Much of the modern skepticism on the revelations of Christianity and Judaism revolves around the first 11 chapters of Genesis, which includes the seven days of creation, the story of Adam & Eve, the flood of Noah and the Tower of Babel. As science and archaeology progressed in the 19th century, the literalistic interpretation of the first 11 chapters came into doubt. In the 19th century, ancient cuneiform tablets were discovered that showed that many of the stories of the first 11 chapters of Genesis had ancient precursors in Mesopotamia. However long before science had advanced in knowledge, and well before the ancient Akkadian and Sumerian tablets were discovered in the 19th century, Emanuel Swedenborg received the following revelations in the middle of the 18th century concerning the first chapters of Genesis:
"There are in the Word, in general, four different styles. The first is that of the Most Ancient Church. Their mode of expression was such that when they mentioned terrestrial and worldly things they thought of the spiritual and celestial things which these represented. They therefore not only expressed themselves by representatives, but also formed these into a certain historical series... These particulars concerning the creation, the garden of Eden, etc., down to the time of Abram, Moses had from the descendants of the Most Ancient Church" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 66)Note that Swedenborg wrote this in the mid-18th century. The Sumerian tablets which contained earlier versions of the stories of Genesis, were discovered in the 19th century. The parallels are unmistakable, even though Christian apologists will continue to deny the relationship, for which see the following:
- Biblical parallels in Sumerian Literature
- Creation Accounts and Ancient Near Eastern Religions
- Genesis 1 and a Babylonian Creation Story
Below chart is a summary of the major parallels:
Here is an interesting chart, showing that if the years of the patriarchs before the flood are converted from base 10 to base 60, the number of years closely match the Sumerian king list:
"...the historic narrative concerning the creation and concerning the first man, and concerning paradise, is a history so framed as to contain within it heavenly and Divine things, and this according to the received manner in the Ancient Churches. This manner of writing extended thence also to many who were outside of that Church, who in like manner devised histories and involved arcana within them, as is plain from the most ancient writers. For in the Ancient Churches it was known what such things as are in the world signified in heaven, and the events were not of such consequence to them as to be described, but instead the things which were of heaven." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8891.4)This form of mythical writing is used in Genesis 1-11. True history only begins with Genesis 12. The meaning of the symbolic myth is described in detail in the work Heavenly Arcana:
"They who do not think beyond the sense of the letter cannot believe otherwise than that the creation, which is described in the first and second chapters of Genesis, is the creation of the universe, and that there were six days within which were created the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things which are therein, and at length man in the likeness of God. But who cannot see, if he ponders on the particulars of the description, that the creation of the universe is not there meant... These and other such things in that history must needs at first thought appear paradoxical to those who entertain any doubt concerning the sanctity of the Word, and afterward induce them to deny the Divine therein... Angels, when the first chapter of Genesis is read, do not perceive any other creation than the new creation of man, which is called regeneration. This regeneration is described in that history: by paradise the wisdom of man created anew; by the two trees in the midst thereof the two faculties of that man, namely, the will of good by the tree of life and the understanding of truth by the tree of knowledge. And that it was forbidden to eat of this latter tree, was because the man who is regenerated or created anew, must no longer be led by the understanding of truth, but by the will of good, and if otherwise, the new life within him perishes" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 8891.2,3)Thus the arguments of Christian apologists and skeptics over the first eleven chapters of Genesis are insignificant and irrelevant. A revelation has been given that not only explains the symbolic meaning of the Bible, but also Divine providence foresaw this controversy and gave an answer to the problem long before it became such a public issue of debate. And this is just one of many new revelations given concerning Christianity. Again, Emanuel Swedenborg published his writings a century before these archaeological texts were discovered, showing that he was indeed receiving clairvoyant revelations concerning Christianity and the true spiritual meaning of the Bible. Should we not be paying more attention to them?
My tentative theory is that the first several chapters of Genesis were not literally copied verbatim from an earlier Word, as Swedenborg seems to say, but were rather adapted from earlier myths, or correspondential stories, and edited into a story that accorded with Hebrew concepts of monotheism and human cultural and religious origins.
Alternatively, the other ancient Creation myths could be bastardizations of originally "purer" Creation myths that came to be incorporated into Genesis. However, absent any manuscript evidence for this, it's hard to make an objective case for it.
Yes I think the older stories were recomposed, they were not copied verbatim. But given that Abraham originated from Ur, which was a major Sumerian city state, it is likely these were some of the source stories. They do have some hidden symbolic correspondence, for example, the epic of Gilgamesh is a hidden journey through the 12 signs of the zodiac (some German scholars recognized this in the 19th century). And Genesis has some of this hidden in it as well, for which see The Ancient Astronomy of the Bible. Someone embedded some detailed astronomical knowledge in the chronology, including a 243 year period of transits of Venus across the Sun.Delete
I realized I needed to make this post because the stories of Genesis is a roadblock to many and has caused them to reject the entire Bible due to this alone.