Why Joel Baden is Wrong · More on Why he is Wrong - and Where he is Right
There Are Many Voices in the Bible, Thank God
The Nantucket Project | 22.XII.2014
- 1:25 The Bible, Homer and Virgil.
When St Augustine tells diehard Pagans they are wrong, he takes the text from Virgil to show what Daniel showed Nebuchandnezzar about Bel and the Dragon.
Yep, Pallas Athena and the rest were very worshipped in Troy. Nope, she was a fairly bad debtor to Trojans.
- 4:37 We do NOT clearly accept the Bible can generate new meaning.
In 813 when the council of Tours told priests that they needed to give a sermon on days like Sundays and Feast days in Roman or Theudic tongue (Franco-Provençal and Alamannic German?) depending on audience, the background was, they had just been changing the pronunciation of Latin.
Imagine Greek Church decided to change from "en tee arkhee o theos" to "en tay ark-hay ho t-heos" ... suddenly people in Athens would be at a loss. That is what had happened when Alcuin had come around.
So the sermon was the equivalent of adding, after "en tay ark-hay ho t-heos" the real vernacular "stin arkhee o theos".
But sermons also do explain ... well, yes, but the sermon can be very conservative at that. Imagine a Greek bishop for Easter rereading the Easter sermon of St John Chrysostom - for the thousandth and six hundredth or so time in that Cathedral.
In fact, when I see a text generate meaning that is new, I do a check whether it is contradicting old meaning that is canonic. Example : "a tower the top of which shall reach heaven".
I go "oh, they tried to build a three step rocket". The important check is not, did they have the knowhow to succeed (probably not and God averted a major disaster by stopping them back then up to fairly recently at Cape Canaveral), the important check is, "is this interpretation contradicting what all the Church Fathers have said?"
Since I checked St Thomas' Postilla on Genesis, it seems "no, Church Fathers were not united on skyscraper, some were for skyline and tower as metonymical for towerS". In other words, phew, I am not contradicting sth all the Church Fathers say on the subject.
- 5:21 No, you don't know that the Flood story in the Bible is not the original one.
Moses lived from 1590 to 1470 BC. He was probably born just a bit before Sesostris III died. But the funeral ship of Sesostris III is carbon dated to 1713 BC. About one century (in carbon dates, which take some squeezing if carbon 14 in atmosphere is on the rise) after the oldest clay tablet involving whichever Mesopotamian and Polytheistic version of the Flood story is oldest.
And Moses was relying on oral or written tradition among Hebrews, so, their oral or lost written pre-Mosaic version would very possibly have been older than the possibly recent attempt of Sumerians and Babylonians to retell the Flood story in a polytheistic way.
5:40 I think the Mesopotamian and Polytheistic Flood stories add up to a grand total of three.
The one in Atrahasis, the one in Enuma Elish and the one in Gilgamesh - where it only comes in because that man (some say he was Nimrod) bragged about having gone to a mountain to see Utnapishtim (Sumerian for Noah), which was probably a lie.
The real background would possibly have been Nimrod sees opposition from some, they say "Noah wouldn't have liked this" and he said "you know what, I went and saw Noah". After Babel's confusion, Noah is by some remembered as Utnapishtim (no, that is not a result of gradual language change) and Nimrod (if he's the guy) as Gilgamesh.
But Atrahasis and Enuma Elish are in fact retelling Genesis material for its own sake.
5:50 "a sole survivor"
A group of survivors - or does Atrahasis or Utnapishtim get a wife created fresh for them after the Sumerian Floods?
6:00 "Too noisy for the gods"
For one of them, Enlil, right?
Imagine Nimrod pushing some new theology, calling the God of Noah "Enlil" (he could have used "Elohim" previous to confusion of tongues) and demonising him, promoting instead the trickster god "Enki" to whom he had privileged access.
Obviously considering "Enlil got a headache" was a mean but efficient propaganda move.
And, in the end, God really did get a headache (a crown of thorns) ...
- 6:38 In fact, Noah and Shem would have tried to preserve the story correctly as family tradition - it being accessible to Moses a few (less than ten "minimal overlaps") generations later.
6:49 "the one we all talk about"
Yeah, right, how come Nordic people talk more of Noah than of Bergelmer, Greeks and Romans more of Noah than of Deucalion and Pyrrha, Iraqis more of Noah than of Utnapishtim ... I think the answer lies 2000 years back in time ... you know Whom I am referring to?
6:54 And I suppose irony is the best you can do about that reference, so far?
- 7:44 "the ark was more crowded etc"
I think the key could be, Genesis 6 is Noah's redaction, Genesis 7, 8 and 9 come from each one of his sons ... either written down on a smaller tablet or fixed for learning by heart.
In other words, there is more than one telling of certain events.
- 7:51 The water comes both from sky and from ground.
The rain part lasted 40 days and 40 nights. After that you have 150 days when the waters "prevail".
The raven is sent out once and does not return, the dove is sent out and returns, and then returns again with an olive branch.
God tells of the no more Flood twice, and two of Noah's sons recall more or less of these words, just like Mark and Matthew tell diverse parts of the discourse on Ascension Day.
- 9:39 As a Christian, I have always thought of Noah sacrificing.
Obviously, sacrificing some animal that is pure for sacrifice is not deleting it, since there were "seven and seven" (three and a half couples or seven couples) of those kinds. The life of those kinds has also been saved, so there is no discrepancy.
- 10:00 As living outside US for nearly all of my childhood (except one summer) and all of my teens and adult life, I do not have any relation to that song.
- 11:44 If you think you can't retell the Gospels so all details from all of them are in, you are wrong.
St Augustine already did that.
And in case you ask "where they five loaves and two fish or seven loaves and some fish", I say both occasions happened.
If you ask whether Christ cleansed the temple right at the start or right at the end of His public ministry, I say both, there was a set up on "will he do it again?" and He did.
- Title : not contradicting it.
But there is a difference between the polyphony of Palestrina and the polyphony of Stravinsky or Alban Berg.
An irreconcilible factual contradiction, making a continuous and coherent retelling impossible would be a chord of sharp dissonance.
In Palestrina you find mild dissonance - dominant seventh, fourth six appogiatura and some - and it is resolved.
That is comparable to a Bible with many apparent contradictions, but no real ones, and if you look at it, they are resolved (not always apparent which resolution is correct, but there always is at least one).