Yahweh's wonderful creation

by fulltimestudent 42 Replies latest jw friends

  • CalebInFloroda


    The Jewish understanding is that the story could not be about passing on death to all because the narrative of Adam and Eve ends with their being blocked from partaking of the Tree of Life.

    In other words, the story implies that if they ate from the Tree of Life they would live forever. Since that was required for eternal life but Adam and Eve never got the chance to do that, therefore they never had the gift of unending life to begin with. You don't need a Tree of Life or its fruit if you already can live forever. So it could not be eternal life that Adam and Eve lost "due to sin" because they never had access to it to begin with. They were obviously created as mortals, and death was part of the plan of G-d from the beginning.

    But this is not the meaning of the narrative however. Recall that this is the second creation story. In the first, in Genesis chapter 1, there is no mention of trees with fruit that gave knowledge or life. Instead in the first creation story no foods are off limits.--Compare Genesis 1.29 with 3.3.

    In the second creation story (Genesis chapters 2 and 3) we are introduced to our first parents and an "incident" which seems to teach an axiom: humans make mistakes, and that's part of our nature. The greatest mistake is leaving G-d out of the equation or decisions we make. "Sin," which is never mentioned in reference to Adam and Eve, doesn't even show up until Cain starts thinking murderous thoughts. (The first mention of sin in the Bible is connected with fratricide at Genesis 4.7.) The story is not history but a creation narrative, setting the stage for the third creation story, that of the Noachin flood (Genesis 6-9).

    The third story employs a more common creation narrative accepted among the ancients, one that stated that humans and the world have always existed but that the current world is the result of the other being wiped out by a flood (floods of water were seen as creative not necessarily destructive forces). Both evil and the "curse upon the ground" created due to Adam's disobedience (Genesis 3.17-19) is reversed in the third creation-flood narrative. The name "Noah" means "the one who relieves us of the curse."--Genesis 5.28-29; compare the fact that after the flood, Noah is able to make the earth produce crops, Genesis 9.20-21.

    All three stories are but one, describing the same "miracle" of creation, but employing three separate but accepted cosmogonies of the ancient Mesopotamian world. While Jewish tradition holds that Adam and Eve and Noah were real persons, it does not imply that the narratives about them are historical. The middle creation story says that Adam brought a curse into the world, one that Noah relieved us of through his surviving of the flood.

    With the curse lifted creation could now echo the words originally spoken of in the first creation story, that the world and humankind were essentially created as "good," not sinful. As such people could be holy by being obedient to G-d, unlike acting as Adam and Eve once did. These stories are merely setting the stage for the main player, the arrival of Torah itself which is the means by which Jews believe holiness can be introduced into the world both directly and indirectly.--Leviticus 11.44; 19.2.

    The Torah itself, however, is not the only means to holiness. All humankind has this capacity built in it. The Torah is the means offered to the Jews, but when other nations follow their conscience in ways of justice and right, they bring about holiness in them and the world around them too. This is the meaning behind the creative narratives, that G-d gave us the capacity to be as G-d declared us from the very beginning:

    "God looked at everything God had made, and God found that it was all very good indeed."--Genesis 1.31.

  • azor
    Perry your views are blatantly anachronistic.
  • Litebrite
    Thank you CF for your post. It gives me a few things to think about. I think we may disagree ultimately on a few points, but I am trying to find the proper view of Genesis since a literal reading does not make any sense to me. Thank you for your insights.
  • CalebInFloroda


    Then it seems you are at a good place.

    Keep in mind that what I have supplied is the philological background for actual exegetical work, which you will have to work out for yourself and on your own. Jews don't have an "official" exegesis of Scripture. This is about as far as I can go before introducing in-depth Jewish theology into the picture. From this point onward Jews take the philology and build upon it.

    In conclusion, the main point from the Jewish view is that all creation was created "good," with the potential to be good and do good despite not always being perfect or sometimes making the wrong choices. We can all reverse our courses when we've realized we have made mistakes and make the outcome a good one.

    It does differ strikingly from the Christian theological paradigm which considers the second creation account as the only valid one or more important one, leaving people to see themselves and the world around them as wounded by a single act of sin and thus undeserving of life and the world around them. I find that some Christians are unwilling to accept the Jewish concept that all humanity, unbelievers included, all innately good with the capacity to not only bring good into the world but holiness and redemption as well.

  • CalebInFloroda


    If you would like to start a new thread about the points you argue I would welcome that. In reply to the points you've already raised I can only point out again that your claim that Jewish theology agrees with your views on Original Sin is very incorrect.

    Psalm 51.7 (in most Christian Bibles the verse count is different, and is usually numbered as verse “5”):

    Indeed I was born with iniquity;
    with sin my mother conceived me.

    Note that this is a prayer of repentance made by David after committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed, leading to the eventual death of the child conceived by the adulterous act. This is therefore not a discussion about the sins of others or humanity’s guilt. David is discussing his own.

    David doesn’t say, “I have inherited sin from Adam,” or even dares to say that someone else is responsible for his sin. David is saying his sin is his alone, not that it was passed from mother to son. Note that the Scripture doesn’t say all humans were born with iniquity or that all people have been conceived by their mothers with sin, just he himself.

    Genesis 8.21

    The devisings of humanity are evil from youth onward.

    The text doesn’t say that people have inherited sin from Adam. It merely says that people have the capacity to plan or invent evil from their earliest ages.

    The Bible also tells us that humans have the equal capacity to master this inclination at Genesis 4.7, and can choose good over evil as stated at Psalm 37.27.

    You have argued that the word “youth” that appears in Hebrew implies that sin is inherited from infancy, but that is not true. The Hebrew word, “naur,” only means “youth” or “childhood.” “Naur” is not a noun describing a person but period of young age. In Hebrew it literally translates as “early life” and not as “young person.” A period of time or age cannot inherit anything.

    Psalm 14.2-3

    The Lord looks down from heaven
    on humankind
    to see if any are wise,
    if any seek God.

    All have gone astray,
    depraved, every one;
    there is no one who does any good;
    no, not even one.

    This text is very much read out of context. Note how in verses 4-6 ‘all who have gone astray’ are contrasted with a different group, “the generation of the just” of verse 5. The “all” who do no good, “no, not even one” are referred to as a group apart from Israel, referred to as “they.”

    Are they [all who have gone astray] so witless,
    all those evildoers,
    who devour my people
    [a separate group from “all who have gone astray”]
    as they devour food,
    and do not invoke the Lord?

    There they [all who have gone astray] will be seized with fright,
    for God is present in the generation of the just
    [a separate group from “all who have gone astray”].
    You may mock the plans of one that is poor,
    but his refuge is the Lord.

    No, this text is referring to the psalmists enemies as “all who have gone astray.” It does not include all human beings because it definitely does not include “my people” who are being devoured by the “all who have gone astray” group.

    Job 15.15-16
    If [God] doesn’t trust his holy ones and even the heavens aren’t pure in his eyes, how much less those who are abominable and corrupt, for they drink sin like water.

    This text, which only half was quoted by you, is hyperbole. If it was literal, then Heaven, where G-d lives, is an impure place and all the angels live with the knowledge that G-d doesn’t trust any of them. Do you believe that too? These are not the words of faithful Job but of his “friend” Eliphaz the Temanite, and besides they merely state that G-d doesn’t trust people “who are abominable and corrupt.” It doesn’t say all humankind has inherited sin from Adam.

    Jeremiah 17.19

    This text does not “assume original sin.” It merely states:

    Most cunning is the human heart, beyond remedy— who can truly understand it?

    Ecclesiastes 9.3 is also hyperbole:

    The hearts of all human beings are filled with evil, and madness is in the mind of every person throughout their lives, filling every moment until they die.

    If this is literally saying that all human hearts are filled with evil, then it is equally true that all of us are suffering from madness until the day we die. But that is not what the text really means. Even if it were literal, it still doesn’t say humans inherited sin from Adam.

  • Perry

    And Isaiah 64: 6 ?

    "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

    This cannot be talking about someone else because it says "we all".

    Notice that it is our attempts at righteousness, not just our sins, that are likened as filthy rags.

    Certainly, attempts at righteousness is a worthy endeavor for many practical reasons, but compared to an utterly holy, good and righteous God who requires the death penalty for sin, it is not enough to merit eternal salvation and remembrance. The ancient animal sacrifices were an attempt by God to circumvent the death penalty for sin. The sin was placed upon the animal, and it was killed in place of the sinner, so that the penalty for sin(s) was carried out, even if vicariously.

    For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. - Lev. 17:11

    the soul who sins shall die - Ez. 18:4

  • Village Idiot
    Village Idiot


    "The ancient animal sacrifices were an attempt by God to circumvent the death penalty for sin. The sin was placed upon the animal, and it was killed in place of the sinner, so that the penalty for sin(s) was carried out, even if vicariously."

    Magical thinking.

  • CalebInFloroda

    Isaiah 64.5 (6 in Christian Bibles)

    We have all become like the unclean;
    all our righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag.
    All of us wither like a leaf;
    our sins, like the wind, carry us away.

    These words are not describing all of humankind. They are the words of the inhabitants of Jerusalem at the its spoiling and the carrying away of the Davidic king. A midrashic reading of the text is: "We have all become like the unclean now that the righteous have been taken from our midst." Note how the last verses of this chapter speak of this referring ONLY to the Jews, to G-d's people, and speaks of the First Temple's destruction. There is nothing in this chapter that indicates Jews meant these words to refer to anyone else but themselves. Did Gentiles suffer the destruction of the Temple? Of course not!

    The expression that their "righteous deeds are like a menstrual rag" doesn't say they are suffering from original sin. It means that nothing they do, not even their best deeds can change the inevitable as they are carried away into Babylonian captivity.

    And Leviticus 17 is saying that blood from animals had to be poured out at the altar, and not consumed as food. The entire animal sacrifice system, as I've pointed out--and you have shown everyone here that you cannot read--is how all ancients prepared their meat. Blood which represented life was dedicated to their gods in the butchering process. Blood could be used to show respect for life, but it didn't tell Jews that their was original sin.

    And as for Ezekiel 18, it says that children will not die for the sins of their parents, such as the sin of Adam and Eve. Read all of it: the sin of parents is not visited on their descendants.

    Why don't you just look it up on the Internet or go ask your neighborhood rabbi if I am telling the truth? We Jews have never believed in Original Sin and none of these verse mean these things to us. You keep saying that I am wrong about what we Jews believe, but I tell you that you are just being stubborn and not verifying that I am explaining what Jews have always believed.

    Perry's argument: Caleb is making things up and not explaining true Jewish doctrine.

    Caleb's argument: You've not proved from Jewish sources that your point is true. You've only used your interpretations.

  • Perry

    the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead - Eccl. 9:3

    If this is literally saying that all human hearts are filled with evil, then it is equally true that all of us are suffering from madness until the day we die. But that is not what the text really means. Even if it were literal, it still doesn’t say humans inherited sin from Adam.

    Yes it does mean what it says. It is perfectly clear. All sin is illogical because it is ultimately harmful, whether acknowledged or not. Sin is madness. And of course it is inherited because it is describing the "sons of men" as a group. If not from ancestors, from where then does it come?

    Consider these comments:

    Wickedness is spoken of in other places in the book of Psalms, as a thing that belongs to men, as of the human race, as sons of men. Thus, in Psa. 4:2, “O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? How long will ye love vanity?” etc. Psa. 57:4, “I lie among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” Psa. 58:1, 2, “Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weight out the violence of your hands in the earth.” Our author mentioning these places, says (p. 105. note), “There was a strong party in Israel disaffected to David’s person and government, and sometimes he chooseth to denote them by the sons or children of men.” But it would have been worth his while to have inquired, Why the psalmist should choose to denote the worst men in Israel by this name? Why he should choose thus to disgrace mankind, as if the compellation of sons of men most properly belonged to such as were of the vilest character, and as if all the sons of men, even every one of them, were of such a character, and none of them did good; no, not one? Is it not strange, that the righteous should not be thought worthy to be called sons of men, and ranked with that noble race of beings, who are born into the world wholly right and innocent? It is a good, easy, and natural reason, why he chooseth to call the wicked, sons of men, as a proper name for them, That by being of the sons of men, or of the corrupt, ruined race of mankind, they come by their depravity. And the psalmist himself leads us to this very reason, Psa. 58, “Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men? yea, in heart ye work wickedness ye weigh out the violence of your hands. The wicked are estranged from the womb,” etc. Of which I shall speak more by and by.

    Agreeable to these places is Pro. 21:8, “The way of man is froward and strange; but as for the pure, his work is right.” He that is perverse in his walk, is here called by the name of man, as distinguished from the pure: which I think is absolutely unaccountable, if all mankind by nature are pure, and perfectly innocent, and all such as are froward and strange in their ways, therein depart from the native purity of all mankind. The words naturally lead us to suppose the contrary; that depravity and perverseness properly belong to mankind as they are naturally, and that a being made pure, is by an after-work, by which some are delivered from native pollution, and distinguished from mankind in general.

    To these things agree Jer. 17:5, 9. In verse 5, it is said, “Cursed is he that trusteth in man.” And in verse 9, this reason is given, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” What heart is this so wicked and deceitful? Why, evidently the heart of him, who, it was said before, we must not trust; and that is MAN. It alters not the case as to the present argument, whether the deceitfulness of the heart here spoken of, be its deceitfulness to the man himself, or to others. So - Ecc. 9:3, “Madness is in the heart of the sons of men, while they live.”...

    How strange is it, that we should have such descriptions, all over the Bible, of MAN, and the SONS OF MEN! Why should man be so continually spoken of as evil, carnal, perverse, deceitful, and desperately wicked, if all men are by nature as perfectly innocent, and free from any propensity to evil, as Adam was the first moment of his creation, all made right, as our author would have us understand Ecc. 7:29? Why, on the contrary, is it not said, at least as often, and with equal reason, that the heart of man is right and pure; that the way of man is innocent and holy; and that he who savors true virtue and wisdom, savors the things that be of men? Yea, and why might it not as well have been said, the Lord looked down from heaven on the sons of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and did seek after God; and they were all right, altogether pure, there was none inclined to do wickedness, no, not one?

  • CalebInFloroda

    This is why I am happy to be a Jew.

    We read our Scripture texts in full, not just taking out the parts that talk about where people fail.

    It is because of our ancient theology that all humans are not infected with Original Sin that a distant cousin of mine, Anne Frank wrote: "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

    You've demonstrated here, Perry, that you don't think that way.

    I would rather side with Anne than you and your twisted interpretations any day.

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