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Featured Jewish Interpretations of Genesis

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by Left Coast, Oct 12, 2021.

  1. Left Coast

    Left Coast Purveyor of Pumpkin Spice
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    I've noticed that the vast majority of creationists I've seen and heard and interacted with are Christians, and occasionally Muslims. Even more traditional, Orthodox Jews don't generally defend ideas of a young Earth or attack evolution and so on.

    So I'm curious to learn from our Jewish members here how they interpret the first chapters of Genesis. How literally do you take them?

    Were Adam and Eve literally the first two human beings, spontaneously created by God?

    Was the universe and life on Earth created in 6 days?

    Was there a literally global flood that covered the entire planet?

    To be clear, I'm interested in hearing from people who practice Judaism, not Christians who happen to be Jews.
     
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  2. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    I take it somewhat literally. My Hebrew skills aren't strong enough to make any strong claims one way or the other.
    I vote no. Adam and Eve are the beginning of the lineage of the Jewish people.
    A day as we define it didn't occur until day 4. Those previous days could be very very long if counted in solar days/years.
    No.
     
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  3. Left Coast

    Left Coast Purveyor of Pumpkin Spice
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    Does this mean you think Adam and Eve were not literal individuals at all, or were they literal individuals but only the original ancestors of the Israelites?

    Does this mean that you regard days 4, 5, and 6 to have been literal 24 hour days?
     
  4. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    Did Adam and Eve's survivors live through the `Big Flood` ? wow.

    It all started with 5 people or 6 people then, I forget how many,

    catechism is over 70 years in the arrears !

    I see that everyone is Jewish then ? wow again.

    It has to be the meds !
     
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  5. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Speaking only for myself not for all Jewish people; they were always individuals in spirit, but didn't obtain a material existence as we know it until after the tree of knowledge incident and God gave them skins/hide for garments.
    No, imo, each day in the creation story is not 24 hour day. Those days are still independent of the sun.
     
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  6. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Just in case this was responding to my post....

    Being Jewish (a Hebrew) started with Abraham; but the lineage begins with Adam and Eve.
     
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  7. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    So it started with A&E ? ... correct ?

    They only worshipped `God` until the fig trick ?

    And then came Abraham, before Moses' writings....Just plain prophesy as I see it,

    but, about that burning bush.....the commandants, Genisis, and sin ?

    I really, really am confused.
     
  8. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    Well... the very beginning was God's desire for a material world that can be seen as good.
    Going strictly by the text, A&E didn't worship. Their job was procreation and tending the garden.
    Could be, but, the innovation that Abraham brought was that there was a single intelligent force orchestrating all of creation. Idols are nothing compared to this single intelligent force.
    The best I can offer is that God has preferences for certain behaviour and abhors other types of behaviour.
    What's confusing? Life exists, here we are, let's make the best of it.
     
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  9. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    ~

    I really, really, really like that last line, a star for that !
     
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  10. metis

    metis aged ecumenical anthropologist

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    As the old joke goes, two Jews have three opinions on just about anything and everything;), and this applies to how to interpret the Creation accounts as well.
     
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  11. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    Where `in` the "Creation accounts" are opinions concerned about anything before the "Creation accounts" ?
     
  12. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
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    You mean navel-gazing?
     
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  13. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    that is my point, exactly!
     
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  14. KenS

    KenS Face to face with my Father
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    But they tell me that my position is wrong! :(
     
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  15. Shaul

    Shaul Well-Known Member

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    I am a Jew and practice Judaism.

    Yes, I accept Adam and Eve were created by HaShem and are the progenitors of all people.

    Yes, the universe and Earth were created in 6 days. HOWEVER, I think those days were from the vantage point of the origin location of the Big Bang and from the perspective of HaShem, not our current Earthly defined 24 hour days. I think Dr. Gerald Schroeder got it correct that the days of creation were relativistic. ( https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Schroeder )

    I don’t think the entire Earth was inundated during the Flood. The Hebrew word used, “eretz”, could refer to ground, land or the entire Earth. I think it only refers to the entire land of Israel, not the entire Earth. But that is just my opinion which is not the opinion of classical Jewish scholars, I believe.
     
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  16. 'mud

    'mud ~~ Life is Stuff ~~
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    All that above, was in Moses' mind at that time?

    And he captured all that from a message from his new `God`, amazing ! He could look back a trillion years ! Astounding !

    And then came Genesis, making `days` into `trillions`,
    it's all about interpretation of the scriptures, isn't it ?
     
  17. Shaul

    Shaul Well-Known Member

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    HaShem didn’t reveal himself to Moshe alone at Sinai. He revealed Himself to the nation of Israel.

    It isn’t about interpretation. It is about not interpreting. In Torah it says, “The hidden [things] belong to the LORD our God, but the [things that are] revealed belong to us and to our children.” So we are to do the revealed things and not speculate or interpret for things we can’t know.
     
  18. Native

    Native Free Natural Philosopher & Comparative Mythologist

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    Ad # 1: I don´t take them literally at all. As describing the creation, I take this to be a factual telling of the ancient creation stories which at the largest include our Milky Way galaxy and NOT the entire Universe, which wasn´t known by our ancestors. Read more here at - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milky_Way_(mythology)
    Ad # 2: Adam and Eve resembles the two hemisphere celestial figures of the white Milky Way band, which is imagined by humans as a woman on the southern hemisphere and a man of the northern hemisphere as illustrated here - Forfather Gods. Adam and Eve
    Ad # 3: As said above, our ancestors only knew of the Milky Way and not the entire Universe, and IMO the "6 days" really should be in "6 principle stages of creation".
    Ad #4: Not at all. One has to understand the basic way of myth making: Humans all over the world have the geographic perception of a river, and when looking at the white Milky Way band observable all around the Earth on the darker seasonal periods, humans all over the world noticed this celestial figure and - amongst other - named this as a celestial river running OVER the Earth and not ON the Earth. Read more here at - Keys to unlock the doors of Milky Way Mythology

    If historic and present interpreters and authors have no ideas of this astronomical and cosmological scenario, they are forced to take this story literal and leaving it all to the category of pure beliefs and inconsistent speculations.

    BTW: In several other cultural Stories of Creation they still have some genuine cosmological and astronomical references in their mythical heritage. Compared to this the symbolic and imagery connections in the Jewish mythology was even banned by some patriarchal high priests. "You shall not make any images of God" and so on. List of cultural creation myths here at - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_creation_myths

    Unfortunately this patriarchal banning of mythical images and symbols also lead to the later litteral and confused perception of Genesis.
     
    #18 Native, Oct 13, 2021
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  19. Left Coast

    Left Coast Purveyor of Pumpkin Spice
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    Sorry, are you Jewish? Not ethnically, I mean religiously.
     
  20. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

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    Left coast, you will get differnt answers depending on the Jew you talk to. Some will say that Genesis 1 is history, and others will say it si myth.

    I'm in the group that believes Gen 1, and Gen 2-3 are creation myths. When I say myth, I don't mean they are lies. A myth is a very powerful genre of literature -- it uses a creation fiction to delve into pretty deep understandings of morality, God, and mankind. I always, always refer people to read Tolkiens "On Fairy Stories" -- you cna find the essay online. It will change your whole appreciation of myth.

    Let's look at Gen 3, teh story of Adam and Eve and the serpent. Basically, I think that this is a kind of race memory.

    At one point in our evolutionary history (most of it in fact) we were mere animals taht did not self reflect, and had no concept of morality. Does a cat think about that it is being immoral when it toys with its prey? No. And humanity for a long time was in that same frame of mind. We did not have a conscience yet. As unreflective animals, we lived in a kind of bliss of ingornance. We were part of nature. This is symbolized by Adam and Eve being in this primordial garden. We were in harmony with nature, with ourselves, with others, and with God.

    But it was perhaps inevitable that a conseicne would evolve. The day came when our empathy and sense of justice conflicted with what our instincts wanted to do, creating an inner conflict. You can say that day is represented by Eve tasting the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That first time a human said, "I shouldn't" was a watershed moment. After that, human conscience was in conflict with instinct much of the time. The harmony had disappeared. Now we were fighting against nature, others, God, and ourselves most of all. That garden of blissful ignrance? Lost.

    Anyhow, that is my personal take on it. I don't think I have ever met anyone else who puts it quite the same way.
     
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