Thursday, March 31, 2022

John Hunt Thinks Nimrod is a Myth, dito for Babel

John Hunt Thinks Nimrod is a Myth, dito for Babel · Three QQ from Issah Mohammed, on Babel · Twelve Questions on Genesis I to XI

When referring to him, to his position, "myth" can be taken in the now usual sense of non-factual, since he has (Q II, first answer to my first comment) confirmed this is how he takes the concept. This is, as we shall see, not the only way he misunderstands what "myth" means and what myths exist.

What is some scholarly work done on the Tower of Babel (historical, theological, etc.)?

John Hunt
Author of "Bringing God Up to Date" (2021-present)
Answered 27.III.2022
The legend about the origin of languages is a common one, and based on ziggurats, which were a common feature in Mesopotamia.

This model reconstruction of the Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat. Circa 1300 BC

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“The legend about the origin of languages is a common one”

Outside Amerindian and Polynesian versions, how many versions are there in the civilised parts of the Old World?

John Hunt
The Tower of Babel story might well have been prompted by this much older one -

Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta - Wikipedia

I answered twice
namely a and b, and so far only b is answered.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
As far as I know of the text, there is a statement that linguistic unity has been lost and a prayer it should be restored.

Not a story about how the linguistic unity was lost.

If I’m wrong, cite the line that shows your point …

Not answered
when I am writing this, 31.III.2022

Hans-Georg Lundahl
As the wikipedia says, it is from 21st C BC, if this is carbon dated, it is not much older than Moses writing Genesis, perhaps 1510 or even 1550 BC.

You see, the carbon dates were getting closer to our real ones then, and some distance was still there. Such a “21st C BC” is really after 18th C BC.

John Hunt
I’m not sure what you mean by carbon dating. we’re not talking about original manuscripts, in either case. But for the last century and more Genesis etc has been put at a much later date.

Book of Genesis - Wikipedia

Book of Exodus - Wikipedia

Hans-Georg Lundahl
You can’t date a Sumerian work by “ab Ur condita” since that is not a thing.

You either date it in literary history as presented as being so and so much earlier than something else, or by carbon, or by when it touches Assyrian or Greek or Roman or Hebrew chronology.

You can also date it relative to a context to which it is contemporary.

So, by carbon dated tablets, I mean either a tablet that is in its wool cover, which can be dated, or a tablet in a house the style of which can be dated to other houses with carbon dated materials, or a tablet that has a linguistic or palaeographic style with dates to it.

In this sense, there is broadly speaking a difference between if a tablet is dated to such a carbon time or in reference to a later work (for instance, a tablet is on order of Sargon, who is dated as 200 years earlier than a later reference to him).

In the former case, I can already pin point it to the stay of the Israelites in Egypt. 1590 or birth of Moses being carbon dated later (1838 as per wooden material in the tomb of Sesostris III) and 1700 or death of Joseph’s pharao being carbon dated earlier (2800 BC in raw dates, since he was Djoser).

The dating of the modern scholarship for Genesis or Exodus is simply reconstruction - guess work.

Did the giants who existed after Noah’s flood in Canaan come from Nimrod's line of descendants?

John Hunt
Author of "Bringing God Up to Date" (2021-present)
Answered 30.III.2022
Scholars talk about “Canaan,” sure. The early Hebrews, if they existed, were an ethnoreligious group gradually diverging from the Canaanites after moving up into the hills. But “giants, Noah’s Flood, Nimrod” - these are entirely mythical concepts.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
What exactly do you mean by “mythical” - is that “non-factual”?

John Hunt
Basically, yes -

“Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths.”

They’re stories we used to tell ourselves around the campfire, to explain things, before we got into “science,” about 2500 years ago with the Greeks, which relied on observation and experimentation.

So, for instance, there’s a common, universal and ancient thread in religious tradition that takes us back to when “self-awareness” and corresponding “relationship” began. It says that once we were content. We didn’t worry. We lived in what is described in different traditions as the Age of Perfection, the Krita Yuga, the Garden of Eden, the Eternal Springtime, and so on, in innocence. We were at one with nature, because we were nature. We didn’t know good and evil. We couldn’t mess up. We couldn’t even think.

At some point in our history, whether 100,000 or 7 million years ago (lowest and highest estimates, depending in part on how many species of “Homo” you include), we became “self-aware.” Armadillos specialize in body armor, cheetahs in speed, this is our own specialty, it’s what we “do.” We began to watch ourselves “living.” We divided the world into “me” and “it.” We made a conscious choice to eat the apple (or not), to have sex (or not). We learnt how to manipulate things, changing them for new uses (the world’s oldest known worked wooden implement, the Clacton spear, in the Natural History Museum in London, was fashioned over 420,000 years ago, and stone points used for hunting go back more than half a million years – we’ve been killing animals or people for a heck of a long time).

Like Adam in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:20 – the foundational myth for our current predicament) we began naming them, and talking to each other. So on the one hand we began to enjoy the fruits of self-awareness, of communication, and love; on the other hand we learned the ashes of separation, uncertainty and the fear of death. Ever since then, since the “Fall,” a metaphor for our birth of consciousness, we’ve been trying to put the two together again – the “me” and the “it,” turning “it” into “you,” figuring out how one should relate to the other, groping around the edges of our lives, looking for patterns, for explanations, wondering what’s over the horizon.

I think the myths in the Bible are great - fascinating historically, highly revealing in our psychology, and - if you understand them as myth - give us pointers on where to go.

And the same for many of the others….but to take one particular Bronze Age myth, out of the thousands available (and there are two in Genesis), of a god forming man out of dirt and woman out of one of his ribs, literally - as the “factual truth” - that’s insanity. (That’s too severe…just an abandonment of rationality in favor of one particular ancient cultic belief).

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I note your explanation.

First, I note, it doesn’t (and non-factuality doesn’t) follow from the definition you cited.

“Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths.”

Let’s break this down.

“Myth is a folklore genre”

Folklore doesn’t mean non-factual.

“consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society,”

Like actually historic narratives could never play that role (irony, if you are sarcastically challenged).

“such as foundational tales or origin myths.”

And this also does not mean non-factual.

When one and the same thing to be explained as to origin has two competing origin myths, one of these would be false, non-factual, but that is because they compete.

For instance, if man being self aware is explained in terms of “100,000 or 7 million years ago” or in terms of “to the image of God he created him:” (in Genesis 1:26) - one of these origin myths must be non-factual. Not because they are origin myths, but because they contradict (when you take Genesis 5 and 11 and the latter leading up to Abraham into account).

And what about actually believing it?

“just an abandonment of rationality in favor of one particular ancient cultic belief”

Well, I could say for your belief system, it is “just an abandonment of rationality in favor of one particular modern cultic belief” - only difference being yours is modern, mine is ancient.

So far, you have not even begun arguing for the modern against the ancient of these two beliefs.

And if thousands of beliefs are available, why pick a modern one which stands out so starkly against all the ancient ones?

Now, you did give me a slight challenge as to why this ancient belief rather than some other ones.

I’ll give a few reasons:

  • unlike other origin myths about mankind, this one provides a genealogy for a line going from the beginning of mankind to a man in a specific historic setting;
  • unlike other origin myths about mankind, this one takes seriously that we are more than just matter, we aren’t the robots of some gods;
  • unlike the other ones, this one gives measures for the ark that would actually function, if there is one “kind” for every 17 or 18 Linnaean “species” - I have checked, and 18 species in five “genuses” or “genera” is what we have for hedgehogs;
  • unlike the other ones in the civilised parts of the Old World, including the one you cited “Enmerker and the Lord of Aratta” - this one gives an explanation of why there are so diverse languages so soon after the Flood.

The idea that “Lord of Aratta” is a parallel to the Tower of Babel story comes from a former bad reading, in which Enki is asked to destroy, good reading, restore, the linguistic unity. How it was broken is not mentioned. The idea that Genesis 11:1–9 and “Lord of Aratta” are only two examples among one for each mythology is a bad guess, which close familiarity with pagan mythologies refutes.

John Hunt
“And if thousands of beliefs are available, why pick a modern one which stands out so starkly against all the ancient ones?”

There are hundred, thousands of Bronze Age creation myths, sure. But they’re impossible to take literally today (it was tough enough in the third century AD, as one of the key Early Church Fathers, Origen, said -And who is so stupid as to imagine that God planted a garden in Eden eastward, and put in it a tree of life, which could be seen and felt?)

We know today there have been dozens of minor life extinctions before, and five major ones – respectively 440 million, 365 million, 250 million, 210 million and 65 million years ago. We can see the climate changes in ice cores, the fossil deposits in the mud and rocks, the impact of volcanoes and meteorites, etc. It’s inconceivable that there could have been a worldwide flood, with water covering the mountains, a sixth extinction level event, embracing virtually all life, within the last few thousand years, leaving no trace. Nobody with any credibility in geology, climatology, paleontology, anthropology, biology, taxonomy, history, archaeology and so on, would give it a moment’s thought. But then I know there are many people around who believe the earth is about 6,000 years old, flat, and immovable, with the sun circling it, and God shouts down from heaven a few hundred feet up in the air, people can get there in chariots, snakes and donkeys can talk, etc. Your prerogative, if you want to believe in fairy tales.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I’d like to have an exact reference for Origen.

If there were thousands of Bronze age myths, most are gone. There aren’t even 100 left, and if there were, you would be very hasty to say they are all impossible to “take literally” without checking each.

The idea the “earlier extinctions” are at dates incompatible with the Flood date needs proof. Dismissing the credibility of creation scientists is no more than a hand wave.

As to your description of Fundies, at least “flat earth” and God being “a few hundred feet up in the air” are clear strawmen, like donkeys and snakes talking as per own innate ability.

The quote from Origen could be from here:

Hmolpedia (archived) : Origen

Hmolpedia = Ashmole-pedia, after 17th C. Occultist Elias Ashmole.

A google search for the quote will not give a Catholic site Origen reference, but does give two references to (above and George St. Clair) and the book by John Hunt. Where also he gives no reference more exact than "Origen".

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