Genesis 1-11 - David M. Carr - E-Book

Genesis 1-11 E-Book

David M. Carr

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Beschreibung

There has been a recent trend to date many non-Priestly texts later than their Priestly counterparts, and this movement has significant synchronic, as well as diachronic, implications. The commentary engages these approaches, along with other recent proposals and methods, in providing a multi-layered reading of the diverse texts and strata of Genesis 1-11. This combination of diachronic and synchronic approaches yields new insights into these evocative and influential narratives at the outset of the Bible.

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International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (IECOT)

Edited by:

Walter Dietrich, David M. Carr, Adele Berlin, Erhard Blum, ­Irmtraud Fischer, Shimon Gesundheit, Walter Groß, Gary Knoppers (†), Bernard M. Levinson, Ed Noort, Helmut Utzschneider and Beate Ego (Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books)

Cover:

Top: Panel from a four-part relief on the “Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III” (859–824 BCE) depicting the Israelite king Jehu (845–817 BCE; 2 Kings 9f) paying obeisance to the Assyrian “King of Kings.” The vassal has thrown himself to the ground in front of his overlord. Royal servants are standing behind the Assyrian king whereas Assyrian officers are standing behind Jehu. The remaining picture panels portray thirteen Israelite tribute bearers carrying heavy and precious gifts. Photo © Z.Radovan/BibleLandPictures.comBottom left: One of ten reliefs on the bronze doors that constitute the eastern portal (the so-called “Gates of Paradise”) of the Baptistery of St. John of Florence, created 1424–1452 by Lorenzo Ghiberti (c. 1378–1455). Detail from the picture “Adam and Eve”; in the center is the creation of Eve: “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Gen 2:22)Photograph by George ReaderBottom right: Detail of the Menorah in front of the Knesset in Jerusalem, created by Benno Elkan (1877–1960): Ezra reads the Law of Moses to the assembled nation (Neh 8). The bronze Menorah was created in London in 1956 and in the same year was given by the British as a gift to the State of Israel. A total of 29 reliefs portray scenes from the Hebrew bible and the history of the Jewish people.

David M. Carr

Genesis 1–11

Verlag W. Kohlhammer

1. Edition 2021

All rights reserved

© W. Kohlhammer GmbH, Stuttgart

Production: W. Kohlhammer GmbH, Stuttgart

Print:

ISBN 978-3-17-020623-6

E-Book-Formate:

pdf: ISBN 978-3-17-037512-3

epub: ISBN 978-3-17-037513-0

mobi: ISBN 978-3-17-037514-7

W. Kohlhammer bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of any external website that is linked or cited, or for that of subsequent links.

This commentary offers a synthesis of close readings of Genesis 1-11 and up-to-date study of the formation of these chapters in their ancient Near Eastern context. Each interpretation of these evocative and multilayered narratives is preceded with a new translation (with textual and philological commentary) and a concise overview of the ways in which each text bears the marks of its shaping over time. This prepares for a close reading that draws on the best of older and newer exegetical insights into these chapters, a reading that then connects to feminist, queer, ecocritical, and other contemporary approaches.

David M. Carr is Professor of Old Testament at the Union Theological Seminary, New York.

Content

Editors’ Foreword

Preface and Acknowledgements

Introduction to the Commentary

Initial Overview of the Contents and Literary Patterns in Gen 1–11

Major Themes in the History of Interpretation of Gen 1:1–6:4

Major Contours of the Diachronic Background to Gen 1–11

Ancient Non-Biblical Precursors

The Character of Mesopotamian Primeval Texts and Traditions

The Limited Usefulness of the ‘Creation’ Category for Reading Gen 1–11

Literary Stages in the Formation of Gen 1–11

P, Non-P, and Models for their Relationship

Layers and Dating of the Pre-P Primeval History

Layers and Dating in the Priestly Levels of the Primeval History

Early Textual Transmission of Gen 1–11: The Three Major Traditions

Moving to Commentary

Genesis 1:1–2:3: The Seven Day Creation Account

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Genesis 1:1–2:3 as Priestly and Its Relations to Gen 2:4b–3:24

Separate Precursors to Gen 1:1–2:3: The Enuma Elish Epic and Psalm 104

The Question of Stratification within Gen 1:1–2:3 Itself

Synchronic Analysis

Overview of Gen 1:3–31

Commentary

Conclusion: Divergent Patterns Spanning Gen 1:1–2:3

Synthesis

Genesis 2:4–3:24: The Origins of Adult Human Life in the Garden of Eden

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Genesis 2:4a as a Conflational Superscription

Genesis 2:4b–3:24 (Gen 2–3) as a Pre-Priestly Creation Narrative

Non-Biblical (Mesopotamian) Precursors to Gen 2–3

Other Precursors to Gen 2–3

Synchronic Analysis

Overview

Commentary

Temporal Placement

Genesis 2:4b–17: Scene One in the Concentric Structure(cf. Scene Seven in 3:22–24)

Genesis 2:18–25: Scene Two in the Concentric Structure (cf. Scene Six, 3:14–21)

Genesis 3:1–5: Scene Three in the Concentric Structure(cf. Scene Five, 3:8–13)

Genesis 3:6–7: Scene Four, The Central Scene in the Concentric Structure

Genesis 3:8–13: Scene Five in the Concentric Structure(cf. Scene Three, 3:8–13)

Genesis 3:14–21: Scene Six in the Concentric Structure(cf. especially Scene Two, 2:18–25)

Genesis 3:22–24: Scene Seven in the Concentric Structure(cf. Scene One, 2:4b–17)

Conclusion to Synchronic Analysis of Gen 2:4b–3:24 (in its Pre-P Context)

Synthesis

Genesis 4:1–26: First Descendants of the Initial Human Couple

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Overview

Commentary

Genesis 4:1–5: Narrative Background—Part One of the Concentric Structure (cf. Part Five, 4:16)

Genesis 4:6–7: ’s Instruction—Part Two of the Concentric Structure (cf. Part Four, 4:9–15)

Genesis 4:8: The Central Crime—Part Three of the Concentric Structure

Genesis 4:9–15: Consequences for Cain—Part Four of the Concentric Structure (cf. Part Two, 4:6–7)

Genesis 4:16: Narrative conclusion—Part Five of the Concentric Structure (cf. Part One, 4:1–5)

Genesis 4:17–18

Genesis 4:19–24

Genesis 4:25–26

Conclusion to the Synchronic Analysis

Diachronic Analysis

Synthesis

Genesis 5:1–32: The Genealogical Line from Adam to Noah and his Sons

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Part One: P and Non-P in Gen 5 (and Relations to non-P in Gen 4)

Part Two: A Priestly Toledot Book Standing Behind (most of) Gen 5

Part Three: Links of the Toledot Book to (a Late Iteration of) the Sumerian King List Tradition

Part Four: Scribal Adaptations of the Chronological System

Conclusion to the Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Overview

Commentary

Synthesis

Genesis 6:1–4: The Marriages of Sons of God with Human Daughters and Their Effects

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Genesis 6:1–4 as a Part of the Pre-P Primeval History

Traditional Precursors to Gen 6:1–4

Conclusion to the Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Overview

Commentary

Conclusion to the Synchronic Analysis

Synthesis

Genesis 6:5–9:17; 9:28–29: Noah and the Flood

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Preliminary Source Analysis of Gen 6:5–9:17

Non-Biblical Precursors to the Noah and Flood Story

Synchronic Analysis

Commentary on the Non-Priestly Story of the Flood and Noah

Diachronic Conclusions on the Non-P Synchronic Level of the Flood Narrative

Commentary on the Priestly Story of Noah and the Flood

Diachronic Conclusions on the Priestly Synchronic Level of the Flood Narrative

Comments on the Present Combined P/non-P Noah-Flood Story

Synthesis

Genesis 9:18–29: The Conclusion of the Noah Account—Noah and His Sons

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Genesis 9:18–27 as Pre-Priestly

Ancient Near Eastern Precursors

Literary Stratification: The Addition of Ham (Gen 9:18, 22) and the Spread of Noah’s Family (Gen 9:19)

Synchronic Analysis

Commentary

Concluding Overview of the Non-P Narrative of Noah and his Sons

Synthesis

Genesis 10:1–32: Post-Flood Peoples Descending from Noah’s Sons

Notes on Text and Translation

Introduction and Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Commentary on Pre-P Elements Embedded in Gen 10

Genesis 10:8(b)–12: A Non-Priestly Etiology of Mesopotamian cities and Kingship associated with Nimrod

Genesis 10:15 and 21: An Early Sequel to the Story of Noah and His Sons

Genesis 10:13–14: Egypt’s Fathering of Peoples

Genesis 10:16–19: An Expansion of the Report of Canaan’s Fathering

Conclusions on the Non-P Overview of Noah’s Offspring

Commentary on the P/Verbless Framework of Gen 10

Conclusions on P’s Treatment of the Descendants of Noah’s Sons

Comments on the Present (Conflated P/non-P) Overview of Noah’s Post-Flood Descendants

Synthesis

Genesis 11:1–9: Divine Prevention of Human Collective Power through Linguistic Confusion and the Scattering of Humans

Notes on Text and Translation

Introduction and Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Overview

Commentary

Conclusion to the Synchronic Reading of the Present Text

Diachronic Analysis

Proposed Literary Strata Inside Gen 11:1–9

Non-Biblical Precursors to Gen 11:1–9

Genesis 11:1–9 as part of the Pre-Priestly Primeval History

Synthesis

Genesis 11:10–26: The Genealogical Line from Shem to Abraham

Notes on Text and Translation

Diachronic Prologue

Synchronic Analysis

Synthesis

Selective Bibliography

Indexes

Index of Hebrew Words

Index of Key Words

Index of Biblical Citations

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Judges

Ruth

2 Samuel

1 Kings

1 Chronicles

4 Maccabees

Job

Psalms

Wisdom

Sirach

Isaiah

Ezekiel

Amos

Micah

Romans

1 Corinthians

1 Timothy

Hebrews

1 John

Revelation

Index of Other Ancient Literature

Plan of volumes

Editors’ Foreword

The International Exegetical Commentary on the Old Testament (IECOT) offers a multi-perspectival interpretation of the books of the Old Testament to a broad, international audience of scholars, laypeople and pastors. Biblical commentaries too often reflect the fragmented character of contemporary biblical scholarship, where different geographical or methodological sub-groups of scholars pursue specific methodologies and/or theories with little engagement of alternative approaches. This series, published in English and German editions, brings together editors and authors from North America, Europe, and Israel with multiple exegetical perspectives.

From the outset the goal has been to publish a series that was “international, ecumenical and contemporary.” The international character is reflected in the composition of an editorial board with members from six countries and commentators representing a yet broader diversity of scholarly contexts.

The ecumenical dimension is reflected in at least two ways. First, both the editorial board and the list of authors includes scholars with a variety of religious perspectives, both Christian and Jewish. Second, the commentary series not only includes volumes on books in the Jewish Tanach/Protestant Old Testament, but also other books recognized as canonical parts of the Old Testament by diverse Christian confessions (thus including the Deuterocanonical Old Testament books).

When it comes to “contemporary,” one central distinguishing feature of this series is its attempt to bring together two broad families of perspectives in analysis of biblical books, perspectives often described as “synchronic” and “diachronic” and all too often understood as incompatible with each other. Historically, diachronic studies arose in Europe, while some of the better known early synchronic studies originated in North America and Israel. Nevertheless, historical studies have continued to be pursued around the world, and focused synchronic work has been done in an ever greater variety of settings. Building on these developments, we aim in this series to bring synchronic and diachronic methods into closer alignment, allowing these approaches to work in a complementary and mutually-informative rather than antagonistic manner.

Since these terms are used in varying ways within biblical studies, it makes sense to specify how they are understood in this series. Within IECOT we understand “synchronic” to embrace a variety of types of study of a biblical text in one given stage of its development, particularly its final stage(s) of development in existing manuscripts. “Synchronic” studies embrace non-historical narratological, reader-response and other approaches along with historically-informed exegesis of a particular stage of a biblical text. In contrast, we understand “diachronic” to embrace the full variety of modes of study of a biblical text over time.

This diachronic analysis may include use of manuscript evidence (where available) to identify documented pre-stages of a biblical text, judicious use of clues within the biblical text to reconstruct its formation over time, and also an examination of the ways in which a biblical text may be in dialogue with earlier biblical (and non-biblical) motifs, traditions, themes, etc. In other words, diachronic study focuses on what might be termed a “depth dimension” of a given text – how a text (and its parts) has journeyed over time up to its present form, making the text part of a broader history of traditions, motifs and/or prior compositions. Synchronic analysis focuses on a particular moment (or moments) of that journey, with a particular focus on the final, canonized form (or forms) of the text. Together they represent, in our view, complementary ways of building a textual interpretation.

Of course, each biblical book is different, and each author or team of authors has different ideas of how to incorporate these perspectives into the commentary. The authors will present their ideas in the introduction to each volume. In addition, each author or team of authors will highlight specific contemporary methodological and hermeneutical perspectives – e.g. gender-critical, liberation-theological, reception-historical, social-historical – appropriate to their own strengths and to the biblical book being interpreted. The result, we hope and expect, will be a series of volumes that display a range of ways that various methodologies and discourses can be integrated into the interpretation of the diverse books of the Old Testament.

Fall 2012 The Editors

Preface and Acknowledgements

The following commentary is a guided tour of some of the most interesting and discussed chapters of the Bible. Much like a tour guide informs his group about particular features of an often-visited city, this guide to Gen 1–11 discusses aspects of the biblical text that I know the most about and find particularly fascinating. In this case, many other such commentary/tours of Gen 1–11 have been and will be done, and this tour makes no pretense to cover the text comprehensively.1 Instead, in agreement with the focus of the overall series, I focus on ways that the Bible might be illuminated through a combination of close reading and attention to the original literary contexts of the texts under discussion. In addition, I have tried to bring together diverse worlds and forms of biblical criticism together in this commentary. I attend in the historical exegesis portions to a mix of international perspectives on the philology and formation of the texts discussed, and I include at least some pointers (in the Synthesis) to how such discussions might interact with non-historical approaches to the biblical text.

Having brought this commentary to a close, I have ever more respect for my predecessors who have done the same. I keep learning interesting things about these texts, and so there is never a point of obvious closure. Moreover, as one works on a commentary of this sort over years, the successive stages of learning necessarily end up reflected in diverse diachronic levels of the commentary itself. I and my editors have done our best (perhaps like the editors of Gen 1–11 itself) to bring the whole into a coherent unity. Nevertheless, I hope remaining imperfections can stand as an important reminder that this guide offers an imperfect and partial, but hopefully suggestive mix of ways one might understand the texts in Gen 1–11.2 It does not, contrary to some concepts of biblical commentary, purport to have mastered the text.

This work would be more imperfect if I had not had the aide of numerous people. I have presented and gained invaluable feedback on my work as I presented it to two seminars on Gen 1–11 at Union Theological Seminary (Fall 2015 and Fall 2019) and two seminars at NYU (Spring 2017; Spring 2019 host Liane Feldman), two meetings of the Columbia University Hebrew Bible seminar (September 2015, May 2019), two Colloquiums on Old Testament at Heidelberg and Tübingen (January 2016; hosts Jan Gertz and Erhard Blum), a conference on scribalism and orality at the College de France (May 2016; host Thomas Römer), a workshop on scribalism and Genesis in Koblenz (February 2016; host Michaela Bauks), a faculty and doctoral student gathering in Zurich (July 2018; host Konrad Schmid), and multiple presentations at both the International SBL (2017) and Annual SBL meeting (2016, 2018, 2019). Along the way, I gained specific help from more people than I can gather and name here. Nevertheless, the following is an alphabetical list of some of the individuals who provided extra comments on my work and/or private copies of theirs: Fynn Adomeit, Joel Baden, Walter Bührer, Simeon Chavel, Colleen Conway, John Day, Paul Delnero, Albert DePury, Liane Feldman, Dan Fleming, Aron Freidenreich, Jan Gertz, Esther Hamori, Robin ten Hoopen, Ki-Eun Jang, Ed Greenstein, Christophe Nihan, Thomas Römer, Konrad Schmid, Stephan Schorch, Mark Smith, and (for discussion of theological matters) my Union Seminary colleagues John Thatamanil and Andrea White.

Above all I thank Erhard Blum for his extraordinary help. Initially he read and discussed my work across a series of visits to Tübingen in Winter 2016 (funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung) and Summer 2017 as we planned then to write this commentary together. Even when he had to withdraw as co-author, he continued to provide generous help up to the final days of the commentary’s completion. Along the way I have become ever more convinced that Erhard Blum is one of the premier Hebrew philologians and exegetes of our age. This commentary, especially the translation, is immensely better as a result of his input, even as I must stress that he did not read the final whole and would not agree with some of the positions adopted in it.

One thing that both Erhard Blum and my wife, Colleen Conway, encouraged me to do was to publish my work on Gen 1–11 in two books. My initial work on this commentary ended up being too long to be included in a single volume, and my diachronic discussions of precursors to Gen 1–11 had become too technical. Therefore, I made the decision to include those more technical, diachronic discussions in a separate monograph, The Formation of Genesis 1–11, which was published this year (2020) by Oxford University Press (New York). I still treat diachronic issues in this commentary, but the separate publication allowed me to treat them in a more summary way.3 I apologize in advance to some readers who then must consult a different book to find more detailed coverage of issues that interest them. At the same time I hope that this move thus makes this particular volume more accessible to those who do not need as much technical background.

I must stress that most of this commentary is a synthesis of others’ work. Of course, I have attempted through footnotes to indicate particular places where I have gotten ideas. Nevertheless, as a result of reading and composing this commentary over a number of years, there are places where I have absorbed something from somewhere and forgotten my source. In particular, I found myself coming back again and again to certain interpreters of Genesis that I found to be unusually good readers, even when I also disagreed with aspects of their positions. They are cited in the relevant parts of the commentary, but I list here some that I found to be particularly useful and interesting resources to be in dialogue with: studies of all of Gen 1–11 by Umberto Cassuto, John Day, Jan Gertz, Benno Jacob (the original German edition of his commentary), Andreas Schüle, Horst Seebass, Gordon Wenham, and Markus Witte; and studies on specific parts of Gen 1–11 by Samuel Abramsky (Gen 10), Norbert Clemens Baumgart (on Gen 4, 6–9), Walter Bührer (especially Gen 1–3; 6:1–4 and 11:1–9), Frank Crüsemann (Gen 2–3, 4 and 10), Karel Deurloo (Gen 4), Ron Hendel (text-criticism of Gen 1–11), Henning Heyde (Gen 4), Annette Schellenberg (Gen 1–3), and Odil Hannes Steck (on Gen 1 and 2–3). If nothing else, I hope the reader discovers in my footnotes some more guides like these to enrich their reading of Gen 1–11. It should be emphasized that I give full information on many materials that I cite at the locus where those materials are discussed, but (as per the style of the commentary) the reader must consult the selective bibliography at the end of this commentary for bibliographic information on items that are cited by author and short title across disparate pages.

The Kohlhammer staff, particularly Florian Specker and Jonathan Robker, have provided fantastic support as I have worked to complete this project. In addition, I must thank my fellow IECOT/IKAT authors. Some paved the way for this commentary by writing earlier volumes in the series, while others provided especially helpful feedback on draft sections of this commentary at IECOT author-editor workshops in November 2017, August 2019 and November 2019. In particular, I benefited from the careful, frank feedback of Christl Maier at those workshops, and feedback from Carolyn Sharp prompted me to engage postmodern and (consciously) ideological readings of Gen 1–11 more than I otherwise would have.

I conclude with three mechanical notes and one dedicatory one. As per the style of the series, I use abbreviations from John Kutsko et al., The SBL Handbook of Style: For Ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, and Early Christian Studies, 2nd ed. (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014). Therefore, I do not provide a separate list of abbreviations here aside from noting here my frequent use of Gesenius18 to refer to the eighteenth edition of the Gesenius Handwörterbuch.4 In addition, even though the Hebrew names in Gen 1–11 often diverge from their common equivalents, I have used standard English forms of biblical names as they generally appear in the Bible (following the NRSV), and I default to the most common form of characters whose names change across the biblical narrative, e.g., Abraham rather than Abram. Along the way, I frequently use the convention of using an asterisk (*) to indicate a citation of a verse range that is substantially, though not completely, made up of the texts that I mean to point to. For example, I sometimes refer to priestly elements embedded in Gen 10—Gen 10:1a, 2–7, 20, 22–23, 31–32—with the shorthand Genesis 10* after I have specified those elements at least once in the prior discussion.

Finally, I dedicate this book to a person who will not be aware of its existence for quite some time: my new (and first) granddaughter, Kaia Comorau, who was born on Oct. 17, 2019 in the later stages of finishing this work. While the outset of the present decade (2020) seems quite fraught and the outlook for earth’s life unclear, Kaia’s birth and that of others in her generation stand as symbols of human commitment to the future. Genesis 1–11 is a story of first births, and it articulates both that potential and certain challenges for human life on this earth. I dedicate this critical analysis of Gen 1–11 to Kaia and other little ones in a prayer for them finding ways to flourish together. To quote a poem by Buddhist teacher and author, Zenju Earthlyn Manuel “For All Beings”:5

May all beings be cared for and loved,Be listened to, understood and acknowledged despite different views,Be accepted for who they are in this moment,Be afforded patience,Be allowed to live without fear of having their lives taken away or their bodies violated.May all beings,Be well in its broadest sense,Be fed,Be clothed,Be treated as if their life is precious,Be held in the eyes of each other as family.May all beings,Be appreciated,Feel welcomed anywhere on the planet,Be freed from acts of hatred and desperation including war, poverty, slavery, and street crimes,Live on the planet, housed and protected from harm,Be given what is needed to live fully, without scarcity,Enjoy life, living without fear of one another,Be able to speak freely in a voice and mind of undeniable love.May all beings,Receive and share the gifts of life,Be given time to rest, be still, and experience silence.May all beings,Be awake.

Let us turn now to look at stories of earth, family, and awakening in Gen 1–11.