Tuesday, June 27, 2017

... Jonah and Noah, Allegory and History and Archaeology

How did Jonah in the Bible live in the belly of the Whale for 3 days without getting digested in the Whale's stomach?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
studied at Lund University
Answered just now
We are not told in Jonah that the fish was a whale, but it is the only fish large enough (not fish in modern Linnean, but in traditional terminology) large enough to swallow a man into his belly without his being munched to pieces first.

In the New Testament I think it is either Jesus or Paul who directly says it was a whale, which either had from oral (paratextual) tradition.

We are also not told he survived in the belly Gepetto-wise, as in Pinocchio. Since Jonah was an allegoric prefiguring of Christ, it is also possible he died and miraculously resurrected.

His being in the belly three days and nights would have been known not from his own reckoning of time, but from weekday when he was rescued and either his recalling weekday of storm or people on shore doing so.

The question I find intriguing is, if the voyage was in the Mediterranean (I think he was trying to get to Tharshish, in Spain, I haven’t looked it up right now), what was a whale doing there? Were they more common then than now there?

What is the allegory about Jonah and the whale, in the Christian Bible?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Studied religions as curious parallels and contrasts to Xtian faith since 9, 10?
Answered 1h ago
Literally Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of a whale and then was released because the whale found him no doubt somewhat indigestible.

Allegorically this signifies Jesus being inside Earth, His soul down in Sheol and most of the time his body in the grave too during three consecutive calendar nychthemera.

If Genesis is an allegory, as believed by many Christians, then why is the entire Bible not an allegory?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
studied at Lund University
Answered 54m ago
The entire Bible is allegory.

Nevertheless, next to nothing (in terms of percent out of the total textmass*) in the Bible is AN allegory as literary form.

You have prophets using allegories (the literary form) to criticise the behaviours of King David against Urias the Hittite and of Ahab against Naboth. You have one pharao in the time of Joseph (possibly Djoser) and one Nebuchadnezzar in the time of Daniel dreaming and Joseph and Daniel treating their dreams as allegories (three of them, Nebuchadnezzar had two dreams, I think).

You also have visions in Daniel and Apocalypse some of which may be allegoric.

All of the private life of the prophet Hosea is an allegory about God’s relation to Israel. Its end is an allegory about the conversion of the Jews.

Genesis as a whole is allegory in the sense that the literal sense carries an allegoric sense, but not AN allegory as literary form, it is the literary form of straightforward history (most of Genesis 1 would be vision, since Adam and Eve were not yet around witnessing it : Genesis has 50 chapters).

You find allegories about Jesus all through it.

  • Eve created out of the opened side of Adam while he was sleeping (Genesis 2) = allegorically the Church born from the opened heart of Jesus on Calvary (both the Cross and the Paradise where grounds where Adam and Jesus were in a way sleeping). Before that Adam had named the animals, while Jesus before that had quoted a psalm naming his mockers and tormentors diverse animals, like lions and dogs and bulls of Bashan.
  • Melchisedech makes his sacrifice by offering up bread and wine (Genesis 14) = allegory of the Eucharist and of Christ as Eucharistic priest “according to the order of Melchisedech”.
  • Isaac carries the wood for his burnt offering (he is himself still designed as the sacrifice) (Genesis 22) = allegorically Christ carrying his cross to the same place, to Calvary (Mount Moria mentioned in Genesis comprises both the Jewish Temple and Calvary).

In other words, the allegories are not written by men in the text, they are written by God in the events of which Genesis is a history, not an allegory.

* I am not sure I was not overdoing, but the fact remains is that history is a far more prevalent genre than allegory.

Noah lived about 1000 years old (according to the Quran and the Bible). Do we have any archeological proof that early patriarchs lived long lives?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Studied religions as curious parallels and contrasts to Xtian faith since 9, 10?
Answered just now
How long a life Noah lived is a historic question.

How do you propose to settle this kind of historic question with archaeology?

Historical questions are mostly settled by narrative. I am not sure you could any more prove the Battle of Waterloo occurred archaeologically, at least at that large scale, and I am sure archaeological digs at Waterloo cannot prove who won the battle. Even if each corpse could be identified as having worn a French or an English or a Prussian uniform, first, this is at least three diverse national uniforms (corresponding to the troops we know from history but not archaeology at Waterloo to have been commanded by Napoleon, Wellington and Blücher - there is historic divergence on whether B or W was most operative in beating N), and archaeology, as opposed to history could not tell us who was allied to whom. THEN again, archaeology could not even tell us what side won.

The rule is not like whichever side has most men killed loses. It is rather like whichever side has most men surviving wins. And while archaeology could tell us which side lost most men (if uniforms had been very well preserved, which by now is unlikely for most), this would not automatically tell us which side had most men left. Plus even that is not totally a mathematical issue, it is normally in many battles an estimate on what risks are worth taking and also has to do with what shape the troops are in.

Archaeology could also not tell us a bit on which importance the battle of Waterloo had in the general scheme of things, that it cemented the victory of the powers of Reaction.

So, how exactly would you use archaeology as a test for life spans in the past?

I know some English or perhaps rather Scottish doctors have made conclusions about Medieval lifespans from archaeology. 60 corpses of Anglo-Saxon serfs (thus, between Roman legions leaving 410 and Arthur’s successors being beaten, and Anglo-Saxons themselves being beaten by William in 1066) have been medically investigated and conclusion have been none of them lived to 50.

But what was this conclusion based on?

Most likely, they looked at the tear and wear on the skeletons, where muscles had been attached. They calculated age from the tear and wear. This means that if they misestimated either what tear and wear a serf in agriculture was subjected to (and since farm hands were in overwhelming majority, each had so much less of the total food mass to cultivate, so they could easily have lived lazier lives than now) or what shape the bodies were originally in (they could have been a race in which tear and wear had less impact than on modern men - very theoretically and unlikely in this case), they would have miscalculated the ages.

Now, how would this impact on archaeological evidence for patriarchs?

Obviously, if you lived to near 1000, like Noah and most people back to Adam, you WERE very certainly of a sturdier race than the one we have now. This means tear and wear would have less impact, and this in turn that any medical examination of their skeleta, if identified, would be misleading and give far younger lifespans than they had.

Next, they are probably not there any more.

If the just of the Old Testament were resurrecting and ascending to Heaven during Christ’s death and resurrection, this means their corpses are no longer there. You won’t find the corpse of either King David or of Jonah, either Abraham or Noah in their graves.

When ISIS bashed the tomb of Jonah in Mossul, they inadvertently gave the Church (most directly Oriental Christians, Chaldeans or Nestorians, I think Chaldeans) a chance to test this on Jonah’s case.

For just post-Flood patriarchs, like Shem, Cham and Japheth, the lifespans were still very high (about 600 years) and it is possible the corpse of Cham would still be around.

THEN is the next question where to find them.

Have you verified that the tomb of Julius Caesar or of Alexander the Great or of Pericles or of the poet Aeschylus is still there to be identified? What is the archaeological proof that Attila and Genghis Khan lived?

You will probably NOT find most people who lived or even who are historically known. And in many cases, if you do find a historically known person in the grave, you won’t know it is he.

Even so, some have tried. A dentist Jack Cuozzo went to Paris to investigate Neanderthal skulls and concluded they were of a much more long lived race than we. Their wisdom teeth would have come out at a very late age, their puberty would have been so much slower than ours, they needed to be longlived, plus some of the thicker bone ridges on their skulls are evidence of very high age.

That is perhaps as good as you can get.

Between Flood and Babel life spans were still fairly long. According to LXX and in terms of year after flood, here is a lifespan corresponding to Babel : Peleg 529 - 868. 341 years. Near triple and at least two and a half times the present life spans.

If my own theory of correspondences between carbon dates and Biblical dates is correct, the time between Flood and Babel is the time between carbon dated 40 000 BP and the times of Göbekli Tepe.

This means the relevant material would be human skeleta from Upper Palaeolithic. Meaning of course that estimates of these having died at around 30 would be fairly bogus - or exceptional.

But that would be a question of how much of the medical evaluations of skeleta are subject to caution, as with the Anglo-Saxon skeleta.

So, my main answer is : archaeology is not the best place to start looking. You may find something, but don’t take it as definitive or as decisive. History is the right place and Genesis is history.

next day:

EDIT next day:

For instance, I think that the grave at Sunghir would fit well for early post-Flood patriarchs in carbon timing, between Flood and Babel.

I think it would be the grave of perhaps Magog and his family.

The Russian Sunghir burials and skull reconstructions
Posted on September 23, 2008 : Mathilda’s Anthropology Blog.

I also therefore think that an estimate of his having lived 60 years before dying is about 200 or 300 years too low. At 260 or 360 or sth (or perhaps some little more as yet, he was an earlier generation than Peleg) Magog would have been in the shape of a man of 60.

On the other hand, if he is Magog he can’t have lived too long either, since carbon dating 25 000 BP means he died well before Tower of Babel with its city started getting built in “carbon dated 9600 BC” at Göbekli Tepe.

And the latest estimate - counting from Flood forward - for when this was would be 534 after the Flood, when Peleg was 5, if he was born 529 after Flood (a pure LXX reading, including the “II Cainan”, as per George Syncellus and Byzantine liturgy). If this is carbon dated as 11 600 BP, a carbon date like 25 000 BP must be before 500 after Flood, I presume, and since Magog was a grandson or greatgrandson of Noah, this gives his birth as not too early after Flood either.

Earlier Update
an hour after previous Q originally posted, or so.

Do Christians really still believe in Noah's Ark, Santa Claus, and Jonah living inside the whale?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Thomist after starting with CSLewis
Answered just now
I believe in Saint Nicholas of Myra who slapped Arius at Council of Nicea and threw in money through a window so three girls would not need to prostitute themselves.

I believe in Noah’s living on the Ark with seven other men.

I belive Jonah either lived or perhaps even more probably died and resurrected in the belly of the whale (not identified as such in the book, but I think in the New Testament).

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