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User talk:Jim Scully

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G'day Jim Scully, and welcome to aSK. We are glad to have you contribute. For more information about aSK, see our About statement. Please see the rules and regulations as soon as you can.
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Farewell Jim Scully, keep fighting the good fight wherever you land. Mega 19:00, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

Noah's Ark

While you are welcome to build the article, please be careful to remain within A Storehouse of Knowledge's Biblical worldview in articles. In particular, avoid treating the documentary hypothesis (which is long discredited) as fact. BradleyF (LowKey) 21:33, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for your note, Bradley. While I'm aware of substantial recent criticism of the documentary hypothesis, I don't believe it's been "long discredited." Perhaps you could provide me the name of a reputable Biblical scholar who you regard as authoritative on this question?
I looked at Biblical worldview. The first sentence says that the worldview of the site is based on a notion that the Bible is inerrant. I agree with this, but probably use the term in a different way than you do. (I note that the link to Biblical inerracy is red, so I cannot say precisely what you mean by this term, though). I looked particuarly at the part of the Biblical worldview article dealing with Noah and the Flood: "God used the Great Flood to wipe out all life on Earth with the exception of Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark with them." I don't believe anything I wrote is inconsistent with that (You'll note that I did not try to introduce a scientific worldview into the article, for example.), but believe that your objections are probably based more on the concept of "Biblical inerracy," than on that particular sentence.
The "Biblical worldview" of the site seems rather strange to me. Its thrust seems to be that the events in the first part of Genesis were literally true, but the list in the article mentions nothing in the Bible past the ninth chapter of Genesis other than the Virgin Birth, Resurrection, and Ascension (and the article itself mentions nothing after Exodus). No Sermon on the Mount, no Second Coming, no Pauline theology, no prophets.
At a more basic level, though, the concept seems misnamed. The vast majority of Jews and Christians who consider the Bible their sacred scriptures do not agree with at least some of the propositions put forward in that article. Young Earth Creationist worldview may be more a more appropriate name. Jim 17:35, 31 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes we need the inerrancy article, but I certainly have not had time to do it justice. That said, the rest of the first two paragraphs provide a good summary of what is meant. Your additions claimed an inconsistency in the number of animals, which doesn't fit, and an anachronism with clean/unclean animals, which is founded on a false assumption. Of your additions, I only removed those 2 plus references to JEDP. Oh, and I also changed "story" to "account". "Story" has fictional connotations. I will get some sources for you regarding the JEDP; the criticism is not that recent (or not only recent) but I don't know if I can lay my hands on the older sources.
Note that you imply a false dichotomy between a Biblical worldview and a scientific worldview. The two are not mutually exclusive.
The short list of Biblical propositions is just that; a short list. The items were chosen for import. I guess the list could be longer, but then where does one stop?
Given the first two paragraphs describing a Biblical worldview (a worldview that takes the Bible as true) the name is accurate and appropriate. The vast majority of Jews do not accept the NT. I would not accept your assertion about the vast majority of Christians without some substantiation, and in any event, we are not merely talking about a "Christian worldview" or a "Judeao-Christian worldview" but a Biblical worldview. BradleyF (LowKey) 15:36, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
I don't think I agree with you on the clean/unclean distinction (which God doesn't actually define until Sinai) or the numbers of animals (the two passages are clearly inconsistent if you read them literally).
Let's clarify something: Do you object specifically to JEDP, or to the documentary hypothesis more broadly? I'm not particularly wedded to either; the idea of two sources seems the best explanation of the inconsistencies/repetition in the text, though. By "recent criticism," I'm referring to criticism over the last 20 years of the documentary hypothesis as a whole, not to the earlier criticism of Wellhausen's original hypothesis. Once again, I don't really need you to "get some sources" for me on the DH; I would simply like for you to provide the name of the scholar or scholars you were relying on when you said it was "discredited." In other words, who do you believe has discredited it?
I don't believe that a scientific point of view is inconsistent with a biblical worldview, but then we probably have different definitions of "Biblical worldview." I wouldn't believe it was necessary or appropriate to subject the Noah's ark account (using your preferred term, which I have no problem leaving in the article) to scientific scrutiny. That's not its purpose. The BW article seems to confuse "true" with "empirically provable" or ""historical." I would argue it has a broader meaning.
I appreciate the need to only put the most important statements in the article. But is "The world is six thousand years old" really more important to a Biblical worldview than "Christ's suffering on the Cross atoned for mankind's sin"? That seems odd. Is the reason for its omission that you are concentrating on the OT? Is that what you are getting at when you say that most Jews don't accept the NT? This is certainly true (and I won't demand substantiation from you for this obvious statement of fact), but the Biblical worldview article includes the Virgin Birth, Resurrection and Ascension as part of that worldview, even though most Jews don't believe in those either. Jim 21:38, 1 September 2009 (UTC)
The first account of God making the distinction is not necessarily the account of the first time He did. I don't think that is really a major issue, though. I accept that the two passages may appear inconsistent, but that does not necessarily mean that they are. Repetition, generalisation and specification are literary devices used throughout the creation/fall/flood account. These devices are known to Hebrew literature (and are used elsewhere in the OT) and it is unnecessary to hypothesise multiple authors/compilers to account for them. It's been a while since I did any reading on the DH, so I will have to look into sources anyway, because I don't recall names. Sorry, I used JEDP and DH interchangeably when I shouldn't have. I accept Moses as the human author of Genesis, not other "sources". I also do not believe it necessary to subject the Noah's ark account to scientific scrutiny, but I have no problem with it being subjected. The article does not confuse "true" with "historical". Rather a historical narrative is only true if the events happened as the narrative describes. You have a point about what is not included in the short list. I guess at the time I had certains things on my mind, and that coloured my choices of inclusions (I authored the original article). I was focussing on the Biblical propositions that I knew were denied by those not holding to a Biblical worldview. Indeed if you wish to expand the list, go ahead, perhaps starting with Christ's atonement. I was not actually concentrating on the OT. I only mentioned Jews as they were one of the two groups you mentioned. As we were discussing a worldview based on the whole Bible, I felt I should point out that as most Jews do not hold sacred the whole Christian Bible then the Jewish worldview and Biblical worldview will of necessity be at variance. Also, regarding the "vast majority", I have encountered that particular assertion many times, but without any specifics or substantiation. I was not demanding you substantiate so much as letting you know that I am skeptical about that (but then again, even if true it does not falisfy the description of a Biblical worldview). BradleyF (LowKey) 10:29, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
You start out by saying that the Bible is Hebrew literature (with repetition, generalization and specialization, and then describe a historical narrative as being "only true if the events happened as the narrative describes. Well which is it? One verse of the Bible says that Noah took two of every animal. It doesn't give any indication that this is going to be qualified later. You seem to understand the Bible isn't written as a history book (at least in the modern understanding of "history book"), but then insist on treating it that way. Your description of history and historical truth imposes the values of a modern historian on a writer/writers who seem unconcerned with them.
If we're supposed to understand the clean/unclean distinction as having some real meaning before Sinai, it would have to be purely for purposes of making sacrifices to God, as Noah will be given "every animal" for food after the Flood. We can infer (or maybe not) from the Cain and Abel account that God looks with favor on animal but not crop offerings, but are never told whether offerings were required to be ritually pure. All we are told is that the offerings were of the "fat portions" of the "firstborn." These distinctions are not preserved in Leviticus. Since the book is supposed to be an account of God's relationship to His people, how could it possibly omit this crucial distinction, if the distiction existed and the Bible was written as history?
I think you're making a false equivalence between one author and one source. You could have one author working with multiple sources.
In fact, while we're on the subject, let me help you out with the name of the man who "discredited" the documentary hypothesis, but whom you cannot seem to recall. When people say the DH has been discredited, they are talking about R. Norman Whybray's work, and particularly The Makinig of the Pentateuch. Five minutes reading Wikipedia's article about the documentary hypothesis would have given you his name. Thing is, though, Whybray's argument depends on the notion that there was one author working from multiple sources who did not particularly care about consistency in the details of his accounts or that the events necessarily happened as the narrative described. So, you can either have the documentary hypothesis discredited, or you can have the Pentateuch as a historically accurate narrative. But you can't have both. Jim 17:55, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I didn't notice this conversation at the time.
You start out by saying that the Bible is Hebrew literature (with repetition, generalization and specialization, and then describe a historical narrative as being "only true if the events happened as the narrative describes. Well which is it? Why can't it be both?
One verse of the Bible says that Noah took two of every animal. It doesn't give any indication that this is going to be qualified later. Why does it need to? Why can't the first reference be considered a generalisation and the second a more-specific description?
Your description of history and historical truth imposes the values of a modern historian on a writer/writers who seem unconcerned with them. What is "modern" about expecting historical accounts to be correct?
Since the book is supposed to be an account of God's relationship to His people, how could it possibly omit this crucial distinction, if the distiction existed and the Bible was written as history? You seem to reject that "history" needs to be accurate (if it's not recording what actuallly happened, how can you call it 'history'?), but want to impose a particular idea of what should be included in a historical account.
I've read several sources about the documentary hypothesis being discredited, but don't recall Whybray's name. He may have been the first, but he was not the only one. Your claim that "you can't have both" relies on Whybray's argument being the only possible one.
Philip J. Rayment 02:32, 27 July 2010 (UTC)
I hope you'll indulge me if I take your points out of order and if I give a single reponse, rather than doing the green template thing. I think I may need to expand/ clarify my point about modern vs. pre-modern history. Modern historians are expected, of course, to be accurate in what they write. However, such expectations did not necessarily apply in the ancient world. Take Livy, for example, for whom the the theme of Roman greatness was more important than what actually happened. (Even in relatively recent times, Parson Weems's Life of Washington was a popular book in the 19th century (Lincoln read and enjoyed it), despite it containing completely fabricated events (Washington and the cherry tree, for example).) Livy is, nonetheless great literature, precisely because it is not history, but holds together with an overarching theme that actual history typically lacks. Literature and modern history are very different.
Let's turn to Whybray now. Whybray "discredited" the documentary hypothesis by showing it was too simplistic. You'll see his criticisms taken out of context by people trying to prove the Pentateuch was written by Moses, but his work in fact concluded nothing of the sort. These scholars did argue for a single author, but specified that this author was working from previously existing sources and did not care about consistency. This is obviously inconsistent with a the notion that the Pentateuch was handed down by God to Moses.
Finally, let me answer your question Why can't the first reference be considered a generalisation and the second a more-specific description? Because that's not what the account says. Genesis 6:19-7:3 says God commanded Moses, "'Of all other living creatures you shall bring two into the ark, one male and one female, that you may keep them alive with you. Of all kinds of birds, of all kinds of beasts, and of all kinds of creeping things, two of each shall come into the ark with you, to stay alive. Moreover, you are to provide yourself with all the food that is to be eaten, and store it away, that it may serve as provisions for you and for them.' This Noah did; he carried out all the commands that God gave him. Then the LORD said to Noah: 'Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just. Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate; likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, and of all the unclean birds, one pair, a male and a female. Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth...'" So it's not a question of generalization and specification, it's one command followed by a new introduction to the story and a slightly different command. Jim 22:18, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
I hope you'll indulge me if I take your points out of order and if I give a single reponse, rather than doing the green template thing. That's fine; I sometimes change the order myself, and the templated quotes are merely a convenience to make it clear exactly what point is being replied to.
You say that an expectation of accuracy did not "necessarily" apply in the ancient world, but don't explain why. Granted, there have always been historians who have made honest mistakes or deliberately fabricated material, or something in between, such as relying on a source they should have known better than to. But "history", by definition, is an account of what happened in the past. If it didn't happen, it is therefore not history, by definition. And we were, after all, talking about the history book authored by the source of all truth.
Your description of what Whybray did has no bearing on how others, not relying on Whybray, have discredited the Documentary Hypothesis. Consequently, you have not shown why you can't have both.
These scholars did argue for a single author, but specified that this author was working from previously existing sources and did not care about consistency. This is obviously inconsistent with a the notion that the Pentateuch was handed down by God to Moses. This confuses two views. The view that Moses was working from pre-existing sources is, obviously, not consistent with the view that God dictated Genesis to Moses. But there is also the possibility that Moses did use pre-existing sources, so it's not inconsistent with that view. However, the view that Moses did not care about inconsistencies is a separate matter, and does assume that there were inconsistencies to be concerned about, a point that is itself in dispute.
Because that's not what the account says. That's a logical fallacy. That the account doesn't say "A" does not mean that "not A" is necessarily true.
So it's not a question of generalization and specification, it's one command followed by a new introduction to the story and a slightly different command. Another logical fallacy. You are now using your explanation of the difference as evidence of an inconsistency, rather than showing an actual inconsistency. Philip J. Rayment 03:35, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I think we need to distinguish (1) the broad idea that the Torah is a composition of different documents with (2) more specific theories which claim to answer how many such documents there were, which documents there were, which parts were drawn from each. I think there is a lot more evidence for (1) than for any of (2). Trying to refute a specific case of (2) doesn't disprove (1). (1) seems the most plausible explanation for the existence of doublets, such as the repeated (and slightly different) commands to Noah which Jim mentions.
As to history, an approach to history which many ancient historians adopted was dramatisation. For example, no one remembered the exact words of a speech, so the historian would write a new speech, which was (to the best of their knowledge and ability) the same gist as the original speech, but not the exact same words. Or, a historian would make some reasonable inferences, which maybe happened to be incorrect, and then fail to be perfectly clear when distinguishing what they knew for a fact from what they reasonably infered. Is any of this dishonest? I would not say it was, although it was a deviation from the standards of precise literal truth, it was an honest deviation.
Does that contradict inspiration? Well, that depends on what theory of inspiration you adopt. If you believe in plenary inspiration (every single word perfectly reflects God's message), then it does. On the other hand, if you believe in a more limited form of inspiration (the core of the message came from God, but it was expressed through the medium of imperfect human beings), then it doesn't. Maratrean 09:41, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I think there is a lot more evidence for (1) than for any of (2). Maybe, although any hard evidence is likely to favour a particular explanation.
(1) seems the most plausible explanation for the existence of doublets, such as the repeated (and slightly different) commands to Noah which Jim mentions. It might to you, but that's quite subjective. How many people retelling a story tell it in exactly the same way? Slightly different versions are par for the course, so, in my opinion, that seems the most plausible explanation. And, to forestall a particular objection, different versions are not solely due to lack of perfect memory. In my case, I might decide on the second telling (to a different person than the first telling) that I went into too much detail on the first telling, and modify my account accordingly. Or I might tailor different tellings to different audiences. Or, as appears to have happened here, give an overview first and a more detailed telling second, or vice versa (a detailed telling first and a summary later). The point is that there can be a host of reasons to tell the story in a different way on a different occasion, and not that many reasons for making each telling identical.
Or, a historian would make some reasonable inferences, which maybe happened to be incorrect, ... Is any of this dishonest? Not at all, and I already said that histories may not be accurate for various reasons. My point was that one should expect them to be actual history, not a mixture of history and (deliberate) fiction.
Does that contradict inspiration? Well, that depends on what theory of inspiration you adopt. True, up to a point. But there's two things to consider. One is that we are talking about a special case of an omnipotent God. Why would He allow His human authors to record information that is inaccurate? (I'm not talking about accurate recording of someone being inaccurate, of course.) This would make the limited inspiration view seem unlikely at best. The second thing is that there are more views of inspiration than the two you mention. Specifically, you could have God expressing Himself through the medium of imperfect human beings, with their particular idiosyncrasies, uses of language, etc., but still ensure that what is recorded is completely accurate and conveys what He wants conveyed.
Philip J. Raymentdiscuss 14:48, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I propose one explanation for doublets (multiple authors), you propose another (one author recounting the same story on different occassions). Both are possible - maybe, given that we don't have much evidence for either, the best option is to withhold judgement, and affirm neither?
My point was that one should expect them to be actual history, not a mixture of history and (deliberate) fiction. - I would agree, although it depends on what you mean by "fiction". If they involve an element of dramatisation, well dramatisation is inherently at least partially fictional, even though its ultimate goal may be more non-fictional than fictional. If you are writing in a culture where dramatisation is an accepted historiographical practice, then it isn't in any way dishonest, even though it involves some degree of fiction (even deliberate fiction).
we are talking about a special case of an omnipotent God. Why would He allow His human authors to record information that is inaccurate? - My own view: God establishes upon the earth the truth and the goodness, and those fighting for it. God wants them to win in the end, but not yet. That is why God permits his message to become corrupted, albeit it is never totally corrupted, it is always possible to move closer to purity. If God wanted, then the whole world could be saved tomorrow, or a thousand years ago, but God does not want that to happen yet.
The second thing is that there are more views of inspiration than the two you mention I agree. My point is more, there are views of inspiration compatible with the documentary hypothesis, even with the idea that the original autographs contained errors, so those views are not in themselves incompatible with inspiration, only with certain versions of it. I mentioned two views, because I wanted to give an example of a compatible and an incompatible view. Maratrean 10:39, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict) But "history", by definition, is an account of what happened in the past. If it didn't happen, it is therefore not history, by definition. I see my examples were insufficient to explain what I was getting at to you, so let me expand. We're using the term "history" in two different ways. You were using it to refer to actual facts in the past, I was using it in the sense that you were using "history book." To avoid confusion, I'll use "history book." To answer your question in a little more detail, history book writers were not held to the same standards that modern writers of history books are. Why? They occupied a different place in their societies than historians do in ours. For example, you presume the Pentateuch to have been written by the leader of a semi-nomadic people fleeing oppression. It was a preservation of tradition, rather than a detailed, scholarly inquiry into how many animals a man carried with him on a boat long ago, which would not have been important to its intended audience anyway. (The bigger problem, of course, is the distinction between clean and unclean animals, which is a part of kashrut, rather than Noahide law.)
Your description of what Whybray did has no bearing on how others, not relying on Whybray, have discredited the Documentary Hypothesis. Who are these "others" of whom you and Bradley keep speaking?
But there is also the possibility that Moses did use pre-existing sources,... You're linking to another article at this website that discusses colophons and speculates that Moses must have used sources if these represent the ends of different documents. I have to confess that I'd never heard the argument that Moses used sources. The question that springs immediately to mind is "Where did he find them?" It's not like there were a lot of research libraries or document depositories on the Sinai Peninsula. Remember, the Hebrews were fleeing Egypt and did not have time to let their bread rise, let alone collect scraps of documents that were not yet considered holy books.
That the account doesn't say "A" does not mean that "not A" is necessarily true. So where are you getting "A" from? You've adduced no proof that this is the proper way to read the text. Your last point is somewhat related. Quite simply, the statement "Two of each kind" were carried on the boat is inconsistent with the statement "Two of some kinds were carried on the boat; seven of other kinds were carried on the boat." Two of 'some' or 'most' kinds of animals being taken would not be inconsistent with seven of some kinds being taken, but that's not what the first passage in the text says. Your explanation that two is the general case and seven the exception to the general rule might be plausible but for the facts that (i) the text itself gives us no indication that this is so; and (ii) animals are not otherwise described in the Bible as being generally unclean with the exception made for specified clean animals. Rather, some animals are clean and some are unclean.
logical fallacy I don't think that word means what you think it means.
Maratrean has some interesting thoughts too, which I'm broadly in agreement with. I'd also like to add that I don't think that a historical or rational explanation of a work coming into being negates its status as an inspired text. Jim 15:43, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
But there's two things to consider. One is that we are talking about a special case of an omnipotent God. Why would He allow His human authors to record information that is inaccurate? Yes, please consider that. Jim 17:23, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Membership nomination

Jim Scully was nominated for membership, and was voted in. Voting is now closed. The voting can be seen by showing the box below.

Congratulations. You are now a member! Philip J. Rayment 01:44, 27 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, I'm probably not here often enough to be much of a member, though. Jim 20:43, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for your vote

I believe I only need two more now.--Colonel Sanders 22:29, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

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