The Upside Down World

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ancient Hebrews and Creation

I don't know how many of you are interested in this sort of thing, but since I spent some time on it this morning and found some interesting stuff, I thought I'd share. Everyone is aware of the conflicts in our country over evolution vs creationism vs ID. Religious folks who reject evolution usually point to the bible as back-up for their POV. Such people will surely agree that the bible is unchanging. However, they forget/do not know/ignore the fact that the words they read are first translations, second often mean something very different to the modern reader than they did to the people to whom the text was originally given. If the bible truly doesn't change, it can not have been meant to convey one meaning to those to whom it was originally given and something entirely different to us today. We must not impose our own views, cultural prejudices and assumptions onto scriptures. Instead, we must strive to understand the original intent of the text and the way it was understood to the people it was originally speaking to. Not that one cannot be a Christian if one doesn't know all the background details, but one is likely to be a Christian with a whole bunch of erroneous ideas.
What this has to do with the evolution debate is that when one looks at the original text of Genesis (ie in the original language) and what it meant to the people to whom it was originally given, we find that much of the thinking which underpins today's objections to evolution would not have made any sense at all to the ancient Hebrews. Their understanding of their text hardly allowed, much less required what we in our modern thought process view as a literal understanding of the creation story.
Like I said, I don't know if any of you are interested in such things, but here are a couple of articles on the subject which I found interesting (warning rather scholarly, language examination and dense stuff, but worth fishing through, I think):

The Bible Idea of Time: How Archaic Hebrew Thought Is Constructed Differently than Our Thought Today
Genesis, Cosmology, and Ancient Semitic Thought

There ya go. If you're a huge dork like me who reads scholarly papers in your spare time, you're in hog-heaven. If not, please continue on with your regularly scheduled non-dorky day!


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