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Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Third Category — part three

This topic is very threatening to some people so I thought it would be worthwhile to explain how I was introduced to it. I first encountered the Ancient Near Easter combat cosmology in 1975 in the form of a published series of Lectures Creation & Chaos, by B. K. Waltke at Western Seminary in the fall of 1974. At that time Waltke was a known factor. I grew up next door to the late Thomas J. Graham who was a Waltke fan extraordinaire. I had been hearing stories about this brilliant OT scholar since I was in my early teens. So to pick up a copy of his lectures was a thrill of sorts. I read the booklet without much comprehension since I had no knowledge of Hebrew. The fact that I could not understand it increased its value as a cult object. The key issue here is Waltke was considered safe, so anything he said was supposed to be OK, approved by the evangelical establishment. That is history.

Decades later after picking up some knowledge of Hebrew syntax and being able to read the LXX at sight, I started working on Ancient Near Easter combat cosmology, the theme of Creation and Chaos. I started with F. M. Cross[1] , Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973) and worked forward in time. At that time I was attending a mega church in Wallingford district of Seattle. I got embroiled one evening after the service in a discussion of this reasearch with a graduate student. He listened, asked a few questions and later went to the elders and the pastor and reported that I was heretic. That was more or less the last nail in the coffin for that church and I quit attending.

A few years later I was participating regularly on the biblical Hebrew forum (b-hebrew) and occasionally I would say something when Genesis One came up in discussion which was frequent. Without out a doubt the most often discussed text on the forum was Genesis One. There was very well educated scholarly British Pastor who was a perfect gentleman as well as a competent exegetic in both Hebrew and Greek. I had nothing but the highest regard for this man, just couldn't hardly believe that there pastors who were also scholars. However, the subject of ANE combat mythology was a tripwire with this gentleman. Whenever it came up, and I brought it up frequently, this gentleman scholar pastor very politely took issue with the discussion. So it isn't just the ignorant and clueless folks that get excited when this topic comes up.

I will state plainly without qualification that I do NOT agree with the current exegetical positions taken by either Bruce Waltke, Peter Enns,  or  Tremper Longmann III, on Genesis One. So if anyone thinks that is where I am headed with these posts you can relax. I am ultra orthodox on creation. My questions have to do with understanding ancient near eastern literature in its historical setting.

The purpose of this post is to give the heresy hunters reason to look elsewhere. Your not going to find it here.

[1] B. K. Walke's doktorvater


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