Saturday 20 February 2021

Satan, the snake in the garden from before time began, did not lie to Eve, when he caused her to die.

 Satan, the snake in the garden from before time began, did not lie to Eve, when he caused her to die. God told Adam he would die when he ate the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil (not if, when) and commanded him not to. Eve was told by Adam not to even touch it lest she die.

Satan correctly tells Eve that eating the fruit will not kill her, for God knew eating it would make her like God, in knowing the difference between good and evil. God himself admits in the same story of the Bible that in stealing the fruit from him, Adam and Eve had become like God in knowing the difference between good and evil. She and Adam, based on what, on the face of it, are truthful statements from the snake, eat the fruit. God then prevents them from also eating the fruit of the tree of life, which was in the garden next to the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so that they may not live forever. They, like us, were clearly mortal, because the tree of life, not forbidden them, would have allowed them to live forever, but they chose the tree of knowledge instead; the fall is not a loss of assured immortal life, but a loss of the immortal soul to sin.

What Satan says is mechanically true. Mankind gained knowledge of good and evil, and if not for God, could have also eaten the fruit of the tree of life and lived forever, as beings disobedient to God. God of course knew the Serpent's nature, Adam's nature and Eve's nature, and banished them into time, into the universe we know (as we know that the events in the garden occur before time, before any shrub had grown per the bible), but the world they are thrust into is very much the world of time.

To God, what was certain was based on the acts of God. To Satan, what was true was based on the world without taking into account the nature of God. The property of God, which man was told to look after, belonged to God. And like Prometheus, stealing fire from the Greek gods, Adam and Eve steal the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil from God and eat of it. They were in the garden to serve God, by tending it, but disobeyed God and stole from him, believing they could one up God by doing so. And it is worth emphasising, the garden was the property of God. Adam was put there to till the land, and Eve to be his helper. They were told they could eat any fruit, but were not permitted to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They thus took from what was entrusted to them to care for, and stole the fruit they ate from God. Having stolen from God, thinking their scheme was fool proof, Adam and Eve then hide from God, but aren't able to hide from God, nor to deceive him.

Man was not made mortal by his eating of the tree of knowledge, but by his disobedience to God. Satan, in his schemes will be wiley, the wisest of the wild creatures God created, wiser than mankind as well, but his schemes and promises will always be mechanical in nature, and will always exclude the nature of God and the pattern he has set upon the universe. But for God, Satan would succeed in all his schemes, and mankind, rather than being a hybrid of timeous and aeviternal creatures, able to choose between good and evil while we still live, still capable of change, instead, would have become immortal, and remained evil for all time, having eaten of the tree of knowledge, and then the tree of life, but God stopped man eating of the tree of life. Mankind's betrayal of God, and theft from God, was not rewarded.

The anti-Christ is often portrayed by his number, which tends to be linked to the 6th day of creation, and to humankind, to the mechanical universe without God. And pride at its core is the sin of believing in a universe that is purely mechanical, one without the nature of God guiding it. One in which stealing from God is a good idea. The sin of believing we are sufficient, and that our own knowledge and wisdom will bear us out into eternal life, without God.

Any moment you are tempted to do evil, due to the mechanical nature of the universe, due to your knowledge of its ordinary patterns, ignoring the pattern of God, including that of God's wrath, realise that you would have fallen for the same trick Eve did, that the devil isn't lying to you, but if you don't account for God's nature and actions in what you do, you will surely die of your hubris, whereas, in trusting in God and accounting for him, you are capable of gaining life eternal. Man had not been forbidden the tree of life, not until he chose his own schemes over God's plans for him, was this denied him.

Thursday 11 February 2021

An argument for Moses' authorship of the Pentateuch / Torah

The oldest extract from the Old Testament we have is in the form of two very ancient silver scrolls dating from before the Jewish exile. The scrolls accurately quote parts of the bible and were included in a burial. The second oldest evidence is the Dead Sea Scrolls from a few centuries before Christ. These show that the Old Testament in Hebrew and Greek has not changed in 2000 years.

The events in Genesis predate the existence of a written form of Hebrew, but much of it does not predate the earliest written forms of Egyptian. Moses was raised in Egypt and the Israelites spent 400 years there. It would be centuries after they settled in Israel that the Hebrews would develop their own written language.

I think the various explanations for why Moses is not the author of the first five books of the bible, despite ancient tradition saying he was, are relatively weak. If he were the author, he almost certainly wrote the books in Egyptian script, because it existed at the time, just as the New Testament was written in Greek, despite Jesus likely speaking Aramaic, due to it being a common language in the Roman Empire at the time. Should Moses have written the original five books of the bible down, then they very likely would have had to be rewritten into Hebrew hundreds of years later when Hebrew came into being as a written language.

We know that there was some form of written language among the Israelites hundreds of years before they developed Hebrew written forms, because God gave them the Ten Commandments in a written form. I would assume these commandments were written in an Egyptian written script, given the time period and the lack of a Hebrew alphabet at the time.

Another major thing often used against Moses' authorship is that the bible says that at a certain time the Canaanites occupied Canaan. This is used to say that the author knew this was no longer the case, but Moses never entered the promised land, he could only have relayed what was passed down to him. For all he knew, Canaan was differently occupied, which could explain the verse. Another good explanation would be that it was added as a later gloss, perhaps when translating his words into written Hebrew.

Regardless, if Moses did codify the first five books of the bible into a written form, or had it codified, it is almost certain he would have done so based on longstanding oral traditions for the book of Genesis. As modern research finds, oral histories can be passed down from generation to generation intact, especially among preliterate peoples. The Iliad and Odyssey codified by Homer are thought to be accounts with historic basis of the Trojan war thanks to modern archaeology, albeit fantastical stories are included. Moses or whomever compiled the accounts from Jewish prehistory, passed down over hundreds of years, would have had a relatively accurate means of gaining history via oral tradition.

The manner in which the dialects in the early Old Testament seem to show parts from as old as 950 BC and others, small segments, as new as about 500, can as is often suggested be due to oral histories being recorded in writing, or written accounts being compiled. But this should not in fact rule out Moses authoring these books, given that if he did author them it would not have been in written Hebrew but in Egyptian script which existed at the time of Moses. Given the timing of events, the Ten Commandments written by God on stone tablets very likely would have also been written in an Egyptian script. After all, the Israelites were living in Egypt for hundreds of years at this point.

We know that the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible that we have today, both also recorded in the Dead Sea Scrolls, likely originated from some common earlier script, given that the Septuagint was translated, seemingly with the same translation by between 70 and 72 Jewish translators, into Greek for the library of Alexandria, with the translation of the various scribes being likewise, suggestive that the Septuagint was translating a Hebrew version of the bible mostly the same as the Hebrew one we have now, but with the differences between it and the Septuagint we know are there.

If Moses did, as tradition tells us, write those first five books of the bible, that would have had to have been translated into written Hebrew at a later stage, and perhaps would have been updated at each point to be understood by the people of that time, when a part of the language became too obscure. What we see in the texts we now have is exactly what one would expect to see if the original five books of the Hebrew bible were written by Moses, because written Hebrew didn't exist yet, but written Egyptian did, and Moses was literate, he understood the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, having been raised by a member of Egypt's upper class and thus likely having had his training in written language being in Egyptian.

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