[Sermon] 築壇不築城:我不要你們說一樣的話

築壇不築城:我不要你們說一樣的話

By 邱慕天

經節:創世記11:1-9;26-32;12:1-9 (經文閱讀

confusion_of_tongues-515x510

人類都市的起源,根據創世記4章,是由人類第二代的該隱開始建造的。種田的他在因罪在外飄盪的日子中娶妻生子,之後建造了一座城,並按著他兒子的名將那城叫做「以諾」。以己名或是子孫姓名命名的做法,表明以城市與文明為自我主體的延伸和延續的心態。

從鄉村(伊甸園)生活進入到曠野,該隱對人身安全極度憂慮,不管說上帝已經給他在外的保護令,決心加速將文從從「農耕時代」過渡到「城堡時代」,此後不單打造了發揚自身技藝和文明的堡壘,更為子孫數代間開展游牧技藝、音樂、銅鐵器冶制等快速文明進步,奠定了基礎(創世記四章14-22節)。

從聖經接續的記載,我們知道這些英勇、先進、自尊自大的人類文明遠離了對上帝的敬畏,因而招致洪水的毀滅。洪水後,上帝雖說不再毀滅世界,但新造城市文明依然反映著「與上帝為敵」的價值觀。挪亞的受詛之子含與他後來的迦南、古實、寧錄等後裔,不僅再現了挪亞同期和前期那些「英武有名的人」之豪強形象,更同樣據地為王成為巴比倫、尼尼微、「大城」利鮮、所多瑪、蛾摩拉等示拿邪惡政權的城主(創世記10章)。

後來,其中一支就在示拿之地的巴別平原,以科技向天際線發起衝擊,不再探索、顧念上帝所造的繽紛世界。這就是巴別塔科技所引含的背景。

與同為跨時代的超級工藝的方舟類比,弟兄姊妹要知道,上帝不是反科技──祂甚至給了挪亞造舟的詳細設計圖。而是與方舟對比,巴別塔科技的美德(virtue)在反上帝、反創造:

  1. 第一,它展現人自我尊崇的企圖,不理會上帝的指示;
  2. 第二,它標榜狂飆突進的人本主義,容不下其他物種與生命;
  3. 第三,它的發展目標帶有攪擾雲、雨、日月、星辰等等屬天力量的強橫意圖,方舟卻是在狂暴的大水上彰顯以柔克剛的力量。
  4. 第四,與方舟游動、水平靈活運動相較,巴別塔如釘木樁一般僵固且垂直的發展模式,背離了上帝對人類發展的引導。

在巴別塔敘事的後半段,上帝「降臨」視察世人所建造的城和塔。仍然需要靠上帝主動地「紓尊降貴」來降罰,暗示了人的榮耀和本質無法企及上天。

上帝變亂示拿人的口音,阻止人類以榮耀己名為目的將資源集中和忽視了對大地甚至整個宇宙的經營,表明了文化與地理多元性的水平開展,是人類歷史的進程匠心獨運的引導。

這種巴別塔的心態,可能存在我們每一個人的老我生命中。我們害怕分散、害怕彼此說不同的語言,以致在舒適圈內把塔愈築愈高,把不是神的當作神。

儘管分散的意象通常象徵帝國的覆滅(如同猶太亡國後人門的四散),但人類往普天下去四散去正是此刻上帝的心意:「生養眾多,遍滿各地」。一如初代教會遭到逼迫而四散的主門徒們,因有聖靈「變亂」他們的口音而得以往普天下去傳講福音,從創世記十一章10節開始,舊約聖經餘下的敘事轉而聚焦在一個從示拿地出走的民族名祖,以及其後裔的故事──亞伯拉罕和希伯來民族。

亞伯拉罕成為「地上萬族祝福」的「多國之父」、「信心之父」並非偶然,而是與亞伯同為游牧為業的他,亞伯拉罕的信心生活,幾乎是刻意地展現一種與「巴別塔經驗」的反差。能夠聽憑上帝的指引築水草而居,而且每到一處,就築壇敬拜神。但他自己卻不為自己留名,也不事城郭的建造,而是以頭生的產業獻給神、將榮神的記號播在他經過的地方,心中「等候那座有根基的城,就是神所經營所建造的。」(希伯來書十一章10節)

「與神同行」伴隨著經濟上的祝福;對後巴別塔時期人類文明延續危機的擔憂,都藉著這段具有文明典範性的民族救恩歷史而得到靈感,和安慰。

作為亞伯拉罕後裔的基督徒要曉得,耶穌已藉「復活」摧毀了「取死的肉體」,將我們的生命轉化為「上帝的殿」,我們不再需要任何祖產、紀念碑、抑或任何巴別塔式的結構來為我們在這個空間存在留下「不朽」的記號──真正能不朽的只有我們「榮耀的身體」;敬虔的生活,要我們以信心向應許之地邁開腳步,獻在祭壇上的,則是我們生命全人的馨香活祭。

(以上以為講章摘要後的濃縮文字,由講員整理,刊登於中興新村浸信會週報 7.17.2016)

解經細節請參照

Publicités

[文摘] 《聖經》創世記載的觀念整合與科學詮釋

Referral Link:   創世紀第二章的文體(基督教人文學會) (特別感謝lengyowkandrewtsai777 蔡昇達、marksir 陳崇基、Daniel_Cheung 張國棟等多位學人所貢獻與彙整的信息)

在古代近東文化世界裡,有不少類似創世記的創造段落(創1-2)一般,以民族史觀點描述人類起源的故事,例如在美所不達米亞(Mesopotamia)、巴比倫尼尼微的吉甲美斯史詩 (Epic of Gilgamesh,西元前七世紀)、貝羅蘇斯(Berossus)的巴比倫史(西元前三世紀)、以及古希臘希索德(Hesiod,西元前八世紀)的作品都出現過。

創世記的記載與與古代近東的創世神話具有相近的結構,然而在文獻考古上,創世記的成書較晚,因此爭議性也多。例如:人類的起源、罪的來源、挪亞時代的洪水審判、巴別塔等常常被視為神話事件。此外,本書卷還論到婚姻的起源、文明的起源、以色列的起源,救恩的譜系等。

過去已有不少學者對創1-11及古代近東的文化與文學做過比較研究,創世記1-11是以色列版本的「人類起源的故事」。明顯地,創世記的作者並無意對那些太空物理學所關心的議題上著墨。他從頭到尾使用的是「人」的「現象學」的語言描述自然界現象的發生(例如「日出」對應於「地球面對恆星光體自轉」,前者即屬 於從人類視角觀測的現象學語言。[0])。因此,創世記與科學整合的挑戰,應當是人類學上的。

妥當理解創世記頭二章,我們必須協調的資料包含基因工程學[1]、創1-2之間的衝突記載[2]、創 1-2 與聖經其他處的可能衝突[3],最後是創世紀一、二章兩段記載,與其他古代近東神話故事的雷同之處[4]

  • 1. 創一、創二講不同的事件:

如果要讓進化論亞當夏娃的描述無衝突,並協調創一、創二講不同的記載,「神導進化論」(theistic evolution)或「漸進創造論」(progressive creationism)將是頗具人類學發展規模的選項。這兩套理論把創世記第一章26-27解釋為上帝用「進化」的方式「創造」了許多(晚期)「智人」(homo sapiens),亦即把「猿人」變造為「人類學意義上的人類」。(神導進化論者著重「進化」的觀念與科學假說的認同,漸進創造論者則強調進化的發生只可能來自上帝「創造」的神蹟)。

創世記 1:26-27 神說:「我們要照著我們的形像、按著我們的樣式造人,使他們管理海裡的魚、空中的鳥、地上的牲畜,和全地,並地上所爬的一切昆蟲。」神就照著自己的形像造人,乃是照著他的形像造男造女。

如此,創世記一章交代了複數人類的起源和使命。而第二章則是在描述上帝特別創造(「揀選」,appointed、entitled)了亞當和夏娃,並設置了一個伊甸園安置他們。

如此,創一、創二講的是不同的事件。將這個說法推展後,我們會得出結論包含:

  • 亞當和夏娃並非「晚期智人」的始祖,當時在伊甸園外已有許多人。但亞當是神特別揀選的「神的兒子」──神親自揀選,有「神的靈」吹入鼻孔的活人。
  • 因此該隱被流放後,擔心遭外面的人報復(創四 14-15)。後來該隱娶妻、建築城邑、子孫發展各種工藝與文明,也暗示在伊甸園有許多其他史前時代的人類。該隱在外走闖,憑著上帝給他的「免死金牌」,也建築了自己的勢力。[5]
  • 如此也能把創世記第六章中,神的兒子解釋為亞當夏娃透過塞特所延續下來的、曉得求告耶和華的名的敬虔後裔(創世紀 4:26 塞特也生了一個兒子,起名叫以挪士。那時候,人才求告耶和華的名。),人的女子則解釋為之前就已存在、包含在創一的體系中、具有一般「神的形象」的「晚期智人」後代。

如此,亞當僅在神學意義上是人的始祖,因為他對應基督。他在歷史意義上也是人的始祖,但不是人類學意義上的唯一祖先。即使後來挪亞洪水的緣故,應當滅絕了「非亞當一系」的智人,並沒有後代存留。但從基因工程學和考古學的角度,「全球性」滅世洪水的史實性無法確立。在此,以區域性洪水的理解,可以協調「為何亞當既是人類祖先,又不是該隱遭放逐後在外所遭遇的敵人的祖先」之衝突。

  •  2. 創一、創二是對相同事件兩種不同角度的描述:

近年間,還有一種異軍突起的詮釋,認為創一創二在講同一件事:亞當與伊甸園的誕生。

與第一組看法類似,他們將創世記第一章26-27解釋為上帝用進化的方式創造了亞當夏娃,第一組人類學意義上的人類,「智人」,而第二章則是在重新描述上帝特別揀選亞當和夏娃、創造了一個伊甸園安置他們。這樣亞當和夏娃就是「智人」的始祖,只是當時在伊甸園外還有許多「類人猿」(早期智人),在亞當之後的年間也紛紛「進化」(按照「漸進創造論」或「誕生理論」 [emerging theory])為晚期智人。

這樣,該隱被流放後,擔心遭人報復(創四 14-15),就必須理解為來自於伊甸園外的「野人」(一群進化中的晚期智人和早期智人類人猿)。後來該隱娶妻、建築城邑、子孫發展各種工藝與文明,暗示在伊甸園外有許多其他史前時代發展中的智人。如此也能把創世記第六章中「神的兒子」解釋為亞當夏娃的後代(神親自揀選,有「神的靈」吹入鼻孔的活人,特別是亞當夏娃透過賽特延續的、曉得求告耶和華的名的敬虔後裔),人的女子則解釋為之前就已存在的類人猿的後代所進化成的「晚期智人」。這裡與第一組看法最大的差別是,這些「人的女子」(外頭的野女人?)被排除在創一的伊甸園體系中,因此她們並不具備「神的形象」,也沒有任何後代活過洪水。因為只有承受亞當血脈的,才是具有「神的形象」的智人。此說法因此也將人類學上的「智人」和神學意義上的「人」做出了區分,會產生一些新的倫理挑戰。

John Sailhamer 的 Genesis Unbound: a Provocative New Look at the Creation Account 一書提供了許多理由支持這種說法。他認為創世記應該要在五經整體的背景下來理解。五經關注的是西乃山之約。因此,創世記講的是以色列人的歷史,而非全人類的歷史。[6]

Sailhamer 認為創一、創二說的是同一件事。六日創造是在講神預備給人住的土地,即伊甸園,而非在講創造整個世界。他做了一些字義研究,認為創一1的「天」、「地」合在一起時,就有全世界,宇宙之意。但單講「地」(eretz) 本身時,就是指「應許之地」。他又以伊甸園河流的推測位置為範圍,指伊甸園的範圍其實就是應許之地。

意即,創一1「起初,神創造天地」是指神創造整個世界,而這一節之後隔了一組相當長的時間。之後一2開始到二4a,焦點已經轉換,到被稱為應許地的那塊土地上,描述神如何將之預備得讓人適合居住,即成為伊甸園。

整個宇宙就好像放在神的一個工作房(workshop)裡面一樣。它可能被創造過無數次,但它在這世界未被造成以先,是混亂無章,需要重新整理,才可運作;所以,所有星星都是漆黑無色彩的。在第一日,神開工再創造時,祂就先開了房間的燈,然後工作。

Sailhamer 區分了創造的兩個希伯來字,「bara」和「asah」,前者指從無到有的創造(create,只出現在創一1,21,27,二3),後者理解為「安排」(make; to set aright or make suitable)。尤其創一2「地是空虛混沌」指的是地荒涼無序、無人居住的意思(wilderness, devoid of human life)。

因此,六日的創造不是全部都是從無到有的創造,而是藉由應許地的安排預備,使大地從無序到有序;其中的語言也必須現象學式地理解。[7]

就以色列人的世界觀,「應許地」是世界的中心,就算「大地」的範圍只縮限到「應許之地」的範圍,也是很合宜的理解。以色列人相信,耶路撒冷的錫安山,是聖殿之處,聖殿是宇宙的中心,至聖所是天與地的接觸點。在大地--這塊應許地上,人被賦予責任。最初的人是受造於此,後來才產生所有別的民族。那土地是世界的中心、世界歷史的舞臺![8]

  • 附錄:對創一創二之文學體裁與史實成分的各家說法

以下將繼續導介下面幾組未被上面說法涵蓋的重要創世紀解經學派的說法:

Walter Brueggemann, Genesis (John Knox, 1982).
Gerhard von Rad, Genesis (Westminster, 1973)
Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11, (Fortress, 1994)
Bruce Waltke, Genesis (Zondervan, 2001)
Gordon Wenham, Genesis 1-15, (Word Books, 1994)

1.

Gordon Wenham 倡議一種不科學的七日創造:整個創世記都是回應近東神學的神觀而改編的另一篇神話,這種七日創造,是神話的,是文學的,而不是科學的。

亦即,創世記只是用近東神話,改寫來表達正確的神學,但沒有客觀史實;或有沒有都無關重要,神根本不在乎作者是不是要描述準確的科學(即使歷史上沒有亞當、挪亞方舟等…。),而只是要讓當時的人以他們的既有的世界觀作為平台,來認識神這個創造者。

2.

Gerhard von Rad 首先強調創一不是甚麼詩歌文體:

There is no trace of the hymnic element in the language, nor is anything said that needs to be understood symbolically or whose deeper meaning has to be deciphered.”

但他的重點是從近東其他宗教的創世神話的背景來看創一。這點與 Wenham 的相若,但比 Wenham 詳細得多。並且 von Rad 視創一之為祭典式的教義宣告(Priestly doctrinal declaration),是希伯來民族的世界觀的最高權威,因此更必須是史實性和科學性的(他也強調創世故事是時間性的):

They were doctrine; i.e., they were traditions of the priests. Doctrine means, furthermore, that they were very carefully considered by the priests, passed on from generation to generation, and constantly purified of everything that did not accord with Israel’s faith. One can say, therefore, that the theological and cosmological thought of Israel had been at work on this chapter for centuries. It follows that the language of this report about creation is very compact and highly precise. Everything that is said here is to be accepted exactly as it is written; nothing is to be interpreted symbolically or metaphorically. The language is actually scientific, though not in the modern sense of the word.

— Gerhard von Rad, God at Work in Israel, trans. John Marks (Nashville: Abingdon, 1974), 99.

3.

Bruce Waltke 的書十分簡短,與 Wenham 看法大致相近:創一是種帶有神話傳說性質的隱喻。但他對福音派裡的七日創造論的反對,主要在於將「日」理解為廿四小時的科學悖論。他認為,七日在那裡表示著時間進程,不是廿四小時,原因有二。一,太陽和月亮並不是在「日」之前被造出來的。二,部份學者認為創一是隱喻或特別的詩體,不宜隨便把「日」等同今天理解的廿四小時。創一的原意更應該是從近東其他宗教的創世神話的比較來閱讀,他宣稱,創一作者沒有意思斷言「日」是廿四小時。

4.

John Walton在 The Lost World of Genesis One 則補充了他的猜想,即第一天創造的不是光源,而是「光期」(period of light)、光出現的週期,意思就是第一天創造了時間! 這個說法有一定可取之處,也跟第四天要制定節期等等有關連(太陽月亮作為時間的指標):

The creation is primarily an act of functional assignment (cosmic temple argument), rather than an act of material manufacturing process. The text focuses on God’s sovereignty in « managing » everything. (In Enuma Elish, Marduk assigned the functions of entities in nature and the gods. The focus is on function, not material.)

5.

對近東創世神話的比較,Claus Westermann把創一視作為祭(P)典作者在近東神話背景下力求突圍而出的嘗試。有別於 von Rad 高度科學化和Wenham 高度神話化的雙極創世記詮釋,Westermann認為創一是舊約中獨特的一種詩與散文的混合文體。他認為這樣一種敘事方式,表達了對秩序(和律)的強調,在某種程度上會兼容和隱含當代科學觀:

One can discern a scientific direction in P’s thinking when he goes in for separations into categories: the heavenly bodies (only in the context of their functions), plants and animals according to their species, the world coming into being in stages- such an explanation remains open to the same reverent recognition of the creator that characterizes P.

可以說創世記雖運用近東神話,在一些重要客觀史實上卻有神特別啟示,在一些重要的歷史基礎上,也修正近東神話歪曲的科學世界觀。[9](一個不時被人舉出來的明顯例子是方舟。巴比倫神話Epic of Gilgamesh的方舟是巨大的立方體,完全不能穩定浮動,但挪亞的方舟的體積和長寬高比例卻是穩固卻可以航行的。以色列不是航海的民族,哪來這知識?)神有特別啟示正確的神學觀,然後根據當時的知識水平來改寫他們所認知的神話故事。因此說創一創二是神話體裁,並不是說它講的沒有一樣是真的,而是說它的目的不在於描繪歷史客觀事實,而是神學觀和世界觀的建立。

延伸閱讀:

其他參考書目(資料引自華神 戍樓外望論壇):

–              《如何讀創世記》,川普朗文(Tremper Longman III),戴宜真譯,友友文化:2010 BS1235.52  .L67  2010c

傑出的福音派舊約學者所撰述的創世記導讀,在第四章中,簡要對比創世記與近東文化的關聯,並點出關鍵議題之所在。

–              《創世記:從創造到揀選》,謝挺,明道社:2008   BS1235.2  .H743  2008

華人舊約學者所撰述創世記一至十一章的導論書籍,導論的部分整理了近期研究的趨勢,以及分析近東文化之異同。

–              《創世記點燃敬拜之火》,唐慕華(Marva. J. Dawn),張玫珊譯,校園書房:2011 BS1235.52  .D39  2011c

精彩的神學家所撰,從敬拜的角度出發,重思創世記一至三章的意涵,富有創造力及實踐性。

–              《萬物初始:重回創世記》,凱倫.阿姆斯壯(Karen Armstrong),王瓊淑譯,究竟:2003 BS1235.2  .A76  2003c

傑出的宗教學家對創世記的解讀,相當犀利又帶批判眼光。

–              The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. John H. Walton. IVP Academic: 2009. BS651  .W275  2009

傑出的福音派舊約學者針對創世記第一章應當如何閱讀所撰述的專書,將之置回古代世界的情境中,再次挖掘其意涵。

–              Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament. Peter Enns. Baker Academic: 2005. BS480  .E56  2005

傑出的舊約及近東研究學者針對本次論壇的相關議題所撰述的專書,在第二章中,將創世記與近東文化的關係,做了非常扼要的摘述與回應,並在第五章提出對聖經性質的再思。

–              The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority. G. K. Beale. Crossway Books: 2008. BS480  .B43569  2008

出名的保守福音派新約學者為回應Peter Enns的Inspiration and Incarnation所撰述的專書,書中有許多針對該書的對話與反駁。

以下為進階書目:

–              The Stories of Genesis. Hermann Gunkel. English trans. (German: 1910). BIBAL Press: 1994. BS1235  .G8  1994

極出名的德國舊約學者分析創世記的專書,定調許多關於創世記的討論,相當具有挑戰性。

–              I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood: Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic approaches to Genesis 1-11. Richard S. Hess and David Toshio Tsumura eds. Eisenbrauns: 1994. BS1235.5  .I35  1994

可瞭解針對創世記一至十一章學術研究近況的專書,並有傑出的文獻與歷史回顧。

–              The Context of Scripture. William W. Hallo ed., K.L. Younger ass. ed. Vol. One: Canonical Composition from the Biblical World. Brill: 1996. BS1180  .C66  1996  v.1

編輯、整理近東文化的各樣文獻,並有簡要的導介。


[0] 參見 Paul H. Seely, ‘The date of the tower of Babel and some theological implications’, Westminster Theological Journal 63 (2001) 15-38 at 32ff.

[1] 基因工程學指出,世界上的人類不可能全部來自於單一的祖先。按照人類基因資料庫分析,並結合人類學考古的證據,「亞當、夏娃」生存的年代應該在十萬~廿萬年之前,而且要有二萬人,另有一更新的推斷是兩千人,起源於東非。

[2] 創1和創2之間的矛盾。如果兩者都是被寫作成史學,那麼這兩者之間有許多明顯的牴觸(例如創造的順序),儘管兩者有許多相同之處。

例如,創一的順序是植物(蔬果)、日月、動物、人類。創二則是人類(男人)、植物(蔬果)、河流、人類(女人)。這順序顛倒的情況,說明作者或是把兩者編排在一起的編者,並沒有視這兩個文本本身就是歷史(科學)紀錄。作者可能是想要表達 這兩個故事所特有的世界觀和神學觀,而不在乎科學事實。如果他在乎的是科學觀,那就仔細的協調出一個嚴謹的敘事就好了。但他卻要講兩個,可見他覺得他想要描述的那種世界觀,具有兩種特色,異議者認為,這兩種特色呈現一種張力,使他沒有辦法用一個故事完全表達,所以使用了兩個故事來表達。

對古代人而言,傳遞神話的意圖,大致上分成宗教性的和政治性的。比如巴比倫神話很推崇Marduk這個神,說他殺死了Tiamat ,用她的屍體創造天地,又用Kingu的屍體和血創造人(儘管描述似乎是他吩咐,由Anu執行),作為神的奴隸。這樣推崇Marduk,就是因為 Marduk是巴比倫的守護神。可以說,傳遞這樣的故事,會讓巴比倫人為自己的國家感到驕傲,進而團結在一起,也願意做苦工,因為他們被造本來就是作為奴隸,云云。

問題來了。如果古人並沒有將Marduk的神話當成是客觀歷史,他們怎麼能夠接受隨之而來的世界觀呢?
可能他們本來就不是根據神話的歷史性來相信其世界觀。順序是顛倒過來。他們(統治者)已經有了某種世界觀,而以敘述Marduk的神話來圖像化這種世界觀。 對於不識字的普羅大眾來說,跟他們說故事,會比直接描述世界觀的抽象概念還要來的有效(其實今天也是一樣!)。也許正是因為這樣,所以我們在聖經中看到兩個不同的創世記載。一個記載不能完全表達作者想要表達的。他需要兩個。一個是講神的偉大,就是transcendent(第一章), 一個是講神是貼近創造物的神,就是immanent(第二章)。

[3]如以西結書 28:12-19 的段落,按照字面,似乎肯定以西結當時的推羅王(埃特巴力三世)曾身處伊甸園,而且是如同亞當一般的自由受造:

人子啊,你為推羅王作起哀歌,說主耶和華如此說:你無所不備,智慧充足,全然美麗。 你曾在伊甸神的園中, 佩戴各樣寶石,就是紅寶石、紅璧璽、金鋼石、水蒼玉、紅瑪瑙、碧玉、藍寶石、綠寶石、紅玉,和黃金;又有精美的鼓笛在你那裡,都是在你受造之日預備齊全 的。你是那受膏遮掩約櫃的基路伯;我將你安置在神的聖山上;你在發光如火的寶石中間往來。你從受造之日所行的都完全,後來在你中間又察出不義。 因你貿易 很多,就被強暴的事充滿,以致犯罪,所以我因你褻瀆聖地,就從神的山驅逐你。遮掩約櫃的基路伯啊,我已將你從發光如火的寶石中除滅。你因美麗心中高傲,又 因榮光敗壞智慧,我已將你摔倒在地,使你倒在君王面前,好叫他們目睹眼見。你因罪孽眾多,貿易不公,就褻瀆你那裡的聖所。故此,我使火從你中間發出,燒滅 你,使你在所有觀看的人眼前變為地上的爐灰。各國民中,凡認識你的,都必為你驚奇。你令人驚恐,不再存留於世,直到永遠。

[4]列舉部分如下:
1. 亞當犯罪和被逐出伊甸園,這樣的情節與美索不達米亞的Adapa神話故事有雷同的地方。http://www.piney.com/Adapa.html

2. 夏娃作為眾生之母(mother of all the living)。巴比倫的Atrahasis 神話中的Mami女神,被稱為mistress (midwife) of all the gods. 可以知道 « X of all the Y » 是一種尊稱。 http://www.livius.org/as-at/atrahasis/atrahasis.html

3. 夏娃說「藉著耶和華的幫助,我得了一個男兒」(創4:1, 新譯本),這個 「藉著」+[神的名字] 的formula, 也可以在Atrahasis 看到。Mami藉著Enki的幫助,創造了可以自己生出下一代的人類。

4. 伊甸園的描述,與美索不達米亞對於神殿的描述很類似。此類的神殿,在其中都會有河流,有園子,還有祭司看守(所以亞當夏娃是祭司身分?)。而且入口一定是面朝東方。

5. 生命樹是一個在美索不達米亞神話故事中出現的物件。http://symboldictionary.net/?p=2511

6. The epic of Gilgamesh 中描述Gilgamesh 如何想要得到某個可以給他永生的植物,但是卻被蛇偷走了。http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh

此外,創1的創世紀載,還有挪亞方舟,也都可以在古代近東的這些神話中找到類似的情節。

有類似的情節不代表就是抄襲來的。但是我們可以合理推測,創世紀作者和古代近東神話故事的作者,承襲了共同的傳統,所以使用了類似的文體,在一些關鍵字上面還有情節部分,會有雷同之處。

[5] 該隱的老婆的問題,從文本看來,作者似乎根本就沒有興趣討論他老婆哪來的,甚至還間接的表示當時還有 其他人在地上(創4:14)。該隱的後代(4:17-24)也做了一些人口稀少的時候不太可能做的事情:建造城市,分工,科技。
這意味著作者不在意這樣的不合理之處。可以推測他不是在寫純正的史學。

[6] 按照Sailhamer在書中的說法 ”my approach is textual and biblical, not primarily scientific or historical. “ (p.14)

[7] 根據創一記載,第一、二、三日創造了光、天空和水、地和植物,第四、五、六日則創造/制定管理光、天空和水、地和植物的東西,分別是太陽月亮眾星,鳥類和魚類,動物和人類。這似乎是一個經常被論及的平行結構。

[8] Sailhamer曾提過他的解釋有猶太拉比解經的支援。Genesis Unbound是通俗作品,並涉觸了一些別的問題,例如宇宙生成史和地球歷史等等。例如Sailhamer認為,第一天已經創造了太陽。第四天只是就「太陽、月亮、星星被賦予定年歲節日的使命」來「現象學」地談論星體的受造。他在Expositor’s Bible Commentary裡的創世記註釋,比較詳細解釋他如此解讀的理由,這本註釋書和和他的The Pentateuch as Narrative,是瞭解這個系統比較好的完整的參考資料。

另外有關他受到的批判,可參閱:
http://www.theology.edu/journal/bookreviews/unbound.htm
http://reformed-theology.org/ice/new…c/bc.97.04.htm

[9] 我們要小心不要像那些貶低聖經的懷疑論者那樣,以為創世記載是聖經作者從從古代近東神話故事改編而成的傳奇故事,而不是描述歷史事件本身。改寫不太可能。同對觀福音書之間,不是改寫,在資料上更可靠且信仰上更正統的理解是:他們有共同來源。

Edward Babinski 是一位反基督教的美國作家,他在《基督教的錯覺》一書中指出,古代以色列宗教文獻並不是獨特的,相反,創世紀「參考」了周邊文化的神話。如Babinski指出:希伯來和埃及的宇宙觀非常相似。根據古埃及人所說,太初之際有一個男神和女神,他們熱情地擁抱著對方,但有一天,第三個神把他們分開了,女神成為了天空,而男神則變成了地。

Babinski 又指出,根據巴比倫神話,太古之際有兩個神,一個是男神,另一位是女神,兩個神之間爆發了戰爭,雄神打敗了雌神之後,男神拆開女神的屍體,把它造成天。Babinski 說:「這情景可以和創世記第一章比較。」

然而根據中國古老的傳說,太初時,宇宙一片渾沌,盤古夾在天地之間,經過了漫長歲月,盤古長高了九萬里,原本相連的天和地也相隔九萬里,盤古死後,他的屍體化成自然界中各種東西,例如左眼變成太陽,右眼變成月亮,手腳和軀幹變成山嶺,血脈變成川流。此外,在中國神話傳中,女媧鍊石補天,捏土造人,立極造物,在中國的圖騰上,還有女媧和伏羲交合的圖像。平心而論,中國神話不是更近似近東神話嗎?當中的共同元素包括了:天地分開、神的身體化為萬物、太初有雌雄二神。古代中國和近東距離遙遠,這些文明能否互相借用傳說呢?這無非是巧合嗎?還是這乃是人類心靈中共同的文學創作結構呢?

具備考古專業的芝加哥華人聯合教會西郊分堂的粵語堂牧者陳崇基牧師有以下清楚宣告:

Such a case (as it implies some sort of literary borrowing or dependence) is extraordinarily hard to present in comparative studies, when both similarities and differences between biblical and other… accounts are considered. Rather, I prefer to see all the ANE flood/creation/prehistory accounts (including Genesis 1-11) share a common « cognitive environment » or « culture. »

(完)

The Christological/Trinitarian significance of the Jonathan-David union

The Old Testament historical narrative is saturated with analogies and prototypes that shed light to and find their fulfillment only in the Christ event. I am not talking about explicit messianic prophesies, I am talking about narratives in the whole Hebrew Scripture.

If you cannot see this, then either your Christian faith is not « original » (historical and Jewish) enough, or your reading of the Old Testament has not been guided by the Christological lens.

One major theme in the book of First Samuel is the friendship and union between Jonathan, the prince of Israel by Saul’s line, and David, the messianic king anointed by God.

Jonathan loves David as himself, as if they were one. But the king wants to kill David.

David the son of man thus becomes a reprobate. We all know in Barth’s dialectical theology Christ is the only reprobate away from God (in order to bring the world in covenantal relationship with God). It is right to say that God has a reason to kill Jesus Christ.

But then there is Jonathan, the son of king who was with the king. He has all the intention to save David’s life.

David’s exile begins on the New Moon Festival when David was « supposed to sit down and eat with the king » (1 Sam 20:5). David asks Jonathan to let him depart under the pretext (for Saul only) that he has to make the annual sacrifice in his hometown Bethlehem, but in fact he is going to hide in the fields for three days until the third night.

Because the wrath of the King falls upon the Son of  Man, Christ descended to the Hades to make sacrifice for the world, when he was supposed to have a feast together with the King as the anointed One.

Jonathan helps David to flee away. In the fields specifically, there is a rock named Ezel (in Hebrew it means departure, alienation, estrangement, separation; in Turkish this words means ‘eternity‘) behind which David is about to hide until the third days.

The signal Jonathan is to give David consists of shooting three arrows toward/beside the rock and sending a young sidekick to get it back. If his command to the young man is ‘get the arrows on this side of you’, then David is safe to return to the palace for this means the wrath of the king is appeased. But if otherwise, Jonathan is to shout to the young man ‘look, the arrows are far beyond you’, then it is a hint for David to get away right now.

To me, it is very interesting how the person of Jonathan could function as an analogical reference to the Christ event. On the one hand, he is a mediating role between Saul (the King/God) and David (the reprobate/Son of Man).

King Saul really becomes angry when he probes into Jonathan’s intention to save David’s life. He says, « everyday Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure » (1 Sam 20:30).

This makes it also impossible and meaningless to compare Jonathan with the person of the Holy Spirit. He could only be the King’s Son, who is the eternal Logos, who was with God but came to a mysterious unity with the man Jesus the Messiah.

If we persists in having this analogy in mind as we read the monarchical narrative, we will find out that how Jonathan hollows himself for David is comparable to how the divine Logos empties itself (divine kenosis) for the man Jesus Christ. This is how the covenantal union between the two gets acutalized.

The potential kingship of Jonathan the prince is eventual nullified in order to create space for the hallowing ascension of the anointed Davidic King. The Son of Man ‘becomes’ God on the « third day » and reigns in the Logo’s stead on the « last day ».

This original account (of mine) leaves us two further theo-ontological questions to consider:

  1. Against Barth who thinks « there is no hidden God in abstraction from the revealed God », an ontological ‘randomness’ seems to factored in according to Jonathan’s word in the departure theme. Jonathan is uncertain about his fathers will, as if he could have been either forgiving to David or getting angry at Jonathan’s union with David (and David’s alleged participation in the atoning sacrifice at his birthplace). In my view, this suggests that the both Father’ will and knowledge remain distinct and free from His Son’s will and knowledge. David could have saved the trip (of exile), but then his ascension to kingship would have to be otherwise and the redemption of Israel would be at stake. There is a [logical] hierarchy in the correspondence of personal wills: the King’s, then Jonathan’s and David’s. However, no single person has the total control.
  2. The Logos diminishes (as he gives himself fully to the Man), and the Man increases (as he fuses and receives fully the Logos). In postliberal actualistic ontology, this dialectical event has to be understood as taking place in eternity rather than in temporality. However, man (specifically, the human Jesus) exists only in temporality, while the Logos can be present in both realms. The way actualistic ontology solves this issue is to create a corresponding form of humanity in eternity as the « humanity in anticipation of its historical actualization », which I consider correct and helpful. But if there is any thing analogical to Christology in the fact that Jonathan is still with the King/his father when David is hiding/separated from them and in exile, then it is extra calvinisticum we will get. Extra calvinisticum is horrendous to both Lutherans and many postliberals, because it teaches that the Logos was also outside (literal meaning of the Latin extra) or beyond the physical body of Christ.

    It is hard for me to say, but it seems traditional Calvinistic Christology is more consistent with the biblical narrative.

 

Anyhow, if you can ponder through at least for a moment how the very being and event of God’s own life is conveyed through the revelation of profound analogy and rich narratives to which we are capable to infer, you cannot help conclude that the gay interpretation of the Jonathan-David union is totally misguided and away from the point.

 

 

[文摘] 基督徒與公民參與--作主門徒的政治

(前言:這篇文章的諸多部分我沒有出力撰寫,只是拼貼與彙整兩篇這個主題的文章,並修正與調和其中過猶不及的觀點,並加上結論。文末附連結。)

有一位學者說:「新約中很少有一句話像是羅13:2,被大大地誤用。」人誤用這句話(所以抗拒掌權的,就是抗拒神的命,抗拒的必自取刑罰),被要求對集權政府絕對服從。從這裡的上下文及使徒著作的大範圍來看,政府要求人服從的限度,只在神所託付它的目的之內;若它要求唯有神才配得的尊榮,我們不單可以抗拒,而且必須抗拒。

正因為相信最高主權是神,我們也才能理解,為什麼彼得、約翰在面對猶太公會不准奉耶穌的名講論教訓人時,會用強硬的態度說:「聽從你們、不聽從神,這在神面前合理不合理,你們自己酌量吧。我們所看見所聽見的,不能不說。」(徒4:19~20)但是當有人來逮捕時,卻是束手就擒。

若問基督徒是否可以參政,舊約聖經似乎已假定,上帝的子民和先知已經參了政,不存在可以不可以的問題。

在舊約聖經中,王權開始於撒母耳時代。大概在主前11世紀,由於民眾強烈要求,先知撒母耳在壓力下封立掃羅為王。撒母耳當時警告以色列民說:「要君王來統治你們,可能須付出慘痛的代價。」(撒上8:11-18)
在這之前的士師時代,以色列族沒有一個中央集權政府,經濟和軍事力量當然無法與周邊國家相比,但好處是不必承擔中央政府的龐大開支,並且不受制於單一集團。只是,王權一旦建立,人民不但失去相當大部分的自身權力,並且要負擔種種苛捐、雜稅、徵兵、徵糧。因此,撒母耳認為有了國王之後,百姓就要受苦,他除了陳明君王必然斂稅和徵地外,並嚴厲地警告說:「你們也必作他的奴僕。」雖然如此,以色列民還是說:「我們定要一個王治理我們!」(撒上8:19)

果然,掃羅登基做王,立即就實行斂稅、徵兵、徵糧,這原是維持中央政權最起碼的要求。至所羅門王時代,王室大興土木,建造豪華宮殿,揮霍無度,貪婪淫亂,人民的負擔就大大加重了,全國怨聲載道。所羅門王的兒子接位後,王室更加敗壞,橫徵暴斂,百姓逼急了造反,結果國家一分為二。

基於這段歷史,舊約聖經對於王權,一直採取保留態度,認為權力集中的君王定會作惡,不是理想的政治制度。雖然舊約承認君王是上帝的僕人,但強調君王必須對上帝負責,不得剛愎自用,誤國傷民。
故此,從政治制度而言,先知的興起,是對王權的一種監督。先知亦是上帝的僕人,有獨特的身份及任務,使他們可以站在政權之外,甚至站在政權之上,用超乎政權本身的標準,以上帝的話對君王政治進行批判。
以色列先知傳統並非世襲,亦不是固定的組織。先知由上帝在民間隨時選召,替人民說話;不單指斥當時的社會敗壞風氣,亦敢直言王室的不是,彈劾腐吏苛政。例如先知拿單就曾面斥大衛王奪人妻子,蓄謀害命;又如先知米該亞在亞哈王面前「不說吉話單說凶言」(王上22:18)。結果,米該亞被囚,後來怎樣,我們不知道,大概是死在獄中了。後來,亞哈王果然戰敗了,死在戰場,應驗了先知的凶言。不說奉承的假話,只說真話,為真理犧牲;這就是偉大的古以色列先知傳統。先知有監察、審視、批判王權的責任,在政權之外另有根據(耶和華的話)。這種對王權進行監督及批判的概念和做法,乃是民主意識的基礎,對後世思潮影響深遠。

在宗教改革時期,馬丁路德(Martin Luther)跟隨新約的教訓,認為人應當順服政府,就算是壞的政府亦應當順服;所謂「該撒的物歸該撒,上帝的物歸上帝」,但他認定良心只能屬於上帝。路德指出,屬靈及屬世的兩個國度,各有範圍;雖然各自獨立,卻可彼此合作。然而路德的「兩國論」,一不能防止君王濫用權力,二不能主動參與社會,它充其量只能保障某種程度的宗教獨立,因此對現代民主影響甚微。如果君王在地上胡作非為,屬靈或屬天國的教會不能奈其何,充其極只是作良心上的反抗而已。

基督教積極的監管政權、改革政府,及推動民主的神學思想,要等到長老宗先驅約翰加爾文 (John Calvin)之後才有一點開端。加爾文好像保羅和路德一樣,認為政府權力在於維持世上秩序及社會安定,並且懲罰犯法的人,主持公道;但基督徒卻有責任去督促、指導、甚至改革政府,使政府在行使權力的時候要合乎上帝的旨意,使上帝旨意要「行在地上如同行在天上」–不單只在宗教生活中實現,並且也伸展到屬世生活、屬世政權當中。加爾文根據這原則去積極改革,不但改革教會,亦改革政府,翻轉了時代歷史。

加爾文在其大作《基督教要義》最後一章「論政府」中說:「很少君王能約束自己,不使其意志與公義及正直相抵觸,又因為他們鮮能深思明辨,在凡事上發現那盡善盡美的。所以由於人類的罪惡和缺陷,使政權操於許多人的手,乃較為穩妥,他們好彼此幫助、規勸。這樣,倘若有人越權,別人就可以監察並約束他的野心。」

加爾文顯然認同舊約先知的傳統,認為權力受監督比不受監督好,好政府應秉行公義,不應濫用權力。

加爾文以民主為必要,乃是基於人性是墮落的,因此,放任自由的政權是絕對危險的。換言之,基督教先驅推崇民主,不是基於少數要服從多數的原則(當然,現代基督教不否定這概念,只是不以它們作為民主的基礎),民主之所以是必要,因為我們相信群體有監督政權的職責,透過監督,希望可以約束墮落的人性,特別是加上權力的墮落人性。

可惜的是,現代西方國家推崇,關懷的好像領袖是否通過所謂一人一票推舉出來,至於民主重要的精神(監督和約束)卻不是很認真看待。無怪乎,落後國家和先進國家,同樣以民主之名濫權的事就屢見不鮮。須知道,選舉只是決定把政權交給誰;真正的民主乃是在選舉之後,選民要對手握政權的人進行有效的監督。基督教並不認為民主是神聖不可侵犯的體制,更不可能是人類最圓滿、最終極的政治制度;民主只是人的制度,人努力的一種嘗試,它是一種監督制度,一種防範措施,其本身當然需要受到監管和不斷檢討,確保有效的發揮其功能。

近代神學家在這方面的詮釋,最具代表性的人物要算美國20世紀神學家尼布爾(Reinhold Niebuhr)。他認為「因為人是由上帝形象做的,所以民主是可能的;但因為人是罪人,所以民主亦是必須的。」前者指人人可以積極負起政治的責任,後者指權力必須加以限制。民主的意思在現代基督教教義方面來看就是這樣。

除了監督和約束外,基督教為現代民主奠下第二支重要的基調是:容忍異己。

17世紀,加爾文派長老會在英國興起。在教會組織內,這班清教徒發揮了加爾文的改革精神。教會有代議制度、選舉制度,並且重視開會程序及討論自由。一切政策都應在議會中公開討論、辯論,大家來解決問題,達成決策。這是現代民主制度的要素。他們這班人與舊約先知不同。先知只是在旁監察或批判力,並不直接行使權力,行使權力是君王責任;加爾文派清教徒則主張參與,以民主方式直接行使權力。

畢竟,先知的職權和影響力是很有限的。先知監察、批判權力不一定有效,並且有時甚至遭受殺身之禍。但以理書中所記載的但以理的三個朋友,不向巴比倫王尼布甲尼撒所造的金像下拜,因此被丟在火窯中。還有但以理在大利烏王下令,不准向王以外的人或神求告時,照樣一日三次開窗禱告與素常一樣,他寧可被扔在獅子坑中也不妥協。因為君王或官長要求的是與神的尊榮與旨意相違背。

但加爾文教派的長老會信徒卻提倡積極參與政治、改革政權,使政府更能符合上帝的旨意。既然地上的君王、總統不該因居高位而不可一世,民主政體下的元首更不該太作威作福,因此理想的民主政府也應該有雅量容忍反對派,並且用憲法法治的方式保障監督政府的言論自由。

今天很多人以為,基督徒不要參與政治,因為「政治很黑」,彷彿只有被動地將公領域的決策與執行全部「外判」(outsource)給技術官僚和行政決策者,才符合聖經中「順服在上掌權者」的教導。但是,克蘭菲爾(C. E. B Cranfield)說,今天的政府與新約時代的政府之間有基本上的差別。在新約時代,政府是獨裁的。統治者是絕對的獨裁者。作為公民的唯一責任是絕對服從政府,繳納政府所定的稅捐(羅13:6-7)。所以用服從、屈服、忍受。民主政體的社會就不一樣,民主社會是一個民有,民享,民治的政府,在民主政體中,基督徒的責任比對獨裁者的服從要更深一層,基督徒與政府的關係是一種「合作的關係」。一方面是服從,被管理,一方面在服從與被管理中,要求得到應得的保護、尊重與權利。

在民主政治中,基督徒當如何盡對國家社會的責任?按照彼得所說,「為主的緣故」基督徒必須「順服人的一切制度」,這就包括民主制度對公民公眾參與的要求。基督徒公民必須參與在政府的決策裡面;他必須參與在他所居住的城市的地方自治中;他必須參與在有關專業的工會行政或是有關的生意、服務、技藝與職業的協會,甚至在必要的時候,要成為先知般作為盡責批判與監督政府的反對派,將上帝的心意陳明。

順服的益處是因為我們盼望掌權者,是能真正履行神的用人(公僕)賞善罰惡的功能(3~4),然而地上沒有完全的掌權者,就像提前2:1~3所說,我們需要為在上執政掌權者代禱,為的是可以敬虔端正、平安無事的度日。只是若基督徒沒有用信仰參與在一切影響國家、政府與社會福利的行政重大決策,在政府的機構與組織中作見證,作鹽作光,我們就沒有盡到基督徒的社會責任和義務,也沒有資格享受自由的權利了。

在第一世紀60年代(57A.D.)寫成的羅馬書,使徒保羅提醒信徒要趁早睡醒,因為得救(身體得贖)比初信的時候更近了,以保羅屬靈的敏銳,往近處看,已經嗅到羅馬皇帝對基督徒的逼迫是越來越厲害了,往不久的將來看,他迫切盼望主能快來。二千年後的今日,神的國度不是更近了嗎?

保羅生活在羅馬政府的威權壓制下,那是在信仰上的黑夜,外在環境雖然黑暗,但他心中的依然有亮光,他是用正面積極的態度來看這一切,因此說「黑夜已深、白晝將近」。在等候主來的這段時間不是在屋內閉門感嘆夜深,而是走出門外成為照明城市街道的亮光。在生活見證與生命品格上,讓別人在我們身上看見主的榮耀、主的生命,這就是所謂的「披戴基督」。

神子耶穌從天上寶座降世為人,卻走了一條與世人不一樣的路。當雅各、約翰這一對兄弟,向耶穌討左右高位時,耶穌的教導卻是為首要先為僕。理由是:「因為人子來,不是要受人的服事,乃是要服事人,並且要捨命,作多人的贖價。」(可10:45)聖經中讓我們看到,耶穌為跟隨祂的人所立下的榜樣,是為天國的緣故讓自己成為世人的「公僕」。因此作主門徒的政治,不是昧於掌權者,也不在於使用武力抗暴,而是以基督徒復活的的新生命作為對權力結構的批判,此即基督的「生命政治」(biopolitics)。

基督徒參與公眾的事務,不僅是為了守律法和盡義務,因此不該讓政治成為屬靈生命的排斥和累贅;參與在服事眾人的工作當中,為的是「行公義、好憐憫,存謙卑的心,與神同行」,這一切都是來自於對基督永恆國度的盼望。

更重要的是,聖經告訴我們,有一天這世上的一切都要過去,我們不用選舉、沒有紛爭,地上的國權不再,再有勢力的君王也無人紀念,因為地上的國要成我主耶穌基督的國。這是基督徒永恆的盼望,因此教會與信徒公眾參與的手段必須被這個盼望所引導。她的目的不在於在世界中掌權,而在於操練屬天的品格以及幫助世人看見上帝。原來我們的終極關懷不在地上,而是在天上神的國度。

當信徒預備好自己在今生實踐主的教導,使教會配得稱為基督的新婦、成為基督的肢體,我們將得見主的國度大有能力地降臨在我們當中,叫我們今生與來世都與祂一同作王。

文摘參考資料與原文連結

Hebrew Exegesis of Genesis 11:27-12:4

  1. I.                   Text

Genesis 11:27 וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת תֶּ֔רַח תֶּ֚רַח הוֹלִ֣יד אֶת־אַבְרָ֔ם אֶת־נָח֖וֹר וְאֶת־הָרָ֑ן וְהָרָ֖ן הוֹלִ֥יד אֶת־לֽוֹט׃ 28 וַיָּ֣מָת הָרָ֔ן עַל־פְּנֵ֖י תֶּ֣רַח אָבִ֑יו בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מוֹלַדְתּ֖וֹ בְּא֥וּר כַּשְׂדִּֽים׃ 29 וַיִּקַּ֙ח אַבְרָ֧ם וְנָח֛וֹר לָהֶ֖ם נָשִׁ֑ים שֵׁ֤ם אֵֽשֶׁת־אַבְרָם֙ שָׂרָ֔י וְשֵׁ֤ם אֵֽשֶׁת־נָחוֹר֙ מִלְכָּ֔ה בַּת־הָרָ֥ן אֲבִֽי־מִלְכָּ֖ה וַֽאֲבִ֥י יִסְכָּֽה׃ 30 וַתְּהִ֥י שָׂרַ֖י עֲקָרָ֑ה אֵ֥ין לָ֖הּ וָלָֽד׃ 31 וַיִּקַּ֙ח תֶּ֜רַח אֶת־אַבְרָ֣ם בְּנ֗וֹ וְאֶת־ל֤וֹט בֶּן־הָרָן֙ בֶּן־בְּנ֔וֹ וְאֵת֙ שָׂרַ֣י כַּלָּת֔וֹ אֵ֖שֶׁת אַבְרָ֣ם בְּנ֑וֹ וַיֵּצְא֙וּ אִתָּ֜ם מֵא֣וּר כַּשְׂדִּ֗ים לָלֶ֙כֶת֙ אַ֣רְצָה כְּנַ֔עַן וַיָּבֹ֥אוּ עַד־חָרָ֖ן וַיֵּ֥שְׁבוּ שָֽׁם׃ 32 וַיִּהְי֣וּ יְמֵי־תֶ֔רַח חָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים וּמָאתַ֣יִם שָׁנָ֑ה וַיָּ֥מָת תֶּ֖רַח בְּחָרָֽן׃ ס  12:1 וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃ 2 וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ֙ לְג֣וֹי גָּד֔וֹל וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔ וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה שְׁמֶ֑ךָ וֶהְיֵ֖ה בְּרָכָֽה׃ 3 וַאֲבָֽרֲכָה֙ מְבָ֣רְכֶ֔יךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖ אָאֹ֑ר וְנִבְרְכ֣וּ בְךָ֔ כֹּ֖ל מִשְׁפְּחֹ֥ת הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ 4 וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ אַבְרָ֗ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֙ר דִּבֶּ֤ר אֵלָיו֙ יְהוָ֔ה וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ אִתּ֖וֹ ל֑וֹט וְאַבְרָ֗ם בֶּן־חָמֵ֤שׁ שָׁנִים֙ וְשִׁבְעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה בְּצֵאת֖וֹ מֵחָרָֽן׃

  1. II.                Translation

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no children.31Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.

1The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

2“I will make you into a great nation

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

3I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever distain you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth will find blessing in you.”

  1. III.             Textual, Word, and Syntactical Analysis

*וְאֵ֙לֶּה : וְ can be translated “Now.” It indicates a close connection of the present with the preceding section.[1] That the Samaritan Pentateuch [2] has it readאלה instead of ואלה (which is attested by MT) is pointed out by Wenham.[3]

*תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת תֶּ֔רַח: “generations of Terah”—not of Abram, two reasons are noticed for this literary design: 1) the designation of Abram’s genealogy would have been occupied with the career of. Abram’s son; as a result, “generations of Terah” is an appropriate heading of Abra[ha]m’s story. 2) the mention of Terah will include Nahor’s connection, through Rebekah, with the promised seed.[4]

* בְּא֥וּר כַּשְׂדִּֽים: “Ur of the Chaldeans.” NET Notes (Gen 11:28) suggests that “the phrase of the Chaldeans is a later editorial clarification for the readers”, for “Chaldeans” is not a name known to the ancient world of Hebrew patriarchs. Historical evidence shows that the term comes into existence at around the time of the neo-Babylonian empire in the first millennium B.C.

*וַיִּקַּ֙ח : verb qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singular of לָקַח with waw consec, meaning  “and he took.” The singular verb is associated with multiple subjects. GKC explains that it is not  infrequent that the verb agrees in gender and number with the subject nearest to it, “thus the predicate is put in the singular masculine before several masculines singular in Gn 9:23, 11:29, 21:32, 24:50, 34:20, Ju 14:5.”[5]

*שָׂרָ֔י… מִלְכָּ֖ה…: “Sarai…Milcah.”  After saying that Abram and Nahor each took wives for themselves (לָהֶ֖ם נָשִׁ֑ים), the two clauses followed are appositional without Be-verb: “the name of Abram’s wife is Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife is Milcah.” The name Sarai means « princess.”  Milcah means “queen.” Their names are respectively associated with the Mesopotamian moon god Sin’s wife “Sharratu” and daughter “Malkatu.” NET Notes (Gen 11:29) suggested that these names may reflect more the religious culture of Abram’s birthplace than the faith of the two women themselves.

*v.30. “And Sarai was barren; there is no child to her.” V.30a and v.30b are semantic synonymous but 30b is an antithetic apposition clause in terms of syntax.

* וַיֵּצְא֙וּ: “they went out,” waw consec + Qal imperfect 3rd person masculine plural of יצא.” Samaritan Pentateuch has a textual variant ויוצא, (waw consec + Hiphil imperfect 3rd person masculine יצא , meaning “he brought out.” This is followed by LXX, Latin Vulgate, and the Masoretic Text. The following word אּתָּם  “[they went out] with them” also has to be pointed differently asאֹתָם  to mean “[he brought] them.” Wenham thinks this variant is the harder reading.[6]

* לָלֶ֙כֶת: qal infinitive construct of הלך , “to go.”

* אַ֣רְצָה כְּנַ֔עַן: “towards the land of Canaan.” ארץ + directional ending ה.

* חָמֵ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים וּמָאתַ֣יִם שָׁנָ֑ה: “Two hundred and five years”;  Samaritan Pentateuch has 145 for 205. More will be discussed in the next section.

*12:1. לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ “Go for yourself.” GKC calls this construction “ethical dative” (pleonastic dativus ethicus), which serves to “give emphasis to the significance of the occurrence in question for a particular subject.”[7]  Wenham further develops the notion in the construction here with a quote of T. Muraoka: “This particular usage of the preposition” … conveys “the impression … that the subject establishes his own identity, recovering or finding his own place by determinedly dissociating himself from his familiar surroundings. Notions of isolation, loneliness, parting, seclusion or withdrawal are often recognizable.” (T. Muraoka, Emphatic Words and Structures in Biblical Hebrew)[8]

* אַרְאֶֽךָּ׃: “I will show you”; Hiphil imperfect 1st person common singular of ראה with 2nd person masculine singular suffix.

*וְאֶֽעֶשְׂךָ : “I will make you”; qal cohortative  1st person common singular of עשׂה with 2nd person suffix

*וַאֲבָ֣רֶכְךָ֔: “I will bless you”; piel cohortative 1st person common singular of ברך with 2nd person masculine singular suffix

* וַאֲגַדְּלָ֖ה: “I will magnify”; piel cohortative 1st person common singular of גדל

*12:3  וַאֲבָֽרֲכָה: “and I will bless”; piel cohortative 1st person common singular of ברך. The four consecutive cohortatives following the imperative “go for thyself” in 12:1 express consequence (“so that I may”) or purpose (“then I will”) rather than simple correlation (“and I shall”).[9]

* מְבָ֣רְכֶ֔יךָ: “those who bless you”; piel participle masculine plural construct of ברך with 2nd person masculine singular suffix. Noticing that a Piel cohortative has as its object a Piel participle here, NET notes (Gen 12:3) perceives that an extension of God’s covenant blessing is significant through the intentional use of Piel stem.

* וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ֖: “the one who distains you”; piel participle masculine singular construct of קלל with 2nd person masculine singular suffix.  That the parallel and contrasting participle מְקַלֶּלְךָ is now singular and not plural is noteworthy. Certain Masoretic manuscripts and versions (LXX, Vulgate, and Samaritan Pentateuch,  have plural reading “מקלליך” (masc. pl. ptcp + suff, ie., “those who disdain you”). From the perspective of textual criticism, there would be no reason to alter the parallel in the agreement of number and change it to the singular.

*3.a-a. “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse.” The two clauses are place in chiastic structure, with the word order being “verb-object // object-verb.”

* אָאֹ֑ר: “I will curse”; Qal imperfect 1st person common singular of ארר. Notice that the second half changed the verbal mood from cohortative to a simple imperfect. This obligatory imperfect expresses God’s covenantal binding with Abram: “but the one who treats you with contempt I must curse” (NET Notes [Gen 12:3]).

* וְנִבְרְכ֣וּ: “they will be blessed”; Waw consec + niphal perfect 3rd person common plural of ברך. Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. This will be one of the exegetical issues that will be pursued in our following discussion.

*v.4a  וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ: “and he went”; Waw consec + qal imperfect 3rd person masculine singularof הלך.

* בֶּן־חָמֵ֤שׁ שָׁנִים֙ וְשִׁבְעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֔ה: literally “son of five and seventy years.”

* בְּצֵאת֖וֹ: “when he departed”; בְּ particle preposition +  qal infinitive construct of יצא with 3rd person masculine singular suffix.

  1. IV.             Comment on exegetical issues

#1: Is Terah’s lifespan 145 or 205?

We have pointed out that Samaritan Pentateuch has 145 instead of 205. Wenham conjectures the reason for this is that they assume that Abram did not leave Ur until Terah is dead (cf. Acts 7:4). Since Abram was born when Terah is 70 years old (Gen 11:26) and Abram was 75 years old when he left Ur (Gen 12:4), so 70 + 75 =145. According to The Masoretic Text, on the other hand, Abraham must be 135 when Terah died at the age of 205 if Terah was at least 130 at Abraham’s birth. Abraham gave birth to Issac when he was 100 and Sarah was 90. So when Sarah died at the age of 127, it must have only been two years after Terah’s death, for at this time Abraham is only 137 (23:1). This creates an obvious problem: if Abraham had remained in Haran until Terah is dead at the age of 205, then Isaac must also have been 35 and lived all his youth at Haran! And why did Abraham even regarded his own ability to beget a son at age 100 as somewhat incredible (Genesis 17:1, 17), if he himself was born when his father Terah was 130?

Through the comparison of Gen, 47:9, 28, 45:6,11, and 41:46, we can conclude that Jacob was 91 when Joseph was born, and some scholars suggest that Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest son was 13 or 14 years younger than Joseph, with no hint of any miracle involved in his birth.[10] So if we insist on the number of 205, then either Stephen’s testimony is wrong—that Abraham could have left Haran long before his father’s death, or indeed Terah was 130 (instead of 70) when he begot Abram. This latter solution depends on a reinterpretation of Gen 11:26. Namely, Gen 11.26 is a summary statement saying that Terah was 70 “when he started to give birth to his sons.” In addition to the unlikelihood that Abraham, Nahor, and Haran were all born in the SAME year, we can also suppose that the order of names (Abraham is placed in the first) in 11:26 is probably only related to significance, not chronology.[11]

Bruce Waltke raises three objections to this understanding: “(1) it accords badly with the rest of the genealogy from Shem to Terah, who have their firstborn in their early thirties; (2) there would be nothing exceptional in Abraham fathering Isaac at 100 years of age; (3) Stephen could not have known that Abraham left Haran after his father’s death, for Abraham could have left Haran before his father’s death (see Acts 7:2-4).”[12] F.F. Bruce align with him for the reading of 145 in his commentary of the Acts where he thinks that Stephen (or Luke) and Philo relied on a Greek version that is no longer extant which agreed with the Samaritan reading of Gen 11:32.[13]

This issue is further complicated by the reading of LXX. We have stronger reason to reject Samaritan Pentateuch if we have MT and LXX agreed with each other. But actually it is not the case. LXX reads: “And all the days of Tharrha in the land of Charrhan [ἐν Χαρραν] were two hundred and five years, and Tharrha died in Charrhan [ἐν Χαρραν].” (LXA) The insertion of the first “ἐν Χαρραν” is to make Terah’s total life span at least 275 (70+205) and even 335 (130+205)!

However, when critical textual evidence is lacking to support the reading of 145, we must still try to answer Waltke’s challenge: (1) even though from Shem to Terah most of them have their firstborn in their early thirties (Gen 11), Terah is still an exception when he gave birth to his firstborn at the age of 70. (2) The unusualness of Abraham’s begetting Isaac cannot be explained merely by age factor, since Jacob at comparable age is still paternally fertile (and Ismael was also born while Abraham was as old as 86), and it is implied throughout Gen 11 that from Shem to Terah, people lived hundreds of years in their life and bore many sons. The mere fact that men gave birth to their firstborn at about 30 does not entail that men at that time would be physically unable to bear children at about 90 or 100. The specificity of Abraham’s case must be appealed to his rather special physical condition. Namely, he may have always wanted to have a child since 25 or 30 (his forefathers had the firstborn at comparable ages) but failed to beget one for decades. (3) Luke may not be precise in recording Stephen’s words. Or more plausibly, we could say that Stephen had a revelation about the unspecified chronological link between Gen 11:32 and 12:1.

For these reasons, we may still go with 205 and believe that Abraham was born when Terah was 130 (the precedence of his name in Gen 11:26 is about his importance not about his birth order).

#2: Is Iscah Sarai?

Gen 20:12 supports Sarah being Abraham’s half-sister. We do not otherwise see a family lineage of Sarah.  There is speculation that Sarah could actually be Iscah, Haran’s daughter (Abraham’s brother, see Gen. 11:29), which would technically make Sarah Abraham’s niece, closer than what Abraham was claiming. In Gen 11:29, every other name mentioned is of biblical significance, so the name ‘Iscah’ may also refer to someone of some biblical relevance. It is a name that has been mentioned only once in the Bible. Ibn Ezra said, “[Iscah’s] name is related to the Aramaic NESACH – princes and Sarah means princess in Hebrew.” Another view draws on the root word sakkah, which means “to watch”, whence her name means ‘one who looks forth’. This provides the clue to identify Sarah with Iscah for she was so beautiful that all gazed (sakkah, « to look ») at her beauty which she has retained even in her old age (Gen. 40:4).

Considering the fact that Sarah is only ten years younger than Abraham, we must rule out the possibility that Abram, Nahor, and Haran are triplets. Otherwise, Haran had to beget Sarai/Iscah when he was ten.

Another suggestion, made by Ewald (History of Israel, vol. i., Tübingen, 1843) is that Iscah was Lot’s wife. [14] The conjecture is loosely based on Gen 19:26, where “she gazed [נָבַט] back. But this will make Lot and Iscah a brother and sister married to each other. Even though we could further speculate that they are actually half-brother and half-sister to each other, all these do not help us make better sense of the passage except for fulfilling our desire to force the scripture to say something for us.

Now we must evaluate if Gen 20:12 allows us to make the identification of Sarah to Iscah. Abraham said that “[Sarah] is in truth my sister, my father [Terah]’s daughter though not my mother’s; and she became my wife.” If Sarah is Iscah, he really should have said “my brother [Haran]’s daughter. Could it be that since Haran was dead, Iscah is considered Terah’s daughter? Indeed, in Hebrew, father (אָב) is the same word that can mean “grandfather” or “forefather”, and son can also mean descendent according to the context. If we make this exegetical move, the mention of Iscah’s name in Genesis 11:29 makes good sense: Abram and Nahor each married one daughter of their brother Haran, whose unfortunate death before their father Terah became the cause for Abram and Nahor to “take care” of his unmarried female offspring according to the ancient Sumerian custom.

This explanation is not without flaw. But if Sarah was indeed Abram and Nahor’s sister, then the fact that Gen 11:29 says nothing about her origin (while it mentions twice Milcah’s relationship to Haran and tells us an otherwise irrelevant figure “Iscah”) could hardly be justified.

#3 נִבְרְכ֣וּ בְךָ֔—“all the families of the earth will bless themselves by you” or “all the families of the earth will be blessed by you”?

Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. Traditionally, interpreters have understood the verb as passive (e.g., LXX, Tg. Onq., Vg., Sir 4:21, Gal 3:8; Rev 3:25, NIV, AV, NASB, NRSV). In this sense Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. Others (e.g., Rashi, Skinner[15], Westermann, RSV, NJB, NEB, REB, NJPS; NET) argued for reflexive meaning.[16] The meaning then changes to mean that Abram will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae (cf. Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11 for such use).

One of the deciding factors, presented by NET notes, is that the Niphal of « bless » is used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant only three times (Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14), and in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form. Grammatically, the basic sense of the Niphal is medio-passive, while the Hitpael stem of the verb  » בָּרַךְ » has been more consistently used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense thoroughout (Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2). Wenham thinks this suggests that the two stems are totally interchangeable within Genesis, since there is yet a better stem (pual) to express the passive sense (Ps 112:2; Num 22:6).[17]

Another clue is in 12:2c. Already it has been stated that Abram will be a blessing, which presupposes the passive sense.[18] The passive aspect “Abram is blessed” is expressed in 12:2a, and then 12b states that Abram’s name will be magnified, so that he “will exemplify divine blessing” (12:2c; NET). 12:3a immediately states that all individuals who bless Abram will themselves be blessed. Therefore, if 12:3c is understood in the reflexive sense—that men will use his name in blessing each other, the Abrahamic covenant passages will then display a “progressive buildup” ending a “triumphant and universal conclusion.” In Wenham’s diagram, it looks like this:

1) Abram alone is blessed → 2) Abrams name used as a blessing →
3) Abram’s blessers are blessed → 4) All families find blessing in Abram. [19]

Even though NET’s and Wenham’s considerations are not the same, both provided good reasons to treat the Niphal here as reflexive rather than passive. God has exalted Abram and made the blessing flow unto others in a way that both “blessing him” and “blessing each other in his name” will bring prosperity.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Gesenius, F. W. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Ed.) (2d English ed.) (468). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Joüon, P., & Muraoka, T. (2003; 2005). A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew; Jouon-Muraoka (2:381). Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

Mathews, K. A. (2007, c2005). Vol. 1B: Genesis 11:27-50:26 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (117). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers

The Pulpit Commentary: Genesis. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Waltke, Bruce K., and Cathi J. Fredricks. Genesis : A Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001.

Willis, John T. Genesis, The Living Word Commentary on the Old Testament. Austin, Tex.: Sweet Pub. Co., 1979.


[1]The Pulpit Commentary: Genesis. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (174). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2]Der Hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner, ed. A. F. von Gall. Giessen: Verlag von Alfred Topelmann, 1918.

[3]Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (265). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4]The Pulpit Commentary: Genesis. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (174). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[5]Gesenius, F. W. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Ed.) (2d English ed.) (468). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[6]Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (266). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[7]Gesenius, F. W. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Ed.) (2d English ed.) (381). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[8]Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[9]Joüon, P., & Muraoka, T. (2003; 2005). A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew; Jouon-Muraoka (2:381). Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico.

[10] John T. Willis, Genesis, The Living Word Commentary on the Old Testament (Austin, Tex.: Sweet Pub. Co., 1979)., 433. Cf. Also Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

[11] See for example, Gen 5:32 “And Noah was five hundred years old; and Noah begot Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” This does not mean that they are triplets. Cf.  Hamilton, V. P. (1990). The Book of Genesis. Chapters 1-17. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[12] Bruce K. Waltke and Cathi J. Fredricks, Genesis : A Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2001).

[13] Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[14]The Pulpit Commentary: Genesis. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (175). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Tg. Targum Onqelos, ed. B. Grossfeld

[15] J. Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis, ICC, 2d ed. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1910), 244–45.

[16]Mathews, K. A. (2007, c2005). Vol. 1B: Genesis 11:27-50:26 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (117). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[17]Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (277). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[18]Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (277). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[19]Ibid (278).