Serafina, origin of and angels

EstairM at aol.com EstairM at aol.com
Tue Feb 6 23:12:04 EST 2001


> 
> >>Some of what I wrote comes from Bible studies, which are indeed part of 
> the
> >>regular school curriculum for all schoolchildren in Israel from second 
> grade
> >>on. My school was a secular school, so the focus in later years was more 
> on
> >>the Bible as literature, and less on religious aspects. Otherwise I doubt 
> we 
> >>would have been taught about the theory of the two creation myths, which
> >>assumes that the book of Genesis was once two books, one written at a 
> later
> >>period in time, that were sort of edited together even later in history.
> >>Religion would have it that the Genesis we read today was passed down
> >>verbatim from God to Moses on mount Moriah.
> 
(delurking)  (good-humored-ly)
Yes, some of us crazed religious nuts actually believe this and teach it to 
our children. ;-)  (I do, I send my kids to the religious part of the system 
here in Israel.  All seven of them.  Okay, a couple are too young for school 
yet.)

I've looked at some of the Biblical criticism and textual analysis work, that 
figures there were more than one author based on the use of different names 
of G-d, literary styles, etc.  I'm not saying I saw the best of it, but it's 
very unconvincing.  Like, this whole section was written by Author A, because 
it uses El-ohim, and not Jeho-vah, but if you really look at that section, 
Jeho-vah IS mentioned a couple of times.  
It ends up being like, okay, these two verses were by Author B, than these 
four by Author C (even though he, the little rascal, usually contains himself 
in Leviticus) and than Author A is part of verse five in this sequence.... 
etc. etc. 
 
Well, the Jewish commentaries have good explanations about why one name is 
used over another (or in combination) in different places.  Each name 
emphasizes a different aspect of G-d.  El-ohim is the aspect of strict 
justice.  Jeho-vah is the aspect of mercy.  The commentaries describe the 
meaning of why the name used is appropriate for its story.

Repetitions of whole stories or parts of them are considered more proof of 
multiple authors, this is one version, this is another.  Well, whatever else 
it is thought to be, the Torah is considered to be a high-quality literary 
work.  I think that if this work WAS edited by a human editor, that person 
would have done a better job of tightening up the repetitions.  And there 
wouldn't have been so many time jumps back and forth in the narrative.  Etc.  
Just MHO.  So, unenlightened religious folk such as myself believe that there 
were pedagogical reasons for these unsophisticated textual ''errors".  We are 
meant to learn moral/behavioral lessons from apparently superfluous words, or 
subtle changes in nuance in repetitions, or for why one story that took place 
later is still described earlier in the text.


>> I'm not sure if you mean all religions or only Judaism here, Gili. If the
> >latter, I can't comment, as I know very little about it; if the former, I
> >would like to stand up for liberal Christians and their attitude to the
> >Bible which is slightly more intelligent than this!


I know many scarily intelligent people who still believe in the authenticity 
of the Torah.  One is the head of a physics departments in respected 
university.  A guy I know, okay, no false modesty, he's my brother, started 
MIT at age 16, finished at 21 with a combined Master's degree in Chem E and 
American studies (a Mark Twain fanatic), and then did some serious Jewish 
learning.   And I (shucks, blush) PASSED THE CPA EXAM ON THE FIRST TRY   ;-)  
and also find the Divine origin of the Torah more convincing than the 
competitive theories.  

(And my brother and I were not brainwashed as kids, either, we came from a 
very intellectual-social Jewish kind of house.  Partly traditional. Not 
religious.)

>> Incidentally, during the course of my theology degree we were taught that
> >Genesis was probably three books. Two of them were fairly contemporary with
> >each other, and the third, the "priestly" book, was probably added about 
> the
> >same time that the Law was written. Not sure when that was but I also
> >remember being told that it was much later than suggested, and that when it
> >was claimed that the Torah had been found after many years it had actually
> >just been written. Mind you, my Old Testament lecturer was one of the
> >biggest cynics I've ever met...
> 
Anyone who is interested in this story of the 'found' Torah, let me know 
off-list.  Don't want to get too too off topic.  But there are some 
interesting points about this....


As for the angels discussion, I once knew another physics professor, a 
Tunisian Jew,  who was also very learned in Kabbalah.  He warned us against 
lightly saying the names of most angels.  Or naming babies with their names. 
He said that when you say an angel's name, you call them.  (Shades of 
Chrestomanci! Ha! Back on topic!)  And if they come on a 'wasted' mission, 
they are angry and it's bad luck to have an angel displeased with you.  (This 
is from memory of more than ten years ago, I hope I'm not mis-shading any of 
this.)  He did say that the Archangels are too powerful to be pulled around 
at the beck and call of the likes of us, so their names are okay.  I believe 
they are Gabriel, Michael, Rafael, and Uriel.

One last point from the traditional Jewish perspective:   Satan in Judaism is 
not an angel who rebelled and fell.  Angels are considered messengers of the 
Almighty, who have no free will of their own.  They are like intelligent 
robots who can only do the will of their Commander.  Free will is the unique 
attribute of humans.  So Satan, by his nature, COULD NOT rebel against G-d.  
He does have some unpleasant (by human standards) jobs, but all of them he is 
Commanded to do.  One is to be a Prosecutor aka Satan, to accuse humans of 
sinful behavior in the Court of Divine Judgement.  (There are defense angels, 
as well.)  Another job is to tempt people to sin (aka Evil Inclination).  
Humans are rewarded for resisting.  And finally, to take people's souls to 
the next world (aka Angel of Death).

The shining Lucifer who fell actually reminds me of Prometheus (ha! back on 
topic again!), because he rebelled against heaven and came down to earth with 
fire.  I like Prometheus better because as Diana showed him, he was a noble 
character.  He knew the risks and took them to help people. 
The Lucifer who is supposed to be greatly talented and smart but is dumb 
enough to rebel against the Almighty doesn't compare to P.

Arguments welcome.  ;-)
Esther
 


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