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Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Patrick Coulton

An interesting article about reading Genesis with Ratzinger,
however the author gives the impression that Ratzinger is operating
under the so-called
documentary hypothesis. This is certainly
acceptable when one is preaching
to a skeptical/secular/expert audience, but it
ought to be clearly stated in the article.

I quote

Here, the human author of the sacred text used images familiar
to their pagan contemporaries to refute the Enuma Elish, the
Babylonian creation account that claimed that the world was
created when Marduk, the god of light, killed the primordial
dragon. 14 Thus, as Cardinal Ratzinger points out, it is not
surprising that nearly every word of the first creation
account addresses a particular confusion of the Babylonian age.

The author seems to take for granted that everyone
accepts that the 'human author' is writing to the
returning Babylonian exiles.
Though this may be a legitimate argument based on
the 'documentary hypothesis', a similar argument
would apply to the Exodus from Egypt.
In fact, the parallels of the two exodus's (exodi?)
does not imply that the Genesis story is created for the
'present', i.e. the exodus from Babylon.

Indeed, an uncritical acceptance of the
'documentary hypothesis' leaves the poor
Catholic in the pew wondering; Who was that
other man at the transfiguration?

Jeff Grace


Thanks for the interesting comments and links. I have to ask, though... are you under the impression that the Holy Father doesn't accept the documentary hypothesis?

Patrick Coulton

I suspect he does not accept the documentary hypothesis entirely.
But the problem boils down to
what he must work with to be considered a scholar.
The same sort of evidence is used to prop up the
documentary hypothesis as was used by historical criticism to
prove that the miracles Jesus preformed were myths.

Augustine's criteria, I think, still hold. Who would have
expected that there was so much gold in the creation story
of Adam and Eve before JPII reflections generated the
whole new field of 'theology of the body'.

I suspect we will have to pray for more
theologians like JPII before we will really
understand creation in Genesis.

Does the poor Catholic in the pew (me) accept the DH?

I don't think so.

Mark Brumley

For a moment, I thought this discussion was happening in 1906, not 2006 :). But my computer tells me it's 2006. Can we move on to a more timely issue, such as Markan Priority, the Johannine Comma, or the Pauline authorship of Hebrews?

(I'm joking.)

Jeff Grace

Not to worry, Patrick... for as Our Lord told us, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kindom of heaven." So if you, as a poor Catholic, don't accept the DH, your salvation is assured nevertheless.

Patrick Coulton

Dear Jeff,

You are too kind.

As for myself I work it out in fear and trembling.

Patrick Coulton


In future I will try to steer clear of the
topics that are resrved for qualified theologians.

Jeff Grace


I recommend the book In the Beginning...A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. You may find it unnecessary to belittle your own theological understanding, as well as others, if you avail yourself of this excellent book. It's quoted and referenced in Fr. Nicanor's fine article.

Patrick Coulton

I will read it when the chance appears.

It seems to me that I was not the one that began by belittling me or
right to discuss these topics on this forum.

Let me recommend to you the NT especially the part about the scribes.

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