Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Yahwist Creation and Flood Narratives

Warning this video is highly irreverent watch at your own risk!

In our last DH post we listed the linguistic features of the Patriarchal blessing which use the name YHWH. Now let's look at the bits of creation and the flood which use the name YHWH and see if we can find any linguistic characteristics.

The first creation account was Gen1:1-2:3. Then the Torah starts over and retells how plants, man, and animals were created. Then comes the story of the "fall of man" with the talking snake. These two stories both discussing the Garden of Eden comprise one distinct narrative. The whole thing 2:4-3:24 always uses a unique double divine name of YHWH-Elohim. (I'm not sure how the DH explains that phenomenon if at all)

Anyway notice the following linguistic features.(HT:LF)

  1. The word Anokhi for I. (3:10, 4:9)
  2. The word Adama for ground is VERY frequently used (2:5, 2:6, 2:7, 2:9, 2:19, 3:17, 3:19, 3:23, , 4:3, 4:10, 4:11, 4:12, 4:14) it is used ONLY ONCE in the first creation account (1:25) I will post separately about this later. 
  3. The Beast of the Field (2:19, 2:20, 3:1. 3:14) as opposed to the first creation narrative and the Elohist bits of the flood which call animals Beasts of the Earth  (חית הארץ)
The DH'ers list some other words but they are far less frequent and can be attributed to coincidence but I will list them (erm... copy paste them) for completeness.
  1. עֶצֶב v. sad
    3:16, (twice) 
  2. טֶרֶם prep. before
    Gen 2:5(twice)

Next let's look at the three definite Yahwist bits of the flood story. (6:1-8, 7:1-5, 8:20-22)
  1. The word Adama keeps popping up again (but never with Elohim!) (6:1, 6:7, 7:4, 8:21)
  2. God wipes out  מחה mankind x2 (6:7, 7:4)  instead of just destroying שחת them as in the Elohist sections
  3. God is saddened/speaks to his heart  אל לבו x2 (6:6 , 8:21)
  4. The impulse of the heart of man is evil  x2 ( כי יצר לב האדם רע   (6:5, 8:21
  5. God is generally described with a lot of anthropomorphism unlike when the name Elohim is used: God is sad, God regrets, God speaks to his heart, God smells, God closes the door etc. 
 Coming up: What do holy hand grenades have to do with the DH? How often is the word Adama used? What about the words Terem and Anokhi? What does the DH have to say about various genealogies? And what about all the other bits of Genesis using the name YHWH? And maybe after we've finished ALL OF THAT we can perhaps move onto Exodus! Stay tuned.


Shilton HaSechel said...

The thing is the use of language seems (at least to me) fairly arbitrary. I can't imagine why an author would intentionally sprinkle YHWH texts with the word Adama more than in Elohim texts unless we are dealing with two authors who just naturally used different language.

>Indeed, the very consistency of the use of such terms and tones (using some for Yahweh and some for Elohim) could indicate, to those who choose to see complex art instead of hodge-podge anthologizing, the effective representation of God in multi-faceted fashion.

sorta Mordechai Breuer. Either way I think anthologizing accounts for seemingly contradictory passages better than positing poetic license. But who knows we may just not be familiar with some sort of unique writing technique used in Ancient Israel.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Well whenever you wanna post something just gimme a shout.

BTW My primary purpose is not to cast aspersions on the divinity of the Bible through the DH. I think there are much shorter, easier ways of doing that. I'm just writing this in response to certain frum ppl out there who know nothing about the DH yet have such strong opinions about it. I think Orthodoxy acts just a little bit too cavalierly when they so quickly dismiss textual criticism.

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