Monday, August 23, 2010

More on the Historical Bible Characters Question

Not from me, but from Bill Heroman (whom I had the pleasure to meet in New Orleans last fall). He didn't join the earlier conversation here but his conclusions are in part close to what I've been saying on the subject.

First of all, it is NOT evidence for Adam's historicity to point out that both Jesus and Paul spoke about Adam as if he were real. This is unfortunate, from one way of thinking. However, the pattern of Jesus and Paul IS an example of how we might speak and write about Adam. Thus, we might do as well as Jesus and Paul did if we continue speaking AS IF Adam were, in fact, a historical figure. (Was he? That's an important but unanswerable question. I'm saying, of necessity, we might do well to let these remain separate issues.)
Read his post - Genesis AS IF History.

If you're following the conversation here about biblical references and historical characters, I'm still working on the follow up post about Daniel in Ezekiel 14. Anybody have access to Block's commentary and want to send me the pages where he deals with the question?


  1. How would you like those pages sent? I do own the commentary and could help by sending the pages if you like (esp. as I think I was the one who first proposed that you might be interested in taking a look at it :-). Just let me know.

  2. Thanks once again, Doug. You look sharp without the mutton chops, btw. ;-)

    One point: I do hope it's clear to everyone that a literary analysis which assumes historicity is not the same thing as an (four-dimensional) historical analysis.

    A century or two ago, perhaps it it would have been. But these days, those seem to be vastly different approaches.

    "How would the meaning of this text change if these events really happened?"

    is a far different question than

    "If this text's claims are factual, then what do we really know (about what happened)?"

  3. Rick, PDF emailed to the address in my profile would be great. I tried Google books but they only have a preview of vol. 2.

    Bill, I understand the difference, but I think too often we go from assuming a basic historicity to claiming the way the bible talks about these people as historical proof. Personally, I think there must be some basis in real events for Adam and Eve. Were they "Adam and Eve" as we understand them now? Probably not. (Adam = Man; Eve = Life, Things that make you go hmmmm...)

  4. I should be able to get you that pdf some time later today...and I agree with Bill about the mutton chops ;-) (which I sported for several years myself...they were really fun to fluff out).

  5. But I liked the mutton chops. Clean shaven seems to be better for the professional world though. The picture's the same one that will go with my writer bio for Bible Study Magazine.

  6. Rick, you had mutton chops? Wow. Did they converge on your lip? ;-)

    Doug, I admit some degree of not-literality is likely, but not certain. At any rate, here's what I said in a private chat on FB, about my post:

    ...even if "Adam" merely *represents* man, we can still gain insights by reading Gen.1-3 AS IF it had been actual. Not as fictive literature I say, but as history.

    ...I think interpreters have a tendency to over allegorize, to say the least, and the creative equating of themes, symbols and imageries just drives me positively batty.

    [but] play out a historical analysis on Gen 1-3 as far as you can, consider what kind of conclusions seem reasonable, and *then* take a fresh look at the whole thing, after that. If metaphor/allegory/thematic overtones are indeed supposed to be the main thing, I should think we'd find more solid ground by drawing conclusions on those points *after* making a pseudo-historical effort, than otherwise.

    Or maybe something like that.


  7. PS: Rick, your profile's become non-click-through-able.

  8. Sorry...I'll have to fix that. Thanks for letting me know. And apparently my chops did move to the upper lip and the hair on my head is slowly (or not so slowly) migrating to my chin. :-)

  9. Rick, my draft on the Daniel in Ezekiel question was getting so long I decided to go ahead and post the first half. Part 2 will cover the arguments in favor of an ID w/ biblical Daniel after I look at Block. What I've found so far arguing in favor of the connection has not been persuasive.

  10. Perhaps you might find this article by Dan Wallace to be helpful reading as well

  11. Thanks, Rick. It is a useful summary of the arguments, but I find he falls into the same mistake of assuming the ID w/ biblical Daniel is certain once doubt has been cast on the arguments for Dnil. I have no particular bent toward proving one or the other but I don't understand why so many articles take this "if I proved you wrong then I'm right" approach.