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Featured Genesis 17:17: Mind's Retroactive Conception.

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by John D. Brey, Jul 11, 2020.

  1. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    I've spilled no small amount of ink on the subject of the mess the Masoretes have made of the Hebrew of the sacred text of the Torah. And though Genesis 17:17 could be the poster-child for the mess, and though it's a subject worthy of the greatest care, that's not the point of this thread.

    This thread is about one of the most obvious, to a theist, points of observation possible, i.e., the life-giving design inherent to, in, the world, the universe/cosmos, versus the truly asinine implication, of the non-theist, that there's no mindful design inherent to the design of the world, the universe/cosmos.

    In Genesis 17:17, the correct interpretation of the Hebrew text has Abram exasperated with God over the dynamics of the covenant God is engaging him. As Rabbi Elie Munk points out (R. Samson Hirsch beat him to the punch), in his brilliant, The Call of the Torah, strictly and literally interpreted, Genesis 17:17 says not that Abram laughed, but that he literally insulted God in a harsh and frustrated way. And his frustration is understood when we realize that the text isn't saying Abram is going to give birth when he's already 99 years old, since, for godsake, his father was older than that when he conceived Abram, and one of Abram's sons gave birth well past the penultimate year of a full century.

    Without getting into the exegetical desperation for why the Masoretes imply the text has Abram laughing at giving birth at an age that was common in his day, we can point out that correctly exegeted the Hebrew text says that far from Abram birthing a son at 99, something a man in his day would find yawn-worthy (I personally know a woman whose father was pushing Abram's age when she was conceived), Abram is in truth exasperated that God tells him he's going to be reborn, and that he's going to conceive his new man, Abra-h-am, through his wife/sister.


    John
     
  2. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    I'm not sure what the big to do about the difference.
     
  3. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . The big difference between giving birth to a son at 99, versus giving birth to yourself at 99? . . . How could there be a much bigger difference?



    John
     
  4. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    You lost me,

    Yes, I believe God resurrected his capacity along with Sarah.
     
  5. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . When did he lose it? There's no verse claiming he lost it. And since it was common in his day for men to father offspring well past 100, why would he find it unusual?

    Genesis 17:17 is not only a perfect parallel to John 3:4, but in John 3:10, Jesus refers specifically (if implicitly) to Genesis 17:17. And so much so, that I, with Jesus, will say to all my Jewish and Christian friends: have you read the bible more than one time and you still don't know that Genesis 17:17 and John 3:10 are parallel passages?

    If you want to get into the Hebrew exegesis of Genesis 17:17, I'm game.



    John
     
  6. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Hi John :)

    Okay.... so what is the point?
    Ah..... You're saying that Gen 17:17 supports the argument in favor of intelligent design? Is that the point?
    Okay.... if your intention is to correct a mistranslated interpretation, I think we need to look at the Hebrew.

    upload_2020-7-11_17-57-35.png

    Your objection is to the word in the green box? How should it be translated differently?
    All of this seems to be extraneous info. I'm not seeing how it supports your claim. Maybe it's intended to build credibility on the subject matter? IDK.

    Sincerely,
     
  7. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I consider myself one of your Jewish friends. Now.

    Most respectfully: What are you talking about?

    upload_2020-7-11_18-5-51.png
     
  8. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    Beats me. St John is recounting Jesus speaking about being reborn spiritually, whereas the Genesis passage is simply the story of Isaac being born to Abraham and Sarah when they were both very old. There's no parallel at all that I can see. :shrug:
     
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  9. KenS

    KenS Veteran Member
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    First and foremost the reality that at 99 he had no offspring with Sarah and had been years since Hagar birthed Ishmael.

    Second:

    Romans 4: 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

    so, for whatever reasons (that happen to so many people) both were unable to produce offspring with the evidence that they had none as support for that position.
     
  10. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Ah.

    It's a play on words, in the Hebrew. If I'm understanding...

    It's actually a cute idea. I'll let the OP explain more if he chooses to do so.
     
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  11. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed saying in his heart, Shall a hundred year old be born and shall Sarah, barren ninety years, do the bearing? . . . How can a man be born when he's old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? . . . "Marvel not that I said you must be born again" . . . [For] circumcision is not a completion of, or supplement to, physical birth, but . . . marks the second, higher birth . . ..

    Genesis 17:17; John 3:4-6; The Hirsch Chumash at Gen. 17:23.​

    Rabbi Hirsch is clear that circumcision, the instantiation of the covenant (or rather the sign thereof) is the rebirth of the one so circumcised. It's there, according to the dear Rabbi, that a person is born-anew (on the eighth day) to begin their Jewish existence.

    Page back to Genesis chapter 17. Abram is commanded to be circumcised, at which point God tells him he's going to be born-again, as a new man, the first symbolic Jew, who, the first symbolic Jew, is the first person since the Fall of Adam in the Garden, to represent something of the nature of Adam before the Fall ---- genderlessness. Ergo taking a knife to the sign of the fake flesh (brit milah).

    I mean come on. This is kindergarten stuff. <s>



    John
     
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  12. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . Your statements bring up profound and important exegetical nuances.

    We know that Sarai's womb was barren. So that alone would account for not having children through Sarai. And we know Abram was intact; at least when he fathered Ishmael. And yet senescence doesn't account for Abram loosing the loss of his ability to father sons unless it does so unnaturally since Abram was fathered by a man older than 100, and one of his sons likewise fathered past the age of 100. That being the case, we would need to know why Abram, if he did, considered his sexual abilities dead? And the scripture needs to supply that and will, imo, if it's the case.

    But here's a much larger exegetical question that comes up because of your quotation of Romans 4:19.

    Throughout his ministry Jesus stated that his Jewish hearers had heard the traditional interpretation of the Torah-text that became the Masoretic version/interpretation of the text. Again and again he gave a new, different, interpretation of the text, so that knowledgeable Jews, and scholars, are recorded, in the Gospel, exclaiming that Jesus spoke with a peculiar and troubling authority. They realized he was implying that his interpretation was more sound than the traditional interpretation of the Pharisees that became the Masoretic Text.

    Here's the fascinating nuance your quote from Romans brings up.

    In that verse, Paul is appealing to the Pharisaical interpretation of Genesis chapter 17, specifically verse 17 (as recorded in the Masoretic Text). And yet I can show that the Pharisaical interpretation of the Hebrew is flawed. And I can do so in such a way that it brings the entire chapter, the entire Tanakh, into it's perfect parallel with John 3:4, and John's Gospel in its entirety.

    Because of the nature of his ministry, Paul didn't trifle with the traditional rendering of the text except where his own Gospel required it. And yet, just as Jesus said would occur, we are better situated, better able, than Paul, to interpret the Tanakh in a manner that brings light to the Gospels and the Apostolic Epistles, to include the Pauline epistles.

    Sadly, Christian orthodox is circumscribed within the straight-jacket of the Masoretic Text. Your so-called "Old Testament" is merely an English version of the Masoretic Text, which is the traditional interpretation Jesus thumbed his nose at before they broke his thumbs and nailed them to the wood just like they nailed the living Torah down with points, and addendum, in order to make the Masoretic Text speak on behalf of the Judaism that led to Jesus' downfall even as Jesus' unwitting followers to this day are ignorant of the chicanery foisted on them by the Masoretic Text, and their inability to wiggle and writhe free of the straight-jacket that is the traditional rendering of the sacred Torah.



    John
     
    #12 John D. Brey, Jul 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  13. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    You know me too well...

    I thought you were going to tell me that "VaYitzCHAK" is the sound one makes when they have a heart-attack.

    So ...

    upload_2020-7-11_13-3-5.png

    could be translated hyper-literally as: "vayitzCHAK" said in his heart. Like he was having a heart attack or something. Or choking on a piece of bread: "Oy vayYitzCHAK, vayitzCHAK".

    It fits nicely into the story, too, as an alternate narrative. It would have helped set the scene. If it was true, of course...
     
  14. Treasure Hunter

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    Back to the Gospel of Thomas,

    Saying 53:
    His disciples said to him: Is circumcision useful or not? He (Jesus) said to them: If it were useful, their father would beget him from their mothers (already) circumcised. But the true circumcision in the Spirit has proved useful in every way.
     
  15. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . As the rabbis point out, surely you're aware, it is the wicked who "say in their heart." Wherever in the Tanakh a person is said to "say in their heart" what they say is wicked.

    Based on this, the good Jewish exegetes note that Abram isn't laughing at the thought that an old feller is gonna get it up once again and father a son. On the contrary, Abram is a direct parallel to Nicodemus who is told precisely what God told Abram and precisely by the same Person who told Abram. You must, if you are truly circumcised, be born-again. You will conceive your new man, of your own faith, and of your own freewill.

    Nicodemus said in his heart, "Is a grown man supposed to climb into his wife/sister's womb and be born again." . . But don't belittle little ole Nicodemus' lack of faith. Father Abram said
    (in his heart) exactly the same thing to exactly the same person.



    John
     
    #15 John D. Brey, Jul 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
  16. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . There might be a play on words there? Bill Clinton spoke of the slippery meaning of "is" when he wanted to slip out of a jam. In Saying 53 the slippery word would be "him" . . . which might mean "himself" . . . where the fore skene of the surface narrative is more transparent.


    John
     
  17. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    Shall a child yet be born to [a man who is] a hundred years old, or shall Sarah, who is ninety years old give birth?​

    This is how the English translation exists in The Hirsch Chumash. The bracketed statement [a man who is] is bracketed in the text of The Hirsch Chumash. Remove the bracketed comment (since the bracket means it's not really in the Hebrew text being translated), and you get: "Shall a child yet be born a hundred years old." The "to" is part of the interpretation of the preposition ל in הלבן.

    As you might know, in Hebrew, prepositions have tons of wiggle-room which is one reason why all "exegesis" of scriptural text requires "interpretation." And since the preposition ל is interpreted "after," many times throughout the Tanakh, the text easily reads: Shall a child be born after one hundred years.

    It's also not a small thing that the prepositional phrase הלבן is a hapax legomenon at Genesis 17:17. There's nowhere else in the Tanakh that it's used. Which not only makes cross-referencing it impossible, but it shows that the author who used it was addressing a concept so difficult to express that he literally coined a prepositional phrase never used before or after.

    Equally problematic from an interpretive standpoint is the fact that in the sixty or so times the word "beget" (Nifal “be born”) יולד is used in the Tanakh, there's not a single time when it's used like it is in Genesis 17:17.

    Every time a person "begets" another person the text says they "begat" so and so, or they "begat" daughters, or sons; there's not a single time when they just "begat" as would be the case in Genesis 17:17. There's not a single case outside of Genesis 17:17 where יולד (begat, be born) is used as a verb unattached to a noun describing the one born.

    To be true to all other cases in the Tanakh, the text would have to say that Abram fell on his face mocking God saying Shall a son of one hundred years beget a son, or a daughter, or Jim, or Seth, or Mark . . . but never, Shall a son of one hundred years beget. ------Likewise, never is the word that's used for Sarai giving birth תלד used without saying who or what's born. Never is תלד used for "birthing" or "bearing" as a verb without a noun attached to it such that however we look at the Hebrew text of Genesis 17:17 it stands out like a sore thumb or other sore flesh.

    Only in Genesis 17:17 is the verb יולד used without a noun. Same with the word for the one birthing, or doing the begetting תלד. The only place in the entire Tanakh that it's used without a noun is Genesis 17:17, such that throughout the chapter the straightforward meaning of Genesis 17:17 is painfully allegorical, or figurative, for traditional Judaism, but plain, simple, obvious, and historically true, for the Christian interpretation: Abram is the first case of being "born-again" into the Jewish mission. Jesus is flabbergasted that Nicodemus, a teacher of Jews, is unaware that Abram was born-again, so that Nicodemus mocks God to his face, precisely as Abram mocked God when Shaddai told him (Abram) that he must be, he will be, is going to be, born-again.



    John
     
  18. John D. Brey

    John D. Brey Well-Known Member

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    . . . I was implying that even as Abraham must conceive himself, and birth himself, after he's allegedly already been born, so to, mind, thought, of the human kind, isn't really the product of a mother-biology, and or father-environment (see thread on meiosis and messiah), but in fact, was (mind was) guiding the biology, through the inherent design in the environment, and the DNA, guiding in an invisible way no doubt, but guiding none-the-less, until the glorious day when Jesus appeared and explained to Nicodemus, as he earlier explained to Abraham, that human mind is the true, original, new man, such that the time asymmetry that implies human mind is a "by-product" of biology and environment, is a product of the original sin when all things were turned upside down and man's mind all around and inside out, such that it's taken human mind up to this very day to straighten it all out:

    In claiming that water means life, NASA scientists are . . . making---- tacitly--- a huge and profound assumption about the nature of nature. They are saying in effect, that the laws of the universe are cunningly contrived to coax life into being against the raw odds; that the mathematical principles of physics, in their elegant simplicity, somehow know in advance about life and its vast complexity. If life follows from [primordial] soup with causal dependability, the laws of nature encode a hidden subtext, a cosmic imperative, which tells them: "Make life!" And, through life, its by-products: mind, knowledge, understanding. It means that the laws of the universe have engineered their own comprehension. This is a breathtaking vision of nature, magnificent and uplifting in its majestic sweep. I hope it is correct. It would be wonderful if it were correct. But if it is, it represents a shift in the scientific world-view as profound as that initiated by Copernicus and Darwin put together.

    Paul Davies, The Fifth Miracle.​

    What Paul Davies' statement touches on briefly, is the idea of a "teleological-retroactivity" which now appears undeniable. In laboratories around the globe, scientists have taken over evolutionary processes such that through genetic engineering, cloning, and various other scientific endeavors, mankind (the thinking animal) is now the primary impetus of biological change. ------ What this shows, is that a by-product of evolutionary teleology, human sentience (a product which allegedly arose from much simpler and lower complexity biological functions), has shown the power to re-engineer the very biological machine of which it's allegedly an epiphenomenon (a by-product).

    Human sentience, or consciousness, which is thought to have arose when simpler biological functions reach the complexity required for this "self-conscious" sentience, has proven capable of feeding back into the lower biological functions, in a manner that suggests that the new entity, the "self-conscious" intellect, has become the lord of those mechanism that were erroneously thought to have fathered and mothered it. Scientist can now figure out ways to cure diseases, and will eventually be capable of overcoming not only cancers, and other cell damaging entities, which lead to death, but eventually cellular death itself will be reverse-engineered out of the body which supports the mind of the sentient creature called "man."

    In John chapter 6, Jesus said the flesh is unimportant. Biology is temporary. Mind is the thing. Mind is the reality.

    So why is Jesus' mind fundamentally different than all other kind? That is the question I've been trying to engage for the last three threads. To no avail. Oh well. No one will mind, so to say.



    John
     
  19. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Where I get stuck in your explanation is the shift from heart, which is in the text, to mind, which is not in the text. Also, the connection to the NT goes over my head... but that's a given.
     
  20. ecco

    ecco Veteran Member

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    So, you want to have a thoughtful conversation among theists but you just couldn't stop yourself from throwing in a dig at atheists by calling our views asinine.
     
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