Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 1 of 22)

0001 The book under examination is published by T&T Clark in New York, London and Dublin, carries an ISBN number: 978-0-5677-0635-5, and presents the full title of The Origin of Humanity and Evolution: Science and Scripture in Conversation.

This examination considers the book from the point of view of Razie Mah’s three masterworks, The Human Niche, An Archaeology of the Fall and How To Define The Word “Religion”, corresponding to the Lebenswelt that we evolved inthe first singularity and our current Lebenswelt, respectively.

Needless to say, in this volume, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is not aware of the scientific proposals offered by Razie Mah’s masterworks.  His goal is to formulate a point of view whereby the role of Adam and Eve in Augustine’s Christian tradition does not contradict the modern view of human evolution, which is surpassed by Razie Mah’s corrective.

The goal of this examination is to show that Loke intimates the proposed scientific corrective, even though he is unaware of its existence.

0002 According to the back cover, in 2022, Andrew Ter Ern Loke is an associate professor at Hong Kong Baptist University.  In the acknowledgements, the author thanks scientists, philosophers, a historian of science, biblical scholars and theologians for helpful discussions.  Among the list is William Lane Craig, whose recent book, The Historical Adam, is reviewed in November 2022 in Razie Mah’s blog.

Loke’s book is dedicated to a computational biologist, Joshua Swamidass, who proposes a technical solution that permits all humans to descend from one male, named “Adam”, and that one “Adam” corresponds to the one mentioned in Genesis 2.4 on.

0003 Technical solution?

There are two stories of human origins in the formerly Christian West, the Christian ones are found in Genesis and the modern Western ones concern the scientific disciplines of natural history, genetics and archaeology.  So the question arises, asking, “How do these match?”

They would match if “Adam” is the first human.  After all, the name, “adamah”, is ambiguous, referring to humankind, the male of the species, as well as one apparently ill-fated fellow once living on an island, in a special place called, “Eden”, near the confluence of four rivers, including the Tigris and Euphrates.

0004 Unfortunately, the scientific discipline of genetics rules out that option. Adam and Eve are not the first pair of humans.  Contemporary human population genetics shows no sharp bottleneck that would correspond to a single pair as the first humans (as proposed by Saint Augustine, over 1600 years ago, during the twilight of the Roman Empire).  This lack of correspondence opens the opportunity for other technical solutions, such as the genealogical approach by Joshua Swamidass and the approach formulated in Loke’s book.  Neither Swamidass nor Loke propose that Adam and Eve are the first humans.  Loke designates Adam as “God’s Image Bearer” and works from there.

0005 Here is a different way to look at the issue.

Imagine a map of the Nile, running up through Africa to the Mediterranean Sea.  Now, pick up a mental pencil and relabel parts of the great river.

0006 The first chapter of Genesis is the upper reaches of the southern Nile, with the great lake, named “Victoria” (to those who speak English).  Genesis 2.4-10 is like the lower reaches of the northern Nile, ending in the magnificent delta.  The Mediterranean is where history begins.

Imagine that there is a great waterfall between the upper and lower reaches, instead of a series of impassable rapids.  Upland from the waterfall is the time of De Nile.  Downland from the waterfall is the time of DeNial.  The waterfall is the first singularity.

A traveler, starting at the falls, can theoretically walk in both directions, along De Nile or along DeNial.  But, there is the challenge of the descent and the ascent.  Looking from the top of the falls, one cannot see the bottom.  Looking from the bottom of the falls, one cannot see the top.  However, at either location, the traveler knows that there must be a bottom and there must be a top.

Well, the traveler does not really know for certain.

The traveler only looks down from the top or up from the bottom and makes a guess about the other realm.

0006 As if to repeat the pattern, Loke’s book takes a turn near the middle of the text, in section five of chapter five, carrying the title, “The Image of God”.

Loke writes that Adam and Eve, labeled by God as “Image Bearers of God”, are the first human beings.  This does not require them to be the first anatomically modern humans or the genetic founders of all humans.  Rather, the key issue is how humans are defined.

0007 It is sort of like that imaginary waterfall.

If one stands upstream, which is highland and south, human beings are defined by the scientific scenario summarized in section 5.1.

If one stands downstream, which is lowland and north, various philosophers and religious traditions offer opinions as to what humans are.  Loke mentions Plato, Aristotle, Upanishadic Hinduism, Buddhism, Marxism, existentialism, sociobiology and contemporary philosophy.  Each has a unique definition of “the human”.

The waterfall is neither upstream nor downstream.  The waterfall is contiguous with both.

How does this division within continuity work?

0008 The Greimas square may assist.  The Greimas square is a purely relational structure that is useful for discerning a constellation of meanings that surround a particular spoken term.

A century ago, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure proposed that spoken language consists in two arbitrarily related systems of differences, parole (French for “talk”) and langue (French for “language”).  One system is external.  Parolecan be scientifically observed and measured.  Langue is internal, only certain changes in physiological conditions can be observed and measured.

0009 So, the question arises, “How does one define any particular spoken phrase or word?”

That is the subject of Razie Mah’s masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”, available at smashwords and other e-book venues.

0010 Happily, for this examination, there is method that respects the purely relational configuration posed by Saussure.

That method is the Greimas square.

0011 Here is a picture.

Figure 01

0012 The focal term goes with A.

The first contrast of A that comes to mind enters B.

Then, a term that contradicts B goes into C.  The term, “contradicts”, may be transliterated into “speaks against”.  So, C speaks against B.  Then, one finds that C complements A.

Finally, a contrast that comes to mind with C goes into D.  Then, one should find that D speaks against A and complements B.

0013 The Greimas square is a probe of the terms that are adjacent to (or metaphorically “near”) a focal term (A).

0014 The following figure applies to Loke’s discussion of Adam and Eve as the first “Image Bearers of God”.

Figure 02

0015 We are the descendants of Adam (A), so we are heir to his title, “Image Bearer of God”.

But, there is a problem.  Adam falls.  So do we.

In contrast, many philosophies and traditions define who we are (B) without regard to God’s original appellation.

Speaking against the philosophers and traditionalists, Adam is the first holding the title (C), which will be passed on to the rest of humanity by means that are not genetic.  So, despite all other opinion, Adam is… er, at least… was… until, you know, the unfortunate incident… the first bearer of this title.  I suppose he never lost the title…

…he just made a bad decision that doomed all of subsequent humanity.

In contrast, the Biblical use of adam (technically, “adamah”) is a pun which means “earth man” or “humanity” (D).

This raises the question as to whether adam as humanity (D) contradicts (A) humans labeled as the Image Bearers of Godand complements (B) “humans” defined by philosophers and other religious traditions.

I suppose that one could argue for “yes”, as well as “no”.

0016 As it turns out, the metaphor of a map of the Nile River, altered by a number 2 pencil, also fits into a Greimas square.

Figure 03

Looking at Andrew Ter Ern Loke’s Book (2022) ” The Origin of Humanity and Evolution”   (Part 22 of 22)

0184 In chapter seven, Loke concludes.

The concept of Adam and Eve as the “Image Bearers of God” stands at the core of this book.

Figure 39

0185 As much as the author tries to capitalize on the idea that Adam and Eve receive a title, and that this title passes to all humanity through a genetic… oh, a not genetic mechanism, Loke does not arrive at his destination, the answer to the question of the Fall.

How is Original Sin passed from Adam to us?

Why is Jesus the New Adam?

0186 Before Traducianism is challenged by the science of genetics, these questions are easy to answer.

Afterwards, Traducianism itself becomes an example of langue, the mental processing that is arbitrarily related to parole, that is, speech-alone talk

0187 Yet, there is hope.  The first singularity coincides with the fall of Adam and Eve.  What is old is made new again.

Figure 40

0188 Future inquiry will extend beyond the book-ends of total depravity and the loss of original justice, into the natures of true versus false and honest versus deceptive.

0189 Who are we?

The behavior of humans in our current Lebenswelt is so different from the behavior of humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, that we might as well label ourselves a different species.

0190 Here is my suggestion.

We should call all humans living in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, Homo sapiens.

We should call all humans living in our current Lebenswelt, Homo boobiens.

0191 Only Homo boobiens can acquire specialized knowledge so exclusive that it makes them unbelievably stupid.  In our world of unconstrained complexity, high intelligence empowers profound Dummheit.  Just ask the experts.  They will tell you that their recipes for disaster are utterly sensible and moral.

0192 Perhaps, in future academic controversies, the coincidence of the fall of Adam and Eve and the hypothesis of the first singularity will inspire evolutionary scientists to compete with Christian theologians in accounting for the Pascal sacrifice.

The Christian theologian says, “Christ dies for our sins.”

The scientist replies, “No, Christ dies for our stupidity.”

Sin results in death.  So does stupidity.

Plus, we are never so stupid as when we play word games in order to lie to ourselves.

0193 The attraction of Loke’s theoretical framework, that Adam and Eve are the first to receive the God-given honorific, “Image Bearer of God”, is that the title is immediately spoiled in the Genesis 2.4-4 narrative, where Adam and Eve demonstrate that, while they are certainly created in the image of God, they cannot live up to the title.  None of us can.

0194 There is good reason.  Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  So, we cannot even live up to who we evolved to be.  We are tempted to believe that our own spoken words picture or point to their referents, when they are really placeholders in systems of differences (at least, according to Ferdinand de Saussure, the founder of modern language studies).  We can place a label on anything, then use those labels to manufacture a coherent network of relational elements that seems totally convincing, because every element of the relational structure is occupied by a label.

0195 Inadvertently, the author reveals this in his defense of Traducianism.

In his innocence and earnestness, Loke demonstrates how we may use spoken words to confuse ourselves.  Can we label the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “intelligence” and “stupidity”?  The moment that we do, some customers will demand the “intelligent” fruits and leave the “stupid” fruits for the less choosy.

Are the picky customers ahead of the game?  

Or, are the less choosy correct in concluding that the fruits are all the same?

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

0196 With that said, I conclude my examination of this work, full of intelligence and stupidity, just as one expects from a descendant of Adam and Eve.  My thanks go to the author.  The arguments offered in this book tell me that we stand on the verge of a new age of understanding, where everything old is made new again.


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?


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 2 of 16)

0004 Two key words pop out in the introduction, “scope” and “retrospect”.  Both apply to reading and writing.

First, consider the author.  The author has a gift, a charism.  Insights are framed by “his” scope, the cultural impress of the time.  But, the cultural impress does not determine the author’s words.  The author does.  The author has “his” own concerns, which somehow intersect with scope.   The author’s insights arise from “his” own interpretations and experiences.

0005 I can write two formulaic descriptions of the author, following A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form(available at the smashwords website as well as other purveyors of e-works).

One, the normal context of producing text3 brings the actuality of the author’s personal conditions2 into relation with possibilities inherent in the cultural milieu of the author1, including “his” scope.

Two, the normal context of writing3 brings insights2 into relation with the potential of the author’s point of view1, containing “his” charism.

0006 Do these nested forms interscope?

Some say that an author emerges from the civilizational conditions.  Others say that an author conveys insights.  Clearly, one nested from does not fully situate the other.

They do not interscope.

0007 Instead, they intersect.  The author is the single actuality that fuses the actualities of conditions2 and insight2.

0008 Ah, the author2 is a single actuality that is the intersection of two actualities, conditions2H and insight2V.  One nested form defines the horizon.  One nested form transects the horizon.  Clearly, the intersection celebrates, rather than resolves, contradictions inherent to the author2.

Here is a picture of the intersection.


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 3 of 16)

0009 Mark Smith concludes the introduction by casting an eye upon the reader.  The Christian reader of Genesis 3 wants to plumb the author’s scope1H and charism1V in order to apply lessons to “his” own situation, where “his” indicates “his” and “hers”.

0010 “His”?

Even the awkward attribution smells funny.  Presumably, men, like rotten fruit, no longer represent the entire species.

So, we have to clean up the language, don’t we?

0011 What does Genesis 3 really say?

Mark Smith intends to inform the reader.  He begins with a retrospective.

0012 John Milton (1608-1674), at the start of the Age of Ideas, composes an epic poem, titled, Paradise Lost.  Paradise Lost begins in the middle.  Yes, a theodrama precedes Adam’s occupation of paradise.  And, Satan is not pleased.

The most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church formulates original sin as the connection between Adam’s transgression and our current misery.  Figuratively, we are all Adam’s descendants.  Or, is it literally?

0013 These introductory retrospections add a puzzling emptiness.

Maybe, the story of Adam and Eve begins in the middle, but what goes before?  The defeat of Satan is not about humans. What would it mean if humans, or generally, our hominin ancestors, live before Adam and Eve, on the open plains and in the gnarled forests that the defeat of Satan leaves open for settlement?  It is an odd question…

…further cemented by the formulation that we are all descendants of Adam.  How can folk living on the far edges of Eurasia be Adam’s descendants, when Adam lives a generation before the formation of Cain’s city?  They cannot be literally descended. After all, the first towns start a little over 6000 years ago.

Better words may be “drawn into” and “entangled”.

We are all drawn into Adam’s transgression.

0014 Indeed, we are entangled.  It is like the sticky postmodern situation where the word, “he”, once meant both “he” and “she”, then “she” declares that “he” is presumptive, arrogant, and so on, and demands her own pronoun.  And now, everyone wants their own pronouns.  For me, it is back to “he”, but now in scare quotes, because there is no way to get disentangled.

0015 What sin has all humanity been drawn into?

What sin entangles us?

Oh, it must be original sin.

0016 According to Mark Smith, the foundational stories in Genesis 3 contain deeply unsettling psychological portraits.  The psychology is tied to the drama, just like the pronoun business.  The drama contains comedy and tragedy and, most horrifying, catastrophe.  Yet, all this is not so bad, because good people appear in every generation, like Abel, who gets murdered, and Enoch, who gets swept up in mysterious circumstances, and Noah, who gets to build an ark because God is about the wipe out the civilization.

Other people, who may not be as good as good can be, are somehow in play, even though they are not upstage.  They are the ones who call upon the name of the Lord.  They remember.  Plus, a good God knows all.

0017 So, I say, “There is more to Genesis 3 than meets the eye.”


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 4 of 16)

0018 The author2, in prior blogs, is the single actuality composed of two actualities, insight2V and conditions2H.  One cannot separate the two.  They work in tandem.  Insight2V emerges from the author’s charism1V, a divine gift.  Condition2H situates the author’s scope1H, the cultural impress of the time, including literature that the author may have been exposed to.

The author2 is an actuality.  This actuality2 is contextualized by the normal context3 of revealing3.  This actuality emerges from the possibilities of ‘recording something for someone’1.

0019 The resulting nested form is:

Revealing3( author2 ( potential of ‘recording something for someone’1)

0020 On one hand, Genesis is not a secret document, so ‘something’ goes to all.  On the other hand, for those who heard the oral tradition for millennia, ‘something’ is very personal.  The early stories of Genesis are told to attentive children, by their mothers.  These mothers know that their tradition is older than they can imagine.  This is their charism.  They are the ones who tell the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lamech and the rest, generation through generation.

May I also say that they are the authors, so to speak?

0021 In chapter one, Mark Smith broadly speculates that Genesis 3 and Ezekiel 28 and 31 derive from the same source.  Yet, there is, as Jacques Lacan puts it, “a petit objet A”, evidence that serves to inform the observer that there is a missing piece to a puzzle.  The four rivers that flow into the Persian Gulf do not flow during Ezekiel’s time.  They flow during the Wet Period of the Developed Neolithic of southwest Asia, five thousand years earlier.  The four rivers in Genesis 3 are a petit objet A.  They are in Genesis 3, yet are missing at the time when the redactor composes the scriptures.  So, how does the redactor know about these four rivers?

Oh, there must be an oral tradition.

0022 Ahem. There is another observation that needs to be accounted for.  Why does the bulk of the Old Testament, from Abraham through the prophets, not directly mention the stories of Adam and Eve?  Why do they mention the seventh day as a day of rest, a theme of the Creation Story?  Why is Genesis 3 ignored while the lessons of Genesis 1 are placed center stage?

Does it have anything to do with rotten men?  The lessons of Genesis 1 are proclaimed by Moses.  Not its companion, Genesis 3 and the like.  Genesis 3 is told by the women of Israel to their children.  Surely, Moses knows what the daughters of Israel tell their children, with unswerving dedication.  Here is the source of the oral tradition that mentions the four rivers flowing into (or is it out of?) Eden.

0023 Here is my conclusion.

The sons of Israel are so busy constructing their world, according to their manly ways, that they do not imagine that these womanly stories about Adam and Eve have any… well… relevance to the issues at hand.  When the bards of Israel put these fairy tales as the opening act, then… oh… the situation changes.  Suddenly, Adam and Eve are legit.

0024 The bards of Israel?

The concept is implied in Smith’s speculative common source for Ezekiel 28 and Genesis 3.  Who is the common source?  Well, they are probably not members of the priestly class.  Yet, their style is evident even in the days of Jesus.  Jesus’ ministry is precisely what one expects for a bard of Israel.  Jesus is totally traditional and miraculously entertaining.  He recites the scriptures to all who come to listen.

0025 Still don’t imagine the bards of Israel?

The Greeks have the same schtick around the same time.  Homer!  He compiles the stories of the Greek bards.  These stories, told in the Iron Age, detail the Bronze Age.  Did I mention that the Bronze Age ends in some sort of catastrophe, hundreds of years prior to Homer?

0026 Still don’t grasp the bards of Israel?

Here, I jokingly shift my gaze to Hollywood, brimming with Jewish talent, sons of Abraham, rebels with Moses, kings like David and self-aggrandizers like Solomon.  Where does all their verve come from?  The bards of Israel got around.


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 6 of 16)

0030 In chapter two, Mark Smith addresses the question, “What is the original sin in Genesis 3, according to Scripture and Christian theologians?”

What do the authors of Wisdom of Solomon 2:24, as well as Saint Paul, Saint Augustine and John Calvin, retrieve from Genesis 3?

0031 What do I mean by the word, “retrieve”?

The reader is an actuality2b, virtually situating the author2a, the intersection of insight2V and conditions2H.  The reader2bemerges from (and situates) the potential of interpretation1b, in the normal context of retrieve3b.

Ah, the reader2b retrieves the author2a’s insights2V and conditions2H.

0032 The two-level interscope is introduced in A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction (available at the smashwords website and other sites that market e-works).

Here is a picture for the reader and the author.

0033 Deuterocanonical texts, such as the Wisdom of Solomon, are not clear about the nature of Adam and Eve’s transgression.

Neither is Saint Paul, who writes a typology.  Adam is the type of the one who fell.  Jesus is the type of the one who is risen.

0034 Saint Augustine proposes that original sin arises in the realm of potential within Adam and Eve, then enters into actuality after the serpent closes the pitch.  Yes, the sales pitch.  The potential consists of pride, welling up within Adam and Eve.  It is like a boil.  First, it wells up below the surface.  Then, it ruptures.

Augustine concludes that an infection of pride condemns all of us because we are all descendants of Adam and Eve.  Original sin is like a sexually transmitted disease.

Augustine’s diagnosis… er… interpretation covers both insight2V and conditions2H.  The insight2V is pride as a motive for sin.  The condition2H is infection and transmission.

0035 John Calvin, after assessing many options, claims that the sin of Adam’s transgression is unfaithfulness.  His approach to this conclusion is noteworthy.  He retrieves early Christian authors.  Then, he retrieves the gospels and letters of Paul.  Then he retrieves the Old Testament.  What does he unearth?  Mark Smith is precise, saying, “The understanding of the conditions of human sin informs Calvin’s understanding of the origins of sin.”  Calvin illuminates conditions2H.

0036 So, Adam’s transgression is like a pustulating infection2V, where pride seethes beneath the surface then ruptures into rebellion against God’s command.  The conditions2H are unfaithfulness.  Then, the infection transmits from one generation to the next, through acts of procreation.


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 7 of 16)

0037 In chapter three, Mark Smith asks, “What do contemporary scholars say?”

0038 Clearly, without Saint Paul, original sin does not swim below the surface of consciousness, like a fish waiting to catch the eye of Saint Augustine.

0039 Contemporary scholars suggest that Adam and Eve know not what they do.  Where have I heard that before?  They cannot be culpable for disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,because they do not know good and evil.

The logic is circular.  But, it is hard to refute.

0040 Interpretation1b, the potential underlying the reader’s acquisition of meaning, presence and message from the author2a, retrieves an intersection of insight2V and conditions2H.  That is what the author2a is!  The author2b is an intersection, arising from the fusion two actualities. 

0041 So, who is the author?

During the centuries after the exile, when the Scriptures are compiled, the authors are the ones gathering material for redaction.  They have a lot to work with, because the bards of Israel actively draw on sources from throughout the region, weaving them together in cogent and coherent narratives.  The bards of Israel bring the stories of Adam and Eve out of their domestic tradition.  The bards of Israel dramatically render Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Oh, and you know about Joseph!  The bards of Israel remind me of Joseph. The bards of Israel outperform the priestly class.  They are not dull and ritual oriented.  They wear cloaks of many colors.  Their garments are seamless.  And, their reputations are colorful and seamy.

0042 Centuries later, Jesus steps into their sandals.

One of the remarkable features of the gospels is how they do not recite the stories in the Scriptures, even though such recitations may have been the bulk of Jesus’ orations.  Audiences hear the same stories from Jesus as from any other bard (or “wandering preacher”).  Plus, with Jesus, there is more.  The kingdom of God is at hand, in the Word made flesh, not the script made permanent.  The parables, the analogies and the lessons of Jesus, offered to his admirers, come like fireworks at the end of an event.  The event is the telling of the stories of Israel.  The stories raise the questions that Jesus addresses.  What is the kingdom of God?

0043 The bards do not write.  They recite.  They are held to strict account by their audiences.  That includes women who tell their children the traditional fairy tales.  These women are the condition2H that preserves the early Genesis stories through millennia, starting with the Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia.  Not the start of the Ubaid, when the world still seems like paradise.  Rather, later, when labor and social specializations generate inequalities so great that nothing seems quite right.

Adam and Eve are fairy-tale figures who, like so many fairy-tale figures, capture an archetypal image of an event that cannot be properly pieced together.  Why?  Changes occur over generations.  No one knows what exactly is going on.  But, the fairy-tale figures indicate that ‘something’ is going on and this ‘something’ has to do with their drama.


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 8 of 16)

0044 What happens when the Ubaid begins?

The following claims are stated plainly in The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace.  They are dramatized in An Archaeology of the Fall.  Both e-works are available at smashwords and other electronic-book venues.  Search Razie Mah along with the title.

The Ubaid of southern Mesopotamia first appears on the edges of the newly filled Persian Gulf.  The Ubaid is similar to all the Developed Neolithic villages of the day, except for one difference.  The Ubaid practices speech-alone talk.  All other cultures practice hand-speech talk.

In hand-speech talk, the referent is imaged or indicated by the gesture-word.  In speech-alone talk, spoken words are pure symbols, labels that can be attached to the part, as well as to the whole.  The semiotic world of the Ubaid is correspondingly out of kilter. Speech-alone talk can fashion words for things that cannot be pictured or pointed to in hand talk.

Consider the word, “wheel”.  The wheel does not appear in nature.  How can hand-speech talk picture or point to a wheel?  Instead, the rotary motion that goes into making pottery gains a spoken name.  Then, an artifact is built that validates the name.  The Uruk period, following the Ubaid, invents the wheel.

Different producers develop specialized languages, increasing their innovation and productivity.  Different social circles find new ways to organize, increasing their capacities for regimentation and coordinated action.  The Ubaid becomes rich and powerful.  The subsequent Uruk period is more rich and more powerful.  The Sumerian Dynastic is labeled, “civilization”.

These sociological trends take place over thousands of years.  They are difficult to fathom.  No one really can figure out what is happening.  But, whatever it is, it does not stop.  Soon enough, the present erases the past.  Then, the present erases the past, over and over and over.  It is like a pustule that festers, then ruptures, festers, then ruptures, over and over.  Each iteration is different.  Each iteration is more uncanny.

0046 The Epic of Gilgamesh recounts the adventures of a king, who lives (according to many intelligent guesses) around 4500 years ago.  The Ubaid coalesces around 7800 years ago.  Let me imagine that a complete overturning of the established order occurs  each time the conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn move into a new element, around every 200 years.  In the 3300 years between the start of the Ubaid and King Gilgamesh, sixteen complete turnovers occur.  How can anyone comprehend the changes?

Yet, the fairy tales of Adam and Eve convey the nature of this social process.  There is a definite beginning, in a idyllic garden.  A threshold is crossed, the garden is lost.  Then, another threshold is crossed.  Cain kills Abel.  Then, another threshold is crossed.  Lamech, with two wives, murders a man with none.  Then, the genealogies begin.  One name follows another.  The lengths of the lives call to mind the slow grinding of the heavenly spheres.  One overturning follows another.

0047 Today, we are blessed with novel, otherwise invisible celestial timekeepers.  Uranus, 84 year orbit, associates to revolutions.  Neptune, 165 year orbit, links to dreamy oceanic spirits of the age.  Dwarf Pluto, 248 year orbit, goes with the trees of life and death.  The years of discovery oddly reinforce astrological associations.  They are 1781, 1846 and 1930, respectively.  Think French Revolution (1791), the Communist Manifesto (published 1848) and America’s big stock market crash (1929).

The stars and the planets are telling.  Recall, Satan, the one who is defeated in the first half of the grand sweep of Paradise Lost, is a stellar angel, at first.  Now, he sells faithlessness, to us, just as he did to Eve.

0048 The conditions that define the authors of Genesis 3 touch base with the reactions of mothers, in the tradition of Seth, within the Ubaid, to ever increasing social complexity.  Each story is like the completion of a spiraling development, like royalty (Jupiter) having to meet time (Saturn), like the cycle of peace and revolution (Uranus), like popular movements, rising like islands, then drowning in a sea of their own contradictions (Neptune) and like a long, treacherous trek between the tree of life and the tree of death (Pluto).  The cycles spiral because labor and social specializations are always innovating.

The fairy tales of Adam and Eve point to the start of our current Lebenswelt.


Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 10 of 16)

0058 In chapter four, Mark Smith addresses the question, “Is Genesis 3 about human sin?”

After covering what modern scholars say about the text and conditions of Genesis 3, the question turns to production3Hand writing3V.  Readers seek to interpret both the conditions2H and the insights2V of the author.  These are tied to the author’s scope1H and charism1V.

As far as conditions go, I speculate that the conditions2H include the increasing social complexity of the Ubaid villages, then the Uruk townships.

The authors are the daughters of Seth, who gradually compose the early stories of Genesis, as well as one for Noah, plus more.  The stories are maintained by the women of Seth, then afterwards, the women of Israel.  Then, the bards of Israel take them for their own, around the time of (or later than) Ezekiel.

0059 These conditions explain how the stories can be so ancient, yet showing the patina of post-exilic editing.

Plus, these conditions explain why the lessons of the Genesis 1 are declared in the time of Moses, while the lessons of the stories of Genesis 3 are ignored.  Adam and Eve belong to the stories of the women, not the men, of Israel.

The bards of Israel account for why the stories of Adam and Eve find their way into the writing of Genesis.  Their genius forces the redactor’s pen.  But, the written scriptures are new, compared to the age of the oral tradition.  Consequently, the stories of Adam and Eve make a dreamy impression in the time of the Second Temple.

The bards, the wandering preachers of Israel, also account for the conditions surrounding John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth.  No one seems particularly surprised by their appearance.  They recite the scriptures just like all bards do.  The audiences attend to their words.  The kingdom of God is at hand.

0060 These conditions are radically different than those intimated by Mark Smith and colleagues, who examine only the patina and not what might lie beneath.  Smith wants to retrieve insights by considering only the surface conditions.  His procedure is to begin with the explicit writing of Genesis 3, particularly concerning the choice of words.

0061 He starts with the word, “evil”, first mentioned in regards to the tree at the center of the garden.  The scriptural Hebrew, ra’, means poor in quality and disagreeable, as well as wicked and harmful.  For example, if a fruit is poisonous, then it is ra’.  An inedible fruit would fit the idea where God commands Adam not to eat, if only for health reasons.  But, this idea is dispelled as the story plays out.

0062 Then, there is the creation of woman from Adam’s rib.  God fashions all sorts of animals, who get names, but none are sufficiently helpful.  Adam tends a garden.  Adam domesticates animals.  They all live in paradise, offering a hint ofthe Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

God, not Adam, insists that it is not good that the human should be alone.  He then fashions a woman from Adam’s rib.  Adam is overjoyed at the introduction.

Here is the etiology of woman, according to the daughters of Seth, who tell fairy tales to their children, about the beginning.