Bible Stories in Genesis - Part 1
Dr. Ben Carson received a lot of unfavorable publicity early in his campaign to become President of the United States because of his stated belief that the Biblical story of Joseph son of Jacob was true, that there was indeed a 7-year famine in Egypt in the days of Joseph, and that one or several pyramids was connected in some way with the storage of grain supervised by Joseph.
Those who DON'T read the Bible because they believe or have been taught in public school and later in college by "worldly" and often Atheist or Agnostic teachers that the Bible is a collection of MYTHS aren't enthusiastic about voting for a man who might judge and rule the US on the basis of MYTHS.
And even those who are familiar with recent Biblical scholarship are familiar with the present assessment that the TORAH, the part of the Bible taught by Jewish Rabbis as being the MOST HOLY part of the Bible was written by anonymous writers whom they designate as "J" (for Jahwist), "E" (for Elohist), "D" (for Deuteronomist),"P" (for Priestly), and "R" (for Redactor).
These Bible Readers and Bible Critics are not much more confident in following a president that might be basing his ethical decisions on ANONYMOUS WRITERS whose real beliefs and agenda are no longer available, nor may they have been really known while they were writing what we are now reading.
Cartoon image of Dr. Ben Carson circulated in 2015.
They have even gone further than this in their scoffing and ridicule of anyone who BELIEVES IN THE BIBLE at all, IN ANY WAY!
So let's take a LOOK at what can be really said about Bible Criticism -- and see if there is indeed a MIDDLE PATH that is a reasonable path that a Scientist, a Neurosurgeon, and even one who becomes President of the United States might take (without being called "an idiot")
The idea that "Moses" wrote the 5 supposed "Books of Moses" (Called the "Torah") is based on a Jewish tradition, not on anything actually written in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, or Deuteronomy. Nowhere does the Bible itself say clearly and unequivocally that Moses wrote all these books in Hebrew. In fact, the Bible implies that if "Moses" was able to write any written language at all, that language would be Egyptian!
Conclusion: All these books were written by other (anonymous) writers, long after the death of Moses.
Having decided that there were not, indeed, 4 Moseses it's reasonable to discover who, meaning what religious group, had an opportunity to gain religious power and an audience receptive to their concerns and ideas and rituals by using Moses' name and assumed authority to promote what these groups wished to promote. The ethical problems of lying, and falsification, telling untruths and turning history into mythology never seemed important to such people, because each fanatically believed their way was the right way, and everyone else's way was clearly error, and not God's Will for humankind.
Being practical, and knowing they would lose their audience if their hostility towards each other became obvious, these diverse groups relied on what we now call a "redactor" to merge these various stories and viewpoints into a form that looked like one author ("Moses") wrote everything -- so that each group, Jahwist or Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly could be assured that the common people, most of which could not read nor write would listen to the "words of God" as revealed to Moses.
The Story of Noah's Ark and the Worldwide Flood presented one of the first really clear demonstrations to those daring to criticize "God's Word" that at least two authors had written two versions of the same story, and that a third person had tied these two stories together as one story. Here's a diagram showing the differences.
Other variations in the Torah are clearly editorial, made by Jewish scribes that are being "poetic" and wish to show a certain pattern in their composition that will be appreciated by the better educated Rabbis, although perhaps over the head of the listeners of the uneducated public. Who are at a different level of understanding.
Perhaps more subtil is the pattern for the "Priestly" poem about Creation, with paired acts of creation that create in the air, then in the water, then on land, then repeat this pattern.
Only those who are fanatically LITERAL with such made to be taken symbolically and poetically compositions are in trouble trying to make them prove things the original authors never intended that they should "prove".
Such things are written to test and entertain Jewish Rabbis and those with similar interests. And I found on the Internet an example of how far such people can go with the various wilderness EXILE stories, of which the story of Joseph is a vital part. The Jewish word for "Exile" is GALUT. Which can be illustrated with this Salvadore Dali painting. Joseph, be he really a Jewish "son of Jacob" or physically and biologically of some other race, understands this "dream world" where God, the Great I AM dwells.