Saturday, October 10, 2020

YEC's Silence on Anthropology

Grand Canyon at dawn

Alice C. Linsley

Young-earth creationists believe that the days of Genesis 1 were six consecutive 24-hour days, which occurred 6,000–12,000 years ago. They believe that about 4,300 years ago the surface of the earth was radically rearranged by a worldwide flood. Some sea creatures, and all land animals and birds not in Noah’s Ark perished and were subsequently buried in the flood sediments. Therefore, YEC creationists believe that the catastrophic global flood was responsible for most of the rock layers and fossils. They believe that some rock layers and some fossils were deposited before the Flood and other layers and fossils were produced in localized sedimentation events or processes.

It hardly matters if the days of creation were 24-hour days or thousands of years each. The earth's creation predates the time of Noah by millions of years. Noah lived during the African Aqualithic, when the Sahara was wet. (Noah was a Proto-Saharan ruler who lived about 5000 years ago in the region of Lake Chad.)

Geologists agree that the age of the rock layers that make up the walls of the Grand Canyon range between 270 million years and 1.8 billion years. YEC argues that the Grand Canyon was created with the appearance of age. This begs the question: "Why would God create a deception?"

Notice that YEC focuses on geology. The YEC literature avoids anthropological data, such as the fact that humans were burying their dead in red ocher for at least 100,000 years as a symbolic blood covering in the hope of life after death. (See "On Blood and the Impulse to Immortality" for further explanation.)

Young Earth Creationism either ignores the bulk of human artifacts that are many thousands, even millions of years old, or it attempts to discredit the dating by saying that carbon dating is inaccurate. Of course, scientists use many dating methods. When you are talking about artifacts that are 500,000-800,000 years, even if the dating is off by 50%, the ages are still well beyond the YEC estimate of the Earth's age at 12,000 years. Many thousands of human artifacts have been found that date to over 500,000 years. See this list of some of the more significant finds.

Biblical anthropology is a relatively new science, but it has helped us to understand the context of the creation and origin stories in Genesis. Biblical anthropology has identified the oldest material in Genesis and shown how it connects to ancient African populations. Sadly, this has been ignored in the West. The result is to label the narratives as "myth" or to insist on reading them as literal accounts. (See "The Themes of Genesis 1-3".)

The great challenge is to help people read Genesis in a more empirical way so they can avoid a literal reading where it is not intended and can overcome general ignorance of the material. (See "Between Biblical Literalism and Biblical Illiteracy".)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Development of the Nicene Creed

Icon of the Second Council of Nicaea

Though there are denominational differences among Christians, especially since the 16th century, Christians around the world agree on certain core beliefs. Many of these beliefs were clarified by councils of wise bishops, priests and deacons. This is why Christianity is described as conciliar.

In the history of the Church seven ecumenical councils have been especially important. These councils were called to resolve controversies surrounding Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and holy images such as icons.

The Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh Councils address the veneration (honor) due to the Virgin Mary. The veneration of Mary was a common practice before the rise of Protestantism, and the oldest cathedrals have chapels dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Many statutes of Mary were destroyed by the Puritans under Oliver Cromwell's rule in England, and even today her image is an affront to those who hate her son. The destruction of images is called “iconoclasm.”

Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, had much to say about the veneration of Mary. He wrote, "The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." (Sermon, Sept. 1st 1522)

Luther also said, "People have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: The Mother of God. No one can say anything greater of her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the tress." (From the Commentary of the Magnificat)

The Nicene Creed is a summary of the core beliefs of the Christian Faith.

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker (of heaven and earth, and) of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds (æons), Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father;

by whom all things were made (in heaven and on earth);

who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

he was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered, and was buried, and the third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;

from thence he shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead;

whose kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father (Rome adds "and from the Son"), who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.

In one holy catholic and apostolic Church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

What follows is a summary of the decisions of the first Seven Ecumenical Councils.

1. First Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) with 318 bishops present, including St. Nicholas of Myra, St. James of Nisibis, and St. Athanasius of Antioch, who was a deacon at that time. 

As the first Roman emperor to claim adherence to Christianity, Constantine played a role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which decreed tolerance for Christianity in the empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325. However, it is possible that Constantine did not agree with all the decisions of that council. His son Constantius II encouraged the Arians.

This Council was called to resolve controversy raised by the Alexandrian priest Arius, who rejected the Jesus Christ’s divine nature and eternal pre-existence as the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God the Father. Arius taught that the Son of God is the highest creation. Therefore, in the Nicene Creed we affirm that Jesus Christ is “begotten of the Father, not made…”

2. First Council of Constantinople (A.D. 381) with 150 bishops present, including Gregory the Theologian, who presided over the Council, Gregory of Nyssa, and Cyril of Jerusalem.

This Council was convoked against the false teaching of the Arian bishop of Constantinople, Macedonius, who rejected the deity of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. He taught that the Holy Spirit is not God, and called Him a created power like an angel, and therefore subservient to God the Father and God the Son. The Council affirmed as a dogma (unchanging truth) the equality and the single essence of God the Holy Spirit with God the Father and God the Son. The Council also supplemented the Nicene Creed, or "Symbol of Faith," with five Articles in which is set forth its teaching about the Holy Spirit, about the Church, about the Mysteries, about the resurrection of the dead, and the life in the world to come. This is called the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and it serves as a guide to the Church for all time.

3. Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) with 200 bishops present, with Cyril Patriarch of Alexandria as president of the council.

This Council repudiated the doctrine of Nestorius, Archbishop of Constantinople, who taught that the Virgin Mary simply gave birth to the Christ the man. He insisted that Mary be given the title Christotokos (Christ Bearer), but not Theotokos (God-Bearer), thereby denying that Jesus is God incarnate. Nestorius taught that God dwelt in Jesus, as God dwelt in a temple. The Council upheld the divine nature of Jesus Christ and that at the time of the incarnation he was of two natures, divine and human, and that being so, the Mary did indeed bear God. The Council also affirmed the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, and strictly prohibited making any changes or additions to it (as happened when the Western Church added the words “and from the Son” to the Creed, referring to the procession of the Holy Spirit. This is called the “Filioque clause” and among Anglicans this phrase may be omitted when reciting the Nicene Creed.

4. Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) with 650 bishops present

This Council met to challenge the doctrine of Eutyches, an archimandrite of a monastery in Constantinople. In attempting to defend the full divinity of Jesus, Eutyches went to the extreme of rejecting the full humanity of Jesus. Eutyches taught that the human nature was completely absorbed into Jesus Christ’s divine nature (Monophysitism).The Council determined that Jesus Christ is perfect God, born by God, and perfect Man, taking his flesh from his mother Mary and in every way He is like us, except without sin.

The Council condemned monophysitism and deposed Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria. In 452, one year later, with the support of the Eastern Roman emperor Theodosius II, Dioscorus convened the Second Council of Ephesus (later denounced as the “Robber Synod”), where he reinstated Eutyches, and attempted to excommunicate Pope Leo I for his condemnation of Eutyches.

Some Eastern churches do not accept this judgment. These include the “miaphysite” Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Church of India. These are considered “Non-Chalcedonian” churches. Miaphysitism holds that in Jesus Christ, Divinity and Humanity are united in one nature (monism), the two being united without separation, without confusion, and without alteration.

5. Second Council of Constantinople (A.D. 553) was called by the emperor Justinian and Eutychius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, presided. (Eutychius should not be confused with the heretic Eutyches.) There were 165 bishops present or represented.

This council convened to address the heretical proposition that the Christ and Jesus were two separate persons loosely conjoined. This Council reaffirmed that Jesus Christ has two natures, fully human and fully divine, and that these are neither separable nor mixed.

The question of the Virgin Mary as Theotokos (God Bearer) or Christotokos (Christ Bearer) arose again. The Fifth Ecumenical Council upheld the judgement of the Third Ecumenical Council in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son is the very image of God incarnate.

6. Third Council of Constantinople (A.D. 680) with 170 bishops present, including St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and St. Maximus the Confessor, who the Romans had tortured by cutting out his tongue cut and chopping off his right hand.

The Council condemned the heresies of monoenergism and monothelitism, and defined Jesus Christ as having two energies and two wills (divine and human). Monoenergism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one energy, whereas orthodoxy teaches that Jesus Christ acts through two energies, divine and human, generally called Dyoenergism. Monothelitism teaches that Jesus Christ had two natures but only one will. This is contrary to orthodox Christology, which teaches that Jesus Christ has two wills (human and divine) corresponding to his two natures.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council also rejected several innovations, namely, the Latin Church's requirement that priests and deacons be unmarried, strict fasting on Saturdays during Lent, and representations of Jesus as a lamb [Lamb of God], or in any way other than in the form He appeared on the earth. This was intended to curb what was regarded as Roman idolatry. 

7. Second Council of Nicaea (A.D. 787) with 367 bishops, priests and “spiritual fathers” present

The decrees were framed by the president Tarasius, and ratified by the acclamations and subscriptions of three hundred and fifty bishops.

By now the Church had to address the question of Hebrews who would affiliate with the Church. The Seventh Council decided: "Hebrews must not be received unless they are manifestly converted with sincerity of heart."

This Council was convened against the iconoclastic heresy, which had been raging for sixty years before the Council, under the Greek Emperor Leo III, who hoped to convert Muslims to Christianity. To do so, he thought it necessary to do away with icons. Emperor Leo’s son, Constantine V (741–775), held the Council of Hieria to make the suppression of holy images official. Veneration of the holy icons was finally restored and affirmed by the local synod of Constantinople in 843 A.D., under the Empress Theodora. 

At the seventh ecumenical council it was determined that, “As the sacred and life-giving cross is everywhere set up as a symbol, so also should the images of Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the holy angels, as well as those of the saints and other pious and holy men be embodied in the manufacture of sacred vessels, tapestries, vestments, etc., and exhibited on the walls of churches, in the homes, and in all conspicuous places, by the roadside and everywhere, to be revered by all who might see them. For the more they are contemplated, the more they move to fervent memory of their prototypes. Therefore, it is proper to accord to them a fervent and reverent adoration, not, however, the veritable worship which, according to our faith, belongs to the Divine Being alone — for the honor accorded to the image passes over to its prototype, and whoever adores the image adores in it the reality of what is there represented."

In keeping with the spirit of the early Middle Ages, there was an emphasis on every church having a relic enshrined in the altar. A relic consists of the physical remains or personal effects of a saint or venerated person preserved as a tangible memorial. All Eastern Orthodox churches and many Roman Catholic churches have altars containing relics. Many of the oldest churches in England have relics. Relics of St. Thomas Becket are housed in Trinity Chapel at Canterbury Cathedral. Recently, archaeologists have found the remains of four of the Puritan founders of the Jamestown Settlement and were surprised to find a relic among the items buried with Capt. Gabriel Archer.  (See 2015, Washington Post, “Jamestownexcavation unearths four bodies and a mystery in a box”)

The Councils rejected as heresy the belief of Nestorius because he divided the one Son and Word of God into two sons, and, on the other side, also rejected the heresies of Arius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, and Severus, because they maintained a mingling of the two natures of the one Christ.

Related reading: The Seven Ecumenical Councils

Saturday, September 12, 2020

African = Black is a Modern Equation

Alice C. Linsley

Adamah (Hebrew: אדמה) refers to the ground or earth. The connection is evident in the relationship of the words human and humus. In Genesis, the Creator forms the human from the dust of the earth or from the clay. In Anthropology, the term for this belief is "autochthonous." (Autochthonous = “auto” meaning by itself + “chthonio” as in ‘chthonic’ out of the ground/earth.)

The idea of autochthonous origin of humans is found in the origin stories of many cultures. This is also linked to skin tone. Black people were thought to be created from rich black alluvial soil and red people from mineral rich red lands. These 7000-year figurines of the Butmir Culture (present day Bosnia) show both types.

The term adam is derived from the root אדם (A.D.M), which means "to be red or ruddy" (Strong’s #119). This suggests that Adam, the father of Cain and Seth, had a red skin one. Dam refers to red blood. Adamah refers to the red ground, and adam is the red man. Genesis 2:7 states that "the adam" was formed out of "the adamah" meaning this human was formed of red earth. In Swahili damu refers to blood and the word binadamu refers to a human being.

The idea of humans having an autochthonous origin is fairly universal which indicates that this is a very ancient belief. There is a general anthropological principle to the effect that the more widespread geographically a belief, custom, or culture trait, the older it is. We see this also with the 100,000-years custom of red ocher burial, and the practice of a people calling itself by a word that means "human" in their language. 

Examples include: Ainu (Northern Japan); Dene (Navajo) from an Athabaskan word meaning people or humans. The word Inuit means human. A population of ancient Anatolia called themselves the Nes, meaning humans or people. In ancient Akkadian, the word Hapiru means human being.

Sometimes the name of the people involves reduplication. That is case with the Khoekhoe of Southern Africa. The term khoe means human, and the reduplication khoe khoe makes it a plural form, humans.

Clearly, the genetic diversity of humans was explained by a connection between the people and the land where they resided. In fact, there are as many skin tones among humans as there are soil colors. 

Edom in Hebrew means red. The land of Edom was called Idumea by the Greeks. Idumea means "land of red people" and, as is shown in this photo, the land of Edom is red and reddish brown. Esau of Edom is described as red in Genesis. Genesis 36:31 notes that the Horite Hebrew rulers of Edom are said to have an older royal lineage than the Israelite kings.

Along the Nile there were red people living in the "Land of Red People." Their land was rich in the red clay that washed down from the Ethiopian highlands. These soils have a cambic B horizon. Chromic cambisols have a strong red brown color. This was the land of the Red Nubians.

There were both red and black Nubians.

The Nile Valley had both red and black soil. The black soil was alluvial, the result of the annual floods. The red soil was the mineral rich material of the wilderness regions and the chromic cambisols washed down to the Upper Nile from the Ethiopian Highlands.

The equation of "African" and "black" is a recent development. Africa has always had the greatest genetic diversity. Some of the San have a yellow skin tone. Nilotic populations were especially diverse with a wide range of hair types, eye colors, and skin tones. 

There were light skin rulers with red hair living along the Nile 5,800 years ago. The vast majority of hair samples discovered at the Predynastic cemetery site HK43 at Nekhen were cynotrichous (Caucasian) as opposed to heliotrichous (Negroid), according to The Nekhen News (p. 7). Samples ranged from a single hair to a complete headful, with the largest number originating from the disturbed Burial no. 16 of a female of around 35+ years of age.

Another fascinating find at Nekhen was the recovery of an almost complete beard in association with the redheaded man in Burial no. 79. The man had long wavy natural red hair and a full beard.

The shrine city of Nekhen is the oldest known site of Horite Hebrew worship.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Waiting for a Miracle?


Healing of the Deaf Man, ca. 830. Fresco, Church of St. John, Müstair, Switzerland.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis. There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it. People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” (Mark 7:31-37)

Speaking of the time of deliverance by Messiah, the Prophet Isaiah says, "Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped." (Isaiah 35:5)

Mark was the only Evangelist to record the miracle of the healing of the deaf and mute man in the region of the Decapolis. He stresses that Jesus Messiah was not seeking fame and fortune. He was not seeking glory. He wanted to protect the man who had been brought to him for healing, and he wanted the miracle kept quiet.

Jesus healed the man privately as an act of compassion. "Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue." (Mark 7:33-36) 

The people were astonished and said concerning Jesus: "He does all things well; he makes both the deaf to hear, and the mute to speak." (Mark 7:37)

Today this miracle is discounted as Christian propaganda. Skepticism extends beyond the possibility of miracles to the very idea that Messiah has come in the flesh. We live in a time of extreme unbelief. Is it any wonder that few see the miracles that do happen? We see what we expect to see. We hear what we want to hear. The effect is that we become spiritually deaf, mute and blind. If we are lucky, some friends might care enough to bring us to Jesus. That in itself would be a miracle!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Parsing Genesis 36

Alice C. Linsley

Recently a reader asked if Isaac's son Esau was the founding father of the people known as Edomites. The answer is no. The text is speaking of a different Esau and the term "father" indicates a chief, not a founder.

"This is the account of the family line of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir." (Gen. 36:9)

Here Esau the Elder is associated with the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. Verse 10 tells us about his two wives and his two first born sons Eliphaz and Reuel.

Verse 10: "These are the names of Esau’s sons: Eliphaz, the son of Esau’s wife Adah, and Reuel, the son of Esau’s wife Basemath."

Adah was the daughter of a chief named Elon.

Eliphaz married a daughter of Seir the Horite. She was probably his cousin.

This kinship diagram illustrates these relationships.

The name Esau appears more than once among the Horites of Edom (probably due the the cousin bride's naming prerogative) which is why Isaac's son Esau is not the "father" of the Edomites. 

The term "father" in the Old Testament can mean chief, elder, founder, or biological father. In Genesis 36:40, Esau the Elder (not Esau the son of Isaac) is designated the eponymous founder of the Edomites (as Romulus was claimed the founder of Rome). 

It is clear, however, that this designation is not intended to mean that Esau the Elder was the founding father of the Edomites of Seir. That designation pertains to Seir the Horite. These were the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in the region: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah (female), Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These sons of Seir in Edom were Horite chiefs. (Gen. 36:19-29)

Esau the Elder and Esau the Younger were chiefs, not founders. Consider how the term "father" is used in 1 Chronicles 2:50-52 - "These were the descendants of Caleb. The sons of Hur the firstborn of Ephrathah: Shobal the father of Kiriath-jearim, Salma the father of Bethlehem, and Hareph the father of Beth-gader. These were the descendants of Shobal the father of Kiriath-jearim: Haroeh, half the Manahathites,…" (Note the Horite names: Hur, Hareph, and Haroeh.)

Here it is clear that these are chiefs over settlements, just as it says in Gen. 36:40: "according to their settlements." Similarly, I Chronicles 4:4 lists Hur as the "father" of Bethlehem, another Horite settlement.

Archaeological investigation of settlements in Jordan that were part of ancient Edom have led to the view that this region had multiple settlements ruled by local chiefs. See The Edom Survey Project.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Chaos Subdued

The chaotic waters (Tehom)

Texts from the earliest civilizations indicate that the ancients were acute observers of the natural world. They observed flood cycles, dry seasons, and volcanic activity. Such natural phenomena are described in the Bible and in other more ancient texts. 

In Genesis 1 the chaotic primal waters are subdued by the generative Word that goes forth from the Creator. Genesis 1 uses the words tohu (formless or confused) and bohu (empty or void) to describe the beginning. The Hebrew phrase "formless and void" (Gen. 1: 2) is tohu wa-bohu and appears to be of Nilotic origin. In Isaiah 34:11 tohu means "confused" so Genesis 1 refers to matter in a confused or chaotic state before God set things in order.

The ancient Egyptians believed that chaos (tehom) dwelt south of Yebu (Elephantine Island) as a great river serpent called Apep or Apophis. This serpent is depicted as the enemy of the High God Ra. In this image Apep attacks Ra as he journeys from east to west in his solar boat. 

The serpent Tehom was overthrown by Tehut, divine Wisdom, shown in this image as Horus, the son of Ra. The image below is of a relief from the temple of Horus at Idfū in Egypt. It shows Apophis being subdued by spears.

The dark turbulent waters called Tehom in Genesis 1 relate to the Nilotic word for water, Tehem. Tehom is the antagonist of Tehut in ancient Nilotic mythology. 

In the ancient world natural and spiritual forces are often portrayed as demons and deities. In the Bablyonian context, Tiamat is a goddess, but in the Nilotic context, Tiamat is the chaotic waters that are subdued by God. 

The name of the coastal region of Yemen is Tihamat. The word is related to the Akkadian words for sea, tâmtu and ti'amtum, and tiamatu - ocean, abyss, and to the Egyptian word tehem which refers to water. 

The Law of Tehut was established about 5600 years ago by King Menés who administered justice and issued edicts to enhance food production and distribution, guard the rights of ruling families, improve education, and increase knowledge of the natural world through geometry and astronomy. The Law of Tehut was to establish order in his territory.

Friday, July 24, 2020

A Word of Thanks

More people are coming to Just Genesis to do research. There is a much improved INDEX that can help researchers find pertinent material. Take a look

The topics are arranged alphabetically and all the essays are hot linked for quick access.

Additionally, I've included "related reading" at the end of the essays to enable readers to investigate a topic more deeper.

I receive communications from people telling me that they find the approach of Biblical Anthropology helpful in gaining a clearer understanding of the Bible and biblical populations. Often they have questions that I attempt to answer, and sometimes they provide extremely important data that advances this research. This is enormously rewarding!

Thank you for following this research and for contributing to this emerging branch of cultural anthropology. Thank you for reading JUST GENESIS.

Alice C. Linsley

Related reading: Join the conversation at The Bible and Anthropology FB Group.