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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Day One

Today I read January 1-3 of the One Year Bible. That is Genesis 1-8; Mathew 1-4:11; portions of the first three Psalms and the first book of Proverbs.

In general, it is overwhelming to me how much the Judeo-Christian experience is about competing accounts of things. I've written before about the two creation stories--first the distant almighty God, second the intimate life breather God--but there are also competing lineages. Were Enoch, Methushael, and Lamech descendants of Cain after being exiled (Gen. 4:17-18) or Seth generation later (Gen. 5:3-28) or were there two sets of Enoch, Methushael, and Lamech? There are certainly multiple James and Harry combination in the Barton family tree.

I also love the ambiguity of the stories. Eve says the serpant lied to her, but if you read what he says, it isn't a lie. Similarly, is the devil telling Jesus somethign that is untrue during the temptations?

These stories are so precious, that even fragments seem to have remained without a complete story. Just before the story of Noah begins in earnist, we have the following passage as a bit of a prelude, but which doesn't seem to belong:
The Flood
1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with [a] man forever, for he is mortal [b] ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.

5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. 7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them." 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

9 This is the account of Noah.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.
Gen. 6:1-10. I left in the verses and blocking from the NIV. Notice in verse 9 we have "This is the account of Noah." Doesn't that introduce the Noah story? It seems to if you read on. So, why does the NIV put "The Flood" where it does? The first few verses are very weird. Who are the gods that were so attracked to human women? My uneducated guess is that this is a fragment of a sort of related tale that was too precious to lose but too lost to make clear.

3 comments:

Matt Dick said...

To my ear, it sounds like a holdover from the Greek concept of demi-gods--half-children of gods and humans who turn out to be the heroes of the past. These mythical men had super powers but were ultimately mortal.

Perhaps the flood at some point was a way to explain why there are no Nephilim on the Earth today.

But I guess it does say "and also afterward". I looked that up and it appears that they only show up in Numbers in a kind of "there be dragons" way--as in, "don't go over into that land, we saw Nephilim there!"

JimII said...

Another note about this story is God getting upset that men might contend with God. So far, you've got (1) kick them out of Eden to prevent them from becoming immortal, (2) prevent them from mating with "sons of Gods" which makes them live too long, and (3) give them each different languages so that they scatter and don't collectively become as powerful as God. YHWH seems to have been easily threatened!

Matt Dick said...

He's pretty clear that he's a jealous god...