The original version of Genesis 1 went something like this ...

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by Penelope, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Penelope

    Penelope weak force testosterone

    Jun 5, 2009
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    Harold Bloom considers The Book of J - even mutilated as it is by the Redactor's scissors - to be one of the triumphs of world literature. On a par with the Iliad (Homer), The Divine Comedy (Dante), or Hamlet (and other central plays by Shakespeare).

    The J-author (or Yahweh-author) wrote much of the text of the Bible from the "Garden of Eden" thru the "Death of Moses." Bloom believes the author of The Book of J to be a woman born into the court of Solomon, and living in the court of his weak successor Rehoboam when the author wrote her lengthy Yahweh-tale, in about 915bce.

    Bloom considers this great writing to be a secular work of literature, never intended as a religious text. Unlike the intention of later authors who revised (and often butchered) the original J-text:
    - E-author (the Elohist - 850-800bce),
    - D-authors (the Deuteronomists - during the violent moment during King Josiah's puritan reforms, 650-600bce),
    - P-authors (Priestly authors - 550-500bce), and
    - R-author (the Redactor - after circa-400bce).

    Bloom believes this highly-literate court lady was not merely familiar with Israelite folk-literature and legend-tales, but she was also well-read in the written literature and attentive to the oral literature from throughout the region (Canaanite, Babylonian, Egyptian). Bloom believes she used and drew upon this literature but turned it - and tuned it - to her own stylistic and thematic purpose.
    (What Bloom, in his famous theoretical text The Anxiety of Influence, would call a "strong mis-reading" of her source materials. The J-author did not merely ape her source material, but she riffed upon this material in a "strong" way - like a great jazz musician - making the material sing. She profoundly knew she had a very specific, thematically-significant story to tell, far different and far more powerful than any of her sources. Sources largely unknown to us, today.)
    J had a great story to tell, which she told it, according to Bloom, in a powerfully original writing style. Told with a deeply original sense of 'irony,' which far transcended the archaic writing styles (locally or abroad) characteristic of her era.

    & & &

    Much of this great original art was painted over or blue-penciled by later Biblical authors, but much still remains. The Redactor replaced J's original beginning - Yahweh's battle with the Dragon and the Deep (chaos) - replaced it with the P-author's stately ode to the Divine Order ("In the beginning God created ... ").

    According to Bloom, J would have riffed upon existing legends like the Babylonian epic, Enuma Elis, where storm-god Marduk clashes with Tiamat, goddess of the sea. Or more locally: the Canaanite tale of Baal and his sister/wife Anat beating down Yamm (sea-god emblematic of chaos).

    Much of the polytheistic and henethistic materials were editing out of the early Torah by later authors/editors. Bloom derives his speculation (above) on how J's Yahweh tale originally began from what little still remains in the Bible:
    Job, Psalms, Isaah, Kings, Nahum, Proverbs, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk.
    (Bloom's own translation from the Hebrew. The Book of J, 1990, page 30-31.
    Check out, too, David Rosenberg's lovely translation of the Torah's J-material from the Hebrew, which begins on page 61 and runs for a lively 111 pages.
    I highly recommend it.)

    & & &

    I have to wonder to what degree most folktales of polytheistic/henetheistic peoples of this era are religious in nature, and to what degree these narratives are merely secular entertainment.
    Anyone have thoughts on that?

    We hear about the wars, contained in the records kept by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians ... but little about the peacetime trade-practices. (Which traded objects of culture as well as consumer goods.)
    Seems to me, the more prosperous and peaceful the times were, in which these tales were written, the increased likelihood that these tales held more to a secular than sacred purpose.
    Which is my reading of the J-material. I have to agree with Harold Bloom, on that point.

    Bloom might well claim that the 'religious' intent, which later authors "found" in J's Yahweh-tales, is a 'weak misreading' of what these tales are actually about.
    (Like trying to turn the content and characters of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream into the source of something to worship. Into a Solstice 'Scripture.')

    Is all religious lore (from all peoples) just misused secular literature?
  2. Dogbrain

    Dogbrain New Member

    Aug 19, 2008
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    What evidence is there that this "original" version is the original and that it is not merely some modern invention that agrees with the modern author's prejudices?

    And, while on the question of understanding and evidence, does someone who does full-time research in molecular neurogenetics and autism in 2009 qualify to be at least as well informed as a French reporter who is "well read" in the 1980s?
  3. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

    Apr 6, 2008
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    we know by now that history and historians cannot by all accounts say 'this is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth' hence the necessity for comparative studies; its all inference no? more to the point, would there have been such a separation or modern day infatuation of compartmentalising, such as the 'religious' from the 'secular'. So can be compared to smriti and shruti literature/oral tradition, both pedagogically authoritative, both sacred.
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2007
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    Hi everybody!

    I am a Theosophist, and I thought I would share the Theosophical interpretation of the first couple of sentences in Genesis.

    "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

    In pre-cosmic matter developed/evolved the gods, the heavens and the earth.

    "And the earth was without form...."

    Everything was in absolute rest. Spirit and matter had yet to appear. Forms did not exist. Even formlessness did not exist.

    "...and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep..."

    First, spirit and matter emerged from within the Absolute.

    "...and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters."

    Spirit then fecundated matter.

    "And God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light."

    “…the Ray [which] dropped at the first thrill of the new "Dawn" into the great Cosmic depths, from which it re-emerges differentiated as Oeaohoo the younger…. He is … the generator of Light and Life…. He is called the "Blazing Dragon of Wisdom…." (Sd vol 1 p 71)
  5. shawn

    shawn New Member

    Feb 28, 2007
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    Historical revisionists are the bane of the mainstream writers of history, but history is the propaganda of the victor.
    So reader beware of all versions as none of it is the whole truth.
    All of our history is loosely based on historical facts which is then spun this way and that, interpreted this way and that, portions having been deleted and other portions being cleverly embroidered in.

    Everything you think you know has a high probability of being a fabrication.
    That alone has more truth to it than most of the Hi-STORIES you know.
  6. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Sep 4, 2003
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    the Torah, on the other hand, is not a history book any more than it is, say, a geography book. if you treat it as such, it will inevitably appear odd - to say the least!



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