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empiricism101's response to Bowman's defense of Galatians 3:16

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  • Dave Wave
    Galatians 3:16 and the Promised Seed in Genesis Robert M. Bowman, Jr. Who is the promised seed in Genesis? Since the New Testament is often accused of
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 30, 2005
      Galatians 3:16 and the Promised Seed in Genesis
      Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
       
       
      Who is the promised "seed" in Genesis? Since the New Testament is often accused of distorting the teaching of Genesis on this subject, we will examine what Genesis has to say on this subject without reference to the New Testament.
       
      empiricism101:
      Do you know of any non-inerrantist bible commentaries that DON'T ascribe some sort of fault to Paul's interpretation in Galatians 3:16? 
       
      Bowman:
      Genesis 3:15-The Protoevangelium
      The first reference to the promised "seed" comes in the curse pronounced on the serpent in Eden:
       
      "‘And I will put enmity
      Between you and the woman,
      And between your seed and her seed;
      He shall bruise you on the head,
      And you shall bruise him on the heel.’" (Gen. 3:15)
       
      Here the Lord pronounces a curse on the serpent that at the same time is a promise of blessing to the woman: although the serpent would hurt her "seed" (as the picture of a bruise on the heel indicates), her "seed" would oppose the serpent’s "seed" and kill the serpent (the bruise on the head being a picture of a mortal wound).
       
      empiricism101:
      If the bruising the serpent's head is a picture of a mortal wound (in contrastto the comparitively less severe "bruise his heel"), why can't this mean that Eve's seed, Abel, a "he", would kill or otherwise totally defeat the purpose of the once immortal serpent?  This literal interpretation seems to be sustained from the fact that there IS enmity between poeple and snakes, as fear of snakes is sufficiently universal, with the exceptions on animal planet proving the rule all the more.
       
      If you wish a symbolic interpretation, then Eve's seed, Abel (the singular "he" which you immediately assumed was Jesus) offering a more excellent sacrifice of blood than Cain did with his fruit, thus defeated the design of the devil, a devastating blow to the devil's purpose, whom the New Testament says goeth about to steal kill and destroy.  The devil could also bite back and afflict Abel (with temptation, which is how some Christian commentaries interpret the serpent's remaining ability to bruise his heel), but Abel's blow against the serpent (the sacrifice that god accepted) would forever hurt the serpent's ultimate purpose to bring him down.  This is also sustained by the fact that it was blood that god accepted.  Blood sacrifice, throughout the rest of the bible, is what places people away from the wiles of the serpent and back into a right relationship with god, whereas Cain's offering of fruit did NOT displace him any distance from Satan/ get him right with God whatsoever.
       
      Either way, the Genesis story in which this seed-promise appears, has enough details to make the non-Christian interpretation not only possible but likely,. even as one of them takes care of the singular "he" designation of the seed.  The only thing that remains on this point is for us to debate whether the Christian intepretation or a non-Christian interpretation is better.
       
      What we have here then is your use of a hotly disputed text (Genesis 3:15) to help provide answers for another hotly disputed text (Galatians 3:16).
       
      I have already answered your other points, but believe it would be best to limit each of my responses to a couple points each and first achieve agreement that we should move on to the next point before doing so.


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    • empiricism101
      Oh my word....I used rich-text formatting in my first response, but I certainly didn t format it all thrown together and jumbled as that. So here is that post
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 30, 2005
        Oh my word....I used rich-text formatting in my first response, but I
        certainly didn't format it all thrown together and jumbled as that.
        So here is that post again, but without any formatting.


        Galatians 3:16 and the Promised Seed in Genesis
        Robert M. Bowman, Jr.


        Who is the promised "seed" in Genesis? Since the New Testament is
        often accused of distorting the teaching of Genesis on this subject,
        we will examine what Genesis has to say on this subject without
        reference to the New Testament.

        empiricism101:
        Do you know of any non-inerrantist bible commentaries that DON'T
        ascribe some sort of fault to Paul's interpretation in Galatians
        3:16?

        Bowman:
        Genesis 3:15-The Protoevangelium
        The first reference to the promised "seed" comes in the curse
        pronounced on the serpent in Eden:

        "`And I will put enmity
        Between you and the woman,
        And between your seed and her seed;
        He shall bruise you on the head,
        And you shall bruise him on the heel.'" (Gen. 3:15)

        Here the Lord pronounces a curse on the serpent that at the same time
        is a promise of blessing to the woman: although the serpent would
        hurt her "seed" (as the picture of a bruise on the heel indicates),
        her "seed" would oppose the serpent's "seed" and kill the serpent
        (the bruise on the head being a picture of a mortal wound).

        empiricism101:
        If the bruising the serpent's head is a picture of a mortal wound (in
        contrastto the comparitively less severe "bruise his heel"), why
        can't this mean that Eve's seed, Abel, a "he", would kill or
        otherwise totally defeat the purpose of the once immortal serpent?
        This literal interpretation seems to be sustained from the fact that
        there IS enmity between poeple and snakes, as fear of snakes is
        sufficiently universal, with the exceptions on animal planet proving
        the rule all the more.

        If you wish a symbolic interpretation, then Eve's seed, Abel (the
        singular "he" which you immediately assumed was Jesus) offering a
        more excellent sacrifice of blood than Cain did with his fruit, thus
        defeated the design of the devil, a devastating blow to the devil's
        purpose, whom the New Testament says goeth about to steal kill and
        destroy. The devil could also bite back and afflict Abel (with
        temptation, which is how some Christian commentaries interpret the
        serpent's remaining ability to bruise his heel), but Abel's blow
        against the serpent (the sacrifice that god accepted) would forever
        hurt the serpent's ultimate purpose to bring him down. This is also
        sustained by the fact that it was blood that god accepted. Blood
        sacrifice, throughout the rest of the bible, is what places people
        away from the wiles of the serpent and back into a right relationship
        with god, whereas Cain's offering of fruit did NOT displace him any
        distance from Satan/ get him right with God whatsoever.

        Either way, the Genesis story in which this seed-promise appears, has
        enough details to make the non-Christian interpretation not only
        possible but likely,. even as one of them takes care of the
        singular "he" designation of the seed. The only thing that remains
        on this point is for us to debate whether the Christian intepretation
        or a non-Christian interpretation is better.

        What we have here then is your use of a hotly disputed text (Genesis
        3:15) to help provide answers for another hotly disputed text
        (Galatians 3:16).

        I have already answered your other points, but believe it would be
        best to limit each of my responses to a couple points each and first
        achieve agreement that we should move on to the next point before
        doing so.


        ----------------------------------------------------------------------
        ----------
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      • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
        Dave, You wrote:
        Message 3 of 4 , Dec 1, 2005
          Dave,

          You wrote:

          << Do you know of any non-inerrantist bible commentaries that DON'T
          ascribe some sort of fault to Paul's interpretation in Galatians 3:16?
          >>

          I don't have easy access to a large theological library, nor do I have
          time to check. Does it really matter? Isn't this a sideways _ad
          hominem_ argument?

          I'll reply to your other questions as I have time.

          In Christ's service,
          Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
          Center for Biblical Apologetics
        • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
          Dave, You wrote:
          Message 4 of 4 , Dec 1, 2005
            Dave,

            You wrote:

            << If the bruising the serpent's head is a picture of a mortal wound
            (in contrast to the comparitively less severe "bruise his heel"),
            why can't this mean that Eve's seed, Abel, a "he", would kill or
            otherwise totally defeat the purpose of the once immortal serpent?
            This literal interpretation seems to be sustained from the fact that
            there IS enmity between poeple and snakes, as fear of snakes is
            sufficiently universal, with the exceptions on animal planet proving
            the rule all the more. >>

            There is no report in Genesis of Abel being bruised by a snake, of
            Abel crushing a snake, or of any encounter between Abel and a snake.
            In short, there is nothing in Genesis to support such an
            interpretation, despite the fact that Genesis includes a narrative
            explicitly about Abel and immediately after the narrative of the
            Fall and its associated curses. That's a very good reason to set
            aside such an interpretation as groundless and without merit.

            You wrote:

            << If you wish a symbolic interpretation, then Eve's seed, Abel (the
            singular "he" which you immediately assumed was Jesus) offering a
            more excellent sacrifice of blood than Cain did with his fruit, thus
            defeated the design of the devil, a devastating blow to the devil's
            purpose, whom the New Testament says goeth about to steal kill and
            destroy. The devil could also bite back and afflict Abel (with
            temptation, which is how some Christian commentaries interpret the
            serpent's remaining ability to bruise his heel), but Abel's blow
            against the serpent (the sacrifice that god accepted) would forever
            hurt the serpent's ultimate purpose to bring him down. This is also
            sustained by the fact that it was blood that god accepted. Blood
            sacrifice, throughout the rest of the bible, is what places people
            away from the wiles of the serpent and back into a right
            relationship with god, whereas Cain's offering of fruit did NOT
            displace him any distance from Satan/ get him right with God
            whatsoever. >>

            And you think the Christian interpretation of Genesis 3:15 is a
            stretch?! My guess is that ANY interpretation of the text would be
            preferable to you over the Christian interpretation.

            The crushing of the serpent's head is clearly describing a fatal
            blow. Abel's blood sacrifice did not deal a fatal blow to the
            devil. "Would forever hurt the serpent's ultimate purpose to bring
            him down" simply doesn't amount to a fatal blow to the head.

            The fact that Abel is not mentioned as having been subjected to any
            temptation counts against your fanciful explanation. The fact that
            Abel's sacrifice didn't deal a fatal blow to the devil, while the
            one thing we know about Abel is that he suffered a fatal blow from
            his devilish brother Cain, really ought to make one wonder if there
            could be any way to make your alternate explanation seem at all
            plausible.

            Furthermore, we have good reason in the continuing narrative of
            Genesis to understand that the 'seed'--the one that would strike the
            decisive blow against the 'serpent' and bring an end to the curses
            brought about by the Fall--was someone after Abel. I mentioned one
            piece of evidence in my paper:

            That this understanding is correct may be confirmed by the words
            spoken at the birth of the major figure in Genesis between Adam and
            Abraham, namely, Noah. When his father named him Noah, he
            explained, "This one will comfort us in our work and in the toil of
            our hands from the ground that the LORD has cursed" (Gen. 5:29).
            (The name "Noah," Noach, is here explained using the word
            _nacham_, "comfort.") Lamech's statement testifies to the hope that
            an individual will arise who will give humanity relief from the
            curses imposed in Genesis 3. (Noah turns out not to be the one who
            will do these things, but he may be seen as prefiguring him.)

            In other words, the narrative of Genesis itself confirms that long
            after Abel's death, the figure through whom the curses of the Fall
            on mankind would be removed had not yet arrived. Even Noah
            represented an anticipatory figure in this regard.

            Then, the frequent use of the term 'seed' to refer to the source of
            eventual blessing to all the families of the earth is thematically
            related to the promise of a 'seed' who would bring an end to the
            tempter, the one that had brought the curses on mankind:

            Curses----->undone through a coming seed (Gen. 3:15)
            Blessings-->given through a coming seed (Gen. 22:18)

            I conclude that the argument for the Christian understanding of
            Genesis 3:15 is a lot stronger than you (or many others) have
            recognized.

            In Christ's service,
            Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
            Center for Biblical Apologetics
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