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The Isaac Paradox

Added: Friday, March 15th 2019 at 5:14pm by nobullthinker
Category: Education > History
Related Tags: ancient history

PARADOX: A proposition that appears to be rational in theory but is impossible in reality.


The Bible is jam packed with paradoxes; hundreds of them. But every last one of them can be resolved and made to vanish through the simple trick of knowing how the Bible was written.


Take, for example, the very first two chapters of the Bible. They present an impossible paradox because each of those chapters is a creation story in its own right. (Gen 1:1 thru 2:4a and Gen 2:4b thru 2:25) The first story tells of God (Elohim) creating the universe in 7 days. The second chapter tells a story of the Lord (Yahweh) creating the universe in a single day. What makes this a paradox is the insistence by Bible believers that we must believe that both stories are true because God Himself inspired the Bible and therefor there can be neither any mistakes nor any contradictions in it. Under these conditions we are forced to believe that both stories are true even though on the face of it it is impossible for both to be true. This seeming paradox vaporizes when we understand how the stories came into the Bible inthefirstplace.


Here is how it happened.


The first author to begin writing the Bible was a priest of a God named Yahweh. This priest lived in Jerusalem in about 800BC give or take 50 years and served in the temple there. In fact all of the Old Testament authors were priests or prophets of Yahweh but not all of them served at the temple in Jerusalem. Scholars do not know the actual name of the first biblical author and have chosen to call him simply “J” because he always referred to his God as JHVH, or, as we prefer in English, YHWH (Yahweh). The first words he wrote were: “In the day that Yahweh created the earth and the heavens...” Gen 2:4b. These would have been and, in fact, once were the first words of the Bible. Because J’s Bible was the only Bible in existence when he wrote it.


Within 20 or so years of J having completed his Bible (scholars prefer to call it, “The J Document”) he showed it to another sect of Yahwehist priests who worshiped at a different temple. That temple is presumed by most scholars to have been the temple at Shiloh. They were not pleased with J’s Bible because it clashed with many of the beliefs, traditions and rituals of the Shilonite priesthood and the people who lived in that area. So they wrote their own version of the Bible. The author of that Bible has come to be known to scholars as “E” because he consistently referred to his God by the name “Elohim” in the book of Genesis.


So here we have the first clues as to how two different versions of creation came into existence. But, sorry, it gets a little more complicated than the basic fact that there were two authors. You may have noticed that only J’s creation story (Gen 2:4b…) appears in our modern Bible. E’s does not. There must have been a third author...at least.


The rest of the story is that for about a century the two Bibles did exist complete and in tact; one in the possession of the Jerusalem Yahwehists and the other in the possession of the Shiloh Yahwehists. But some time in the first half of the 8th century BC a great upheaval occurred in Israel that led to major changes in the E Bible that were written by a third author.


In 722 BC the state of ancient Israel was attacked by the Assyrians and ended their existence. But Shiloh, which was merely a few miles north of the Israel/Judah border, was spared. And they, the Shilonites were the priests who were in possession of the E Bible. They had survived the Assyrian attack but their struggle to live on would be a bitter one.


Prior to 722 BC all of the followers of the Shilohnite Yahwehists were citizens of Northern Israel. The Jerusalem Yahwehists held the loyalties of the people of Judah to the south. But after 722 BC there was no longer such a thing as a Yahwehist devotee in the north. They had all been slaughtered or taken into captivity. The priests of Shiloh had virtually no followers to support them. The future was looking mighty grim for the Shilohnite priesthood.


Fortunately for them when the Assyrians took the citizens of Israel away they replaced them with other people they had captured in their many rampages throughout the Middle East. A flood of new people came into Israel and that fact breathed new life into the hopes of the Shilonite Yahwehists. They saw these strange people as potential new congregants. But drawing them into the fold was going to require a cultural compromise. That meant that the Shilohnite Yahwehists would have to adjust their old beliefs, customs and rituals to a style with a more Mesopotamian outlook. Things that appealed to the tastes of the new people would have to be incorporated into a modified style of Yahwehism. It also meant that the Shilohnite priesthood would have to make changes to the E Bible that was in their possession in order to make it more attractivetotheMesopotamian mind.


It was the post 722 BC Shiloh priests who removed E’s creation story and replaced it with the 7 days creation story. Their style of writing, their focus on certain subject matter and their tendency to mimic trends of story lines from Mesopotamian folklore caused modern day scholars to separate their writings into an entirely new school of authorship. They came to be called “P” for their concern for priestly matters.


Now the paradox is reconciled. We know exactly why there are two opposing creation stories in our modern Bible. One was taken from the J Bible and the other came from the E/P Bible.


As pertains to the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, there were two additional authors involved. There was “D”, (the Deuteronomist) who wrote Deuteronomy, and “R” (the Redactor) who took all five books and pasted them together to form the Bible we have today. Both will factor into the Isaac Paradox later in this series of posts. But before moving on I will leave you an example that will show how the Redactor worked and how E’s theological outlook evolved into the P style.


Here is P’s version of the flood story:

Gen. 6:9 - Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God (Elohim). And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh has corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them from the earth.

Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark , and shall pitch it within and without with pitch.

And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, the breadth of it 50 cubits, and the height of it 30 cubits.

A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second and third stories shalt thou make it.

And behold, I, even I do bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh, wherein there is the breath of life, from under every heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.

But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

And every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind; two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.

And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it will be for food for thee, and for them.

Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

(Ch. 7:8 thru 9) – Of clean beasts and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowl, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,

There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and female as God had commanded Noah.

(Ch 7:11) – In the 600th year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.

(7:13 thru 16A) – In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons into the ark:

They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.

They went in unto Noh into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

And they went in, went in male and female of all flesh as God had commanded him:

(7:21) – And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:

(7:24) – And the waters prevailed upon the earth 150 days.

(CH 8:1 thru 2A) – And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all of the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged.

The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped,

(8:3B thru 5) – And after the end of a hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.

And the ark rested on the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.

And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.

(8:7) – And he let a raven go, and it went back and forth until the water dried up from off the earth.

(8:13A) – And it came to pass in the six hundreth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth:

(8:14 -19) – And God spake unto Noah, saying,

Go forth of the ark, thou and thy wife, and thy son’s wives with thee.

Bring forthwith the every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl and of cattle, and of every creping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his son’s wives with him:

Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.


Here is J’s version of the flood story:


Genesis 6:5 thru 8A) – And the Lord (Yahweh) saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth: both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air: for it repenteth me that I have made them.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

(Ch7:1 thru5) – And the Lord said unto Noah, “Come, thou and all thy house, into the arc; for thee I have seen righteous before me in this generations.

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and his female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth..

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth..

And Noah did according to all that the Lord had commanded him.

(7:7) – And Noah and his sons and his wives and his son’s wives with him came to the ark from before the waters of the flood.

(7:10) – And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.

(7:12) – And the rain was upon the earth 40 days and forty nights.

(7:16B thru 20) – And the Lord shut him in. And the flood was on the earth for forty days, and the waters increased and bare up the ark, and it was lifted above the earth.

And the waters prevailed and increased greatly upon the earth and the ark went upon the face of the waters.

And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.

(7:22 thru 23) – All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth; and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.

(8:2B thru 3A) – And the rain from heaven was restrained.

And the waters returned from off the earth continually:

(8:6) – And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made.

(8:8 thru 12) – Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground.

But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark; for the waters were on the face of the whole earth Then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

And he stayed yet another seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark.

And the dove came into him in the evening, and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

And he stayed yet another seven days, and sent forth the dove, which returned not again unto him any more.


The table is now set, I believe, to tackle the Isaac Paradox.
















User Comments

Thank you for explaining this. It is most interesting.

Thanks. Stay tuned.

~waits for the main course~

Thanks. It may be awhile. Lots of Dr. appointments and family activities will be eating up my time for the near future.

Interesting read from a scholars viewpoint. All these mysterious documents (P,D,R,E and of course the ever mysterious Q) leave me with more questions than answers.
Looking forward to your Isaac Paradox ... 

Glad you enjoyed it. It gets more exciting ahead.

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