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Aspects of the Genesis Curse on Animals, the Tree of Knowing Good and Evil,

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, and Kainam

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Question #1: 

Hello Brother Bob,

This question is on Gen. 9:3-13. I find it exciting that when you reread the Bible, there is always something new that jumps out at you. It seems that the animals that were in the ark were included in the covenant God made with Noah. Also in 9:5, God will demand an accounting from every man and animal. What kind of accounting from the animals? I know God loves all his creation, but did not know he covenanted with anything other than man and his free will.

Look forward to your comments.

God's Blessings to you,

Response #1: 

Good to hear from you again. This is quite an interesting set of questions. On the first one, I take the "accounting" to be precisely that which God demands of human beings. Just as a man who murders another human being is to be put to death, so we know from elsewhere in the law (cf. Ex.21:28-32) that animals who kill human beings are to be put down. I don't think there are any consequences beyond that. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:21, "Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?" (TNIV). Well, thanks to later revelation, we now do know that upon death human spirits enter the third heaven where Jesus has "prepared a place" for us, and there receive an interim body as a home to await the permanent body of the resurrection (see the link: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State."). As to the animals, this verse suggests that they have comparable spirits – not free-will, not "made in the image and likeness of God", but spirits nonetheless (as can be readily seen by their unmistakable individual personalities). Scripture does not say, so I am entirely within the realm of speculation here, but I would not be surprised to learn that animals are "resurrected" in eternity too (or whatever the correct word is). Since they did not have free-will, there is no reason for them to face judgment or oblivion (and I would imagine that there is animal life in the eternal state; there certainly is in the garden of Eden and the Millennium, the two other "paradises" we know the most about). Any "demanding of an accounting" would pertain to this life only, i.e., being put to death for killing a human being.

As to the covenant, I read the "covenant" in this chapter to be restricted to the promise of no further universal floods that would otherwise wipe out all human and animal life (and require a similar ark to avoid the extinction of both). Just as we are assured of that promise by the rainbow (a representation of the glory of God; see the link: "The Rainbow"), so the promise holds good for animal life as well (but that is as far as I see it going). On covenants generally, please see the link: Covenants.

In the One for whose return we so eagerly wait, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Doc!

I was watching the Christian network and a theologian (Dr. Jack Van Impe) had stated that Satan and his angels fell from heaven before the creation of man, and that they were the original inhabitants of the earth when they fell. He had also stated that Satan and his fallen angels were on earth millions of years ago (old earth view) until the time of Adam which was 6,000 years ago when man was created by God. He said he believes this because God had told Adam to "replenish" the earth and that the earth needed to be replenished as a result of what Satan and his angels did to the earth before the creation of man. My second question is from what Dr. William Lane Craig (creationist scholar/philosopher/etc) had said regarding animals eating other animals. He had said that there is no evidence that animals eating other animals for prey was the result of the curse. He mentions that God had cursed Adam (labor all the days of his life) and Eve (pain in childbearing), but the scripture mentions nothing on animals eating other animals as the result of Adam's sin. He also said that God might have intended for some animals to eat other animals for prey because it helps the ecosystem, or something like that. What are your views on these? Thanks in advance!

Response #2: 

I have no disagreement with the first person you paraphrase except on the issue of "replenish"; there is no command to Adam and Eve to "replenish" the earth. Genesis 1:28 merely says "fill" (fr. Hebrew mala'). The KJV does say "replenish", but in times past that was a synonym for "fill" rather than demanding the sense "RE-fill" – an example of how language changes over time and "forgets" or in this case "remembers" etymological distinctions. There was nothing to "re-fill" in the sense of human population since Adam and Eve were the first of our line.

As to the second individual, I disagree. When our Lord returns to rule the earth, the curse on the earth will be removed, and one result of that mitigation will be that "the wolf will lie down with the lamb", etc., but human beings, for example, will continue to be born with sin natures, will continue to have to work for a living (even if that is a far easier prospect in the Millennium under the rule of Christ), and, in the end, will continue to act in very sinful ways when they get the chance (cf. the rebellion the devil is able to stir up when he is released at the end of the thousand years: Rev.20:7-9). A second piece of evidence is that the situation Genesis describes in Eden is certainly one that is inconsistent with violent animal behavior. Adam and Eve need no protection – they do not even have clothes. From an interpretative point of view, therefore, it is far less likely that there was aggressive and carnivorous activity in Eden than that this only came as a result of the curse on the earth. Thorns and thistles are new developments; sharper more violent animal behavior would fit this pattern perfectly. So while it may not say so overtly, the picture that Bible presents is heavily leaning against this person's interpretation. It would require more evidence to assume as he does, and that evidence is not present – anywhere I can find it at least.

In Jesus our Lord,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

I hope all is well? I was reading this week's e mail response. I could read only first two questions, as there is some problem, last week's e mail response comes up again and again. My question is regarding the serpent in Genesis chapter 3. Sir, why was the serpent cursed if it did not have free will?

Thank you very much Sir

Response #3: 

I just checked the site and there doesn't seem to be any problem with the posting on this end. If you would like, I would be happy to send you the RTF file via email. Do continue to let me know of any technical difficulties that might be a problem with the site, and, as I always, I am happy to try and help work around any issues that are on the reception end.

As to the Genesis serpent, it is certainly true that the way God deals with creatures who do not possess free will is discernibly different from the way He deals with us. We know that He is concerned about all of His creatures (even the smallest sparrow: Matt.10:29-31; Lk.12:6-7). And yet all creatures suffered from the fall of mankind, not just the serpent. For all of creation has been affected by the Genesis curse. Animals have become violent and the world has become a competitive place where life has to be clung to and death is the inevitable result for all creatures in spite of the fact that they did not use free will to sin in the fashion of Adam and Eve and of us all:

(17) And if we are God's children, then we are also His heirs, even fellow heirs of Christ – that is if we have indeed suffered with Him so that we might also be glorified together with Him. (18) For I do not consider these present hardships in any way comparable to the glory destined to be revealed for us [at the 2nd Advent]. (19) For all creation eagerly awaits the revelation of the sons of God. (20) For the created world is now subject to futility – not of its own choosing, but because of Him who subjected it [as a consequence of Adam's sin] – but not without hope. (21) For [at the 2nd Advent] the created world will be liberated from its enslavement to decay at the glorious liberation of the sons of God (i.e. our resurrection). (22) For we know that the whole creation has been experiencing intense pain and agony right up until this present time. (23) And not only the created world, but we too who have received the Holy Spirit as a foretaste [of the good things to come] agonize within ourselves as we eagerly await our adoption, that is, the redemption of our body (i.e. resurrection). (24) This is the hope with which we were saved.
Romans 8:17-24a

The Genesis curse on the earth (not on human beings) will be removed at the return of the Messiah, resulting in the lifting of the current conditions of animal hostility:

(6) The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. (7) And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. (8) And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. (9) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6-9 KJV

I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of wild beasts so that they may live in the desert and sleep in the forests in safety.
Ezekiel 34:25 NIV (cf. v.28)

In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground.
Hosea 2:18a NIV

We see clearly from the above that serpents are included in this change of behavior. The serpent was cursed because he was used of Satan and in order to symbolize the devil and his ways from that point forward: he was "cursed by association" we may say. 

While it may perhaps seem "unfair" that the serpent (not to mention all of the other animals) was cursed really as a result of our sinfulness, it should be noted that none of the animals will be condemned to the lake of fire for failure to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. As in the case of human beings who die young (before being confronted with the issue of choice in regard to their eternal futures) or who never achieve adult mental competency, the lack of free will means the lack of condemnation. We know that for human beings, this means automatic salvation:

And he (i.e., king David) said, "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
2nd Samuel 12: 22-23 KJV

About animals, scripture gives us no such demonstrative statement:

Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?
Ecclesiastes 3:21 NIV

Yet in that same context we also find:

Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath (lit., spirit); man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.
Ecclesiastes 3:19 NIV

But since we do know from elsewhere in scripture that the human spirit which in King Solomon's day descended into the subterranean paradise now does ascend to the third heaven after death (in the case of believers in Jesus Christ), it certainly is worth considering that perhaps all animals will likewise be part of the eternal population of the new heavens and the new earth. I certainly cannot say that dogmatically (because scripture is silent about it), but that is my suspicion (for what that is worth). If so, then whatever disadvantage the serpent and its progeny have "suffered" as a result of this seeming-to-some "unfair" curse, in the end, it is not to be compared to the blessings of eternity. In this we see the incredible folly and deep-seated arrogance so common in the human heart. For in the history of the world, the vast majority of human beings from every place and clime have not used the incredible blessing of free will to respond to the One who has given it, but have instead chosen to reject God and His truth, rather than come to Him through Jesus Christ and so be saved.

Please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #4: 


What is the Hebrew word used for 'knowledge' in "the tree of knowledge of good and evil"? How do you translate it?

In Christ,

Response #4: 

The word is dha'ath, a verbal noun (technically, the infinitive construct, used as a sort of "gerund" here) coming from the root "to know", yadh'ah. The traditional translation "knowledge" is fine, but I prefer "knowing", since 1) Hebrew tends to be more tangible and less abstract in its expression, and 2) in Genesis 3:5, the devil includes what I take to be a grain of truth in his overall lie: "You will be like God/gods (a lie), knowing good and evil". The fact is, we now do have an operative and activated conscience as an absolutely necessary compass for all moral agents alive in the devil's world, but of course this makes us "like God" only in the sense that we have to agree with Him that we are worthy of condemnation based on the act that activated our conscience. Please also see the following link where this passage and the origin of the conscience are discussed in more detail: in BB 3B: "the Conscience".

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

Dear Dr. Luginbill,

The two trees in the Garden of Eden have always intrigued me. My first point is: Adam and Eve were created finite (I believe) but were considered to be able to live forever as long as they did not disobey God. Given the foregoing, what then was the purpose of the tree of Life? Also, what would have been the outcome if Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of Life first and then eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? It seems that this situation would have created a paradox. Of course I realize that God would know that this was a possibility and would have somehow, beyond my comprehension, prevented it from happening. My final question is: Why did God place the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Was it necessary? It seems logical to conclude that Adam’s fall would not have occurred were it not for the tree of KGE. (God’s wisdom is not in question.)

Thank you,

Response #5: 

Always good to hear from you. I am happy to give you a brief answer here; please note that all of these questions are considered and answered in some detail in BB 3A: Anthropology, section IV.1, "The Temptation" (please see the link).

1) In addition to its regenerative properties (which are secondary), the Tree of Life was provided primarily for spiritual refreshment as will be the case in the New Jerusalem when our resurrection bodies will most definitely not require anything further for eternal life (compare Gen.2:9 with Rev.22:2).

2) There is every indication that Adam and Eve were in the garden for many years before the temptation and fall and so most certainly did eat of the Tree of Life. My best estimate is that Adam had been in Eden 47 years before he fell (see the link in SR 5 under Days 3 & 4).

3) Thus the problem with allowing Adam and Eve to remain in Eden after the fall was not that they would eat once and then never die (they were already spiritually dead) but that they would have their physical lives prolonged indefinitely (along with the rest of their sinful progeny) creating a situation wherein there was no need to seek God. After all, our impending physical death is one of the great principles of general revelation which leads us to seek the solution to death that God offers (please see the link: BB 4B: Soteriology: the Biblical Study of Salvation).

4) The Tree of "knowing good and evil" was absolutely essential. For Adam and Eve to choose for God there had to be a way for them to choose against Him. The irony and the blessing of this tree is that while its knowledge was unnecessary in Eden, as soon as they ate of it they did need to know what it gave them to know, the difference between right and wrong; conscience is unnecessary for perfect people in perfect innocence, but for sinners in the devil's world a moral compass is indispensable. Please see the link in BB 3B, "The Conscience".

And please feel free to write me back about any of this.

In our dear Lord Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #6: 

Dear Bob

Thank you so much for your previous help. Your ministry is truly what our Lord has directed us to be - light and salt.

I have a concern regarding three major radio pastors regarding the OT 'Angel of the Lord' in various places as the pre-incarnate Jesus. The first time heard this I was floored and offended. The second I started checking scriptures for something I missed, and after putting it out of my mind there was a recent, rather full sermon just on this. I can't remember all the reasoning behind his claim, but one was that these angels knew the future, and only God knows the future. I believe two of them agreed on the angel that killed the 185K Assyrians but this last one included Abram and Sarai's encounters, along with maybe three or four more.

My take has always been angels are created beings...God is not a created being, and they speak only what the Lord speaks (thus not knowing the future, but speaking of it when He commands).

Please help me. This has the ring of what I have read about the cults. I can not believe all three of these well schooled Christian leaders are this far off, but what am I to think?

In Jesus, who is my every hope

Response #6: 

Good to hear from you as always. As to your question, angels are indeed created beings, however, the word "angel" actually means "messenger" in both Greek (angelos) and Hebrew (where the word is mal'ach). In both languages, the word is often used for human messengers (that is what it means in pre-Bible Greek; it only comes to mean "angel" through its use in translating the Hebrew term for the Septuagint and New Testament). So the first point to note is that the biblical words for "angel" do not necessarily contain within them the idea of "created spirit beings" (not in the original languages of scripture, at any rate). Our English idea of an "angel" is, it is true, what the words commonly refer to in scripture, but that very specific meaning is not inherent in the words themselves and not always what the words mean in the Bible. When I come across these words in reading my Hebrew or Greek Bibles, the first question I ask myself is "is this an angel (as we commonly think of them), or a human messenger . . . or something else?" That is because the words admit of various possibilities in the original (though translations 'interpret' around this potential confusion).

The above is a rather long way of saying that it is the English word "angel" which is the problem here. Jesus Christ is not an angel and never was (as Paul in Hebrews chapters one and two goes to great lengths to demonstrate). Jesus Christ is God and, since the incarnation, a genuine human being as well. Angels, to use the word in our English technical sense, are spirit beings, created as a entire continuum apparently all at one time by the Lord in the distant past (predating the reconstruction of the universe in Genesis 1:2ff.). The words angelos and mal'ach, however, in addition to referring to human messengers (as they very frequently do) sometimes actually do refer to theophanies and, more particular, to Christophanies.

At Revelation 4:2-3 we read "And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and [one] sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone" (KJV). This shows quite clearly that although the Father is entirely spiritual, He is free to appear in human form. In theology, this is known as a theophany (etymologically: "an appearance of God"). We also know that Jesus Himself most certainly did appear in the Old Testament, for John says, in referring to Isaiah 6:1, "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." (Jn.12:41 NIV). So while readers of the Old Testament before the first advent may not have realized that the One spoken of in Isaiah chapter six was the Messiah, representing the Father since the Son is the revealed member of the Trinity, we, with the benefit of information in the New Testament, can say unequivocally that this was Jesus Christ, a theophany of Him, or, more particularly, a Christophany (etymologically: "an appearance of Christ").

Sometimes in these appearances the designation we find is simply YHVH, "the LORD" (or YHVH 'Elohiym, "the LORD God"):

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
Genesis 3:8 KJV

Sometimes, however, Jesus is described as YHVH's mal'ach, "The LORD's Messenger" or, more confusingly for our purposes here, "the 'angel' of the LORD". The use of the definite article in such cases is the standard means whereby scripture apprises us of the unique and singular status of this particular mal'ach, for He is the One and only Son of God. And please note that readers of the Hebrew or Greek would recognize from this usage the possibility that the Person referred to is not what we would call in our technical use of the word "an angel".

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here [am] I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest [is] holy ground. Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Exodus 3:2-6 KJV

Here the pre-incarnate Son of God very clearly identifies Himself as God, but is also described as "the angel of the Lord". For this reason, most orthodox, conservative scholars accept that "the angel of the Lord" is a Christophany, not an identification of Christ as "an angel" (for He is not and never has been), but an instance of Christ appearing in the Old Testament in His role as the visible Person of the Trinity, the "messenger" of the Lord.

There is more to say about this subject, and I invite you to have a look at the following links where the matter is sketched out in more detail.

Cases of Christophany in the Old Testament (in BB 1)

Old Testament Appearances of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A)

Jesus Christ in the Old Testament (Christophany: Genesis 3:8).

Christophany in Exodus

The Angel of God (in HH 6)

I would certainly be more than happy to entertain further questions on this or other issues.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, uniquely God and Man, the Son of God.

Bob L.

Question #7: 

Genesis 32:22-32 is where Jacob wrestles with God. It seems to me that this passage has more importance than simply where Jacob received the name Israel. It seems that a simple explanation would be that the meaning of Israel is "to strive against God and man and prevail." Alongside Revelation, that says those who overcome shall see eternal life, I take this to mean that we struggle against this world system (men) and we also struggle with God; those that overcome are those that prevail, and thus make up God's eternal nation of Israel. Would you concur? And mainly, what is the importance of putting his hip out of joint? Is it simply that although we struggle with God and prevail, it is over this fight (life) that we prevail but not over God (Him ultimately being in control of the fight)? But then verse 32 says "to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket..." as if it has a more highly symbolic meaning. Am I reading too far into this? Any ideas?

Response #7: 

This meeting of Jacob with the Lord occurs at Machanaim, the "camp of God", where "the angels of God met him" (Gen.32.1). The "man/angel" with whom Jacob wrestles is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord, the visible Person of the Trinity, appearing here as is frequently the case in His pre-incarnate Christophany, "the Angel of the Lord" (cf. Gen.32:30: "I have seen God face to face"; and please see the link: "Did Jacob actually Wrestle with Jesus?").

The vision given to Jacob of the angels was given to encourage him in the face of his impending confrontation with his brother Esau, but instead of putting it all in God's hands, Jacob, while trusting in God, was also trusting in himself, devising a tricky strategy to propitiate Esau instead of relying completely on the Lord. The fact that he is reluctant to pass over the river is indicative of the double-minded attitude he has at this point in spite of the Lord's great efforts to encourage him. This is also seen in the personal visit of the Angel of the Lord, Jesus in Christophany, to encourage him to cross over in trust and faith. Instead, Jacob wrestles with the "man".

The Hebrew verb here, sarah, means to strive or contend. "Wrestle" is not a bad translation in the context, but it is important to realize that wrestling in a situation like this can be for two purposes: 1) to prevent oneself from being made to do something, or 2) to force someone else to do something. In Jacob's case, it started as the former and ended up as the latter. No one can oppose God's might, of course, but God will not overrule anyone's free will. Here we see Jacob's reaction to the influence God is bringing to bear on him in order to get him to do God's will.

This incident shows very clearly the key spiritual strength and the key spiritual weakness both of Jacob personally and of Israel (named for him). On the one hand, Jacob resists doing things God's way. He refuses to cross over the river until he is forced to do so, sustaining a physical injury which is memorialized to this day. On the other hand, he really does love and trust God, and so much so that once he had been beaten in his desire to stay behind and let his own scheming do the work, he will thereafter not "let go of God" and retains his hold on Him until he is blessed. Jacob did not prevail in his self-willed scheming; he did prevail in the sense that by refusing to let go of God he finally achieved in a right way what he had thought at first to do his own way.

Herein we see the deep and profound love for God that is deep-set in every Jewish heart, but also the tendency to refuse to do things God's way absent serious pressure. This is really the only way to explain how a people so endowed with a natural love for the Torah and for the God of Abraham can at the same time be so hardened against the actual Messiah, Jesus Christ. This is really the only way to explain how, during the Tribulation, in spite of retaining their essential perspective and denying allegiance to antichrist so many Jews will not believe until they actually see Jesus returning in person at the Second Advent.

All believers can learn two important lessons from Jacob and this experience: 1) the tremendous importance of holding on to God and to the truth, of never letting go of the source of all our blessings; and 2) the tremendous importance of submitting to God the right way right away and without wrestling with Him. In this way we shall all "cross over the river" in God's good time . . . and without a limp.

Let us hold on tight to the Lord at all times – but without wrestling against what He would have us to do.

I would be remiss to fail to say that I found a very good analysis of this passage in my favorite Old Testament commentary, Merrill F. Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament. While the above is different from what Unger has to say in a number of ways, his is the best thing by far I have ever read about this passage, and as you will see (if you look it up), I benefitted greatly from him in giving you this reply.

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #8: 

 Here's an article on carbon dating showing that decay rates are not constant as originally thought:


Response #8: 

Nice article! The problems with carbon (and other) dating have been long known though generally ignored by the secular scientific community. This article does a nice job of pointing out the assumptions upon which such decay-rate dating is based. I was aware that they can't they be proven; I didn't realize that they had already been clinically called into question. One of my seminary professors told a story about a dating done at a dig he was on as a student. A piece of leather dated to 3000 - 4000 B.C., but come to find out after the fact that it came from one of the laborer's belts. Archaeology in general is the most credulous of professions. They can convince themselves of just about anything from just about any piece of evidence.

See the links:

The Problem of Science and the Bible

Science and the Bible


Question #9: 


I need your opinions on some things:

1. I translate Luk.2:25-26 the following: "Notice, there used to be a man in Jerusalem to whom was the name, Simeon. This man was righteous and holding fast—taking to himself Israel’s final summoning for God. So, the Holy Spirit remained upon him; indeed, it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not experience death before he had beheld the LORD’s Messiah."

I ask because I think the different versions of προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ can be more literal. I also am unsure of what is happening with the infinitive followed by that clause with μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον πρὶν ἢ ἂν ἴδῃ.

2. I came across the lineage of Mary in Lu.3:35-38—..the son of Shelah 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos---the sequence of Shelah<Cainan<Arphachshad not being found in Gen. 11:12-13 except in LXX where one stinker of the 70 amends the Hebrew text—Luke’s reading follows the LXX. Bob, what is your assessment…did Luke really ignore Gen. 11, or did God have him copy the LXX for some reason we will have to wait for Heaven for the resolution?

3. Bob, I have been going back and forth with some friends of mine here—one being a science teacher and the other being an engineer who regularly speaks on creationism as an evangelistic tool…about the earth being relatively new or old. I gladly got sucked into your work on Satan’s fall which I agree with regarding it happening between Gen.1.1 and 1.2. Their argument with my view of an old earth really comes down to an interpretation of Ex. 20.11: כִּי שֵֽׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יְהוָה אֶת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת הָאָרֶץ. If you take this as original creation which is the norm, today, I think, among creationists there is little room for an ancient earth or ancient fall of Satan. However if one compares the verb used in Gen.1.1, with that barah of divine creation, in this case ex nihilo, and ‘asah in Ex.20:11 as making something out of something, it seems Ex. 20 can be, and should be taken as the LORD making or remaking the heavens on the 4th day with the sun, the moon and the stars, and remaking the earth on the other days. I think Gen.2.4 backs this view

4. One more. My wife has joined a reading group—reading through the Scripture—awesome, but it has my temperature up over the issue of eternal security or the lack thereof in the leader’s opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but the leader of the group is of the latter opinion—a result of an improper life one presumes after once believing in Christ as Savior; and for a time had her believing it. Where are you on this thing? There is a give and take of opinion in the group and I wrote up a pro-Security opinion from the position that all our sins have been judged and forgiven once and for all…backing it up with Scripture. Did it do any good…of course, not. I don’t think he does much with comparing Scripture with Scripture, nor also with weighting clear Scripture heavier than less clear—like the eschatological, emotionally charged episode of Matt.7.22-23 where Jesus gives His view of the wicked and their fruit regardless of what they call Him.

When you have time…what thinkest thou?

In His grace,

Response #9: 

Good to hear from you. To get right to your questions:

1) The infinitive in Luke 2:26, idein (ἰδεῖν), is a complementary infinitive with the verb "had been revealed": a little too 'literally', "it had been revealed for him not to see". But what this means is "it had been revealed to him that he would not see". It's not technically indirect speech on the classical pattern because the tense of the infinitive would then have to be future, not aorist as it is here, in order to get that meaning. This is probably a Hebraism.

2) If the LXX were correct, and if instead of Arphaxad begetting Selah at age 35 and Selah begetting Eber at age 30, we have Arphaxad begetting Kainam (i.e., a second "Kenan") at age 135 (so LXX), and Kainam begetting Selah at age 130, and Selah begetting Eber at age 130, then just for starters we have added 335 years or roughly a third of a millennium to the chronological period preceding the call of Abraham. As things stand without the LXX, this period is, based on the Masoretic Text chronologies of the Hebrew Bible, roughly 2,000 years, corresponding to the 2,000 years of Israel and the 2,000 years of the Church Age (please see for details the link: "Specific Chronology of the Seven Days of Human History" in SR5). These two pieces of evidence make the Septuagint's changes very unlikely in my view. Also, we would have to posit that the trend otherwise seen in the post-flood world of childbearing commencing at a much earlier age (in keeping with commensurately shorter life-spans) was not paralleled in the case of this family for the first three post-flood generations.

While there is as I see it no compelling reason to follow the LXX in this sharp divergence from the MT, there is certainly an argument to be made for how the LXX came up with this addition. Positing a Vorlage which contained a mere list of names, scribal error could conceivable cause a jump backward in the text (via homoiarcheton) from Seth to Shem. On a Greek list, these two names stick out since they are short (three letters each) and are very similar (each are begin with Sigma Eta). Further, a scribe refreshing his ink might even have it in mind to use the Sigma-Eta-[etc.] as an anchor for his eye, planning to return to the correct place in the exemplar, even if that were not his precise stopping point, and, specifically in this hypothetical, before he got to the point of writing out that name. If such a scenario were played out with the preceding name, Sala, it is certainly not impossible how that the final lambda of Mahalalel, two names before the short triliteral-root name, could be temporarily mistaken for the re-start point, and the name Kainam written in a second time by accident.

Please do note, that it is the same spelling as we have for "Kenan" earlier. Of course the scribe would likely realize his mistake very soon, even if the list had continued onto the next page or column, since there are clearly not enough names left. If he failed to do so, then it is easy to see how a corrector or the next scribe making a new manuscript would fill in the list, but be reluctant to take out the now "extra" name. If the original scribe did realize his mistake, he would have to cross out the Kainam. But in the manner of manuscript transmission, the next person to copy the text would be reluctant to omit this information entirely, being unsure as to whether or not this expunging had been done by the original scribe or merely some later reader who may or may not have known what he was doing. Even if this next copyist put the word in the margin only, it is a short step from there to infiltrating into the text. The additional years given to all three of these individuals by the LXX betray a tendency to want to "expand" the text of the MT (one of the many reasons why the LXX is of so little value), so that such an intrusion would hardly be unique.

So much for the Septuagint. But how do we get the reading in the text of Luke? In fact, not all the best witnesses read "tou Kainam". P75, the Bodmer papyrus which dates to the early third century (and as such is the earliest witness we have), omits it as does codex D. It is true that Aleph and B et al. do have the reading, and I am a great defender of Aleph in particular as you know, but it is a "tick" of Sinaiticus that it has trouble when it comes to long lists (and this is a long list). For example, I think there can be no reasonable doubt that in Revelation chapter 7 there are 12 tribes of witnesses, with 12 thousand in each tribe (which is how they are the 144,000). Sinaiticus does have that number and everything else, but leaves out two tribes entirely (Gad and Simeon) and reverses Benjamin and Joseph. Whatever one makes of the latter "change", the leaving out of two tribes and listing only ten is a mistake.

There is a proverb in Latin (from Horace): quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus, "Even Homer nods occasionally". That is to say, even the best of the best are sometimes guilty of a sloppy mistake. I think that the scribe(s) of Aleph who had very wonderful and wonderfully old exemplars did a pretty good job generally in transcribing them, but that when it comes to any sort of list, we need to be ready to consider other evidence which is both good and early. So I prefer Bodmer here, and that solves the problem.

How precisely the scribe doing Luke for Aleph made this error is harder to say. It is possible he committed the same sort of mental lapse that led to the inclusion in the LXX. However, I think it more probable that, to "save time" in copying, a list from an LXX source ready to hand and in column format was used. Whatever the exemplar of Aleph, it was probably not a codex; more likely it was a papyrus with all the usable space employed. This sort of text was much harder to read than a codex, especially where names with which a person might not be so intimately familiar was concerned, all the letters jammed together line after line with no clear divisions between them for sake of economy. If a more formal text of the LXX which was arranged in name order (as is in common in codex lists) were ready to hand, it would save quite a lot of time and "avoid error" just to use that list as a crib sheet of sorts, easily scanned and reproduced. Such a thing would be impossible for the rest of the gospel (since the bulk of the text is unique, not occurring elsewhere), but not for such lists. Time is everything in manual reproduction of this sort. In classical times, a fancy, block script copy of, say, a play of Aeschylus typically cost some ten to twenty as much to purchase as a quickly done cursive text, so that we are right to consider time-saving devices of this sort as a factor in manuscript reproduction. And of course the manuscript of Aleph does contain a complete version of the LXX! So that is my guess for the provenance of this list in Luke when it comes to Sinaiticus.

3) Yes, I agree entirely. The Lord "made" everything in six days; but He created everything bereshith. – "at once" (lit., "in beginning", no "the"; cf. Jn.1:1 en archei which likewise has no "the"). If one understands 'asah to mean a re-making of an original substratum (something which our English word "make" prejudices us against, but that is an English issue, not a Hebrew issue), then it is possible to reconcile Exodus 20:11 (which, as you say, is paralleled by the summary statement at Genesis 2:4) with the contrast between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. However, if we understand Exodus 20:11 to refer to original creation, it is then impossible to reconcile that passage with the contrast between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 – at least without doing violence to the scripture.

Most of the attempts I have seen to force this sort of homogenization have in common the fact that they rely upon a low view of inspiration (whether the people who are proffering them understand it or not). It seems that creationists tend to want to sweep the critical first two verses of the Bible and their meaning "under the rug" (along with anything else that disagrees with their interpretation). In this we see a very common trend: when politics gets involved (and it is impossible to divorce the creationist movement from politics), then "political victory" always takes precedence over a genuine desire to get the truth of what the Bible is actually saying. We see the same sort of thing in the anti-abortion movement. The biblical position that life begins at birth doesn't fit their rhetorical needs as well as "life at conception", so they are not willing to consider the biblical evidence. And in each case, we see a crusade mentality, with palpable hostility directed towards anyone who has an alternative view, even if (or possibly especially if) it has much better biblical support. Honestly, I think I have taken more heat on the Genesis gap than over anything else I've ever taught (see the link: Genesis Gap: Questions and Answers).

4) On "eternal security", I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I do believe that believers are entirely secure. I don't believe that unbelievers are secure at all – even if they once believed. There are too many verses wherein Paul and the apostles (not to mention our Lord) make this clear to hold to an absolute position that once a person believes that person will be saved even if they go on to reject and renounce Christ later on. My problem with most people who attack absolute ES is that their "pins and needles salvation" is potentially a much worse heresy. Getting Christians to think that if they ever commit a sin which shocks them that have they then have lost their salvation is the worst sort of mess, and generally goes hand in hand with groups/leaders who are looking to control their victims. But the problem with absolute ES is that it is dishonest. If a Christian "believes for a time, then falls away", that person, by virtue of willfully discontinuing belief, is no longer a believer by definition, and only believers are saved. Sin is certainly part of the picture, because giving oneself over to a life of sin and rebellion from God hardens the heart and, left unchecked, can put faith to death. The essential difference between apostasy and the sin unto death is that in the former case a person is willing to let go of faith when the crunch of choosing between sin and faith comes. There are, however, plenty of believers who won't let go of a degenerate pattern of sinfulness (we used to call this reversionism and reverse process apostasy et al.) and yet won't let go of Jesus either. In such cases, the Lord takes the offender out of this life (usually in a very painful way: 1Cor.5). But that there are plenty who do abandon their faith when it is challenged is very clear just from the parable of the sower:

And he who was sown on the rocky places, this is the one who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. He has no roots, however, but lasts only a short time. So when tribulation or persecution occurs on account of the Word, he is immediately tripped up.
Matthew 13:20-21

And these [second types] who are sown on the rocky places are similar. Whenever they hear the Word they immediately receive it with joy, although they have no root in themselves, but are only temporary. When tribulation or persecution because of the Word comes [their way], they are immediately tripped up.
Mark 4:16-17

And those [whose seed fell] on the rock do receive the Word with joy when they hear it. However these [types] have no root. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they apostatize.
Luke 8:13

Simply put, we are secure as long as we are "in Jesus", as long as we persevere in faith; but we are "in Jesus" by grace through our faith. If we use our free-will to take back that faith, falling into unbelief instead, then "the latter end is worse with them than the beginning" (2Pet.2:20 KJV). You can find my detailed take on all this with links to plenty of other files at the following: "The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II".

Your pal in Jesus,

Bob L.

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