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Old 04-10-2012, 10:33 AM
 
Location: Canada
4,043 posts, read 1,512,920 times
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Quote:
In the West-Semitic languages, the root forming the common noun nš means "snake" - not "worm". Whether you translate it as "snake" or "serpent" in English, it has a very long pedigree in the West-Semitic languages - whether it's Ugaritic or Hebrew or whatever. It's well attested, and the ancients knew the difference between a worm and a snake.


"Worm", on the other hand, is an entirely different word. It's one of the meanings of the word that is used in the Book of Job to discuss the "worms" or "maggots" in his flesh, or to desribe the "worms" or "maggots" in the manna in Exodus 16, to give two (out of many) examples. Perhaps later usages of "worm" (like The Great Wyrm, for Dragon) is influencing your insistence that the snake in Genesis was not a snake.
What influences my insistence on it being a worm is that the scriptures under consideration tells us that this serpent eats the dust of the earth. This is a point you have not been able to explain away with your insistence that nachash means snake.

Does not everything about this nachash have to be taken into consideration? I do not believe one can come to a clear picture of the serpent unless one considers all the things spoken about it.

And I think you are missing the point Whopper. Nachash is a generic term. It can be referring to a snake or a worm or a leviathan/dragon or anything with a serpent like character.

Isaiah 27:1


In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

Here we see the nachash is a leviathan and that leviathan is a dragon.

The root of the word nachash simply means to shine or shinning one in the Hebrew and in Chaldee means brass or copper because of their shinning properties.



Quote:
There are other indicators that it was a snake within the account. Worms do not bite people on their heel, for one glaring example. Others could be listed, but you can discover them if you read carefully.


Nothing in the story suggests that the nachash bites the heel, it just says bruise the heel.

However worms do bite and they also eat earth.

Bristle Worm
Usually found in tropical areas, these worms live in the sand, trees, bark or reef. They can range in length from 1 to 20 inches. The smaller bristle worms are orange in color while the large ones have a brown or grayish tone. These worms only bite or sting if provoked. While their sting is painful, the poison left behind is not fatal.

So again worm is seen to fit the bill better then a snake. They not only bite they eat earth.






Quote:
We'll have to disagree on that one.
file:///C:/Users/Scott/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image001.gif (broken link)
Where you say an actual real character, I see an evolution of a concept and an etymological chain of ideas that finally came to fruition once the Israelites were exposed to dualistic ideas. And this isn't just my opinion - it's the scholarly consensus on the subject.

But - you are free to hold you own opinion on it. Just don't let that prevent you from doing some more research on the subject that challenges your belief. We all have to do that from time to time, or we never learn new things.
Same goes for you Whopper for without a doubt the more accurate the source the greater the understanding.



Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:03 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard1965 View Post
Here is Gen. 3:1 from the Septuagint:

Gen 3:1 Ὁ δὲ ὄφις ἦν φρονιμώτατος πάντων τῶν θηρίων τῶν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, ὧν ἐποίησεν κύριος ὁ θεός· καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ὄφις τῇ γυναικί Τί ὅτι εἶπεν ὁ θεός Οὐ μὴ φάγητε ἀπὸ παντὸς ξύλου τοῦ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ;


ὄφις
ophis
of'-is
Probably from G3700 (through the idea of sharpness of vision); a snake, figuratively (as a type of sly cunning) an artful malicious person, especially Satan: - serpent.

G3700
οπτάνομαι, όπτομαι
optanomai optomai
op-tan'-om-ahee, op'-tom-ahee
The first a (middle voice) prolonged form of the second (primary) which is used for it in certain tenses; and both as alternates of G3708; to gaze (that is, with wide open eyes, as at something remarkable; and thus differing from G991, which denotes simply voluntary observation; and from G1492, which expresses merely mechanical, passive or casual vision; while G2300, and still more emphatically its intensive G2334, signifies an earnest but more continued inspection; and G4648 a watching from a distance): - appear, look, see, shew self.

And from the Hebrew Old Testament:

Gen 3:1 והנחשׁ היה ערום מכל חית השׂדה אשׁר עשׂה יהוה אלהים ויאמר אל־האשׁה אף כי־אמר אלהים לא תאכלו מכל עץ הגן׃



H5175
נחשׁ
nâchâsh
naw-khawsh'
From H5172; a snake (from its hiss): - serpent.

H5172
נחשׁ
nâchash
naw-khash'
A primitive root; properly to hiss, that is, whisper a (magic) spell; generally to prognosticate: - X certainly, divine, enchanter, (use) X enchantment, learn by experience, X indeed, diligently observe.
Thanks for the info there, Richard! I will offer more details below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pneuma View Post
What influences my insistence on it being a worm is that the scriptures under consideration tells us that this serpent eats the dust of the earth. This is a point you have not been able to explain away with your insistence that nachash means snake.

Does not everything about this nachash have to be taken into consideration? I do not believe one can come to a clear picture of the serpent unless one considers all the things spoken about it.

And I think you are missing the point Whopper. Nachash is a generic term. It can be referring to a snake or a worm or a leviathan/dragon or anything with a serpent like character.

Isaiah 27:1


In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.

Here we see the nachash is a leviathan and that leviathan is a dragon.

The root of the word nachash simply means to shine or shinning one in the Hebrew and in Chaldee means brass or copper because of their shinning properties.


Nothing in the story suggests that the nachash bites the heel, it just says bruise the heel.

However worms do bite and they also eat earth.

Bristle Worm
Usually found in tropical areas, these worms live in the sand, trees, bark or reef. They can range in length from 1 to 20 inches. The smaller bristle worms are orange in color while the large ones have a brown or grayish tone. These worms only bite or sting if provoked. While their sting is painful, the poison left behind is not fatal.

So again worm is seen to fit the bill better then a snake. They not only bite they eat earth.
What old reference book are you using where they use "Chaldee" still? Strong's?

Indeed - the term is "generic", but it never means "worm" as far as I'm aware in Biblical Hebrew, OR in Akkadian or Ugaritic. I will explain the "eat dust" reference below, though I honestly don't know why you could not have looked that up online, or noticed the way the language is being used there.

The Ancients loved to tell etiological stories - Why the Bear Has No Tail (a more modern example) being a famous (I think) example: the Bear, who once had a beautiful tail and used it for ice fishing, fell asleep doing afore-mentioned activity one day, only to have the ice freeze over on his tail. He was forced to - well.... sit up and free himself. And THAT is why the bear has no tail. The Genesis account (and the Gilgamesh story) is answering certain questions: why do snakes shed their skins? why do snakes have no legs? why do snakes appear to live forever by molting their skins? why do snakes have this natural animosity towards humans, and vice-versa?

You're missing these multiple etiological elements of the story that attempt to explain why snakes are the way they are, and using an English translation for an argument. "Snap at" is a better translation than the older "bruise" - so your strange argument that "nothing in the story suggests that the [snake] bites the heel, it just says bruise the heel" is not admissable. Even IF the original word meant "bruise", however, the result of a "bite" is usually a type of "bruise". Come on, Pneuma. Don't be so literal as to miss chains of events. In the end, like I said, the word is more in line with "snap at" - which is something a snake does, not a worm (and mentioning one "bristle worm" as an exception to normal worm-behavior does not make it any more likely, either).

In the Gilgamesh Epic, it's a snake - and the etiology (as I already explained) and reference to the snake shedding it's skin is pretty clear. Snakes shed their skin. Worms do not (or at least, do not leave the same obvious skins that snakes do).

The term "you shall eat the dust of the earth" is obviously not literal. It's a metaphorical term denoting debasement, a fallen status - as well as showing that snakes, not having legs, are more likely to "eat dust". If we take such metaphorical terms literally (owing to our great cultural and linguistic divide), then we would be eminently confused by the term "to uncover one's feet" - which I won't go into here. It's not what it might mean at first blush.

Yes, the term is used for snakes and dragons and great snake-like beasts in these ancient languages. Most people have a word for an animal, then come up with a mythology with an example of that animal (a monster version) and then use that word to describe it. Thus - Leviathan, or ltn in Northwest Semitic. A passage in an Ugaritic myth has almost the verbatim phrases that the Isaiah quote does:
When you smote Lotan, the swift serpent,
Destroyed the serpent Twisty,
The Tyrant with seven heads...
(The Baal Cycle)

On that day Yahweh will punish with his great and strong sword Leviathan the fleeting serpent,
Leviathan the tortuous serpent,
and will slay the Dragon that is in the sea.
(Isaiah 27:1)

The name Leviathan comes from Lotan, and is a common part of West Semitic Creation Myths, though here Isaiah etends that imagery into the future. Many other passages in the OT, however, allude to the great battle between Yahweh and Sea, with his servants Leviathan and others.

DDD (Dictonary of Deities and Demons in the Bible) is a great resource to look up the subject. See Ronald S. Hendel's entry on "serpent" in it. An excerpt follows [with my comments in brackets]:
In MT [Masoretic Text] the generic word for a venomous snake or serpent is nāā (31 times). In Semitic the only ceratin cognate noun is Ugaritic n, 'snake' (numerous times in KTU 1.100 and 1.107), with a possible cognate in Arabic ḥana, 'snake' (via metathesis and an altered sibilant). The origin of the word may be onomatopoeic, derived from the hissing sound of a snake [as pointed out by Richard1965 in his post]. Other words for snakes in MT included peten (cf. Ug[aritic] bṯn, Akk[adian] bamu and bn in Deut[eronomy] 33:22; see "Bashan"), śārāp (lit.[erally] 'burning one'), ṣipn, ʾp ʿeh, qippōz, eppōn, and tannn (which can also mean 'dragon'). It is difficult to correlate these names with the numerous species of snakes native to the region. It is likely that all of these were regarded as venomous snakes, a common attribution in traditional cultures. The Hebrew noun nāā also has the apparantly related meanings of 'divination' (Num[bers] 23;23 and 24:1) and 'fortune, luck' (attested in numberous personal names). The denominative Piel verb niḥ means 'to practice divination' (attested also in Aramaic). Occasionally nāā and other words for snake can be applied to mythological dragons (see "Dragon", "Leviathan").

The snake is commonly associated with selected deities and demons and with magic and incantations in the ancient Near East. The latter association is found particularly in connection with the cure or avoidance of snake bites [see the famous Snake Bite Text already mentioned above - KTU 1.100]. The most common symbolic associations of the snake include protection, danger, healing, regeneration, and (less frequently) sexuality.
(DDD - 2nd Edition, p. 744, Eds. K. Van der Toorn, B. Becking, P. W. Van der Horst, Brill, 1999)


I recomend you check out the entire article, rather than relying on an older book that still uses the comically outdated term "Chaldee" - which very obviously dates it. We have a much better understanding of the term now, especially after the 1929 discovery of Ugarit and texts it yielded, the linguistic affinities Ugaritic shows to Hebrew.
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Old 04-10-2012, 01:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pneuma View Post


Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
The above totally misses the point of why Moses had to veil his face. It's a later Christian mis-reading of the act, in order to prop up a Christian theological point.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:43 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Whoa, hold your horses Whopper. You said


Quote:
What's so interesting, is that for once - I am arguing that the Bible says there was an actual talking snake.



I replied



Quote:
If we are going to go literal a worm make far more sense then a snake.



Now your saying it is not to be taken literal but metaphorical

Quote:
The term "you shall eat the dust of the earth" is obviously not literal. It's a metaphorical term denoting debasement, a fallen status - as well as showing that snakes, not having legs, are more likely to "eat dust".


Why the change? Could it be because a literal reading makes absolutely no sense?

Whopper nothing in the Genesis account is to be taken literally, it is all metaphorical. There is, nor has there ever been a talking snake or a taking worm/dragon.

Most here know I do not take the Genesis account literally as I have spoken against people doing that before. However as you seemed to take it literally I thought I would challenge that view to see where it would lead. And low and behold you go from literal to metaphorical. Thus showing that even you cannot take everything in the story literally. So if only one part is taken literally and another part is not are we just suppose to guess which ones?

The serpent in the story is referred elsewhere as the dragon/worm, satan and the devil. Who we are also told can change himself into an angel of light, the shining one who uses enchantment to seduce his victims.

Now it could be I misunderstood you when you said that you were arguing that the bible says there was an actual taking snake and you where not meaning that it was literal but that it was to show forth a metaphorical idea.

If that is the case then we are in agreement on that point; however, your idea of what the story portrays and what I believe the story portrays seems to be vastly different.

I see a progression in knowledge of what people wrote up until Christ came on the scene and revealed the truth of things. I am not sure what you see.


Quote:
Occasionally ḥā and other words for snake can be applied to mythological dragons (see "Dragon", "Leviathan").


I rest my case, nachash can be applied to dragons and a dragon is a large worm.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:47 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
The above totally misses the point of why Moses had to veil his face. It's a later Christian mis-reading of the act, in order to prop up a Christian theological point.
I think I will trust Paul on this Whopper.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pneuma View Post
Whoa, hold your horses Whopper. You said





I replied






Now your saying it is not to be taken literal but metaphorical



Why the change? Could it be because a literal reading makes absolutely no sense?

Whopper nothing in the Genesis account is to be taken literally, it is all metaphorical. There is, nor has there ever been a talking snake or a taking worm/dragon.

Most here know I do not take the Genesis account literally as I have spoken against people doing that before. However as you seemed to take it literally I thought I would challenge that view to see where it would lead. And low and behold you go from literal to metaphorical. Thus showing that even you cannot take everything in the story literally. So if only one part is taken literally and another part is not are we just suppose to guess which ones?

The serpent in the story is referred elsewhere as the dragon/worm, satan and the devil. Who we are also told can change himself into an angel of light, the shining one who uses enchantment to seduce his victims.

Now it could be I misunderstood you when you said that you were arguing that the bible says there was an actual taking snake and you where not meaning that it was literal but that it was to show forth a metaphorical idea.

If that is the case then we are in agreement on that point; however, your idea of what the story portrays and what I believe the story portrays seems to be vastly different.

I see a progression in knowledge of what people wrote up until Christ came on the scene and revealed the truth of things. I am not sure what you see.




I rest my case, nachash can be applied to dragons and a dragon is a large worm.
Pneuma, there can be both literal and metaphorical elements in a story - you don't have to pick just one or the other. You know I'm not saying two different things. And you should probably know (since I'm pretty sure I mentioned it), that I also do not view the story as literally happening. But in the narrative of the story, literal events are understood by the author - even if he uses an idiom (that's a better way of explaining "eat the dust of the earth" - like an English idiom) during speech. There is no guesswork inolved when an idiom is known in a language - it wasn't as if the ancient readers sat there confused over which part of the story they were to believe, simply because an idiom was used. I already discussed the danger of interpreting a story, simply because we do not believe in it. I may not believe the story actually happened, but it would be folly to re-interpret the story into a metaphor, or an allegory. Not good exegesis. Even if it were more than an idiom, then this is perfectly normal for many narratives - the prophetic narratives were like this in many ways, as was the speach of many biblical characters.

If your attempt was to use "eat the dust of the earth" as some sort of proof that the entire story is metaphorical - then that doesn't work either. And if your attempt was to show ignorance in the older biblical writers, until Christ came and suddenly "made everyone smart" or aware of "the truth" - then that doesn't work, either. The Book of Revelation is more symbolic and metaphorical than the Book of Genesis ever tried to be. I think you're laboring under the normal Christian dislike for the Old Testament, that's all. Be that as it may, it still hasn't taken into account the traceable evolution of the idea of Satan (whether imagined later as a Dragon or not) in the centuries leading up to Christianity.

The New Testament writers used the old mythic ideas of God battling the Dragon in their apocalpytic imagery for Satan - that's pretty apparant. They may not have understood where the imagery came from, but they certainly used it. And again - a worm is only a way of referring to dragons. Have you checked out the history of the usage of "worm" for "dragon"?

So - to quickly sum up: no, I am not contradicting myself on "literal" vs "metaphorical". You're misreading me to make a point, I think.
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pneuma View Post
I think I will trust Paul on this Whopper.
Not surprising. I'm noticing a certain bias in interpretation.
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Old 04-11-2012, 09:17 AM
 
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Pneuma, I think I am noticing something here.
Your approach to both Genesis and Chronicles is an example of retrojecting late theological (and linguistic) concepts into earlier texts. Rather than seeing an evolution in thought within Israelite and Jewish teachings concerning certain concepts, you see a gradual revelation of "truth" over the ages from a higher power. You are starting from later traditional concepts, and then arguing backwards, seeing these later concepts as "hidden" in earlier texts.

For example, there always was the later Jewish and Christian Satan - he just hadn't been revealed to the authors of Genesis 3 or II Samuel at the time. The serpent of Genesis actually WAS Satan - the author just didn't realize it. Likewise, the author of Job 1-2's "the satan" was not writing about a functionary in Yahweh's Divine Council - he was writing about the Christian Satan that is so clearly pictured in the Gospels and Revelation.


This is not reading a text. This is ignoring a text, and retrojecting later ideas back into it. You are not alone in this: the author of Chronicles did it frequently, the author of Jubilees did it when he rewrote Genesis, the author of the book of Enoch did it, early Christian writers did it, rabbinic writers did it in the Talmud and the Mishnah, and Mohammed did it with the Koran's portrayal of Abraham as "the first Moslem", among other things.

The above are all a particular tradition's interpretation of their traditum - at the expense of the traditum's original intention. You are exhibiting the same type of behavior when they relegated their own traditum (the Hebrew Bible) to the status of something faulty, outdated and no longer applicable: the "Old" Testament. In their view, the Old Testament gave way to, and could only be read in the light of, the "New" Testament. Orthodox Jews did a similar thing when they claimed that the Hebrew Bible could only be read through the lens of their own Oral Torah - which they insisted had always existed alongside the written Torah - another example of retrojecting a later theology back onto their traditum.

Paul, coming from this same Jewish tradition of interpretation did the exact same thing when he became a Christian: he took Christian ideas and "midrashed" them onto the OT. Now, since every tradition claims the same thing (the exclusive right to interpret their traditum) it should be clear that their idiosyncratic views do not accurately represent what the original traditum was saying, and the claims of gradual, Divine revelation of an earlier text's meaning are extremely dubious.

So, it appears that we are speaking at cross-purposes, and you will only ever view certain ancient Near Eastern texts - not in their original context and meaning -- but through a lens darkly.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:06 AM
 
Location: Canada
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Pneuma, there can be both literal and metaphorical elements in a story - you don't have to pick just one or the other. You know I'm not saying two different things. And you should probably know (since I'm pretty sure I mentioned it), that I also do not view the story as literally happening. But in the narrative of the story, literal events are understood by the author - even if he uses an idiom (that's a better way of explaining "eat the dust of the earth" - like an English idiom) during speech. There is no guesswork inolved when an idiom is known in a language - it wasn't as if the ancient readers sat there confused over which part of the story they were to believe, simply because an idiom was used. I already discussed the danger of interpreting a story, simply because we do not believe in it. I may not believe the story actually happened, but it would be folly to re-interpret the story into a metaphor, or an allegory. Not good exegesis. Even if it were more than an idiom, then this is perfectly normal for many narratives - the prophetic narratives were like this in many ways, as was the speach of many biblical characters.

If your attempt was to use "eat the dust of the earth" as some sort of proof that the entire story is metaphorical - then that doesn't work either. And if your attempt was to show ignorance in the older biblical writers, until Christ came and suddenly "made everyone smart" or aware of "the truth" - then that doesn't work, either. The Book of Revelation is more symbolic and metaphorical than the Book of Genesis ever tried to be. I think you're laboring under the normal Christian dislike for the Old Testament, that's all. Be that as it may, it still hasn't taken into account the traceable evolution of the idea of Satan (whether imagined later as a Dragon or not) in the centuries leading up to Christianity.

The New Testament writers used the old mythic ideas of God battling the Dragon in their apocalpytic imagery for Satan - that's pretty apparant. They may not have understood where the imagery came from, but they certainly used it. And again - a worm is only a way of referring to dragons. Have you checked out the history of the usage of "worm" for "dragon"?

So - to quickly sum up: no, I am not contradicting myself on "literal" vs "metaphorical". You're misreading me to make a point, I think.
Nope just misreading you, as I do not disagree with much of the above.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:23 AM
 
22,798 posts, read 10,578,049 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoppers View Post
Pneuma, I think I am noticing something here.
Your approach to both Genesis and Chronicles is an example of retrojecting late theological (and linguistic) concepts into earlier texts. Rather than seeing an evolution in thought within Israelite and Jewish teachings concerning certain concepts, you see a gradual revelation of "truth" over the ages from a higher power. You are starting from later traditional concepts, and then arguing backwards, seeing these later concepts as "hidden" in earlier texts.

For example, there always was the later Jewish and Christian Satan - he just hadn't been revealed to the authors of Genesis 3 or II Samuel at the time. The serpent of Genesis actually WAS Satan - the author just didn't realize it. Likewise, the author of Job 1-2's "the satan" was not writing about a functionary in Yahweh's Divine Council - he was writing about the Christian Satan that is so clearly pictured in the Gospels and Revelation.


This is not reading a text. This is ignoring a text, and retrojecting later ideas back into it. You are not alone in this: the author of Chronicles did it frequently, the author of Jubilees did it when he rewrote Genesis, the author of the book of Enoch did it, early Christian writers did it, rabbinic writers did it in the Talmud and the Mishnah, and Mohammed did it with the Koran's portrayal of Abraham as "the first Moslem", among other things.

The above are all a particular tradition's interpretation of their traditum - at the expense of the traditum's original intention. You are exhibiting the same type of behavior when they relegated their own traditum (the Hebrew Bible) to the status of something faulty, outdated and no longer applicable: the "Old" Testament. In their view, the Old Testament gave way to, and could only be read in the light of, the "New" Testament. Orthodox Jews did a similar thing when they claimed that the Hebrew Bible could only be read through the lens of their own Oral Torah - which they insisted had always existed alongside the written Torah - another example of retrojecting a later theology back onto their traditum.

Paul, coming from this same Jewish tradition of interpretation did the exact same thing when he became a Christian: he took Christian ideas and "midrashed" them onto the OT. Now, since every tradition claims the same thing (the exclusive right to interpret their traditum) it should be clear that their idiosyncratic views do not accurately represent what the original traditum was saying, and the claims of gradual, Divine revelation of an earlier text's meaning are extremely dubious.

So, it appears that we are speaking at cross-purposes, and you will only ever view certain ancient Near Eastern texts - not in their original context and meaning -- but through a lens darkly.
What you seem to be describing is what I would expect to be necessary if there is a God inspiring us to try to understand our purpose. The information would necessarily be interpreted within the limited frame of knowledge and understanding of the recipients . . . but should be capable of revision using more advanced knowledge of later generations. I call it the spiritual evolution of our understanding of God. The increased sophistication of such evolution is unmistakable in what I call the "spiritual fossil record." You have pointed out the evolution as adoption of earlier myths.
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