“So it’s campfire story until after Moses dies?”
“So Moses is telling the story of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and then Noah, and then Abraham, and eventually Jacob and Joseph?”
“You got it.”
“So is Moses somehow ‘read into’ a version of scripture as a young boy, like an already begun tale, or is he passing down something later related to him, perhaps by Yahweh Himself?”
“Interesting question. What brings it to mind, if I may ask?”
“Well, in early books of the Bible, books authored by Moses, books written before Moses learns God’s name on Sinai, characters use that name in speech. For example, Abraham talks to the king of Sodom and says, ‘I have raised my hand to Yahweh God Most High…’”
“So, my real question is, ‘Is Moses telling us the truth that Abraham actually uttered the name “Yahweh”—which would mean it was then lost by the time Moses had to ask—or, is Moses helping the story along, and keeping it particular because he, Moses, knows that Abraham meant the god “Yahweh” whatever he, Abraham, actually uttered in that moment?’”
“Ah. I think I see your point. Quick clarifying question. What difference would it make if Abraham uttered ‘Yahweh’ vs. Moses only saying that Abraham uttered it?”
“Well, doesn’t that make Moses a liar? I mean, how can he say something happened that he knows did not happen?”
“What do you think? Is there any way that scripture holds integrity here? You’ve painted a pretty stark picture.”
“I guess I could zoom out a bit and say the point of scripture is not to get Abraham’s exact words correct, but to reveal who Yahweh is.”
“Seems a bit too loose.”
“Maybe I could say that it must be that the name Yahweh was lost by the time Moses was on Sinai?”
“Seems like you don’t actually believe that.”
“Maybe Moses didn’t really write it as tradition holds?”
“Jesus seemed to think he did.”
“Good point. Hmm. So Moses knows he’s a member of Israel, and knows this before the burning bush, because that’s the whole point. His people were already a “people” in their own eyes, that’s how they were enslaved. Then it’s got to be some kind of more immediate need on Sinai when he asked, than Moses inserting it into Abraham’s speech falsely. And that would, or but that would also mean that Moses is passing on an inherited tradition—which is now not that unlikely because the story is definitely that they were enslaved according to their tribe.”
“But this still leaves what problem?”
“It leaves the problem of ‘If Moses is passing on inherited stories, why did Moses have to ask Yahweh what his name was? Shouldn’t he and all the people fresh off the Exodus have known?’”
“Precisely. But let’s ask it this way, ‘Would the people who were already creating an idol while Moses was up on Sinai have known Yahweh?’”
“Good point. And yet someone had to have told Moses.”
“Had to have. Or else Moses, as author of Genesis, must be lying.”
“But he can’t be lying.”
“But he can’t be lying, that’s right.”
“What do you think?”
“I think what I normally think.”
I had no idea.
I haven’t had any ideas for this blog since learning this on Thursday or Friday night. That is, I can’t think of anything else to write except to share my slightly embarrassing astonishment at what I learned.
When I have H- I usually spend all the time she is asleep writing posts or writing books. But when I don’t have her, I am able to finally catch up on some reading. One book is (as I’ve mentioned before) N.T. Wright’s Jesus and The Victory of God. It is book two in a five book series on first century Jewish-then-Jewish/Christian history. From what I have been able to discern, it is tier one as far as historical critical scholarship goes. I say tier one to attempt to convince you that I am aware there are many good researchers who all come to different conclusions about such things, but to be honest, I’m kind of falling for the arguments Wright is making. Anyhow, I’m writing this now because I want to move on and write fun things again.
The information I was shocked to discover was that the temple Jesus of Nazareth displayed anger towards and overturned tables at etc. shortly before the crucifixion, this temple was not just the local baptist church in Jerusalem. It was the Temple. Capital T. The one that has been fought over for thousands of years. The one that has been destroyed and rebuilt and destroyed and now there is a Muslim structure on it blah, blah, blah. I had no idea. I feel pretty foolish. I grew up as a bible memorizing, save the world one non-believer at a time Southern Baptist and somehow totally missed this. I just thought that he picked one of the many mega churches that surely existed back then to make an example of. I think that’s some variation of projection and ethnocentrism. Oh well.
The real question is, of course, does any of this matter?