This is a follow-up to the previous thread with a similar title. In that thread the most contentious topic seemed to be what version of the Bible I should be reading. Specifically the KJV and NKJV were claimed to be objectively superior to the NIV. I have decided that we should all take this opportunity to perform a small experiment. Instead of stating which version I am now using, I'll simply say that it was randomly chosen from the three above (via rolling a six sided dice).
If I am right and the stories are essentially the same then my interpretation and commentary on the version I am reading should be indistinguishable from commentary on any other version I might read, in other words it will be hard to tell which version I am talking about unless I paste a direct quote from the text or some other dead giveaway. If I am wrong then the message from the different versions is different enough from each other that commentary on one cannot necessarily be applied to commentary on another and it will eventually become clear which version I am using as a source. I wouldn't expect it to be obvious right away even if they are different, but it should eventually. If I am wrong.
With that hopefully out of the way, we continue. Previously I read the first chapter of Genesis. God created the universe and everything in it in a suspiciously similar way to the creation stories existing in several other much older mythologies, all within six days. For this thread I will be reading Genesis 2-3.
The first thing in chapter two is Gods famous weekend break on the seventh day. Based on this the chapter seems to be a continuation of the story in the first chapter, but the very next thing that happens is the creation of all plant life, which of course happened already during the last chapter. If this is a retelling of the same story then I am curious as to why the first three verses of chapter two were not put instead at the end of chapter one. This is just poor formatting on the part of either the people that originally recorded these stories or one of the people in the line of translators from the original to the modern versions and I would like if it was more clear in the book itself whether this is a review, a retelling, a continuation, or what. Today we can use the internet to instantly get information like that directly from people that spent their entire lifetimes studying this book, but it is not at all clear just from a basic reading of the actual text.
Anyway, God makes man out of some dust picked up from the ground and a rough geography lesson in regards to the location of the garden of Eden is given (bookmark this section for if we ever get a biblical literalist in here, they have a lot of explaining to do). Some foreshadowing of the fall is also included in verses 9 and 17 of chapter 2. I remember from the last time I read the Bible (and did not make it all the way through) that the authors do include lots of foreshadowing in many of their stories. In this case I think they did a pretty good job of it. They made it feel natural by working the creation of the trees of knowledge of good and evil and of life into the creation of the worlds overall vegetation so props to them on that. Someone just needs to teach them how chapters work.
I now think that we should take some time to talk about common understanding of the Bible and its stories. Regarding the story of the fall, the serpent in Genesis 3:1 is commonly understood in popular culture to be the fallen angel Satan despite a plain reading of the text not lending any credibility to this interpretation. There are numerous examples of technically 'incorrect' elements in Bible stories being believed to be part of the narrative that actually aren't which I will point out as we get to them in this series. It is important to acknowledge these inconsistencies in a study of the book itself despite these ideas not coming directly from the book because this book is the basis of many beliefs, and a cursory understanding of the beliefs based around the book can help to understand the greater context of some of the later parts of the book.
The last thing I will touch on, because this OP is way too long already, is the way in which the stories resemble fables such as those used in some other mythologies, the basic summary of many of which being "Because ______ happened, that is why we now have ______." Compare for example the Native American fable explaining why bears have short tails and make groaning noises (http://www.oneidaindiannation.com/the-legend-of-how-the-bear-lost-his-tail/) to the various things that this story claims to explain, including:
- Modern agriculture (God created us for the purpose of maintaining vegetation)
- Why animal species have names (Adam named them)
- Why men and women leave their parents to get married and become "one flesh" (woman was created from mans flesh)
- Why people wear clothes (Adam and at-the-time nameless woman realize nudity is inherently bad after eating of the tree of good and evil)
- Why men perform physical labor to survive (Part of Gods curse for disobedience)
- Why childbirth is painful (Part of Gods curse for disobedience)
- Why serpents don't have legs (Part of Gods curse for disobedience)
Like I said this OP is getting way too long. I am going to close it here. Let the discussion begin.