Class Notes #1 (week 1), by Bree Berman and Robin Bose
14 Jan 2003
Rels 015 - Robert Kraft

1. Other Website Resources
Note RelSt 002 "LAST LECTURE" -- key themes and ideas for any course overall

2. "Bible" --
different versions, contents, organization
Catholic vs. Protestant vs. Jewish (vs. Islam) -- see chart

NOTE: be alert for factual mistakes and biases in the textbook by Ken Davis

3. Terminology ("Rels 002" link)

.1 "The Bible"
- comes to mean "book"
- technical innovation
- oldest forms on multiple scrolls/rolls (horizontal orientation, with vertical columns
- codex (bound on the side, pages written on both sides)
- 2nd century C.E. (common era) produced very small codex texts, 3rd century began to compile these texts into larger ones, and by the 4th century, entire Bibles (anthologies of scriptures) were produced

.2 "Canon"
- collection of approved works, implies inclusion / exclusion
-"canonical" -- included and accepted as authoritative
-"apocryphal" -- excluded, defined in relations to the canon, comes to suggest 2nd rate or even false (Protestant Christian usage, especially)
-"deutero-canonical" -- "secondary canon" but still "Bible" (a term often used in Roman Catholic circles for what Protestants call "the apocrypha"); there are minor differences in inclusion/exclusion even in the "apocrypha" category
- e.g. 1-2 and 4 Maccabees inclusion/exclusion ("3 Maccabees" is unrelated to the others)

Roman Catholicism - traditional form of Christianity in Latin language -- pope as single top authority
Eastern Orthodox - traditional form of Christianity in Greek -- multiple local leaders, technically equal in authority

Hebrew Bible = Jewish Scriptures = TaNaK - "Torah"(laws) / "Neviim"(prophets) / Ketuvim"(writings) [see chart]
Torah = "Pentateuch" in Greek = 5 books of Moses = Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy -> raises questions of compositional history: how did these materials come together?

4. Ways of Referring to Deity (an early criterion in Pentateuch analysis)
- Elohim ("God" a plural form used as a singular noun) was used in the first chapter of Genesis;
- YHWH Elohim ("LORD God") was used in the second chapter of Genesis;
This suggests these texts may have had different sources

- YHWH = the "tetragrammaton" (four lettered name), usually capitalized as "LORD";
"Jehovah" appeared in 1881 "RV" Bible translation as attempt to be more literal
(see also the usage in the group called "Jehovah's Witnesses");
convention emerged in ancient Judaism not to pronounce YHWH since it was against the law ("10 commandments") to use the name YHWH "in vain"

Elohim - plural form "gods"... raises questions of early polytheism
ex.1 - Babylonians talk about "council of gods"
ex.2 - God says, "let us make man"
ex.3 - in the 10 commandments, God says, "you should have no other Gods before me," suggests not necessarily monotheism, but a Supreme God above others
ex.4 - In the book of Job, God and Satan are pictured as talking in a council setting, perhaps reflecting a background of multiple godly beings

ASIDE (apropos writing YHWH) -- Dead Sea Scrolls
-pottery receptacles and scrolls in cave #1, with scrolls found in 11 caves in the west bank of Israel starting in 1946-7
-date from a period between Jewish scriptures and early Christian writings and included approx. 800 documents including parts of what became "Bible"
-Tetragrammaton rendered in different script, which shows special treatment already at this early date (2nd-1st century BCE)

"Orthography" = "correct writing" (both spelling, and type of lettering)

5. Creation -> 2 different stories told; 2 old traditions juxtaposed in Genesis (Genesis 1.1-2.4, 2.4-3.24)

At least 4 different strands of tradition in Pentatarch (Tetragrammaton version; Elohim version; etc.; often designated J, E, D[euteronomist], P[riestly])

ASIDE -- Hebrew Poetry (see Gen 3.14ff) sometimes indicates that old traditions (passed along in oral recitation?) have been integrated with narratives. Hebrew poetry uses "parallelism" where the same idea is repeated in slightly different words, rather than the poetry being distinguished by rhyme or meter.
e.g.> "God reigns from on high / The King is in His heavens"


possible conflicts: secular approach vs. religious beliefs, assumptions
We have a secular classroom... analyze the Bible understanding our own assumptions, and treating it consistently with other ancient literatures

6. Transmission - How close is the current Bible to the original?
- Whose original? First telling, first writing, first in current setting, etc.
- In what language, from what region?
- By whom? Did the alleged writer exist? When?

Involved questions -- how far back can we get to examine development of the texts? Compare DSS (Dead Sea Scrolls, from around 100 BCE) to later versions.

"Textual Criticism: - attempt to recover earliest identifiable form.
Most scholars can determine what changes took place over time, but earliest forms of scriptures probably unrecoverable.

Variations between the similar stories told in the Quran, Pentateuch, and other sources may have resulted from oral transmission over the centuries.

7. Versions:
Bible Gateway - provides several different versions of the Bible

Homework... Genesis 1-3, Homepage --> trivia, crossword puzzle for fun

/end of Notes #1/

Class Notes 1/16 (week 1, class 2)
Religious Studies 015 Robert Kraft
Notes by Bree Berman and Robin Bose

Class Homepage: (link)

*Out of what materials were heaven and earth created?
- It doesn't specify in Genesis
- One theory is that it was made "out of nothing" (Latin = ex nihilo)
- Once fossils were discovered, another theory developed, that the earth as we know it was not the first creation, but something preceded it

*When is darkness first mentioned in the creation story?
- First there was a void, then light was created on the first day, implying that darkness was present then as well

(a)etiology/(a)etiological - Greek for "cause"
- a tale that tries to explain beginnings (e.g. languages after tower of Babel), phenomena (e.g. rainbow after Noah's flood), etc.
- usually in the context of folktales

*When are the normal cycles of day and night established?
- Day 4
- this creates problems for those who interpret the Bible strictly
- how do we know that four days passed if there was no day and night?
- how is it that light was created before stars or the sun?
- Genesis does not address such questions in the basic creation story

Why did God create the earth? What was before it?
- Genesis does not give reasons
- we can only look to philosophers discussing "ontology" or "metaphysics"
- Plato saw the Good as eternal - he believed the Good and other ideas (forms) as the truest form of reality, non physical/material
- Aristotle saw both the world of ideas and the world of matter as
existing together ("formed matter") eternally

*What 3 categories of living things (apart from humans) are created?
- birds, fish, and livestock (or rather, flying things, swimming things, and walking things)
- laws will follow about what you may or may not do with animals Deuteronomy (Greek for "second law")

- King Josiah discovers a copy of the law which had been neglected (c 621 bce)
- This apparently represented restatements of the old (neglected) laws
- Under Josiah these laws receive official sanction ("Deuteronomic code")

Begging the question - circular reasoning in which the argument assumes the
conclusion in its premises
- ex: When Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 people, he showed his power over nature
- this starts with the assumption that the feeing of 5,000 was miraculous and thus by definition shows power over nature [not a great example! rak]

- Exodus allusions are found frequently in Jewish scriptures
- Some interpreters explain anacronisms as being prophecies and not indicative of the date after which the material was compiled (e.g. Deuteronomy anticipating Kings who would multiply wives and horses, etc.)

- Some look for passages in the Bible to support their argument because of the Bible's weight and imporance to many today
- ex: Support for ecological arguments
- however, these people may be skewing the ideas in the Bible, because issues/problems of today were not issues of the past
- "proof text" - making arguments using support which is taken out of context
- "Should we lie for God?" (quotation from the book of Job)

What does "us" mean when used in terms of God(s)?
- Multiple gods (or God and angels)?
- Christian Trinity of Father, Son, Holy Spirit?
- the plural form is used not to mean many, but to emphasize status (the "royal we")?

Differences between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 indicate different sources
- It is possible that this situation was derived from one ancient etiology that developed into two versions with somewhat different sets of details?

* Why does God create animals?
- In the second creation tradition, Adam was lonely
- the animals were supposed to serve as companions for Adam, but they were not adequate
- God subsequently created Eve from one of Adam's ribs

Why are there different creation stories?
- there may have been more (compare folktales of other societies)
- stories told in the north may have differed from stories told in the south (note the political situation after David and Solomon)
- when the stories were compiled (probably by priestly circles), the compilers may not have wanted to choose between two available traditions
- the two stories may not have been seen as contradictory, rather complimentary (as subsequent tradition has understood them)

Homework: Start or continue reading Davis; Finish Genesis; Begin Exodus;
Crossword puzzle

//end of Notes #2//