Monday, November 4, 2013

Genesis: On Gaps and Overlaps

Alice C. Linsley

The Bible has gaps of time. This is especially evident in Genesis. When reading Scripture it is helpful to recognize where these gaps are in the chronology. Although Genesis and the Bible have a chronological order, they do not tell the whole story of the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion. Nonetheless, we have true representations of the cultures of the people they describe. This has been confirmed by findings in many scientific disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, DNA studies, migration studies and climate studies.

There is a gap between the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden and the king lists of Genesis 4 and 5. Since Adam and Eve represent the first humans created by God, their story pertains to the dawn of human existence about 4 million years ago. Yet it is evident from the Biblical data about Kain and Seth that they were Neolithic rulers who lived millions of years later. Even if you believe that the earth is 6000 years, there is still a gap of about 800-1000 years between Eve and Kain and Seth. Young Earth Creationists must explain how Eve gave birth to Kain at 800 years of age.

The gap between Genesis 1-3 and 4 is more controversial that other gaps in the Bible. None doubt or seem to be troubled by the gap called the "intertestamental period" (400-4 BC). The gap of time between the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament writings is widely recognized.

If Genesis 1 reflects the seven-stepped pyramid cosmology of ancient Babylon, as is argued by Dr. John Walton, it relates to a time about 1300 years after the watery world of Eden. The Akkadian word ziqqurat is derived from the word zaqaru, to be high. People in the ancient world worshiped on high places such as mountain tops or stepped monuments. They built pillars and obelisks to represent the connection between heaven and earth. Jacob's dream of that connection involved a ladder.

The pyramids of Egypt symbolized the vertical connection between heaven and earth. That connection is reflected in the story of the seven days of creation whereby the Divine voice speaks over the chaotic waters, creating order, plants, animals, and humans, the last being the only creature made in the "image and likeness" of the Creator.


There are overlaps in the biblical accounts also. Abraham appears in Genesis 12, yet he was a contemporary of Job whose story appears many pages later than the story of Abraham. Abraham and Job were Horite rulers and kinsmen. To understand the world of Abraham and Job it is best to read their stories back-to-back.

Sometimes the overlap of material is evident only through exploration of the themes. There are two stories of drunken fathers - Noah and Lot - and when these are read back-to-back we find a powerful critique of drunkenness and the failure of fathers to accept responsibility for their actions.

There are two passovers - one involving Moses in Egypt and the other involving Rahab in Jericho. When we read these stories back-to-back, we uncover the scarlet cord which symbolizes the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

There is an overlap between the story of Judah going into Egypt during the time of Joseph's rule and the story of Judah having intercourse with Tamar in the region of Adullam.

The gaps and overlaps of the Bible invite us to delve more deeply into the text to understand what God is telling us. Inevitably, we find that the whole of the Bible is really about one thing: the Promised Seed/Son of God, Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save repentant sinners, to defeat death, and to establish an eternal kingdom in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are ever glorified.

Related reading: Gap Theory or Gap Fact?; The Horite Confederation of Uz, Huz and BuzTwo Passovers and Two Drunken Fathers; Who is Jesus?


Richard Høy said...

Genesis 1:27" So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Genesis 2:7 "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

'Adam (Strong's H120) has several different meanings. (Man, Mankind, the person called Adam etc) YHWH created mankind first, as Gen 1:27 outlines. Adam & Eve were not the first people on this earth. That wouldn't make any sense, since they'd have to have incestous relationships with their offspring to populate the earth, something that is abominable to YHWH.

Also worth mentioning is that the hebrew word for "day" , "yowm" (strong's H3117 ) have several different meanings as well. So I think it would be wrong to interpret the "7 days" as actual days, but rather 7 different era's ..

Alice Linsley said...

Yet the Bible holds Adam and Eve as the first created. In that case, we must understand them as archetypes. I have no problem with that.

There is another possibility. Since the whole of the Bible is about the Horites whose point of origin was Eden, Adam and Eve are the founders of the Horites. They are Ha-dam, "the blood," a very early term for human, and his life-giving wife. This second interpretation is quite consistent with African practice to name the founder parents of your people. Since Abraham's ancestors came out of Africa, I put my money on this interpretation.

The Church Fathers read the Adam and Eve story as historical because Adam and Eve in biblical parlance are the original first parents. Now the question is "first parents" of all humans or of the people who gave us Genesis? (Likewise, universal flood or extensive regional flood?) This story belongs to those who gave us Genesis, and to understand it we must understand their cultural context, which was African, specifically Nilo-Saharan.

Analysis of the king lists of Gen. 4 and 5 shows that Kain and Seth married the daughters of a ruler named Nok (Enoch), so the Bible itself makes it clear that there were other people.

To understand the range of viewpoints on this question, read:

Ramona Gordy said...

There are two stories of drunken fathers - Noah and Lot - and when these are read back-to-back we find a powerful critique of drunkenness and the failure of fathers to accept responsibility for their actions

Hi Alice
Have you read any books by Margeret Barker ? or Hugh Nibley?Margeret Barker has written a very intelligent body of work concerning Temple Theology in the Old and new testaments. She has proposed that Noah and his record should be read and approached in line with the creation text and also as symbolic in Temple Theology. She has proposed that Noah was not drunk. In reading the text; Noah in his nakedness was not "nude" but clothed in his under garments and was experiencing a vision; or taken in the Spirit.(Which to uneducated eyes, he probably would appear drunk) She then compares this behavior to Saul, when he was anoited king of Israel, at one point stripped "naked" down to his under garments and lay down on the ground and prophosied.

Noah built an altar of sacrifice. The pattern of this behavior is throughout the scriptures, and God does accept and attend to these moments. Noah was a prophet of God and thus in communication with him and received visitation from Him in this episoide.

It has been proposed that his son Ham, is patterned after other son's who entered into the holy place unauthorized. For example, the 2 son's of Aaron who offered "strange fire" and were killed by God.

The paradox of the Bible is that it is both Spiritual and Temporal. If one only accepts the temporal which is "face value" then we miss out on the spiritual, the real mystery's that aren't as mysterious as we think.
I'll get back to you about Lot.
Margaret Barker proposes that there are corruptions in both the Noah and the Lot stories.
We cannot judge their behavior according to our moral's.

Alice Linsley said...

Yes, I've read some of Barker and all of Walton on Temple imagery. I don't agree with them entirely since they have missed the Nilo-Saharan cultural context of these stories. To be drunk was regarded as a very bad thing among the Horite ruler-priests. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.” We are told that Noah was drunk with wine on at least one occasion and the outcome wasn't good. Likewise, the outcome of Lot's drunken stupor was not good. Those from whom we receive the Genesis material clearly are critical of excessive wine consumption among their rulers.

Anonymous said...

Alice Linsely wrote:

"There is another possibility. Since the whole of the Bible is about the Horites whose point of origin was Eden, Adam and Eve are the founders of the Horites. They are Ha-dam, "the blood," a very early term for human, and his life-giving wife."

Could you elaborate some on this point? Do you mean that there were humans populating the earth before Adam and Eve, but the Genesis story starts with them because the story of Yeshua starts with the founding of the Horite people (in this theory, by Adam and Eve)?

Alice Linsley said...

Yes. Adam is the "father" of Abraham's ancestors who were in the R1b Haplogroup. See this:

James rodriguez said...

May I interject another possibility. I believe science and scripture collectively indicate the gap of billions of years occurred between the creation of a beautiful and perfect earth (Gen 1:1; Job 38:7) and its apparent destruction (Gen 1:2) and subsequent renovation and creation of humans in God's image and likeness with dominion over all things on earth (Gen 1:26).

It is the renovation and creation of human’s in God’s image and likeness that occurred approximately 6,000 yrs ago. Between the initial creation and the recent renovation, perhaps billions of years apart, science has revealed humanoids, at varying levels of sub-human intelligence, not created in God’s image, likeness, and without dominion over all the earth, may have roamed the planet.

You asked the question, were Adam and Eve the first parents of all humans or of the people who gave us Genesis? In a qualified sense, perhaps they essentially fulfilled both. Unlike those in existence before them, Adam and Eve are the progenitors of all humans given the mental and spiritual capacity to potentially become like Him (1 Jn 3:2)and potentially join the angelic host as part of the family or Sons of God (Eph 3:14-15).