Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 10 of 22)

0088 What is proposition nine?

The formation of Adam and Eve at the start of the Primeval History as a lot in common with other origin stories of the ancient Near East.

In short, they all are archetypal.

0089 I have already noted that the archetype works as a hylomorphe.  “Arche-” means “original”. “-Type” means “imprint”.  The contiguity is both individual and all.

The wordplay in Genesis is instructive.  There are two real elements, a person (“Adam”) and all humans (“adam”).  But, once “Adam” is created, then “adam” is not simply all humans.  “Adam” is us, humans in our current Lebenswelt.

Here is a picture.

Figure 24

0090 “Us” means “all of us” means “all humans in our current Lebenswelt”.

Once Adam and Eve leave the Garden of Eden, there is no going back.

Similarly, once a culture adopts speech-alone talk, then they travel a one-way street to our current Lebenswelt.

This includes the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia, the first culture to practice speech-alone talk.

0091 The stories of Adam and Eve begin with a second creation of humans.  This second creation is recent.  There is no indication (except in the prior Creation Story) of humans living prior to the second creation.  Perhaps, in the Garden of Eden, there are clues to a deep past.  But, the storyteller cannot see past the first singularity.  The storyteller cannot envision the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

0092 Walton considers eleven literary works from the ancient Near East.  They appear on cuneiform tablets, as noted earlier.  These works come from Sumer, Akkad and Egypt.  Each tells the origin of humans.

They all have one feature in common.  They cannot see far back in time.  The creation of humans is a recent affair, performed by fully differentiated gods, often using tools in an organizational framework.  For example, some stories tell of humans springing like plants from the soil.

0093 Why do all the origin stories of the ancient Near East, including the Primeval History in Genesis, portray a recent creation of humans?

Such is the nature of the first singularity.

Once a hand-speech talking culture adopts speech-alone talk, or comes into contact with a culture practicing speech-alone talk, it tends to drop the hand-component of its hand-speech talk.  The semiotic qualities of speech-alone talk are radically different than hand-talk, so cultural memories held in hand-speech talk traditions are soon forgotten.  It only takes a few generations.

0094 The Ubaid loses its memory of the cultures that fused to create it.  Similarly, the Akkadians and the Egyptians, early adopters of speech-alone talk, cannot remember their once-timeless hand-speech talk traditions.  Those old traditions don’t make sense. They don’t translate into speech-alone talk.  So, features are dreamily re-configured in order to depict what must have happened.

Why does the name of the Egyptian wise man, “Adapa”, sound like the name of the first human in Genesis, “Adam”?  There are many weird coincidences between the eleven origin stories that Walton discusses and the stories in Genesis 1-11.  These coincidences point to fluid conditions, where storytellers attempt to codify events and processes that are (1) evolutionarily recent, (2) unpredictably novel and (3) utterly confounding.

Speech-alone talk potentiates unconstrained social complexity.  Labor and social specialization spontaneously manifest, for no apparent reason.  Innovations cannot be rationalized, so they must be gifts from the gods.  What human, in right mind, would invent the wheel or writing or irrigation or ziggurats?  They are all spontaneously created as speech-alone words produce artifacts and the produced artifacts validate the meanings of the spoken words.  How crazy is that?  Er… I should ask… how stable is that?

0095 In contrast, the hand-speech talking cultures of the North American Plains Indians and the Australian Aborigineshave memories in deep time.  The dance circles and the dreamtime are timeless hand-speech talk traditions.

But, like all previous hand-speech talking cultures who encounter civilization, these cultures are rapidly losing the hand-component of their hand-speech talk.  These cultures are adopting speech-alone talk.  They are now immersed in speech-alone talking civilizations, whose members imagine that, because they are wealthier (labor specialization) and more powerful (social specialization), they represent a superior way of life.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 11 of 22)

0096 What is proposition ten?

The New Testament addresses Adam and Eve as archetypes.

0097 Five passages in the New Testament explicitly mention Adam and Eve.

0098 In Luke 3, Adam is an individual, the founder of the line of Seth, that leads into the line of Noah, then the line of Abraham, then the line of David.

0099 In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians and the Romans, Adam is both an individual and all of us.  The contiguity, however, is now entangled in fallenness.  Fallen Adam is the original.  Fallen us is the imprint.

Figure 25

0100 Even though this hylomorphe has the structure of an archetype, the qualifier of “fallen” specifies the archetype as a primordial image.  The individuality of Adam becomes far more important.  The all-ness of the fall becomes far more real.  This raises the question of the historical Adam.  This also raises the question of how the fall is transmitted from Adam to all of us


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 12 of 22)

0101 What is proposition 11?

Adam and Eve are both archetypal and real people who lived in the past.

This proposition follows from both the archetype as hylomorphe and the fall as a condition.  If Adam is the original fallen one, and if we are the imprint of Adam’s fallenness, then we wonder, “How could this have happened?”

The contiguity, [individual, all], does not seem adequate.

So, how does the hylomorphe work?

0102 Paul does not completely escape this issue, since he raises the question of conditions between Adam and Moses in Romans 5.  He seems to answer that the hylomorphe works because Adam broke God’s explicit commandment and this infraction establishes that God has explicit commandments, whether we are aware of them or not.  Thinkers in the Second Temple Period wrestle with these questions, I suppose, because the Jewish establishment is heavily invested in elucidating and proclaiming commandments found in the Pentateuch and proposing (or offering) ways around them (if you get my drift).  If there are 600 commandments to be found, then certainly their (often illiterate) clients do not know them.

0103 Three hundred years later, Saint Augustine comes up with a far better way to explain the contiguity between fallen Adam and fallen us.  We are directly descended from Adam and Eve.  Unlike Paul’s solution, Augustine’s explanation turns out to be fully scientific, because it is fully debunked by the discipline of genetics seventeen centuries later.

Walton says that genetics debunking Augustine’s proposal is irrelevant, since Adam and Eve are archetypes.  However, as noted above, Adam may be archetypal without raising scientific questions, but when fallen Adam is archetypal, scientific questions cannot be avoided.

0104 Happily, another solution comes from (what I jokingly call) Augustine’s corrected proposal, which provides a parallel hylomorphe in the field of science.

Figure 26

0105 To me, Augustine’s corrected proposal is to be preferred to Walton’s waving the word, “archetype”, all over the place.

0106 In order to shore up his argument ,Walton presents an example of another biblical figure who is archetypal and a real person in history.

Paul discusses Mechizedek in Hebrew 5-7.  He mixes information about Melchizedek in Genesis 14rhetoric about Melchizedek as a theological-political prototype of Jerusalem-based rulership, and speculative Jewish theology.  He presents Melchizedek as an archetype for Christ as priest and king

Here is a picture.

Figure 27

0107 Yes, Walton’s argument about Melchizedek and archetype works.

So, this where Walton takes his readers.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 13 of 22)

0108 What is proposition 12?

Adam is created to be a priest in a sacred space.  Eve is created to be Adam’s helper.

0109 Yes, Walton capitalizes on his success in applying the archetype to Melchizedek.

However, Walton is not aware of the hypothesis of the first singularity.

0110 Here is a comparison of two hylomorphes, one biblical and one scientific.

Figure 28

0111 This comparison turns Walton’s thesis on its head.  The world of Adam and Eve is not lost.  The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is.

Adam and Eve are memorialized as a fairy tale, placed in Scripture because it has been part of the Jewish tradition for as long as anyone can remember.  Even longer!

0112 The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the site where speech-alone talk unconstrains social complexity.  Two hand-speech talking Neolithic cultures coalesce, driven together by the rising waters of the Persian Gulf.  The result is a speech-alone talk creole, with radically different semiotic properties than hand-speech talk.  It is no accident that the Sumerian language is unrelated to any family of languages.

We know that purely symbolic speech-alone talk potentiates unconstrained social complexity.  Plus, we know that complexity may build or self-destruct.  There is no way for us to know what really happened.  We only are certain that, today, all civilizations practice speech-alone talk.

0113 Walton’s treatment of the stories of Adam and Eve suddenly have relevance, in a way hitherto unimagined.

0114 Now, I get technical.

Speech-alone talk consists of two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole (speech act) and langue (associated mental act).  We think that we can define a spoken word.  We cannot.  We can only project meaning, presence and message into that word.  So, we project langue into parole.  When we hear someone utter that parole, our projections are confirmed.

01151 What does this imply?

Each spoken word is a placeholder in a system of differences.

Spoken words can be regarded in terms of diagrammatic systems of differences, such as the Greimas square, pictured here.

Figure 29

0116 Walton says that Adam and Eve are “priests” in a sacred space.

So, the focal word, A, is “priest”.

The contrast word, B, is “king”.

The opposition to B and complement to A, C, must have something do to with running the garden.  Yes, a priest or king could name the animals and fall in love with Eve, but what about that commandment?  A priest follows God’s commandments.  A king is sovereign.  A king makes the rules.

So C, the contradiction to B and complement to A, is “someone who follows the rules”.

And D, the contrast to C, the opposition to A and the complement of B, is “someone who makes the rules”.

Here is a picture.

Figure 30

0117 Besides showing that the Greimas square is a powerful tool, the challenge posed by God’s commandment not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil becomes more palpable.  Adam can be priest, but not king.

Now, Walton does not know this.  Walton does not know that the hypothesis of the first singularity changes the waters below his discussion.

0118 This brings me back to Melchizedek.

In the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, hand-speech talk can not fully differentiate the roles of priest and king.

However, hand-speech can easily denote someone who is both priest and king.  For example, in tribal gatherings, carrying the laurel branch may designate what we would call, both “priest” and “king”.  One can picture and point to the laurel branch and the one carrying the laurel branch.

In hand-speech talk, the referent defines the gestural word (parole) and the result (langue) is an intuitive awareness of the referent’s matter and form.  For the one carrying the laurel branch, what we call “priest” corresponds to esse_ce and what we call “king” corresponds to essence.

0119 In Genesis 14, Abram pays tribute to someone who transcends the differentiation of the roles of priest and king.

Here is a picture.

Figure 31

Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 14 of 22)

0120 Proposition thirteen?

The account of the Fall is shaped by the broader cognitive environment of which Israel is part.

Israel’s account is full of profound differences and quizzical similarities to the origin stories of the ancient Near East.

0121 Walton considers the motif of trees in sacred spaces in Genesis 2.4-4 and in extrabiblical stories of the ancient Near East.  He wrestles with the literary nature of the texts, the theological significance of the stories, as well as the civilizational background, which ties back to the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.

Walton does not know of the hypothesis of the first singularity.  Walton is not aware that the Ubaid is the first culture to practice speech-alone talk.  He does not know that spoken words form systems of differences, so words may be regarded as placeholders in a symbolic order.  

0122 As noted earlier, the Greimas square is one way to tease out the system of differences holding any particular word in place.

The Greimas square suggests that there should be four trees, as shown below.

Figure 32

0123 Two trees are missing, the tree of death (B) and the tree of innocence (C).

This is not a new idea, consider Looking at Mark Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil”, appearing in January 2022 in the blog at www.raziemah.com.

0124 Walton calls the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “the tree of wisdom”.

If that is so, why not call the tree, “the tree of wisdom”, in the first place?

Clearly, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not wisdom.

It is humiliation.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 15 of 22)

0125 What is proposition fourteen?

From the point of view of the ancient Near East, the Genesis serpent would be a chaos creature.

0126 Here is a question raised by a dead pharaoh.

How should I handle a snake while on my migration back to the source?

The pyramid texts of Egypt offer an answer.

Tell it to lie down.

0127 On the one hand, the serpent in Genesis has no legs.  As the saying goes, “It doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”

On the other hand, the serpent has no hands or arms.  Consequently, it cannot communicate in hand talk.  It must practice speech-alone talk.

0128 Isn’t that a coincidence?

The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia is the first culture to practice speech-alone talk.

The Ubaid stands at the threshold of our current Lebenswelt.

0129 The serpent talks like a lawyer.  The serpent is subtle, wily, cunning, shrewd and calculating.  The serpent does not lie.  The serpent fashions his spoken words so they lie for him.  How many careers are built on that expertise?

0130 The serpent may be more than a chaos creature.  The serpent may serve as a metaphor for any person who makes a living by speech-alone.

0131 This job is never open in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, since hand talk (and for humans, hand-speech talk) is grounded in the natural signs of icons and indexes.  Hand-speech words are always regarded as obvious, since they picture and point to their referents.  There is no opportunity to make a living by stating the obvious.

0132 In our current Lebenswelt, spoken words are not so obvious.  So, many can make a living out of turning practical molehills into rhetorical mountains.  Serpents are everywhere.  Today, the easiest way to encounter them is to watch corporate television, especially the channel of the Syndicated Noble Alliance of Kind Experts (SNAKE).  Some call this dragon, the Confusing Common People channel.

0133 Here is a hylomorphe, in case you are drawn into the… um… temptation to engage.

Figure 33

0134 At this point, Walton’s humble portrait takes on a different hue.

Do the early chapters of Genesis offer an insider’s view of the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia?

Is the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia one of the most fascinating historical periods?

0135 Science knows what happens.  The villages of the Ubaid consolidate around 0 U0′.  The town-chiefdoms of the Uruk are clearly present around 1800 U0′.  Then, the Sumerian Dynastic starts around 2800 U0′. Each archeological period is more “advanced” than the preceding one.

Furthermore, the hypothesis of the first singularity proposes that the adoption of speech-alone talk by the Ubaidpotentiates unconstrained social complexity.

0136 But, that is all that science can say.

It cannot tell how the drama plays out from the inside.

Genesis 1-11 tells us.

From the inside, it is theodrama, from start to finish.

0137 Genesis 1-11 covers all three archaeological periods, not from the outside, but from the inside.  Adam and Eve point to the Ubaid. Noah’s flood points to the Uruk, where there is a break in one of the famous king lists.  The tower of Babel addresses the Sumerian Dynastic.

0138 The serpent is more than a chaos creature.

The serpent is a player in the theodrama of our current Lebenswelt.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 16 of 22)

0139 Proposition fifteen?

Adam and Eve admit disorder into the cosmos, by choosing to make themselves the center of their… um… universe.

Proposition sixteen?

We currently dwell in a world of non-order, order and disorder.

0140 John Walton pursues a plain-speaking question.

What is the cultural, literary and theological context of the text of Genesis, the lost world of Adam and Eve?

0141 The world of Adam and Eve is lost in three ways.

0142 First, the world of Genesis 2.4-11 is buried, literally.

The Ubaid, Uruk and Sumerian Dynastic periods are revealed through archaeological excavations.  Archaeologists systematically excavate tells (hills) in the Middle East.  Often, they purchase ancient objects found during fly-by-night excavations.  Either way, perhaps a million cuneiform tablets (written on clay, fired into brick) have been uncovered.  A few of these tables contain stories that are very similar (yet, at the same time, very different) to the biblical stories.

0143 Second, the world of the stories of Adam and Eve is remembered, by rote, for thousands of years in a living tradition.  Not a word of Scripture can be changed, because that would be a violation of the written text.  Prior to that, not a word of the oral tradition holding the Genesis stories could be changed, because someone would notice.

However, what the words are really describing, passes into a blank screen.  That is the nature of speech-alone words.  We project meanings, presences, and messages into spoken words.  What happens when we forget the original potentials?   The writers of the Second Temple Period wrestle with such loss.

0144 Third, the world of Adam and Eve sinks into the chaos of the world outside of the Garden of Eden.

According to Walton, the Garden is a priestly realm of Edenic order.  The serpent is an agent of chaos.  The created pair, fashioned out of dust and rib, choose to make themselves into the masters of this divinely-appointed order.

0145 Walton calls the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “the tree of wisdom”.

What does that imply?

Do Adam and Eve pluck the fruit of that tree because they see it as a source of wisdom?

Or is something else going on?

0146 Ironically, that fruit turns out to be a claim to ownership of a previously established order.

Indeed, Eve consults the serpent, who obviously makes its living through speech-alone talk, about the consequences of eating from “the tree of wisdom”.  The serpent does not mention the downside.  The serpent does not say that current accommodations will be lost.

The serpent suggests, “The wisdom from this tree is your opportunity to take control of this joint.”

Is that what Eve wants to hear?

The scenario is even worse.

The serpent suggests, “The fruit of this tree will make you as smart as the founder, the one who set up the rules in the first place, and you will be the one who defines good and evil.”

For Eve, the deal sounds even better.

0147 Unbeknownst to Walton, the hypothesis of the first singularity asks us to look at this scenario as an insight into the way that our current Lebenswelt works, straight from the beginning.

It asks us to see how lessons from these stories apply to our own Lebenswelt.

Social systems carry the wisdom of prior generations.  These social systems are framed in spoken words.  These words lose their meanings, presences and messages as the current generations game the system.  Then, the social systems do not make sense, because they cannot deliver order, because they’ve been gamed, by people who make their living only through speech-alone talk.  Future generations seek consultants, who offer fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  People fall in love with empty promises.  Then, the systems fail and order is truly lost.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 17 of 22)

0148 What is proposition seventeen?

Adam and Eve bring disorder into the world.

Disorder opens the door to sin and death.

0149 Walton admits that no one has figured out why sin is particular to each of us, universal to all of us together, and radical in its expression.

He raises the topic of original sin.

 0150 How can we all be subject to original sin?

Walton argues that sin and death enters the world with Adam and Eve when the founding pair is held accountable.  Accountability is the key.  Adam and Eve break the law.  Then, God holds them accountable.  They are evicted from the premises.

0151 Does this argument contribute to an insider’s noumenal experience, associated to the phenomena of speech-alone talk?

0152 First, there is an order, divinely ordained, for Adam and Eve take for granted.  Within this order, there is one rule.  Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Can the same be said for every budding order within the Ubaid, Uruk and Sumerian Dynastic?

The grounding command is bound to a contradiction, “for on the day that you eat of it, you will die.”

Does that mean that “wisdom” kills?

0153 The question does not make much sense, because the wisdom of God is the fruit of experience.  Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  What fear do Adam and Eve display?  They seem to feel entitled.  Eve has so little fear, that she is in touch with the serpent.  I suspect that she is ready to take over the place.  Eden is nice.  But, Eve can do better.  If only she had the… um… correct expertise.

0154 Neither Adam nor Eve think that they will be held accountable.

0155 So, Walton (who is following Paul on this) offers a basic insight into our current Lebenswelt.

Watch out for people who think that they will never be held into account.

0156 Now, this makes me suspect that Walton’s focus on order and disorder is not enough.

Accountability is more than order.  Accountability demands honesty.

Why do I say this?

Most people who think that they will never be held into account are not exactly honest.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 18 of 22)

0157 What is proposition eighteen?

Jesus is the cornerstone of God’s plan.

The issue is not only order and disorder.

The issue is also truth and deception.

Accountability results in order.

Accountability demands truth.

0158 Jesus is crucified by a Roman regime fixated on order and a Jewish regime fixated on its ownership of the “truth”.  Pontius Pilate testifies to the Roman fixation by placing a placard on the cross, saying, “King of the Jews”.  The Jewish religious elite testify to their fixation by complaining that the placard should read, “He says that he is the king of the Jews”.

0159 It is no irony that Walton follows with a discussion of the Tower of Babel.

The Tower of Babel paints a picture of the end of a cycle of settling, gaming, and going insane.  The city is settled.  It is so rich that it is full of games.  Lots of people make their living using speech-alone talk.  They hit upon a vision.  The city drains its finances in the single-minded pursuit of making a name for itself.

They start of build a ziggurat, a tower to the heavens.  This requires experts.  The experts are so specialized that one specialty does not really understand what the other specialties are doing.  On top of that, the planners speak one tongue and the laborers speak another.  Imagine the graft!  The project ends in disaster.  The elites do not think that they will be held accountable.  Eventually, they are, especially when God says, “Enough”.

0160 Surely, this sounds familiar to Americans in 2022.

0161 In the telling, Walton makes a notable connection.  The ziggurat is designed to allow the city deity to descend from the heavens to the earth.  The city god descends down the ziggurat then enters the adjacent temple.  Often, the temple has a garden.

So, the ziggurat is the stairway down to the city god’s little Eden, the center of order of the entire urban region.

0162 Clearly, these are the plans of people, not of God.

The confounding of the languages turns out to be God’s response.


Looking at John Walton’s Book (2015) “The Lost World of Adam and Eve” (Part 19 of 22)

0163 What is proposition nineteen?

Paul does not mention Adam in terms of human origins in his letters to the Romans and the Corinthians.  He is interested in the effect of sin on the cosmos, as well as on humanity.

0164 Certain questions arise when we read Paul in our age of modern science.  We are curious about Adam as a source, a literal founder, and how his founding entangles all of us.

0165 If Adam is a founder, then what does Adam find?

Adam finds that he is held into account for his deeds.

This keys into the hypothesis of the first singularity, as shown below.

Figure 34

0166 If Paul does not know about the first singularity, then what is Paul talking about?

Walton hands the question to N.T. Wright, a scholar studying the words of Paul for a very long time.

0167 Wright writes that Adam has a vocation.  God calls Adam to do something.  The Garden of Eden is sacred space.   Adam is to minister to the garden.  So is Eve.  The Garden is God’s kingdom.

0168 To me, Genesis 2.4-3 is not about creating humans per se.  It is about creating humans anew.  Adam and Eve are literally born again, as far as human evolution goes.

Wright illuminates core questions in the scientific hypothesis of the first singularity (even though he is not aware of the hypothesis at the time of writing).

0169 The Ubaid is the first culture to practice speech-alone talk.  It expects to live like the surrounding cultures, which practice hand-speech talk.  They do not know that speech-alone talk potentiates unconstrained social complexity.  They just muddle along with spontaneous manifestations of greater and greater labor and social specializations.

The problem?

Each specialization takes on a life and a “language” of its own.  Each specialization orders work and society in its own way.  Ubaid folk try to maintain their traditions, but they are constantly faced with spontaneous innovations and changes.

0170 Ubaid folk are challenged, over and over again, with two questions.  How do we establish and maintain order?  What is real and what is not real?  Like the people of the Ubaid, Adam and Eve have no clue as to what they are up against.