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Re: Genesis 3 is a fable, my textual expectations more justified

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  • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
    Dave, A lot of my argument got snipped from your reply, and your answers did not advance the discussion very far in my opinion. To my observation that one
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 6, 2005
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      Dave,

      A lot of my argument got snipped from your reply, and your answers
      did not advance the discussion very far in my opinion.

      To my observation that one reason why Genesis 3 doesn't mention Eve
      being surprised (or not surprised) is that it didn't advance the
      narrative according to its author's purpose. You replied:

      << False heremeneutic that stems from your faulty belief that
      Genesis is not fable but history. >>

      This isn't a relevant response. Even if Genesis 3 is fable, it has
      certain purposes, and describing Eve's emotional reaction to hearing
      a serpent talk evidently wasn't one of them.

      You wrote:

      << We also don't need to be told 6 times that god thought something
      was good, to advance the narrative in Genesis 1, when later in verse
      31, it is all wrapped up with the same statement that god thought it
      was all good (pun intended) >>

      You are still not understanding my point. Repetition has its
      purposes in narratives. That includes historical narratives as well
      as fictional narratives. My claim was not that the text contains
      nothing that advances the narrative according to a strictly get-the-
      story-out criterion. My claim was that you can't draw inferences
      from omissions of elements that weren't needed to advance the
      narrative as it actually exists.

      You wrote:

      << My belief that Genesis is a fable causes me to expect omissions
      and additions to the story for different reasons that you, who
      accept it as historically accurate. Perhaps we should now debate
      what genre Genesis is closest to, so we can later agree on whose
      textual expectations are more justified? >>

      I'd rather we got back on track to the issue we started discussing.
      Let's stipulate that we disagree about the genre of Genesis 3 and
      move on. Genesis 3, whatever genre it is, happens to be part of a
      larger literary work called Genesis. We are supposed to be
      discussing the significance of the term 'seed' in Genesis as it
      relates to Paul's citation of Genesis in Galatians 3. We don't have
      to agree on the historical character of Genesis 3 to agree that the
      use of 'seed' in Genesis 3 to refer to an agent of blessing to
      humanity should be associated with its use later in the same book to
      refer to a descendant of Abraham as an agent of blessing to
      humanity. However, I will offer some brief responses.

      You wrote:

      << I am willing to sustain my argument that Eve expresses no
      suprise, not because it doesn't advance the narrative (for in that
      case neither does repeating "god saw it was good" 6 times), but
      because characters in ancient FABLES often didn't express suprise at
      unnatural things that we never see happen in the real world. Is
      Genesis 3 a fable? What is the first and primary earmark that an
      ancient story is a fable? Would it be talking animals? >>

      You then quoted a definition of "fable" from dictionary.com, "A
      usually short narrative making an edifying or cautionary point and
      often employing as characters animals that speak and act like
      humans."

      So, that's it? Fables often employ talking animals as characters,
      therefore Genesis 3, which happens to have a talking animal, MUST be
      a fable?

      To my statement that Aesop's Fables do not claim to be historical
      narratives, you replied:

      << Neither does Genesis 3. >>

      You apparently were agreeing with me that fables don't claim to be
      historical. However, later in the same post, you claimed that the
      fable of the octopus and the shark was understood by the people of
      Fiji as an historical narrative. I had written:

      "The community that received them understood from the start that
      they were fictional narratives designed to amuse and educate in
      moral principles, not historical narratives about real animals that
      could talk. The Genesis narrative, on the other hand, is set in real
      places and real times."

      You replied:

      << So is the Fiji Shark God Story. >>

      You seem to want to have it both ways. So, do fables purport to be
      historical, and are they read that way by their communities? Yes or
      No?

      I wrote:

      "The biblical narrative offers a consecutive account of the
      prehistory of the Jewish people from creation through the patriarchs
      and into the accounts of Moses, Joshua, and the kings of Israel. The
      community that received this narrative understood from the start
      that it was a historical narrative of the origins of the people of
      Israel, not stories belonging to the genres of myth or fable."

      You replied:

      << The earliest commentary on Genesis is from Qumran, about 300 B.C.
      That still leaves more than 1000 years between the earliest extant
      commentary and the time of Moses, who you allege wrote Genesis
      (Archer dates the Exodus at 1445 B.C."Survey of OT Introduction,
      1994, page 239) >>

      It's true that we don't have commentaries on Genesis dating from,
      say, a hundred years after Moses. That might be nice. However, we do
      have references throughout the Old Testament writings to the
      patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, et. al., that treat them as historical
      figures in Israel's prehistory and history. It would be _ad hoc_ to
      think that the ancient Israelites regarded Genesis 1-11, say, as
      fable, but Genesis 12 through 2 Kings as historical narrative. The
      burden of proof would be on you to show that such was their
      understanding.

      You wrote:

      << The shark-god story seems to fulfill your own biblical "criteria"
      for historicity, since Genesis 3 and it both refer to real places
      and have talking animals, and have modern-day believers in the story
      that still look for literal proof of it. >>

      Actually, the shark-god story's function in Fiji culture is a very
      different sort of story than what we have in Genesis 3. The shark-
      god story has no humans in it at all. It is a story understood even
      today to explain why the locals need have no fear of sharks. There
      is no serious effort made in the legend to connect the shark-god
      story to historical events, despite the nebulous and fabulous claim
      that certain chiefs are the shark-god's descendants. From what I
      have been able to ascertain, native Fiji religion is not grounded in
      history the way both Judaism and Christianity are.

      I wrote:

      "If talking animals were commonplace in the biblical narratives, the
      fact that only one animal is mentioned as talking in Genesis 1-3
      would not by itself prove anything. It is the broader context of how
      biblical narratives characteristically depict animals that is
      telling here."

      You replied:

      << Only if you assume the rest of the bible that you bring into
      the "broader context" is of the same genre as Genesis 3. Surely you
      don't use a book of one genre to help interpret another book of a
      different genre? >>

      Previously you argued that the narrative in Numbers is a fable (or
      at least contains one). Are you now telling me that you agree that
      some of the Old Testament narrative books from Genesis to 2 Kings
      (and 1-2 Chronicles) *are* historical narratives? If so, which ones?

      In Christ's service,
      Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
      Center for Biblical Apologetics
    • Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
      Dave, While you re pondering my last reply to you on the argument of silence issue, I ll continue my replies. I had asked: Well, which is it? Did God create
      Message 2 of 20 , Dec 9, 2005
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        Dave,

        While you're pondering my last reply to you on the argument of
        silence issue, I'll continue my replies. I had asked:

        "Well, which is it? Did God create good, nice snakes that used their
        free will (like humans) to choose to become bad, sneaky snakes, or
        did he create snakes with sneakiness and deviousness as basic to
        their nature?"

        You replied:

        *****BEGIN QUOTE*****

        I hate to inject an "explanation" as to why a talking snake does
        what it does in ancient religious literature, since I don't believe
        it says anything truthful about why snakes are the way they are. My
        response is that perhaps the snake was created good, but choose to
        do evil for some reason, which question was never intended to be
        addressed or answered by the author of Genesis.

        However....your asking for me to specify which one is a false
        distinction. The answer, assuming the earlier text in Genesis
        is "true", is that snakes were originally "good" creations, who, by
        evidence of Genesis 3, are clearly not anything that god would
        call "good" anymore. And since the snake's curse to go upon thy
        belly happens AFTER it has already chosen the evil of tempting Eve,
        the conclusion, consistent with the rest of the info in earlier
        Genesis, is that the snake must have decided to do evil out of
        it's "good" state it was created in, no less an irrational conclusion
        than Adam and Eve, GOOD creations according to Genesis 1:31, choosing
        out of their "GOOD" souls to disobey God.

        In short, info in Genesis is insufficient to give a non-Satan reason
        why the snake was devious, and this short-shrifted answer comes from
        my respect of the law of ancient writings, namely, that they were
        never intended to be atomized in order to squeeze out detailed
        answers to people who would debate them later. They were written by
        and for a largely pre-literate society to give them a sense of
        background and for moral teaching.

        *****END QUOTE*****

        The whole flow and contour of the Genesis narrative works against
        your interpretation. Reptiles, among which literal snakes are
        counted, are described as having been created originally good. They
        are treated literally as the kinds of animals with which people have
        been acquainted throughout human history. They are described simply
        as animals that God made, in the context of a narrative that (as
        exegetes commonly agree) expressed an implicit polemic against the
        prevailing religious practice in ancient cosmogonies to attribute
        both good and evil divine powers or positions to a wide range of
        animals, forces of nature, astronomical bodies, and the like. The
        heavenly bodies provide useful markers for days and seasons, not
        portents or preternatural sources of information (as in astrology).
        The sea monsters are just big aquatic animals that God made. Nature
        is the ordered system of God's rational activity, not a magic show.

        The animals are brought to the man in order for him to determine if
        any of them are suitable life companions. They are not, for the very
        sorts of reasons that are familiar to us now and would be familiar
        to the original readers of the narrative. In the process of naming
        the animals, the man understands that all of them are essentially
        inferior to him. They are not qualified to be a matching helper for
        him. The man and the woman are described as in God's image, meaning
        that they stand apart from the rest of the biological creatures on
        the earth as their superiors (under God's rule). The male and female
        humans are told that they are to rule over all of those biological
        creatures on the earth. This rule is described not as a conquest but
        as benevolent stewardship: the entire range of creatures and the
        totality of the situation at this stage is "very good." The capacity
        for intentional choice to do good or to do evil is presented as a
        potentiality for only the humans, since they alone are warned not to
        eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

        Thus, when we (Christians) infer from Genesis that Adam and Eve had
        a specific potentiality for making morally accountable choices, we
        have explicit statements about the nature of those first humans and
        of the factors that played a role in their act of eating the
        forbidden fruit. On the other hand, everything that is said in the
        narrative about the rest of the animal kingdom tends to put snakes
        or serpents on the other side of the line. Moreover, as explained
        above, the narrative depicts nature as an orderly system and its
        inhabitants as acting in regular, normal ways, not as a wildly
        unpredictable stage for magical animals. That is why the attentive
        reader has good reasons to see in the narrative the implication that
        the serpent was not acting on its own.

        In Christ's service,
        Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
        Center for Biblical Apologetics
      • empiricism101
        ... their ... conclusion ... choosing ... Really? where does Genesis say that? or, are you inferring something indirectly from other data? Aren t you trying
        Message 3 of 20 , Dec 10, 2005
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          --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "Robert M. Bowman, Jr."
          <faithhasitsreasons@y...> wrote:
          >
          > Dave,
          >
          > While you're pondering my last reply to you on the argument of
          > silence issue, I'll continue my replies. I had asked:
          >
          > "Well, which is it? Did God create good, nice snakes that used
          their
          > free will (like humans) to choose to become bad, sneaky snakes, or
          > did he create snakes with sneakiness and deviousness as basic to
          > their nature?"
          >
          > You replied:
          >
          > *****BEGIN QUOTE*****
          >
          > I hate to inject an "explanation" as to why a talking snake does
          > what it does in ancient religious literature, since I don't believe
          > it says anything truthful about why snakes are the way they are. My
          > response is that perhaps the snake was created good, but choose to
          > do evil for some reason, which question was never intended to be
          > addressed or answered by the author of Genesis.
          >
          > However....your asking for me to specify which one is a false
          > distinction. The answer, assuming the earlier text in Genesis
          > is "true", is that snakes were originally "good" creations, who, by
          > evidence of Genesis 3, are clearly not anything that god would
          > call "good" anymore. And since the snake's curse to go upon thy
          > belly happens AFTER it has already chosen the evil of tempting Eve,
          > the conclusion, consistent with the rest of the info in earlier
          > Genesis, is that the snake must have decided to do evil out of
          > it's "good" state it was created in, no less an irrational
          conclusion
          > than Adam and Eve, GOOD creations according to Genesis 1:31,
          choosing
          > out of their "GOOD" souls to disobey God.
          >
          > In short, info in Genesis is insufficient to give a non-Satan reason
          > why the snake was devious, and this short-shrifted answer comes from
          > my respect of the law of ancient writings, namely, that they were
          > never intended to be atomized in order to squeeze out detailed
          > answers to people who would debate them later. They were written by
          > and for a largely pre-literate society to give them a sense of
          > background and for moral teaching.
          >
          > *****END QUOTE*****
          >
          > The whole flow and contour of the Genesis narrative works against
          > your interpretation. Reptiles, among which literal snakes are
          > counted, are described as having been created originally good.

          Really? where does Genesis say that? or, are you inferring
          something indirectly from other data? Aren't you trying to extract
          too much information on specifically the serpent's beginnings, when
          in fact Genesis 3 nowhere expresses interest in telling the reader
          that info?

          >They
          > are treated literally as the kinds of animals with which people
          have
          > been acquainted throughout human history.

          Such as Eve talking with the snake back and forth as if it was Adam.

          > They are described simply
          > as animals that God made, in the context of a narrative that (as
          > exegetes commonly agree) expressed an implicit polemic against the
          > prevailing religious practice in ancient cosmogonies to attribute
          > both good and evil divine powers or positions to a wide range of
          > animals, forces of nature, astronomical bodies, and the like. The
          > heavenly bodies provide useful markers for days and seasons, not
          > portents or preternatural sources of information (as in astrology).

          > The sea monsters are just big aquatic animals that God made. Nature
          > is the ordered system of God's rational activity, not a magic show.
          >
          > The animals are brought to the man in order for him to determine if
          > any of them are suitable life companions. They are not, for the
          very
          > sorts of reasons that are familiar to us now and would be familiar
          > to the original readers of the narrative. In the process of naming
          > the animals, the man understands that all of them are essentially
          > inferior to him. They are not qualified to be a matching helper for
          > him.

          > The man and the woman are described as in God's image, meaning
          > that they stand apart from the rest of the biological creatures on
          > the earth as their superiors (under God's rule).

          God's image = god has a physical body. The mormons were right on
          that one, and I'll defend that thesis if you wish.

          > The male and female
          > humans are told that they are to rule over all of those biological
          > creatures on the earth. This rule is described not as a conquest
          but
          > as benevolent stewardship: the entire range of creatures and the
          > totality of the situation at this stage is "very good." The
          capacity
          > for intentional choice to do good or to do evil is presented as a
          > potentiality for only the humans, since they alone are warned not
          to
          > eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
          >
          > Thus, when we (Christians) infer from Genesis that Adam and Eve had
          > a specific potentiality for making morally accountable choices, we
          > have explicit statements about the nature of those first humans and
          > of the factors that played a role in their act of eating the
          > forbidden fruit.

          Most Christian commentators consider the first act of sin to be the
          hardest philosophical nut to crack, because of god's statement that
          they were "good".

          >On the other hand, everything that is said in the
          > narrative about the rest of the animal kingdom tends to put snakes
          > or serpents on the other side of the line.

          Not much is said about the non-human life forms except that god
          created them after their kind, and Adam named them. Quite a slim
          basis for comparison, but that's just me.

          > Moreover, as explained
          > above, the narrative depicts nature as an orderly system and its
          > inhabitants as acting in regular, normal ways, not as a wildly
          > unpredictable stage for magical animals.

          We have a major disagreement here, because talking snakes say "wild
          magic show" to my sensibilities. The mere fact that the entire
          corpus of Edenic animals is not portrayed as dancing on a wire and
          singing "your love has lifted me higher" doesn't play down the
          absurdity of a single animal conversing intelligently with humans.

          >That is why the attentive
          >reader has good reasons to see in the narrative the implication that
          > the serpent was not acting on its own.

          Of course not...once it is noted that Geneis 3 is fable, we need not
          wonder how or why the snake was able to talk with humans.

          But when I set forth my argument to prove that it was intended as
          nothing more than a snake (i.e., because Genesis belongs to the fable
          genre, and in fables, talking animals need no explanation) you
          requested that we stop that discussion and "get back on track".

          Well then, my proof that the snake appears to be acting on it's own
          is because Genesis 3 contains the major archetype for an ancient
          fable: talking with animals. I guess you will have to reconsider
          what you wish to do with my request that we first debate what genre
          Genesis 3 belongs to, before we know what to make of it's contents.
          The cold hard truth is that Genesis DOESN'T GIVE A REASON for why the
          snake talks, and I maintain it is for the same reason that hardly any
          ancient fable attempts to explain to the reader why their characters
          act unnaturally.

          IOW, we have different reasons for why Genesis has a talking snake.
          You say it was aided by some other presence. I say it was for the
          same reason that any talking animal converses with humans in any
          other ancient religious text from the Fertile Crescent;
          entertainment, background, moral lesson.

          So what should we do now?
        • annika4se
          Hi,
          Message 4 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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            Hi,

            <I don't believe that Eve's seed in Genesis 3:15 was a
            <blessing to humanity.

            A: I believe the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who bruised
            Satan on the heel.

            <And now to answer more directly, since I am a
            uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past),
            the lack of talking snakes in my present, highly
            motivates me to call Genesis a fable just as much as I
            call any other ancient story with a talking animal, a
            fable.

            A: The serpent might have been possessed by Satan, thus having
            a "demon" inside it.
            I read in one of the Lost books that Satan was outside of Eden, but
            entered the serpent which climbed on the stone wall around the
            garden. In that way Satan could enter the perfect garden. Satan
            could also have appeared as the beautiful angel he really was, by
            the use of the serpent's body, and Eve wouldn't be surprised either
            or. These are just my speculations though.
            Serpents don't talk and human beings don't die and come back to life
            after 3 days. Is the story about Jesus Christ a fable too? :)
            If the first pages of Genesis contain fables, then Jesus, Peter,
            Paul etc, were wrong to believe that they were not, but our real
            history. Moreover, if sin has reigned from Adam onwards, then Adam
            must have been a real person. At least if Jesus is a real person.

            Most Christian commentators consider the first act of sin to be the
            hardest philosophical nut to crack, because of god's statement that
            they were "good".

            A: It's sad if "most christians" have problems with that. If God
            created us with free will, then we cant be forced to love and obey.
            If we can choose to love/obey, then there must also be another
            option to hate/disobey, or else it wouldn't even be an option but an
            obligation. Adam and Eve were responsible for their own actions and
            choices, and they knew about the only rule they had to follow, as
            well as the consequences for breaking it. So God's creation was very
            good, but both angels and human beings were created with free will.
            A creation according to God's intentions. This means that Adam and
            Eve could make choices contrary to God's will. God knew it would
            happen of course, and that's why he had made plans for Jesus from
            the very beginning, even before his creation. Human beings can't
            live without God, so it's a natural law to worship Him, and God only
            wants what is best for us. It was still a "Very Good" creation, even
            if human beings and angels had the choice of obeying or rebelling.
            After they rebelled, the creation was cursed and fallen, and it
            still is. There was no death before Adam sinned.


            Any comments on my previous message?

            /Ann
          • Steven King
            New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol. If a donkey can truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be a fable in the OT?
            Message 5 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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              New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol.  If a donkey can truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be a fable in the OT?
               
              Steven King

               
              On 12/12/05, annika4se <biggles.flyger@...> wrote:
              Hi,

              <I don't believe that Eve's seed in Genesis 3:15 was a
              <blessing to humanity.

              A: I believe the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who bruised
              Satan on the heel.

              <And now to answer more directly, since I am a
              uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past),
              the lack of talking snakes in my present, highly
              motivates me to call Genesis a fable just as much as I
              call any other ancient story with a talking animal, a
              fable.

              A: The serpent might have been possessed by Satan, thus having
              a "demon" inside it.
              I read in one of the Lost books that Satan was outside of Eden, but
              entered the serpent which climbed on the stone wall around the
              garden. In that way Satan could enter the perfect garden. Satan
              could also have appeared as the beautiful angel he really was, by
              the use of the serpent's body, and Eve wouldn't be surprised either
              or. These are just my speculations though.
              Serpents don't talk and human beings don't die and come back to life
              after 3 days. Is the story about Jesus Christ a fable too? :)
              If the first pages of Genesis contain fables, then Jesus, Peter,
              Paul etc, were wrong to believe that they were not, but our real
              history. Moreover, if sin has reigned from Adam onwards, then Adam
              must have been a real person. At least if Jesus is a real person.

              Most Christian commentators consider the first act of sin to be the
              hardest philosophical nut to crack, because of god's statement that
              they were "good".

              A: It's sad if "most christians" have problems with that. If God
              created us with free will, then we cant be forced to love and obey.
              If we can choose to love/obey, then there must also be another
              option to hate/disobey, or else it wouldn't even be an option but an
              obligation. Adam and Eve were responsible for their own actions and
              choices, and they knew about the only rule they had to follow, as
              well as the consequences for breaking it. So God's creation was very
              good, but both angels and human beings were created with free will.
              A creation according to God's intentions. This means that Adam and
              Eve could make choices contrary to God's will. God knew it would
              happen of course, and that's why he had made plans for Jesus from
              the very beginning, even before his creation. Human beings can't
              live without God, so it's a natural law to worship Him, and God only
              wants what is best for us. It was still a "Very Good" creation, even
              if human beings and angels had the choice of obeying or rebelling.
              After they rebelled, the creation was cursed and fallen, and it
              still is. There was no death before Adam sinned.


              Any comments on my previous message?

              /Ann












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            • empiricism101
              ... That s not debating, that s chatting. i m not here to chat. ... Please follow the discussion between Bowman and myself more closely if you still wish to
              Message 6 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "annika4se"
                <biggles.flyger@p...> wrote:
                >
                > Hi,
                >
                > <I don't believe that Eve's seed in Genesis 3:15 was a
                > <blessing to humanity.
                >
                > A: I believe the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who bruised
                > Satan on the heel.

                That's not debating, that's chatting. i'm not here to chat.

                > <And now to answer more directly, since I am a
                > uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past),
                > the lack of talking snakes in my present, highly
                > motivates me to call Genesis a fable just as much as I
                > call any other ancient story with a talking animal, a
                > fable.
                >
                > A: The serpent might have been possessed by Satan, thus having
                > a "demon" inside it.

                Please follow the discussion between Bowman and myself more closely
                if you still wish to comment, as he already takes that position and
                has done almost everything possible to sustain it in a scholarly
                evidential way.

                > I read in one of the Lost books that Satan was outside of Eden, but
                > entered the serpent which climbed on the stone wall around the
                > garden. In that way Satan could enter the perfect garden.

                Bowman will tell you those books were lost because god didn't think
                they were authoritative in matters of faith and doctrine.

                > Satan
                > could also have appeared as the beautiful angel he really was, by
                > the use of the serpent's body, and Eve wouldn't be surprised either
                > or. These are just my speculations though.

                How much do you think you will accomplish, by resting so heavily on
                your Christian assumptions about the supernatural, when dialoging
                with an atheist? Am I supposed to say "gee, I never thought about
                Satan's ability to disguise himself"?

                > Serpents don't talk and human beings don't die and come back to
                life
                > after 3 days. Is the story about Jesus Christ a fable too? :)

                Yes.

                > If the first pages of Genesis contain fables, then Jesus, Peter,
                > Paul etc, were wrong to believe that they were not, but our real
                > history.

                Where is your evidence that their use of that OT material in the NT
                implies they believed the OT stuff to be literal history? If I tell
                a child from Fiji that they should remember what happened to the
                Shark-God, the next time they feel like boasting they are better than
                anybody else, does that suddenly mean I think the story of the Shark-
                god is thus literal history?

                >Moreover, if sin has reigned from Adam onwards, then Adam
                > must have been a real person. At least if Jesus is a real person.

                Paul's refusal to quote Jesus to settle theological disputes he had
                with his own Christ-followers, suggests strongly that he thought the
                OT was more authoritative in the eyes of his audience than were the
                very often relevant words of their own Saviour. This in turn argues
                that Paul thought very little of Jesus' historical significance as a
                real person teaching real doctrine, and was thus more interested in
                the post-resurrection Jesus, who is a cosmic conqueror who doesn't
                offer beans about settling theological disputes.

                Jesus said hundreds of things that constitute god's "later light" on
                almost all of the theological disputes Paul had with his originally
                intended Christian readers, yet he never quotes Jesus to settle any
                such dispute, but always the OT!? Isn't that like your pastor never
                quoting Jesus from the gospels, but always the OT?

                How could Paul neglect the words of the historical Jesus so fully, if
                in fact he believed Jesus really said all which the gospels attribute
                to him, which happens to be the kind of theological stuff that would
                have been the final word in the theological disputes of Paul's day?

                I think Paul's views are slightly different than yours.

                > Most Christian commentators consider the first act of sin to be the
                > hardest philosophical nut to crack, because of god's statement that
                > they were "good".
                >
                > A: It's sad if "most christians" have problems with that. If God
                > created us with free will, then we cant be forced to love and obey.

                While freewill is neither good nor bad, but neutral by the very
                nature of the case, Genesis 1:31 calls Adam and Eve "good", and since
                their will is what makes them human, it is precisely their WILL which
                god calls good, and thus cannot be that non-good non-evil thing
                called freewill. Freewill DOES hesitate for the slightest second
                when presented with a choice, whether to do good or evil. If it
                DIDN'T so hesitate, but immediately choose good or evil, you'd then
                say that will wasn't free but was either perfectly righteous or else
                a slave to sin.

                > If we can choose to love/obey, then there must also be another
                > option to hate/disobey, or else it wouldn't even be an option but
                an
                > obligation.

                So? If god himself has such a choice to make all the time, how do
                you explain his consistent track record of choosing righteousness all
                the time without fail? What does it mean to say he has "freewill",
                if the only stuff he produces is never "free" or "evil" but
                only "good"?

                > Adam and Eve were responsible for their own actions and
                > choices, and they knew about the only rule they had to follow, as
                > well as the consequences for breaking it.

                Wrong. Genesis says the man and woman didn't know good or evil until
                after they ate the fruit of the tree

                "6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it
                was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make
                one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her
                husband with her, and he ate.
                7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they
                were naked;"

                Which means.....that they DIDN'T know good from evil BEFORE they ate
                of the tree (i.e., at the time god warned them not to eat of it).

                How, pray tell, could Adam and Eve have obeyed a warning that
                included concepts which, at the time it was given to them, they
                didn't yet understand?

                What's the liklihood that a 3 year old, who has no knowledge of what
                its like to be burned, will consistently obey your command that they
                not touch the hot stove or else they will get burned? Doesn't their
                failure to personally identify with a burn injury, motivate them even
                more to find out why your voice is so urgent?

                So we have god warning Adam and Eve of the kind of danger which, in
                their pre-fall state of being, could have neither understood nor
                appreciated.

                > So God's creation was very
                > good, but both angels and human beings were created with free will.

                Not if Genesis has anything to say about it.

                > A creation according to God's intentions. This means that Adam and
                > Eve could make choices contrary to God's will.

                They ability to disobey god comes from (as I have shown above)their
                sheer inability to understand the meaning of god's warning. He may
                as well have told a toddler not to touch a hot stove; he would have
                gotten the same inevitable response that originates from the person's
                ignorance, i.e., disobedience.

                > God knew it would
                > happen of course, and that's why he had made plans for Jesus from
                > the very beginning, even before his creation.

                If god knew it would happen, then, unless you say its possible for
                humans to deviate from god's own prediction of their future actions,
                then they could not avoid doing it, lest they prove god's
                foreknowledge wrong and show that he made a false prediction. If god
                cannot be wrong about the future as he sees it, then you ARE gonna
                rob a bank whether you want to or not, IF his infallible
                foreknowledge has you doing it in the future. If you CAN deviate
                from god's infallible foreknowledge, then why call
                it "infallible"? "Infallible" means "incapable of failing".

                > Human beings can't
                > live without God, so it's a natural law to worship Him, and God
                only
                > wants what is best for us.

                I don't see any evidence whatsoever that it is natural to humans to
                worship god, except in the secular sense that worship of a god is
                based on ignorance of how the world works (i.e., I can't explain how
                that could be, apart from god, so god exists) or else one's pre-
                committment to worship of god stifles their ability to fully
                appreciate the flaws in the idea that god exists. I've been leaving
                theists high and dry without ability to answer my atheist criticisms
                of their beliefs, and they appear to be no closer to giving up the
                idea than they were before I first talked to them. Apparantly, it's
                also natural to hide behind "faith" when logic and reason don't swing
                the way of religion.

                >It was still a "Very Good" creation, even
                > if human beings and angels had the choice of obeying or rebelling.

                Bald assertion with no evidence. I'd say the ability to do sin is
                itself evil, because it is less than perfect righteousness, and thus
                anything less than perfect righteousness must be tainted with evil to
                some degree at least.

                > After they rebelled, the creation was cursed and fallen, and it
                > still is. There was no death before Adam sinned.

                Then how do you explain that flesh-ripping teeth are found in animals
                (carnivores) dating much earlier than your accepted date for the time
                of Adam and Eve (and thus the time when you think death came into the
                world)?

                Did tigers use their fangs to kill other animals before the time of
                Adam as they do now (i.e., death before Adam), or did they use them
                as straws to drink fruit juice?

                >
                > Any comments on my previous message?

                I'll go back and look at it again.
              • annika4se
                Welcome Steven Thats a good question. /Ann ... donkey can ... a fable in ... but ... either ... life ... Adam ... the ... that ... obey. ... but an ... and ...
                Message 7 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                  Welcome Steven

                  Thats a good question.

                  /Ann


                  --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, Steven King
                  <thekingster@g...> wrote:
                  >
                  > New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol. If a
                  donkey can
                  > truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be
                  a fable in
                  > the OT?
                  >
                  > Steven King
                  >
                  >
                  > On 12/12/05, annika4se <biggles.flyger@p...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Hi,
                  > >
                  > > <I don't believe that Eve's seed in Genesis 3:15 was a
                  > > <blessing to humanity.
                  > >
                  > > A: I believe the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who bruised
                  > > Satan on the heel.
                  > >
                  > > <And now to answer more directly, since I am a
                  > > uniformitarian (the present is the key to the past),
                  > > the lack of talking snakes in my present, highly
                  > > motivates me to call Genesis a fable just as much as I
                  > > call any other ancient story with a talking animal, a
                  > > fable.
                  > >
                  > > A: The serpent might have been possessed by Satan, thus having
                  > > a "demon" inside it.
                  > > I read in one of the Lost books that Satan was outside of Eden,
                  but
                  > > entered the serpent which climbed on the stone wall around the
                  > > garden. In that way Satan could enter the perfect garden. Satan
                  > > could also have appeared as the beautiful angel he really was, by
                  > > the use of the serpent's body, and Eve wouldn't be surprised
                  either
                  > > or. These are just my speculations though.
                  > > Serpents don't talk and human beings don't die and come back to
                  life
                  > > after 3 days. Is the story about Jesus Christ a fable too? :)
                  > > If the first pages of Genesis contain fables, then Jesus, Peter,
                  > > Paul etc, were wrong to believe that they were not, but our real
                  > > history. Moreover, if sin has reigned from Adam onwards, then
                  Adam
                  > > must have been a real person. At least if Jesus is a real person.
                  > >
                  > > Most Christian commentators consider the first act of sin to be
                  the
                  > > hardest philosophical nut to crack, because of god's statement
                  that
                  > > they were "good".
                  > >
                  > > A: It's sad if "most christians" have problems with that. If God
                  > > created us with free will, then we cant be forced to love and
                  obey.
                  > > If we can choose to love/obey, then there must also be another
                  > > option to hate/disobey, or else it wouldn't even be an option
                  but an
                  > > obligation. Adam and Eve were responsible for their own actions
                  and
                  > > choices, and they knew about the only rule they had to follow, as
                  > > well as the consequences for breaking it. So God's creation was
                  very
                  > > good, but both angels and human beings were created with free
                  will.
                  > > A creation according to God's intentions. This means that Adam
                  and
                  > > Eve could make choices contrary to God's will. God knew it would
                  > > happen of course, and that's why he had made plans for Jesus from
                  > > the very beginning, even before his creation. Human beings can't
                  > > live without God, so it's a natural law to worship Him, and God
                  only
                  > > wants what is best for us. It was still a "Very Good" creation,
                  even
                  > > if human beings and angels had the choice of obeying or
                  rebelling.
                  > > After they rebelled, the creation was cursed and fallen, and it
                  > > still is. There was no death before Adam sinned.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Any comments on my previous message?
                  > >
                  > > /Ann
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > SPONSORED LINKS
                  > > Theology degree<http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?
                  t=ms&k=Theology+degree&w1=Theology+degree&w2=Theology&w3=Christian+th
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                  ogy&w4=Christianity&w5=Theology+study&w6=Theology+book&c=6&s=116&.sig
                  =lRR1N_AYpvxEzBPHzL_j_w> Theology
                  > > study<http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?
                  t=ms&k=Theology+study&w1=Theology+degree&w2=Theology&w3=Christian+the
                  ology&w4=Christianity&w5=Theology+study&w6=Theology+book&c=6&s=116&.s
                  ig=bR63_btEbrMs4jQN_VYF3Q> Theology
                  > > book<http://groups.yahoo.com/gads?
                  t=ms&k=Theology+book&w1=Theology+degree&w2=Theology&w3=Christian+theo
                  logy&w4=Christianity&w5=Theology+study&w6=Theology+book&c=6&s=116&.si
                  g=2fUAcR0EQfX7gWN3w41Jlw>
                  > > ------------------------------
                  > > YAHOO! GROUPS LINKS
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > - Visit your
                  group "biblicalapologetics<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biblicalapol
                  ogetics>"
                  > > on the web.
                  > >
                  > > - To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                  > > biblicalapologetics-
                  unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com<biblicalapologetics-
                  unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com?subject=Unsubscribe>
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                  > >
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --
                  > "A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the
                  crowd."
                  > - James Crook
                  >
                • empiricism101
                  ... A better question is: Where does a donkey talk in the NT?
                  Message 8 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                    --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, "annika4se"
                    <biggles.flyger@p...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Welcome Steven
                    >
                    > Thats a good question.
                    >
                    > /Ann
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, Steven King
                    > <thekingster@g...> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol. If a
                    > donkey can
                    > > truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be
                    > a fable in
                    > > the OT?
                    > >
                    > > Steven King

                    A better question is: Where does a donkey talk in the NT?
                  • empiricism101
                    ... donkey can ... fable in ... Empiricism101: Hello Steve. talking animals, especially conversation between animals and people, is a major archetype
                    Message 9 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                      --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, Steven King
                      <thekingster@g...> wrote:
                      >
                      > New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol. If a
                      donkey can
                      > truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be a
                      fable in
                      > the OT?
                      >
                      > Steven King


                      Empiricism101:

                      Hello Steve. talking animals, especially conversation between
                      animals and people, is a major archetype (tip-off) that the
                      literature which includes that bit is more or less a fable.

                      If you don't think any of Genesis is fable, then why not share with
                      the list your criteria for deciding whether an ancient Hebrew writing
                      is fable or other? I mean, if snakes talking to people don't turn
                      the trick for you, what does?
                    • Steven King
                      Hello, I do not wish to imply that fable is not included in Genesis - just what part of divine intervention might be necessary to move plot? Whether it s
                      Message 10 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                        Hello,
                         
                        I do not wish to imply that fable is not included in Genesis - just what part of divine intervention might be necessary to move plot?  Whether it's literal, as fundamentalists commonly accept - or fable, in this check-the-block criteria you seek to differentiate between literal narrative (I assume) and fable?  I'll reserve comment further until I see the groups' collective tenor...
                         
                        Regards,
                        Steven King

                         
                        On 12/12/05, empiricism101 <empiricism101@...> wrote:
                        --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, Steven King
                        <thekingster@g...> wrote:
                        >
                        > New here...forgive the lack of introduction via protocol.  If a
                        donkey can
                        > truly speak in the NT - then why would a talking snake have to be a
                        fable in
                        > the OT?
                        >
                        > Steven King


                        Empiricism101:

                        Hello Steve.  talking animals, especially conversation between
                        animals and people, is a major archetype (tip-off) that the
                        literature which includes that bit is more or less a fable.

                        If you don't think any of Genesis is fable, then why not share with
                        the list your criteria for deciding whether an ancient Hebrew writing
                        is fable or other?  I mean, if snakes talking to people don't turn
                        the trick for you, what does?





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                        --
                        "A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd."
                        - James Crook
                      • empiricism101
                        Trinitarians and Oneness Pentacostals agree that HOW Jesus was a single person with two natures, is beyond human ability to apprehend. Something described as
                        Message 11 of 20 , Dec 12, 2005
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                          Trinitarians and Oneness Pentacostals agree that HOW Jesus was a
                          single person with two natures, is beyond human ability to apprehend.

                          Something described as "beyond human ability to apprehend" is the
                          first step toward discovering that it is actually an illogical and
                          thus impossible thing. Not being able to understand something
                          doesn't guarantee it's illogical. However, it is quite common for
                          religious people to fight off critiques of what they believe by
                          saying it's a paradox, or a problem of sinful limited human minds
                          that don't have all the information. I believe I can overcome those
                          retorts and show from the Bible that the Jesus Christ it describes,
                          is not merely a paradox of humanity, but an actual conglomoration of
                          mutually contradictory attributes. This thesis, if true, requires
                          that at least SOME of the NT description of Jesus is in error,
                          because it's logically impossible for all of it to be true at the
                          same time (the law of non-contradiction says A cannot be both A and
                          non-A at the same time).

                          32 "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in
                          heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." (Mark 13, NASB)

                          Inerrantists are quick to say that Jesus, as a man, didn't know the
                          day or hour, but that as God, he did, and Mark 13:32 is merely
                          quoting Jesus who was speaking from the perspective of a man.

                          Now wait a minute....if I told you that I know the day and hour i
                          will go to the store and that I also DON'T know the day and hour I
                          will go to that store...wouldn't you automatically assume there's
                          some sort of problem here BECAUSE IT SURE SOUNDS LIKE CONTRADICTION?

                          After all, one person cannot be knowledgable and yet ignorant on one
                          single specific piece of info ALL AT THE SAME INSTANT, and saying
                          Jesus had two natures doesn't get rid of the creedal/biblical
                          statement that Jesus is one single undivided real-life human PERSON.

                          So the first problem I raise is that the New Testament describes
                          Jesus as a person with mutually contradictory attributes (i.e., one
                          person both knows and yet also doesn't know, one and the same piece
                          of info.)

                          Furthermore, the Trinitarian claim that Jesus in Mark 13:32 was
                          speaking from the perspective of his limited humanity, places
                          additional burden on Trinitarians, because the person that didn't
                          know the day of his return, Jesus describes as the "Son". Is his
                          choice to say "Son" a proof that he was relegating his ignorance
                          about the day of his return, to his human side ONLY? I will deal
                          with "son of man" and "son of god", since "son of Mary", a desperate
                          ingenious machination of apologists, violates Mark 13's
                          eschatological context in which this "Son" operates with all the
                          authority of God himself. And we all know that the immediate context
                          of a disputed word or phrase is where you narrow down possible
                          meanings to the one most likely meant by the author.

                          "Son of man" and "son of God" are both titles that are primarily
                          about divinity and not humanity..

                          Notice in the immediate context of verse 32, the clues that
                          this "Son" who doesn't know the day of his return, is being spoken of
                          from the standpoint of his DIVINITY (i.e., arriving on clouds,
                          commanding the angels, his words will never pass away, the allusion
                          to Daniel's divine "son of man", who would be served by the whole
                          world [cf., Daniel 7 , etc).

                          Additional proof that Jesus thought "son of man" meant divinity and
                          not just humanity...

                          "The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath" (Mk 2:28) Not just any
                          human was lord of the Sabbath, that person had to be DIVINE.

                          Jesus mentions specifically the abomination of desolation spoken of
                          by Daniel the prophet and then mentioning "son of man", putting the
                          book of Daniel in his hearers' minds. Daniel 7 describes a figure
                          who is like a "son of man":

                          13 "I kept looking in the night visions,
                          And behold, with the clouds of heaven
                          One like a Son of Man was coming,
                          And He came up to the Ancient of Days
                          And was presented before Him.

                          14 "And to Him was given dominion,
                          Glory and a kingdom,
                          That all the peoples, nations, and men of every language
                          Might serve Him.
                          His dominion is an everlasting dominion
                          Which will not pass away;
                          And His kingdom is one
                          Which will not be destroyed.
                          ==========

                          Most conservative inerrantist scholars agree that Jesus believed
                          himself to be this "son of man" in Daniel 7. Such a "son of man" is
                          who he is because of his divinity, not just his humanity, amen?

                          24 "But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE
                          DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,
                          25 AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are
                          in the heavens will be shaken.
                          26 "And then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great
                          power and glory. (Mark 13)

                          Here Jesus also refers to the sun being darkened, the moon not giving
                          it's light, and the stars falling from heaven, which seems like a
                          direct quote from Isaiah 13, Ezekiel 32 and/or Joel 3. But in all
                          three OT sources, these signs are precursers to the decidedly
                          DIVINE "day of the Lord" judgement, whereas Jesus places these signs
                          as precursers of HIS day of judgement:

                          10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations
                          Will not flash forth their light;
                          The sun will be dark when it rises,
                          And the moon will not shed its light.
                          11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil,
                          And the wicked for their iniquity; (Isaiah 13)
                          ==========

                          7 "And when I extinguish you,
                          I will cover the heavens, and darken their stars;
                          I will cover the sun with a cloud,
                          And the moon shall not give its light.
                          8 "All the shining lights in the heavens
                          I will darken over you
                          And will set darkness on your land,"
                          Declares the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 32)
                          ============

                          14 "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
                          For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
                          15 The sun and moon grow dark,
                          And the stars lose their brightness.
                          16 And the LORD roars from Zion" (Joel 3)

                          So then, Jesus saying that the "son" doesn't know, is not hardly a
                          reference to his limitations as a human, but from the immediate
                          context, is a reference to his Divinity, and thus causes the
                          Christian to be stuck with a Jesus whose ignorance extends all the
                          way into his "Divine side" and not just his human "side". For those
                          Christians who would say that verse 32 is where Jesus changes the
                          meaning, that's the fallacy of begging the question, because what
                          exactly verse 32 means with "son", is exactly the point being debated.

                          I can extend this argument by asking those Christians why exactly
                          they abandon their acceptance of the law of non-contradiction (i.e.,
                          A cannot be non-A in the same place at the same time in the same
                          circumstance) in the case of Jesus and the bible, but nowhere else.
                          Doesn't the science of Christian apologetics committ those who
                          practice it, to the belief that logical fallacies must always be
                          avoided regardless of who has them or what they have to lose by
                          getting rid of them?

                          Let's get real hard and heavy: Would you give up your Christian
                          faith on the basis of a proof that it was illogical? If not, why do
                          you think a proof that atheism is illogical should motivate atheists
                          ti give up atheism? Proving something illogical doesn't mean that's
                          the end of it, amen?

                          If logic need not always be adhered to in discussions of the bible,
                          how did you come to that belief? Are there other situations in which
                          you accept mutually contradictory attributes in one person or object
                          as being both true at the same time? Or is it only when we are
                          dealing with the one book and faith upon whose historical facticity
                          you have staked your entire life and integrity on?

                          empiricism101
                        • Steven King
                          Not sure what I was thinking about with a donkey in the NT. Busted me there... Steven King
                          Message 12 of 20 , Dec 13, 2005
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                            Not sure what I was thinking about with a donkey in the NT.  Busted me there...
                             
                            Steven King
                          • empiricism101
                            ... Eh, not really I suppose. Let s assume for the sake of argument that the NT DID have a story of an animal conversing with a person in human language. Your
                            Message 13 of 20 , Dec 13, 2005
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                              --- In biblicalapologetics@yahoogroups.com, Steven King
                              <thekingster@g...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Not sure what I was thinking about with a donkey in the NT. Busted me
                              > there...
                              >
                              > Steven King
                              >

                              Eh, not really I suppose. Let's assume for the sake of argument that
                              the NT DID have a story of an animal conversing with a person in human
                              language.

                              Your question was, why would the NT version of this not be a fable, but
                              Genesis would be a fable.

                              My answer would have been: ANY ancient religious literature, regardless
                              of whether it pretends to be historical narrative, biography or
                              otherwise, MUST be viewed as fable, or at least containing fable, on
                              account of the inclusion of something which all scholarly sources agree
                              is the major archetype (tip-off) of fable: talking animals.

                              The choice would then be the conservative Christian interpretation
                              which insists the story is literal history, and they labor to justify
                              talking animals with an argument to support miracles.....or.....the
                              liberal Christian interpretation, which doesn't give talking animals in
                              the bible anymore special treatment than they accord to other similar
                              extra-biblical religious literature. It can be seen quickly then, that
                              the liberal scholarly attitude is much more fair in it's appraisal of
                              these things. They work no harder to justify talking animals in the
                              bible as outside it. And that is because they have nothing to lose by
                              concluding that the bible contains stories that appear to be literal
                              accounts of history, but which aren't really.

                              Indeed, the evangelicals' quickness to conclude that a story outside
                              the bible with a talking animal, is a fable, is quite inconsistent with
                              their efforts to justify the literal truth of talking animal stories IN
                              the bible. Their criteria for what is fable and what is literal
                              history in ancient religious literature appears to be nothing more than
                              whether the story in question is in the bible or outside of it, since
                              you never see them interpreting extra-biblical talking animal-stories
                              as historical truth.
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