Thursday, October 16, 2014

Evidence of an Old Earth - Part 1

The Answers in Genesis conception of Biblical history

According to Young-Earth Creationism, the world is only about 6018 years old. Young Earth Creationists use Archbishop James Ussher’s chronology to date the age of the Earth. Ussher assumed that the "begats" in Genesis 4 and 5 represent the first people on earth. However, this interpretation is not supported by the evidence in the Bible. The "begets" are early king lists, and these kings lived within the historical period. Their reigns correspond to Proto-Saharan and Nilo-Egyptian dynasties, and to early Kushite reigns in Mesopotamia. Here is a more detailed timeline of the rulers.

Timeline of Rulers in Genesis

B.C. 2490-2415 - Noah lived when the Sahara experienced a wet period (the "Aqualithic" or the African Humid Period). He was a Proto-Saharan ruler whose reign coincided with the Old Kingdom, a time of great cultural and technological achievement in Egypt. This places Noah and his sons in relatively recent history, not at the dawn of human existence. They ruled over territories during the 7th, 8th and 9th Dynasties in Egypt.

First Intermediate Period
2475-2445 BC: 7th - 8th Dynasties Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth and Kush
2445–2160 BC: 9th -10th Dynasties Nimrod, Arpachshad, Salah, Eber and Peleg and Joktan

Middle Kingdom
2160-2000 BC: 11th Dynasty Nahor, Terah and Abraham
2000-1788 BC: 12th Dynasty Jacob, Esau, Joseph

Fishing and boats remains and implements are found across a broad range of the Sahara, associated with distinctive ceramics, cattle herding, and early cultivation. Here are images of some of the artifacts found in Africa from the time of Noah.

Artifacts such as these are found across the Sahara, the Sahel, the Nile Valley, and the East African Lakes at sites dated to 10,000 years ago and older.  Specimens dating to 25,000 years ago have been found at Ishango, and others dated at about 90,000 years at Katanda. Both sites are in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (John E. Yellen. 1998. Barbed Bone Points: Tradition and Continuity in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa. African Archaeological Review , vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 173-198) 

Between 7,000 and 5,000 years ago the Sahara began to dry out in the areas more geographically removed from the rivers and lakes. This drove both animal and human populations toward the Benue Trough, Lake Chad, and the Nile Valley. The exodus coincided with the rise of pharaonic culture along the Nile River (Kuper and Kröpelin, 2006). This explains, in part, the movement of Abraham's ancestors from the region of Lake Chad and the Nile into the Arabian Peninsula and the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The marriage and ascendancy pattern of Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors also drove expansion out of Africa.

B.C. 2438-2363 - Ham
B.C. 2417-2342 - Kush, son of Ham and the father of Nimrod and Ramah
B.C. 2290-2215 - Nimrod, a sent-away son who became Sargon the Great. He was a great Kushite ruler.

The Afro-Asiatic Dominion, which was controlled by rulers related to the kings listed in Genesis, was essentially Kushite. Dr. Christopher Ehret confirms this in his "History in Africa." He writes, "The linguistic, genetic, and archaeological evidence combine in locating the origins of this family far south in Africa, in Eritrea or Ethiopia, and not at all in Asia. A complex array of lexical evidence confirms that the proto-Afrasian society belonged to the pre-agricultural eras of human history." (p.4)

The Kushite expansion into ancient Sumer has been well-documented, beginning with François Lenormant. In Sumerian inscriptions, the Kushites are called Meluha Kasi. Nimrod, the son a Kush built a great empire in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. He is known in history as Sar-gon, a title meaning "High King" or "King of Kings." The Elamite word for king is sunki, a cognate of the Hausa sarki, meaning king or ruler. The Sumerian word for king is sar and the Chadic word for ruler is gon.

Sargon the Great lived from about 2290 to 2215 BC, which is when his son Rimush (Ramesh) by his sister-wife ascended the throne. Alternative dates for Sargon the Great are 2360-2279, but these dates likely refer to his maternal grandfather after whom he was named. It was Sargon the Elder, not Sargon the Great, who conquered Nippur in 2340 B.C. and established his capital in Accad (Agade/Agadez).

B.C. 2238-2163 - Arpacshad, Nimrod's son by Asshur's daughter
B.C. 2217-2042 - Salah, likely Arpacshad's son by his sister wife
B.C. 2196-2121 - Eber, likely Salah's son by his sister wife
B.C. 2175-2100 - Peleg, son of Eber (Peleg's brother was Joktan the Elder)
B.C. 2154-2079 - Reu (The name appears in Leah's line. She named her first-born son Reu-ben)
B.C. 2133-2058 - Serug, likely Reu's firstborn by his sister wife
B.C. 2112-2037 - Nahor, likely Serug's firstborn by his sister wife
B.C. 2091-2016 - Terah, likely Nahor's firstborn son by his sister wife
B.C. 2039-1964 - Abraham, Terah's son by his cousin wife and a sent-away son
B.C. 1987-1912 - Joktan the Younger, Abraham's firstborn son by his cousin wife, Keturah

Analysis of the kinship pattern in Genesis 4, 5, 10 and 11 reveals that the lines of Cain (Gen. 4) and Seth (Gen. 5) and the lines of Ham and Shem intermarried. Therefore, Abraham, Moses and Jesus are descendants of both Cain and Seth and both Ham and Shem. Cain's line was not destroyed in the flood.

Further, analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham's Nilo-Saharan ancestors reveals a distinctive marriage and ascendancy pattern that can be traced from Genesis to the New Testament.

What YEC fails to explain

The Biblical material reveals a gap of time between the first created humans, represented by Adam and Eve, and the rulers of Genesis 4 and 5, represented by Cain and his brother Seth. If you believe that the earth is 6000 years, there is a gap of 800-1000 years between Adam and Eve and Cain. Young-Earth Creationists must explain how Eve gave birth to Cain at age 800 or older.

The Biblical material is self-explanatory, but YEC dogma requires that the Biblical explanation be ignored or rejected. When Cain was born his mother declared kan-itti. E.A. Speiser noted that Qany(ty) or Qanitti shows close affinity to the Akkadian itti, as in itti šarrim, meaning "with the king." Among the Oromo of Ethiopia and Somalia, itti is attached to names. Examples include Kaartuumitti, Finfinneetti and Dimashqitti. That itti is associated with Nilotic and Egyptian rulers is evident also in the name Nefertitti. Once we place the Biblical material in its proper cultural context, we understand that Cain's mother is declaring that she has gotten a king with God's help. (The passage is Messianic!) In fact, the words "king" and "kahn" are derived from the same root as Kain.

At the back of YEC books one finds the 12 Affirmations and Denials. Affirmation XII claims that the diversity of languages and skin color came about as a result of divine judgment at the Tower of Babel.

XII. We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve...and that the various people groups (with their various languages, cultures, and distinctive physical characteristics, including skin color) arose as a result of God's supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel..."

In this view, one's skin color is the result of God's judgment. Is there any wonder why many hear racist tones in YEC dogma? Young-Earth Creationists must explain how different languages and a wide range of skin tones and physical features already existed long before the time of Noah in populations ranging from the Atlantic coast of Africa to Europe, India, and islands in the Pacific.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dr. Hugh Ross Responds to YEC

Young-earth creationists define “operational science” as experiments and observations of natural phenomena that are performed in real time—that is, in the present. They consider the outcomes from operational science as trustworthy and reliable. Young-earth creationists define “historical or origins science” as observations of and experiments on the presently existing natural realm so as to infer what occurred in the past. Such inferences, they argue, are based on questionable assumptions, such as the presumption that the laws of physics do not change over the history of the universe, Earth, and life. Consequently, they conclude that the findings of historical or origins science are not trustworthy and reliable. This explains why Ken Ham and other leaders of young-earth creationist organizations insist that the Bible, and the Bible alone, provides reliable information about what happened in the past.

But this dichotomy that young-earth creationists present is a false one. They are correct in stating that only phenomena we scientists observe directly can be considered to be assumption-free. They are wrong, however, in concluding that all historical sciences depend on indirect observations.

Astronomy is a discipline where we observe the past directly. [Read it all here.]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Something Older

Alice C. Linsley

A central task of biblical anthropology is to uncover antecedents; something coming before what is described in the text. Biblical anthropology seeks to understand the cultural context of the Bible at the oldest foundations. It is concerned with ancestors and received traditions. What events preceded the events recounted? From what earlier context did certain practices develop? What traces of ancient memory can be uncovered?

The biblical text always speaks of something older, some prior action that solicits a response from later generations. What Jacques Derrida called the "trace" is always there, and unless one moves toward that presence, the nature of it remains unknown. Even where later sources attempt to efface an earlier account, as happens in Genesis, the trace has a voice. The prior remains evident. There is always this "minority opinion" and those who care about the bigger picture read minorities opinions.

Derrida wrote, "The call of the other, having always already preceded the speech to which it has never been present a first time, announces itself as a recall. Such a reference to the other will always have taken place." (Psyche: Inventions of the Other)

Derrida also wrote, “It would be possible to show that all the terms related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the center have always designated the constant of a presence, ... essence, existence, substance, subject, ... transcendentality, consciousness or conscience, god, man, and so forth.” (The Sign, Structure and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences)

Derrida never denies the existence of “the center” which for him is a function, not a person. This function is immutable and inescapable. It is always prior, always before human discourse. The biblical authors would say that the something older is Someone, the Ancient of Days. The biblical text and our discourse on the text self-efface before this Someone.

I am often asked, "What is the difference between biblical anthropology and Near Eastern studies?" The question reveals a general bias in academic circles. The trace is ignored and the red herring is pursued. The red herring is the assumption that Abraham's earliest ancestors lived in Mesopotamia. Were this true, there would be no need for Biblical Anthropology.  However, Abraham's earliest known ancestors, the rulers listed in Genesis 4 and 5, were Nilo-Saharans. Their story does not pertain to the ancient Near East, but to Africa, the blind spot in biblical studies.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Blaming Original Sin on Adam

The following lecture was presented at the July 2014 conference of the American Scientific Affiliation in Hamilton, Ontario.

Original Sin Revisited: An Inevitable Theological Paradigm Shift?
By Denis O. Lamoureux


"The doctrine of original sin has been a foundational belief of the Christian faith throughout most of church history. It is a complex doctrine that is intimately connected to the fall of humans as presented in Genesis 3 and later interpreted by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:12–21. The essence of the doctrine of original sin can be summarized by two basic tenets: (1) Original sin is the very first sin committed by the very first man created, whom the Bible identifies as Adam. (2) Original sin includes the notion that all humans who have ever lived descend from Adam and that the sin of Adam has been transferred through sexual reproduction to everyone as his own. Recent scientific findings in genetics have called into question the historicity of Adam, and by implication the historic doctrine of original sin. Remarkably, this discussion is even occurring within evangelical circles. For example, a landmark issue of Christianity Today in June 2011 featured a cover with a Neanderthal-looking male and the title “The Search for the Historical Adam: The State of the Debate.” The cover blurb commented, “Some scholars believe that genome science [i.e., genetics] casts doubt on the existence of the first man and first woman. Others say that the integrity of the faith requires it.” To be sure, rejecting the historicity of Adam will have resounding implications for the doctrine of original sin. If Adam did not exist, then he could never have committed the first sin. And if Adam never existed, then all of humanity did not descend from him and his sin could never have been passed on to every human being through sexual reproduction. Or to cast this problem in the form of a question: If indeed there was no Adam and as a consequence no original sin, is it inevitable that Christian theology will experience a theological paradigm shift, no different than those scientific paradigm shifts that have been seen in the history of science?

This paper unfolds in three parts. First, we will examine some of the most important documents in church history dealing with the doctrine of original sin in order to feel the weight of questioning the historicity of Adam and by implication the truthfulness of this foundational doctrine. Second, biblical passages by the apostle Paul related to original sin are presented to further intensify the gravity of this problem. Finally, I will offer one approach toward a possible solution of moving beyond the historicity of Adam and the traditional doctrine of original sin. I will assume an evolutionary creationist view of human origins as well as a nonconcordist hermeneutic of biblical passages dealing with the creation of the natural world. Furthermore, by embracing a biblically based approach to natural revelation (theology), I will attempt to cast human sinfulness within the framework of an evangelical Christian evolutionary psychology."--Denis O. Lamoureux

Dr. Lamoureaux does not explore the alternative to the Western view of original sin. The Eastern Church never speaks of sin being passed from Adam and Eve to their descendants. Instead, it is held that each person bears the guilt and shame of his or her own sin. What then is the inheritance of humanity from Adam and Eve if it is not guilt? It is not guilt that is passed on, but rather a condition, or more accurately, a disease. This disease results in corruption and death, which St. Paul also points to in I Corinthians 15:21. St. Cyril of Alexandria teaches that humanity became “diseased… through the sin of one." And if we attend to the Biblical text closely, that is the sin of Eve, by whose action of submitting her will to the will of a base creature, inverted the hierarchical order in creation, so that all of the creation is subjected to decay.

Related reading: St. John Chrysostom on Eve's SinOriginal Sin or Inheritance of Death?Adam and Eve: The Blood and the Birther; Answers to High Schoolers' Questions about Adam and Eve; Are Adam and Eve Real?; The First Verifiably Historical Persons in Genesis; The Biblical Meaning of Eve

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Wisdom in Genesis

Alice C. Linsley

When we consider ancient wisdom literature, we tend to think of books like Job, Proverbs, or the Wisdom of Ben Sirach. The word "wisdom" does not appear in the book of Genesis so some might assume that the first book of the Bible does not touch on this subject. However, from an anthropological perspective, Genesis reveals the antecedents of wisdom literature in the Bible.

Leon Kass touches on wisdom in Genesis in his book The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis. He explores the ethical dimensions of Genesis as a physician committed to teaching it as a defense against the "antiwisdoms" of modernity (p. 4). He hopes his book will help Jewish “children of skeptics” to understand why their predecessors found Genesis compelling and illuminating. Kass is critical of how science abandoned "the large metaphysical-theological questions and spiritual-moral concerns that preoccupied" ancient Man, and most especially Abraham's people (p. 5). He explores the Genesis text as a coherent whole. His approach is to gain practical wisdom for today and his method is dependent upon psychological insights and insights from the Talmud.

Kass sees the patterns in Genesis and explains that Genesis speaks not about "what happened, but what always happens" (p. 10). He maintains that Genesis is "instructional narrative" (p. 79). Joseph and Solomon married women of the royal Egyptian court and both men embody wisdom in the Old Testament. On closer examination, we see that these rulers had much in common.

Imbued with wisdom from God, Joseph is recognized by Pharaoh as wiser than all the royal wise men. He speaks as one with authority. Solomon also is a wise teacher, as is evident in the Proverbs.  Indeed, the 3000 year old Egyptian text Teaching of Amenemope suggests that Solomon's Proverbs were based on an older tradition whereby royal sons were taught. Solomon married Pharaoh's daughter and there was a close relationship between the Egyptian court and Solomon's court (Currid, 1997: 159-171). It is likely that Solomon had royal advisers, but the biblical text places emphasis on Solomon as the righteous ruler imbued with divine wisdom (another Messianic allusion). The similarities between Proverbs and the Teaching of Amenemope can be explained by the fact that the Hebrew (Habiru) were blood relatives of the Nilotic rulers and priests who preserved the tradition received from their Horim. Ibn Erza holds that the phrase al-tifra-u in Proverbs 8:33 means "don't change the order." The verse says: "Listen to my instruction and become wise. Don't change the order." The rulers and priests felt constrained to preserve the tradition of their Horim (Horite ancestors).

In the minds of the rulers named in Genesis, wisdom is the Lord's instrument by which He created all things (Psalm 104:24). "God founded the earth by wisdom; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down dew" (Prov. 30:20).

Wisdom “came forth from the mouth of the Most High and covered the earth like a mist” (Sirach 24:3). Here we have an allusion to Genesis 1:1 which speaks of the Spirit (ruach/wind/breath) going forth from the Creator to establish order in the chaotic deep. In Job 32:8, Elihu declares that it is the spirit in a man, the breath of Shaddai, that gives him wisdom.

Such wisdom is given to righteous rulers who seek it. God rewards the ruler who seeks wisdom above power and wealth (2 Chronicles 1:11). Wisdom expresses itself in good governmental administration (Gen. 41:8-43). It is demonstrated in mathematics, engineering, architecture, as expressed in this statement: "Wisdom builds her house" (Prov. 9:1).

Wisdom/skill is chokmah (hokma) in Hebrew and is related to chakam (hakam) which refers to a wise or skillful royal official. Hakam is the word found in the Genesis 41 narrative, where we are told that Pharaoh called for his wise men and, after they failed to interpret his dreams, he called for Joseph. Joseph interpreted the dreams and also gave Pharaoh unsolicited advice on how to prevent catastrophe. The king of Egypt than declared that there is none so wise and discreet as Joseph. Joseph was elevated to a position that made him like a "father" to the king (Gen 45:8). Joseph never claimed to have wisdom of his own. He relied on God to give the meaning of the king's dreams. If Pharaoh was regarded as a "son" of God and a deified ruler, how much more would Joseph as Pharaoh's "father" have been regarded as deified? So Joseph, rather than Pharaoh, becomes the archetype of Christ.

Kass notes that both Joseph and Solomon, the wisest men in the Old Testament, are attached by marriage to the royal house of Egypt. He sees this as the reason for the moral failure of both rulers. However, these were not "foreign wives" who led their husbands astray. Joseph and Solomon were of Horite ancestry, and by marrying into that caste, they were reconnecting with the Horites of Egypt. These were the keepers of the wisdom they received from their Nilo-Saharan ancestors at Nekhen. They preserved the ancient science and technologies that made Egypt great.

The Horites of Edom (Gen. 36) built a temple in honor of Pharaoh's daughter. This was Petra's central temple and it was called Qasr al-Bint al-Faroun, which means "The Fortress of the Daughter of Pharaoh." The walls rose to over 75 feet. At its height of glory, Petra rivaled the grandeur of Herod's Jerusalem. The skill exhibited here is the wisdom of the Horites.

The Horites traced blood line through the mother. Married women held and bequeathed property, and a few even ruled over their clans. Anah is listed as a "chief" in Genesis 36. Her name is also spelled Anat and Anath. Joseph married the daughter of a Horite priest of Heliopolis, the most prestigious shrine city of the ancient world. Her name was Asenath, a variant of Anath.

In 2010, the tomb of a Horite priest was discovered south of the cemetery of the pyramid builders at Giza. It belongs to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka). Rwd-Ka was a purification priest serving the house of Khafre (2520-2494 BC), the pharaoh who built the second-largest pyramid at Giza which was aligned to the obelisk of Heliopolis. This was an important priest and scribe of the Egyptian royal court as evidenced by his several titles. Rwd-Ka means "deified ruler of the sphere or realm."

The Horite priest was purified before entering the temple. His purification involved fasting, abstinence from sexual relations and alcohol, ritual bathing, and an intense period of prayer. Korah, Moses' half-brother, was a priest according to Numbers 16:17,18. His name means "shaved one." Horite priests shaved their heads and bodies as part of the purification ritual. Joseph shaved before he appeared before Pharaoh (Gen. 41:14).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Huge Nubian City

A large Nile temple was found in this ancient Nubian city in Sudan. This Kushite temple was dedicated to the Creator God.

Related reading: The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; The Nubian Context of YHWY

Saturday, September 6, 2014

More Revisionist Scholarship

Biblical Archaeology Society is marketing a lecture series with "new interpretations" of sex and gender in the Bible. These really are not new, but they are popular.

Sex, Gender and the Bible

In this compelling lecture series, new interpretations of sex and gender in the Bible confront traditional Judeo-Christian understandings of human sexuality and identity. In addition to highlighting the Bible’s often explicit celebration of sex, these lectures tackle critical questions that are still debated today, including the Bible’s views on homosexuality and the appropriate role of women in society. They even challenge our received assumptions about God’s gender and ask how and why “God the Mother” was erased from the Jewish and Christian faiths.

“Sex in the Bible: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly in This Legacy We Cannot Escape”
J. Harold Ellens, Theologian and Psychologist (43 minutes)

“Homosexuality in the Bible: The Case of David and Jonathan”
J. Harold Ellens, Theologian and Psychologist (48 minutes)

“He Will Rule Over You: The Status of Women in Biblical Times”
Michael D. Coogan, Harvard Divinity School (47 minutes)

“What Happened to God the Mother in the Trinity”
April D. DeConick, Rice University (36 minutes)
From here.

Related reading: Bunk from BAR