Bible stories literal or symbolic?

General discussions about Christianity including salvation, heaven and hell, Christian history and so on.

Bible stories literal or symbolic?

Literal
7
47%
Symbolic
5
33%
Exaggerated
0
No votes
Not sure
3
20%
 
Total votes: 15

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Jac3510
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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#121

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:30 am

As am I. I brought up nechosheth because Heiser did. That is the word he was talking about in his article. His whole point about translating NCHSH as "bright one," and saying, to use your words, that NCHSH is "more of an adjective" is that NCHSH is the word nechosheth, NOT nachash.

So, you have a choice. You either take this to be nachash, and translate it "snake," and drop the "more of an adjective, it refers to a 'bright one'" argument, or you take it to be nechosheth and translate it "bright one," and drop the whole "the word 'snake' is a figure-of-speech'" argument.

You can't have it both ways. This is what I have been trying to get out of you for three days. I told you, we can't critique an argument until you give me one. You CANNOT say that the word nachash refers to a "bright one" because ANOTHER word (nechosheth) that has the same root can mean "bright one."

Are you, then, going to admit to me that you were mistaken in your reference to Heiser, and that you think he is wrong in taking the word to be nechosheth, and that it should not be translated "bright one"? Or are you going to agree with Heiser and tell me that the word in Genesis 3 is NOT nachash, but instead, it is nechosheth, and that there is no snake at all, and therefore admit that you were wrong in your ORIGINAL argument that the word "snake" should be taken as a figure of speech (on the basis that the word snake (nachash) never appears in the text) and that instead, the word "bright one" should be taken literally?

Which argument are you dropping, and to which one do you hold?
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#122

Post by Gman » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:42 am

Jac3510 wrote:As am I. I brought up nechosheth because Heiser did. That is the word he was talking about in his article. His whole point about translating NCHSH as "bright one," and saying, to use your words, that NCHSH is "more of an adjective" is that NCHSH is the word nechosheth, NOT nachash.

So, you have a choice. You either take this to be nachash, and translate it "snake," and drop the "more of an adjective, it refers to a 'bright one'" argument, or you take it to be nechosheth and translate it "bright one," and drop the whole "the word 'snake' is a figure-of-speech'" argument.

You can't have it both ways. This is what I have been trying to get out of you for three days. I told you, we can't critique an argument until you give me one. You CANNOT say that the word nachash refers to a "bright one" because ANOTHER word (nechosheth) that has the same root can mean "bright one."

Are you, then, going to admit to me that you were mistaken in your reference to Heiser, and that you think he is wrong in taking the word to be nechosheth, and that it should not be translated "bright one"? Or are you going to agree with Heiser and tell me that the word in Genesis 3 is NOT nachash, but instead, it is nechosheth, and that there is no snake at all, and therefore admit that you were wrong in your ORIGINAL argument that the word "snake" should be taken as a figure of speech (on the basis that the word snake (nachash) never appears in the text) and that instead, the word "bright one" should be taken literally?

Which argument are you dropping, and to which one do you hold?
No Jac, you are missing my argument entirely... What I'm saying to you is that you can't spot-weld "nachash" into one literal meaning. Just like you can't spot-weld the word "yom" into one literal meaning... That is my whole argument... The Hebrew word for "serpent" may be connected EITHER with an adjective/noun meaning "bronze" (suggesting something that is shiny), or with a verb meaning "to practice divination."
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#123

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:54 am

Gman, no you can't. Grammatically, you cannot do that. Nachash means nachash. It does not mean bronze. It does not mean divination. It is a noun. It is not an adjective. It cannot be an adjective. You are confusing roots with derivitive words. So your entire argument is based on a misunderstanding of Hebrew grammar.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#124

Post by Gman » Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:05 pm

Jac3510 wrote:Gman, no you can't. Grammatically, you cannot do that. Nachash means nachash. It does not mean bronze. It does not mean divination. It is a noun. It is not an adjective. It cannot be an adjective. You are confusing roots with derivitive words. So your entire argument is based on a misunderstanding of Hebrew grammar.
Like I've said.... Other PHD's in Hebrew would disagree with you. But speaking of a literal snake, are you saying that the tribe of Dan was a literal snake or was symbolic for a snake in Gen 49:17?
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#125

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:31 pm

Other PHD's in Hebrew would disagree with you
Would you care to provide an example? None will. Nor would any first year Hebrew student.

The words "bronze," "bright," and "divination" are not in the word nachash's semantic range. They are in the range of other words that are derived from similar roots, but these are NOT the same word. That is a simple matter of fact and no more. Go check the TWOT, BDB, TDOT, or any other lexicon you like.
But speaking of a literal snake, are you saying that the tribe of Dan was a literal snake or was symbolic for a snake in Gen 49:17?
No, that is a metaphor. How do I know that? Because it fits the linguistic markers of a metaphor: "X [equative verb] Y." In this case, "Dan will be a snake."

Going back to Genesis 3, I see no such linguistic markers for the snake in Genesis 3. You can be like ttoews, if you like, and take the entire account as a myth. That's certainly an honest approach.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#126

Post by Gman » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:31 pm

Jac3510 wrote:Would you care to provide an example? None will. Nor would any first year Hebrew student.
Please read my other posts. Heiser has a PHD in Hebrew..
Jac3510 wrote:No, that is a metaphor. How do I know that? Because it fits the linguistic markers of a metaphor: "X [equative verb] Y." In this case, "Dan will be a snake."

Going back to Genesis 3, I see no such linguistic markers for the snake in Genesis 3. You can be like ttoews, if you like, and take the entire account as a myth. That's certainly an honest approach.
I hope you don't mean a literal snake... And this is what a metaphor means:

1. a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” Compare mixed metaphor, simile (def. 1).
2. something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/metaphor

Here we can plainly see that the word "nachash" can also be used figuratively...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#127

Post by Jac3510 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 3:52 pm

Reread Heiser. He is NOT arguing that the word for "snake" can be translated, much less taken to mean, "bright one." Nor is he arguing that the word for "snake" is also an adjective. He is pointing out that word behind "snake" should be taken as ANOTHER word because of the way roots work in Hebrew.

As far as Dan goes, I have never said anywhere that the word "snake" cannot be used figuratively. I have said that when it is, there are linguistic markers, as is the case in Gen. 49. We know Gen. 49 contains a metaphor because it matches the LINGUISTIC MARKERS of FORM.

No such markers exist in Gen 3.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#128

Post by Gman » Tue Jun 17, 2008 4:22 pm

Jac3510 wrote:Reread Heiser. He is NOT arguing that the word for "snake" can be translated, much less taken to mean, "bright one." Nor is he arguing that the word for "snake" is also an adjective. He is pointing out that word behind "snake" should be taken as ANOTHER word because of the way roots work in Hebrew.
And according to your interpretation you can't do that.... That's fine by me. I don't see anything in the rules that says you can't. This is what he says....

"What is different about this approach is that I view the base word, nachash, as an adjective, not a noun. The NOUN spelled nachash in Hebrew can mean: snake / serpent or one who practices of divination. The adjective means “bright, brazen” and is itself the base word for other nouns in Hebrew, like “shining brass.”

Hebrew grammar, it is not unusual for an adjective to be “converted” for use as a noun (the proper word is “substantivized”).2 A common example would be “holy one” (with or without the article). If we take שחנ  as deriving from the adjective rather than as a noun, the translation becomes “the shining one”, which is quite in concert with descriptions of the satan figure in the Old Testament. For example, in Isa 14:12-15, he is called Helel ben-shachar — “The shining one, son of the dawn.” Elsewhere, divine beings are described as “shining” or luminous, even by use of the adjective ןונ ש. For example: Daniel 10"
Jac3510 wrote:As far as Dan goes, I have never said anywhere that the word "snake" cannot be used figuratively. I have said that when it is, there are linguistic markers, as is the case in Gen. 49. We know Gen. 49 contains a metaphor because it matches the LINGUISTIC MARKERS of FORM.

No such markers exist in Gen 3.
It says, "Dan will be a serpent by the roadside." Not a literal snake.... Dan will not turn into a literal snake, Dan's symbol represents a snake. Let's look at it Psalm 22:16...

Psalm 22:16
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

The verse does not say that his enemies were like dogs, or that they were dogs... In fact the word "enemies" is not even mentioned. It is implied....

If you want to go that route, then tell me where in Genesis 3 where the snake is said to be the devil? WHERE??? According to your interpretation all you have is a LITERAL walking talking snake in the garden...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#129

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:38 am

"What is different about this approach is that I view the base word, nachash, as an adjective, not a noun. The NOUN spelled nachash in Hebrew can mean: snake / serpent or one who practices of divination. The adjective means “bright, brazen” and is itself the base word for other nouns in Hebrew, like “shining brass.”

Hebrew grammar, it is not unusual for an adjective to be “converted” for use as a noun (the proper word is “substantivized”).2 A common example would be “holy one” (with or without the article). If we take שחנ  as deriving from the adjective rather than as a noun, the translation becomes “the shining one”, which is quite in concert with descriptions of the satan figure in the Old Testament. For example, in Isa 14:12-15, he is called Helel ben-shachar — “The shining one, son of the dawn.” Elsewhere, divine beings are described as “shining” or luminous, even by use of the adjective ןונ ש. For example: Daniel 10"
Heiser isn't saying anything different from I am, but he is saying something very different from what you are. It would take entirely too much time to take you through first year Hebrew grammar on this board. You have to look at different root words, how nouns and verbs are constructed out of them (with special reference to the Qal (=simple) form), which Heiser uses here, and how words can be substantival. Gman, you've just misunderstood his argument. He is NOT saying that the noun nachash meaning "serpent" has, within its semantic range, the further meaning of "bronze" or "brazen" or even "divination." DIFFERENT words from the SAME ROOT have those meanings. The noun nachash meaning "snake" is a different word from the root nachash (which is not a noun, but a Qal verb, but can be easily converted into a noun) "to divine," and that same root nachash--which is NOT the noun nachash (=snake)--can be formed into an adjective meaning "bright." That adjective to which Heiser is referring is nechosheth. It would be spelled the same way in Hebrew. All of these words would be spelled the same way in Hebrew, but that does not make them the same word, anymore than the English words "bear" (=a scary animal) and "bear" (=to hold up a burden) are the same word with a broad semantic range. They are different words spelled the same way that are derived from similar roots.

You are simply reading Heiser wrong. I am not going to walk through an entire Hebrew grammar course with you on this. I am simply telling you that you don't understand what Heiser is saying. Take Heiser to one of the Ph.D.'s in Hebrew that you know (or come to the seminary I work at, and I'll let you sit down with one of the ones that I know here), and walk them through your understanding of Heiser, and see what they tell you.
It says, "Dan will be a serpent by the roadside." Not a literal snake.... Dan will not turn into a literal snake, Dan's symbol represents a snake. Let's look at it Psalm 22:16...

Psalm 22:16
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.

The verse does not say that his enemies were like dogs, or that they were dogs... In fact the word "enemies" is not even mentioned. It is implied....

If you want to go that route, then tell me where in Genesis 3 where the snake is said to be the devil? WHERE??? According to your interpretation all you have is a LITERAL walking talking snake in the garden...
As I already said with Gen. 49, there are linguistic markers that lets us know that the word "snake" is a figure of speech. Likewise, there are linguistic markers in Ps. 22 that let me know what "dogs" are. The structure of Hebrew poetry equates "dogs" with "a band of evil men."

No such markers exist in Gen. 3. Unless you can point me to any, I take it as literal. You can point me to none, and therefore, you have no basis on which to take it as non-literal except what you WANT it to be.

As to your last question, you are absolutely right. When I teach Gen 3, I make no reference to Satan, because he is not in the passage. I do believe it was a literal snake. It was not Satan. It was a snake. Period. That later revelation comes back and tells me that Satan was somehow involved with the snake is all well and good, but it doesn't tell me how that relationship is to be defined. It doesn't tell me if Satan manifested himself as a snake (which I don't believe for several reasons); it doesn't tell me if Satan possessed a snake (which I don't believe for several reasons); it doesn't tell me if Satan simply influenced the snake (more likely); it doesn't even tell me if the relationship is non-existent, and in fact, if they aren't using the literal snake's character as a reference to Satan's character (in other words, the relationship is non-literal, which I can argue on linguistic grounds!).

It's only for the sake of popular understanding that I continue to describe the event in Gen 3 as Satan tempting Eve. But I use that in every day speech. If I'm tempted to do anything evil, I make reference to the devil's temptation. I don't certainly mean that Satan himself is at that moment tempting me. I don't think I'm THAT important. So perhaps that is all that is going on in those future verses. I doubt it; I believe that some of those future verses make clear that somehow, Satan himself was in the garden and had some sort of relationship with the snake, but what that relationship was, I don't know.

So yes, Gen. 3 mentions only a literal snake. There is absolutely NO ground for thinking otherwise in the passage, unless you argue that anything that does not line up with human experience should be taken allegorically, in which case, we will have to take every miracle in the Bible as allegorical. Or, you can do like ttoews has done and say the entire thing is a myth.

Or, you can just do like you are doing now, and be totally inconsistent in your interpretation. The problem is that others will take your method and be consistent with it (i.e., John Crossan).
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#130

Post by ttoews » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:09 am

Jac3510 wrote:Specifically, would you consider Cain/Abel, Seth, Noah, and/or the Tower of Babel stories to be allegorical/of the same nature as Genesis 3? Thanks
perhaps I should point out that I do consider Adam, Eve, Noah etc. to be historical figures even though I don't hold Gen 3 to be history. Regarding Babel I am inclined to non-historical, regarding Noah I am inclined to non-historical (but perhaps including some historical details) and regarding Cain/Abel I understand the murder as historical.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#131

Post by ttoews » Wed Jun 18, 2008 11:19 am

Jac3510 wrote: So yes, Gen. 3 mentions only a literal snake. There is absolutely NO ground for thinking otherwise in the passage, unless you argue that anything that does not line up with human experience should be taken allegorically, in which case, we will have to take every miracle in the Bible as allegorical.
(emphasis added by ttoews) I don't think the bold bit follows. One can easily say that human experience includes the miraculous...many attest to having witnessed/enjoyed a miracle. As such, if the Bible states Peter worked a miracle one (utilizing the "must comply with human experience" approach) does not have to treat it as an allegory b/c one can say that human experience has verified the existence of miracles and what Peter did was one such miracle. In contrast, regarding Gen 3, there is no indication that anything miraculous was happening with repect to the snake. Talking and reasoning are presented as things that snakes just do.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#132

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:03 pm

ttoews:

Let me start by saying that I have a good deal of respect for your position. If nothing else, it seems to be self-consistent, although it is certainly a vast departure from traditional interpretations. But, hey, what has truth to do with tradition?! (not being sarcastic)

I made reference to this particular view when I said to G:
I wrote:Or, another way you could look at it is by saying Adam and Eve were real people but the entire event is ficticious. A noble myth, we could say . . . a historical fiction, thus using real people to tell a story that never happened to teach a moral truth. Or, in other words, a good old fashioned allegory. Of course, if you take THAT view, I'm forced to wonder why you take Adam and Eve to be historical in the first place, but I suppose you'll then appeal to the geneologies.
Now, with that said, I want to understand how it could be applied consistently. Why would you say that Adam and Eve are probably historical? You also said you would take Noah to be historical and the very next line you said non-historical. I suspect a typo there . . . and what about the murdern of Cain/Abel? You take that to be historical, but how?

Put differently, what is the GENRE of Genesis 1-11? Allegory? If so, how can you say that some parts are historical and others aren't?

And I'm especially interested in how Gen. 1-11 ties in with Gen. 12. I assume (please tell me if I'm wrong) that you take Abraham to be a historical person and the events of Gen 12-50 to be entirely historical in character. But Abraham's father was Terah, who is explicitly tied to Shem (and thus Noah) in the geneology of Gen. 11. So if the geneology is mythical, then how can we take the story on which it is based to be historical? It would seem to me that, if this were the case, then the Bible is not infallible, because it is asserting relationships between literal and non-literal people.

On the assumption that you hold to infallibility, I'm sure you've thought this through, so I'm curious as to how you would handle the problem.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#133

Post by Jac3510 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:09 pm

ttoews wrote:
Jac3510 wrote: So yes, Gen. 3 mentions only a literal snake. There is absolutely NO ground for thinking otherwise in the passage, unless you argue that anything that does not line up with human experience should be taken allegorically, in which case, we will have to take every miracle in the Bible as allegorical.
(emphasis added by ttoews) I don't think the bold bit follows. One can easily say that human experience includes the miraculous...many attest to having witnessed/enjoyed a miracle. As such, if the Bible states Peter worked a miracle one (utilizing the "must comply with human experience" approach) does not have to treat it as an allegory b/c one can say that human experience has verified the existence of miracles and what Peter did was one such miracle. In contrast, regarding Gen 3, there is no indication that anything miraculous was happening with repect to the snake. Talking and reasoning are presented as things that snakes just do.
Also:

As I indicated to Gman in an earlier post, I'm not using the word "miracle" in the technical sense. Indeed, few of us do. How many times has someone had a nice coincidence happen to them and say, "Wow! That was a miracle!" So I'm using the word in its much broader sense.

My point here relates to G's hermeneutic and nothing more. He is arguing that we should take the snake as symbolic BECAUSE it doesn't line up with human experience. He offers absolutely NO linguistic markers for that reference. He's said the same about the trees of life and knowledge-of-good-and-evil, about Babel, about the talking donkey and the angel that accompanied it, about Lot's wife, and even expressed reservation about whether or not the parting of the Red Sea was an actual event. His hermeneutical basis for these statements is, "Well, those types of things don't happen, so it must be a figure of speech."

My point is that if you take THAT approach, then we can't deny that men don't just raise from the dead. And the miracles that Peter did . . . well those WERE miracles in the technical sense of the word (supposedly), and miracles certainly "just don't happen," and so maybe the very statement that Peter himself did miracles is, by Gman's hermeneutic, simply a figure of speech.

All this aside from the sheer fact that none of these are, by definition, figures of speech!

I'm not saying that he doesn't believe in the resurrection. I'm saying that, though he believes it, he is being inconsistent with his own hermeneutic. If he were to be consistent, he would have to say that such a thing was only a figure of speech after all.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#134

Post by Gman » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:12 am

Jac wrote:Heiser isn't saying anything different from I am, but he is saying something very different from what you are. It would take entirely too much time to take you through first year Hebrew grammar on this board. You have to look at different root words, how nouns and verbs are constructed out of them (with special reference to the Qal (=simple) form), which Heiser uses here, and how words can be substantival. Gman, you've just misunderstood his argument. -He is NOT saying that the noun nachash meaning "serpent" has, within its semantic range, the further meaning of "bronze" or "brazen" or even "divination." DIFFERENT words from the SAME ROOT have those meanings. The noun nachash meaning "snake" is a different word from the root nachash (which is not a noun, but a Qal verb, but can be easily converted into a noun) "to divine," and that same root nachash-which is NOT the noun nachash (=snake)--can be formed into an adjective meaning "bright." That adjective to which Heiser is referring is nechosheth. It would be spelled the same way in Hebrew. All of these words would be spelled the same way in Hebrew, but that does not make them the same word, anymore than the English words "bear" (=a scary animal) and "bear" (=to hold up a burden) are the same word with a broad semantic range. They are different words spelled the same way that are derived from similar roots.
You are simply reading Heiser wrong. I am not going to walk through an entire Hebrew grammar course with you on this. I am simply telling you that you don't understand what Heiser is saying. Take Heiser to one of the Ph.D.'s in Hebrew that you know (or come to the seminary I work at, and I'll let you sit down with one of the ones that I know here), and walk them through your understanding of Heiser, and see what they tell you.
Jac, you are confused... Are you understanding what my argument is?? Tell me what is my argument is!! Where did I EVER say that Heiser was using a figure of speech??? I said BULLINGER was using a figure of speech for the word "snake."
Jac wrote:As I already said with Gen. 49, there are linguistic markers that lets us know that the word "snake" is a figure of speech. Likewise, there are linguistic markers in Ps. 22 that let me know what "dogs" are. The structure of Hebrew poetry equates "dogs" with "a band of evil men."
Oh, so you are relying on Hebrew poetry now for your meaning… I see.. Then you are simply reading into it.
Jac wrote:No such markers exist in Gen. 3. Unless you can point me to any, I take it as literal. You can point me to none, and therefore, you have no basis on which to take it as non-literal except what you WANT it to be.
Read the others posts Jac... Ok, then the structure of Hebrew poetry equates "snake" with "the devil."
Jac wrote:]As to your last question, you are absolutely right. When I teach Gen 3, I make no reference to Satan, because he is not in the passage. I do believe it was a literal snake. It was not Satan. It was a snake. Period. That later revelation comes back and tells me that Satan was somehow involved with the snake is all well and good, but it doesn't tell me how that relationship is to be defined. It doesn't tell me if Satan manifested himself as a snake (which I don't believe for several reasons); it doesn't tell me if Satan possessed a snake (which I don't believe for several reasons); it doesn't tell me if Satan simply influenced the snake (more likely); it doesn't even tell me if the relationship is non-existent, and in fact, if they aren't using the literal snake's character as a reference to Satan's character (in other words, the relationship is non-literal, which I can argue on linguistic grounds!).
No, you can't do that… According to your “progressive revelation” you CANNOT regress to interpret that it was the devil from scripture!!! You have nothing to “progress” from. You are simply stuck with a walking talking snake salesman in Genesis 3. Sorry....
Jac wrote:It's only for the sake of popular understanding that I continue to describe the event in Gen 3 as Satan tempting Eve. But I use that in every day speech. If I'm tempted to do anything evil, I make reference to the devil's temptation. I don't certainly mean that Satan himself is at that moment tempting me. I don't think I'm THAT important. So perhaps that is all that is going on in those future verses. I doubt it; I believe that some of those future verses make clear that somehow, Satan himself was in the garden and had some sort of relationship with the snake, but what that relationship was, I don't know.
Sorry, can't do that… You don't have Satan in the garden. All you have is a walking talking snake selling fruit to people. That is all you get IF you want to take a literal stance on it. Future revelation simply confirms that Adam and Eve were talking to the devil..
Jac wrote:So yes, Gen. 3 mentions only a literal snake. There is absolutely NO ground for thinking otherwise in the passage, unless you argue that anything that does not line up with human experience should be taken allegorically, in which case, we will have to take every miracle in the Bible as allegorical. Or, you can do like ttoews has done and say the entire thing is a myth.
That is how you interpret it… Not me. As we can see, it could be a figure of speech OR how we handle the word nachash.
Jac wrote:]Or, you can just do like you are doing now, and be totally inconsistent in your interpretation. The problem is that others will take your method and be consistent with it (i.e., John Crossan).
Who is being totally inconsistent the interpretation? I'm not going to let you turn the book of Genesis into a fable 2 Timothy 4:4. It's turning millions away from the Bible. Just like this literal 6 day creation of yours and just like this global flood that you INSIST happened. I disagree....
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Bible stories literal or symbolic?

#135

Post by Gman » Thu Jun 19, 2008 4:23 am

Jac3510 wrote:As I indicated to Gman in an earlier post, I'm not using the word "miracle" in the technical sense. Indeed, few of us do. How many times has someone had a nice coincidence happen to them and say, "Wow! That was a miracle!" So I'm using the word in its much broader sense.

My point here relates to G's hermeneutic and nothing more. He is arguing that we should take the snake as symbolic BECAUSE it doesn't line up with human experience. He offers absolutely NO linguistic markers for that reference. He's said the same about the trees of life and knowledge-of-good-and-evil, about Babel, about the talking donkey and the angel that accompanied it, about Lot's wife, and even expressed reservation about whether or not the parting of the Red Sea was an actual event. His hermeneutical basis for these statements is, "Well, those types of things don't happen, so it must be a figure of speech."

My point is that if you take THAT approach, then we can't deny that men don't just raise from the dead. And the miracles that Peter did . . . well those WERE miracles in the technical sense of the word (supposedly), and miracles certainly "just don't happen," and so maybe the very statement that Peter himself did miracles is, by Gman's hermeneutic, simply a figure of speech.

All this aside from the sheer fact that none of these are, by definition, figures of speech!

I'm not saying that he doesn't believe in the resurrection. I'm saying that, though he believes it, he is being inconsistent with his own hermeneutic. If he were to be consistent, he would have to say that such a thing was only a figure of speech after all.
No... Those are true miracles because turning something back the way it was is believable. However, if you turn it backwards, from speaking animals to no speaking animals today, that is unbelievable. That is turning it into a fable... Like Dr. Dolittle or Mr. Ed..

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The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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