Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Comparing the Bible to Other Creation Accounts

Darryl Bock interviews Richard Averbeck on the background of the Genesis creation account in light of other creation stories of the ancient Near East (ANE). This is relevant to the "did Adam exist" types of discussions. Part 1.


  1. On a somewhat related matter, is anyone aware of any good books/articles interacting with the claim that monotheism in Israel developed from monolatry or polytheism?

    1. First off - great video. Some really fine discussion. I watched the whole thing.

      Second, Andrew's question: Hess' "Israelite Religions" is indeed good, as is his essay in the new volume by Hoffmeier and Magery, "Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith," although neither is narrowly related to the question of the supposed development of monotheism.

      I've been doing some thinking about this very topic and found some WTJ articles by Elmer Smick that are relevant, although I have not found too many books dealing with the topic from the conservative side explicitly - at least not tackling Mark Smith's book "The Early History of God" which is sort of the standard text (along with his book on the development of monotheism) on the critical side of the issue. (An amazon search shows the influence of Smith on the topic and also of Jan Assmann who has studied it from the Egyptological side.)

      My suspicion is that the reason more people aren't working on this topic from a conservative standpoint is because the disagreements start so far back at the basic assumption/presupposition level. It isn't completely about exegesis because the exegesis they're doing in favor of emerging monotheism is rooted in some pretty questionable assumptions about the nature of scripture.

      Those are some thoughts. If you come across anything - let me know. It is a topic that I'm drawn to of late. It's time for some solid conservative critiques of the critical secondary literature.

      Andrew Compton

    2. It's only recently I've become interested in the subject and it is mainly Smith's work that I am thinking of. So far I haven't found much by way of conservative response.

      Michael Heiser has a middle of the road article here . I've only skimmed it so far.

      I will definitely check out Hess and Smick.

      The question of underlying assumptions is an interesting one. Presently I would be reluctant to say the impact they have on one's conclusion but you could well be right.

      If I come across anything I'll let you know.

    3. There are two essays in Richard Bauckham's book 'Jesus and the God of Israel; 'Biblical Theology and the Problems of monotheism' and 'The "Most High" God and the nature of Early Jewish Monotheism'.

      His position follows a similar theme to the 'divine identity' concept in the first essay 'God Crucified', concentrating on the uniqueness of Yahweh. Like Heiser and Smith he seems to reject 'monotheism' as an enlightenment imposition.

      I also came across an article by Richard Hess on Reasonable Faith that, I guess, sums up what he says in 'Israelite Religions'.

  2. @ Andrew search for Richard Hess on amazon. He has massive tome on the topic.

    It was refreshing to hear some sanity on this topic. Thank you.

  3. The issue of early Israelite Monotheism is going to depend on what your view of inspiration is. Do you believe Moses wrote large sections of the Pentateuch? If so, then monotheism is early. Like all historical reconstructions that attempt to go "behind the text" the speculation becomes dizzying.

    1. This seems to assume that the Pentateuch is uniformly monotheistic. But insofar as I understand the claims of liberals this is one of the points at issue.