can’t escape our cultural bias which may or may not have utility for lifting out a passage for comparative analysis. It has not been too long since a common understanding of Cain’s mark was the firmly held belief that it was hereditary dark skin. That perversion was used as justification for persecution and racial discrimination by respectable religious and social institutions.

    One can take Cain’s query about whether he was his brother’s keeper and examine it from a number of angles. Is the concept a legitimate libertarian concept wrongfully used as his excuse? Is there a level of meaning that might have acceptable consideration or is it entirely remiss?

    Would it be too much in the way of eisegesis to read from Cain’s report the implication: “… where was God to stay my hand?” God took it under advisement and addressed it. This is not exoneration for “… the way of Cain …” (Jude 1:11), but acknowledgement of God’s responsive mercy that was subsequently exhibited on Cain’s behalf.
    .-= Windpressor´s last blog ..GidjaJuan Wind commented on Sharon Nichols’s blog post ‘New Tag Name for our Group’ =-.

  • Doug Moody

    Windpressor,
    Your question about Jude 1:11 is a good one, because I think that in answering Jude’s remark about Cain, we have the answer about what was going on in that event. i.e., scripture answering scripture.

  • Doug Moody

    Windpressor,
    Your question about Jude 1:11 is a good one, because I think that in answering Jude’s remark about Cain, we have the answer about what was going on in that event. i.e., scripture answering scripture.

  • Norm Voss

    null
    Stephen,

    I tend to agree with several of your implications but as usual I tend to go a little different direction than you do. IMO Genesis was written within the 1st Millennium BC and possibly even after the rebuilding of the second Temple. Ezra comes to mind specifically and I see Genesis written as a theological application serving much more than a historical record. Almost all stories in Genesis are typologies of later Israelite stories and themes and Gen 1-11 specifically has end time and last days applications.

    The Cain and Abel story is a prime example as we know that it was used in many different ways in the time of the Messiah to warn the abusive Jews about murdering and persecuting their younger righteous brothers. 1 John 3:12 comes to mind as just one example. The question of the mark of Cain appears also to have its parallel application in the Sermon on the Mount in which Christ is warning His disciples that they are not to take retribution/vengeance upon those who mistreat them but to leave that entirely to God’s providence. Next we have Cain sent out from God’s presence away from His face and the parallel again is found with the older brother antichrist Jews who would be removed from God’s Covenant and cast into Covenantal outer darkness where their punishment will be unbearable just like Cain’s when he is banished from God’s Covenant Blessings East of Eden. One other point is that Cain is told that his work of the ground would not produce food whereas beforehand Adam’s would produce at least meager weeds. This is symbolically demonstrating that Adam’s world of fruitless works in relationship to God was nearly worthless. However in comparison Cain’s loss of Covenant relationship would render him even more useless than his fathers. That is indeed the picture of what happened to Judaism in the last days where they were cast outside God’s presence in judgment.

    Matt 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    2 Th 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

    So to restate what I am presenting is that IMO Genesis 1-11 especially was written prophetically with its main purpose far from what we imagine it was intended for. It was Hebrew literature that is not far different than Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation in its purpose and may have been constructed in similar times. The theme of the OT and Genesis in particular is constantly pointing toward the Messiah and thus the typology found permeating these works I believe strongly reinforces that realization.

    A good example of this currently is John Walton’s recognition that Gen 1 is temple construction language and I believe points toward the 6 Days of Creation as the epochs of time from Adam until the Messiah. (by the way this was Augustine’s thinking to a significant degree) The Old and NT are both replete with the idea that God was creating and working toward the ultimate goal of completing His Spiritual Temple. The sooner we grasp the theological purpose of Genesis the more accurate I believe we will be in understanding the Hebrew intent of it.

    Norm

  • Norm Voss

    null
    Stephen,

    I tend to agree with several of your implications but as usual I tend to go a little different direction than you do. IMO Genesis was written within the 1st Millennium BC and possibly even after the rebuilding of the second Temple. Ezra comes to mind specifically and I see Genesis written as a theological application serving much more than a historical record. Almost all stories in Genesis are typologies of later Israelite stories and themes and Gen 1-11 specifically has end time and last days applications.

    The Cain and Abel story is a prime example as we know that it was used in many different ways in the time of the Messiah to warn the abusive Jews about murdering and persecuting their younger righteous brothers. 1 John 3:12 comes to mind as just one example. The question of the mark of Cain appears also to have its parallel application in the Sermon on the Mount in which Christ is warning His disciples that they are not to take retribution/vengeance upon those who mistreat them but to leave that entirely to God’s providence. Next we have Cain sent out from God’s presence away from His face and the parallel again is found with the older brother antichrist Jews who would be removed from God’s Covenant and cast into Covenantal outer darkness where their punishment will be unbearable just like Cain’s when he is banished from God’s Covenant Blessings East of Eden. One other point is that Cain is told that his work of the ground would not produce food whereas beforehand Adam’s would produce at least meager weeds. This is symbolically demonstrating that Adam’s world of fruitless works in relationship to God was nearly worthless. However in comparison Cain’s loss of Covenant relationship would render him even more useless than his fathers. That is indeed the picture of what happened to Judaism in the last days where they were cast outside God’s presence in judgment.

    Matt 8:12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

    2 Th 1:8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

    So to restate what I am presenting is that IMO Genesis 1-11 especially was written prophetically with its main purpose far from what we imagine it was intended for. It was Hebrew literature that is not far different than Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation in its purpose and may have been constructed in similar times. The theme of the OT and Genesis in particular is constantly pointing toward the Messiah and thus the typology found permeating these works I believe strongly reinforces that realization.

    A good example of this currently is John Walton’s recognition that Gen 1 is temple construction language and I believe points toward the 6 Days of Creation as the epochs of time from Adam until the Messiah. (by the way this was Augustine’s thinking to a significant degree) The Old and NT are both replete with the idea that God was creating and working toward the ultimate goal of completing His Spiritual Temple. The sooner we grasp the theological purpose of Genesis the more accurate I believe we will be in understanding the Hebrew intent of it.

    Norm

  • Hey Steve,

    Are you anywhere affected by the flooding?
    ===============

    Norm,

    I assume you are not discounting the probability of antecedent oral or written provenance when you avow that:

    “IMO Genesis was written within the 1st Millennium BC and possibly even after the rebuilding of the second Temple. Ezra comes to mind specifically and I see Genesis written as a theological application serving much more than a historical record.”

    Historical accuracy as we moderns understand is certainly a tough sell but how far can you go on metaphor without altering the conveyed truth into something unrecognizable?

    I didn’t keep up with all your lengthy posts and others’ rejoinders at PP, although I found some of the concepts intriguing.
    Your comment here is a bit more concise and coherent. 🙂

    I have found much affinity in Steve’s take on libertarian thought, free inquiry, in-depth meaning, etc. So I have been speending a little more net time here. I had recently read his entry here, where he mentioned an episode of Star Trek Voyager. Recollecting your insistence on metaphor and some of the esoteric exchanges, brought to mind “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”
    ============

    Any or All,
    My approach has been to try and get past popular notions and misinterpretations. I don’t have the academics like Steve and others, but concur in majority with his “About” page. While I tend to look at a great deal of interpretation and application throughout human history as being wrongheaded, some credit is due the “Unseen Hand”.
    This same God has been accredited with directing Sodomites to grope in blindness for a door and He piggybacked His own purpose on Jacob’s wooing of Rachel to spawn the Christ’s progenitor, Judah of Leah. Genesis indeed sets the pattern for the rest of scripture in so many profound ways.

    Re: Steve’s point #2 —

    Cain’s “brother’s keeper” retort and Adam’s pointing to “The woman whom you gave …” are often used in popular lessons on brotherly love and not “passing the buck”. I won’t quibble about the value of such for ethics modeling, however, I look at the dialogues as having some currency in understanding inaugural precepts and justifications for the interactions between God and man. Right or wrong, Adam makes an observation that could just as easily be rephrased as: ” I am getting mixed messages here and are you sure there aren’t some issues like conflict of interest?” (Gen 3:12)

    Now here is also where I observe and ask some difficult questions of the accepted interpretations. With all the discussion about the meanings of “death” and “day” that tries to fit them into some tight box as occurring with a kind of rigid inflexible right now application, how about taking the account as profoundly more nuanced with accommodation, perhaps something like deferred adjudication or temporary reprieve in response to Adam’s expressed concerns? While modern exposition has dwelled on chiding human propensity for shifting blame, the Divine inquiry and human responses can just as easily be read as simple testimony of what happened. Would the ANE cultural mindset parallel our modern fixation on the blame-shifting theme rather than other and contemporary concerns?

    I haven’t extrapolated all the way out from how I (is there a less contrived word than unpacked?) unfurled Gen 3 here, but it looks like it might connect dots for a clearer picture.
    May be I am on to something.
    May be I am missing something.
    The text says what it has always said.

    ================

    G1

    ……………………….

  • Hey Steve,

    Are you anywhere affected by the flooding?
    ===============

    Norm,

    I assume you are not discounting the probability of antecedent oral or written provenance when you avow that:

    “IMO Genesis was written within the 1st Millennium BC and possibly even after the rebuilding of the second Temple. Ezra comes to mind specifically and I see Genesis written as a theological application serving much more than a historical record.”

    Historical accuracy as we moderns understand is certainly a tough sell but how far can you go on metaphor without altering the conveyed truth into something unrecognizable?

    I didn’t keep up with all your lengthy posts and others’ rejoinders at PP, although I found some of the concepts intriguing.
    Your comment here is a bit more concise and coherent. 🙂

    I have found much affinity in Steve’s take on libertarian thought, free inquiry, in-depth meaning, etc. So I have been speending a little more net time here. I had recently read his entry here, where he mentioned an episode of Star Trek Voyager. Recollecting your insistence on metaphor and some of the esoteric exchanges, brought to mind “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.”
    ============

    Any or All,
    My approach has been to try and get past popular notions and misinterpretations. I don’t have the academics like Steve and others, but concur in majority with his “About” page. While I tend to look at a great deal of interpretation and application throughout human history as being wrongheaded, some credit is due the “Unseen Hand”.
    This same God has been accredited with directing Sodomites to grope in blindness for a door and He piggybacked His own purpose on Jacob’s wooing of Rachel to spawn the Christ’s progenitor, Judah of Leah. Genesis indeed sets the pattern for the rest of scripture in so many profound ways.

    Re: Steve’s point #2 —

    Cain’s “brother’s keeper” retort and Adam’s pointing to “The woman whom you gave …” are often used in popular lessons on brotherly love and not “passing the buck”. I won’t quibble about the value of such for ethics modeling, however, I look at the dialogues as having some currency in understanding inaugural precepts and justifications for the interactions between God and man. Right or wrong, Adam makes an observation that could just as easily be rephrased as: ” I am getting mixed messages here and are you sure there aren’t some issues like conflict of interest?” (Gen 3:12)

    Now here is also where I observe and ask some difficult questions of the accepted interpretations. With all the discussion about the meanings of “death” and “day” that tries to fit them into some tight box as occurring with a kind of rigid inflexible right now application, how about taking the account as profoundly more nuanced with accommodation, perhaps something like deferred adjudication or temporary reprieve in response to Adam’s expressed concerns? While modern exposition has dwelled on chiding human propensity for shifting blame, the Divine inquiry and human responses can just as easily be read as simple testimony of what happened. Would the ANE cultural mindset parallel our modern fixation on the blame-shifting theme rather than other and contemporary concerns?

    I haven’t extrapolated all the way out from how I (is there a less contrived word than unpacked?) unfurled Gen 3 here, but it looks like it might connect dots for a clearer picture.
    May be I am on to something.
    May be I am missing something.
    The text says what it has always said.

    ================

    G1

    ……………………….

  • Norman Voss

    Wind,

    No, I fully recognized that there was material used in the construction of Genesis that had historical implications. Whoever constructed Genesis though was extremely artistic and detailed (this indicates trained Priest) in their Hebrew approach to literature. If you read Cassuto or Blocher you begin to see the detailed work going into the literary structure especially the opening Chapters. Genesis was a highly detailed piece of literature which probably could not have been written much earlier than 1000 BC if even that far back. The priestly knowledge of Hebrew literature construction did not just evolve out of thin air (as imagined by evangelicals) and it took time to perfect.

    Speaking of my lack of writing coherence let me then quote Ward Fenley concerning his response to accusations of over allegorizing Genesis. Note his discussion of Cain’s tilling the ground.

    “Finally, the accusation that I believe the Genesis account is purely allegorical is also false. Paul said that Sarah and Hagar were allegories. But he didn’t say they weren’t real people as well. That is how I view physical characters in the Genesis account: They were real people but the story of the circumstances surrounding them is telling us about something far greater than mere physical nakedness or physical fig leaves. Their nakedness represented their guilty conscience and their fig leaves represented their attempt to cover up their nakedness by self-righteousness (“tilling the ground”) instead of by blood (death of a sacrifice). Hence, Cain’s offering was works based, for he had to till the ground to get it, but Abel’s was grace-based. He knew there had to be shedding of blood. And just as Cain persecuted Abel, Esau persecuted Jacob, Ishmael persecuted Isaac, and the Pharisees persecuted Paul, so also the moralists persecute us because our sufficiency is of God and not of ourselves. So naturally they, like the Pharisees in Paul’s day, accuse us:”

    Here is the link to the full article

    http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/blogs.htm

    The OT and NT writers are pretty clear that they read Genesis in an allegorical manner often enough that it appears the predominant approach. Failing to take note of that biblical approach by the Spirit led prophets and apostles pits the western literal approach against the Spirit of Scripture IMHO. In other words you need to read scripture like a Hebrew trained Priest such as Paul and John.

    Norm

  • Norman Voss

    Wind,

    No, I fully recognized that there was material used in the construction of Genesis that had historical implications. Whoever constructed Genesis though was extremely artistic and detailed (this indicates trained Priest) in their Hebrew approach to literature. If you read Cassuto or Blocher you begin to see the detailed work going into the literary structure especially the opening Chapters. Genesis was a highly detailed piece of literature which probably could not have been written much earlier than 1000 BC if even that far back. The priestly knowledge of Hebrew literature construction did not just evolve out of thin air (as imagined by evangelicals) and it took time to perfect.

    Speaking of my lack of writing coherence let me then quote Ward Fenley concerning his response to accusations of over allegorizing Genesis. Note his discussion of Cain’s tilling the ground.

    “Finally, the accusation that I believe the Genesis account is purely allegorical is also false. Paul said that Sarah and Hagar were allegories. But he didn’t say they weren’t real people as well. That is how I view physical characters in the Genesis account: They were real people but the story of the circumstances surrounding them is telling us about something far greater than mere physical nakedness or physical fig leaves. Their nakedness represented their guilty conscience and their fig leaves represented their attempt to cover up their nakedness by self-righteousness (“tilling the ground”) instead of by blood (death of a sacrifice). Hence, Cain’s offering was works based, for he had to till the ground to get it, but Abel’s was grace-based. He knew there had to be shedding of blood. And just as Cain persecuted Abel, Esau persecuted Jacob, Ishmael persecuted Isaac, and the Pharisees persecuted Paul, so also the moralists persecute us because our sufficiency is of God and not of ourselves. So naturally they, like the Pharisees in Paul’s day, accuse us:”

    Here is the link to the full article

    http://www.newcreationministries.tv/Articles/blogs.htm

    The OT and NT writers are pretty clear that they read Genesis in an allegorical manner often enough that it appears the predominant approach. Failing to take note of that biblical approach by the Spirit led prophets and apostles pits the western literal approach against the Spirit of Scripture IMHO. In other words you need to read scripture like a Hebrew trained Priest such as Paul and John.

    Norm

  • I’ve enjoyed seeing your interaction, gentlemen, but I thought I’d step in and make a few comments.

    Windpressor,

    I question whether there is a prescribed “… precise manner in which it was intended to be used”. There are things told them then that don’t inform others later or us now. Can’t those parts that do inform have layers, levels and nuances of meaning and application? Can one intended use of reading be to cause one to think and reason?

    Even answering all that in the affirmative doesn’t call into question whether there was a precise manner in which it was originally expected to be used; the question you’re asking is whether we are limited to using it in that way. My answer is no, but we are on the shakiest of ground when we start using the text for things the authors would never have conceived. Making it take on either a too mystical or too mundane character removes the primacy of viewing revelation as it was actually revealed. Viewing Genesis narratives either as teeming with typology and prophetic messages only discernable ex post facto or as generic stories about God and human nature that could just as easily be derived from Greek myths, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or Erma Bombeck are both less respectful of the ancient text than I think we should be about any ancient text, particularly when we forge God’s own signature on these sorts of readings. The only thing we can be confident in is the original intent (which is, alas, not easy to determine).

    Note: to me the English: ” ‘… whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” can refer to either general predatory slaughter due to his dejected vagabondage or specific kin vengeance protocols. If Steve has linguistic or ANE cultural relevance info, he might demonstrate a preferential reading.]

    Unfortunately, I have no such info; I’ve actually heard that both were ANE cultural customs, but which cultures and times are which I don’t know.

    Genesis indeed sets the pattern for the rest of scripture in so many profound ways.

    Indeed it does! But the pattern offered by the Voss/BCS hermeneutic seems to imply that the result (Jesus and particularly eschatology) was the pattern from which Genesis was created. Once again, while it sounds nice, I don’t think it does honor to the contextually bound nature of Scripture. God chose that men at particular places in time, belonging to certain cultures wrote down what was revealed to them; He could have done a lot better if He wanted to actually prophecy

    Thanks for asking about the flooding — we didn’t have any ill effects, but I’m deeply saddened to hear that 10 Georgians have died.

  • I’ve enjoyed seeing your interaction, gentlemen, but I thought I’d step in and make a few comments.

    Windpressor,

    I question whether there is a prescribed “… precise manner in which it was intended to be used”. There are things told them then that don’t inform others later or us now. Can’t those parts that do inform have layers, levels and nuances of meaning and application? Can one intended use of reading be to cause one to think and reason?

    Even answering all that in the affirmative doesn’t call into question whether there was a precise manner in which it was originally expected to be used; the question you’re asking is whether we are limited to using it in that way. My answer is no, but we are on the shakiest of ground when we start using the text for things the authors would never have conceived. Making it take on either a too mystical or too mundane character removes the primacy of viewing revelation as it was actually revealed. Viewing Genesis narratives either as teeming with typology and prophetic messages only discernable ex post facto or as generic stories about God and human nature that could just as easily be derived from Greek myths, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, or Erma Bombeck are both less respectful of the ancient text than I think we should be about any ancient text, particularly when we forge God’s own signature on these sorts of readings. The only thing we can be confident in is the original intent (which is, alas, not easy to determine).

    Note: to me the English: ” ‘… whoever finds me will kill me.’ ” can refer to either general predatory slaughter due to his dejected vagabondage or specific kin vengeance protocols. If Steve has linguistic or ANE cultural relevance info, he might demonstrate a preferential reading.]

    Unfortunately, I have no such info; I’ve actually heard that both were ANE cultural customs, but which cultures and times are which I don’t know.

    Genesis indeed sets the pattern for the rest of scripture in so many profound ways.

    Indeed it does! But the pattern offered by the Voss/BCS hermeneutic seems to imply that the result (Jesus and particularly eschatology) was the pattern from which Genesis was created. Once again, while it sounds nice, I don’t think it does honor to the contextually bound nature of Scripture. God chose that men at particular places in time, belonging to certain cultures wrote down what was revealed to them; He could have done a lot better if He wanted to actually prophecy

    Thanks for asking about the flooding — we didn’t have any ill effects, but I’m deeply saddened to hear that 10 Georgians have died.

  • Doug,

    I found your comments about God’s protection intriguing. I think Scripture does speak of God protecting, but it’s usually in response to specific petitions, and more generally guaranteed only the elect.

    The story instead belies God’s transcending plan for the human race by keeping the line of Cain alive, not to mention God’s natural extension of love and grace, which is in God’s nature far more than the “punishing” nature of God implied by your question.

    I think that’s an excellent summary of what was probably intended to be conveyed in this story.

  • My dear Norm,

    So to restate what I am presenting is that IMO Genesis 1-11 especially was written prophetically with its main purpose far from what we imagine it was intended for. It was Hebrew literature that is not far different than Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation in its purpose and may have been constructed in similar times. The theme of the OT and Genesis in particular is constantly pointing toward the Messiah and thus the typology found permeating these works I believe strongly reinforces that realization.

    Where I disagree with this hermeneutic, popularized especially by Tim and Jeff’s work, is that I think it requires much more textual/literary evidence than we have; there is no reason to believe from the text that any genuine thematic recurrences are anything more than simple appropriations of past ideas and presumed events being used to explain current events rather than endless instances of prophecy vs. fulfillment. Your school of thought says that since B resembles A, A was intended to foreshadow B. Rather, it is much more likely that B resembles A simply because B is the successor of A; I resemble my father not because he was intended to typologically represent me, but because he passed on his genes to me. I daresay that the good William of Occam is on my side here. 😉 Also note my comment to Windpressor above.

    The OT and NT writers are pretty clear that they read Genesis in an allegorical manner often enough that it appears the predominant approach. Failing to take note of that biblical approach by the Spirit led prophets and apostles pits the western literal approach against the Spirit of Scripture IMHO. In other words you need to read scripture like a Hebrew trained Priest such as Paul and John.

    Paul, Matthew, and John were — well, Paul, Matthew, and John. If you believe the canon to be inspired, then what makes you think that anyone nowadays has any business being the one who decides which allegorical misrepresentation of the original intent is the truth? The problem, as I have noted above, is when speculations of nifty allegorical interpretations are put forth as what God intended to teach us from Scripture. Loosey goosey Jewish interpretations like Paul’s, Matthew’s, and John’s frequently mispresent earlier Scripture, but regardless, the writings of Paul and “John” are Scripture; subsequent speculative interpretations are not Scripture, and I think it’s best to treat the text a litte more respectfully and modestly.

    A good example of this currently is John Walton’s recognition that Gen 1 is temple construction language and I believe points toward the 6 Days of Creation as the epochs of time from Adam until the Messiah. (by the way this was Augustine’s thinking to a significant degree) The Old and NT are both replete with the idea that God was creating and working toward the ultimate goal of completing His Spiritual Temple.

    What John Walton noticed is that Genesis 1 was framed in terms of temple construction after the temple was constructed. The author(s) communicated the idea that the universe is God’s temple, doing precisely what I said above: explaining things in the present in terms of cultural inheritance. Later writers also built off of the foundation of the OT to frame and explicate their new theology. Augustine’s quip notwithstanding, the New Testament is not “in the Old concealed”; rather, the New Testament is from the Old conceived. In short, I still believe in progressive revelation. 🙂

  • Doug,

    I found your comments about God’s protection intriguing. I think Scripture does speak of God protecting, but it’s usually in response to specific petitions, and more generally guaranteed only the elect.

    The story instead belies God’s transcending plan for the human race by keeping the line of Cain alive, not to mention God’s natural extension of love and grace, which is in God’s nature far more than the “punishing” nature of God implied by your question.

    I think that’s an excellent summary of what was probably intended to be conveyed in this story.

  • My dear Norm,

    So to restate what I am presenting is that IMO Genesis 1-11 especially was written prophetically with its main purpose far from what we imagine it was intended for. It was Hebrew literature that is not far different than Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation in its purpose and may have been constructed in similar times. The theme of the OT and Genesis in particular is constantly pointing toward the Messiah and thus the typology found permeating these works I believe strongly reinforces that realization.

    Where I disagree with this hermeneutic, popularized especially by Tim and Jeff’s work, is that I think it requires much more textual/literary evidence than we have; there is no reason to believe from the text that any genuine thematic recurrences are anything more than simple appropriations of past ideas and presumed events being used to explain current events rather than endless instances of prophecy vs. fulfillment. Your school of thought says that since B resembles A, A was intended to foreshadow B. Rather, it is much more likely that B resembles A simply because B is the successor of A; I resemble my father not because he was intended to typologically represent me, but because he passed on his genes to me. I daresay that the good William of Occam is on my side here. 😉 Also note my comment to Windpressor above.

    The OT and NT writers are pretty clear that they read Genesis in an allegorical manner often enough that it appears the predominant approach. Failing to take note of that biblical approach by the Spirit led prophets and apostles pits the western literal approach against the Spirit of Scripture IMHO. In other words you need to read scripture like a Hebrew trained Priest such as Paul and John.

    Paul, Matthew, and John were — well, Paul, Matthew, and John. If you believe the canon to be inspired, then what makes you think that anyone nowadays has any business being the one who decides which allegorical misrepresentation of the original intent is the truth? The problem, as I have noted above, is when speculations of nifty allegorical interpretations are put forth as what God intended to teach us from Scripture. Loosey goosey Jewish interpretations like Paul’s, Matthew’s, and John’s frequently mispresent earlier Scripture, but regardless, the writings of Paul and “John” are Scripture; subsequent speculative interpretations are not Scripture, and I think it’s best to treat the text a litte more respectfully and modestly.

    A good example of this currently is John Walton’s recognition that Gen 1 is temple construction language and I believe points toward the 6 Days of Creation as the epochs of time from Adam until the Messiah. (by the way this was Augustine’s thinking to a significant degree) The Old and NT are both replete with the idea that God was creating and working toward the ultimate goal of completing His Spiritual Temple.

    What John Walton noticed is that Genesis 1 was framed in terms of temple construction after the temple was constructed. The author(s) communicated the idea that the universe is God’s temple, doing precisely what I said above: explaining things in the present in terms of cultural inheritance. Later writers also built off of the foundation of the OT to frame and explicate their new theology. Augustine’s quip notwithstanding, the New Testament is not “in the Old concealed”; rather, the New Testament is from the Old conceived. In short, I still believe in progressive revelation. 🙂

  • Norm Voss

    Stephen,

    Thanks for the response.

    Stephen the law, Temple and the elements of Judaism were all a shadow that was to come.

    Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh.

    The NT Spiritual Kingdom is built upon that premise. The evidence is clear and overwhelming that the writers from Genesis to Revelation were all cognizant of that purpose. Taking the approach that you are inferring basically means that the dispensationalist are correct in reading the scriptures were always intended to be understood physically as that was the original writers intent. If your implications are correct then we have a mishmash of scriptures that were not understood by their authors. Christ, Paul and the Apostles then just completely misappropriated the OT writers taking their message and turning it on its ear completely contrary to its prophetic meaning. No wonder the Jews resisted Christ and the Christians then because in their eyes they (Christians) were not reading scripture properly.

    Moses revelation that Israel was destined for great calamities in the last days then was just nonsensical ramblings by him as he or the authors who recorded his prophecies had no inkling of what they were writing about. Then also the Hebrew writer got it completely wrong in Heb 11 when he said they (OT faithful) were looking for a country or city to come. Was he misapplying that Abraham, Noah, Abel and all those listed there actually were looking for a literal Messiah and ruler like the contemporary Jews of Christ time were expecting?

    Our hermeneutical differences may indeed pivotal IMO for understanding scripture.

    I did not say that Walton agreed with my conclusion about Temple but pointed out that he says Gen 1 was Temple construction language. I drew my own conclusions that Gen 1 should be looked at as Temple construction language from Gen to Revelation. This idea goes along with some of the early church fathers such as Augustine and The Epistle of Barnabas letter.

    Norm

  • Norm Voss

    Stephen,

    Thanks for the response.

    Stephen the law, Temple and the elements of Judaism were all a shadow that was to come.

    Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh.

    The NT Spiritual Kingdom is built upon that premise. The evidence is clear and overwhelming that the writers from Genesis to Revelation were all cognizant of that purpose. Taking the approach that you are inferring basically means that the dispensationalist are correct in reading the scriptures were always intended to be understood physically as that was the original writers intent. If your implications are correct then we have a mishmash of scriptures that were not understood by their authors. Christ, Paul and the Apostles then just completely misappropriated the OT writers taking their message and turning it on its ear completely contrary to its prophetic meaning. No wonder the Jews resisted Christ and the Christians then because in their eyes they (Christians) were not reading scripture properly.

    Moses revelation that Israel was destined for great calamities in the last days then was just nonsensical ramblings by him as he or the authors who recorded his prophecies had no inkling of what they were writing about. Then also the Hebrew writer got it completely wrong in Heb 11 when he said they (OT faithful) were looking for a country or city to come. Was he misapplying that Abraham, Noah, Abel and all those listed there actually were looking for a literal Messiah and ruler like the contemporary Jews of Christ time were expecting?

    Our hermeneutical differences may indeed pivotal IMO for understanding scripture.

    I did not say that Walton agreed with my conclusion about Temple but pointed out that he says Gen 1 was Temple construction language. I drew my own conclusions that Gen 1 should be looked at as Temple construction language from Gen to Revelation. This idea goes along with some of the early church fathers such as Augustine and The Epistle of Barnabas letter.

    Norm

  • Steve,

    You once recommended Walton. Walton appears to me to be confused.

    At one point he calls Genesis 1 the establishment of the cosmic temple. He seems to be referring to the physical universe.

    In another he claims “God bara-s people.” This implies “heavens and earth” are people. That is, God’s temple, from the beginning, has been God’s people. This is precisely what Tim and I developed separately.

    Any thoughts? Am I reading him right?

    Jeff

  • Steve,

    You once recommended Walton. Walton appears to me to be confused.

    At one point he calls Genesis 1 the establishment of the cosmic temple. He seems to be referring to the physical universe.

    In another he claims “God bara-s people.” This implies “heavens and earth” are people. That is, God’s temple, from the beginning, has been God’s people. This is precisely what Tim and I developed separately.

    Any thoughts? Am I reading him right?

    Jeff

  • Hi Jeff,
    I wouldn’t say that Walton means the physical universe when he says “cosmic temple”; in fact, his point is that Genesis 1 doesn’t talk about the physical universe per se at all. His point is that to the ancients, the cosmos wasn’t commonly conceived of in terms of physicality; our automatic conception of “universe” is primarily its physical dimension, but he’s saying this would have been foreign or at least secondary to the ANE world. He contends that we think of function being dependent on physical form, while the ancients viewed function as a consequence of purpose. So when God bara-d the elements of the universe, He wasn’t doing anything but commissioning them and giving them purpose; He has done this with the sun, the water, animals, people, etc. This doesn’t imply that everything He bara-s is automatically people.

    Does this clarify at all?

  • Hi Jeff,
    I wouldn’t say that Walton means the physical universe when he says “cosmic temple”; in fact, his point is that Genesis 1 doesn’t talk about the physical universe per se at all. His point is that to the ancients, the cosmos wasn’t commonly conceived of in terms of physicality; our automatic conception of “universe” is primarily its physical dimension, but he’s saying this would have been foreign or at least secondary to the ANE world. He contends that we think of function being dependent on physical form, while the ancients viewed function as a consequence of purpose. So when God bara-d the elements of the universe, He wasn’t doing anything but commissioning them and giving them purpose; He has done this with the sun, the water, animals, people, etc. This doesn’t imply that everything He bara-s is automatically people.

    Does this clarify at all?

  • Norm Voss

    Steve,

    Yes that makes sense in that God decommissioned them in the New Heavens and earth that has now been established through Christ.

    Rev 21:23 And the city HAS NO NEED OF SUN OR MOON TO SHINE ON IT, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

    Norm

  • Norm Voss

    Steve,

    Yes that makes sense in that God decommissioned them in the New Heavens and earth that has now been established through Christ.

    Rev 21:23 And the city HAS NO NEED OF SUN OR MOON TO SHINE ON IT, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

    Norm

  • Jeff and Norm,

    I emailed Dr. Walton (I suggest you do so as well — he’s always quick, concise, and courteous) regarding your question, and here’s his response:

    With regard to your friends’ question, I DO regard the cosmic temple to be the physical (but more importantly, as you indicate, the functional) cosmos, not God’s people as his temple. I regard the latter as a New Testament concept and only true after Pentecost. When I talk about God’s bara-ing of people I am only reflecting the use observable in the text. If bara refers to a creation by means of assigning functions (as I would contend), it can rightfully be applied to creation as a whole (the cosmic temple) or any part of it (in relation to its role in the cosmic temple). I hope this clarifies, but if not, come back at me.

    In a subsequent email he affirmed that my first response to Jeff above “sounds fine”.

    Super nice guy. Once again, he’s shown on more than one occasion that he’s willing to interact with people on these issues, so I’d encourage you to just ask him (being respectful of his time, of course). His email address is clearly posted on Wheaton’s site.

  • Jeff and Norm,

    I emailed Dr. Walton (I suggest you do so as well — he’s always quick, concise, and courteous) regarding your question, and here’s his response:

    With regard to your friends’ question, I DO regard the cosmic temple to be the physical (but more importantly, as you indicate, the functional) cosmos, not God’s people as his temple. I regard the latter as a New Testament concept and only true after Pentecost. When I talk about God’s bara-ing of people I am only reflecting the use observable in the text. If bara refers to a creation by means of assigning functions (as I would contend), it can rightfully be applied to creation as a whole (the cosmic temple) or any part of it (in relation to its role in the cosmic temple). I hope this clarifies, but if not, come back at me.

    In a subsequent email he affirmed that my first response to Jeff above “sounds fine”.

    Super nice guy. Once again, he’s shown on more than one occasion that he’s willing to interact with people on these issues, so I’d encourage you to just ask him (being respectful of his time, of course). His email address is clearly posted on Wheaton’s site.

  • Steve,

    Okay then, I don’t see where Walton and I significantly differ. I’m having trouble understanding your concerns.

    Blessings,

    Jeff

  • Steve,

    Okay then, I don’t see where Walton and I significantly differ. I’m having trouble understanding your concerns.

    Blessings,

    Jeff

  • Norm Voss

    Steve,

    Yes Walton is very cordial and interfaces more than most that I’m aware of. I recently interfaced with others on Scot McKnight’s forum discussing all of his propositions. I put forth some of my points there but he did not respond to any of them except once. That’s quite all right as you take what you can get recognizing he is being extremely generous in even doing that. So I’m not really inclined to invade his privacy when there had been the opportunity in open public forums to address my ideas. That is just not my style and so I am appreciative of the relationship you have with Dr. Walton to share with us some of his thoughts.

    Like Jeff though I tend to get a little confused about what you see wrong with utilizing the Preterist hermeneutic in fully investigating the Covenant understanding of Genesis through Revelation.

    Norm

  • Norm Voss

    Steve,

    Yes Walton is very cordial and interfaces more than most that I’m aware of. I recently interfaced with others on Scot McKnight’s forum discussing all of his propositions. I put forth some of my points there but he did not respond to any of them except once. That’s quite all right as you take what you can get recognizing he is being extremely generous in even doing that. So I’m not really inclined to invade his privacy when there had been the opportunity in open public forums to address my ideas. That is just not my style and so I am appreciative of the relationship you have with Dr. Walton to share with us some of his thoughts.

    Like Jeff though I tend to get a little confused about what you see wrong with utilizing the Preterist hermeneutic in fully investigating the Covenant understanding of Genesis through Revelation.

    Norm