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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leupold Genesis part 30 Tiamat??

In fact, whatever efforts are made to throw light upon the matter by drawing upon Babylonian myths, and particularly upon the monstrous deity Tiamat, only confuse the issues. Those who at once identify tehom with Tiamat do so without any warrant. The mere similarity of names does not make the Biblical account a derivative from Babylonian sources. As K. W. rightly remarks: "The spirit of the Old Testament has disavowed the personification of the term as well as its mythological implications." The holy writer was not going afield among the grotesque mythological figures of the Babylonian pantheon. His statement is too sober and the term employed quite uncontaminated by crude heathen notions. If any connection exists between the true; sober `Biblical term tehom and the mythological Tiamat, the latter in the sober light of facts must be a derivation form the former during the process of the degeneration of the original truth possessed by mankind. Tiamat lies so much farther down the scale as to appear as a very manifest corruption. That mere "waters" are meant here by tehom is also apparent from the next clause, where the term "waters" is actually substituted for it.

Note well that we have above carefully avoided that rendering of the last clause of v. 2 which makes the verb involved to mean "brooding." A good example was set by the Septuagint translators who used the term epefereto, "was borne along"; "moved" (A. V.) is less colourful but not wrong. The verb rachaph from which the piel participle is used, mera (ch) chepheth, signifies a vibrant moving, a protective hovering. No single instance of the Biblical usage of the verb would suggest "brooding," a meaning which was foisted upon the word in an attempt to make it bear resemblance to various old myths that speak of the hatching out of the world egg--a meaning specially defended by Gunkel, the strong advocate of mythical interpretation. (De 32:11) surely will not allow for the idea of "brooding." An eagle may brood over eggs but not over "her young."` The fact that the Syriac root does happen to mean "brood" cannot overthrow the Biblical usage, which takes strong precedence over mere similarity of root in kindred languages. Koenig (K. W.) rightly shows how such similarity may mislead. The Syriac and the Aramaic melakh, which is the Hebrew malakh, means in Syriac and Aramaic "to give counsel and incidentally "to rule," but in Hebrew it signifies "to be king." Comparative philology has its limitations. Or the Arabic hsslika, "to perish," appearing as the Hebrew verb halakh signifies "to go."

But what exactly is "the Spirit of God"? Since in this account the noun for God 'elohim is without a doubt definite, the word "spirit" also becomes definite, according to a simple rule of Hebrew syntax. Consequently, the thought must be ruled out that we are dealing with some such concept as "divine Spirit." It must definitely be rendered "the Spirit of God." Nor is there any warrant for rendering ruach as "wind" in this instance. The verb with which it is construed implies too much to let the statement merely mean that a wind fanned the face of the waters. Since, then, it actually is God's Spirit, the question might definitely be formulated thus: "Does ruach `elohim mean God's spirit or God's Spirit? Is it a mere potency in God or is it the Holy Spirit who is involved?, Or does the term refer to a principle or to a person?" We must guard against overstatement of the case, but we maintain very definitely: the Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity. For all the attributes ascribed to this divine person in the Old Testament agree fully with what is revealed in the New Testament concerning His person and His work. Absolutely none other than the Holy Spirit is here under consideration. Yet it would be inaccurate and premature to claim that this passage alone conveys this fact clearly to the mind of man. It may have been much later in the course of the fuller unfolding of divine revelation that the truth came home distinctly to the mind of believers that God's spirit was God, a separate person or hypostasis. Yet the harmony of the Word within itself and its inspiration by this same Holy Spirit necessitated that the statements made in earlier stages of revelation, nevertheless, are in accurate and full conformity with the truth. It may require the full light of New Testament revelation to enable us to discern that the Spirit of God here is the same as He who in the New Testament is seen to be the Holy Spirit; but having that light, we need not hesitate to believe that it sheds clear light back on the Old Testament usage of the expression. Davidson and Koenig in their Theology of the Old Testament may deny this. Even Oehler may hesitate to make a clear-cut assertion. This explanation, nevertheless, does better justice to the facts. Does it not seem reasonable that the Spirit of inspiration should have so worded the words that bear upon His activity that, when the full New Testament revelation has come, all statements concerning the Spirit are in perfect harmony with this later revelation?

We could never believe that this hovering of the Spirit over the face of the waters was idle and purposeless. From all other activities that are elsewhere ascribed to the Holy Spirit we conclude that His work in this case must have been anticipatory of the creative work that followed, a kind of impregnation with divine potentialities. The germs of all that is created were placed into dead matter by Him. His was the preparatory work for leading over from the inorganic to the organic. K.C. feels impelled to interpret this "hovering" as "an intensified and vitalized type of vibration." We should not be averse to holding that the foundation -L-or all physical laws operative in the world now was laid by this preparatory activity. Other passages relative to the Spirit as "the formative cause of all life" are to be found: (Job 26:13; 27:3; Ps 33:6; 104:30; 143:10; Isa 34:16; 61:1; 63:11).

From the grammatical point of view it may be remarked that the participle mera (ch) chepheth refers to the past in a context which refers to the past (K. S. 237 a). Besides, as a participle it embodies the thought of continuation as well as the idea of repetition (K. S. 238 a). This "hovering" was not a single and instantaneous act. It rather describes a continued process. Mssyim, "waters," is plural of extent not dual (K. S. 259d). The article before "waters" is the of "relative familiarity."

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