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poetinahat
07-17-2006, 05:45 AM
Hi, all --

So, I've been in the Christian church my whole life, but extremely passive. I'm making some sputtering attempts to understand and get more involved. Part of this effort is reading the Bible.

Now, I've started with Genesis, as the study group I've joined is on a forced hiatus (key people away). But I've got a question early on, and there will be more like it:

Just where did Cain's wife come from?

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, but it feels as though there's a giant 'plot hole' right there.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Melisande
07-17-2006, 06:00 AM
I am not Christian, but I have always been interested in religions, every kind. I used to contemplate that very question a lot, until I read "Isaac Asimov Explaines the Bible". I can really recommend that book, because Isaac Asimov breaks down the Old Testament in a very simple and plausible way; the history of the region, the dynamics of the time, and presents some really thought-provoking ideas.

I stumbled over the book at our local library, looking for something completely different, but I truly enjoyed it.

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 06:05 AM
Thanks, Melisande -- I'll look around for that one!

Outside Douglas Adams, Asimov is about the only sci-fi I've ever read: the Foundation trilogy.

Saint Fool
07-17-2006, 06:57 AM
Cain's wife is a 'plot hole'.

Now various denominations may have come up with their own explanations, but biblically, not a clue.

Shwebb
07-17-2006, 07:08 AM
:popcorn:

MacAllister
07-17-2006, 07:11 AM
But our own Liam Jackson has a terrific book coming out (http://www.liamjackson.com/) with St. Martin's Press, using those OT plot holes for a jumping off point...

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 07:42 AM
Nice response, Mac.

What'll really get your goat is to ask why did God reject Cain's offering?

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 08:08 AM
Good point, ec. I was wondering about that. Why?

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 08:18 AM
I think there are some really vague qualifiers in the books that come after, but never any real explanation about why God rejects his offering.

I'm up for any explanation. I've heard a few, but some of them come from other books not included in the bible.

There's the explanation that Abel gave the best of his sheep while Cain only offered his crop.

There's an explanation dealing with blood sacrifice.

There's also an explanation involving Cain's wife (which is why I brought up my last post).

Then, there's the faith answer: God knows why and we should just trust in his judgement.

It's a very interesting topic.

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 08:28 AM
Then, there's the faith answer: God knows why and we should just trust in his judgement.
But if that were the case, what would we have to learn from this answer? How would God's response to Cain enable people to better understand how God wants them to behave? What good does it do people to know God's response if it doesn't help them live better lives?

In a Christian context, I see two explanations from my uninformed viewpoint:

1) People must trust God, no matter how unfair or unfathomable His judgment appears;

2) It's only through Jesus that humans have access to the Kingdom of God. Hence, we should not expect to be able to understand any of God's actions from the Old Testament (i.e., prior to Jesus' appearance on earth).

Shwebb
07-17-2006, 08:42 AM
As far as the sacrifice goes, do you think it is possible that Cain already knew what God's requirements for sacrifice were, and he didn't follow them?

Perhaps they aren't spelled out because the audience Genesis was for would already know the context, as well, so it made sense for them.

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 09:03 AM
But if that were the case, what would we have to learn from this answer? How would God's response to Cain enable people to better understand how God wants them to behave? What good does it do people to know God's response if it doesn't help them live better lives?

The object of that particular tale is that murder is wrong in God's eyes. Cain's story is an object lesson in right and wrong, although I would sure like to know the reason behind God's choices.



As far as the sacrifice goes, do you think it is possible that Cain already knew what God's requirements for sacrifice were, and he didn't follow them?

Probably, but it doesn't say that, so how are we supposed to know? Genesis gives little indication concerning what Cain knew and didn't. It said that God favored Abel's sacrifice.


Perhaps they aren't spelled out because the audience Genesis was for would already know the context, as well, so it made sense for them.

True. Or, for that audience, it didn't matter because the lesson was about murder not the correct sacrifice.

But this still causes some trouble for me: from the passage, it seems that God's judgement is arbitrary.

Why else would he choose Abel's sacrifice over Cain's? One wonders if he chose Cain's over Abel's, would the outcome have been different?

reph
07-17-2006, 09:09 AM
I've seen an explanation of the rejected-sacrifice problem, interpreting the story as a metaphor about human prehistory rather than a literal account of events. This is not for biblical literalists. Abel represents animal husbandry and herding; Cain represents agriculture. Having God show a preference for Abel's offering was a way to express the higher value placed on meat and dairy products, which, with their concentration of protein, enabled societies of the time to thrive and advance faster than when grains had been the main food.

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 09:11 AM
Back to your original question:


Just where did Cain's wife come from?

One version I read speculated that Cain's wife was Abel's twin sister and Abel's wife was Cain's twin sister. I don't recall where that came from, but it was from someone's holy book.

Ah, here's a link to check it out (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/cain.html).

Just some thoughts on the matter...

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 09:17 AM
The object of that particular tale is that murder is wrong in God's eyes. Cain's story is an object lesson in right and wrong, although I would sure like to know the reason behind God's choices.
Agreed; it's really the rejected-sacrifice problem that rattles me. How am I to know, if I make an offering to God, that it won't be rejected or un-pleasing to Him?

The lesson seems to be 'Do your best - if God doesn't appreciate your effort, cop it. What will please Him is for you to guess.'

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 09:29 AM
Agreed; it's really the rejected-sacrifice problem that rattles me. How am I to know, if I make an offering to God, that it won't be rejected or un-pleasing to Him?

The lesson seems to be 'Do your best - if God doesn't appreciate your effort, cop it. What will please Him is for you to guess.'

It's perplexing.

This whole rejected sacrifice thing bothers me more than the Cain's wife paradox.

Okay, so they mention the first man and woman. That's pretty common in creation mythologies. Then it gets male-centric from there on out. That's fine, everyone was moving from a foraging culture to aggro-centric culture and things depended on men to do the hunting, till the fields, and make the mistakes.

Got it. But that sacrifice...what was wrong with it? What made it unpleasing. If God is omnipotent, then he knew that disapproval of Cain's sacrifice would lead to the murder of Abel.

Very odd. Sadly, there is no solid textual answer.

writerterri
07-17-2006, 09:36 AM
Hello!


Rob, I had the same question come up. I got a few answers, but here's what I think since the Bible doesn't say.

Where did Eve come from? Why couldn't have God made Cain a wife like that too? I makes sense to me. I don't think he married his sister. I think God, who is a mystery, used Cain's rib or created her like he did Adam, from the dust and breathed air into her and sent her to be married.

It's one of the many mysteries we have to wait until we meet God to know.

Tez

writerterri
07-17-2006, 09:40 AM
It's perplexing.

This whole rejected sacrifice thing bothers me more than the Cain's wife paradox.

Okay, so they mention the first man and woman. That's pretty common in creation mythologies. Then it gets male-centric from there on out. That's fine, everyone was moving from a foraging culture to aggro-centric culture and things depended on men to do the hunting, till the fields, and make the mistakes.

Got it. But that sacrifice...what was wrong with it? What made it unpleasing. If God is omnipotent, then he knew that disapproval of Cain's sacrifice would lead to the murder of Abel.

Very odd. Sadly, there is no solid textual answer.


I think God rejected his sacrafice as a test. We are tested all the time. It's how character is built in us and how He shapes us.

God's always a zillion steps ahead of us. He says His ways are higher than ours.

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 09:49 AM
I think God rejected his sacrafice as a test. We are tested all the time. It's how character is built in us and how He shapes us.

God's always a zillion steps ahead of us. He says His ways are higher than ours.
That's the thing I wonder about, though. If I've failed, I'd like to know why, so I can do better the next time! I can't get better if I don't know what I need to change.

"Honey, why are you mad?"

"If you don't know that, then I'm not going to tell you!"

(shakes head in bewilderment)

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 09:54 AM
I don't think he married his sister.

Incest wasn't outlawed until after Noah's time, I believe, but I could be mistaken on that one.



I think God rejected his sacrafice as a test. We are tested all the time. It's how character is built in us and how He shapes us.

God's always a zillion steps ahead of us. He says His ways are higher than ours.

Yeah, that's one of the common answers too [see the last option on this post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=659057&postcount=9) ]

If this final statement is true, then the Bible would be best off with two words: Trust God.

It wastes quite a bit of space to get to that single idea.

I think people have a problem with some of these stories because it's one of those "have it both ways" situations. On one hand, the Bible is meant to be the word of God, a history of creation; on the other hand, it's meant to be a general handbook with guidelines, not laws. Then, pick one, or both of these options, to fit any question.

Either it's accurate or metaphor, but it can't be both. I think that is one of the main arguments here about Cain's wife and Cain's sacrifice rejection: what is the Bible meant to be?

Then it comes down to which branch of Christianity you live on because all the different branches ascribe their very own meaning to the text.

It becomes difficult to reconcile all these different POVs. If it wasn't meant to be thought about and discussed, questioned and dissected, pondered and theorized, then it would be more clear cut than it is.

Rather, it is vague, difficult, multi-layered, imperfect. It varies in tone and interpretation. Even God's covenent changes from the Old Testament to the New.

If it wasn't meant to be questioned, then the Bible would contain just two words: Trust God.

writerterri
07-17-2006, 10:09 AM
That's the thing I wonder about, though. If I've failed, I'd like to know why, so I can do better the next time! I can't get better if I don't know what I need to change.

"Honey, why are you mad?"

"If you don't know that, then I'm not going to tell you!"

(shakes head in bewilderment)

One thing we fail to realize is that it's His job to change us. There's a lot of I's in your last sentence. He already knows we are going to fail that's where His grace abounds. What He wants is our hearts and He will change the rest. It's automatic when He has our full hearts and attention. "Remain in me and I shall remain in you". Change just follows with out any effort from us; God does all the changing. But when we remain passive there is no work in us being done, but God is patient and will wait until we realize that then He begins to work on us and change takes place. It takes the "I" right out of it, right?


You don't need to change anything, you just need to give God your heart. He will do the rest.

writerterri
07-17-2006, 10:19 AM
Incest wasn't outlawed until after Noah's time, I believe, but I could be mistaken on that one.



Yeah, that's one of the common answers too [see the last option on this post (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=659057&postcount=9) ]

If this final statement is true, then the Bible would be best off with two words: Trust God.

It wastes quite a bit of space to get to that single idea.

I think people have a problem with some of these stories because it's one of those "have it both ways" situations. On one hand, the Bible is meant to be the word of God, a history of creation; on the other hand, it's meant to be a general handbook with guidelines, not laws. Then, pick one, or both of these options, to fit any question.

Either it's accurate or metaphor, but it can't be both. I think that is one of the main arguments here about Cain's wife and Cain's sacrifice rejection: what is the Bible meant to be?

Then it comes down to which branch of Christianity you live on because all the different branches ascribe their very own meaning to the text.

It becomes difficult to reconcile all these different POVs. If it wasn't meant to be thought about and discussed, questioned and dissected, pondered and theorized, then it would be more clear cut than it is.

Rather, it is vague, difficult, multi-layered, imperfect. It varies in tone and interpretation. Even God's covenent changes from the Old Testament to the New.

If it wasn't meant to be questioned, then the Bible would contain just two words: Trust God.

For me, I don't' even worry about that stuff. I figure someday I'll find out and the whole darn mystery will come clear.

God knows me inside and out and He's the only one who does. I just want to make sure I'm right with Him and my destiny is secure and I do something for His kingdom here on earth (my part in life) and live according to His will for me. I've had a darn rough one for sure and I'm not too good at trusting but God has never failed me as long as I keep the communication open between us and know that He is in charge.

poetinahat
07-17-2006, 10:32 AM
One thing we fail to realize is that it's His job to change us. There's a lot of I's in your last sentence. He already knows we are going to fail that's where His grace abounds. What He wants is our hearts and He will change the rest. It's automatic when He has our full hearts and attention. "Remain in me and I shall remain in you". Change just follows with out any effort from us; God does all the changing. But when we remain passive there is no work in us being done, but God is patient and will wait until we realize that then He begins to work on us and change takes place. It takes the "I" right out of it, right?


You don't need to change anything, you just need to give God your heart. He will do the rest.
I disagree, but it's off topic, so I'll drop it.

writerterri
07-17-2006, 10:36 AM
I disagree, but it's off topic, so I'll drop it.



Perhaps I misunderstood. Sorry.

Birol
07-17-2006, 11:11 AM
One of the explanations I've heard about Cain's wife deals with the combination of Biblical accounts with scientific understanding. These explanations depend on believing not that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman created, but that they were the first Christian man and woman. Starting from that assumption, the explanation is that there were other people in existence at the same time as Adam and Eve so Cain's wife could have come from them.

reph
07-17-2006, 11:22 AM
terri, I think you and poet are talking about different things. Your posts are about emotional or spiritual change, which I believe falls in the general area of becoming a better Christian. poet's questions are more intellectual – how did it make sense for God to reject one sacrifice and accept the other, was there something wrong with offering what came from the land, as opposed to livestock? Both topics have to do with pleasing God, but they approach it from different angles.

P.H.Delarran
07-17-2006, 11:24 AM
ok, this is how i understand it:
Cain made his offering to God out of obligation. he didn't make a sacrifice.
Able gave his very best as an act of love, worship. he made a personal sacrifice.
these two different approaches to the same act revealed their hearts.
one did what he thought he was supposed to do, but he didn't have any passion for it. it was just 'works'. it showed where he placed God in his heart.
the other took the effort to give something valueable, putting God above even his own livelihood. he sought to please God, not merely obey Him. he did this of his own will, revealing his awe of God.

writerterri
07-17-2006, 11:36 AM
terri, I think you and poet are talking about different things. Your posts are about emotional or spiritual change, which I believe falls in the general area of becoming a better Christian. poet's questions are more intellectual – how did it make sense for God to reject one sacrifice and accept the other, was there something wrong with offering what came from the land, as opposed to livestock? Both topics have to do with pleasing God, but they approach it from different angles.


I believe so. These things make my intellectual head ache. I talk from personal experience and the rest I'm not really qualified to do so.

I'm not good at the corperate world, but I can knock your socks off with a meatloaf. :D

Roger J Carlson
07-17-2006, 05:17 PM
Agreed; it's really the rejected-sacrifice problem that rattles me. How am I to know, if I make an offering to God, that it won't be rejected or un-pleasing to Him?

The lesson seems to be 'Do your best - if God doesn't appreciate your effort, cop it. What will please Him is for you to guess.'To my mind, the lesson is that God wants our lives, not our stuff. The gift of a lamb as a sacrifice is the giving of a life. It represents our lives. The gift of grain is just our things.

Nothing we have is of any value to God: Isa.64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.

Not even our good works: Gal.2:16 - Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ,...and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

The only that we have that is of value to him is our lives: Matt.22:37 - Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is called the greatest commandment and it says what God really wants from us.

The sacrifice of the lamb also foreshadows the death of Jesus, who was called the Lamb of God. John.1:29 - The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Because Jesus made the sacrifice, we no longer have to. Romans 3:24 & 25 - Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God...

Poet, it's your life He wants, not your money, not your works, you.

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 07:29 PM
God knows me inside and out and He's the only one who does. I just want to make sure I'm right with Him and my destiny is secure and I do something for His kingdom here on earth (my part in life) and live according to His will for me.

[That last bit of ephasis is mine.]

How do you know his will? That's poet's point in all this. If eating pork displeases God, should we only find out when we are punished for it?

I'd hate to reach the gates of Heaven only to find a long list of sins I didn't know I committed because there was no indication that watching Simpson on Thursdays was a sin.

What happened to Cain, at least what is apparent in the text of Genesis, is comparable to two children bringing two pictures they drew to mommy, mommy liking one and not the other, and one of the children get jealous.

When the jealous one hits the other one out of anger, the first time anyone was ever struck by another in the house, the first is punished and kicked out of the house.

God uses Cain to demonstrate that jealousy and murder are wrong, even though neither existed prior to that moment. So they are wrong retroactively and Cain is punished for it.

Basically, how do we know right from wrong? If I trust God to lead me, then if I react to my anger and break something, was that in God's hands? Or should I take some responsibility for my action? How do I know that displeases God?

If I trust God to take care of things, what happens if I get so angry I murder someone? If I trust in God, why would he allow me to do such a thing if he is in charge?

I think the Bible teaches quite a bit of personal responsibility and personal activism. Faith is not something that is meant to be passive; instead, it is an active quality.

Melisande
07-17-2006, 07:39 PM
One of the explanations I've heard about Cain's wife deals with the combination of Biblical accounts with scientific understanding. These explanations depend on believing not that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman created, but that they were the first Christian man and woman. Starting from that assumption, the explanation is that there were other people in existence at the same time as Adam and Eve so Cain's wife could have come from them.

Shouldn't that really be the first Jews? I mean, Genesis is supposedly about a time some four and a half thousand years ago, I think, and Christ lived approx two thousand years ago.

But I agree with the theory that Adam and Eve are an allegory for a tribe or clan that became the founders of a religion, and a belief in the idea that there is but one God.

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 07:39 PM
To my mind, the lesson is that God wants our lives, not our stuff. The gift of a lamb as a sacrifice is the giving of a life. It represents our lives. The gift of grain is just our things.

If this is true, then shucks to Cain since he was a tiller of soil. Since he tilled the soil and all he had to offer was his crop, then he was at a disadvantage anyway so he was pretty much set up.

The value of metaphor is nice and the lamb mythology throughout is interesting, but in terms of that scene in Genesis, it basically says that God only wants first-rate sacrifices and not what you can give.

citymouse
07-17-2006, 08:09 PM
Dear P--, you say up until now you've been passive in your Christian Church and you want to become more active. So you're decided to study the Bible and you're beginning with the Old Testament. IMHO, you've begun at the wrong place. If your intention is to better understand the message of redemption and the promises of Christ then you should begin with the New Testament. It is in the good news of the four gospels where you will find direction.
You might also want to attend services or meetings where those who have experienced the Holy Spirit in their lives testify. Remember Jesus said "he who hears you [apostles] hears Me." And Saint Paul said, "Faith cometh through hearing."
Now I'm not saying don't read the OT. It's fine for a mind exercise but from what you've said, your aim is to become fully whole in the church.
Also if you stumble onto the issues of creationism vs science, just remember that the Bible tells you how to go to heaven; not how the heavens go. That stuff can make you crazy!

Pax et Bonum



Hi, all --

So, I've been in the Christian church my whole life, but extremely passive. I'm making some sputtering attempts to understand and get more involved. Part of this effort is reading the Bible.

Now, I've started with Genesis, as the study group I've joined is on a forced hiatus (key people away). But I've got a question early on, and there will be more like it:

Just where did Cain's wife come from?

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, but it feels as though there's a giant 'plot hole' right there.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Birol
07-17-2006, 08:13 PM
Shouldn't that really be the first Jews? I mean, Genesis is supposedly about a time some four and a half thousand years ago, I think, and Christ lived approx two thousand years ago.

Probably so, but the explanation was offered by Christians in a Christian context in response to a question similiar to the OP. I don't make any claim as to whether or not it's accurate.

Shwebb
07-17-2006, 08:18 PM
Okay, since we are on the subject of Cain's offering, to me, it looks like Cain already knew his offering wasn't acceptible. God speaks to Cain as though he already knew it wouldn't be accepted. God didn't reject Cain, he rejected his offering. To me, there is a difference.

And I'm not sure that herding and raising animals is necessarily favored; maybe it favors trade--couldn't Cain have bartered for an animal with his crops?

Even when Cain killed his brother and lied about it, God didn't kill Cain--he sent him away and cursed his ability to grow anything from the ground. The mark on him was meant to protect him, not curse him.

katiemac
07-17-2006, 08:37 PM
Just where did Cain's wife come from?

I hope you don't mind me jumping in here a little late.

I always just kind of assumed, growing up with knowledge of both religion and evolution (a topic I'm particularly fascinated with), that while God created Adam and Eve, evolution sort of took care of the rest. Whether or not He physically molded them, or rather if they were the end result of said evolution, the first modern homosapiens, I'm not sure. But I think it's a little bit of both. So, then, other evolved individuals would have existed, including Cain's wife.

Anyway, I realize the many flaws in that thought process as well, but that's been the best answer I've developed which addresses both of my beliefs, ever since I questioned it myself in Sunday school. It's something that's worked for me.

And, of course, I don't mean for this to become an evolution-vs-creationism debate, just IMO as always.

emeraldcite
07-17-2006, 09:34 PM
it looks like Cain already knew his offering wasn't acceptible.

verse?

Shwebb
07-17-2006, 11:22 PM
Genesis 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

Okay, it might read differently in a different translation, though. I don't usually use this one--it's NIV.

To me, it implies there were already sacrificial rules already known. And it seems that Cain didn't exactly do wrong by his sacrifice, just that it wasn't acceptible.

But, as always, I'm open to other possibilities.

P.H.Delarran
07-18-2006, 12:58 AM
Genesis 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."
......
also, the description of his body language is a clue to his disposition and suggests he knew he had done something unacceptable to God.

sassandgroove
07-18-2006, 01:53 AM
First off, I am not an expert...

I always took it that while Adam and Eve were the first, they weren't the only people GOd created. Also, in other texts, (not the bible) there are creation stories that have a woman named Lillith before Eve, but she didn't work out for some reason I can't remember right now...

As for Cain and his sacrifice, I don't think it is what he offers, but his attitude, like P.H.Delarran said. Able gave out of a desire to please God, Cain because he had to, not because he wanted to. GOd know our hearts above all else.

As for where to Start, I also like dabbling in both the OT and NT, and a little psalms to boot. Start where you are most comfortable.

Nateskate
07-18-2006, 02:08 AM
The general literalist view was that he took his sister for a wife, as the N.T implication was that all were descended from Adam. From a logistics standpoint, Adam and Eve lived close to a thousand years and would have the opportunity for countless offspring. However, he could have taken a niece for a wife, but again you would have had brothers and sisters joining as husband and wife at some point to start the ball rolling. Pre-Mosaic Law, there was no ban against sibs and cousins marrying.I believe Sarah was Abraham's half-sister- as Abraham's father probably had multiple wives. Polygamy was also quite popular back then.

The non-literalist view was that this was all a metaphor. However, then you'd have trouble explaining how sin came to all through Adam (N.T teaching) if there were different bloodlines.

writerterri
07-18-2006, 02:13 AM
[That last bit of ephasis is mine.]

How do you know his will? That's poet's point in all this. If eating pork displeases God, should we only find out when we are punished for it?

God says, everything is good. If you are eating in the company of someone who doesn't eat meat then you don't eat it either."

No, His grace allows for many mistakes. We aren't held accountable for what we didn't know was wrong. There is always room for error. God is agape love. My son didn't know eating a cockroach was wrong, but now that he's grown and knows he did it when he was a baby, I don't punish him. God allows us to call Him Father for a reason. We are made in his image; I am to my kids what God is to me. Only He is more than I'll ever be.

I didn't know His will for me and I failed at a lot of things, but I didn't fret. God's love boundless, his grace prevails all our failures and we learn from them. He wants us to talk to Him, ask questions, reason with Him. Reaching His will for our lives is a process for some of us. God is patient and more than willing to walk with you through each day, He already knows we are going to fail. Just like a baby who learns to walk and you take them to the park. You don't just let them go, you walk with them and teach them and take dirt out of their mouths, brush their knees off and help them walk again. God is the same way. He teaches us throughout our lives, wanting only one thing from us, ourselves. He wants us to make strides and keep growing in Him. That is his will. The rest just follows (He adds the rest to us). And before we know it we're doing His will.




I'd hate to reach the gates of Heaven only to find a long list of sins I didn't know I committed because there was no indication that watching Simpson on Thursdays was a sin.

That is not love and God says He is love. Read John 3:16. It's the gospel in a nut shell. There's only 1 requirement there for assuring your eternal life. He was the sacrifice for all sin. Meaning, when you believe that scripture all your sins are washed away. God promises never to remember them, past, present and future. If it's a lie then I'm doomed from just one sin I've ever committed. And if I sin while a believer He says to confess your sin, I am just and will forgive you. If I remain in that sin, then there are consequences waiting for me. But God will never lead us astray. He will always let you know by the soft conviction of the Holy Spirit. You know right from wrong.

If your child sees a hot coal and reaches for it will you let him grab it? God wouldn't either. But if you choose to touch it anyway, you get burned knowing He warned you not to touch it. Ignoring the Holy Spirit is called grieving Him. If one can't hear, so to speak, the Spirits voice, perhaps they have gone astray. Once we become a child of God He promises to never leave or forsake us. Making our walk right with Him is and should be our primary goal.

And if we are reading our Bibles and communicating with Him, we will know what is right and what is wrong. He wont just let us know when we get there. He parents us.





What happened to Cain, at least what is apparent in the text of Genesis, is comparable to two children bringing two pictures they drew to mommy, mommy liking one and not the other, and one of the children get jealous.

When the jealous one hits the other one out of anger, the first time anyone was ever struck by another in the house, the first is punished and kicked out of the house.

God uses Cain to demonstrate that jealousy and murder are wrong, even though neither existed prior to that moment. So they are wrong retroactively and Cain is punished for it.

I think that what it looks like on the surface, but runs much deeper than that. We can't think of it on a level such as God's.

I believe it set the stage for the middle east and all the hatred that goes on there.

I wouldn't have done the Cain and Able thing that way, but God's ways are higher than mine and not for me to know now. I think He was setting a stage for something and if one man set the example by dieing, then it was His will for them and many others would die too for that same reason. Jesus being the ultimate death as a will of God's. He asked God to let this cup pass from him, but said, not my will be done, but thy will. Jesus was murdered too. God had a reason. You either believe it or not. He leaves it up to us.



Basically, how do we know right from wrong? If I trust God to lead me, then if I react to my anger and break something, was that in God's hands? Or should I take some responsibility for my action? How do I know that displeases God?

We know because He wrote it on our hearts. You reacted in a foolish way and you know it because you feel it in your heart (your heart is still soft). There are many hard hearted people who ignore the feeling and the result is much worse. God says, Let not your hearts be hard. That comes from ignoring the Spirit. If I'm in that situation I say, "I acted stupid, I'm sorry, please forgive me."

Able didn't do anything wrong. He was doing God's will. God was setting a stage or example as a part of His will and plan. Able was murdered as a result and part of the plan. God is sovereign and we are asked not to question His authority. Do we understand what He was doing? No, but we will someday. For me, I rest in that.


If I trust God to take care of things, what happens if I get so angry I murder someone? If I trust in God, why would he allow me to do such a thing if he is in charge?

I don't think this was the case with Cain and Able. We have our own will. If we are doing God's will then we wont murder when we are angry. I think for the most part we have to allow Him to be in charge of our lives, by trusting Him. Perhaps Able didn't trust God to do what was best so he took matters into his own hands (he chose his own will). If we walk a path that leads to Him we are going to go off that path once in a while, but we must choose to go off the beaten path. We are always welcome back on though.


I think the Bible teaches quite a bit of personal responsibility and personal activism. Faith is not something that is meant to be passive; instead, it is an active quality. [/quote]

NicoleJLeBoeuf
07-18-2006, 02:44 AM
An exceedingly literalist answer to "Where did Cain's wife come from?" might be one that acknowledges that there are two stories of mankind's creation in Genesis. There's Genesis 1 ("male and female created He them") and Genesis 2 (which everyone here knows about). If one looks at those stories as both literally true (and not as poetic reflections of each other, or texts smerdged together from different source material), one might say that G2 was the creation of the ecosystem inside the Garden of Eden, while G1 was the creation of the whole dang world. Then we might say that Cain's wife was of the people created in Genesis 1.

Plotwise, that gives us a whole planet full of bit parts and secondary characters to introduce as needed.

(For one treatment of this "theory", see We Are The Other People (http://www.caw.org/articles/otherpeople.html). It's not very Christian-friendly, I'm afraid, and rather sarcastic in places, but given that it starts out with evangelists knocking on the door, I suppose it has its reasons.)

I'm not saying this explanation is right according to Christian theology. I am saying it is one conclusion that a human might come to by reading the text in question.

As for why does Cain's sacrifice not please, that's been explained to me as a story retroactively invented to explain why we have blood sacrifices and not crop sacrifices. This would be the not literalist explanation.

BarbJ
07-18-2006, 05:23 AM
"Genesis 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

From this we can understand it was his heart, not his physical offering, that God didn't accept. Cain was told right there that he was allowing sin into his heart, but Cain didn't listen, and he killed his brother. Refusal to admit his small wrong lead tio greater, as it invariably does. (And he probably gave a chintzy offering; he sounds like a bit of a jerk.) Bear two things in mind: 1. God was there; He spoke directly to Cain, not through a prophet as He did later, and 2. God can't be touched by sin, so Cain was rejecting God from his heart and his life. Why do you think we need a Savior?

When you're reading the Bible, remember that it's a whole, not bits and pieces, and the only sure answer to what the Bible means is in the Bible itself. When you start looking at a human's interpretation instead - well, you have to decide which human is right, or which you're going to believe even if he or she is wrong. Don't even believe me; believe God. God is not the author of confusion, but we humans certainly are. Look at the different interpretations on just these two pages.

As for Cain's wife, Adam had many children. Cain undoubtedly married his sister because God was giving us our history, and if there had been others wandering around, He would have told us. (Or Cain might have married his cousin; he was the first born but it doesn't say when he married. They lived a long, long time back then, and if you look at history this becomes clearer.) Remember, they were the second generation; the bloodline was still unpolluted by the many diseases that later caused interbreeding to become unhealthy. Many of the OT laws given by God had their basis in health, physical and mental.

If you want another version of Cain's offering, look at the widow's mite. Jesus honored her for why she gave, not what. If a rich man had given the mite, he would be labeled cheap by us, but Jesus may have honored him also if he gave out of compassion. Unlike us, God sees our hearts as part of our being, which, again, is why we need a Savior to cover our sins. Lord knows, my heart is pretty dirty.

The best resource for understanding the Bible is tha Bible itself. Read others, learn from them, but don't take their words as - well, as gospel. (My favorite is C.S. Lewis, but I don't agree with every thing he writes.) And to understand Christianity and Christ, reading the works of Christians is better. Asimov was an intelligent man, but he was not a Christian and his beliefs, or lack, tainted his works.

Most people would label me a literalist because I believe the Bible is the word of God. What I believe iis in a plain, not literal, reading of the Bible since some sections are obviously allegorical (because they say they are) or poetic, etc. Genesis is written as a historical record, as any student of ancient Hebrew can tell you by the wording. Bear in mind, any one can know there's a God, as the Bible itself points out, but the Bible is our sole source of information about Christ and His salvation. To doubt the Bible may lead to worse ... as the story of Cain's offering shows us.

Keep strong.:Hug2:

NicoleJLeBoeuf
07-18-2006, 05:57 AM
As for Cain's wife, Adam had many children. Cain undoubtedly married his sister because God was giving us our history, and if there had been others wandering around, He would have told us.By that same token, if there were a sister with Abel and Cain in Eden, surely God would have told us that too? At the time of the murder, the Bible only tells us that Eve had borne Adam two sons:


Adam [a] lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. [b] She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth [c] a man." 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.It seems like at some point we do have to make a logical leap and assume something that isn't spelled out in the Bible, whether it's a sister (but not a cousin; for Cain to have cousins, Adam or Eve would have had to have siblings) or other people created separately and living out to the East of Eden in the land of Nod.

Why is one assumption "undoubtedly true" while another assumption is held to the stricter standard of "if God wanted us to know that He would have told us"? That's a question that I imagine will have very interesting answers from different people who hold different assumptions.

Shwebb
07-18-2006, 07:24 AM
It would make more sense if there were other people, actually.

Not trying to derail the thread, but in Genesis 6 it mentions this:

1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

It might explain more fully this passage, if there were others from the beginning.

HoosierCowgirl
07-18-2006, 07:37 AM
First off, for Bible study, I'd go wtih the Gospel of John first. He wrote to a pretty cosmopolitan audience and cuts to the chase -- Jesus tells Nicodemus about being born again by chapter 3.

About Cain and Abel -- I agree with Barb that Cain's countenance seems to be the clue to his thoughts and heart.

There was precedent for animal sacrifice already -- God used skins of animals to clothe Adam and Eve after the fall.

Finally, coming from a farm -- we're harvesting wheat right now. Semi loads of it. How many tons would we have to give, to give until it hurts. (Given the weather and prices, I don't want to think about that, too much) Whereas a lamb could almost be a pet. I am now raising an orphan calf on a bottle and he is the cutest little beggar, black as spilled ink with big brown eyes. And such eyelashes! And he comes when he's called! To slit his throat and put him on an altar would be pretty awful.

Cain could have given a huge amount of grain in a very off-handed manner, whereas Abel would have had to think it through, whether a lamb was appropriate, and which lamb to give up.

Just a thought.

PS -- The calf's name right now is Buva, which FIL says is Pennsylvania Dutch for boy. In about 16 months he will be known as T-Bone, Sirloin, etc. I think we'll sell him before that happens.

P.H.Delarran
07-18-2006, 07:44 AM
(the mystery of where other people came from) has always felt to me like a riddle that one day will become clear, so obvious that we will wonder why we didn't see it. but it is puzzling in the now and can trip up many creation vs evolution discussions.
my thoughts are that we are missing something in the reading or the translations or maybe because God wants us to miss it. like Nicole suggested, maybe God did a whole lot of people creating, and then next we are told the specific story of Adam and Eve.
the bible is full of puzzles like this..think maybe that the purpose is to encourage questioning? as long as we keep searching its pages, think of the wonders we will discover.
i'm with thomas on this, we should be always asking.
i also find that for me many passages can take on new meaning as i pass through the years. my spiritual needs and comprehension changes. much like learning anything else. it's how life works.
it's one thing that confirms to me that God's word is indeed a living thing.

emeraldcite
07-18-2006, 07:52 AM
"Genesis 4:6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

From this we can understand it was his heart, not his physical offering, that God didn't accept. Cain was told right there that he was allowing sin into his heart, but Cain didn't listen, and he killed his brother. Refusal to admit his small wrong lead tio greater, as it invariably does. (And he probably gave a chintzy offering; he sounds like a bit of a jerk.) Bear two things in mind: 1. God was there; He spoke directly to Cain, not through a prophet as He did later, and 2. God can't be touched by sin, so Cain was rejecting God from his heart and his life. Why do you think we need a Savior?

You assume quite a bit.



Genesis 4:4-5 : 4The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

From the text, God first showed favor of the two brothers. Cain got angry. Then God gave him a warning about his anger. God rebukes him for not doing right.

Now the question is whether God is referring to Cain's anger or Cain's sacrifice.

You interpret that God is talking about Cain's anger. I interpret it as God not approving of his sacrifice.

Recall when you were a child and your parents were angry with you. You got angry. What did you do? Did you stare them eye to eye or did you look down to the ground, kicking the dirt?

You interpret his downcast face as one of shame for a bad sacrifice. I interpret it as shame over his anger at his father figure.

Who's right? I don't know, but that's the fun of reading the passages and talking about them. On this thread alone we have not one consensus from any side of the issue.

With a little research, you'll find that there is little consensus between literalists as well.

NicoleJLeBoeuf
07-18-2006, 10:36 AM
Perhaps the big lesson is, what isn't in the Bible isn't important to a Biblical understanding of God. From a Christian standpoint, do we really need to know where Cain's wife came from?

[pause for thought]

'Course, from a writerly standpoint, God's beta readers would have totally slammed Him for this omission. "Cain knew his wife, eh? Where the heck-o-la did she come from, then? She just magically appears? You've missed an entire opportunity to introduce her, tell us how they fell in love, compare her in Cain's mind to Eve (doesn't Oedipus predate all this stuff?), and all that. And is she from Eden or Nod? I mean, that kind of stuff is important to character development!"

Nateskate
07-18-2006, 03:35 PM
You have to look at the way things are structured. If you've read Malachi, its primarily addressed to priests (People who should know better)

One of the issues that God rebukes (strongly corrects) was that the people/priests were giving God their leftovers and broken stuff. It's like people donating stuff for a tax write-off (junk they didn't want in the first place)

God was saying (paraphrase- not exact quote) If you see me as Lord and Father, why do you not honor me (elevate- hold in high esteem) or give me respect. And he says, "If you gave these lame gifts to your governors would they be pleased? Then why do you expect me to be pleased.

In the context of Cain and Able, Able honored God by bringing his first fruit (the best of the best). Cain, on the other hand, brought God some "stuff" likely thrown together at the last minute. And God was saying, "I'm pleased when you honor me, but I'm not pleased when you despise me and think I'll take whatever junk you want to throw at me.

This lesson is a metaphor. Some people give God something that costs them- time/energy/resources. Other people give God their leftovers and expect God will be pleased with this. That is the lesson here.

Reverse this and look at it from human eyes. We were created in the image of God. To learn about God we can look at ourselves. God even used this technique of teaching by comparring himself to a husband and Israel to a wife.

If you give your wife/lover/whatever a costly gift of beautiful flowers she will be moved. If you give her a gift of dried up weeds hastily snatched from the yard before you walked into the house on valentine's day, would she be happy with your gift? Should she be happy with your gift?

If we are in God's image, and have feelings, then put yourself in God's place when someone brings you leftovers.

In fact, had Cain been a little child mistaking weeds for flowers, I'm convinced God would have been pleased, because God sees the heart and the intentions of the heart. However, Cain was an adult, and likely walked with God as his father had, and he wasn't some ignorant rube who didn't know any better. We know God talked to him, and actually tried to cheer him up and warn him about "sin is crouching at the door and desires to master you". So, the issue here wasn't Cain's ignorance. Heck, he had God's ear, and could have said, "What exactly didn't you like about my sacrifice?"

Jesus referred to the Widow's Mite, a gift that others thought was little. Jesus said "She gave more than all of these...these gave out of their abundance...she gave all that she had."

So, it isn't the actual "gift", but the heart of the giver that God sees. That's where Cain erred.

Zannie
07-18-2006, 06:36 PM
Here's my take on these questions, for what it's worth. I was raised in Christian circles, went to Christian schools, and still hang out with preachers and theology professors, so I've known hundreds of Christians, all with different perspectives. The answer to theological and biblical questions almost always depends on who you ask.

Nateskate's explanation above of why God accepted Abel's offering but not Cain's is the one I've encountered most consistently--the issue is not the nature of Cain's sacrifice but his motivation in offering it to God.

As emeraldcite mentioned earlier, it's a leap to assume Cain's countenance is absolute proof of his motives. He could have gotten offended and ornery only after his sacrifice was rejected by God. But there might be a clue in the description of their offerings. Cain brought God "an offering of the fruit of the ground," while Abel brought God "the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions" (Gen. 4:4, ESV). It's specified that Abel gave God the best he had. It's not specified that Cain did the same. It's a pretty consistent theme in the Old and New Testaments that God deserves our "first fruits." It's not clear that Cain offered this to God.



Perhaps the big lesson is, what isn't in the Bible isn't important to a Biblical understanding of God. From a Christian standpoint, do we really need to know where Cain's wife came from?

[pause for thought]

'Course, from a writerly standpoint, God's beta readers would have totally slammed Him for this omission.

This distinction is quite valid. If the Bible is the word of God, then it was written to tell his story, and he only inspired the writers to include the details that were relevant to the story he was telling. As readers, we might want more details for any number of reasons, especially when we focus on the individual stories. Christians have traditionally viewed the Bible as having one unified plot--the salvation story--that's shaped through hundreds of minor plots and details. The minor plots are only important as they contribute to the major plot. Personally, I find some of the minor plots so interesting that I'd love some more details about them.

Regarding the question about Cain's wife, the answer I've usually encountered is that they all married their siblings/relatives (outlined by Nateskate in an earlier post). But, whether this was the case or not, the specific answer just isn't provided in the text. The Bible leaves it out, just as it leaves out a lot of things.

I think it's confusing to look at the biblical text as a work of history the way we tend to understand history, even when one takes it as absolute truth. The purpose of the Bible is not to provide an exhaustive or thorough history of any culture or event. It's not just an outline of facts or information. And it's certainly not the story of human history. It's purpose is to be the story of God's interaction with humans, and so it only purports to answer those questions. Genesis doesn't try to provide a scientific explanation for how the world was created--it only provides the information relevant to its purpose: the world's creator is God. The Gospels give almost no information about Jesus's early life or social context; they only provide the stories necessary to their purpose: Jesus's ministry, death, resurrection. I believe that Christians have generally found that trying to read the Bible as an exhaustive source of information on all topics is both frustrating and futile.

It's also important to realize that the Bible is a work of literature, and it is written in a number of literary genres. Any reader of literature knows that you don't read a poem the way you read a textbook. There are, of course, all kinds of disputes among Christians about how literally to read the Bible and which parts are symbolic/metaphorical, but ignoring the literary aspect of the Bible completely often leads to frustrated readings.

One can believe that Genesis is a truthful depiction of historical events without assuming we should read it the way we would read an encyclopedia. As someone mentioned earlier, there are two creation accounts in Genesis. Reading this absolutely literally, we might have to assume that God created the world twice, in two different ways. However, taking the stories within the context of their literary genre, we could instead see how they might be two separate accounts of the same creation event, each focusing on something different about creation. There are minor inconsistencies between them, which could be clues that the central purpose is to show God as creator and set up the role of humans within creation rather than to provide an exact scientific or encyclopedic understanding of how the world was physically made. Like everything else about the Bible, there are any number of ways that Christians understand it.

Anyway, before I go too far off-topic, I'll just say that I've known many, many devout, informed Christians who have come to completely different conclusions about how to interpret the Bible. The best way is to find someone you trust to give you some direction, do as much research as you can so you aren't basing your conclusions on weak theological arguments (many of which are very, very popular at the moment), and keep reading the Bible.

goldpeace
07-18-2006, 09:01 PM
I agree with Nate as far as Cain & Abel-

It didn't have much to do with WHAT each had offerred God...it had to do with what was in their HEARTS.

I love the story about the widow who gave her last coin at the temple...and was looked on much more favorable by God than those who gave more; but from their surplus. He knew that the widow was sacrificing what she had- and that meant more.

As far as who Cain married-
In all of the stories of the Old testament,
people lived to be very old- hundreds of years old. They had plenty of years to extend their families.

Since Adam and Eve were the first people, I believe they had MANY children...and Cain would no doubt have had to choose a sister as a wife...as many did in the beginning.

It's not until the new testament, with the coming of Christ...that it seems that things switch....and marriage between a man and a woman who aren't related directly becomes sacred. (The two shall become one flesh, thou shall not commit adultery, etc). But back then, the earth had to be populated...and for whatever reason, God chose to do it that way.

Nateskate
07-18-2006, 11:39 PM
We really can't grasp the complexity of the world as it was in the beginning. Much of Genesis is written in a way that "The moral of the story" is pretty obvious. Yet, the phrasing of certain passages is open-ended and leaves room for discussion.

In Jesus (taking into account that Christians believe Jesus is God) God speaks in metaphors. The kingdom of heaven is "like", meaning God explains complex things in a form that is understandable to a child- for the most part. If a child looked at Genesis1-6, most of them could understand the basics. God initiated the Universe. God was directly involved. God made a good beautiful place. Mankind messed it up. Now the beautiful place has all sorts of nasty things in it. Mankind's "Nature" changed. Man became fearful, then angry. Death is introduced.

Genesis 1-6 is not this simplistic story that some like to believe it is. In fact, it is perhaps the most complex piece of literature that is filled with metaphors that are profoundly timeless. This isn't to say there isn't historical truth. Still, a child can understand the basic components, and I think God would want it that way. If anyone would take the time to ask, "Why is this here?" and explore the depths of what is written in Genesis, the plan for mankind (Why did God make mankind) is in the first two chapters.

HoosierCowgirl
07-19-2006, 04:59 AM
I'm wondering if Cain offered God zucchini?

BarbJ
07-19-2006, 05:54 AM
From NicoleJLeBouef: "By that same token, if there were a sister with Abel and Cain in Eden, surely God would have told us that too? At the time of the murder, the Bible only tells us that Eve had borne Adam two sons:

It seems like at some point we do have to make a logical leap and assume something that isn't spelled out in the Bible, whether it's a sister (but not a cousin; for Cain to have cousins, Adam or Eve would have had to have siblings) or other people created separately and living out to the East of Eden in the land of Nod."

Others have answered and kept the thoughts going, but I just wanted to say, Yes, you're right - not a cousin but a niece. A slip of the thought; I only wanted to point out, as others have, that he had plenty of time - centuries - to find a woman to take as his wife, so it could have been either type of relative, perhaps one he had never met.

Re. brothers and sisters, it's in Genesis 5:4. The "many" is my interpretation, based on God telling them to fill the earth and, as the OT puts it bluntly, God opens and closes the womb, or enables childbearing, and since He was building the human race, He would have enabled. Adam also had plenty of time; he lived 800 years after having Seth. One has to wonder how Eve felt about 800 years of pregnancies.

Okay, I was going to make this a short one, but my dinner isn't ready yet, so ... One of the reasons I can't grasp other people being on the earth at the beginnings is because of the need for salvation, notably pointed out in Romans and, if I remember correctly, always a long shot, 1 Corinthians. Adam sinned and passed on the taint to his descendants, and also passed on the sentence of death we all live under. If there were other people, not descended from Adam, they were untainted and therefore perfect and non-dying.

Where are they? They were gone before the time of Noah, when the whole world was corrupt, but - how? Enos is mentioned as being transfigured, but no one else, and there is certainly no mention of human perfection in the Bible. ("None righteous.") So this idea is too far a reach for me, but it may be the basis for some of the interesting stories conceived around Genesis 6. Frankly, it's the concept of unsinning humans that I can't accept. Thank God - literally - Christ wanted me.

Also, Adam is several times referred to as "the man" in Genesis prior to Eve's creation, as if he were the only one. The writer of Genesis appears to have thought of Adam as such, and if the Bible is God-inspired....

Off subject, how do you make a blue box for partial quotes? I only know how to cut-and-paste.

goldpeace
07-19-2006, 02:58 PM
If there were other people, not descended from Adam, they were untainted and therefore perfect and non-dying.
***********

Scripture tells us that through Adam sin was brought into the world- and by Christ it was taken out.
It also tells us that we, the human race, are ALL sinners. Thus, the need for a savior.

I think that Adam and Eve had many, many children....the "reason" that Cain and Abel are mentioned specifically was because it was the first account of murder.

Nateskate
07-19-2006, 04:09 PM
If there were other people, not descended from Adam, they were untainted and therefore perfect and non-dying.
***********

Scripture tells us that through Adam sin was brought into the world- and by Christ it was taken out.
It also tells us that we, the human race, are ALL sinners. Thus, the need for a savior.

I think that Adam and Eve had many, many children....the "reason" that Cain and Abel are mentioned specifically was because it was the first account of murder.

I think you hit the nail on the head. There's far more that isn't mentioned in the Bible than is mentioned. I think it was John the Apostle that said: if all the things that could be written of Christ were put into books, the world couldn't contain them all.

We tend to assume the Bible would have named all of Adam's children. However, from a Messianic (the Jews believe in a Messiah and wrote most of the Bible) view, the Bible is a chronicle of the lineage of the Messiah, which is carried over to the New Testament. We Christians believe Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, while many Jews don't. But the family tree is important from a Jewish perspective because it's like a trail of bread crumbs to prove validity- Has to be a son of Abraham born into the line of David according to Messianic Prophecy.

Everything has to be seen in the context of "This is somehow relevent to the plan of "Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done" - Everything else, as important as it may seem from a human perspective, is not recorded. And so, Christians believing that Jesus is the Messiah, trace his origins to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob--- then through King David.

So, family trees were never exhaustively discussed in scripture, just the parts that related to the above story.

There weren't herds of humans (Which is another tremendously important metaphor)- what was God saying by creating man as one lone individual, rather than like every other creature- both genders in herds?

(Skips the point and back to the topic at hand) - If God made a herd, then each man would have had to pass an equal test. The test was simple. Does man (male and female) trust God? Do they believe his character is good, and his intentions are good; or do they believe he is a malevolent liar- Satan's accusation through the serpent.

However, had there been a herd of humans, each had to pass the test, they'd have had to live in separate gardens, because it would be a skewed test for all subsequent subjects. "Hey, Adam...what's this tree all about?" And you'd have people who didn't eat of the tree- not out of loyalty and trust- but out of fear of becoming like Adam and Eve- freaked out and hiding behind fig leaves.

So many things had to happen in that span of time, including revealing the serpent for who he was, proving the curse (what God warned) was immediate- necessary for all who would learn its lesson.

I've pondered this. Any and every human who says, "I'd have passed the test" only decieves themselves. So, we would have all likely done exactly what Adam did- a perfect person in an idylic paradise screws up.

Multiple such tests are unnecessary. However, in some respects we all face the same test in different forms, "Is God good? Do we believe his intentions towards us are for life or harm? Is it better to take things into our own hands than to entrust them into his? Does he know what he's talking about or is he simply trying to spoil all our fun?" - if you break down the serpents temptation, it was actually slander, telling Eve that God didn't care about her, but was in fact malevolent. He slandered God's character and his purpose (to make for himself what he was making for Adam) - a partner for all eternity to share all that he has, including his rule. (Giving him rule over the earth and all the animals as his first gift) - which man gave to the devil- "Whomever you obey, that's whose servant you are..." Man had authority over all the earth and every creature on the earth- including Satan, and Satan decieved Eve to submit to him, then Adam submitted to him- and so Satan ended up with the keys to the car. So much so that when he tempted Jesus, what does he offer him- "All the kingdoms of this world"- Jesus does not imply these were not his to give, he just refused to submit to Satan- repeating Adam's fall.

Satan is also called "The Prince of this world," for this same reason.

The Temptation: "Did he say you cannot eat from ANY tree in the garden..." This is like a political spin-doctor dropping a bomb "Is it true the president slept with ten thousand women???" - The thought is meant to mislead people to question the president's morality- casting a shadow of doubt.

Translation: God made all these trees and he doesn't want you to have any fun. He doesn't want you to eat of ANY tree from the garden. So he gets Eve to focus on the ONE tree she was warned not to eat, and got her to believe she was missing out on all the fun- so much like his tacts of today. You are better off if you take things into your own control. You can be "god" so that malevolent dictator can't ruin your life. Satan's words may be different to us, but they have the same core- You can't trust God- be your own god.

Laurie
07-19-2006, 08:58 PM
Just where did Cain's wife come from?

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Forgive me if this has all been fleshed out already. I'm hooked and haven't time to read the other posts....

This has intrigued me as well. And what intrigues me even more is why I didn't see the question for so long. And the way it gets glossed over.

Being a writer, you're used to having answers, backstory for all your characters. Here comes Cain's wife seemingly out of nowhere. Jars doesn't it?

For me, it opens up all kinds of possibilities. Many say she was his sister because there is no other option. I wonder. Because it is not just who did he marry, but who were the people he was afraid of when he was banished?

It reminds me of the Greek mythology, the Giants ruled first and then were overthrown by the gods. Could there have been some other civilization? That would explain why God was sending his people to war later in the Old Testament. But if there were other peoples, where did they come from? God, being God would have created them as well.

So, bottom line. It is one of those questions that don't get answered in this world. But that doesn't preclude us from wondering and imagining. The trick is not to get caught in the details, the need for answers and allow that to derail our faith. It's all about the BIG picture.

If you ever figure it out, please let me know. :)

Nateskate
07-19-2006, 09:37 PM
Forgive me if this has all been fleshed out already. I'm hooked and haven't time to read the other posts....

This has intrigued me as well. And what intrigues me even more is why I didn't see the question for so long. And the way it gets glossed over.

Being a writer, you're used to having answers, backstory for all your characters. Here comes Cain's wife seemingly out of nowhere. Jars doesn't it?

For me, it opens up all kinds of possibilities. Many say she was his sister because there is no other option. I wonder. Because it is not just who did he marry, but who were the people he was afraid of when he was banished?

It reminds me of the Greek mythology, the Giants ruled first and then were overthrown by the gods. Could there have been some other civilization? That would explain why God was sending his people to war later in the Old Testament. But if there were other peoples, where did they come from? God, being God would have created them as well.

So, bottom line. It is one of those questions that don't get answered in this world. But that doesn't preclude us from wondering and imagining. The trick is not to get caught in the details, the need for answers and allow that to derail our faith. It's all about the BIG picture.

If you ever figure it out, please let me know. :)

The people that Israel went to war with were Noah's descendents (post flood) Surprisingly this is one area where you can trace the bloodlines fairly well. In fact, you can trace much of the present day Middle East bloodlines back to names mentioned in the Bible. Gaza was a part of Philistia, and still exists today. Jordan is a mixture of Ammonites, Moabites and Edomites. (Ammon Jordan) (The first two were grandchildren of Lot; Edomites were descended from Jacob's brother Esau) Abraham was from Ur which is very near to what is modern Kuwait.

If you look at the people who tried to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites, they were Esau's descendents. God forbid the Jews to attack any of Abraham's descendents (Ishmael-Saudi Arabia...and that area) or Esau's descendents. E's descendents set out to destroy the Jews, and according to Obadiah had perpetual contempt for Israel, so God removed his blessing. (See Malachi 1)

NicoleJLeBoeuf
07-19-2006, 09:48 PM
One of the reasons I can't grasp other people being on the earth at the beginnings is because of the need for salvation, notably pointed out in Romans and, if I remember correctly, always a long shot, 1 Corinthians. Adam sinned and passed on the taint to his descendants, and also passed on the sentence of death we all live under. If there were other people, not descended from Adam, they were untainted and therefore perfect and non-dying.Well, I don't know about perfect and non-dying. There could be other reasons for death to come into it. But as for not tainted by original sin via Adam's bloodline... well, yes. That's the whole point of the "We are the other people" article.


They were gone before the time of Noah...And that does throw a wrench into the "other people" line of thinking, if one wants to argue that the "other people"'s descendents are around today.

In any case, thanks for explaining why you find one set of assumptions more plausible than another. I can understand your logic much better than I could a blanket claim that one's assumptions are stamped Approved by God. ;)

It also helps me see where I differ from you and most Christians--you dismiss any explanation that would imply a people without original sin, because the idea of original sin is so necessary to your beliefs. I, who don't believe or want to believe in original sin, would be less reluctant to entertain notions that do away with it or change its role in the story.

It also helps that I have no vested interest in reading Genesis in any other sense than A Good Story; I don't have to reconcile different theories with my own religious beliefs--I'm just trying to better understand what the authors might have meant (or propose interesting new ways for interpreting what they said!).

goldpeace
07-19-2006, 10:10 PM
Jesus fullfilled all of the ancient prophesies....convincing me more than ever that not only did he exist, but he is indeed the Son of God.

Here is a cool site about the prophesies:
http://biblia.com/jesusbible/prophecies.htm

With that being said,
Christ's death would have been unneccesary if any of us were without sin and could redeem ourselves our on own.

Any sin, large or small, can't be in the presence of an all-Holy God.
And the bible makes it clear that we are ALL sinners,
and that we will ALL be judged.

Scripture also says that "the wages of sin is death"- (that means spiritual death...otherwise there's be no at all alive right now).

Scripture says that Jesus defeated death.

So if we're all going to be "judged", and we are all sinners....
I interpret that as when God judges those without Christ, what he sees is SIN...and sin cannot enter heaven.
But when he judges those who have Christ, what he sees instead is our sin white-washed by the blood of Christ.

JMO again~

Nateskate
07-19-2006, 11:23 PM
Well, I don't know about perfect and non-dying. There could be other reasons for death to come into it. But as for not tainted by original sin via Adam's bloodline... well, yes. That's the whole point of the "We are the other people" article.

And that does throw a wrench into the "other people" line of thinking, if one wants to argue that the "other people"'s descendents are around today.

In any case, thanks for explaining why you find one set of assumptions more plausible than another. I can understand your logic much better than I could a blanket claim that one's assumptions are stamped Approved by God. ;)

It also helps me see where I differ from you and most Christians--you dismiss any explanation that would imply a people without original sin, because the idea of original sin is so necessary to your beliefs. I, who don't believe or want to believe in original sin, would be less reluctant to entertain notions that do away with it or change its role in the story.

It also helps that I have no vested interest in reading Genesis in any other sense than A Good Story; I don't have to reconcile different theories with my own religious beliefs--I'm just trying to better understand what the authors might have meant (or propose interesting new ways for interpreting what they said!).

Some Christians are likely bothered by questions, because indeed Christianity is built upon beliefs, and very specific beliefs. I for one am not bothered by honest questions, because in fact, questions are the only way to come to any answers. If a view can't withstand a test then it may not stand period.

I wasn't raised in a Christian household and we didn't own a Bible and we didn't go to church. I wasn't looking for Christianity, and despised Christianity, not for Christ- I had no idea who he was other than what people presented him to be. Rather, I simply saw so much hypocracy, absurdity, and very little validity. That doesn't mean validity didn't exist, but it wasn't all that prevalent in my neighborhood.

The questions you ask would be intelligent questions that anyone would ask. The question I had was why would people believe something different? Why did people believe in a God? Did anyone experience God? Did anyone actually get healed? Did anyone who wasn't schizophrenic have an actual experience, and if so, how could we know?

And ultimately, could we know if God was real.

Honestly, questions are our only hope, and I believe "Why?" is a natural part of our make-up, and that God (what I've come to believe) put "Why?" in us so that we would ponder the mysteries of the Universe.

I didn't come to faith through the Bible. That doesn't mean the Bible didn't impact my faith. But if people need the Bible to see that God is real, then their faith is actually weaker. For Christians who would challenge this, re-read Romans chapter one which says God can clearly be seen in Nature, or Jesus telling his disciples to study birds and flowers to comprehend the nature of God. "Consider the sparrows...consider the lillies"

Well, I went from a diehard atheist to believing in God in a moment. But at that moment, I had no clue what his name was, or if he was in all religions or no religions.

The questions of the origins of humanity and the age of the human race are not just issues of science, though science is convinced it knows the answers and they don't add up to the timeline of the Bible. Still I had tons of questions from a rather simple perspective. "Why does human history- recorded history- end right about where Noah left off?" If you use simple math and figure mankind was alive for millions of years- what I believed at the time- then why were they so stupid for the first 999,999,999 years that they couldn't have come up with the technology, language skills, and level of society that we achieved in roughly 6 thousand years?

Please, if someone wants to debate science, I'm not debating science, but only saying what kind of thoughts I thought. And again, I had doubts when I took Genetics and studied DNA. Some people feel "Science proves or disproves this or that", but for me science made me question my atheism. The intelligence of the immune system...etc. However, I'm not debating science, and concede smarter people than me don't believe in God or what I believe. However, God is real to me on more than an intellectual basis.

All the same, all Christians will not judge someone who questions and doesn't believe what we believe. People who genuinely voice their questions are more intellectually honest in my opinion than people who stuff their doubts out of fear their faith will be shaken. Life will cause us to question and if questions rock our faith it wasn't that solid to begin with.

Prosperity7
07-21-2006, 02:40 AM
Hi, all --

So, I've been in the Christian church my whole life, but extremely passive. I'm making some sputtering attempts to understand and get more involved. Part of this effort is reading the Bible.

Now, I've started with Genesis, as the study group I've joined is on a forced hiatus (key people away). But I've got a question early on, and there will be more like it:

Just where did Cain's wife come from?

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, but it feels as though there's a giant 'plot hole' right there.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!


Where did Cain's wife come from?

The Bible provides only one answer:

Adam "had other sons and daughters" (Genesis 5:4).

http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/7/7_2_205.gif

Ralph Rinklemann
07-30-2006, 05:11 AM
Its doubtful there was ever a Cain or a literal Garden of Eden. In my opinion these are stories made to get across a moral truth. At any rate, what you take from the stories philosophically and are able to apply to your life is the important thing. In the same way, it doesn't concern me whether or not the Parables of Christ were actual events that happened or not either. I can learn from fiction just as easily as I can from non-fiction. Now there are some people, places and events in the bible that do seem very historical to me and I read them in this way. Where Cain's wife came from however, or whether or not it’s a literally true story seems utterly unimportant to my mind.

Pat~
07-30-2006, 08:39 AM
Poet, one thing as you read the Bible (and I think it's fine to start with Genesis, BTW), you'll find out more how much you don't know by the time you're finished reading it. And yet, the stuff you don't know isn't the critical stuff. And the stuff you'll learn from reading it is.

Does that make any sense?

It might be helpful to read a good study Bible with notes that can address some questions that come up. I particularly like the NIV Study Bible and also the New King James Nelson Study Bible. (The latter even gets into word studies, which expand on the meanings of some passages.) BTW, I agree with the several other posts that have deduced that Cain married a female descendant of Eve (the Bible tells us she had daughters).

poetinahat
07-30-2006, 09:26 AM
Many, many good points to consider here: I see now Genesis 5:4 has one answer (thanks, Prosperity7; I shot right past that, dismissing marriage/union with a sister as an option).

I also agree with the other multitudes here that plot holes don't sink the Bible's message, and that there'd be a lot to be learned from studying different versions (thanks, Pat!).

Interestingly enough, this morning's sermon (I'm already in Sunday afternoon here) was on 1 Samuel 3 & 4, the tag line being: Listen carefully.

Fascinating, helpful and encouraging, all of you. Thank you!

Soyarma
07-30-2006, 08:15 PM
Hey Poet;

Boring rambling - skip this
While it’s possible this was mentioned in a previous post I'm not sure that it was. While reading the Bible and trying to understand God, there's one thing you have to keep in mind. He's not stupid. The rules and regs all have solid reasoning behind him. As several previous posters pointed out, one must take the Bible as a whole. It’s a bit of a pain when things that happen in Genesis are explained in Hebrews, but part of that is that for most people when it was written the reasoning and the logic was perfectly understood. It was rehashed later so people dozens of generations down the road could get the context.

When its ok to marry your sister
That bit of rambling aside there are several things to consider in the who did Cain marry question. I take Genesis pretty literally. If you read the part about waters on the face of the earth, a firmament (atmosphere) and then waters above the firmament one is led to believe that where we now just have the ozone layer to protect us from harmful stellar radiation we used to have a bunch of water. Be this a nice sparkly thick layer, or just some heavy duty planetary cloud cover I don’t know. The bible does say that it never rained before the flood, so I’m thinking something we aren’t terribly familiar with.

That being said this layer of water would do one thing: Less mutation. Less mutation means chromosomes don’t get messed up and discarded which means we live longer. The longest living creatures (and the largest) live under the sea where the are shielded from harmful radiation. There is only one reason we don’t marry our sisters and brothers and that is because the results of such unions are unexpected to say the least. Since Adam and Eve were just one step out of perfection it is logical to assume their genetic structure was very clean. Technically they had virtually the same DNA and they had offspring as well. Adam essentially married a female clone of himself-provided God didn’t make a distinct person from the rib, but why would he need to? Adam had the perfect structure for a human.

The restriction against marrying siblings and close relatives was put into place after the flood, when the layer of water that filtered most of the radiation came down. People then began living shorter lives and marrying a close relative would then enhance any genetic defects.

Eat pork, its yummy
As a side note, eating pork falls under the same logical process. Back in the day, no one had a dial on the fire to tell them how hot it was. Eating undercooked pork is a great way to get sick. With poor medicine and a low world population that’s not a good way to propagate the human race. Once civilization was firmly in place again-especially now when getting food poisoning that kills you is something that anyone outside of the medical profession will probably never see-eating well cooked pork was not a problem.

Works without faith gets you a rejection letter
The other topic of why did God reject Cain’s sacrifice has been pretty well covered. I’m in agreement that Abel offered the first fruits of his labor and Cain did not. Even if the blood sacrifice bit were the key, I’m sure Abel wouldn’t have minded a nice loaf of bread every now and then. A little barter trade would have gotten Cain what he needed. The other side of it is mentioned in Hebrews 11:4 (“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of his gifts: and through it he being dead yet speaketh”).

For those of you who skipped the boring stuff
I hope despite my long windedness I answered the initial question. In a nutshell its that there was no corruption of the genetic code, thus the reason for not having children with close relatives did not exist.

SeanDSchaffer
07-31-2006, 01:18 AM
Snipped....

Just where did Cain's wife come from?

I'm not trying to be a smart aleck, but it feels as though there's a giant 'plot hole' right there.

Any thoughts?

Thanks!


If Adam and Eve were really the first human beings, and Cain and Abel were their first sons, then I personally think that Cain's wife was one of his sisters. As the Mosaic Law was not introduced until much later, the concept of incest would have been a non-issue in Cain's day.

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 04:51 AM
While reading the Bible and trying to understand God, there's one thing you have to keep in mind. He's not stupid.

Which is precisely why no great Christian thinkers/writers have believed in either biblical infallibility nor total divine inspiration. As MacDonald once said, "It is Jesus who is the Revelation of God, not the Bible; that is but a means to a mighty eternal end. The book is indeed sent us by God, but it nowhere claims to be His very word. If it were—and it would be no irreverence to say it—it would have been a good deal better written."

The rules and regs all have solid reasoning behind him. As several previous posters pointed out, one must take the Bible as a whole.

Our of curiosity—which bible? The Coptic, Ethiopian, Vulgate, Greek Orthodox, (all with different books). Most theologians agree that the Coptic Bible was the first extant bible. It has precedence and longevity on it's side. It also has the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Old Testament. New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint 85% of the time, yet most of Western Christendom has the much later Hebrew Old Testament which reads quite a bit different in places. Are you sure you even have the correct Old Testament to begin with? Can you ever be sure?

It ain't about a book collection. Christians did quite well without a canon of any kind for more than 300-years after Jesus ascended.

Pat~
07-31-2006, 05:04 AM
Which is precisely why no great Christian thinkers/writers have believed in either biblical infallibility nor total divine inspiration. As MacDonald once said, "It is Jesus who is the Revelation of God, not the Bible; that is but a means to a mighty eternal end. The book is indeed sent us by God, but it nowhere claims to be His very word. If it were—and it would be no irreverence to say it—it would have been a good deal better written."

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16, The Bible).

The great Christian thinker/writer was Paul.

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 05:41 AM
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16, The Bible).

The great Christian thinker/writer was Paul.

You do realize there was no bible then, right? We have no idea what he or any other biblical writer refers to when they say "scripture". To some it meant one thing, to others something else entirely. Just like when they say, "the word of the Lord". It could mean any number of things. The one thing we know for sure it doesn't mean is--the bible. The term was first used by the Sumerians by the way, about 2,000 years before Moses was born.

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 05:45 AM
Speaking of Paul, what are we to make of 1st Corinthians: 7: 12

"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"—Paul speaking

Pat~
07-31-2006, 05:48 AM
No Bible as we know it today, of course, but they did have The Law (The first five books of the Old Testament). Every Old Testament king was supposed to not only read it but copy it during his reign. It was preserved through New Testament times as well. In the NT, we're also told of the time Christ read from a scroll of Isaiah at the Temple.

Pat~
07-31-2006, 06:01 AM
Speaking of Paul, what are we to make of 1st Corinthians: 7: 12

"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"—Paul speaking

Taking a look at the whole passage, it appears that Paul is trying to make the distinction in this letter to Timothy as to what was and was not a direct command from Jesus Himself:


6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 06:16 AM
How the Bible Got Here in the 21st Century

I once asked a Bible Inerrancy arbiter which bible was the inerrant one. To this he replied:


"The version without error is the original 66 books in Hebrew and Aramaic and 27 books in Greek. I think most people are well aware that translations are subject to mistakes and all that I’m aware of have some but for the most part they do a good job and we have some such as Young's literal translation and Greek and Hebrew lexicons to help us get beyond those mistakes."

That's a fairly typical reply from a Fundamentalist Christian. I personally view Biblical Infallibility (the heart of Fundamentalism) as a form of Idolatry—Bible Idolatry. I'll proceed to lay my case out as follows:

Sixty-six Books?

No one can say with any certainty which collection hit first, but we know without a doubt that the Coptic bible was around in some form as far back as 300 AD and possibly before 200 AD depending on which “expert” you believe. It may well have been the first. And then there's the Ethiopian with it's 81 books as well as the Vulgate with it's 70 books, from which the King James culled it's 66 over a thousand years later, although, the original KJV of 1611 contained all 70, (go figure.) And then there's the Greek Orthodox with their 77, (sometimes 78.)

And of course there’s the long running feud over exactly what the original Jewish canon may have been: The Septuagint as you may be aware of, was a Greek version of the Jewish writings that was around at least a couple of hundred years BC. The Jewish council at Jamnia around 100 AD was purposely set up to fix a Jewish cannon. And the biggest reason for this seems to have been because of Christians spreading what they called a heresy. The authority of such books as Esther, Proverbs, Canticle of Canticles, Ruth, Ecclesiastes and Ezekiel were challenged at the meeting and even later. Also, the book of Sirach, supposedly rejected at the Council, was quoted by rabbis as inspired for many centuries afterward. In AD 130 the Jewish leadership began forbidding the reading of the Greek texts altogether.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:


"Christians had been quoting the Septuagint to win converts; so Jews could refute their arguments on the basis of a "faulty translation." By thus emphasizing Hebrew language and tradition, the rabbis managed to bastardize their own history and cannon, all for the sake of trying to put down Christianity. "

Centuries later when Jerome was putting together the Vulgate, he was unaware of why the Jews banned the reading of the Greek (Septuagint) books and he based what became the Catholic bible on the (then) present day Jewish cannon thinking that the Jews ought to know best what books should go in the Old Testament. Trouble was...he knew nothing of what they had done nor the hate and religious bigotry that caused them to do it. Are you beginning to see the problem with biblical inerrancy and this 66-book balderdash that's been pushed off on us by the church elite? And that's hardly the end of the problem....

From the Catholic Church's official stance on the matter, (the Septuagint is referred to as LXX, Old Testament as OT, and New Testament as NT.):


HOW THEN DID THE CHURCH DECIDE WHICH OT BOOKS TO ACCEPT?

From A.D. 90 onward, Christian writers explicitly quote from the
"extra" books of the LXX. When the NT quotes the OT, 85% of the
time it is from the LXX. But in the 2nd century, as Christians
debated with Jews trying to convert them, they needed to meet
them on their own ground, i.e. the Hebrew canon. As certain
Church Fathers stopped using the "extra" books in debates, some
Christians came to doubt their inspiration. However, facts show
that when these same Church Fathers taught in their own circles,
they employed the full LXX.

The Septuagint was accepted as the official and inspired version
of the OT because of its long-standing and consistent use by the
Apostles and their disciples. In 393 St. Augustine and the
Council of Hippo approved the list of books as contained in the
present Catholic Bible. This was likewise ratified at Carthage
in 397 and 419 and by the church practices of Rome.

THEN WHY DO CHRISTIANS HAVE DIFFERENT OLD TESTAMENTS?

The early Christian Church was Greek-speaking; it therefore used
the LXX. Even though the LXX sometimes gave different readings
from the original Hebrew and had "extra" books interspersed with
the rest, the early Church believed it to be inspired. "With
regard to whatever is in the Septuagint that is not in the Hebrew
manuscripts, we can say that the one Spirit wished to say to them
through the writers of the former rather than through the latter
in order to show that both the one and the other were inspired"
(St. Augustine, City of God, 18:43).

Hence the Orthodox Church uses only the LXX and not the original
Hebrew as the official inspired OT. The LXX, compared to the
Hebrew Bible, has the following additional books: Tobit, Judith,
Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch (including the Letter of
Jeremias), 1-3 Machabees, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1
Esdras, additions to Esther and Daniel, and very rarely, 4
Machabees since it was not widely available and was never
considered inspired.

Since the Christians in the West spoke Latin, they translated the
Bible into Latin, beginning about A.D. 150. But this was first
of all done from the LXX, not the Hebrew. It wasn't until the
end of the 4th century that St. Jerome made a translation from
the Hebrew. It was then that he discovered that the Jews had a
different Bible. Believing that Jesus never used anything other
than the Hebrew Bible, Jerome wished to adopt their canon.
Modern historical studies have shown, however, that the Jews did
in fact have these other books and read them during Christ's
time. Jerome was merely ill informed, and the Tradition of the
Church prevailed. Hence the Latin Bible (known as the Vulgate)
contained the same books as the LXX.

Increasingly, copies of the Latin Bible dropped out 1 Esdras, 3
Machabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalm 151. Consequently,
when the Catholic Church responded to Protestantism at the
Council of Trent, the Latin Vulgate that was made official on
April 8, 1546, did not include these four works.

Protestantism, initiated by Martin Luther, accepted the Jewish
canon. Like Jerome, believing that Jesus used only the Hebrew
Bible, Luther excluded the additional books found in the LXX. He
also rejected the role of oral tradition as being equally
authoritative with Scripture. Hence he questioned the Church's
right to say which books were canonical. He himself, though,
repudiated Esther and James and looked askance at the Apocalypse.
Had Protestantism followed Luther's preferences in the NT,
Christendom would not only have different Old Testaments, but
different New Testaments as well.

Besides Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants having varying Old
Testaments, the unfortunately forgotten and yet venerable Coptic
and Ethiopian Churches include one book more than the Orthodox:
The Book of Enoch. The Letter of Jude 14-15 is a direct quote
from 1 Enoch 1:9. Scholarship has shown that the book of Enoch
also influenced at least 15 other NT Books. It was widely used
and considered inspired by numerous Church Fathers up until the
4th century. The West lost it because it was never translated
into Latin. Later in the East it also fell into disuse because
of some heretical misuse.

Because of local church councils and differences in language,
coupled later on with a lack of historical criticism and
knowledge, modern Christendom now has four Old Testaments."

If anyone reading this has some magic handle on which bible is the inerrant one you ought to think about putting it in a bottle and selling it to the experts because plainly...they don't know.

Four quick points:

1. Where exactly does the Bible say that there would one day be a collection of books that we should call "His Word" and that they would be free of error? Fundamentalists are claiming something of the collection that the collection itself does not claim.

2. Another important point I believe is that most Fundamentalists when asked cannot begin to decide which Bible is the perfect one. The Latin, Coptic, and the most popular form of Protestant Bibles all carry different books. There are other Christian religions that have different Bibles still. If one cannot tell with absolute certainty which is the perfect one then fundamentalism/biblical infallibility has no base on which to stand.

3. God is often (particularly in the Old Testament) shown in a very unsavory light. He's said to have done or been behind some rather disagreeable acts if we're to believe all of the biblical stories verbatim. Is this the God you know? Is this the God whose laws (the Tao, Laws of Nature, etc) are written on the hearts of all creation?

From the great 19th century Scottish writer/country preacher, George MacDonald:


"Neither let thy cowardly conscience receive any word as light, while it looks to thee dark. Say either the thing is not what it seems, or God never said it. But of all evils, to misinterpret what God does, and then say the thing, as interpreted must be right because God does it, is of the devil. Do not try to believe anything that affects thee as darkness. Even if thou mistake and refuse something true thereby, thou wilt do less wrong to Christ by such a refusal than thou wouldst by accepting as His what thou canst see only as darkness…but let thy words be few, lest thou say with thy tongue what thous wilt afterward repent with thy heart."

4. What are we to make of 1st Corinthians: 7: 12

"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"—Paul

Here the bible itself says in black and white terms that at least some of it is not to be taken as anything other than the words of Paul. So why do we? Apparently the church elite would have us to believe that the Holy Spirit PUSHED the pen of Paul to write, "I say this (I, not the Lord.)" Now lets think about that a second; The Holy Spirit caused these writers to say everything in the Bible...including that some of it wasn't the Holy Spirit's words? Now that is quite the paradox.

Again, from George MacDonald:


"But Herein is the Bible itself greatly wronged. It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as ‘the Word, the Way, the Truth’. The Bible leads us to Jesus, the inexhaustible, the ever-unfolding Revelation of God. It is Christ “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” not the Bible, save as leading to Him."

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 06:43 AM
No Bible as we know it today, of course, but they did have The Law (The first five books of the Old Testament). Every Old Testament king was supposed to not only read it but copy it during his reign. It was preserved through New Testament times as well. In the NT, we're also told of the time Christ read from a scroll of Isaiah at the Temple.

There are a couple of difficulties that arise from this. As many scholars have pointed out for two hundred years now, the warring houses of Judah produced two separate documents that were quite different and were later joined by a redactor. This was later added to again. Thus we have two sets of 10-commandments (a little different), two sets of flood stories, two sets of creation stories etc. You've probably heard of the J, E, P and R writers. Regardless of what somebody may have told you in Sunday School, the evidence for these separate writers and the two redactors is overwhelming. So much so that they even had a different name by which they called God. So when we find New Testament writers talking about "the law" we don't know for sure what they're referring to. Surely they knew at least some of the history of how these writings were reconciled. It was quite a cut and paste job. Thus, its quite likely that the various Jewish sects (Sadducees, Pharisees, Samaritans etc.) each had a different notion of just what the law was even though by the time of Christ the redactors had completed their jobs.

Secondly, I don't agree with your point that "Every Old Testament king was supposed to not only read it but copy it during his reign." Parts of it were probably around but some of it was apparently lost for quite some time. Don’t you remember how Josiah's priest, Hilkiah found a scroll of the law in the temple and how this set off a great national reform? (see 2 Kings 22: 8 and 2 Chronicles 34:14)

For reading about how the redactors did their job, I'd highly recommend Richard Elliott Friedman's classic book on the subject, Who Wrote the Bible?

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 07:00 AM
Taking a look at the whole passage, it appears that Paul is trying to make the distinction in this letter to Timothy as to what was and was not a direct command from Jesus Himself:

But the fact remains that Paul clearly wasn't thinking that he was writing some kind of edict from God. If he believed that, then he would have felt no need to tell us that these weren't God's words; that those over there are what Jesus said but this over here is not. I mean, if its all "God's Word" then you'd think that the Holy Spirit would have "inspired" Paul to just say so.

Pat~
07-31-2006, 07:31 AM
Four quick points:

1. Where exactly does the Bible say that there would one day be a collection of books that we should call "His Word" and that they would be free of error? Fundamentalists are claiming something of the collection that the collection itself does not claim. I can't speak for all the Fundamentalists, but I personally believe the Bible inerrant when it was originally God-breathed...(in the original languages), per 2 Timothy quoted above. I also believe that God is Sovereign, and has demonstrated the ability to preserve His Word down through the ages, despite man's fallibility. A God that is intent on communicating with His creation--to the point of sending His own Son as emissary--is not going to be powerless and wringing His hands where it concerns His Word--written or in the flesh. So, yes, I believe He also moved and acted during the times in history when individual books were preserved and accepted into the canon.

2. Another important point I believe is that most Fundamentalists when asked cannot begin to decide which Bible is the perfect one. The Latin, Coptic, and the most popular form of Protestant Bibles all carry different books. There are other Christian religions that have different Bibles still. If one cannot tell with absolute certainty which is the perfect one then fundamentalism/biblical infallibility has no base on which to stand. All of the Protestant Bibles I'm familiar with have the same 66 books, and I think they probably place their trust in those as the infallible Word of God, though, again, that is something I'd ascribe to the original writings.

3. God is often (particularly in the Old Testament) shown in a very unsavory light. He's said to have done or been behind some rather disagreeable acts if we're to believe all of the biblical stories verbatim. Is this the God you know? Is this the God whose laws (the Tao, Laws of Nature, etc) are written on the hearts of all creation? Yes, this is the God I know...to the extent that I can know and comprehend Him. I know Him to be a God who is the essence of His Name--who fully is what He is, without compromise. He is Love to the point of being a Jealous God, in His love for humanity; He is Good to the point of not being able to tolerate sin; and He is Just, except for the fact that He is also Merciful to those to whom He would show mercy.

4. What are we to make of 1st Corinthians: 7: 12

"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"—Paul

Here the bible itself says in black and white terms that at least some of it is not to be taken as anything other than the words of Paul. So why do we? Apparently the church elite would have us to believe that the Holy Spirit PUSHED the pen of Paul to write, "I say this (I, not the Lord.)" Now lets think about that a second; The Holy Spirit caused these writers to say everything in the Bible...including that some of it wasn't the Holy Spirit's words? Now that is quite the paradox. Why the paradox? There are plenty of words in the Bible that are recorded that are not God's words...conversations, a talking donkey, angels singing, etc. BTW, I've never heard of the idea of God 'pushing the pen'...the idea behind inspiration is "God-breathed". I've always interpreted that as more of an internal, inaudible whisper to the mind, but I could be wrong.


Secondly, I don't agree with your point that "Every Old Testament king was supposed to not only read it but copy it during his reign." Parts of it were probably around but some of it was apparently lost for quite some time. Don’t you remember how Josiah's priest, Hilkiah found a scroll of the law in the temple and how this set off a great national reform? (see 2 Kings 22: 8 and 2 Chronicles 34:14)

Yes, Josiah was one of the 5 last kings, and the divided kingdom had for years been in idolatry, forsaking the reading of the Law. I believe the verses referring to the commandment to the kings were found in Deuteronomy, but I'll have to look it up and get back to you.

Ralph Rinklemann
07-31-2006, 08:09 AM
So, yes, I believe He also moved and acted during the times in history when individual books were preserved and accepted into the canon.

Which canon? And why that one and not another?

All of the Protestant Bibles I'm familiar with have the same 66 books, and I think they probably place their trust in those as the infallible Word of God, though, again, that is something I'd ascribe to the original writings.

But they're hardly "infallible", and even among typical protestant bibles we find some great differences. For instance:

Bible Flubs 101

This is how the New King James reads concerning the bareness of Saul's daughter Michal:

II Samuel 6:23 "Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death."

II Samuel 21:8 " . . . and the five sons of Michal, the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel, the son of Barzillai, the Meholathite."

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This is how NIV reads the same texts:

II Samuel 6:23 "And Michal, daughter of Saul, had no children to the day of her death."

II Samuel 21:8 "...together with the five sons of Saul's daughter Merab, whom she had borne to Adriel, son of Barzillai the Meholathite."

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Obviously there are a few problems here. Both versions cannot be correct. So before a fundie can claim biblical infallibility, he must first make a proclamation as to which bible is the infallible one. But its much stickier than even that. Before we can speak about any particular bible, we must first talk about the original texts themselves. There are many editions of most biblical texts and all of them have their own peculiarities. This book of II Samuel is a good example of that. Of all the ancient Hebrew copies that exist in part or in full of the text, only two use the name Merab in 21:8. There are more copies of the Septuagint and a few more of the Syriac that read Merab, but most of those also read Michal. However, it would seem obvious from the reading of the texts that Michal would be the wrong choice to use in 21:8. This is a case where most of even the earliest texts of II Samuel contain this flub. Very few are correct.

Now, you may have heard a fundie at some time stretch credulity to new heights in playing "what if" games with these texts in order to reach a biblical infallibility agenda (which simply cannot be reached). But the fact of the matter is that, we know Merab is the correct choice to use in II Samuel 21:8, apart from the mere fact that Michal cannot be both barren and also be a mother simultaneously. (This would one-up the Immaculate Conception considerably.) We know Merab is the correct choice for 21:8 because of the text in I Samuel 18:19.

I Samuel 18:19 NIV (NKJ reads "Merab" here also) "So when the time came for Merab, Saul's daughter, to be given to David, she was given in marriage to Adriel of Meholah."

So yet again, we find the KJ and NKJ bibles quite inferior. However, while the KJ bibles are by far the most flawed of modern bibles, all bibles have flubs. For instance, the following is found in all copies of Acts about Paul's encounter with Jesus:

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Acts 9:7 "And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man."

Acts 22:9 "And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spoke to me."

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There are nearly too many flubs to count, let alone speak of biblical infallibility, a realm for the blind. And we must ask, could a perfect God not write more clearly or inspire others to? And if the original texts were without fault, why did God not keep them that way?

There are very good and obvious answers concerning these questions that involve free-will and the hidden face of God.

Yes, this is the God I know...to the extent that I can know and comprehend Him. I know Him to be a God who is the essence of His Name--who fully is what He is, without compromise. He is Love to the point of being a Jealous God, in His love for humanity; He is Good to the point of not being able to tolerate sin; and He is Just, except for the fact that He is also Merciful to those to whom He would show mercy.

Good! I would conjecture that you would know him in such a way without ever having heard of a bible. Many have. And as CS Lewis once said, a drowning man can be saved and never find out who it was that saved him.

There are plenty of words in the Bible that are recorded that are not God's words...conversations, a talking donkey, angels singing, etc.

Its simply not the same. (Actually the angels may well be singing exactly what God puts in their mouths to sing for all we know). The point is that fundamentalists claim that everything in their bible was inspired by God to be written. Paul was clearly saying that a portion of what he wrote was not.

Pat~
07-31-2006, 08:23 AM
Which canon? The one containing 66 books is the one I hold to, personally. When I get to heaven, I may discover that the Apocrypha was also part of the canon, but I don't think that ultimately would've changed my faith one way or the other.

I don't believe that the translations that we now have are necessarily infallible, which would explain the discrepancies you've noted above.

Though you think I could know God the way I know Him without the Bible, the fact is that I only came to know Him the way I do after reading the Bible for the first time. While I can learn much of God's character through my observations of nature, I couldn't have learned about the depth of His mercy and love toward me personally without the Bible's impact on my life experience at the time.

Regarding the Corinthians passage, again, maybe it'll be more clear to you if I put it this way: I believe that God inspired Paul to write the words which said that the command was his and not God's.

reph
07-31-2006, 09:12 AM
4. What are we to make of 1st Corinthians: 7: 12

"To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"—Paul

Here the bible itself says in black and white terms that at least some of it is not to be taken as anything other than the words of Paul. So why do we? Apparently the church elite would have us to believe that the Holy Spirit PUSHED the pen of Paul to write, "I say this (I, not the Lord.)" Now lets think about that a second; The Holy Spirit caused these writers to say everything in the Bible...including that some of it wasn't the Holy Spirit's words? Now that is quite the paradox. I don't see a paradox here, and I'm not even a believer. Assume that the text of the Bible, as a whole, was divinely inspired. Paul was one of the agents who brought it to the rest of humanity. Now watch Paul as he writes a letter. Paul is aware that he's relaying to Timothy what came to him, Paul, from God. But he wants to add one of his own thoughts. He can do that, because it's a letter, not a transcript of things God said. Because he's being careful to distinguish the inspired part from the part that's original with him, he explicitly says "This next bit came from me." Not doing so would be dishonest, as if a translator had altered a foreign-language text because he liked his rewrite better than the original. Doing so reinforces the idea that the rest of what he writes, by contrast, is inspired.

As Web users, we can think of Paul's disclaimer as an "IMHO."

And how do you know God didn't cause Paul to have the original thought that he included in his letter?

Pat~
07-31-2006, 08:05 PM
Here are some links regarding the canon, inspiration of the Bible, reliability of documents, etc., which might be helpful to anyone interested in studying the theology of the Bible further:

http://www.probe.org/content/category/15/61/149/

http://www.bible.org/topic.asp?topic_id=84

http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/christian-history.html

dave-fs
08-01-2006, 08:52 AM
Wow what a long thread...:roll:

Being from the mid-west there were many families only two generations ago that commonly had over 10 children. No one remembers all their names except the ones that got rich, thrown in jail and/or were murdered.

Adam and Eve had many kids and they all married each other...the gene pool was rich and could tolerate this.

The early chapters follow the several threads that relate to a range of issues the Lord felt were of note and for comparitive purposes. It is left to the student...