You are hereBeyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 3

Beyond Creation Science: How Preterism Refutes a Global Flood and Impacts the Genesis Debate – Part 3

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By MiddleKnowledge - Posted on 12 January 2006

by Timothy P. Martin
Biblical Analysis of a Global Flood - The Problem of the Language and Teaching of Jesus
Preterists recognize that the Olivet Discourse is the key to understanding New Testament prophecy properly. A cursory reading of Matthew 24 shows that Jesus uses the Greek equivalent of the same terminology in Genesis 7 throughout the Olivet Discourse. One example in Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse is Luke 21:35, “For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.” What are we to make of that “global” statement? Biblical Analysis of a Global Flood - The Problem of the Language and Teaching of Jesus
Preterists recognize that the Olivet Discourse is the key to understanding New Testament prophecy properly. A cursory reading of Matthew 24 shows that Jesus uses the Greek equivalent of the same terminology in Genesis 7 throughout the Olivet Discourse. One example in Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse is Luke 21:35, “For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.” What are we to make of that “global” statement? Dispensationalists and most other futurists place the Olivet Discourse in the future precisely because it contains many “global” indicators. Not only is the “face of the earth” language prominent, there is reference to the “whole world,”[1] “earth,”[2] as well as the mention of absolute destruction of human life if the days of tribulation were not cut short.[3] Also in the Olivet Discourse is phenomenon that appears from a surface, literal reading to be global.[4] Preterists who remain dedicated to Creation Science may object, but the Olivet Discourse should be taken globally once a commitment to plain literalism is made in the Genesis flood account.

Note how the very same type of global language is Henry Morris’ clinching reason why the flood account must be global in nature:

Our third and impelling reason for interpreting our universal terms of Genesis 6-9 literally is that the physical phenomena described in those chapters would be quite inconceivable if the Flood had been confined to one section of the earth.[5]

Many Creation Science advocates continue to reject preterist claims that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the regional destruction of Judea and Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They do so because they are logically consistent in applying their literal hermeneutic. If the flood of Genesis 7 is global by virtue of the language in the account, then consistency demands the Great Tribulation must be global as well! That is the main reason so many Christians continue to place the events spoken of in Matthew 24 into our future. The language and physical phenomena is every bit global in Matthew 24 as it is in Genesis 6-9.

What I am pointing out is a problem for preterists who hold to a global interpretation of the Genesis flood and then switch to a regional interpretation of the Olivet Discourse. Literal-futurists who believe in a global flood are more consistent in the application of their hermeneutic principles. But preterists know Luke 21:35 was fulfilled in A.D. 70. If it wasn’t, then Jesus was mistaken.[6] Shouldn’t Jesus’ use of global language in reference to a regional destruction in A.D. 70 aid our understanding of the same type of biblical language in Genesis 7? To what hermeneutic are we preterists committed? Preterists who cling to the theory of a global flood must deal honestly with these questions.

The linguistic phrase “upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth” is not the only connection in Jesus’ words to the flood and time of Noah. He parallels His parousia with the days of Noah in Matthew 24:37-41.[7] Jesus says:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Jesus explicitly compares the coming of the flood which “took them all away” with His coming in A.D. 70. He states clearly that as it was in Noah’s day so it would be at his coming. Preterists already know that the coming of Jesus in judgment did not involve global physical events and destruction. So why would preterists believe the Genesis flood involved global events and destruction?

Jesus’ parallel between the flood and his coming presents a serious issue for those committed to a preterist understanding of these texts while supporting the Creation Science movement. Does continued support for a global flood subvert a preterist understanding of the Olivet Discourse and New Testament prophecy?

How will someone who is taught Creation Science methods of reading the Bible ever be convinced of a first century, regional fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies? The entire Creation Science paradigm hinges on the belief that global language and global physical phenomena in the Bible must mean physically global events. Futurists are so dedicated to a global interpretation of that language they will routinely ignore or redefine the time texts in the Olivet Discourse. They get hung up on the global language of New Testament prophecy. The last thing preterists should do is reinforce Creation Science hermeneutics if they want preterism to succeed in our day.

I believe it is past time for preterists to admit that continued support for the Creation Science movement naturally hardens Christians against a preterist understanding of New Testament prophecy. Creation Science methods of reading the Genesis flood are incompatible with a preterist reading of the Olivet Discourse. It is no wonder Creation Scientists remain predominantly dispensational futurists in their eschatology. They are quite consistent in requiring a global interpretation of both the Genesis flood and the Olivet Discourse.

The Problem of the Language and Teaching of Peter

Jesus is not the only one to link the flood of Genesis 7 with the end of the age. Like his teacher, Peter parallels the deluge of the old world with the final destruction of his current world (Old Covenant age). He writes:

By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 2 Peter 3:6-7.

The symmetry is obvious. So obvious, in fact, Creation Scientists use this text as one of the prime biblical arguments for a global flood. Morris and Whitcomb write:

Let us now consider the implications of this passage with respect to the geographical extent of the Flood... Peter uses the terms ‘heavens from of old, and an earth’ in a sense that is obviously universal. By the same token, no one can deny that Peter also uses the terms ‘heavens that now are, and the earth’ in the strictly universal sense. Otherwise, Peter would be speaking of the creation and final destruction of only a part of the earth!

They continue:

It was the Flood to which Peter appealed as his final and incontrovertible answer to those who chose to remain in willful ignorance of the fact that God at one time in the past demonstrated His holy wrath and omnipotence by subjecting “all things” to an overwhelming, cosmic catastrophe that was on an absolute par with the final day of judgment, in which God will yet consume the earth with fire and will cause the very elements to dissolve with fervent heat.[8]

Morris and Whitcomb are not alone in relying heavily on 2 Peter 3 to prove a global flood in Genesis. Ken Ham devotes an entire chapter called “Creation, Flood and Coming Fire” to the very same issue in his book The Lie: Evolution. He opens that chapter by saying, “There is a prophecy in II Peter 3 concerning the last days of this earth’s history, and it very much relates to the whole Creation/Evolution issue.”[9]

Astute preterists should recognize a problem with Ham’s argument. The problem is that Ham’s discussion is based entirely on a dispensational futurist reading of 2 Peter 3. Ham’s argument is based on the very approach which is diametrically opposed to a preterist understanding of that passage. One statement captures his futurism. In reference to widely accepted uniformitarian scientific principles Ham confidently states, “The prophecy of II Peter 3 is being fulfilled before our very eyes.”[10]

Later in that chapter, Ham also mentions Jesus’ Olivet Discourse and the connection to Noah’s Flood. Ham writes in reference to modern unbelievers:

Since Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:37-39 uses the event of Noah’s Flood as a warning that God has judged the earth, and will judge it again, they would have to agree that God is going to come back as Judge. The next time He will use fire as the method of judgment rather than water.[11]

These examples illustrate how the Creation Science movement is based from beginning to end on the dispensational hermeneutic of futurist eschatology. The way we read the flood account is logically related to our eschatological paradigm. On this point the Creation Scientist writers are absolutely correct. There is a clear parallel between the flood of Noah and the parousia of Jesus. The problem for Ham and Morris and Whitcomb is that from the preterist paradigm, this connection hardly proves a global flood. It disproves it. If the preterist understanding of New Testament prophecy is true, it soundly refutes the underlying position of all Creation Science ideology; that the flood of Noah was a global cataclysm.

There is no reason to assume 2 Peter 3 is written about the end of planet earth, given a preterist understanding of the Olivet Discourse. It makes no sense to understand it that way since Peter has already written, “The end of all things is near” (1 Peter 4:7). The dispensationalist overlooks the one important fact about 2 Peter 3. The destruction of the heavens and the earth is covenantal language referring to the end of the Old Covenant age in A.D. 70 – an apocalyptic destruction of a limited region of the globe. It is the same type of language, “global” destruction by fire, the prophet Zephaniah used concerning the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Logical preterists see the connection Peter makes to the Olivet Discourse. The key is to understand the language in its primary covenantal sense instead of geo-physically.[12] Speaking of 2 Peter 3, Douglas Wilson writes:

Many would want to argue that surely this, if nothing else, is referring to the destruction of the material universe. Not at all. There are three reasons to be found in the text which taken together prohibit such an application to the physical world. First, Peter attaches these words to God’s promise.... Secondly, the word element does not have to refer to the physical elements at all. The word is stoikion, and appears in the New Testament only 7 times. Paul uses it twice in Galatians 4, in verses 3 and 9... Colossians 2:8, 20... Hebrews 5:12.... What are the elements here? They are not the periodic table. The reference is to an old system.... Third, the New Testament requires us to hold that the new heavens and new earth were shortly to appear – at that time, two thousand years ago.[13]

What is interesting is that Mr. Wilson, a proponent of the global flood view, sees the connection Peter emphasizes between the flood and the destruction of Jerusalem. But Mr. Wilson never sees the implications of his preterism:

A few verses above, he has stated that the antediluvian world perished in water. That age abruptly ended. In the same way, he argues, the present heaven and earth will end in fire – which it did in the cataclysm of 70 A.D. [emphasis mine][14]

Another preterist that inadvertently lets the regional flood cat out of the bag is the late David Chilton. In an appendix to Gary DeMar’s Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, Chilton said:

As Jesus had repeatedly warned, upon this evil and perverse generation would come the great “Day of Judgment” foretold in the prophets, a “destruction of ungodly men” like that suffered by the wicked of Noah’s day (2 Peter 3:5-7). Throughout His ministry Jesus drew this analogy (see Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-27). Just as God destroyed the “world” of the antediluvian era by the Flood, so would the “world” of first century Israel be destroyed by fire in the fall of Jerusalem.[15]

Chilton points out that the subject in the biblical parallel is covenant “worlds.” The subject is not planet earth. Preterists need to recognize something obvious. The destruction of the flood by water is as surely regional as was the destruction of Jerusalem and the land of Israel by fire! Both the linguistic and theological parallelism throughout the entire New Testament demands it.

The global flood idea is essentially a dispensational futurist concept born out of the naïve method of literalism. Although it predates the system we now know as dispensationalism, the hermeneutic method used to argue for the doctrine is entirely dispensational.

The Problem of the Language and Teaching of John

The most obvious of all arguments to a preterist is the referent “world” and “earth” in the entire book of Revelation. These are generally taken as the literal globe by the Creation Scientists. This is the only logical conclusion for those who begin with a dispensational hermeneutic in Genesis 7. Once the seed of scientific literalism is planted in Genesis 7, the fruit of scientific literalism in the Olivet Discourse, 2 Peter 3, and Revelation follows naturally. Or to put it another way, mistakes made in Genesis ripple across the rest of the Bible.

Here is a good example of global language in Revelation that does not refer to global events. Jesus says:

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. Revelation 3:10.

This is only one of many, many passages in Revelation that dispensationalists believe teaches of worldwide events to come. They do this in large part because the language of Revelation is the same as the flood account of Genesis.[16]

Jesus’ words in Revelation 3:10, “... going to come upon the whole world,” are virtually the same as in Luke 21:35, “...will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.” Neither passage refers to global events. They both speak of the Great Tribulation which took place in the disciple’s generation culminating with the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem. Gary DeMar explains why this language has nothing to do with global events:

Jesus tells us in Revelation 3:10 that the "hour of testing is about to come upon the whole world." The Greek word translated "world" is not kosmos but oikoumenes, "the inhabited earth," the kingdom boundaries of the Roman Empire (see Luke 2:1 for confirmation of this). But doesn't the qualifier "earth" make this judgment broader than the land of Israel? Not at all since the Greek word for "earth" (ge or ges) is the same word often translated "soil" (Matthew 13:5, 8, 23), "ground" or "earth" (= dirt; 25:25), "land" (27:45), or "earth" (= world; 16:10). A more accurate translation of Revelation 3:10 would be: "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the inhabited earth, to test those who dwell upon the land." God's testing was reserved for the land of Israel and the destruction of their temple. That judgment is in the past.[17]

DeMar’s explanation of the Greek word “ge” is also relevant to the debate over the scope of the Genesis flood. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) uses “ge” exclusively throughout the flood account in Genesis 6-9. Once we accept a regional understanding of “ge” in the New Testament we should apply the same understanding to the Genesis flood.

I want to emphasize, again, that Creation Scientists are consistent with their global, futurist apocalyptic views in light of their global views of the Genesis flood. Preterists who simultaneously demand a global reading of the flood and a regional reading of Revelation are faced with acute internal inconsistency. Preterists know the referent throughout Revelation is not the physical globe, but a regional judgment on Israel the harlot in A.D. 70.

Preterists devoted to a global flood never seem to ask themselves how the referent of Genesis 7 can be the globe, while, at the same time, the referent of the book of Revelation is a limited region – Palestine. What legitimate textual basis do we have for this radical shift in biblical interpretation from Genesis 7 to the book of Revelation? Removing last days goofiness from our thinking logically calls for removing global flood goofiness from our thinking. Preterism refutes the global flood doctrine and the entire Creation Science movement.

To be continued…

Copyright 2005 by Timothy P. Martin. All rights reserved. Reprinted by Permission

[Beyond Creation Science (2nd Edition) will be available at the Planetpreterist bookstore.]

Footnotes:

[1]Matthew 24:14.

[2]Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:27; Luke 21:25.

[3]Matthew 24:22; Mark 13:20.

[4]Matthew 24:30, 35; Mark 13:24, 31; Luke 21:25.

[5]John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 60.

[6]See Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32.

[7]I realize some preterists try to force a separation between Matthew 24:1-35 and v.36ff (e.g. Ken Gentry in his work He Shall Have Dominion). It is not my purpose to engage in an intramural preterist debate, but I will point out this distinction does not exist in the parallel account of Luke. The same question in Matthew 24:3 which some think differentiates comings in Matthew 24 is phrased in Luke 21:7 in such a way to render this method impossible and absurd. To my knowledge, Ken Gentry has never addressed this problem of the parallel question of Luke 21:7 in print.

[8]John C. Whitcomb, Jr. & Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Flood, p. 15.

[9]Ken Ham, The Lie, p. 123.

[10]Ibid., p. 125.

[11]Ibid., p. 127.

[12]The focus on a global flood obfuscates the heart of this covenantal story. The real covenantal point of this historical account is that God removes the wicked from the land, or cleans the earth, so his people may prosper in it. The pattern in Scripture points clearly to a progressive, not instantaneous accomplishment of this task (Eden, Canaan and the parable of leaven). The idea that one family inherits the entire globe abruptly simply can’t be reconciled with this biblical pattern.

[13]Douglas Wilson, And It Came to Pass (Moscow ID: Canon Press, 1993), pp. 30-32.

[14]Ibid., p. 32.

[15]David Chilton, “Looking for New Heavens and a New Earth” as quoted in Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Atlanta: American Vision, 1997), p. 485.

[16] Consider how “literalists” read these limited examples. Revelation 1:7; 9:1; 11:6,10; 13:3,14; 16:14; 17:8; 21:1.

[17] Gary DeMar, No Fear of the Text, located at www.preteristarchive.com/PartialPreterism/demar‑gary_pp_03.html (2005).

Islamaphobe's picture

Speaking from experience as one who came to take biblical study seriously long after being introduced to the study of geology and other natural sciences and long after becoming thoroughly immersed in the milieu of modern academia, I shall observe that the insistence of many "fundamentalist" Christians on taking "the flood" as being global and an historical event is a serious impediment to many secular individuals' taking Christianity seriously. That there was a regional flood several thousand years before recorded history began that included, among other things, the enlargement of the Black Sea when the Mediterranean raised its level by spilling over to form the strait separating Europe from Asia, I do not doubt. In other words, I believe there is an historical basis for the flood story, but that the flood was most definitely regional.

Thanks, Tim, for demonstrating that you can believe that the flood was regional without being drummed out of the preterist movement.

An Old Earth man

valensname's picture

Tim,

What about the difference between historical narrative (Genesis) versus prophecy (Revelation, Matt 24, etc)? Would that make a difference in applying interpretative principals? The term heaven and earth being parts of the physical universe (Gen 1:1) verses new heavens and earth (Isaiah, 2 Peter 3, Revelation) being a spiritual creation?

Glenn

Virgil's picture

What about the difference between historical narrative (Genesis) versus prophecy (Revelation, Matt 24, etc)?

It sounds like you are reading from a theology college course book :) I can almost see a teacher standing in front of the class saying "Well students...the book of Genesis is a historical narrative...write it down. And the book of Revelation is a prophetic story...you got that on paper?"

I don't mean to take your question lightly or laugh at it, but your question is LOADED with assumptions. Who is to say that Genesis qualifies as "a historical narrative?" Why can't Genesis be a prophetic book...about events that happened...and events that HAPPEN..to all of us, over and over again? Why can't the story of Adam and Even be a universal story of you and I falling away from perfection and then being redeemed through Christ? I could easily make a case for Genesis being a contemporary story..OUR story of fall and redemption.

- virgil

JL's picture

Virgil,

I had a thought yesterday. (Imagine that.)

I've been told Hebrew has no tense. Past, presence, and future must be determined by context. Even my Hebrew textbooks make that claim.

How come nobody told Jesus? Jesus told the pharisee's, "God said, 'I am the God of Abraham,' therefore Abraham lives." Yet everyone can see from the context, that's a silly argument. So maybe there's only present tense.

God says, "There is light." And there is light. Maybe if/when God ceases to say, "There is light," light will cease.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Virgil's picture

Good points JL. Note how the previous poster claimed that what I said ignores history or denies it. I never said such a thing - why can't the story of Adam and Eve be happening again in our lives today? Isn't the WHOLE Bible narrative a story of God's redemption of mankind, rather than just Adam and Eve's?

valensname's picture

Have not preterists pointed out there are different types of literature in the Bible?

What are you trying to say in paragraph 2? It seems like you are saying the Bible has no history in it whatsoever? I guess Adam, Eve, Noah, David, Daniel, etc... were not real people who lived in the past - history? And their accounts in the Bible are not historical writings?
Come on Virgil, events that happen to us over and over??? Why not have Jesus die on the cross over and over again or we can??? Was that an historical event? Yours and the previous post seem to sure question the integrity of Scipture from how I read the posts.

I really don't get your post. I thought most preterists had a high regard for the inspiration of Scripture?

And Virgil, you asked about the Nephilim and you never responded to my post on it. Why is that?

Glenn

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Virgil and Glenn,

I don't think it has to be an issue of either historical detail and fact or universal spiritual story. I really don't think we have to set those things against each other. It is more like both/and.

Take Paul, for instance, in Galatians 4:21-31 regarding Sarah and Hagar. These two women are two covenants. Paul relied on the historical detail to drive home a contemporary application. I think Paul would find it bizzare if someone told him that Sarah and Hagar were not historical people. I also think Paul would find it bizarre if someone told him that if they were historical people they couldn't be anything more.

That is one of the reasons I look at early Genesis as Apocalyptic (as I will get to more in depth in future articles)). Apocalyptic is not anti-historical. Even John's Apocalypse references historical events -- the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But he does it in such a way to impress covenant faithfulness and obedience in the present for his hearers. You are not going understand the physical, literal detail of what happened in A.D. 70 from Genesis because of its nature as symbolic Apocalypticism.

I think that is the nature of early Genesis, too. It is communicating historical detail, but not doing it in such a plain way as we read our history books in modern culture. Early Genesis is doing it in such a way as to impress huge covenantal themes and theological truth that is missed by all those who read it as mere history. It's priority is not mere history as we think of it.

By the way, the same thing happens to futurists who read Revelation as a mere account of literal history to come at the end of the world. They completely miss that John's Apocalypse is the revelation (unveiling) of Jesus Christ, and how who He is draws his people into life-changing worship and adoration.

Glenn, I will point out that Jesus himself made the application you mock. Jesus said those who come after him must take up their own cross, too. Do you see how your focus on saving the historical nature of the Bible actually misses much of what the Bible is getting at?

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

valensname's picture

Tim,

It seemed to me that Virgil wasn't making much sense and turning reading Genesis into whatever interpretation one wanted.

But I'm just going to read the posts for now on regarding this subject. I see everyone affirming a local flood and whatever interpration they have of Genesis - Ishites/Adamites or whatever as being completely sold on that interpration. I'm turned off to discuss it any further. I don't see the point.

Glenn

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Glenn,

If you contemplate carefully the posts as they come over the next few weeks you will be in an informed position to have your response or rebuttal (or praise if you become convinced) at that time.

I've noticed that you have not said anything yet about the main topic in the current article. Is there anything that comes to mind about the details of my article? This is what I am most interested in.

Thanks,

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

demario's picture

I find it frustrating coming to PP for the very reason Tim mentions: Posters go off in a thousand directions instead of dealing with the original posting. Deal with the particulars of Tim's article.

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Gary,

No, you're wrong!!! There can't be a thousand different directions because there are only 20-something replies.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org
(snickering)

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Sorry all,

The end of the third paragraph should read, "what happened in A.D. 70 from Revelation because of its nature as symbolic Apocalypticism."

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

Virgil's picture

Have not preterists pointed out there are different types of literature in the Bible?

Yes, preterists may have said that, but what they said is not scripture.

It seems like you are saying the Bible has no history in it whatsoever?

No, I am not saying that.

Come on Virgil, events that happen to us over and over?

When did I say such a thing?

I really don't get your post. I thought most preterists had a high regard for the inspiration of Scripture?

When did I say that I didn't have regards for the inspiration of the scripture?

And Virgil, you asked about the Nephilim and you never responded to my post on it. Why is that?

I did respond. I said that what you presented was a speculation, not evidence that the Nephilim came from Noah.

Ransom's picture

Why assume that the flood account is historical narrative? Don't assume that just because it reads that way on a surface level (or worse, because you prefer historical narratives and assume God must, too) - for the same reasons we determined Revelation and many of Jesus' statements as belonging to the apocalyptic genre, we must take into account the historical and cultural context of every other passage in the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. This is important because the genre of "history" was not as developed in the Ancient Near East as it came to be much later under the Greeks. Many characteristics that we look for in a good historical account weren't on their radar screens, or at least weren't what they would consider something to get bent out of shape over.

For instance, precise details were oftener replaced by details meant to give what they thought was the proper impression ("Well, technically, the army might have only numbered 579, but what does that number mean to Yitzhak the tanner? He'll more likely get the proper feel of the situation of we say 1000."). We read such a statement and say - "But it's not true, therefore a lie!" because to us, details are more essential than any message we wish to convey. But to the ancient mind, impassive objectivity was downright antithetical to their motivation for telling the story! Therefore we find stories that are obviously intended to bolster rights of kingship, or are meant to highlight the favor of God towards certain of their ancestors. And this was good writing.

This is not to say that they fabricated everything. But the truth of the story was not considered to be dependent on the minute details, but to the function of the events in the story and to the overall purpose of the story.

valensname's picture

My we are being accusational. What's all this about asumptions?

Funny, since Moses is considered to have written Genesis and from his time in history the events written about happened before him. I'd think that would be historical writings.

Tim was right at the onset of his post, this is an emotional issue.

Paige's picture

Glenn,

Have you checked out Jared Coleman's blog titled, "Dead men tell no tales"?

Moses may not have actually written Genesis. Anyway, you may want to check it out. This is something I've considered for quite a while, but it just so happens that Jared is discussing it on his blog right now.

Paige

JL's picture

Paige,

I've done a bit of study on the subject. I'm working on a paper to demonstrate the problems with all the usual theories both conservative and liberal.

There are several well recognized properties that all oral tradition contains. These are quantifiable and testable. With the possible exception of Job, the Old Testament contains none of these properties.

There's another property that, in all writting in the world, is unique to Genesis. Several ancient "histories" exist that span the same period of time. Genesis alone bears the mark of being originally part pictograph cuneiform and part semi-alphabetic cuneiform. This break happens at precisely the same point in history where semi-alphabetic cuneiform became widespread.

Gen. 1-11 was originally a set of Akkadian pictograph cuneiform tablets that were later recopied into Hebrew on papyrus. A note or two was probably added at that time to clarify things for the new audience.

For the rest of the books of Moses, Rattan did a study of word usage. He divided the text into things God said, things each individual said, the narrative connecting things. He found that statistically, God' lines were written by one person. Moses' lines were written by another, and the narrator was a third person. I feel you can't fake that without a modern understanding of these issues.

So Rattan demonstrated that Moses had a scribe who wrote all this stuff down.

Again, it had to be eventually rewritten in a Hebrew alphabetic script which didn't exist at the time of Moses. The scribes who did that probably added a few comments to clarify things for the new audience.

Elsewhere, Glenn asked about the question of audience relevance. If the text came about as I claimed here, then the original author and audience of the Flood history is unknown.

However, we do know that someone in Babylon copied the text into the new alphabetic script during their 70 year stay. That person and his audience would have been familiar with the Shurrupak Flood and the ancient stories about it. This is the local flood that Halley (of Halley's Bible Handbook) claims was Noah's Flood.

I can answer Glenn's question about audience relevance to this second audience. They would have believed this Flood that was 2000 to 4000 years before and destroyed half of Mesopotamia was Noah's Flood.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

Paige's picture

Very interesting! Will you be posting your paper here (PP) when you get it finished? I would be extremely interested in reading it. :)

JL's picture

You'll see it. Even if I have to put stamps on it.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Glenn,

When Jesus says, "For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth" what do you think He is referring to? Is it not that which historically took place in A.D. 70?

Think carefully about what I present. I discuss the issue of Heavens and Earth more in a later post. You anticipate something I will talk a lot more about then. Patience, my friend. I still have a lot of material to present.

Blessings,

Tim Martin
www.truthinlivin.org

valensname's picture

Tim,

If I know where your quote is from (what translation is that?), the Olivite Discourse, then yes I believe that historically took place in the events of AD 70. However, the context of those passages (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 17, 21) all, to me clearly, put the context in Judea. So as I have said, to use those phrases and backwards apply them to the Genesis Flood language I don't believe is proper hermeneutics.

I will refrane from making more posts and will wait until you present more material.

I do have one last thing I'd like to point out. If I haven't missed it...not once do I recall you pointing out audience relevancy to the first hearers of the Genesis account. Preterists consistently stress how important understanding the NT relates to first considering the first hearers of it and the times they lived in. I don't see how the Jews in Moses' day could have understood that the Genesis flood was in any way local/regional.

I'll keep reading the posts and studying.
Glenn

JL's picture

Glenn,

Who were the first hearers? Audience relevancy can only be discussed after you determine the audience. Did Noah write Gen. 6 for his grandchildren? Did Shem write it for Abraham? Did Moses write it for Israel? Did Babylonian redactors write it for Judah?

We don't know who the author was. We don't know who he was writing to. We don't have a clue.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

valensname's picture

JL,

I see....I don't know what to respond to this. If you don't think it was written for the Jews after leaving Egypt, well...don't know what to say.

Glenn

JL's picture

Glenn,

No, you don't see. Genesis is far older than that.

Even if I thought you were correct, we don't know the circumstances. Was it for the Jews on the way to Sinai? After Sinai? Or 35 years later? Two different audiences. Two different circumstances with the first audience.

These issues make a big difference to audience relevance. It is as big a difference as whether The Revelation was written pre or post AD 70.

So even if I grant your presumed audience, you still don't know what to say.

JL

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Glenn,

JL is presenting something that makes your view look like a liberal view of Scripture. You are saying that Moses probably got the text of Genesis from oral tradition passed down to Moses' time. That means that we have no way of knowing if Genesis is accurate. How accurate is oral tradition over centuries? The philologists and anthropologists can prove it is not consistent at all.

JL is pointing out that Genesis was probably written by those people in Genesis including probably Adam, Enoch, Abraham, and Joseph. (JL is your friend on this issue.)

In other words, Genesis in one way or another has always existed for God's people, though things were added as time passed. The differences in early Genesis and after Genesis 11 can be explained on the technological transition from cuneiform to developments that actually do date to around Abraham. Do you see the implications of this?

In my opinion, this refutes all liberal views of the Scriptures in a way that traditional conservatives simply cannot -- BECAUSE THEY AGREE WITH LIBERALS THAT GENESIS IS ORAL TRADITION.

Why do we think that?

Glenn, I know some of this is puzzling. You might need time to digest it. But please be aware that some of us have been studying these issues for years if not decades. Please let us explain what we've come up with, because if we are right about some of this stuff, the entire "world" of the Genesis debate is going to change.

My friend, I'm convinced that change will be for the better. Getting our eschatology straight has HUGE implications for the Genesis debate. That is my thesis. Preterism will unleash something we can hardly imagine right now.

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

valensname's picture

Tim,

I'll say one last thing.

I believe in the word for word and letter for letter or horn inspiration of the entire Bible. I don't agree with what I understand you to be saying that Genesis was oral tradition written down. Maybe I'm too simple.

As I said, I'll keep reading the posts but I'm not going to comment any further. I've made an effort to stay open minded, study what you have presented, and considered what you have been writing but I'm turned off as I feel ridiculed, mocked and that the writers come across as arrogrant in their understanding. You also do to some extent. I guess I'm too young, too unlearned ("But please be aware that some of us have been studying these issues for years if not decades." - guess time studying makes one right).

I see better why Tim King trademarked the term Transmillennial.

I also look forward to reading the futurists responses when they hear that "Preterists" if one claims to be then one must also hold to a local or regional flood (whatever that seems to be - never have received a simple answer to that) and I have no idea about the Genesis account, except now apparently we are all Ishites and not decended from Adam.

It has been interesting.

Peace,
Glenn

MiddleKnowledge's picture

Glenn,

I agree with your view of the inspiration of the entire Bible. That is not at issue in this discussion.

What I was saying is that the traditional view of Genesis by conservatives is that Moses received oral tradition passed down for hundreds or possibly thousands of years. Conservatives say this is the process Genesis comes to us in God's providence under Divine inspiration. I don't know if you consider yourself a conservative, so I don't know for sure if that view applies to you.

There are some well-known authors who make comments against the traditional "oral tradition" view. One is Ken Ham in his book "The Lie: Evolution." If you have that book check out p. 152. Jim Jordan also has something to say in his book "Creation in Six Days." If you have that book check out pp. 171-173. Don Stoner makes a similar comment in "A New Look at an Old Earth" on p. 18. When you see these comments, you'll better understand what JL is working on. It is so conservative, it makes the conservatives look like liberals on this issue of the original authorship of Genesis.

I can't see where you have been ridiculed and mocked in this discussion, though it seems plain that you have been challenged in the discussion. I sense this is what you are feeling. I know what that is like because this whole issue challenged me a few years ago when I was a dedicated young-earth creationist.

But I was a preterist, too. Some things in the Bible began to cause me problems. They made me uncomfortable. At the time I couldn't believe what I had been taught by 24-hour, young-earth, global flood creationists could ever be wrong. After all, they were fighting the Darwinists, right? They were defending the Bible, right? They were showing how all those evil Christians who accepted an old earth had compromised with the devil and ruined the clear biblical gospel in the modern world, right? Glenn, I used to believe all that. I know how you feel.

In 2001 when I began this project, I was 27 years old. I decided I had to get to the bottom of this issue. I had never read a serious old-earth creationist book in my life. I began writing this project to show that Creation Science, young-earth creationism, global flood doctrine could be demonstrated from Scripture even being a preterist. Glenn, when I began, I still believed all that you do. I wanted to prove it as a preterist from Scripture.

But as I continued to write and study and read I gradually became aware that a preterist understanding of the Bible has to change how we understand Genesis if we are consistent. Here, I will add the possibility that I might be wrong on this, and that preterists may still find a way to justify global flood doctrine. I'm patiently waiting for a substantive response to the issues I raise in my project. We are now in 2006 and I am more convinced than ever of both the strength of the viewpoint, and the potential to have monumental progress for the Christian debates over both in the Genesis debate and the debate over eschatology (stay tuned for later articles).

Let me back up a little further. When I was 15 years old in an independent Bible Baptist fundamentalist futurist church I began to be aware of big problems with the doctrine and theology I was taught all my life. It didn't match the Bible I was reading. I made a decision then that I was going to follow what God's Word taught no matter where that led me. For me that decision began the Christian journey that Virgil has spoken of recently. It took me to covenant thinking and ultimately covenant eschatology. It took me a few other places, too. And I'm still studying so I don't know what all is in the itinerary for my life journey. My point is that it is God's Word that has pushed me to where I am today. I think my article explains that clearly.

The fact that Tim King trademarked Transmillenialism has nothing whatsoever to do with the issues I have raised in this article. Glenn, where is this argument wrong? Where are the Scriptures misused? Where am I illogical? How can a global flood be proven from Scripture, given the parallels in language and explicit comparison in the New Testament? These are what you need to deal with.

It seems bizarre to me that those who come to accept Preterism will go bananas when they see this argument laid out. Preterism is the belief that the Great Tribulation has already happened, the Coming of Christ has already happened, the Judgment Day spoken of in the New Testament is not something we purely wait for at the end of the world. Those are pretty radical to 99% of modern American conservative Christians today, Glenn. I'll go further. Those things are preposterous and absurd to 99% modern American conservative Christians. You are telling me that people will come to believe all these things (as the Scriptures teach them) and then say, "What!!!! You don't believe the flood of Noah was Global!!! You are a heretic!" Glenn, are you serious? There is already a growing minority of American evangelicals who have given up the global flood doctrine for various reasons. How can this issue be some kind of dark spot on preterism? I don't understand the logic of this argument (which still doesn't deal with the arguments presented, anyway).

Glenn, how are you going to explain to futurists that the most magnificent judgment in the Bible in a literal sense is not the second coming of Christ? The most magnificent judgment in the Bible (according to your view)is the Genesis flood. How do you think that is going to go over with those investigating preterism? You can agree, for example, that second coming of Christ was pretty bad in Judea and Jerusalem, which we can read about in Josephus or Tacitus. But you are saying the greatest judgment of all in Scripture makes the parousia of Christ pale in comparison of physical events. The flood is literally the "Big One" in the Bible if you are right. How will that play to those futurists (and young-earth creationists)? You think you have been mocked here? You've seen nothing yet. I dare you to explain that to some young-earth creationists and tell me what they say. I'd guess that explanation will make them do a lot of things, but I'd bet that it won't make them want to accept preterism.

Your question regarding the size of the flood will be answered in a future post. I want to present the material in an orderly fashion to gather discussion, part by part.

When I made the comment about studying these issues for years, I do not intend it in order to imply that how much study one does makes ones position true. I don't believe that. What I hope you will see is that there is a lot of material still left to be presented. There have been 3 articles presented so far. As of right now I have at least 15 more articles to go on this topic. We have a long way to go. Please read and consider each one carefully. I would love your relevant feedback, or questions. Maybe after thinking about the material you will come up with a refutation by pointing something out that I have missed.

My goal is still the same as when I started the project. I want to get to the bottom of this issue as one who believes the Bible and accepts preterism. Can you help me?

Tim Martin
www.truthinliving.org

P.S. If you will look at the discussion closely, you will see that I have made no comment regarding the "ishites" and "adamites" topic. Nor is that issue anywhere in my book at this time. Please keep the material I present separate from what others discuss in relation to it. It is simply not honest to suggest those issues are what I have presented.

valensname's picture

Tim,

If it is not considered too long a post, I'll cut/paste your post and then post comments directly underneath. I've been printing your main posts and then writing comments on them as I read them. I think that will help clarify exactly what I've been trying to point out and help not being accused of not staying on topic. Or I could send you them as a Word file and highlight things and put my comments in a different color?

Glenn

JL's picture

Glenn,

I believe in the word for word and letter for letter or horn inspiration of the entire Bible.

So do I. But that doesn't settle who wrote it, when, to who.

You said Moses wrote it. When? To who? What were his sources? How do you know this? If I knew what you know, would I be ready to discuss audience relevance?

After you answer that, please tell me why my uneducated observations to Paige are in error. I truly would appreciate your insight because I don't want to waste time doing something stupid due to my ignorance of ancient Hebrew. (It's bad enough that I rely so much on Strong's and the Masoretic text instead of reading the ancient scrolls directly.)

Yes, I'm an arrogant so-and-so. No, I'm not intentially trying to ridicule you or mock you. I'm sorry. No, we don't think that time studying makes one right.

Blessings,

JL Vaughn
Beyond Creation Science

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