01/13/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 1 of 16)

0001 Mark S. Smith is a theologian in the Catholic tradition.  He writes a book that is equally weighted between text and endnotes.  The text ends at the center of the bound volume. The endnotes begin at the center of the bound volume.  Smith sends a message.  At the very center, there is a gap.  The gap is between the text and the endnotes.  Does the text write the endnotes?  Or, do the endnotes write the text?

The full title of the book is The Genesis of Good and Evil: The Fall(out) and Original Sin in the Bible.  It is published by Westminster John Knox Press, in Louisville, Kentucky.

0002 A scholarly introduction sets the tone.  This work is not about the Bible.  This book is about scripture.  Nowhere in the Bible, does anyone say the word, “Bible”.  Instead, people in the Bible say, “scripture”, all the time.  So, their scope (or cultural impress at the time) includes Jewish scripture.  Only a retrospective reading, by Christians, years after the gospels are added to the Jewish scripture, allows the use of the word, “Bible”, which comes from the Greek, “biblos”, denoting a collection of manuscripts.  The Bible, at its heart, binds two books, which we now call the Old and New Testaments.

0003 How scholarly is that?

12/24/21

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

0136 The historicity of Gen 1-11 is hotly contested, despite that fact that the literature of the ancient Near East offers similar narratives.

Gen 1-11 is a special example of the literature of the ancient Near East.

Why?

It survives within a living tradition.

0137 Today, in the twilight of the Age of Ideasthe hypothesis of the first singularity adds a new wrinkle to the proceedings.

Okay, it pulls the rug out from under the contest.

Why?

Gen 1-11 offers an insider’s view to the start of our current Lebenswelt, our simultaneously uplifting and falling world of unconstrained social complexity.

0138 God’s Word2athe stuff of grace, percolates upwards, through the sensible classification of genre2b, and enters into the stuff of nature, a scientific hypothesis concerning the evolutionarily-recent potentiation of unconstrained social complexity2c.

0139 This hypothesis touches base with Saint Paul’s intuition.  Adam connects to the entire civilized worldour current Lebenswelt, the world of unconstrained social complexity and the world of speech-alone talk.  Today, no culture is untouched by the wealth and power of civilizations.

0140 Perhaps, the North American Plains Indians and the Australian Aborigines are the last viable cultures to lose the hand component of their hand-speech talk.

Is it a coincidence that the first singularity completes at the same time that our awareness of the first singularity begins?

Our theodrama begins with Adam.

12/23/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 37 of 38)

0131 The book concludes with a short chapter titled, “We Disagree. Now What?

0132 What is the nature of Gen 1-11?

In this examination, I suggest that genres may correspond to cycles of history.

For example, the last four hundred years of the Latin Age discusses the world in the genre of Aristotle (and Aquinas).  The four hundred years of the Age of Ideas works in the genre of empirio-schematics.  The upcoming Age of Triadic Relationswill discourse using diagrams of triadic relations, such as signs, category-based nested forms, judgments and so on.

Roughly, a genre and a cycle lasts for four hundred years, consisting in four turnings of four generations.

0133 Nine cycles pass between the start of the Ubaid (associated with Adam) and the end of Ur III (associated to Abraham).

Gen 1-11 does not neatly designate nine genres.  But, it offers an image of spiraling developments, culminating in two great disasters: Noah’s flood and the confounding of the language with the Tower of Babel.   The first associates to the Uruk period.  The latter associates to the end of Ur III, when Sumerian becomes a dead language.

0134 Professor James Hoffmeier sees Gen 1-11 as history and theology.

Gordon Wenham views Gen 1-11 as protohistory.

Kenton Sparks envisions Gen 1-11 as ancient historiography, which electrically jumps to a humorous sound-alike, histriography.

0135 All these conclusions are drawn without awareness of a scientific hypothesis that changes the grounds of inquiry: the first singularity.

12/22/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 36 of 38)

0128 Kenton Sparks adds one more actor responsible for putting the Pentateuch into final form.  The editor does not care whether the diverse genres mesh together smoothly.  Why?  The jumble of genres is intrinsic to the authentic unfolding of God’s covenant.

Sparks calls this editor, “an Ethnic Anthologist”.

0129 Does that make the genre of the Pentateuch an ethnic anthology?

If so, then we have an answer to why Paul calls Jesus, “the New Adam”.

0130 Paul funnels the entire Jewish tradition back through David, Moses, Abraham and Noah.  Paul goes all the way back to Adam.

He does not know that Adam associates to the first singularity.

He does not know that the first singularity defines our current Lebenswelt.

Yet, he intuitively knows that Adam connects the Jewish witness to all humanity.

12/21/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 35 of 38)

0123 Sparks pictures the Biblical authors working during and after the Babylonian Exile.  They weave oral and written traditions into one text.  The creation myth in Genesis 2-3 is put together by the Antiquarian.  The Genesis 1 Creation Story is scripted by the Apologist.

Neither is aware of Adapa’s encounter with Ea.  Neither is aware that a tale of the earliest Mesopotamian sage is buried in some hill out there, in the desert.  Why?  The Antiquarian and Apologist labor for living traditions.  What do they know about traditions dead for thousands of years?

0124 Indeed, the same character in An Archaeology of the Fall, articulates the implications.

Adapa belongs to a long-forgotten civilization, rejected by Abraham, when he turned away from his own family’s elite tradition, and set off on his own.

0125 Talk about histriography.

Abraham walks away from a dying Sumerian civilization, the civilization that enveloped his family tradition, without destroying it, all the way back to the beginning.

0126 Talk about historiography.

The Sumerian language is unrelated to any family of languages.  Why?  It is a creole.  It is the first language practicing speech-alone talk.  The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia develops increasing labor and social specializations and blossoms, after thousands of years, into the Sumerian Dynastic.  Here is the first beautiful, wonderful, inspiring, corrupt, monstrous and loathsome civilization to flower in our current Lebenswelt.

0127 Gen 1-11 is absolutely incredible.

So is the hypothesis of the first singularity.

12/20/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 34 of 38)

0118 Sparks identifies three stage managers… er… authors to Gen 1-11.  These “authors” may represent intergenerational traditions.  They also may be individuals at the time when the Pentateuch is formally assembled.

The first is the Antiquarian Theologian, who is responsible for the genealogies in chapters four and eleven.

The second is the Ethnic Apologist, who constructs the genealogies in chapters five and ten.

0119 What do these authors add up to? 

The segmented genealogies in the primeval history account for the cultural origins of Israel.

The linear genealogies distinguish the identity of Adam’s tradition from other traditions in southern Mesopotamia.

0120 Can that be all?

Surely, this contributes to the histriography of Gen 1-11.

But, says nothing about the historiography of southern Mesopotamia.

0121 The literature of the ancient Near East anchors the histriography of Gen 1-11 to the historiography of southern Mesopotamia.

One of the characters in An Archaeology of the Fall offers a resolution.  Gen 1-11 associates to a family tradition within the temple tradition of the developing Sumerian civilization.

Seth’s family is capable of maintaining its own traditions, related to, yet, at times, critical of the work of the temple.

0122 For example, Sparks compares the story of Adam in Eden with a tale of the early Mesopotamian sage, Adapa.  Both Adam and Adapa reject an offer from a divine being, thereby ruining their opportunities for an immortal destiny.

12/17/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 33 of 38)

0116 What are some of the implications of the previous figure?

Allow me to add two nuances

Genesis 1-111a is the Word of God1a.

The hypothesis of the first singularity1c belongs to scientific knowing2c.

0117 It’s a little busy.  It recalls the controversy mentioned at the start of this blog. It implies that Gen 1-111a is a gift from God that allows us to ideate a perspective that we otherwise never would discern1c

12/16/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 32 of 38)

0114 Here is a picture of how the hypothesis of the first singularity might frame Gen 1-11 as historiography, while at the same time, Gen 1-11 dramatizes scientific knowing through its own being, its histriography.

0115 Interpretation2b integrates civilizational events and insider witness. 

12/15/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 31 of 38)

0111 The word, “histrionics”, comes from the Latin word, “histrio“, for actor.  “Histrionics” covers everything high maintenance about the theater.

The word, “historiography”, comes from the Latin word, “histor“, for knowing.  “Historiography” is a map (graphic) of knowing.  Today, it refers to the art of writing history.

0112 Sparks plays this game for the word, “genre”, and arrives at a note of caution: histriography (a map of theatrical events) is not the same as historiography (a knowledgeable map of history).

0113 But, where is the knowing when it comes to ancient history?

Wasn’t everyone in the West surprised at the realization that Gen 1-11 is not plainly historical?  Plus, it has a lot in common with the origin literature of the ancient Near East.

Is there a genre that hybridizes histriography and historiography?

Maybe, we may need to figure out a new label.

12/14/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 30 of 38)

0107 In chapter three, Biblical scholar Kenton Sparks offers another term for the genre of Gen 1-11: ancient historiography.

Because it is ancient, Gen 1-11 cannot yield dependable history or modern science.

Because it is historiography, history is graphed out as images.

Are those images fictional?

0108 Sparks has no interest in discussing the relationship between Gen 1-11 and science.

Perhaps, that stance will change once the hypothesis of the first singularity lands on his desk.

0109 It may be that the evangelicals who teach Gen 1-11 as scientifically and historically accurate may be on target, but in ways they never imagined.

Yes, Gen 1-11 is a histriography, a map of the histrionics of the Ubaid developing and suffering from unconstrained social complexity.

0110 Histrionics?

Forgive me the pun.

Just look at our Zeitgeist today.  The Age of Ideas ends.  The Age of Triadic Relations begins.  Histrionics fills the air.  I mean… the air-waves.

So, in addition to a historiography, Gen 1-11 is a histriography.