Dawkins versus the 'ultimate ground of all being'

In God and the New Atheism, John F. Haught describes what he sees as the big question facing Richard Dawkins and Intelligent Design (ID) theists, respectively: ”how to explain the incredible complexity and diversity in living organisms and cells” (88).

ID proponents see the hand of a “master intelligence” making order from chaos, or complexity of simplicity. Dawkins cuts out the theological middle man by sticking to a naturalistic, Darwinian account summed up by Haught:

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(Re)writing the Bible in Antiquity and Today

CANON

The New Testament writers and early Church Fathers used the Septuagint (LXX) for proof texts and for personal and communal worship.  The LXX is based on the Old Greek translations of the Hebrew and Aramaic Scriptures [Read more...]

My God Is Bigger Than Your God–Literally. Part VI

Although YHWH clearly was perceived by biblical authors in anthropomorphic terms, YHWH’s body was still different from regular human bodies.  For YHWH, like many other deities of the ancient Near East,[1] possessed massive size. [Read more...]

Polytheism and Ancient Israel’s Canaanite Heritage. Part V

Of course, much of this [i.e., that Israel worshiped El and Asherah alongside YHWH] is really to be expected given that recent syntheses of the archaeological, cultural, and literary data pertaining to the emergence of the nation of Israel in the Levant show that most of the people who would eventually compose this group were originally Canaanite.   [Read more...]

Asherah, God's Wife in Ancient Israel. Part IV

One of the most important deities that many, if not most, ancient Israelites worshiped was YHWH’s heavenly spouse or consort, the goddess Asherah (the Hebrew linguistic equivalent of Ugaritic Athirat, the wife of El). [Read more...]

God, Gods, and Sons (and Daughters) of God in the Hebrew Bible. Part III

This historical reconstruction [that El was originally Israel's chief deity, and YHWH was originally his son and the patron deity of Israel], in turn, helps to make sense of certain biblical texts which seem to indicate most naturally that El was originally the chief god of Israel and that YHWH was the patron deity of Israel.  For example, Deuteronomy 32:8-9 reads:

When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the sons of Israel.  For YHWH’s portion, his people; Jacob, his allotted share. בְּהַנְחֵל עֶלְיוֹן גּוֹיִם בְּהַפְרִידוֹ בְּנֵי אָדָם יַצֵּב גְּבֻלֹת עַמִּים לְמִסְפַּר בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ כִּי חֵלֶק יְהֹוָה עַמּוֹ יַעֲקֹב  חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתֽוֹ

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When Jehovah Was Not the God of the Old Testament. Part II

As the very name Israel might indicate on account of its theophoric element el (אל), it appears that the chief god worshiped in earliest Israel was El, the chief god of the Canaanite pantheon in the Late Bronze Age.  The god El has been revealed most clearly to the modern inquirer through the discovery of the Ugaritic texts at Tel Ras Shamra in 1929, a flourishing kingdom-city-state on the Syrian coast during the second half of the second millennium B.C.E.[1] As biblical tradition affirms as represented by the E and P sources (probably to be dated to the eighth and seventh/ sixth centuries B.C.E., respectively[2]), throughout the book of Genesis the ancient forbears of Israel worshiped the god El.  For example, Exodus 6:2-3 (P), recounting the divine theophany of YHWH to Moses at Sinai, states: [Read more...]

Does the Old Testament Teach Absolute Monotheism? Part I

Introduction: Was Ancient Israel Monotheistic?

Western Society is perhaps more indebted to the Hebrew Bible than to any other book, and arguably the most famous teaching associated with the Hebrew Bible is that of absolute monotheism.  This position famously affirms that there is only one god in existence and no other(s).  For example, Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Shema, has often been cited since antiquity as supporting this understanding of monotheism.[1] It declares, “Listen, O Israel, YHWH is our god, YHWH alone [lit. YHWH (is) one]” (שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד). This understanding of ancient Israelite faith, found in both popular and scholarly circles, purportedly traces itself in the biblical narrative to at least the time when YHWH revealed himself at Sinai to Moses and Israel,[2] if not all the way back to the creation of the world in Genesis 1 when God alone created the world by his word.[3] Naturally, this view has been held to be in direct opposition to the Mesopotamian theogonic and cosmogonic myths, such as the infamous Enuma Elish,[4] which recounts the creation of the gods and the world through fierce battles and rivalries between the personified primal elements of nature and the many gods who eventually tame them. [Read more...]

Discussion and Implications of the New Perspective(s) on Paul (NPP)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is God’s power for salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, as well as the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith(fullness) for faith(fullness), as it has been written, ‘(and) the Righteous One/righteous will live through faith(fullness).’  -Romans 1.16-17 [1]

Few passages in the New Testament have elicited more debate throughout the centuries than Romans 1.16-17 and its explanatory corollary passages in Romans 3 and 5. [Read more...]

Insights from Names of Deity

Rabbinic commentators have sought to better understand the nature of God by exploring the implications and origins of his name. Michael Fishbane writes in Rabbinic Myth and Mythmaking (Oxford University Press, 2003): In the context of an explanation of why the ‘dry land’ (yabashah) is called ‘eretz (‘earth’) in Gen 1:10, we are told that the primordial earth was an obedient creation of God’s, and ceased to extend when He ‘said’ so. This compliance is strikingly forumated by an exegetical play on the noun itself, since we read that ‘the dry land’ was called ‘eretz because ‘she wished to do His (God’s) will’ (she-ratzta la-’asot retzono). One may suppose that our myth was one of several accounts telling how the land, sea, or sky acquired their limits — narratives that were supported by a mythic etymology of the divine name ‘El Shaddai, as meaning that God (El) is He who (she-) said dai (‘enough’) to His creations when they grew out of hand and threatened to overwhelm the world with their profusion. In the context of such tales, the letters of ‘eretz in Gen 1:10 provided welcome proof from Scripture… [Read more...]