Creation.com has published this piece attempting to debunk my research on the biblical monster Behemoth. Those of you devastatingly attractive loose-cannon rock stars that have read my book on the Creation Museum (Why haven’t you? The reviews melt faces.) know that I argue Behemoth was not a real animal, but a west Semitic chaos deity. Along with many Semitists from backwards, rinky-dink institutions you’ve probably never heard of like the Hebrew University of Jerusalem or Oxford, I believe Behemoth was probably a mythological creature based around the attributes of a bull--a view going back to early Judaism.
Additionally, examining features of the Hebrew texts, I agree with many translators like Rob Alter at Berkley
or Edward Greenstein at Bar-Ilan University
that the infamous verse about Behemoth’s tail being “like a cedar” is likely a reference to the creature’s penis.
That last sentence is what we call foreshadowing in the writing biz and is designed to hold everyone's internet napalmed attention spans over while we all join hands and embark on this magical journey together. (Oh, believe me, it gets magical.)
'Everyone who disagrees with me and my Creationist friends are liberals'
|screenshot of Price's article|
I should start by pointing out that the article in question is written by a guy named Paul Price
. He doesn't have a formal Biblical Studies background but has written prolifically for Creation.com. Even though I’m going to be roasting him to make this not boring, I secretly think he’s a swell guy for taking the time to interact with my ideas.
Price opens by breaking some dark news to my friend Rob Rowe and me. We didn’t know this about ourselves, but he’s diagnosed us straight from the title... We're liberals: “Responding to Liberal Scholarship on Behemoth.”
Now, before my irises turn completely black, my tongue forks, and I start expressing all my political opinions exclusively through Harry Potter references, a clarification: Many of you darling naïve old timers with academic education within the marmoreal halls of Western theology are probably thinking that Price’s accusation here means Rob and I advocate for that complex theological project birthed in the late 18th century Germanic tradition of Schleiermacher that matured into the Princeton Modernist controversy. Maybe we subscribe to the Bushnellian critique of the atonement? Maybe we chat approvingly between cigar drags about Munger’s emphasis of true religion, not as doctrine but living, or of the ecumenical value of Rudolf Otto's sensus numinis?—you know the actual defining hallmarks of the tradition of theological liberalism?
Absolutely not. That’s dumb. You’re dumb.
Liberal here is instead being used in its more contemporary totally badass sense—a pejorative you call the other guy so your own team can immediately determine who the villain is. The closest definition Price gives of our liberalism is the diagnostic: “All these scholars likely accept an evolutionary worldview...and would thus be unwilling to consider that... [Job] might include a description of a living dinosaur.” In this usage, I’m inferring the semantic range of liberal circumscribes everyone who isn’t a Young Earth creationist.
Good to know.
About that picture of a brachiosaurus being stabbed to death in the Creation Museum
|Display in the Kentucky Creation Museum Lobby|
As you can see, Price believes like most young earthers that Behemoth in Job 40 was a dinosaur—that Job was seeing living sauropods loitering in his backyard kinda like a Bronze Age remake of that scene in Jurassic park where Dr. Grant gawks in awe as brachiosauruses howl whale noises in the distance. In my book, I’ve pointed out that one of the first images you’re hit with opening the front door of the 27-million-dollar Creation Museum is wall art pairing Job 40 next to an image of one these creatures being stabbed to death by men with spears (for the kids).
I find this amusing given that God’s whole purpose in even bringing up Behemoth and Leviathan in the story is to show off how He’s King over creation since He’s the only one that can humble them—not stupid frail humans like Job. Puny man, your “sword, spear, dart and javelin” barely provoke a yawn out of Leviathan. “He counts iron as straw” as he laughs at you. Behemoth? “Only his Maker can approach him with His sword” (v.19) No mortal can “take him” or “pierce his nose with a snare” (v.24). Despite this, the Kentucky Creation Museum apparently thinks Behemoth groaned his way to extinction at the mercy of dudes with pointy sticks while Sarah McLachlan crooned “In the Arms of an Angel” in the background.
When did the dinos go extinct?
I’m glad I’ve pretended you’ve asked. Like Ken Ham and his crew, Creation.com’s authors typically ignore the obvious fact that the genealogies in Genesis are mathematically contrived and often evidently symbolic (e.g. Enoch’s death at 365 years old or Lamech at 777. Here's a fancy pants paper on the topic for the uninitiated
). They therefore whip out their calculators in front of a J Mac and typically tally up a date for the Global Flood to around 2350 BC--Bishop Ussher style. I’m a little embarrassed by how many of their articles I’ve read about this (e.g. here
, and here
). Since Noah loaded the dinosaurs on the ark (because of course he did), we are assured they were still stomping around on the earth after the 24th century.
Why the Lord had Noah round up all the dinos onto the ark knowing they would just go extinct pretty soon after is beyond me. God works in mysterious ways. Stop asking questions, or I'll get one of the nuns in here with a yard stick.
Their date of the Flood is frankly ridiculous
In the words of another one of these articles
: “all civilizations discovered by archaeology must fit into the last 4,285 years” (since the Flood would have obliterated and reset all material culture before then). As your benevolent tour guide, it behooves me to point out that c. 2300 BC isn’t exactly Pleistocenic pre-history. It’s some eight centuries after the conventional date range of the King Narmer Pallette documenting early Egyptian writing. Their calculation barrels straight through the conventional date of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom and violates Pharaonic chronology no matter how you dice it. That date yells, "Oh yeah!" like the Kool-Aid Man as it smashes through the glorious Age of the Pyramid Builders. Their popular calculated date of 2348 BC
drops our time machine at the turn of the establishment of the Akkadian Empire and its capital.
|Dinosaurs onboard Ken Ham's $100 million|
Ark Encounter (source: Wiki commons).
None of these sprawling civilizations got the memo during this period that they were scheduled by most major Young Earth organizations to have been annihilated in the watery apocalypse that fossilized the T-Rexes. We are required to believe the writers on these Creationist websites have bested the consensus of thousands of historians, chronologists, archeologists, and material scientists working across globe within dozens of converging disciplines. In this sense, the articles these websites churn out
floating strategies for compressing nearly all civilizational chronology and archeological finds to after the 24th century are breath takingly conspiratorial.
The biggest reason we know behemoth is a supernatural animal and not a dinosaur
I'll end this post by refuting Price's most important claim then mop up the more complex details in Part 2
. If Price's article were the Death Star, this would be its conveniently torpedo-able reactor core.
“The context [of Behemoth] clearly indicates that God is describing something real that He created, just as he described many other real-world animals in the prior chapters just before this.”
Every single time I have seen Behemoth discussed, people argue that he and Leviathan—a FIRE. BREATHING. DRAGON. must be literal animals in this second discourse because God’s first discourse describes horses and ostriches.
The reason this argument is clearly wrong is that Behemoth is poetically and conceptually paired with Leviathan. God introduces this section by challenging Job to “bring low the proud.” He then presents Behemoth and Leviathan together to illustrate his own power in bringing the proud low. We are certain that Leviathan is a Semitic chaos god, so this implies Behemoth is as well.
I’ll quickly unpack this for those new to stalking me on the internet. If you want the longer nerd version, you can read my chapter on Leviathan for free here
. Job 41:25 (Hebrew verse 17) says of Leviathan that “gods [elim
] fear him”--a weird comment to make about a natural animal (compare to the fear the gods possess of Yamm-Nahar in KTU
1.2). We are also told repeatedly that Leviathan is a fire breathing aquatic dragon. In the Hebrew grammar of Psalm 74:14, Leviathan is clearly marked as a hydra with multiple heads (which young earthers have typically missed because they don’t bother with Hebrew). So, he is a multi-headed fire-breathing dragon feared by the gods. Psalm 74 claims God killed Leviathan in order to create the world. Not only would this contradict Genesis 1 if taken literally, but this Psalm was written as the Jews were being hauled off to Babylon, and it parallels the Babylonian creation myth Enuma Elish where their champion god Marduk slays an aquatic cosmic dragon to create the world from its body.
Likewise, why does Isaiah 27:1 have God slaying Leviathan again at the eschaton if we are to understand Leviathan as a literal animal? (Apparently, God enjoys beating up poor Mosasaurs.)
Following so far? We have a multi-headed, fire-breathing, aquatic, cosmogonic, yet eschatological dragon feared by the gods that God fights to establish his kingship over creation paralleled blatantly by the Bible itself with a Babylonian deity from which the universe was created.
By the way, Leviathan isn’t only mentioned in the Bible.
In the Hebrew of Job 7:12; 9:13; 26:12, and Isaiah 51:9 we find God battling this dragon under its many titles. These texts are similar to the opening story of the Ugaritic Baal Cycle where Baal has to defeat a dragon—who represents the cosmic sea—to claim his kingship over the gods. If you think I’m a fork-tonged liberal for daring to compare your grandma’s Bible to Baal hymns, you can compare the passages yourself:
The creature is spelled with the same consonants and bears the same cognate Semitic titles in this here far older Baal text. He also has seven heads, undoubtedly like he does in Psalm 74:14.
The clearly supernatural and mythic status of the chaos dragon implies that his literary twin Behemoth isn’t a natural animal either. (There I go, interpreting the Bible with the Bible—like a lib). I’ve pointed this out like a broken record every time I have discussed this subject, including in exchanges with Ken Ham, and no one (including Prices’ article) has ever bothered to acknowledge this or cross blades with me on this point despite decades of Creation.com and Answers in Genesis teaching Leviathan must have been a fire breathing dragon that literally existed in nature—cuz Bombardiere beetles. This same silence on all this context about Leviathan is palpable in that 'scholarly' article Simon Turpin published on the Answers in Genesis website about Behemoth last month
That’s enough introduction. In Part 2
I’ll cover Price’s specific arguments. I'll provide seven reasons we know Behemoth isn't a dinosaur, my reasons for believing he is a bull, and discuss the creature’s wiggly bits as promised. I have a lot of interesting details to share in this regard that didn't make it into my book.
You’re all gorgeous studs and babes with necks like the tower of David covered with a thousand gleaming shields.
I am very familiar Paul Price I am part of a evolution vs creation debate group on reddit which he used to frequent.ReplyDelete
He is truly on of the most dishonest person I have ever met in my life
Let me tell you a story he advocates from a concept know has genetic entropy. Which basically says the genome is degrading and we are all doomed. This idea is based upon a bastardization of the work of Motoo Kimura. So one of our geneticists in the group showed Paul how Kimuras work doesn't show what Paul thinks it does by citing some of his Kimuras latter work. What does Paul do admit his mistake? Of course not what he does is make a second account goes to the genetics sub reddit. Then he asks the guys on that sub why Kimura changed his mind not understanding that Kimura never did.
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