Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 22 of 38)

0077 After noting the character of the genealogies, Gordon Wenham examines Gen 1-11, starting with the Creation Story, Gen 1:1-2:3.

Wenham sees the Creation Story as an overture to the symphony of Gen 1-11, as well as the entire Pentateuch.

On the one hand, the Creation Story departs from other written origin stories of the ancient Near East.

On the other hand, the Creation Story coheres to the literary styles of these extra-Biblical narratives.

0078 To me, the Creation Story is the only written origin story of the ancient Near East that places humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  To the ancients, the Creation Story describes God building a tent (or temple) of creation. To moderns, the Creation Story tells a progressive tale, reminiscent of evolution.  Some associate a day to an evolutionary era.  To postmoderns, the articulated structure of the Creation Story aesthetically matches the bony structure of the evolution of our world, especially when the correspondence is viewed through the three types of natural sign: icon, index and symbol.

0079 The hypothesis of the first singularity takes the implications one step further.  Humans, created in the image of God,appear in this dramatic unfolding of a narrative that artistically corresponds, in the way of signs, to the evolutionary record.  These humans correspond to Adam, before the Fall, living in paradise. The tree of life resides in Eden.

On top of that, if, as Thomists postulate, original justice defines the state of Adam before the Fall, then original justiceshould also apply as a noumenal description of the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  This is discussed in Comments on Daniel Houck’s Book (2020) “Aquinas, Original Sin and the Challenge of Evolution”, available at smashwords.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 21 of 38)

0071 Gordon Wenham begins his interpretation of Gen 1-11 with the genealogies.  The genealogies seem to be minor elements, since they do directly tell stories.  However, they are significant as a genre.

Here is the virtual nested form in the realm of possibility.

genealogy1c( insights for reader1b( Biblical witness1a))

0072 To me, the principle of genealogy1c directs the reader1b to consider the possibilities inherent in a family tradition1a.  The intended audience is the witness’s family.

0073 Wenham notices two obvious patterns.

Linear genealogies connect the generations.

Segmented genealogies make claims to territories or skills.

These topics, descent, territory and skills, must be relevant to the family.

0074 Also, there are less-obvious patterns.  The number seven stands out, starting with the six days of creation and the seventh day of rest.  Tens and twenties are also favored.

Are these relevant to the family’s pedigree, territory or skills?

In a world that is constantly and unpredictably specializing, who would be sensitive to repetitions of particular numbers?

May I guess?

The numbers have mystical significance.

What specialization might concern itself with mystical significance?

0075 I go back to the metaphor of a river, flowing through time, for the consequences of the first singularity.  Gravity is a metaphor for the actualization of the potential for labor and social specialization.  Eddies and whirlpools are metaphors for long-lived spontaneous structures, such as markets, temples and thrones.  Spontaneous structures include associations of scribes, canal builders and maintainers, farmers, warriors and the like.

A family lives within one of these long-lived whirlpools.  Each generation preserves the witness of the family through routinized stories about what the ancestors witnessed.

0076 Does that fit the definition of the term, “protohistory”?


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 20 of 38)

0068 Where does identification of genre enter into the previous diagram?

Genre introduces perspective.

Genre may serve as an ordering principle1c.

0069 Here is a picture.

0070 If I look at the virtual nested form in the realm of possibility (the column of elements in firstness), I see this:

genre1c( insights for reader1b( Biblical witness1a))

The normal context of genre1c virtually brings insights for the reader1b into relation with the potential of Biblical witness1a.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 19 of 38)

0064 In chapter two, Gordon H. Wenham views Gen 1-11 as protohistory.

He starts with the genealogies.

Even though the narratives are difficult to classify as genre, the genealogies are not.

0065 Wenham proposes a thought experiment.

Clearly, the view from within, the author’s point of view, would not assign the classifier, “genre”, to portions of the text.  The classification comes from the outside, from the reader’s point of view.

So, how does the reader, on the outside, enter the thought-world of the author, on the inside?

0066 This thought experiment associates to a two-level interscope, which is discussed in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.

For content, in the normal-context of the author’s world3a, the Biblical text2a emerges from (and situates) the potential of ‘the insider’s witness’1a.

For situation, in the normal-context of the reader’s world3b, an interpretation of the Biblical text2b emerges from (and situates) the potential of ‘insights into the revelation of what happened’1b.

0067 Here is a picture.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 18 of 38)

0060 James Hoffmeier concludes, by expressing the conviction that the entire Bible, including Genesis 1-11, intend to portray real events.  Therefore, the genre of Gen 1-11 is history and theology.

0061 These comments rely on the hypothesis of the first singularity, where a change in the way humans talk, from hand-speech to speech-alone talk, constitutes a transition so fundamental that our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

To me, this implies that the stories of Adam and Eve are fairy tales about the initiation and early development of our current Lebenswelt of unconstrained social complexity.

0062 The first singularity initiates cycles of failure, reorientation, paradigm implementation, and response to contradictions inherent in the established paradigm.  Each cycle expresses its own genre.  Each cycle lasts for 16 generations (that is, about 400 years).  Each cycle brings the Ubaid further into the rewards and losses of increasing social differentiation.

A similar spiraling appears in Gen 1-11.  For example, the stories of Cain and Abel are a little less dreamy than the stories of Adam and Eve.  Lamech’s attitude is way more arrogant than Cain’s.

0063 The primeval history serves a witness to the consequences of the first singularity.

In this sense, Hoffmeier is on target.  Gen 1-11 is history and theology.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 17 of 38)

0057 Hoffmeier considers the story of Noah’s flood.  It has a literary structure common to Semitic civilizations.  Typically, the structure goes ABCB’A’, where B’ and A’ mirror B and A.  Noah’s flood story, ABC…P…C’B’A’, contains 16 steps. 

0058 On top of that, during the past three centuries of the Age of Ideas, archaeologists unearth cuneiform-bearing clay tablets from long-buried libraries of ancient cities.  Some of the tablets tell a flood tale almost identical to the story of Noah’s flood.

0059 What does this imply, concerning the genres in Gen 1-11?To me, this implies a deep coherence between an elite Sumerian tradition and Abraham’s ancestors.  The idea is dramatically envisioned in the masterwork, An Archaeology of the Fall.  

Gen 1-11 in an insider’s tale about the rise and the fall of Sumerian civilization.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 16 of 38)

0055 Hoffmeier dwells on Genesis 6:1-4, concerning the sons of God and the daughters of men.

Literary analysis suggests that the Nephilim episode relates to Noah’s flood in the same way that the Tower of Babelrelates to Abraham’s calling.

0056 In this, both point to periods of increasing contradictions within established paradigms, the final period of a cycle… er… genre.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 15 of 38)

0051 Hoffmeier next turns to the stories, starting with Adam and Eve.

Genesis 2:10-14 places Eden in Mesopotamia during the wet Neolithic (around 7800 years ago), when four rivers enter the newly-filled Persian Gulf.

0052 To me, the stories of the Garden of Eden associate to the first singularity.

From a scientific standpoint, the first singularity starts with the appearance of a speech-alone talking culture, the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  The dynamics are discussed in The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace.  The melding of two cultures, one land-loving Neolithic and the other coast-loving Mesolithic, must have taken generations.  The routinization of pidgin, followed by its transformation into a fully linguistic creole, requires more than one generation.

0053 Yet, as typical of fairy tales, the names of actual people get entangled in memories of what happened.  Clearly, something happened.  It happened to real people.

0054 The artistry of the Stories of Adam and Eve is remarkable, especially when the nature of the first singularity is not disregarded.

For example, a talking serpent, who suddenly appears in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and ends up crawling on the ground like a snake named “Desire”, testifies to the character of the transition.  The serpent has no hands.  It cannot talk in hand-speech talk.  It can only perform speech-alone talk.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 14 of 38)

0047 How do Hoffmeier’s first two genres, legend and myth, fit into this idea of the confluence of cycles and genres?

Legends associate to distant cycles.

Myths go with recent cycles.

0048 It is like a river.  Legends are like the uniform flow of water.  Myths are like the waterfalls and eddies.  Legends move under the pull of archetypes, just like water uniformly moves according to gravity.  Myths are like whirlpools and turbulence, generated by the landscape beneath the stream.

The metaphor is water.  The flow of genre is the thing itself, moving through time from the first singularity.

0049 Hoffmeier’s third genre is family history.

The Genesis phrase, “these are the generations”, seems to be an organizational marker.  The genealogies are a genre that imply a period of continuity, as expected when a cycle, or a suite of cycles, proceeds.

0050 The start of Ubaid to the end of Ur III spans nine cycles.

On the one hand, the primeval history does not delineate them all.

On the other hand, the genealogies in the primeval history express how cyclesfeel, especially from the point of view of a family holding together within southern Mesopotamia, for thousands of years.


Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 13 of 38)

0043 Hoffmeier mentions a pattern, discerned by David Clines, of sin, divine speech, mitigation and punishment.  This pattern is encapsulated in the Story of the Fall.  The pattern repeats over and over in Gen 1-11.

I naturalize this pattern as failurereorientationparadigm implementation and coping with contradictions inherent in established paradigm.

This describes a cycle.

Does this cycle last for four generations of four generations (that is, around 400 years)?

0044 If so, then here is my guess.

Within each cycle, one genre predominates.

I can call each cycle a genre or a denkstyle.

0045 If this guess makes sense, then there may be nine genres in Gen 1-11, corresponding to nine cycles from the start of the Ubaid to the end of Ur III.

Here is a picture.

0046 There are three cycles between the start of Ubaid and its first expansion into northern Mesopotamia.

One cycle to the start of the Uruk.

Two cycles to right before the Sumerian Dynastic.

Then, three cycles to the twilight of Ur III, when the Sumerian language is no longer spoken.