Rekindled Light — The Narrative Structure of the Hexaemeron (Genesis 1:1–31)

by Mebaqqer2 71 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings PioneerSchmioneer,

    Let us start with your comparison of me to the translators of the New World Translation. The translators of the New World Translation says their translation of the Bible speaks to their abilities to undertake that work. And, when specific challenges are raised to points of their translation by critical reviewers, they either entirely ignore the criticism, quietly revise their explanation to maintain the legitimacy of their translation or quietly revise the translation with no explanation given. Therefore, the problem with the translators of the New World Translation is not their position of anonymity, a position which other Bible translators have taken as the translators note, but their lack of engagement with the legitimate criticisms of their work separate from their position on anonymity.

    My paper is written in English. Not Hebrew. Not Spanish. It makes references to the Hebrew text of the Bible at points where the need arises in relation to the argument made. These references to the Hebrew text of the Bible are either correct or incorrect. The statements made regarding the Hebrew text referenced are either correct or incorrect. Now you step forth and, rather than raise any specific challenge to a particular reference or statement that I have made in my paper which a legitimate criticism of my thesis would require, seek to summarily sweep it aside based on vague and unsubstantiated statements about “cadance” and a boast of your own abilities all while ignoring points made against your position.

    I’ll ask you a third time. Does Gen 1:30 read “the sixth day” (yôm haš-šiššî) or “a sixth day” (yôm šiššî)? Pause. What can be inferred about about the sixth day given the author's use of “the sixth day” (yôm haš-šiššî) in Gen 1:30? Pause. How does the singular significance which the author attributes to the sixth day in contrast to the previous days support your assertion that “the Jews did not compose the 7-day Creation Week with the Hexaemron in mind”? Answer: It doesn’t. It does, however, support my position that the Hexaemeron constitutes a discrete textual block within Gen 1:1–2:3. I am not “pontificat[ing] on and on.” I am making legitimate points against your position while supporting my own. Indeed, this point is not even made in my paper but particularly responds to the unsubstantiated assertion you made cited above. My reference to the Hebrew text of Genesis 1 here is either correct or incorrect. My statements here regarding the Hebrew text referenced are either correct or incorrect. Please do not be like the translators of the New World Translation who do not engage with criticisms.

    So even if you have time traveled from the Judean Second-Temple period after having personally talked with the writers and scribes who produced the biblical text and have a selfie with Ezra himself to prove it, it would still require you to address the specific points that I have made in my paper which relate to Hebrew to overturn those points made in relation to my thesis. Your dismissive innuendo of my abilities without reading the paper and your lack of substantiation of the points you have made thus far here do not constitute any sort of refutation of my thesis. If I am wrong, then you should be able to make the case why this is so without breaking a sweat given your awe inspiring knowledge. As it stands, I have backed up my statements here with you and everyone else. So again I implore you, instead of trying to impress me into silence with your boasts of knowledge and wowing the crowd, please, employ that knowledge to the task at hand and overturn the points of my thesis with a reasoned and substantiated argument.

    You asked, “Why come here to get our opinion if those of us who went to college (many of us have, you know), and some who lived in Israel, who taught religion and the Bible for a living are ‘in the clouds’”? The problem is not with higher education. The problem is with your apparent belief, also shared by others in academia, but certainly not everyone, that your education somehow imbues your every pronouncement ex cathera status. It is this snobbishly dismissive, “holier than thou” attitude which places you “in the clouds,” not your education. I am here to tell you that your pronouncements are not ex cathera. I have demonstrated such already by citing the very scholar you recommended which highlighted inaccuracies in your stated position. I myself am a university graduate, but that in no way automatically validates or invalidates anything I have to say. Nobody should accept what I or anyone else has to say based on an awe of academic credentials. So I will say it again, the only thing that matters is the evidence you can present to support the claims you make just as is the case with me. Who you are is irrelevant to me. I harbor no animosity to you or anyone else. Who I am is also besides the point. I am either right or wrong. Read what I have written. Be persuaded or not. If not, present your own case to substantiate your position so that I might turn aside from my erroneous views and adopt your position as my own.

    In closing, better than Spanish songs and The Wizard of Oz, consider the case of Carl Olof Jonsson’s work The Gentile Times Reconsidered since you ignored poor Ernest Muro’s identification of Greek fragments of the book of 1 Enoch among the Dead Sea Scrolls as a non-academic. If Rolf Furuli were to adopt your attitude in relation to this work, then everything Jonsson argues therein could be summarily dismissed by Furuli by the wave of a hand because he is formally more credentialed than Jonsson. Yet anyone who has read Jonsson’s work knows that his arguments effectively answer Furuli’s position even though Jonson did not have the formal education to discuss the topics he covered, building his knowledge along the way in the course of his research, while Furuli taught courses in “Akkadian, Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew, Phoenician, Syriac, and Ugaritic.” Thankfully, most people understand that it is the weight of the argument and the evidence brought to support a position that establishes the validity of that position. Jonsson’s work itself demonstrates his knowledge of the subjects with which he deals regardless of his formal level of education. And, when specific criticism arose, Jonsson straightforwardly addressed them and he revised his work several times accordingly. This is the correct procedure for academics and non-academics alike. I really can't understand why someone as so self professedly knowledgeable as you really needs this point hammered so hard.

  • Halcon

    I've tried to follow this thread. It's definitely complex. Everyone who's contributed to it is obviously very smart and knowledgeable.

    As a person who has faith in the scriptures, how should I approach this subject? I thoroughly believe that God created the universe and planet Earth. Whether it was done in a literal 6 days as we humans understand a day to be, is all together a different story.

    What should I look for in these types of papers and analysis?

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    If you already "thoroughly believe that God created the universe and planet Earth," there may be little to look for in the thesis of an academic that might be of help or interest.

    The reason is that very little of it is of practical use. Academic papers might contain loads of theory that eventually get rejected or worse, disproved by those in the field an academic is submitting their work to be examined by in the first place.

    This is all part of the methodological process known as critical scholarship. As an academic you might have views that you believe are correct, but you have to present those views and have them affirmed via testing by disinterested parties in your same field. If your views stand, then you have a working theory. It is the same in any field, like in biological science. You have to be made of tough stuff. Otherwise you won't make it in this profession.

    Views that do get accepted are reduced to practical, working models and speech and can be found in mainstream publications, such as study Bibles, for example the SBL Study Bible or The Jewish Study Bible, or even in the literal footnotes of a working translation like the official Catholic NABRE, which is heavy with critical analysis (maybe a little too heavy for some readers).

    So if you are looking for something that can aid in your faith journey, you will want to start with something already published for the mainstream public. This means it has already been accepted by the field of scholars and academics in theology and religion and has been put into practical terminology that is useful.

    As for what makes a scholar and/or academic, and what is the difference? A Wikipedia entry defines it as follows:

    A scholar is a person who is a researcher or has expertise in an academic discipline. A scholar can also be an academic, who works as a professor, teacher, or researcher at a university. An academic usually holds an advanced degree or a terminal degree, such as a master's degree or a doctorate (PhD).

    This is why people tend not to trust, for example, the so-called "New World Translation Commitee" who introduced their version of the Bible to the world since it was not made up of Biblical scholars. None of them were academics either because they did not work nor support working as instructors (or even getting an education at) a university.

    Individuals who create academic research papers submit them to academic journals who generally do not charge anything to publish them, just like any reputable publisher or magazine doesn't charge you to publish your manuscript. Of course, your work has to be very good, and you have to be at the top of your field. You also do not have to have any ties to a university to get published, of course. But your chances increase if you do. And there are many undergraduate publishing opportunities as well. It isn't easy to become published however. You have to be a great writer and your work has to be of the most excellent quality.

    In the end, if it is your faith journey you are looking to aid from a critical standpoint? Perhaps try The New Oxford Annotated Study Bible with Apocrypha (NRSV) 5th Edition. It is middle of the road, gives you an idea what critical thinkers say on the text, but at the same time stays balanced enough to support a person's faith in Scripture without being blind to where it came from and without giving up one's rational thinking. The NRSV is also a great standard Bible text. It's the translation they give you in colleges when you take any class that uses Scripture.*


    *--It's just been updated as the NRSVue, a slight revision to make it more readable, but Oxford has yet to update it's Study version. The SBL Study Bible is an option you can try that has the new NRSVue text, but it is very heavy in critical anaylsis, meaning it is not for someone who wants to walk away with a "firm faith" that God created the universe. It is for someone who understands that the Scriptures are a product of their time, place, and culture, and that this does not always create a smooth picture that some in the religious community sometimes hope to create.

  • Halcon

    Thanks for the recommendations PioneerSch.

    I think I'm leaning towards the SBL Study Bible based on your assessment. I enjoy a good analysis when my interest is piqued.

    The subject of this thread is still very interesting anyways.

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    Great choice, Halcon. My preferred of them all as well.

    One more, along the same lines (and very surprising since it comes from Conservative Judaism) is Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. Containing the same English text as The Jewish Study Bible (NJPS) as well as the Masoretic Text on the side, it has an extensive commentary as well as an introductory and appendix apparatus that pulls no punches when it comes to telling you in detail what is fact and what is clearly fiction (and where it came from) as you read through the pages of the Five Books of Moses.

  • Halcon

    Perfect, adding it to my list.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings Halcon,

    You ask,

    As a person who has faith in the scriptures, how should I approach this subject?

    What I have written will not answer the question of whether the six days of creation are literal days or not. My paper is concerned with explicating how the six day account of creation known as the Hexaemeron is structured. The need to relate my findings comes from the fact that scholars regularly assume an alternative narrative structure which, although presented as evidencing “powerful symmetry” and “harmonious balance” to students, has in fact already been recognized by scholars themselves to have significant flaws for more than a hundred years. Yet because of entrenched assumptions on what the text necessarily means, scholars have preferred to retain the admittedly flawed narrative structure, ascribe the obvious incongruencies to a complex literary prehistory of mismashed creation stories and continue on as if everything were fine with the structure they have assumed. There is no questioning of the validity of the narrative structure itself.

    And so my own approach begins with nothing more than the seemingly crazy idea that the author, whether inspired or not, intended to produce something that was intelligible to his readers. And so, the first thing I want to know is how the text’s earliest readers understood it. True, this does not necessarily mean that what these readers perceived is what the author intended, but it does provide one with a more emic understanding of the text from within the religious tradition. And then I ask, “Does the reader make a legitimate observation about what the author wrote (exegesis) or is the reader imposing their own ideas onto the text (eisegesis)?”

    Now the first reader I have in mind is the Judean writer of the pseudepigraphal work known now as Jubilees. This writer gives the earliest exposition of the Hexaemeron and so you would think that scholars would be interested in what this reader has to say which might illuminate Genesis 1. But alas, they don’t. Why? Because their methodology has already led them to conclude what Genesis 1 must mean. They do not leave the question open as they approach Jubilees. And so when scholars do discuss what Jubilees says, they are forced to characterize its reading of Genesis 1 as eisegetical since it clashes with their preconceived views on what Genesis 1 means.

    For example, Jubilees explicates the number of works of the Hexaemeron as twenty-two. Scholars on the other hand speak of “eight creative acts.” Scholars make their identification of these eight creative acts based on the eight times wayyōʾmer ʾĕlōhîm (“and Elohim said”) appears in the text along with a volitional verb, e.g., “Let there be X.” This identification is then ascribed with a certain significance which in turn leads scholars to disregard the number of twenty-two works as an invention of the author of Jubilees,

    The writer of Jubilees has reworked Genesis’ eight acts of creation into 22 because this harmonizes with his larger purpose of stressing the sabbath and its significance in God’s universe and plan.

    — James C. VanderKam, “Genesis 1 in Jubilees 2,” Dead Sea Discoveries 1/3 (1994): 318.

    Because the eight creative acts have already been assumed with a certain significance by VanderKam beforehand, it never occurs to him that the twenty-two works may in fact be a feature of the Hexameron which the author of Jubilees has simply found to be serviceable to the point he wishes to make. And indeed, the fact that the twenty-two works are readily identifiable in the text of Genesis 1 itself speaks against VanderKam’s characterization of the situation here. And VanderKam should have understood this given the fact that he himself elsewhere states, “The relation of Jubilees to Genesis–Exodus is not as a replacement but as a guide, as a means of helping the reader derive the correct message from the biblical material and ensuring that the wrong conclusions were not drawn from it” (James C. VanderKam, Jubilees: A Commentary on the Book of Jubilees 1–21, Vol. I, ed. Sidnie White Crawford (Hermeneia; Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2018), 39). So here is a clear example of how a scholar’s preconceptions stand in the way of considering a legitimate observation made by an ancient reader.

    Now at this point you may be thinking, “Well you have made a case for at least considering Jubilees’ twenty-two works of creation, and that's all well and good, but then how is one to understand the eight creative acts identified by scholars based on, not a secondary source such as Jubilees as you have done, but on the phrase ‘and Elohim said’ along with a volitional verb in the very text of the Hexaemeron itself.” And here I would say, to quote myself from my paper,

    After the six days, the next most important feature of the text which contributes to the structure is the formula wayyōʾmer ʾĕlōhîm “and Elohim said.” This formula occurs nine times in the text with at least one instance appearing in each day (vv. 3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29). It is important to observe that this formula is not only used at the start of a day nor only in connection with a creative pronouncement. Thus, one finds the formula is used in the middle of day one to introduce a creative pronouncement after the initial creation of the heavens and the earth (v. 3). The formula is also found in the middle of the third and sixth days to introduce additional creative pronouncements in those days (vv. 11, 26). Finally, the formula is found in the middle of the sixth day to introduce a proclamation concerning a provision of food (v. 29). Therefore in four of its nine occurrences (44%) the phrase is not used by the author to initiate the start of a new day. If the phrase is not intended to initiate the start of a new day, what does the author intend by its use?

    As is clear from the wayyiqṭōl verb form found in the formula, its use is first and foremost to be sought within the “backbone” of the narrative. Here it may be noted that the first occurrence of the formula in v. 3 also constitutes the author’s first use of a wayyiqṭōl verb in the narrative. This, when viewed in conjunction with its repeated use throughout the narrative, establishes the formula as in fact the main constituent of the narrative’s backbone. The first occurrence in v. 3 is preceded by a description of the earth as tōhû wābōhû “a barren waste” in v. 2 after its initial creation in v. 1. The formula’s use in v. 3 is therefore to be understood as a result clause which relates the response taken to address this situation. Yet this response does not simply end with the formula in v. 3, but extends through the narrative to the other occurrences of this formula, i.e., “So Elohim said” (v. 3) … “Then Elohim said” (v. 6), etc. In this way, the formula is used by the author to relate the individual steps taken to bring the earth into a habitable state. Therefore, after its initial occurrence in v. 3, the formula also serves as an indicator of subdivisions within the following days. While this use of the formula as a structuring device is apparently not recognized in either the Masoretic Text or in the Samaritan Pentateuch, two of the manuscripts from the Dead Sea evidence a recognition of this use through their own use of additional vacats.

    — Mebaqqer, The Narrative Structure of the Hexaemeron (, 2024), 3–4.

    So my approach is not to ignore the phrase. My approach is actually to consider all instances of the phrase’s use by the author to understand its significance. And the result of this more holistic analysis of the phrase’s use reveals that scholars are wrong to focus only on those instances where the phrase is followed by a volitional verb and exclude the phrase’s use in v. 29 from a consideration of the author’s intent when using the phrase. Therefore, the observation that there are eight instances of the phrase “and Elohim said” followed by a volitional verb in the text is not in error. The error comes from the incorrect significance which scholars ascribe to this fact.

    The foregoing gives some indication of how I have approached the subject. And the results that I obtain leave me with a much clearer narrative structure that 1) does not suffer from the problems found in the narrative structure assumed in scholarship, 2) is concordant with what the author actually wrote, and 3) agrees with the expositions of the most ancient commentators on the text. I would direct you to my paper for a more thorough discussion of the argument for the position I advance and the approach taken to arrive there.

    But before closing, I would like to contrast my view with how the narrative structure is discussed in one of the works recommended by PioneerSchmioneer: The New Oxford Annotated Bible (5th ed.). Let me begin with a citation of the relevant parts:

    14–19: The correspondence between days one to three and days four to six (1 || 4, 2 || 5, 3 || 6) heightens the symmetry and order of God’s creation. Here, God’s creation of heavenly lights on the fourth day corresponds to creation of light, day, and night on the first.

    20–23: The second day featured the dome separating upper and lower oceans; the corresponding fifth day features the creation of birds to fly across the dome and ocean creatures, including sea monsters (Ps 104.25–26). God’s blessing of the swarming creatures (1.22) anticipates a similar blessing that God will give humanity (1.28).

    24–30: The third day described creation of land and plants in turn, the corresponding sixth day involves the creation of two types of plant-eating land-dwellers: animals and then humans.

    The commentator maintains that there is “correspondence between days one to three and days four to six,” a correspondence which “heightens the symmetry and order of God’s creation.” The commentator then gives the following examples of this correspondence:

    “creation of light, day, and night” (Day 1)

    “creation of heavenly lights” (Day 4)

    “the dome separating upper and lower oceans” (Day 2)

    “creation of birds to fly across the dome and ocean creatures” (Day 5)

    “creation of land and plants” (Day 3)

    “creation of two types of plant-eating land-dwellers: animals and then humans” (Day 6)

    These are the examples of correspondence which the commentator gives that are supposed to heighten “the symmetry and order of God’s creation.” But is that what these examples do? Are these correspondences actually found in the text?

    The commentator speaks of “creation of light, day, and night” on day one. Yet “day” is not something created in addition to light, but, according v. 5, is what light is called. “light” and “day” are thus actually the same thing. The same verse also shows that darkness is called night. Why does the commentator not mention darkness along with night as he mentions light along with day? Who knows. What does this say about the items the commentator is putting forth for the proposed correspondence? But let’s ignore the previous points and just say “creation of light” and “creation of heavenly lights” are the correspondence. What is the nature of the correspondence? We are not told. It is just left for the reader to infer.

    The commentator speaks of “the dome separating upper and lower oceans” on day two and “creation of birds to fly across the dome and ocean creatures” on day five. But the “lower ocean” is a phrase of the commentator. The text actually calls these “the waters that were under the dome” (v. 7) which are not gathered together and called “seas” until day three (v. 10). The commentator’s verbiage therefore artificially creates a correspondence here by obscuring this fact. Also, why should birds flying “across the dome” be viewed as more significant to the author for correspondence than “God set [the lights] in the dome of the sky” (v. 17)? This is why it is important to pin down the precise nature of the correspondences instead of leaving things vague for the reader to infer.

    The commentator speaks of “creation of land and plants” on day three as corresponding with “creation of two types of plant-eating land-dwellers: animals and then humans” on day six. But the text states “to every bird of the air … I have given every green plant for food” (v. 30). Thus the text itself includes “birds” created on day five in the provision of food as well. This again shows a problem with the commentator’s correspondence. And again, even if we ignore this problem, what is the nature of the correspondence between the two days? Yet a third time we are not told. It is just left for the reader to infer.

    Now I would ask you to compare what was just presented above to the outline and diagram of the narrative structure of the Hexaemeron which I have produced and I think you will find a quite stark contrast. So in your approach you are of course free to utilize the narrative structure assumed by scholars which in fact ignores the text and leaves it in disarray all while telling you how it heightens “the symmetry and order of God’s creation.” You will be in good company since it is assumed by everyone. But I for my part will continue to utilize the narrative structure which I have recovered to understand Genesis 1 since no refutation of it has been forthcoming, it evidences more concrete and clearer correspondences, it explains how ancient interpreters read the text as well and, perhaps most important, it does not leave me in a state of evident confusion such as this:

    The improbability that a disposition of the cosmogony in eight works should have obtained currency in Hebrew circles without an attempt to bring it into some relation with a sacred number has been urged in favour of the originality of the present setting (Holzinger, 23 f.). That argument might be turned the other way for the very fact that the number 8 has been retained in spite of its apparent arbitrariness suggests that it had some traditional authority behind it. Other objections to the originality of the present scheme are: (a) the juxtaposition of two entirely dissimilar works under the third day (b) the separation of two closely related works on the second and third days; (c) the alternation of day and night introduced before the existence of the planets by which their sequence is regulated (thus far Di. 15), and (d) the unnatural order of the fourth and fifth works (plants before heavenly bodies). These objections are not all of equal weight and explanations more or less plausible have been given of all of them. But on the whole the evidence seems to warrant the conclusions that the series of works and the series of days are fundamentally incongruous, that the latter has been superimposed on the former during the Heb. development of the cosmogony, that this change is responsible for some of the irregularities of the disposition, and that it was introduced certainly not later than P, and in all probability long before his time.

    — John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (ICC; New York, N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 10.

    So I will leave it up to you to decide what you think is the best approach for you. Anyways, have a nice day.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Individuals who create academic research papers submit them to academic journals who generally do not charge anything to publish them, just like any reputable publisher or magazine doesn't charge you to publish your manuscript. Of course, your work has to be very good, and you have to be at the top of your field. You also do not have to have any ties to a university to get published, of course. But your chances increase if you do. And there are many undergraduate publishing opportunities as well. It isn't easy to become published however. You have to be a great writer and your work has to be of the most excellent quality.

    You forgot to mention all the games.

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    While I am not necessarily saying I endorse or disagree with this, Mebaqquer2 actually is describing what is found in practically all mainstream Bibles, namely what scholars call "The Six-Day Structure."

    It is a motif or a design that one can compare to the setting up of a stage and is describes not only in The New Oxford Bible, but actually outside of study Bibles, such as in the very footnotes of the NABRE translation in chapter 1 of Genesis. It is also in the SBL Study Bible and its previous version, The Harper Collins Study Bible and just about any Bible you can find that has footnotes.

    It is a symmetrical pattern that is hard to deny that goes like this wherein God sets up a series of "stages" for "players" when creating the "universe" as the Jews understood it:

    The "stages" are:

    DAY 1: Light and Darkness

    DAY 2: Water

    DAY 3: Land and Vegetation

    Onto the "stages" God introduced the following "players" that are:

    LIGHT & DARKNESS: sun and moon (day 4)

    WATER: Fish & Birds that Fly over the waters under the sky (day 5)

    LAND & VEGETATION: Animals & Human Beings

    That is all that the scholars and academics have noted.

    The Sabbath is set aside as it is based on already existing liturgy which was indepent from the Torah and inspired it (and vice versa). Chapter 2:1-4 is actually a prayer in the Jewish Siddur known as the Kiddush said on Friday evening after sundown when the cup of wine is blessed. The idea is that there is no stage because there is no "work" to be done at this point, only joy in welcoming the Sabbath. God performs mitzvot (good works) on each day and in each stage of the 6 days, but none of the 7th. Jewish liturgy and tradition as well as Scripture characterizes God as following his own laws, obediently observing the Sabbath, even though God is not under the Mosaic Law. It's an anthropomorphic illustration, applying human characteristics to God that do not actually exist in this case to make the argument that Jews are obliged to observe a weekly Sabbath rest.

    After this follows what is generally believed to be an older creation mythology, Gan Eden, with a different cosmological makeup, and where obligation to the Torah seemed to be shifted to the humans instead of God. Instead of the Kiddush, a prayer, this mythology ends with God pronouncing curses that announce death. The motif seems to be The Temple and the Promised Land and its loss as Adam and Eve are forced to live "east of Eden" (aka, Babylon) where a "cherub" with a "sword" guards any chance of re-entry (cherubim marked the gates to Babylon and armed guards stood beside them). This myth foreshadows the ending of the Torah where Moses is left east of the Promised Land and dies without any chance of entry due to his sin.

    So in the context, they see a significant pattern in the writing that differs greatly from the Gan Eden myth which is more of a narrative. Some have suggested that Genesis 1-2:4 is a mnemonic, an actual law to remember to observe the Sabbath, ending in the Kiddush.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings PioneerSchmioneer,

    You write,

    It is a symmetrical pattern that is hard to deny

    Yeah I know, but I do. I have to because I have explicated an alternative narrative structure which proves to be superior to the symmetrical structure assumed by scholars. But even if I didn’t have a more viable alternative to the symmetrical structure, there would still be cause for worry since scholars themselves have noted problems with the proposed symmetrical structure for more than a hundred years as I have already noted. And others as well can see the problems with this structure. Here is a video of William Lane Craig arguing against “Framework Interpretation” (0:00–10:20) which likewise assumes the same symmetrical structure:

    Please note when watching this video that much of what Craig argues is tangential to my paper. The problem is with the symmetrical structure as a feature of the text. How interpreters have utilized that structure is secondary. Yet Craig in the course of his critique of the “Framework Interpretation” takes on the symmetrical structure itself and therefore hits on some of the points I have already gone over here. When I first watched this video I laughed and thought, "Just a bit further, Mr. Craig," because he almost stumbles into the actual narrative structure I present in my paper in the course of his critique simply by reasoning what Genesis actually says vis-a-vis the symmetrical structure.

    I remember the lesson I was taught when I was still a child, “Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you have to.” I have good reason not to accept the validity of a symmetrical narrative structure and most of it is in my paper. It is precisely because the narrative structure I expound has not been discovered by previous interpreters that my finding represents an advance in understanding and is therefore significant. Let me cite the words of Herder who was the first to present his “Hieroglyph,” an early form of the symmetrical structure, which I cite at the beginning of my paper:

    It is incomprehensible to me how all the eyes that have been over this piece in so many centuries and nations could have overlooked a plan for which one certainly needs nothing more than eyes, and which is so essential that it hold us fast without any physical or dogmatic tables to the very thing itself. I have not been able to discover whether anyone has developed it before me; but I would be surprised if anyone after could overlook or reject it.

    — Johann Gottfried Herder, Fragmente zu einer „Archäologie des Morgenlandes“. 1769, in Sämtliche Werke, ed. Bernhard Suphan, vol. 6 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1883), 38.

    If he felt justified to express this sentiment, how much more do you think I do whose discovery of the actual narrative structure displaces the very symmetrical arrangement he proposed?

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