LOOKING TWICE AT THE WORLD


LOOKING TWICE AT THE WORLD
Rabbi David L. Kline

(The reference numbers for endnotes do not link to the note.  You must scroll back and forth to see the notes.  Sorry.)
When we reach back beyond the rabbinic stage of our development to our pre science and pre philosophy ancestors who authored Tanach, we find fresh sources of interest and pleasure. When we read Bible stories without the lens of traditional interpretation, we find ourselves charmed by narratives, discovering something of ourselves.  Our ancestors had diverse ways of looking at the world just as we do.
For the first half of my pulpit career I taught and preached following the rabbinic method, Midrash, “seeking meaning.” Then I turned to the critical approach, the Documentary Hypothesis, with the conviction that we have been missing out on our own early literature, its values and ideas. Midrash, in the words of one of my teachers, is the purposeful misreading of text with the goal of reworking the stories to teach current morality and piety. It began in Roman times and continues to the present. My task now is to translate ancient into modern, skipping two millennia of Midrash and commentary. I attempt a direct reading with minimal comments needed for context and clarity, and a few observations about the first two stories in Torah.  In the present essay I go further than usual because I am taken by the issues.
Story text below appears in Calibri font in my translation. I have written elsewhere about the idiosyncratic translating style. [1] To summarize: I see myself as a storyteller standing in for my ancestral colleague. My job is to convey both his poetry and his vision, and to keep up the entertainment value.
B’reshit opens with two cosmogonies, which I call The First Week and The Garden, two  stories from different sources, times, and worldviews. Nowhere in Tanach is there a clearer side by side illustration of contrasting views. Throughout biblical writings, the authors understood God as determiner of all existence and events, but we find widely diverging theologies that must have derived from changing times and circumstances or, perhaps personal and professional tendencies in the authors. I argue that Genesis 1-3, presenting such stories, is in essence pluralistic and comfortable with contradiction.  
We begin with the earlier of the two compositions, The Garden. This being the J version dating back to the 10th Century BCE,[2] Yah[3] is the protagonist. The story opens on a dry, desolate vista of adamah, “ground”…

Once upon a time, Yah God made land and sky. At the time, shrubbery did not exist, nor had grasses sprouted, because Yah had not made it rain over the land and there was no person to work the ground.

Mist rises from the land and wets the whole face of the ground. And Yah scooped up some dust from that adamah and formed from it the adam. He breathed into its nose the breath of life, and the adam came alive.
                     
Yah planted a garden of delight in the east. There He would set the adam. From the adamah He caused to sprout every beautiful and fruitful tree, pleasing to eye and appetite, and in the very middle of the garden, a Tree of Life and one of Knowledge, good and bad.  

(A river flows from Eden to irrigate the garden, from there splitting into four streams.  The first, Pishon, borders Chavilah, land of gold – good quality gold – and also fragrant bdellium resin and bright colored gemstones.  The second, Gichon, borders the land of Kush.  The third, Chidekel, Tigris, flows east of Assyria. The fourth, is Prat, Euphrates.)

So Yah took the person and set him in the Garden of Delight to work it and guard it.  

The world now has two beings, Yah and an unnamed person, the adam. The garden–some imaginative geographer inserted parenthetic information–exists for Yah’s use and pleasure. The person he created will maintain it and may enjoy it too, but part is off limits: 
Yah commanded the person: “Eat, eat, from any of the garden trees except for the Tree of Knowledge, good and bad. The day you eat from that tree, you die, dead.”
Then Yah said:  “It’s not a good thing for the adam to be alone.  I’m going to make a helpful juxtaposer.”  
Here the storyteller offers the first case of meddling, for the story never suggests that Adam is unhappy. Was creation lacking? Was there some mistake? He Who formed ha’adam from earthy raw materials thought something was wrong. He would correct the defect by supplying for the person a “helpful juxtaposer.” (My best attempt to capture the irony and humor of the extraordinary Hebrew idiom ֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּו, ezer k’negdo. “Helpful opponent” is too strong. “Help-meet,” offered by the King James, is a good try but inadequate. “Fitting helper” in the JPS is possibly literal but misses the piquancy.) Without a design in mind, He begins a series of experiments, one by one, to find the perfect companion for a person.
So, with more clay from the ground, Yah formed every possible animal of the field and bird of the sky, bringing each to the person to check his verbal response.  Whatever he would call the creature would become its name.
Nice hint here towards pragmatism and taxonomy: a human response to variety in nature, and an ingenious narrative device to define the relationship between man and woman as distinct from that between man and any other creature.
The person gave every beast and bird a name by which it could be identified, but the process yielded not one that could stand up to the adam in a helpful way.    So Yah put the adam into a deep sleep and performed an operation, excising one of the ribs and closing and healing the incision.  From that rib, Yah constructed a female and brought her to the adam, who exclaimed:
“At last! Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.  This one will be called “ishah,” (“woman”)  because she is taken from “ish” (“man”).[4]
Success at last! Man smiles with delight at what is in his eyes, a copy of himself, derivative. Some say, parenthetically, that, in consequence of this initial, short-sighted chauvinism,
(A man leaves his parents to cling to his woman so that they become one flesh.)
And now the plot thickens as human beings come to know and know one another:
They were, of course, both naked, the person and his woman, and not a bit embarrassed.
The snake was the nakedest/cleverest of the animals that Yah had made.   So this snake, one day, said to the woman: “Hey, did God say you mustn’t eat from any tree in the garden?”
Speaking of naked, how about the snake, the nakedest of animals!  As it happens, arom, Hebrew for “naked,” has a homonym, “clever, shrewd, sly.” The storyteller, J, seems to have delighted in word play and narrative intricacy: perhaps there is something about a snake that, on seeing it, the first person named it nachash, having in mind the meaning, homonymous, “puzzle out, guess, suppose?”
“Oh, we can eat from the garden trees,” she replied, “except for the one in the middle.  For that one God said we mustn’t eat from it or touch it lest we die.”
                   “Nah, you wouldn’t die,” said the nachash.  “Because God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened.  You’ll become like God, knowers,  of good and bad.”
She took a good look at the tree of knowledge.  She noted that the fruit looked ripe for eating, a delight to the eyes.  And eating from the tree could make you wise?  I want it!  So she took some of the fruit and ate it and gave some to her man, who ate it as well.
Sure enough, in both of them, their eyes were opened.  They recognized that they were naked.
What did the taste show them that they hadn’t seen before?  Whatever, they must have become aware that body parts might have other than innocent functions.  The first Ah Hah! morphed into the first Uh-oh! when the male body part stood out, so... 
They sewed together fig leaves for garments to go around their waists.
 And then they heard the sound of Yah God going for His stroll in the cool of the day.  The adam and his woman hid from Yah, among the trees.  
Yah called out: “Adam, where are you?”  
The adam replied: “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I am naked, and I hid.”
                   “Who told you you were naked?  Have you eaten from that tree from which I forbade you to eat?”
“The woman You gave me served me from the tree and I ate.”
Yah spoke to the woman: “What have you done?”
And she said: “The snake beguiled me and I ate.”
Now Yah turned to the snake:
“For doing this, be cursed from the list
Of every beast, of every field animal:
On your underbelly shall you go, and eat dust all your days.
Enmity, I set, between you and the woman,
Between your seed and hers.
He’ll crush you in the head and you’ll crush him in the heel.”
To the woman:
 “I give you a lot of pain and pregnancy;
In pain shall you bear child.
Yet your urge is for your man,
And he will dominate you.”
To the adam: “Because you listened to your woman and ate from that tree I specifically forbade you to eat from:
Cursed be the adamah on your account;
By pain shall you eat of it all your days.
It’ll sprout you thorn and thistle though you eat of the grain grass.
By the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,
Till you return to the adamah from which you were taken,
For, dust you are, and unto dust you return.”
(Then the adam named his woman: Chavah for she was to be the mother of all that live–chay.)
Yah made garments of leather and clothed the two of them.  And then He spoke: “Well, when it comes to knowing, good and bad, the person has become like one of Us.  Now, lest he reach out and take also from the Tree of Life, and, eating, gain immortality…”
So Yah God sent him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove the adam out. To the east of the Garden of Eden he stationed the k’ruvim monsters, and the flaming, ever turning, sword, to guard the way to the Tree of Life.  
Then the man knew Chavah, his woman.  She became pregnant and bore Kayin, as to say: kaniti, “I have acquired” a man from Yah.  She then bore his brother, Hevel (which is to say, “for nothing.”)  Hevel grew to be a shepherd and Kayin a farmer, working the ground.

The world of The Garden is chaotic but intriguing.  Events proceed unpredictably, because the divine artist works by trial and error to achieve whatever notion may occur to Him.  Human missteps, in the world as we know it, mirror divine missteps in creation.  Yah is well meaning but not always successful, as witness the failed attempt, several chapters later, to improve the world in a flood while hoping for a better result through selective breeding, eugenics. An imperfect world reflects its Maker.  Rather than perfect, Yah is immanent, sympathetic and approachable, hands on, intimately involved in changes that can go in any direction.  As for humanity, having eaten of the tree of knowledge—judgemental, creative, and problematic—we now share one of the two qualities that had been reserved for the deity. The other, immortality remains exclusively Yah’s but otherwise He is much like one of us.  His power is but relatively greater than ours.

The First Week—the likely later, 6th or 5th century BCE story by P the priestly writer—opens on a fluid scene: a shapeless blob of liquid and solid matter.   God—generic and unnamed in this story—creates methodically and by speaking: “There shall be …” Not only are there no missteps in this creation, but every orderly stage (but one) gets evaluated and found to be good.  Overall grade: very good!  An elegant title opens the narrative and with it all of Torah.

IN THE BEGINNING
God created the sky and the land.

The land was all formlessness and chaos: darkness over the face of the depths, with God/wind, hovering over the face of the fluid.

And God said: “There shall be light!” And light came to be. And God saw the light as good. And God distinguished between the light and the darkness: God called the light, “day,” the darkness, “night.” And evening came to be and morning came to be, day one.

Neither of these cosmogonies is creatio ex nihilo.  Both build upon preexisting matter, dry or wet potential.[5]  God, transcendent in this story, turns on light so as to see the blob outside of which, as wind, God has been blowing.  Good start, minimal staging, suggestive of a bright future. 

And God said: “There shall be a spread in the middle of the fluid, that it be a distinguisher between fluid and fluid.” And so it came to be, with God making the spread that distinguished between the fluid that was under the spread and the fluid that was above the spread. And God called the spread, “sky.” And evening came to be and morning came to be, second day.

And God said: “The water that is under the sky shall gather into one place and the dry shall appear.” And so it came to be. And God called the dry, “land,” and the gathering of water, “seas.” And God saw it as good. And God said: “The land shall sprout shoots of grain bearing grass, fruit trees producing fruit by species, each containing its seed for the land.” And so it came to be. The land sprouted shoots of grain bearing grass, by species, and fruit bearing trees each containing the seed of its species. And God saw it as good. And evening came to be and morning came to be, third day.

As in the Garden, the storyteller dwells on variety in nature and once again it is a literary device.  There the botanical variety was for purposes of delight and the zoological variety resulted from the search for suitability.  Here the emphasis is on procreation: preservation of every species.

And God said: “There shall be lights in the spread of sky to distinguish the day from the night. And they shall be indicators for sacred seasons, for days, and for years.  And they shall shine on the land.” And so it came to be, with God making the two great lights: the greater for governing the day, the lesser, and the stars, for governing the night. And as God had spoken, they were set in the spread of the sky to shine on the land, to govern by day and night and distinguish between the light and the darkness.  And God saw it as good. And evening came to be and morning came to be, fourth day.

Not our modern way of seeing the sun as source of energy—vegetation was created yesterday and light on day one—but the author acknowledged the fourth day lights as purposeful and functional.  They serve as markers of time, hours, days, months, and seasons. There is also the tantalizing hint of astrology here, with no follow through in Tanach.

And God said: “The waters shall swarm a living, breathing swarm; and fowl shall fly over the land and up in the spread of the sky.” And God created the great sea monsters and every living, breathing thing that swims. The water swarmed with species, and every winged fowl by its species. And God saw it as good. And God blessed them: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the water in the seas, and the fowl multiply on the land. And evening came to be and morning came to be, fifth day.

And God said: “The land shall put forth living, breathing things by species, beast and creeper, land living animals by species.” And so it came to be, with God making land living animals by species, the beasts by species and all the ground creepers by species. And God saw it as good.

At this point, suddenly, God speaks in first person plural, unique in Tanach.  Was God addressing a heavenly council?  Is this pluralis majistates?  The context provides no clue.  As a tactic in storytelling it sounds like a narrative drum-roll setting off creation of human beings from all that preceded.

And God said: “We shall make humanity in Our image, as Our likeness. They shall dominate the fish of the sea, the fowl of the sky, the beast and all the land creepers, indeed all the land.” 
And God created the human in the image –
In the image of God, created,
Created them male and female.
And God blessed them:
“Be fruitful and multiply.
Fill the land and conquer it.
Dominate the fish of the sea, the fowl of the sky,
 And all life that moves on the land.”
And God said: “See, I have given you every grain bearing grass over the face of the land and every fruit bearing tree. They shall be yours for food. And for all land living animals and all fowl of the sky and all that creeps on the land, for all that lives and breathes the green grass shall be for food.”

And so it came to be. And God saw all that was done: Yes! It was very good! And evening came to be and morning came to be, sixth day.

And complete now were sky and land and all their hosts. God surveyed[6] on the seventh day the labor that was done and desisted from all labor. And God blessed the seventh day and made it kodesh, “special,” for on it ceased all the labor that God had done in creation.
This is the story of the sky and the land in their creation.
Here is the orderly, rational, well-conceived, purposeful universe. Natural law prevails. Cause and effect work because they are fashioned in sublime style by a deity with prescience and ability.  Two episodes leap to attention: 
Shabbat.  The narrative anticlimax follows creation as if it were a natural development—God is justifiably tired after six workdays of creativity. The storyteller, by this device, imaginatively introduces and explains the week, with its seventh day, off.  The Jews returning in the late 6th century BCE from exile in Babylon may have picked up and brought with them the general structure of seven days, along with the Babylonian names for months, but this, at least in western culture, is the earliest literary presentation of a regular seven-day cycle.  And Shabbat is kodesh, “special,” an entitlement for all humankind for all time, designed into the cosmos.[7]  Shabbat is not part of the picture in The Garden.
Humanity. Male and female created at the same moment, both in the divine image.  Image?  Likeness?  In The Garden a likable anthropomorphic and anthropopathic character–Yah–led. What sort of divine image can we associate with God in The First Week? Transcendent? Self conscious? Systematic? Rational? Creative? “Divine qualities” all, and human aspirations, each available to us in some measure. Perhaps we imitate God when we are creative? Rational? Note that the spiritual figure of this story intends for us to be Godlike where in The Garden, the good Fellow attempts to withhold divine prerogatives from His creatures.  And note further, that the masculine pronoun is entirely fitting for Yah, but only an inclusive term can properly refer to One who reflects both sexes.
And speaking of sex, human beings are blessed in the same words as the birds and the bees: P'ru ur'vu, "Be fruitful and multiply."  There was no need for and no mention of sex in the Garden prior to the forbidden fruit episode. Afterwards, sex is forever linked to shame and guilt. But in the First Week procreation is a major motif beginning from day three on. Sexual reproduction is natural and desirable in human beings as in other creatures–even plants do seeds. No complications, moral, psychological or otherwise.  Go to it!  The more the better!  Fill up the land!
The First Week tells the teleology of a world of sublime balance.  God’s work leaves room for no mistakes, no unintended consequences. Light and dark, hot and cold, life and death, good and evil, all are cycles in a cause and effect string. The cosmos works perfectly because it was made that way by a perfect God. Natural law is God’s will. God is powerful, praiseworthy and remote.
The redactor of these stories, likely a colleague of the priestly author, set The First Week before The Garden, granting pride of position.  Later readers, including many moderns who take Tanach as divine revelation, read The Garden as a footnote to The First Week.  They attempt to conflate the God concepts and harmonize the stories and the worldviews. But neither author would have acceded to such violent misreading.  Not only do the accounts differ in form, order, vocabulary, and many details, but they reflect totally different mindsets that are lost to such readers.
A second outcome of what might be called a pious reading of the two stories is that it encourages a widespread misimpression that chapter one describes God’s intention of a perfect world while chapter two and following, are about human sin that corrupts the would-be all-around goodness.  The Garden became the place of “original sin” and “the fall of man.” True, The First Week makes no explicit mention of sin, pain, death, work, sorrow, greed or war.  But it is a cosmogony not of some imaginary cosmos but of the one we live in.  The author may have had in mind some initially simpler and more innocent world but his explanation for death and all of the other obscenities would have been cause and effect and the balance of natural law, that is, of God’s will.  He is the rationalist father of all those who say: “We may not always understand the way the world works–or, so to speak, the way God operates–but we are certain that it makes sense on some ultimate level.”  The Garden narrator is down to earth and can’t be certain of anything other than feelings.  He (some say she[8]) is the ancestor of existentialists.
We can’t help but compare other cosmogonies that our authors might have known.  Two come immediately to mind, Enuma Elish, (“When on High”) with roots in fourth millennium Sumer but widely copied in first millennium Babylon; and Hesiod’s Theogony, written in eighth century Greece but poeticizing earlier stories. The Genesis word תְהוֹם, t’hom, “depths,” over which is darkness, is cognate to Tiamat in Enuma Elish. Tiamat is the goddess over whom Marduk hovers before killing her and building, from her parts, the world.  Interesting but not much help in reading our story. Enuma Elish and Theogeny both feature fighting between generations of gods, and world building that comes out of that violence.  Between these stories and those of Genesis I see more difference than similarity. My guess is that authors of cosmogonies do their best to make sense of the world as seen in their culture. Origin stories–the ultimate foundation myths– are projections backward of weltanshauung.  J and P would have argued over orderliness and comprehensibility in the universe.  The author of Enuma Elish and Hesiod both seem to have been intent on explaining a world of bloody conflict and war.[9]  What these cosmogonies share is that earth reflects heaven–or vice versa.
Freud and Jung spun fantastic readings of these myths finding in them the wisdom of the subconscious.  I am more interested in the surface level of what my ancestors had to say about life, for example, about sex and gender. 
No need for a psychologist to point out that The Garden is about growing sexual awareness. The Tree of Knowledge supplies, first and foremost, that which small children lack when their parents have somehow to convince them to get dressed.  The Garden reminds us that adults are those who have learned about sex and mixed feelings. Parents recognize Yah’s wish to forbid sexual knowledge from little ones so as to keep them little ones.  And adolescents are all aware that they have to break through these prohibitions so as to self realize.  And we can understand why the first man and woman put the fig leaves where they did (and we can wonder if it helped much). And we can empathize with them for passing the buck, he to his subordinate, she to the snake. And we can feel for Yah Who has to throw them out of His Garden now that they are ready to reproduce. And we all know we can’t go back again. And how about the nachash as the first teacher who, naturally, subverts authority?[10] And how about woman as responsible for Talmud Torah?  What a story!
So what was he thinking, he who wrote The First Week?  Free love?  Guilt-free sex?  I think he simply wasn’t writing about what might be called “relational sex.”  Nor is his story about family life or morality.  Rather he had in mind rudimentary biology: the process of being fruitful.  Men and women are created equal because we share the responsibility.  Reproductivity is a value for all living things.  To be sure, we dominate, but not male>female. Rather, human beings are to the rest as God is to us.  I think this author was interested in systems and physics. He mixed in a dash of theology for the beauty of his orderly world.
Millennia of people reading these stories as revealed science or morality lessons have obscured the quality of excellent fiction. The authors and their original audiences may have thought of the narratives as plausible but this was long before the time of scientific inquiry. Cosmogonists (including Big Bang theorists) want to make sense of it all and those ancients did make sense of it, literary sense.  It’s nice to know where to find a good story.  And I love getting in touch with my ancestors.


[1] http://good-to-be-a-jew.blogspot.com/       See Hebrew  Bible Tales: Introduction

[2] The “Documentary Hypothesis,” widely followed by Bible scholars since the late 19th century, remains the most workable structure for critical understanding of Tanach.  It is a literary/historical approach to an ancient text, as opposed to pietistic reading of “the word of God.” In Midrash, what we call the פשט, the “simple, plain,” is, a priori, divine revelation, a consideration with heavy implications that may be far from the narrator’s intent. The critical approach makes no assumptions about revelation or historicity. Rather than The Five Books of Moses, revealed to the spokesperson for God, we hypothesize four distinct documents, J, E, D, and P brought together by a 5th century BCE redactor. “J” stands for “Jahwist,” a writer in the 10th century court of King Solomon, who commonly refers to God as “Yah.” “E” stands for “Elohist,” later in the 10th century in the northern kingdom of Israel. E in Genesis consistently refers to God as “Elohim.” “D” stands for “Deuteronomist,” likely a school of writers influenced by the values and judgements of the Book of Deuteronomy which appeared in 7th century Jerusalem. “P” stands for “Priestly author,” Beginning in the 6th century, perhaps in the Babylonian exile, a series of writers presented their version of history and revelation, justifying the complex sacrificial cult and the governing authority of the Kohen family.

[3] “Sh’ma Echad,” first page and Appendix, CCAR Journal, Spring 2012, author.  Yah, an apocopated form of our ancestors’ four letter name for God, is well attested and pronounceable.   Rather than breach the rule about not pronouncing YHVH, we can grasp and convey the narrator’s intent with this simple substitute rather than the common but questionable circumlocution: “Lord.”

[4]  An alternative reading, suggested in the Kittel (BH, 1951)upper paraphernalia, ‘me’ishah for ‘me’ish, would offer an egregious pun in Hebrew:  אשה/אישה , ishshah/iyshah (“woman” has dagesh in the shin.  “her man” has yud in the plene (full) spelling.  Neither of these orthographic points would be obvious in the ancient text.) “This was too good a pun for the J author to miss!” observed my friend and study partner Fr. Pat Madden, PhD, of Greco Institute in Shreveport. 
    Here is the textual evidence for “because she is taken from ishah (“her man.)”:
Samaritan Pentateuch:   לזאת יקרא אשה כי מאישה לקחה זאת
Septuagint: ἐκ τοῦ ἀνδρὸς  αὐτῆς  (but Vulgate: quoniam de viro sumpta est)
Peshitta: נסיבא גברא דמן מטל אנתתא תתקרא הדא (with thanks to Fr. Pat’s deciphering)
Targum Onqelos: דא נסיבא מבעלא ארי אתתא יתקרי לדא  (but T Yonatan agrees with MT)
Note that Onqelos introduces the word for “master, husband,” rather than “her man.”

[5] The rabbis preferred to talk little about creation.  An interesting philosophical reference to creation from nothing occurs in the second century BCE Apocryphal story of the mother (later Jewish tradition names her Hannah) and her seven martyred sons.  By way of encouraging her final, youngest son to die like his brothers rather than yield to Antiochus, she includes: I beseech you, my child, to look at the heaven and the earth and see everything that is in them, and recognize that God did not make them out of things that existed. (2 Maccabees 7:28, RSV) The ex nihilo argument here may be in response to Hellenistic ideas of creation.  Hesiod’s Theogony  (8th century BCE) has Chaos birthing Gaia, “earth” among the earliest of the gods.
  In the Midrash, Raban Gamliel, mid 1st century CE, responds to a philosopher who suggests that God is a great creative artist but had good materials with which to work, tohu and bohu (chaos), darkness, wind, water, depths.  Says Gamliel: All of these are covered in the word “creation.” (בריאה בהן כתיב כולהון)  Taking the word from the title line in Genesis, he cites verses to show that it applies to each of the elements that Gnostic philosophers held to have been created by angels or others than the one God. (B’reshit Rabbah 1:9)

[6] Most translations read וַיְכַל as a form of  כלה, same as וַיְכֻלּוּ in the preceding verse.  This would say that God “completed” the work on the seventh day, though the last of creation took place on the sixth.  Could Shabbat be said to have been created on the seventh?  Yes, but that seems to me a stretch. Notes penciled into the margins of my Kittel Bible recall some long ago lecture or reading where I learned that Tur Sinai suggested reading וַיְכַל as a form of √כול , meaning “measure” as in Isaiah 40:12.  The root also denotes “contain,” suggesting that God “took it all in.” A rabbi might be forgiven for understanding God’s Shabbat activity to be the archetype of the Jewish practice of taking a walk and just looking, particularly when the reading has Tur Sinai on its side.

[7] Shabbat, along with New Moon, appears in 2 Kings 4:23(9th century BCE) and elsewhere, passages that antedate The First Week. The word means “stop, cease” and clearly refers to some celebratory day, as in Hosea 2:13(8th century BCE). The earliest definitive reference to Shabbat seems to be Exodus 34:21 which may be a P document or, I should prefer to think, may have been moved there from the much earlier Book of Deuteronomy(7th century BCE).  The Exodus 20 Ten Commandments seems clearly to belong to P.  The Deuteronomy 5 Ten Commandments strikes me as an earlier version of P’s.  Exodus 34, according to the context, contains the words written originally on the tablets.  Could it be that Cecil B. DeMille got it wrong?

[8] Book of J, Harold Bloom, Grove, 1990, pp 34ff

[9] Tanach contains scattered hints of creative violence where God wins the fight against the sea and its monsters: Isaiah 51:9; Psalms 74:13-15; 89:10-11; Job 40:24-25.  Neither J nor P felt the need to cover these bases when they wrote what they wrote.

[10] Teaching as a Subversive Activity, Neil Postman, 1971.  I don’t remember reading through this book when it came out but its title became my watchword as a teacher.  That nachash knew.  He taught the truth and was duly punished by the Authority.  But the punishment was not all that bad, really, and teachers persist.  They must.

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