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Genesis, Exodus, Job

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Title: Genesis, Exodus, Job


1
Genesis, Exodus, Job
  • Honors 2101, Fall 2006
  • Unit 1 Mesopotamia and Ancient Near East

2
Old Testament
  • Hebrew Torah
  • Pentateuch (5 Books)
  • Tanak Law, Prophets, Writings
  • Authorship?
  • 4 narrations J, E, D, P
  • J (Yahweh) is 900 BCE
  • P is 500 BCE
  • Official organization 400 BCE (School of Ezra)

3
What is the Torah?
  • Literary Collection of a People
  • Hebrew myth, folktales, history, poetry,
    biography, philosophy, prophecy, history, etc.
  • 1st Monotheism Yaweh, an all-powerful,
    dual-natured god.
  • A god of violence, vengeance, and destruction
  • A god of covenants, blessings, protection
  • A nationalist or founding story (of Israel)
  • From a loose tribal collection of people
  • To a national identity of a chosen people

4
The Hebrew Bible read as living literature is a
tragic epic with a single long plot the tale of
the fall of a hero through his weaknesses. The
hero is Israel, a people given a destiny almost
too high for human beings, the charge of Gods
law… Unlike all other epic tragedies, it does not
end in death. The hero has eternal life, and the
prospect of ages of pain, in which to rise at
long last to the destiny which he cannot
escape. Herman Wouk This is My God
5
Genesis Exodus
  • Genesis
  • Story of creation, rebellion, universal flood,
    razing of the unrighteous (1-11) and a story of
    tribal fathers, conflicts between sons and
    fathers, and convenants with Yaweh (11-22).
  • Exodus
  • Story of the search for the promised land, the
    escape from Egypt, and the formation of a nation
    under Gods laws.

6
Influences
  • Canaan/Palestine between Egypt and Mesopotamia.
    (e.g., flood, eternal life, laws)
  • Stories of Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
    Joseph) represent migration of Semitic tribes
    from Arabian peninsula into Fertile Crescent
    between 1900-1300 BCE.
  • Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees 1900
  • Canaanite/Amorite tribes move to Egypt 1700
  • Come out of slavery in 13th cent. BCE, during
    rules of Seti and Ramses II.

7
Break into groups
  • Using the texts as sources, answer the questions
    given to your group.
  • You will have 30 minutes.
  • You will then have to report to the class your
    answers.

8
Question A
  • Gilgamesh ( Enkidu), as well as Abraham, Moses
    and others in the Old Testament (assignment) are
    all considered heroes. Pick one hero from
    each text and then, using specific textual
    references, answer the following questions
  • What is a hero?
  • In what way are the figures in each literature
    similar?
  • In what ways are they different?
  • What contemporary figures parallel these Epic and
    Old Testament heroes?

9
Question B
  • Both the Epic of Gilgamesh and Genesis contain a
    Flood Story. Using specific textual references,
    answer the following questions regarding these
    stories
  • In what way are the stories similar?
  • In what way are they unique/different?
  • What role does the Flood Story play in each text?
    (Is it the same, different?)
  • Are there any modern versions of the Flood Story
    that suggest interesting parallels?

10
Question C
  • In both the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Old
    Testament (assignment) the relationship between
    humans and god(s) play a prominent role. Using
    specific textual references, answer the following
    questions
  • In what way is the human-god(s) relationship in
    each text similar?
  • In what way is the relationship different?
  • How do the god(s) communicate with humans in each
    text?
  • What do the god(s) represent in each text?

11
Job
  • A dialogue on the nature of God, divine justice,
    human suffering and obedience.
  • Considered a masterpiece of literature.

12
Influences
  • Dated from the 6th cent. BCE
  • Unique among wisdom literature because of its
    questioning of conventional wisdom.
  • Babylonian captivity 586 BCE
  • Nebuchadrezzar II, King of Babylon destroys
    Jerusalem, takes 40,000 Jews.
  • Compare Psalm 137
  • Written after Babylonian captivity, c. 400-100
    BCE.

13
Psalm 137 (KJV)
  • By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea,
    we wept when we remembered Zion.
  • We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst
    thereof.
  • For there they that carried us away captive
    required of us a song and they that wasted us
    required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the
    songs of Zion.
  • How shall we sing the LORDs song in a strange
    land?
  • If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
  • let my right hand forget its her cunning.
  • If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave
    to the roof of my mouth if I prefer not
    Jerusalem above my chief joy.
  • Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the
    day of Jerusalem who said, Rase it, rase it,
    even to the foundation thereof
  • O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed
    happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou
    hast served us.
  • Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth they
    little ones against the stones.
  • (539 BCE Cyrus the Great of Persia destroys
    Babylon end of last Mesopotamian empire)

14
Psalm 137
  • Expresses the suffering, and injustice of the
    Hebrews while captive in Babylon.
  • Also, the prophecy and hope for retribution
  • O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed
    happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou
    hast served us.
  • Represents conventional wisdom about a just God…

15
Justice in Job
  • Conventional wisdom
  • Goodness, piety, is rewarded with prosperity
  • Evil, blasphemy, is punished
  • But, experience tells us differently
  • Goodness is not always rewarded
  • Evil often prospers

16
Justice in Job
  • What does this mean for a just God?
  • And, what does this mean for human suffering?
  • Job explores these questions…

17
Plot
  • Job introduced pious, blameless man.
  • God and Satan wager on Jobs piety.
  • Job is deprived of prosperity, family, and
    health. (1-2)
  • Job complains, cursing the day he was born. (3)
  • His three companions (Eliphaz, Bildad, and
    Zophar) console him…

18
Several Solutions Offered
  • Job suffers because he had done something wrong.
    (4-5)
  • Job suffers because he has some inward fault not
    readily observable.
  • Job suffers because we are all sinners (original
    sin)
  • Job suffers because God has some purpose for his
    suffering (Elihu)

19
God speaks for Himself
  • Job demands an answer from God (31)
  • God replies…(38-42)
  • What is Gods answer to Job?
  • How does Job reply to God?
  • What happens in the end?

20
Questions
  • What does the book of Job recommend to the
    faithful? To the suffering?
  • If God (and his law) is transcendent (beyond
    human understanding), how can humans be expected
    to follow?
  • If God is indeed just, what kind of justice is
    this? What kind of piety is recommended?
  • Is justice power? Is justice fairness?
  • Is piety reasonable?Is it nothing but Fear? Is it
    irrational?

21
Points to Consider
  • Consider Jobs answer to his wife (2.10) …shall
    we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we
    not receive evil? What does this mean for
    conventional wisdom?
  • Consider Chapter 9 but how should man be just
    with God? What is Job talking about here?

22
And More…
  • Consider Gods reply Will you ever put me in the
    wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be
    justified? (40.8) Explain.
  • God rewards Job and reprimands his friends
    because, you have not spoken of me what is
    right, as my servant Job has. (42.7ff.) Does
    this mean God prefers questioning His justice? If
    so, how does this jive with Gods answer to Job?

23
Some Paper Topics
  • Compare the Biblical and Gilgamesh versions of
    the flood story. What are the most striking
    similarities and differences? Explain using
    specific examples from both stories. What
    contemporary parallel sheds light on your
    comparison?
  • Human suffering is a central theme in both the
    Hebrew Bible and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Compare
    Job and Gilgamesh as suffering heroes, as they
    search for understanding, and come to accept the
    limits of their human condition. Use specific
    examples from both stories to support and
    illustrate your ideas.
  • Compare the story of The Fall in the Hebrew
    Bible with the episode in the Epic of Gilgamesh
    in which Enkidu becomes fully human. In both
    stories a woman is instrumental in the process of
    becoming fully human, endowing reason or
    knowledge in the process. What is the fate of
    those who have become fully human? Discuss the
    similarities and differences that reveal insights
    into the human condition. Use specific examples
    from both stories to support your ideas.
  • Compare the nature of the gods/God as they are
    expressed in the Epic of Gilggamesh and the
    Hebrew Bible. If we assume, Mesopotamian gods
    predate the monotheism expressed in the Hebrew
    Bible, does this comparison show a type of
    progress in ideas about the divine? What about
    the degree of concern the gods/God have toward
    humans (all or a select few)? Use specific
    examples from both texts to support and
    illustrate your ideas.
  • Discuss the fall of Babel, Sodom, and/or Babylon
    as examples of Gods justice. How does Jobs
    acquiescence to God provide an answer? It might
    be interesting to compare Jobs response with
    Jonahs.
  • Discuss the role of dreams or the role of women
    in the asigned texts from Genesis, Exodus or Job.
    How does it compare with other texts, including
    The Epic of Gilgamesh and the liad or Odyssey.
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