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

by Mebaqqer2 71 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    As I explained, I neither disagree with nor endorse the view. However as I also explained, the view is found in basically all mainstream Bibles because it became accepted a very long time ago based upon how the Hebrew narrative reads like both the symmetry of prayers found in the Siddur and the Hebrew psaltry.

    There is a cadence to Jewish poetry. Instead of rhyme they employ a beat to their verse. Some of the most famous examples are Asher Yatzar, Adon Olom, and Ahavat Olam from the Siddur along with several famous psalms like Psalm 22.

    These texts, and others like them, sound playful, build upon themselves, and come to a climax. Some decades ago a scholar recognized that the first chapter of Genesis read like one of these and a light bulb went off and the entire process began with a thesis. The rest was history, and now it is inside all the Bibles.

    This was why I had originally asked about you speaking Hebrew and inviting you to discuss it with me. I wasn't trying to sound like an elitist. I thought you were either a seasoned academic or scholar. Instead it turns out you probably don't even know enough Hebrew to have studied or read the Siddur or the Psalms in the original form or read the original papers where these proposals tooks place so long ago. You couldn't identify Asher Yatzar from Ahavat Olam or know why they were important.

    I'm not endorsing the view I presented. I have been a teacher. A teacher just teaches.

    But instead of videos, you should read books. Instead of spending your time debating with me (and hiding the fact that you don't know any), you could be learning ancient tongues.

    The truth is, you don't know enough.

    Nobody knows enough. Anybody who claims that is definitely not in a position to write and publish a paper.

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    Of course let your own success or failure be your judgement.

    I'm just a retired old teacher.

    I'm a nobody. Why would my words mean anything to you? If you were a real scholar or academic, you would have ignored me a long time ago.

    Now if you will excuse me. This elitist is going to In-and-Out Burger.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings PioneerSchmioneer,

    I began this thread for two reasons—to present my findings and elicit “substantive criticism” Substantive criticism entails first reading what I have written then, finding a problem with the points made, presenting a more reasonable explanation of the facts. So far the only person who has approached this has been peacefulpete who attempted to otherwise explain Jubilees’ explication of twenty-two works with specific arguments regarding how to count the works of creation in the text. This necessitated a response from me and I find that my response squarely addressed the points he raised.

    Unfortunately, you have gone in a different direction. You have not made “substantive criticisms” of my paper for the simple fact that you still have not cited any factual errors or flaws in my reasoning from what I have written. You said concerning my thesis, “My comments were not meant in anyway to be seen or read as saying I disagree,” and concerning the alternative thesis (symmetrical arrangement), “I neither disagree with nor endorse the view.” So you have presented yourself as a non-committal observer who is simply throwing out disinterested comments on the subject.

    Yet your comments from the beginning have made implicit arguments. And so I have tried from the beginning to address your points. But the fact that you do not formally make arguments or explicitly cite sources in support of your pronouncements makes things unnecessarily difficult. And when you have given a name, Konrad Schmid, the scholar actually said the opposite of the position you had taken. And when this was demonstrated to you, you simply attempted to turn things around and characterized my citations as “red herrings” and “gaslighting.”

    Your only explicit point is to question my level of Hebrew proficiency. But even here there is no “substantive criticism” of my position. Why? Because your questioning is not based on examples of factual errors related to Hebrew in my paper or even in my comments here. Your questioning came in relation to my statement that Krüger is wrong in his utilization of a symmetrical arrangement of eight creative acts. You took an opposing position and claimed, “The text has a cadence to it that demonstrates this.” Please note that this claim effectively makes you an advocate for a symmetrical arrangement of eight creative acts even through you say, “I neither disagree with nor endorse the view.”

    Now if it is true that “cadence” in the text “demonstrates” an intentional symmetrical arrangement of eight creative works by the author, it would be important to the discussion of the narrative structure. And so I replied, “I would very much like to hear how ‘cadence’ can account for … glaring logical problems in the symmetrical arrangement as well as how scholars who recognize these problems like I do are in error.” Thus I am asking you to substantiate your point here. I, for my part, have already substantiated my own claim that the utilization of a symmetrical arrangement of eight creative acts by scholars is wrong by the very paper I have written. Yet you failed to substantiate your own claim when asked. And I tried to bring this fact to your attention, but apparently to avail.

    And thus you have continued on, unsubstantiated in your own claim, trying to shift the burden of proof back on to me to prove my understanding of Hebrew is such to sustain the claim I made. But again, this I have already done in my paper, a paper from which you still have yet to cite any example of a factual error related to Hebrew on my part, let alone anything fatal to the position I advance. Remember, the thread is about making “substantive criticisms” of the alternative narrative structure which I advance in my paper. It is therefore obvious that any criticism should start there since that is the whole point of the discussion. But you dismiss the idea as “BS” and say that my directing you to my paper is the same situation as what the translators of the New World Translation do. Let us once again take up your comparison with an example to show exactly how one should proceed in offering criticism.

    Jer 29:10 in the original New World Translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (1958 edition) reads,

    “For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon, I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good promise in bringing you back to this place.’

    Jonsson argues that the translation of bābel as “at Babylon” here is incorrect and should be translated as “for Babylon” (Carl Olof Jonsson, The Gentile Times Reconsidered, 4th ed. (Atlanta, Ga.: Commentary Press, 2004), 211–5). Does Jonsson simply assert that the translators of the New World Translation, by translating as “at Babylon,” show they had no knowledge of Hebrew? No. He first cites other translations and relates that while some of these read like the New World Translation, most read as “for Babylon” and explains how this actually fits better with other statements in Jeremiah. And then, not relying on an argument from populism, he goes into the reason why the preposition is best translated as “for” here by noting the opinion of Hebrew scholars. His first sentence reads, “Modern Hebrew scholars generally agree that the local or spatial sense of le is highly improbable, if not impossible, at Jer. 29:10.” Does he just end there with a blanket appeal to anonymous authorities? No. He cites a number of scholars to establish the point. Do the scholars he cites simply appeal to their own educational qualifications as if that were sufficient to establish the argument? No. They each give the specific reasons for how they arrive at the position they do from a consideration of the larger context and ancient translations. The case that Jonsson brings against the translation “at Babylon” in Jer 29:10 is therefore not established by questioning the translator’s very ability to understand Hebrew or by popularity or by simple appeals to authorities, his case is established by providing a superior explanation of the facts.

    Now since the translators of the New World Translation have stated, “the merit of the translation rest[s], not on names, but upon its faithful rendition of the Scriptures from their original language,” then arguments which demonstrate that the translation has not in fact been faithful to the original language in places need to be addressed by offering an even better explanation if the translation is to still be regarded. Yet in the present example the translators have not addressed the argument made by Jonsson at all and continued on with their translation as if Jonsson’s criticism simply did not exist. This can be seen in the most recent revision of their translation which still reads “at Babylon.” It is therefore not the failure to produce credentials for inspection when asked that makes the translators suspect. Translations may be legitimate or illegitimate regardless of the credentials of the translator. It is the fact that the translators, although expressing a claim of faithfulness to the original languages, fail to answer criticisms when examples of the translation’s unfaithfulness to the original languages are brought forward.

    So if you wish to put me in the role of one of the translators of the New World Translation, then that places you in the role of Jonsson. So please, do as Jonsson does with respect to the New World Translation and actually read my paper, find examples that you think constitute factual errors related to Hebrew, collect your reasoned argument as to why you believe I am in error, then bring your argument forward. And as you do this, please, instead of vague statements about how “a cadence” to the text “demonstrates” an intentional symmetrical arrangement of eight creative works based on the work of “a scholar” who worked “some decades ago,” please give me specifics as I have done with you here by clearly citing your sources like Jonsson does. Then the ball will be back in my court. And I will have to answer your “substantive criticism.” And then we will see if I fail to give a reasonable response as the translators of the New World Translation do.

    In closing, you may be correct that I should have ignored you a long time ago, but not because you are a nobody, but because you have no “substantive criticism” to make. I am the nobody. You literally have the entire world of scholarship with you. Hopefully you will justify the time it takes me to type out these long responses to you by following Jonsson’s course and providing me with something substantial. Refuted or not, I can only stand the winner through the gain in knowledge.

    [T]he view is found in basically all mainstream Bibles because it became accepted a very long time ago based upon how the Hebrew narrative reads like both the symmetry of prayers found in the Siddur and the Hebrew psaltry.

    — PioneerSchmioneer

    Some decades ago a scholar recognized that the first chapter of Genesis read like [an example of Jewish poetry] and a light bulb went off and the entire process began with a thesis. The rest was history, and now it is inside all the Bibles.

    — PioneerSchmioneer

    Let us finally turn to the scientific and philosophical significance of Herder’s ‘hieroglyph’. When this theory first appears in the drafts of 1768 or 1769, its claims to validity are still modest. For example, the ‘hieroglyph’ still has nothing to do with nature and natural science; it purports to be no more than a structural feature of the creation story, a complex of symmetries and parallelisms in the Mosaic description of the seven days of creation which Herder describes as a ‘hieroglyph’. Its significance at this stage is purely formal and poetic.

    — Hugh Barr Nisbet, “Herder’s The Oldest Document of the Human Race and his Philosophy of Religion and History,” in On the Literature and Thought of the German Classical Era: Collected Essays, ed. Hugh Barr Nisbet (Cambridge, UK: Open Book Publishers, 2021), 155.

    Two centuries ago Herder recognized the powerful symmetry between the two triads of days: Day 1 corresponds to Day 4, Day 2 to Day 5, Day 3 to Day 6. Corresponding to the light (1) are the luminaries (4); to the creation of the expanse of the sky and the separation of the waters (2) correspond the birds and the fish (5); and to the appearance of the dry land and of vegetation (3) correspond the land animals including mankind together with the gift of food (6). Medieval tradition had recognized the broad pattern, since it distinguished the work of separation (Days 1-3) from the work of adornment (Days 4-6).

    — Henri Blocher, In the Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, trans. David G. Preston (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1984), 51.

    Can you see why there is a need to cite sources?

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    Honey, I believe you can accomplish anything you want to do. You have the ability to be accomplished in the field of academia if you want to.

    But this is not academia. This is just some site where people debate the views of JW theology.

    If you were an academic and a scholar, you would know what I was talking about in reference to these papers and the Siddur. That is why I left the sources out. You don't see that I am testing to see what you know and what you don't? You would know these sources by heart. I left them out on purpose.

    Go out and do great things. This is not the place to be an academic. You are not proving anything with me. If you were trying to get a grade like so many of my students and this was your paper that came across my desk, sweetie, it's a D- at best. I'm sorry.

    You have potential, though. You are wasting it here. I have some fun stuff to do over the weekend and sight seeing to do next week. You bore me, sweetie.

    I predict another reply (though I won't be around to read it). I have predicted you would reply to everything I posted. You have no self-control yet. But I hope you will learn to get that under control and not let anyone pull your strings in the future. We teachers do that to our students and irritate you on purpose. There are things some of you need to fix. Sometimes it's your behavior.

    Until that gets under control, your scholarship will never shine I'm afraid.

  • vienne

    Examining literary forms isn't a total waste of time, but, if we're writing about a document's function in its original society, form adds little to our understanding. The Genesis creation story is the antithesis of those of surrounding cultures. It is clearly meant to set Yahwism in contrast to the beliefs of "outsiders."

    I can visualize an elder sitting near the fire retelling this story to teach that Yahweh is the one true god.

    Perhaps your time would be better spent examining the uses of this narrative within Hebrew society as shown by parallels found within scripture and by examining contrasts with neighboring religious. Just a suggestion.

    Exposing another's lack of depth may not be the best way to educate them. Doing so tends to become insulting rather than educative. PSch's reply covers his/her own lack with insult and impatience.

  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    Could I make a suggestion?. Try analyzing the text of Genesis 1 in the LXX. Now compare to the opening of Plato's Timaeus

  • Mebaqqer2



    This is just some site where people debate the views of JW theology.

    Bible Research & Study Articles

    Critical analysis of the WatchTower Bible & Tract Society publications and the bible

    You are here.

    I left them out on purpose.

    A 4D chess move from the master.

    You are not proving anything with me.

    But am trying to prove anything to you?

    [I]t's a D- at best. I'm sorry.

    Oh great! I passed!

    But I hope you will learn to get that under control and not let anyone pull your strings in the future.

    If I have Pinocchio’s strings, surely you have his nose.

    We teachers do that to our students and irritate you on purpose.

    Honey … sweetie … sweetie

    So elitists do eat cheeseburgers! But then, who can blame them when they are so delicious?

    I predict another reply (though I won't be around to read it).

    You got me, but the replies were never for you.



    My main interest is textual criticism. There are of course the textual variants found in the three main witnesses to Genesis 1, the Masoretic Text (M), the Samaritan Pentateuch (SP) and the Septuagint (G), which must be adjudicated to establish the text before the final interpretation of the text, not merely a tentative working one, can begin. Apart from these explicit variants there is the work of scholars who seek to get behind the available sources and work out even earlier stages of the tradition. In Genesis 1 such scholars have found that the text is a conflation of two traditions, one in which God creates through speech and one in which God creates through activity. Part of what leads scholars to this conclusion are incongruities in what they have already assumed beforehand is the literary structure in the present form of Genesis 1, i.e., the symmetrical literary structure of eight creative acts. This theory of two creations in Genesis 1 is then used in statements on the development on the religious tradition. My position is that these incongruities are not to be attributed to a conflation of two different creation accounts, but that the incongruities appear because the assumed symmetrical structure is not actually a feature of the text.

    The narrative structure I find, not having first assumed its form as everyone else does, mainly develops from three observations made by the earliest interpreters of the text. These observations come together organically and yield a narrative structure for the present account that has none of the incongruities that are found in the symmetrical arrangement assumed by scholars. This narrative structure leads to a number of implications for understanding the text. One of them is that part of the case for positing two originally different creation accounts behind Genesis 1 vanishes. Of course other parts of that case also need to be addressed if the view is ultimately to be overturned. But my paper is simply concerned with showing the existence of the narrative structure as a feature of the text.

    There are a number of implications that the narrative structure I present has for understand Genesis 1 which I have yet to put to page. But I thought it best to hear criticisms of my core thesis first lest I find myself writing in vain on the implications of an ultimately invalid view. As it stands, there may be some who are able to bring nit-pick arguments about poor style in presentation or perhaps even some inaccuracy that is not fatal to the thesis, but I do not see how my position is controvertible as things stand. Parsimony and explanatory power being indicative of a superior view, I would only benefit from a demonstration of a view with these traits greater than my own and so I seek it if it is to be found. So I am not actually trying to prove to others, I am awaiting their proving to me. There is a slight difference.

    Perhaps your time would be better spent examining the uses of this narrative within Hebrew society as shown by parallels found within scripture and by examining contrasts with neighboring religious.

    The narrative structure I find was found specifically as a result of inquiring into how Genesis 1 was read by its earliest interpreters. There is indeed something to be said about an intertextual reading of the text as your recommend. But there is also some caution that I find here. When you speak of “parallels,” I would limit this to clear intertextual allusions rather than statements relatable simply because of subject matter. An example would be Psalm 8 which may indeed tell us something about the significance of mankind’s creation intended by the author of Genesis 1. I also would not merely limit myself to “scripture.” In the example just noted, a Samaritan reading Genesis 1 would disregard Psalm 8 as immaterial to their reading because Psalm 8 is not “scripture” to them. Similarly, most Samaritans, Jews and Christians would disregard Jubilees 2 as important in their reading of Genesis 1 because it is not “scripture” to them although it is to Beta Israel and Ethiopian Christians. So I judiciously look for legitimate expositions anywhere, not only in “scripture.”

    I also think there is validity in comparisons and contracts with neighboring religious traditions. But here too I proceed with caution. The connection between Isaiah 27:1 and KTU 1.5:I:1–3, established by several strong verbal parallels shared between them in addition to subject matter, gives an example of how neighboring religious traditions can illuminate the biblical text. So I am not adverse to this. I just question the proposed connections others have made in Genesis 1.



    That is a great suggestion for those concerned with how philosophically educated interpreters understood the text of Genesis 1 through the lens of the Timaeus such as Philo of Alexandria or Gnostics. That was in fact one of the assignments I had to do in school. Runia has given a very detailed analysis of the Timaeus and Philo’s exegesis of Genesis 1 which I have utilized in my own reading Philo. But this is only in service to my main interest which is textual criticism and the interpretation intended by the author. As I already wrote above, “My proposal is not made with [the question of how long the days of Genesis 1 are] in mind. Just as some interpreters today seek to find harmony between science and scripture, interpreters 2,000 years ago sought to harmonize scripture with the cosmogony found in the Plato’s Timaeus which was the science of its day. My proposal is also not concerned with that long forgotten endeavor.”


    There is something to find in Genesis 1; something intentionally long forgotten. My work continues to make it exoteric.

  • Mebaqqer2


    Greetings again,

    After my post I came across this item relevant to your recommendation:

    Russell E. Gmirkin. Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts. Routledge. 2022.

    According to the description, this work "argues that the creation of the world in Genesis 1 and the story of the first humans in Genesis 2-3 both draw directly on Plato’s famous account of the origins of the universe, mortal life and evil containing equal parts science, theology and myth." If Gmirkin's position proves true, then the Timaeus would have greater relevance to my studies than previously noted. I will put Gmirkin's work on my schedule of things to do.

  • HowTheBibleWasCreated

    Mebaqqer2 I have had several email exchanges with Russell Gmirkin. My thoughts on this on my currently inactive youtube channel is here:

    I find your work on genesis 1 quite well researched I this post. I've written an article on the Journal of higher criticism for Dr. Robert m price a year ago called: Foundations in Forgeries about the NT. I'm currently in a massive research stage right now so my work has fallen off a bit

  • PioneerSchmioneer

    Vienne wrote:

    Exposing another's lack of depth may not be the best way to educate them. Doing so tends to become insulting rather than educative.

    I agree. It "tends to be insulting" instead of educational.

    Yet does one then avoid exposing the lack of ability, capacity, and credibility of the members of the Governing Body who call themselves Bible scholars and appoint themselves and others as members of the translating committee of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures?

    It insults then when you point out their shortcomings, and doing so many not educate these people. They are so self-convinced that they don't need a former academic education, often demonizing scholars, so there is nothing you can do for these kind of people.

    It's hypocritical to criticize JW leadership for being uneducated and frowning at higher education opportunities but applauding people who attempt to spread their personal ideas in a similar fashion without proper peer review process and procedures that critical methodology at the university level ensures.

    You cannot criticize the Jehovah's Witnesses one way while embracing someone else else by different standards without a betrayal for what you stand for. You become a liar when you do that.

    I would rather insult every member of the Governing Body and idiot who acts like them, while proclaiming to people that education is freedom of mind and life.

    Mebaqqer2 just wants his view and paper to be accepted as true.

    I want you and everyone to be educated so everyone can be empowered to make up their own minds and live the fullest most independent lives possible.

    And I don't want you to accept my view. I want people to be educated so they can develop their own views and make their own dreams become reality.

    If that is elitist, negative, insulting or impatient, then so be it.

    And if you think I am saying you MUST have some form of higher education, then you are wrong. My grandfather and grandmother did not and died wealthy of their own making!

    What I am saying is a person shouldn't claim to be or act the part of a scholar or an academic without being on the same educational level of others in the same field. If they know Hebrew, Latin and Greek, for example, you should too.

Share this