On the Generations of: Who Wrote Genesis? Part 3: The Proceedings of Nöãch

Continuing with presenting my hypothesis regarding who wrote Genesis.

The Third Section:  Genesis 5.1b to Genesis 6.9a

Here is the New American Standard Version’s translation of the opening and ending verses of the third section.  Again, other translations are much of a muchness.

In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.

These are the records of the generations of Noah.  Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.

This is how the verses are formatted in the Masoretic text.

Gen 5.1b: beyôm berö@ @élöhîm @ädhäm bidhemûth @élöhîm øäsäh @öthô  #

Gen 6.9:   P q-m-w {} @ëlleh tôledhöth nöãch nöãch @îsh tsadîq tämîm häyäh bedhöröthâw ~ @eth->hä@ëlöhîm hithhallekh:->nöãch #

This is how I translate and format them.

When @Élöhîm brought into existence @ädhäm, in the likeness of @Élöhîm He fashioned him #

These [are] the proceedings of Nöãch.

Nöãch came to be a righteous man without blemish among his contemporaries ~ with the @Élöhîm Nöãch walked himself closely #

Genesis 5.1b

Gen 5.1b:    beyôm berö@ @élöhîm @ädhäm bidhemûth @élöhîm øäsäh @öthô  #

When @Élöhîm brought into existence @ädhäm, in the likeness of @Élöhîm He fashioned him #

This is a case where Gen 5.2 adds understanding to the opening of this section.  Here’s the Hebrew.

zäkhõr ûnepëväh berä@äm ~ wayevärekh: @öthäm wayyiqrä@ @eth->shemäm @ädhäm beyôm hibäre@äm  #

Here’s my translation into English.

Male and female He brought them into existence ~ then He blessed them, and He named their name ‘@ädhäm’ when He had created them  #

Now putting Gen 5.1b and 5.2 together and formatting them as Hebrew poetry (as much as possible in a blog), it reads like this:

When @Élöhîm brought into existence @ädhäm   in the likeness of 
                                               @Élöhîm He fashioned him #
               Male and female He brought them into existence ~
                               Then He blessed them 
         and He named their name ‘@ädhäm’      when He had created them #

I realize that nobody translates these verses as poetry but they sure read like poetry to me.  I see a chiastic parallel between the first and third phrases (third phrase enlarges on the first phrase but in reverse), and repetition bookends in the first and sixth phrases.  Even though they are divided as prose verses in the Masoretic text, I will continue to think of them as a poetic opening to this third section.

Now, in putting the three opening statements of Gen 1.1, Gen 2.4b, and Gen 5.1b in a list, I noticed some interesting things.

Gen 1.1:      In a beginning @Élöhîm brought into existence the heavens and the earth (the cosmos).
berë@shîth bärä@ @élöhîm @ëth hashshämayim we@ëth hä@ärets #

Gen 2.4b     When YHWH @Élöhîm fashioned land and sky (planet earth).
beyôm øásôth YHWH @élöhîm @erets weshämäyim  #

Gen 5.1b     When @Élöhîm brought into existence @ädhäm, in the likeness of @Élöhîm He fashioned him #
beyôm berö@ @élöhîm @ädhäm bidhemûth @élöhîm øäsäh @öthô  #

 

Once again, I would argue that the first phrase of the new section (Gen 5.1b) is a direct imitation of the opening statements of the first two sections (Gen 1.1 and Gen 2.4b).  Here’s the chart comparing Gen 1.1 and Gen 2.4b.  Attached is  Gen 5.1b in the same chart format.  All the opening statements use the same grammar and similar word choices.

Gen 1:1 Gen 2:4b
English Grammar Hebrew Hebrew Grammar English
in a beginning prep/indef noun berë@shîth beyôm prep/indef noun in a day (when)
created verb bärä@ øàsôth verb fashioned
@Élöhîm name @élöhîm YHWH @élöhîm name YHWH @élöhîm
the heavens definite noun @ëth hashshämayim @erets indef noun land
and the earth definite noun we@ëth hä@ärets weshämäyim # indef noun and sky
Gen 5:1b
Hebrew Grammar English
beyôm prep/indef noun in a day (when)
bärä@ verb created
@élöhîm name @Élöhîm
@ädhäm indefinite noun man

Another pattern I see in these three opening statements is time – action – actor – created thing.  They all follow that pattern with no variation.

Verse Time Action Actor Created Thing
Gen 1.1 In a beginning brought into existence @Élöhîm the cosmos
Gen 2.4b When fashioned YHWH @Elöhîm land and sky
Gen 5.1b When brought into existence @Élöhîm @ädhäm

I think that looking at the ‘bones’ of these sentences clearly demonstrates that Gen 2.4b and Gen 5.1b were written in imitation of Gen 1.1.  I think that this also bolsters my contention that these are three separate documents with three different immediate authors.

However, in looking at the three sentences within the structure of Genesis as a whole with Rûãch @Élöhîm as the Author, I see a shape in their content.

Gen 1.1:      In a beginning @Élöhîm brought into existence the heavens and the earth (the cosmos).

Gen 2.4b     When YHWH @Élöhîm fashioned land and sky (planet earth).

Gen 5.1b     When @Élöhîm brought into existence @ädhäm, in the likeness of @Élöhîm He fashioned him #

Gen 1.1 is a very broad brush stroke of @Élöhîm’s creative activity, starting at the very beginning and encompassing the entire cosmos.  @Élöhîm then tells the story of how He re-formed the earth and refilled it with life.

Gen 2.4b picks up on the re-formed earth by narrowing His creative activity down to planet earth.  YHWH @Élöhîm continues His Story with how He fashioned hä@ädhäm and his wife, how they broke the relationship that they had with Him and brought themselves to open shame, and the consequences of that action on their family.

Gen 5.1b picks up on the His creation of @ädhäm and then records the ten generations of @Ädhäm and his descendents through which the Line of the Promise ran.

So, the literary structure that Rûãch @Élöhîm used to this point is like a funnel: the opening starts broadly with the cosmos, the second ring narrows down to planet earth, and the third ring continues the narrowing down to @ädhäm.

I just find the structure interesting and beautifully balanced.

Section 02:  Author and Content

As I stated in Section 01, I think that the ending transition sentences function as signature statements, identifying the author.  Here the author is Nöãch.

These [are] the proceedings of Nöãch.  (Genesis 6.9a)

I think that the rest of 6.9 is the opening sentence of the proceedings of Shëm, which I will get into in Section 04.

Now, compared to the other proceedings, the proceedings of Nöãch are very short.  There’s only two sections:  the Genesis 5 genealogy and an explanation for why YHWH @Élöhîm sent the Flood but spared Nöãch (Gen 6.1-5).

I think it likely that the Line of the Promise had kept a generational record, not because they knew that they were the Line of the Promise, but because they just kept generational records.  So, Genesis 5 is the record of ten generations of Nöãch’s ancestry formatted using a generations formula.

I think it possible that Nöãch developed the list and formula from whatever generational records his fathers had kept, after @Élöhîm informed him that only he and his line would survive the coming Flood.  The records of other lines would not need preserving, although there are kings lists extant from the Sumerian culture of rulers from before the Flood.  For me, this begs the question of what documents/books Nöãch preserved on the ark, but that is not the topic of this post.

So, YHWH @Élöhîm included in His inspired Word only one genealogy out of the antediluvian world: the genealogy of Nöãch, from whom the Line of the Promise would now descend.

I have additional observations on the Genesis 5 genealogy that I think I will keep for a separate post because they get off topic.

Moving on to the only other section of the proceedings of Nöãch, the information about the fallen benê hä@élöhîm and their offspring.  I discussed in my post on Who Told the Story First?  my belief that, as the Storyteller of His Story, YHWH @Élöhîm inspired the writing down of the true events of His Story before the revisionist versions began popping up.

I contend that the Line of the Promise did not write down the true account in response to the revisionist versions that appeared after the Flood, but rather @Ädhäm and Nöãch wrote down the true stories first.  Since Nöãch lived for 350 years after the Flood, it’s possible that he wrote this section after the Flood as part of exhorting his sons to follow YHWH because of what happened to bring about the Flood judgment.

Also, I think that it predates Shem’s writings.  The opening sentences of Shëm’s account only reference the corruption and violence on the earth.  If the records already contained the specifics about the cause of the corruption and violence on the earth, then Shem would not need to repeat that information in setting the scene for his account of the Flood.

I think that the revisionist false stories came about as a result of a deliberate twisting of the truth.  I expect that the first revisionists knew perfectly well what they were doing.   In The Unseen Realm [1], Dr. Michael Heiser presents the view of many Near East Biblical scholars that Genesis 6.1-8 answers the stories about the apkallu (lesser gods, rebel Watchers) in the Sumerian tales point for point with the true record.  But I don’t see why the opposite could not be true: the Sumerian tales twist the true story point for point in their versions.

So, there we are.  Two different interpretations of the origins of the literature that has come down to us.  I don’t know that either one is empirically provable, given that speculation about the authors’ motivations is just that: speculation.  Still, I’ll stick with the idea that YHWH @Élöhîm as the Storyteller wrote His true story down first, and that fallen men, knowing the true story, made up corrupt versions of it in order to take the glory away from the true Creator God, YHWH, and transfer it to their own @élöhîm, the ones who were false to their charge by YHWH to rule the nations in His name (Psalm 82).

Again, I think that “These are the proceedings of Nöãch” is the signature statement ending this section.  The next section begins with the following statement:

Nöãch, a righteous man, was without blemish in his generations ~ with the @Élöhîm Nöãch walked himself closely #

So, on to the next section, Genesis 6.9b to 11.10a, the proceedings of Shëm.

Grace and peace to you,

Dori

[1] Heiser, Dr. Michael. The Unseen Realm.  Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.  2015, pp.102-103

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