JoT re Hierodule re "YHWH as Bully"

First off, let me agree with you. YHWH is no petty Greek god, like that inbred bastard Zeus. YHWH creates people himself, whereas Zeus isn't involved in creating people at all. YHWH might kill almost everyone in the world with a flood, but then Zeus does the same thing. YHWH creates the earth, while Zeus betrays her and beats the crap out of her children. Zeus runs around cheating on his wife and having sex with mortals. YHWH is classier than that. If I had to choose between YHWH and Zeus, I'd take YHWH any day.

Of course, when the Christians got to Greece, they found that the educated locals didn't believe the quaint myths about Zeus, anyway. The Greeks had a philosophical ideal of God. It's this Greek philosopher's God that got adopted into Christianity in place of YHWH, largely thanks to St. Paul. The presence of the Greek ideal God in Christian thought is why YHWH's bullying is so incongruent to modern readers.

And YHWH, while no Zeus, is still a bully. If lying about the tree of knowledge doesn't convince you, there's Egypt. Here YHWH prevents the Pharaoh from conceding so that YHWH can show off by slaughtering the first-born of Egypt. Now that's a bully.

But back to Eden and your comments.

Your point about clothing is accurate. In sacred accounts of the Hebrews, clothing plays a big role. It often symbolizes paternal favor (Joseph's "coat of many colors," Jacob cheating Esau).

Your explanation of what YHWH means when he says that Adam and Eve will die the very day they eat the fruit of knowledge, however, is long and complicated.

In modern thought, we follow the principle of parsimony. Simply put, simpler explanations are more likely to be true than more complicated ones are. Complicated explanations might be better than simpler ones, but that's not usually true. For that reason, complicated explanations require a fair amount of evidence to be taken seriously. (Parsimony trips up creationism, too.)

My explanation of the text in YHWH's creation account is simple: what YHWH said wasn't true because YHWH was lying.

Your explanation, on the other hand, takes quite some doing. It requires a particular symbolic meaning be given to "in that day you will die." It requires that a particular symbolic meaning be attributed to the fruit of knowledge. It requires that certain hypothetical motives of YHWH be accepted as actual. It depends on the supposition that Adam and Eve are to learn patience. It requires taking a verse from the story of Elohim and the seven days of creation and treating that verse as though it were part of the story of YHWH and the Garden in Eden. None of these interpretations are supported in the text itself.

To make a long and complicated argument convincing to a modern thinker, you need evidence. If you're right about the whole fruit deal, then you'll be able to find evidence, and I invite you to try. Lacking textual support, however, your lengthy and creative interpretation serves best as an example of how far readers of today will go in order to avoid the plain meaning of the story.

That said, thank God you Christians find it hard to take YHWH at face value. Jesus' message of peace and equality has been a boon to Europe and to the world. It's a blessing to Western civilization that YHWH's violence and injustice are literally unbelievable to most present-day readers. I wouldn't want to live in a country where the majority of people saw YHWH being a bully and were cool with that.

May 2003