Wednesday, October 14, 2009

God the Creator?

The following article is from the Telegraph:

The notion of God as the Creator is wrong, claims a top academic, who believes the Bible has been wrongly translated for thousands of years. The Earth was already there when God created humans and animals, says academic.

Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation of the Hebrew. She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals. Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia. She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate". The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth" According to Judeo-Christian tradition, God created the Earth out of nothing.

Prof Van Wolde, who once worked with the Italian academic and novelist Umberto Eco, said her new analysis showed that the beginning of the Bible was not the beginning of time, but the beginning of a narration. She said: "It meant to say that God did create humans and animals, but not the Earth itself." She writes in her thesis that the new translation fits in with ancient texts.

According to them there used to be an enormous body of water in which monsters were living, covered in darkness, she said. She said technically "bara" does mean "create" but added: "Something was wrong with the verb. "God was the subject (God created), followed by two or more objects. Why did God not create just one thing or animal, but always more?" She concluded that God did not create, he separated: the Earth from the Heaven, the land from the sea, the sea monsters from the birds and the swarming at the ground. "There was already water," she said. "There were sea monsters. God did create some things, but not the Heaven and Earth. The usual idea of creating-out-of-nothing, creatio ex nihilo, is a big misunderstanding."

God came later and made the earth livable, separating the water from the land and brought light into the darkness. She said she hoped that her conclusions would spark "a robust debate", since her finds are not only new, but would also touch the hearts of many religious people. She said: "Maybe I am even hurting myself. I consider myself to be religious and the Creator used to be very special, as a notion of trust. I want to keep that trust."

A spokesman for the Radboud University said: "The new interpretation is a complete shake up of the story of the Creation as we know it." Prof Van Wolde added: "The traditional view of God the Creator is untenable now."

11 comments:

ZDENNY said...

This was hillarious! I notice you do have a tendency to post really nutty stuff. Atheists are clearly a nutty brand willing to believe anything in defense of their faith.

Ec5618 said...

Since ZDENNY does nothing but try to insult straw men, shouldn't his comments be removed?

AIGBusted said...

Hi Ec,

I'm usually pretty generous about allowing comments to stay up on my blog, even to the point of allowing insults and bald assertions ('you do have a tendency to post really nutty stuff' without anything explaining why the article I posted was nutty).

What's even worse is that I didn't claim any of the stuff in this article was correct. I just posted it because I thought it was interesting.

ZDENNY said...

I thought it was funny because the article states that Genesis is the beginning of narration.

Where did that come from? I am certain it did not come from the text. I think anyone even without knowing Hebrew can see that.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

AIGBusted said...

"I thought it was funny because the article states that Genesis is the beginning of narration."

Yes, the article states that Genesis does not account for the absolute beginning of the universe, it simply begins narrating how God separates the heavens and the earth once they're already there.

"Where did that come from? I am certain it did not come from the text. I think anyone even without knowing Hebrew can see that.

'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.'"

If you read the article, then you ought to know that scholar in question says that the word we translate as 'created' is 'bara' and that 'bara' (according to the scholar) means something like 'to spatially seperate'. So, according to the scholar, the first sentence actually says, 'In the beginning God separated the heavens and the earth'.

Anthony said...

I thought the article was interesting as well. The concept that Genesis 1 presents the absolute beginning of the universe has been refuted many times. Like most of the other creation myths of the ancient near east what exists at the beginning is "chaos." Essentially God brought order to the chaos.

Discipleship Nation said...

The article on Prof Van Wolde makes a fatal error with regard to the validity of her conclusion by not referring to the entire body of Hebrew literature and the writings of Hebrew scholars concerning the translation of “bara”. The article states, “she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.”

Based upon the article and taking in consideration that we are not provided with a copy of her thesis, I would have to take issue with the idea that she is, in fact, using the Bible as a whole as context. Here are just a couple of verses that speak to God (and Christ’s) role in creation.

Colossians 1:15-16 Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers-- all things have been created through him and for him.

1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Revelation 4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

Within the context of the ENTIRE Bible, Prof. Van Wolde’s thesis is clearly a failure. On top of that, what do Mesopotamian creations stories have to do with God’s absolute truth in the Bible? If the Bible is true, then we can logically expect that even those cultures that have rejected the truth of the God of the Bible to retain some knowledge of His actions (though distorted by limited human reason).

There is nothing in this article that stands up to even the most superficial scrutiny. It is only interesting in that a theory that seems to reflect a lack of both the historical understanding of the Hebrew in Genesis 1:1 and the true context of creation in scripture could even be published.

AIGBusted said...

DN,

The new testament was written long AFTER the OT. It's downright inappropriate to take interpret something by using something else written by a different author in a different language in a different time. It's irrelevant. Maybe as a Christian you think it's relevant, but historically it is not.

GeorgeRic said...

Seekers of truth can find it in the contiguous dimensional worlds, humorously described by Edwin Abbott in 'Flatland'. Science determines truth by checking phenomena against the over-all theory. If that theory explains the phenomena then we can firmly hold it. 'Techie Worlds' (available at amazon.com) examines Trinity, resurrection, judgment, soul, and finds Christian teaching logical and rational in Abbott's context.
Unlike Christians, materialists believe that only this world exists. Science can only experiment with this material world, whereas mankind is quite unable to manipulate the higher worlds.. Yet humans report on miracles, on events such as the dance of the sun at Fatima. Pagans believe in many gods (with good reason) and the possessed levitate, all evidence that spirit worlds do exist. Both positions resolve to 'acts of faith', but the Christian (in the Flatland context) is simple, consistent, and teaches love for human improvement. Open your minds with 'Techie Worlds' logical explanations.
GeorgeRic

rbdwyer001 said...

AIGBusted,

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17. so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Keep in mind that most of the New Testament letters were written by Paul, a self-described "Pharisee of Pharisees" (Acts 23:6). Paul knew the scriptures, had a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ, and, if you read his writings, it is clear that he fully understood the connection between the Old Testament and the nascent writings of the New Testament. Biblical Christianity sees the Bible as one book in two parts that are eternally interconnected.

AIGBusted said...

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17. so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."

How do you know that this scripture was God-breathed?

"Biblical Christianity sees the Bible as one book in two parts that are eternally interconnected."

Maybe so, but that doesn't make it true. Jews and other non-Christians would not see things this way.