Friday, June 01, 2012

The creation dream

What’s the source of Gen 1? Liberals assume it must be a redacted pagan myth. However, there’s no extant creation myth that resembles Gen 1.

Sometimes Bible writers narrate events which they themselves observed. Sometimes they incorporate written sources. Sometimes they use informants.

But, of course, Gen 1 is narrating a series of incidents before any human observer existed. Humans come on the scene sometime on Day 6.

Direct revelation would be the obvious source. However, revelation has different modalities. Dreams are one mode of revelation. Perhaps Gen 1 is a recorded dream. Let’s consider some possible evidence:

i) Except for Balaam's two oracular dreams (Num 22:7-21)–which are rather anomalous, given his pagan pedigree–Genesis is the only book of the Pentateuch that contains recorded dreams.

ii) By my count, Genesis contains no fewer than a dozen oracular dreams: 20:3-7; 26:24; 28:10-17; 31:10-13; 31:29; 37:5-7; 37:9; 40:9-11; 40:16-17; 41:1-4; 41:5-7; 46:2-4.

iii) Two dreams contain imagery that echoes Gen 1:

a) Jacob’s dream about a flight of steps, rising from the earth below to the heaven above, with God at the top of the staircase, involves the same hierophanic cosmography as Gen 1.

b) Joseph’s dream of the sun, moon, and stars evokes the fourth day.

In addition, for Joseph to see the sun, moon, and stars means his dream was set both during the day (for the sun to be visible) as well as night (for the moon and stars to be visible). So that also evokes the day/night, morning/evening motif.

iv) An inspired dreamer is a seer. He recounts what he saw in his dream (e.g. 28:12; 31:10,12; 37:9; 41:22).

This echoes the theme of God seeing the work of his hands (1:4,10,12,18,21,25,31).

v) Some dreams in Genesis are theophanic dreams, where God himself appears to the dreamer. Where God is the speaker–just as God is the speaker in Gen 1. In Gen 1, God is both seer and speaker. 

vi) When a dreamer recounts his dream, he typically relays it in the first-person. When a narrator recounts a character’s dream, he relays it in the third-person. For instance, see the alternation in 41:1,17.

So Gen 1 could be a third-person report of a revelatory dream.

vii) Finally, some oracular dreams are quite prosaic–while others are symbolic or allegorical (e.g. 37:7,9; 41:1-7).

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