0180 If David Graeber and David Wengrow’s recent book, subtitled, A New History of Humanity, is a breakthrough in postmodern anthropology, then it is so because it displays a semitic textual structure, instead of a greek textual structure.
These two styles are discussed in An Instructor’s Guide to An Archaeology of the Fall. Rather than eliminating possibilities in order to arrive at the most likely correct interpretation, these authors play literary tricks, coupling chapters one and twelve, A:A’, chapters two and eleven, B:B’, and chapters three through nine and chapter ten, C:C’.
0182 The semitic structure is A:B:C:C’:B’:A’. In Comments on David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Book (2021) The Dawn of Everything (by Razie Mah, available and smashwords and other e-book venues), the work is discussed in the pattern A:A’, B:B’ and C:C’. Notably, the bulk of the book covers the last layer, C:C’, and balances seven chapters (three through nine, C) against one chapter (ten, C’). Chapter ten is twice as long as any other chapter.
0183 Plus, chapter ten stands on its own, allowing me to place an examination in Razie Mah’s blog, with the title Looking at David Graeber and David Wengrow’s Chapter (2021) “Why The State Has No Origin”. If the reader first encounters the blog, the commentary is available. If the reader first purchases the commentary, then the reader can call the blog to the attention of others.
0255 Graeber and Wengrow’s exploration of the dawn of everything ends with a cruel joke.
The “state”2b, as defined by social science, cannot indirectly emerge from (and situate) righteousness1aC, while, at the same time, manifesting the characteristics of “domination”2a.
So, how is the contemporary left’s dream of achieving the virtues of liberty, equality and fraternity through the apparatus of the state2b going to work?
Thus ends the third layer, C:C’, of the author’s wide-ranging exercise in the semitic textual style. The Dawn of Everythingis contemporary postmodern social science at its finest. The authors start by searching for the origins of social inequality. They end with the promise of a new history of humanity.
These authors do not know what they do not know. But they do suspect this…
0256 …A new history of the world awaits. There is a new way to describe the dawn of everything, where “everything” corresponds to “our current Lebenswelt”.
Yet, their explorations play out as a dark joke, almost as cruel as the joke that, long ago, a talking serpent plays on a naive young woman.
My thanks to the authors. My condolences as well, on more than one level.
These comments provide views that dramatically re-present the vistas intimated in David Graeber and David Wengrow’s book. Welcome to a new age of understanding: The Age of Triadic Relations.
0001 The overview under consideration appears in 2005 in the Journal of Creation (volume 19(3), pages 14-20).
The article is attractive because it considers affirmations and denials that appear in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, published in 1978 in J. Evangelical Theological Society (volume 21(4), pages 289-296).
0002 The author of the article, Andrew S. Kulikovsky, earned a Bachelors of Applied Science (in Computer and Information Science) from the University of South Australia, then a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies and Theology from Louisiana Baptist University. His Master’s thesis was on biblical theology of creation. At the time that his overview was published, he worked for his law degree at Deakin University, Melbourne Australia.
Single quotes and italics are used to group words together.
0003 Kulikovsky starts his brief overview, titled “The Bible and hermeneutics”, with the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.
0004 But, before entering that first section, I must wonder, “What is ‘hermeneutics’?”
In dictionaries, the term signifies the formal process by which an interpreter derives the author’s intended meaning.
0005 In terms of the category-based nested form, there are two actualities in hermeneutics. One actuality virtually situates the other.
The text itself2a emerges from (and situates) the potential of the author’s intended meaning1a in the normal context of writing3a. An interpretation2b virtually situates that text.
An interpretation2b emerges from and situates the potential of the text and a hermeneutical process1b in the normal context of proper reading3b.
0006 The following relational structure is called a two-level interscope. Two-level interscopes are typical for sensible construction, according to A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.
0007 The text2a in question is the Bible, particularly Genesis 1-2.3, the Creation Story, and Genesis 2.4-11, the Primeval History.
0008 I now move to the section on biblical inerrancy.
Kulikovsky recounts articles nine and twelve of the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. The following table does not report the complete affirmations and denials. These are in the overview. However, I hope they are close enough.
Here is a table.
0009 Even though these statements mention the contrast between hermeneutics and scientific narrative, the focus is on the contrast between true and false (Article XII) and honesty and deception (Article IX).
The Evangelical Theological Society affirms that Genesis is true. Plus, Genesis is not deceptive.
The denials reject what others may affirm. One aspect of the denial in Article XII is particularly worthy of repetition. No scientific hypothesis about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.
In order to frame the denial in the most nuanced manner possible, I say, “If the content of a denial is affirmed, then that affirmation may negate the original affirmation. For this reason, the denial is really an affirmation that must be rejected, because it can be carried too far.”
0010 Of course, the affirmations and the denials of the Evangelical Theological Society proclaim that Biblical exegesis comes first, and stands before, purported scientific challenges. But, their very structure calls to mind a semiotic construction called the “Greimas Square”, which I won’t further capitalize, unless in a title. The greimas square is the topic of the next blog.
0011 The greimas square concerns four bound elements (A1, A2, B1 and B2) and consists of four sets of statements (C, D, E and F).
Here is a picture.
0012 (C) A1 is the spoken word, element, phrase or topic under consideration.
(D) B1 contrasts with A1.
(E) A2 stands against, or “contradicts”, B1. A2 complements A1.
(F) B2 contrasts with A2. B2 stands against A1. B2 complements B1.
0013 The technical term, “contrast”, means, “is different than”, in the same way that a denial is different from an affirmation.
The technical term, “stands against” or “contradicts”, means “is distinct from”, in the same way that true (or correct) is distinct from true (or honest).
0014 If I turn the denials into affirmations that must be denied because they can be carried too far, then Articles IX and XII fit into a greimas square in the following manner.
Surely, B1 and B2 carry their affirmations too far, since they do not give priority to the inspired word of God.
In the following discussion, B1 and B2 will be modified into affirmations that do not go so far as to reject their corresponding affirmations, A1 and A2.
0015 I begin the first statement, C.
(C) The focal word is “inspiration” (A1). Inspiration is not omniscience. Inspiration confers truthfulness.
(D) Distortion and falsehood (B1) contrasts with inspiration. This speaks of false, as opposed to true. Somehow, the inspired word of God may be incorrect because the authors are fallen, just like the rest of us. So, even though they may think that they are describing real events, they are not.
Or, maybe the biblical authors have not risen to our modern standards. Scientism-ists would say that these authors have an ancient, incorrect, magical, not scientific, phenomena-based worldview. So, of course, if there is an inspired message, then it is locked in the distortion and falsehood of the worldviews of the ancient Near East.
(E) No, Genesis 1-11 is not deceptive (A2). “Not deceptive” stands against false (B1); in the same way that deceit contradicts incorrect. Honesty (A2) complements inspiration (A1). An inspired author is an honest one.
(F) Well, perhaps the honesty extends only to religious themes. That is to say, the inspired messageis hidden in the smoke and mirrors of the worldviews of the ancient Near East (B2). In short, the inspired authors cannot be honest (A2) because the cultures of the ancient Near East are filled with evil and idolatry and deception. Consequently, the stories of Noah’s flood are as true as the flood narrative in the Epic of Gilgamesh. But, Utnapishtim’s flood is a clearly a fictional… er… deceptive account (B2 contradicts A1). Such fiction (B2) complements the incorrectness of the science of the ancient Near East (B1).
0016 In sum, the greimas square offers a relational structure that re-articulates the focal concept of Articles IX and XII, the divine inspiration of Genesis 1-11. The affirmations become more focused. The denials become more nuanced. Fallenness (B1) becomes entangled with the world of the ancient Near East (B1a). Plus, history and science, as moderns (B2) know them, do not exist in this world (B2a). Rather, the worldviews of the ancient Near East are fictions, about things that may be true, but we cannot know about such truth, because all we know is what the texts say.
0017 The prior blog allows me to present a modified greimas square of articles nine and twelve, for the hermeneutics of biblical inerrancy.
This modification contains contrasts (B1a and B2a) that do not reject their respective affirmations (A1 and A2).
0018 So, what does modern science accomplish?
Modern science tells us that the worldviews of the ancient Near East are deceptive (B2a) and incorrect (B1a).
For example, one Sumerian origin myth goes like this.
In the beginning, the god of the waters above co-mingles with the god of the waters below. Later, the latter gives birth to the air god, who then separates the two parents. Similarly, the dome above the air is solid, just like the dome under our feet. Clearly, these statements are not scientific. The first is pure fiction (B2a). The second is incorrect (B1a).
Is there a scientific hypothesis explaining why the origin stories of the ancient Near East are inherently flawed (hence, incorrect) (B1a)?
Is there a scientific hypothesis explaining why the origin myths of the ancient Near East veil what may be real historical events (hence, deceptive) (B2a)?
Here is another modified greimas square of articles nine and twelve, for the hermeneutics of biblical inerrancy.
This is what science accomplishes, as of 2005 AD.
0019 What does modern science not accomplish?
Modern science has no explanation for why particular mythological (B2a) and mechanical (B1a) constructions might have occupied the civilizations of the ancient Near East.
0020 Are scientists missing an important clue, such as what all the origin stories of the ancient Near East actually say?
The origin myths of the ancient Near East portray a recent creation of humans by a differentiated (not primordial) divinity (or divinities) (B2a).
Also, as noted in the e-work, Comments on David Melvin’s Essay (2010) “Divine Mediation and the Rise of Civilization”, the origin myths of the ancient Near East depict the potentiation of civilization through gifts from the gods (B1a).
0021 All this changes starting in 2012.
A new scientific hypothesis is proposed, accounting for why our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.
The proposal is stated plainly The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace and dramatized in An Archaeology of the Fall, by Razie Mah, and available at smashwords and other e-book vendors.
0022 The hypothesis of the first singularity does not reject the affirmations (A1 and A2) of the Evangelical Theological Society. Plus, the hypothesis addresses questions that modern science cannot (before 2012) wrestle with.
The first singularity explains why the myths of ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia can do not envision their own ancestry, deep in evolutionary time.
The first singularity explains why the innovations of civilization seem to just appear out of nowhere, like gifts from gods.
0023 Kulikovsky’s section on biblical inerrancy opens questions of epistemology. Epistemology concerns Scripture and the problem of interpretation. Epistemology is the logos (word) of episteme (knowledge).
I have already encountered two contrasts. The first is truth versus falsehood, or correct versus incorrect. The second is truth versus deception, or honest versus deceptive.
0024 How does the talking serpent in Genesis 2:4-4 fit into this picture?
Science can prove that serpents do not speak, except, of course, for some of my old bosses and co-workers, if you catch my drift. This proof goes into B1b.
Also, the appearance of the talking serpent in the stories of Adam and Eve must be figurative, not real. But, the text depicts a real character. So, the talking serpent is a fiction… er… deception. This conjecture goes into B2b.
0025 What happens when I consider the hypothesis of the first singularity?
Well, the Genesis serpent ends up crawling on its belly. This means that it does not have hands or feet.
Also, the mythical talking serpent in Genesis misleads the naive Eve.
It does so using speech-alone talk.
0026 As it turns out, the hypothesis of the first singularity proposes that civilization is potentiated by a change in the way that humans talk, from hand-speech talk (two fully fledged ways of talking in a single language) to speech-alone talk (where hand-speech talk loses the hand component). The semiotic qualities of hand-speech and speech-alone talk are radically different. The change in semiotic qualities explains the potentiation ofunconstrained social complexity.
Plus, the first culture to practice speech-alone talk is the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.
0027 Oh, suddenly, the story of the temptation of Eve makes more sense.
If the serpent has no hands, then it cannot practice hand-speech talk. Instead, the way the serpent talks makes it an exemplar of speech-alone talk (B1b).
This implies that the talking serpent is both figurative and real.
Plus, the talking serpent implies that speech-alone talk associates to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After all, that tree is the creature’s hangout.
0028 What else?
Presumably, hand-speech talk, which starts with the first anatomically modern humans over 200,000 years ago, associates to the tree of life.
0029 Yes, the semiotic differences between hand-speech talk and speech-alone talk are substantial. They are so great that the speech-alone talking serpent does not represent the traditions of hand-speech talk, characteristic of the Lebenswelt that we evolved in. Instead, the serpent draws Eve into the world that God commanded her not to enter, the world-building milieu of speech-alone talk.
Oh, speech-alone talk is the defining character of our current Lebenswelt.
0030 Here is a picture of the greimas square.
Consider the sequence of blogs for January 2022, at www.raziemah.com, titled, Looking at Mark Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil”.
0031 From the last few blogs, I show that the propositions that the Evangelical Theological Society affirm and deny, in 1978, may be placed into a greimas square.
Initially, this greimas square allows me to see that modern evolutionary science, before 2005, denies the Society’s affirmations and affirms its denials. So, either the Evangelical Theological Society or evolutionary theorists are correct.
Before 2005, the greimas square, even with modifications, represents a standoff. The relational structure cannot hold, unless modern evolutionary science comes up with a new discovery, such as the hypothesis of the first singularity.
0032 With the hypothesis of the first singularity, the science-oriented stances that Christian theologians once denied for good reason (B1 and B2), may be now rendered as contrasts to affirmed theological propositions (A1 and A2).
Such a change marks a new age of understanding, hence the title in the following diagram.
0033 Here is a picture of the sensible construction of biblical Genesis 1-11.
0034 Allow me to compare this to the original diagram.
The content-level normal context changes from writing3a, which implies that there are authors, to composing3a, which implies that there are people who are reciting the stories of witnesses2a, reporting on real events1a as best they can. Scribes eventually record these recitals2a. These texts are then assembled… or… “redacted” into the canonical text.
Thus, as affirmed by Articles IX and XII of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, the biblical text is correct and honest2b.
0035 Certainly, there are intended messages1a, but these are locked within the realness of the biblical witness1a. The history that Genesis 2:4-11 portrays shows a world rife with falsehood and deception, both of which are associated with “world building”. The intended message of the witnesses1a concerns what is going on during the Ubaid, the Uruk and the Sumerian Dynastic archaeological periods of southern Mesopotamia.
0036 The situation-level normal context remains the same, but now reading3b is more evocative, because a scientific notion is now entangled with the biblical text.
The hypothesis of the first singularity does not deny what the Evangelical Theological Society affirms1b. Yet, the hypothesis contrasts with their affirmations.
0037 Now, the truth and honesty that is presumed by theological interpretation2b, plays out against the backdrop of the “world building” in the Ubaid, Uruk and Sumerian archaeological periods of southern Mesopotamia1b. The reader can envision Genesis 2:4-11 as an insider’s view of the emergence of civilization in the milieu of the first culture practicing speech-alone talk.
0038 So, what happens to the scientific acolyte, who fashions the talking serpent in Genesis 2:4-4 as scientifically false, even though the serpent talks in precisely the same manner as someone who fashions himself a scientific skeptic?
There is more than one way to deny the Evangelical Theological Society’s affirmations in Articles IX and XII.
0039 Kulikovsky elaborates in the section titled, “The influence of postmodernism.”
Yes, “postmodernism” is a bell, clanging for modernists to flee the conflagration of their so-called “scientific” world building and run into new paradigms of falsehood and deception. Perhaps, we are entering a new age, The Age of Triadic Relations, where paradigms built on the manipulation and elevation of spoken words are revealed to be… well… as old as Adam and Eve.
0040 Kulikovsky starts with Soren Kierkegaard (7613-7655 U0′), who gets the bell tolling with the claim that true knowledge is completely subjective. Later, postmodern existentialism elevates the claim to a limiting condition, where it is not possible to express absolute truth in propositional form.
Of course, this limiting condition violates the terms of um… itself.
0041 Never mind that.
What postmodern existentialists propose is that it is not possible to express absolute truth in propositional form (B1), in um… speech-alone talk, so the Bible cannot be the inspired word of God (denial of A1).
Interpretations based on biblical inerrancy presume that absolute truth may be expressed in propositional form. Therefore, traditional interpreters of the Bible are deceiving themselves (B2 is denial of A2).
0042 So, if the intention of the biblical authors is to express absolute truth, then their propositions may asymptotically approach, but never attain, the theoretical limit.
That suggests that the greimas square of hermeneutics, as modified by the hypothesis of the first singularity, cannot reach the theoretical limit set by postmodern existentialists.
0043 To me, this sounds a lot like that divine command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
I ask, “What is wrong with that tree?”
Isn’t knowledge a good thing?
0044 Well, what about the knowledge of the proposition that no spoken proposition can express absolute truth?
Can this proposition express absolute truth?
Of course, by self-acclamation, it cannot.
0045 What does it express?
Perhaps, the proposition expresses themanipulation of spoken language in order to gain some sort of advantage.
0046 Ah, the hypothesis of the first singularity produces a scientific contrast (B1b) that suggests that the postmodern existentialist proposition can be made, but…
0047 Kulikovsky next turns to historical-grammatical exegesis as the proper method for reading the biblical text. Historical-grammatical exegesis takes into account the historical context and literary form. Articles XIV and XX of the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy concerns this type of exegesis.
0048 Article XIV affirms the historical realism of Scripture. The biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, as they are presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact (that is, reality).
It denies that such events, discourses and sayings were invented by the biblical writers (or by the traditions that they incorporated into the biblical text).
0049 Article XX affirms the biblical truth, as opposed to history, science and natural history. The Bible speaks truth when it touches matters pertaining to nature, history and other topics. God is the author of all truths, biblical and extrabiblical. Sometimes extrabiblical views may contribute to clarifying interpretation of Scripture.
It denies that extrabiblical views and materials disprove the teachings of Scripture and hold priority over it.
0050 Here is a picture.
0051 I wonder, “Do these constitute another greimas square?”
0052 The key (A1) is the affirmation of the historical reality of the biblical record. Because of this, the literary traditions of historic times must be taken into consideration. For example, if Noah’s flood story and Utnapishtim’s flood story expressed radically different literary motifs, then one could say that one derived from the other or that the two stories pertain to different historical events. But, this is not the case. Both stories share similar literary motifs of the ancient Near East.
0053 B1 contrasts with A1. B1 is the theologically unacceptable claim that the traditions incorporated in the Old Testament, as well as other mythic stories of the ancient Near East, invented certain events, discourses and sayings. Therefore, they do not correspond to historical reality.
0054 The contrast between A1 and B1 offers an interesting paradox.
The literary motifs of Genesis 1-11 are the same as literary motifs of the ancient Near East. Since these literary motifs are historical, there is strong reason to suggest that they pertain to the same historic events.
At the same time, the phantasmagorical quality of the origin stories of the ancient Near East suggests that narrative elements are invented. They are invented, but not from whole cloth. The fact that two fairly independent literary traditions portray similar events is good reason to say that they are not complete fictions.
So, the inventiveness characteristic of the literary traditions of the ancient Near East enrich this contrast, B1, and reveal that the Evangelical Theological Society is really against the implication that ancient inventiveness means “not true”. The origin stories of the ancient Near East are not total fabrications. They are memorials of things that took place in the past.
0055 A2 is the contradiction of B1 and the complement of A1. A2 is the theological affirmation that the biblical witness of nature, history and behavior is true and honest.
0056 B2 is the contrast to A2, the contradiction to A1 and the complement of B1. The Evangelical Theological Society denies that extrabiblical material can disprove the Scriptures, or even, has priority over Scripture. Yet, they couch that denial with the caveat that extrabiblical material cannot be fully ignored. After all, the preferred style of exegesis is called, “historical and literary”.
0057 So, after the denials are modified into affirmations that are vulnerable to denial, because they may be carried too far, Articles XIV and XX yield a greimas square.
0058 The greimas square in the prior blog contains two paradoxes.
0059 For A1 and B1, here is the paradox.
Genesis 1-11 participates in the historical reality of the literary traditions of the ancient Near East. These literary traditions present fantastical elements that, to us, appear to be inventions. They are inventions. But, they are not made out of whole cloth. They describe natural processes, historical events and social behaviors that cannot be captured by spoken language, except through phantasmagorical scenes, for a variety of reasons.
One of these reasons is that the semiotic qualities of speech-alone talk potentiate “world building” processes that cannot be captured in the spoken language at the time. How can someone inside a historic process tell the story of the historic process from an outsider’s point of view?
Indeed, what is the nature of witness?
0060 For A2 and B2, here is the paradox.
The biblical witness is preserved by a living tradition. When the Bible is redacted, perhaps during and shortly after the Babylonian exile, no one knows that those hills, out in the middle of the desert, contain royal archives, holding stories very similar to those that the redactors are working with.
The extrabiblical materials include cuneiform tablets, excavated and translated by archaeologists. These tablets come from royal libraries of long-buried capitals. These tablets serve as the subject matter for constructing the literary forms of the ancient Near East.
0061 Kulikovsky clarifies this greimas square by mentioning a favorite theme of liberal theologians: cultural accommodation.
Without a doubt, the stories of Genesis 2:4-11 correspond to the archaeological periods of the Ubaid, the Uruk and the Sumerian Dynastic of southern Mesopotamia.
From all appearances, the tradition of Seth promulgates stories, from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel, from a point of view standing deep inside of the above progression of cultures. Then, Abraham and Sarah step out of that insider tradition.
The so-called “Seth hypothesis” is discussed in chapter 13C of An Archaeology of the Fall.
So, what does the term, “cultural accommodation” really mean?
0062 Genesis 1-11 is properly interpreted by considering extrabiblical materials from the ancient Near East. Kulikovsky quotes Paul Seely in this regard. Genesis 1 reflects the cosmology of the second millennium BC. Modern science may produce a more accurate picture of the universe. But, that does not invalidate (or take priority over) the theological message of Genesis 1. However, it does suggest that Genesis 1 is a temporal concession to the people at that time.
0063 Hmmm. Does the term, “temporal concession”, key into B2 in the following greimas square.
It sure does, because Genesis 2.4-11 is an insider’s view of the formation of civilization in southern Mesopotamia.
0064 Does the intercalation of Genesis into the society and history of southern Mesopotamia (B2) contrast with the truth and honesty of the biblical witness of nature, history and behavior (A2)?
There are two ways to say, “Yes.”
0065 Yes, theological liberals think that cultural accommodation (B2) contradicts the idea that the biblical record conveys historical reality (A1). Plus, extrabiblical material from the ancient Near East (B2) complements the idea that the fantastic elements and narratives are inventions (B1).
0066 Yes, the idea that Genesis 2:4-11 is an insider’s view of the Ubaid, the Uruk and the Sumerian Dynastic (B2), contrasts with a plain view of the biblical portrayal of nature, history, and human behavior as true and honest (A2), but the idea does not invalidate biblical truth and honesty. The idea (B2) contradicts the notion of historical reality (A1), because witness from within a historical event cannot describe the totality of the event, even though such witness can describe the character of the event. For this reason, the inventiveness of ancient literary traditions (B1) can be seen as necessary, because the character of events is more important than the mundane details of the occurrence.
0067 The word, “invention”, is under contention.
In one use, primitive people invent their stories out of whole cloth, so the stories are both incorrect and deceptive.
In the other use, inventiveness is necessary because spoken words fail during civilizational crises. Mythical constructions attempt to capture the processes where one social reality dissolves and another coagulates in the crucible of speech-alone talking southern Mesopotamia.
0068 The former use of the word, “invention”, is condemned by the Evangelical Theological Society. The latter is not.