Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives

Essays on the Patriachal NarrativesEssays on the Patriarchal Narratives brings together a team of seven Old Testament scholars who examine the evidence for the authenticity of Genesis 12-50. All of the essays are available for free access. Just click on the individual links below to view.

Essays on the Patriarchal Narratives – Table of Contents

The Patriarchs in Scripture and History – John Goldingay

Methods of Studying the Patriarchal Narratives as Ancient Texts – Alan R. Millard

Archaeological Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs – John J. Bimson

Comparative Customs and the Patriarchal Age – Martin J. Selman

Abraham Reassessed – Donald J. Wiseman

The Religion of the Patriarchs – Gordon J. Wenham

Diversity and Unity in the Literary Structure of Genesis – David W. Baker

Preface

Today there is renewed interest in the history and traditions of the patriarchal period. Recent publications have sought, among other things, to show that the biblical patriarchs were a literary, even fictional, creation of the first millennium BC, produced to provide the nation of Israel, which came into prominence only then, with ‘founding fathers’. Much of this new writing is helpful in distinguishing what are traditional or speculative interpretations from the basic text of Genesis. Sometimes archaeological evidence has been adduced in support of the historicity of the patriarchs and their cultural background in the second millennium BC which can no longer be sustained. Sometimes, however, the value of such evidence is ignored or belittled.

In the light of the importance of this subject for the proper understanding of the historical reliability and the theological teaching of the Bible (which cannot be separated), the Council of Tyndale House set up an Old Testament project group to look afresh at aspects of the problems raised. These essays are the first fruits of its work. We are grateful to all who have supported the research and to those scholars who have given time to it.

Since such studies depend largely on the validity of the methods of study, this matter has initial place. Attention is given also to matters of tradition-history and structural analysis of the text. The essays review past work and attempt, in their various ways, to break new ground and stimulate further study. They aim to make a positive contribution, not merely to criticize the works of other writers. Each, necessarily, reflects the views of its own author, rather than of the contributors as a whole.

These essays are offered in the context of a continuing debate, yet with the hope that they will prove of interest and help to many concerned with a subject of absorbing historical and theological importance.

D.J.W.
A.R.M.

© 1980 A.R. Millard & D.J. Wiseman, reproduced by permission. Prepared for the web by Robert I. Bradshaw, January 2004. Please report any typographic errors.

Rick Wadholm Jr. – The Theological Meaning and Significance of Yom in Genesis 1

Rick Wadholm has kindly allowed me to post a PDF of his Master’s Thesis “The Theological Meaning and Significance of Yom in Genesis 1″. Wadholm argues that when we come to interpreting “Yom” we seldom get any further than arguing whether the “days” are literal or figurative. While this [in my opinion] is not unimportant, the text has far more to teach us than just chronology. Wadholm compares the Genesis account with other accounts of creation from the ANE and concludes that Genesis is unlike any of them.

Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories (1915)

A tablet from the Atrahasis Epic - a Babylonian account of the Flood.
A tablet from the Atrahasis Epic – a Babylonian account of the Flood. [Source: Wikipedia]
The following public domain article is now available on-line in pdf:

Theophilus G. Pinches [1856-1934], “The Old and New Versions of the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 47 (1915): 301-329.

The Old and New Versions of the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories

Forty years have passed since the late George Smith published his Chaldean Account of Genesis, dedicated to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the great English pioneer of Assyriology. We all remember, or at least realize, what a sensation Smith’s discoveries made, especially the account of the Flood, which traversed the same ground, point by point, as the Hebrew version in Genesis. It was a triumph for our self-taught countryman, and we all know, moreover, to what it led-namely, the despatch of the enterprising Museum – official to the East, first for the Daily Telegraph, and later for the trustees of the British Museum. He was favoured with a fair amount of success, for he found a fragment which was at first supposed to fill a gap of the eleventh tablet of the Gilgames-series, which gives the story of the Flood in reality it was a portion of another version-as well as fragments of Creation-stories. His third and last trip to the nearer East, however, had fatal results, and he never saw his native land again. He had acquired, nevertheless, a large amount of chronological material, and Biblical scholars are his debtors for that as much as for his acquisitions in the realm of Babylonian tradition.

Though the two legends which Smith discovered were written in Semitic Babylonian-now known to be Akkadian-it was clear to all, from the names of the deities and other personages, that they were of non-Semitic or Sumerian origin. The Creation series, which seems to have been written on six tablets, later increased to seven, recorded how everything was at first created and brought forth by Tiawath,” the sea,” and Apsft, “the Deep” or “Ocean.” From these came an only son, named Mummu. Other primeval deities, however, were later regarded as the children of Tiawath-Laymu and Layamu: Ansar and Kisar, the host of heaven and the host of earth; and then came Anu, the god of the heavens (with, it may be supposed, his spouse Anatum). At this point the record breaks off, but Damascius supplies the wanting portion, namely, the information that the successors of Anu were lllinos (cuneiform Illila) and Aos (i.e., Ea or Aa). Of Illila, the god of the earth, the spouse was called Ninlila: and the spouse of Ea or Aa is given by Damascius as Dauke, the Dam-kina of the inscriptions. “And of Aos and Dauke,” adds Damascius, “was born a son called Belos, who, they say, is the fabricator of the world – the Creator.”

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