Originally posted by JSMelkiteOrthodoxy:
Originally posted by ebed melech:
Since I do not have an answer at the ready for these verses, I will have to do a little research on both of these situations. I will say that whether or not I am personally able to reconcile the passages is immaterial to the question, IMHO, although I will do my level best. It does not change what I have argued as a matter of principle.
Why couldn't the Holy Spirit permit two conflicting stories to both be present in the sacred canonical text if they both had something to teach?
Peace in Christ,
I'm not convinced that the two are in fact "conflicting" accounts - they could be complimentary perspectives on the same event.
For instance - consider these:
The woman says Gordo is my husband. The woman says Gordo is my son. The woman says Gordo is my nephew. The woman says Gordo is my cousin.
How can all these statements be true? Are they contradictory?
The only proper way to interpret this is to understand the context in which these statements were made including their source or witness. Unless I am from West Virginia, the only possible way to reconcile these is to see that the "woman" refers to several women each with their own relational perspective. In court, several witnesses can see the same event while recalling different aspects of it. Often by reconciling the two eye witness accounts, we come up with a more complete picture of what transpired.
For instance, with the account of Judas, is it not possible that he in fact hanged himself from the tree and that either a branch or the rope broke and his decaying corpse fell to the ground, spilling its bowels? It is even more likely if he hung himself from a high place, such as over a cliff. Both statements would then be true, albeit different aspects of the events would be reflected in each account. Again, I need to research this but I use it as an example of how witnesses may approach the same event differently.
Also, timeframes and events are sometimes collapsed or telescoped in the sacred writings. These texts were not written according to modern journalistic standards! We also have to respect the fact that certain phrases or euphemisms might be used that do not in fact translate well into modern languages - not without some effort.
For instance - the account of Noah cursing Canaan. If you read the translated passage, you get the impression that Ham, Noah's son, went into Noah's tent after Noah had too much wine, uncovered his naked body and left him exposed for others to see and then went and bragged about it to his brothers. And for this, Noah woke up with a hangover, saw what Ham had done and then staggered out of the tent and cursed Ham's son, his grandson. (Hangovers cause people to say and do the damndest things...pun intended!)
Makes sense, right? Sure...um not!, unless depanting someone is grounds for having your seed cursed and it is a matter for semi-adolescent bragging in the post-deluvian world! (You could then say "Ham" was the forefather of High School gym antics, I suppose.)
The only way to make sense of this passage is to understand three key elements not related in the account: the garment of blessing, its association with primogeniture and the statement "uncovering his nakedness".
In the patriarchal period, the concept of "blessing" was more than a simple statement after someone sneezed - it represented the transfer of the priestly and patriarchal authority and power to govern the economia of family life, and was usually passed from the father to the firstborn son (usually through the spoken blessing invoking the name of God and the laying on of hands - we can make our own connections to the New Covenant "blessing" of ordination and the transfer of fatherly responsibility). This notion of blessing and primogeniture plays a pivotal role in the unfolding metanarrative of the whole Old Testament (e.g., Esau relinquishing the "blessing" of primogeniture to Isaac the second-born for a bowl of Campbell's soup, thus recapitulating the fall of Adam who lost his blessing to satisfy his appetite through eating - indicating something more is going on in the narrative).
The cloak, coat or "garment" was a symbol of this primogeniture, in the same sense that the garments of royalty are today. (Some of the rabbis, I am told, actually trace the origin of the patriarchal garment to Adam in the garden and the clothing god fashioned out of animal skins for Adam.) This also explains the jealousy of the brothers of Joseph over Jacob's blessing of a "coat of many colors"...were they really that fashion conscious? "Daddy - how come he gets to shop at Abercombie and I have to settle with the Gap?" OR was there something more going on in the narrative tied to the garment of blessing symbolizing that Joseph was to assume the power and authority to rule his brothers. The fact that their betrayal by selling him into slavery in Egypt in fact providentially fulfilled their obedience to Joseph and became a source of blessing for their family...which later ripened into a curse...shows the power of this blessing in the life of Israel.
So how does this relate to the story of Noah?
Ham, who is the second-born goes into his father's tent and "uncovers his nakedness" which is a euphemism that has multiple levels of meaning according to the rabbis.
It could mean: stealing the garment of blessing, castration and sleeping with his wife. All three of these acts would symbolize an attempt to usurp the power of his father, Noah, who had the right and authority to rule. Again, a recapitulation of the Fall. (The more things change, the more they remain the same!) It is quite possible that Ham did all three, but the more likely version is that he did at least two: stole the garment and slept with Noah's wife (aka his mother) which would explain the "curse" of Canaan - the fruit of that incestuous union. Sleeping with the wife of a man (especially a king) was a way to claim power over him, just as David slept with Uriah's wife and his son in his act of rebellion and revolution against his father slept with David's concubines.This explains one of the reasons why the kings of the past have taken umbrage at any of their subjects sleeping with the queen. It was equally an act of rebellion/revolt/treason against the crown.
Ham then went to his brothers - not to "giggle" about the prank that he played on dear old dad - but rather to assert his power over them - "I'm the one in charge, now!". They, of course, promptly quelled the rebellion against their father and restored the garment of blessing to its rightful owner.
The events surrounding Noah's realization of what Ham had done and his eventual curse of the offspring could reflect a telescoped chronology of events - or it could simply be a true prophecy spoken by Noah. All of this, of course, must be seen in the light of the Exodus event (this is being recounted to Israel, after all) and one sees in this account the origin of a people - the canaanites. Any Israelite reading this account would immediately make that connection - from the "cursed seed" of Ham to the usurpers and interlopers in the land of promise who still practice the sinful behaviors of their great, great great, etc etc grandfather!!
My point in relating all of this? Oftentimes biblical narratives present historical events in ways that are both "veiled" in language and do not reflect a chronology of historical events in a way that we would expect from an article in the New York Times (although lately thanks to the NYT's "creative re-writing" of historical events, That probably is not the best example!) Sometimes we have to unpack the meaning of the story that is related to us in the context of the broader narrative, understanding the author's purpose, perspective, use of language, etc etc. Where two accounts are given (for instance the two creation accounts in Genesis and the two acccounts of Saul's death) these principles must be applied to properly reconcile or reconstruct a chronology, although even the chronology of events as related by the author serves the narrative's broader purpose (as seen in the Gospels, including the geneologies of Jesus). This does not change the event character of what occured, but we should not expect that the author is writing like a journalist either.
But I'll research the two accounts you gave me.