Sound of Gods voice -
true Scripture interpretation
Arrcura asked this question on 10/26/2000:
What is the sound of the Lord?
Please take a look at what scripture says beginning at Gen. 3:8. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" The man said, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate." (RSV)
Do we suppose that they heard the crunching of leaves and the snapping of twigs as God walked among the trees of the garden? No I think not. The Hebrew word for sound or voice is "gol". So Adam and Eve heard the gol of the Lord. And what kind of sound does God make? Psalm 29 tells us beginning at verse 3,
The "gol" of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, upon many waters. The "gol" of the Lord is powerful, the "gol" of the Lord is full of majesty. The "gol" of the Lord breaks the cedars, the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The "gol" of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The "gol" of the Lord shakes the wilderness, the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The "gol" of the Lord makes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare;
Is it any wonder why Adam and Eve might hide? Not only were they ashamed that they were naked, Such a racket of the sound of God would cause most everyone to seek shelter or hide from it.
But what seems odd about this episode? God, the ultimate power and knowledge asks questions as if he did not know where Adam and Eve were or what they had done. Also what of Adam? Did he protect Eve from the serpentís beguiling? He was there, right beside her for she just turned and gave some of the fruit to him and he ate.
Some protector and helper this guy Adam was. He even blamed the woman for his foolishness (and also God) when he answered the Lordís question if he ate of the tree saying, ""The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate."
Doesnít it seem that these two humans were kind of dumb to be fooled so easily by the serpent. Would God have created man and woman to be this gullible? Or was there more intimidation, or pressure on them than that? The Bible tells us that Satan is "the serpent, that dragon."
We often see pictures of a snake hanging from a tree limb talking with eve. Rethinking as we reread what this passage says would it be more accurate to picture a dragon standing near or beneath the tree with both Adam and Eve cowering while listening to the big serpent twisting their thoughts?
After all the serpent does not become a snake until after God curses it and says that from now on it would crawl on itís belly.
What is your analysis of this Biblical story?
The joy of the Lord be in your heart.
I read your interpretation and at the end I found myself unhappy with your analysis. Why? After reading it twice I think I found the reason.
I ask permission to explain some fundamentals before giving the reasons for my dissatisfaction.
You know that especially exegesis of Scripture is a very hazardous thing. Exaggerating a bit to make the point: At the end itís one big hypothesis, a composition of millions of theories. I donít want to denigrate the gigantic effort of those dedicated man and women! Their effort is necessary and very useful. But if we remain in the realm of literal and historic exposition arenít we missing the point? All Scripture wants to advance revelation. Of what? Of the history of salvation.
The history of salvation began with an old man who had no children (Gen 12). He heard a voice that told him to go wherever he would be guided. This barren man was promised children as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sand of the seas. All nations are to be blessed in his name because he had faith. And if Saint Paul is right then we are the real children of Abraham.
Thus began the history of salvation with the divine call of one man who believed, who had faith. Now Israel possessed the memory of that history, the history of the origins of the chosen people. But then there was a crucial question to answer. How did it come to pass that Abraham only slowly discovered that God was One. What had happened to mankind that they lost the knowledge of the One Lord?
Israel found the answer in the immemorial stories that are the interpretations of existential realities and pinpointed the beginning of mankindís corruption in the first couple.
Now Iím focusing on your passage.
What was the real transgression of Adam and Eve? They wanted to be like God! Reaching His power? No, they wanted to decide themselves what was good and what was bad. They wanted to be self-sufficient, self-regulating. The results were mortal: Cain and Abel, the tower of Babel, the diluvium, etc. etc. The first 10 chapters are like a preamble to Abraham and the beginning of the history of salvation because they show why God had to begin a new creation first with Abraham and then with Christ.
Now Iím getting to the point. This history is crucial because it is the history of every man. It tells me that Iím repeating the transgression of Adam and Eve. Every time I sin I want to be God-like, deciding what is good and what is bad. And consequently I enter into death. You make an allusion to this but without giving it the importance it should have. It explains to me why Iím violent against others. I defend what I think is good and they defend what they think is good and there we are fighting over the bones.
Can you understand now why I was unsatisfied with your text? First of all you left out the important part. I understand you would like some ingenious explanation of the qol, of judgment and the psychological circumstances of Adam and Eve. But I suggest thatís missing the point of the whole story.
Iím sure you read the Bible and you know itís God Who talks to you. Well, my suggestion is that all analyzing has only a worthwhile interpretation if you look at the heart of the story. Mankind rebels against God. We rebel. Godís question then is directed at you and at me: "Acura, mscperu, where are you?".
Consequently Godís judgment is the paradigm of what every man has experienced when he revolts. The sound of God walking in the garden and the sound of His voice is nothing more and nothing less than the same sound our guilty conscience provides every time we play at being God.
These are a few pointers to explain why I think that your interpretation is too conceptual, too abstract. Godís voice may be this or that. I donít remember where in the Bible I read this: His voice serves to explain gravity. The Scripture says that God shouts and the waters are terrified and scurry down from the mountains. So what? Poetry, myth, allegory. So what? A saint used to question every fact: "Quid hoc ad aeternitatem - what has this to do with eternity?"
We should go back to the interpretation of the Church Fathers who rejoiced in hearing Godís Word as salvation proclaimed an re-actualized. Thatís why the greatest part of their writings is part of the liturgy or point in that direction.
Secondly your interpretation such as it stands is an interpretation without faith. I think thatís the real reason for my unhappiness. Godís Spirit is talking through these words. Itís a story that wants to help you so you may understand what is going on in your heart. Itís a story that the Lord has inspired so that you may be able to interpret your existence, your life and your death.
Iím sure you have nothing against interpretation on the basis of faith. Iím very much aware that I donít give an analysis you want. What Iím trying to do is understand what the Lord is telling me through this part of Scripture you cite, incomplete at that because you left out the most important part of it. From this center point you omitted we can interpret all other elements.
Why the vehemence from my side? Iíve been burnt by historical, archeological, systematic exegesis without faith. Those great exegetical geniusesí have robbed generations of the Word of God and substituted it with historical and literal knowledge. God forgive me, Iíve offered my congregation scientific interpretations of the Word en lieu of announcing the salvation that occurs the moment the hearer believes the Word. So the recrimination is with me not with you.
My suggestion is that you can and should offer the kind of interpretation you are presenting. Thatís ok! But then you should come to the important part. Because every time you read or interpret Godís Word itís the Lord talking to you:
(Dt 30:19) "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."(NAS).
Am I wrong suggesting that staying put in the literal and historical analysis isnít choosing life? Am I right suggesting that I really hear the sound of His voice when I obey him?
I was showing an historical basis for what the sound of God was like according to Psalms and more. Itís all based on scripture and my faith study of it.
Thereís much out there about this. What I wrote is very much like the opinion of one of the great Catholic scholars of today, Dr. Scott Hahn who teaches theology at the Catholic University in Stubenville, Ohio.
But you misinterpreted what I was attempting to provide. Perhaps I was not clear enough. Perhaps I wanted to see who would see it and in what manner.
Also we must have the ability to determine right from wrong. Otherwise how would we know if what we were doing or saying was correct.
The Holy Bible even gives us directions on how to make the determination.
Oh, and thank you for judging me and my faith. Iím sure that you think that is very Christian of you.
But hence forth Iíll thank you to let the Lord make such a judgment of me. I have faith that he knows a lot more about me than do you.
Iím sorry Iíve given you the impression that I judged you and your faith. Forgive me.
I certainly judged your analysis and tried to show that the other indispensable leg to stand on was not present. We could debate that.
I should not have commented your post. But that would mean that I couldn't express an opinion about it. I could only present my exegesis without any allusion to what you have written. You say so and I retract myself and post an elaboration without reference to your post. That would forbid that I manifest if I am happy with your post or not. Iím ready to do that too.
Now if you wanted a scientific concurrent or opposite analysis then you could argue that I have erred and gone way beyond the purpose of your post.
But my contention is precisely that you canít do catholic scientific exegesis without faith. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1 NRSV). The quarrel would be about the question: What is catholic exegesis? We would debate about the praeambula fidei, the preconditions of faith matters.
So my opinions are not about your faith. Itís all about the way you understand exegesis and the way you want the answers to be posted.
But I have not judged your person. God forbid! Itís too dangerous! (Mt 7:1-2). I made even the right assumption about your person. Your answer is proof. It is a profession of faith.
" Iím sure you have nothing against interpretation on the basis of faith. Ö My suggestion is that you can and should offer the kind of interpretation you are presenting. Thatís ok! But then you should come to the important part."
I admit that to make my point I have exaggerated the unimportance of the "scientific" investigations regarding the Bible. But again, itís not about you.
An other reason that you feel attacked personally might be the vehemence of my words. Well, the whole question touches a deep wound in my personal context as I have briefly explained. Possible recriminations are directed at my own gullibility. I thought for a long time that Bultmann and companions really interpreted the Word. God forgive me!
Now there is a phrase that could be misunderstood.
"Secondly your interpretation such as it stands is an interpretation without faith."
Iím talking about the interpretation, not about your faith. The suggestion is that a literal, historical, semantic interpretation together with the distinction of the genus literate isnít enough. I should just have said so without commenting your post.
And the biblical citation at the end was not intended to be a reference to your person either. I wanted it to be a closing argument corroborating the thesis that semantics by themselves donít imply or hint a response of faith. And the response of faith is the guarantee that the "sound of God" has been understood, i.e., correctly interpreted.
And the second part of the citation is then a direct answer reacting to the why of the sound of God. The words "hear" and "obey" are almost synonyms in the OT. God sounds because He wants to be heard and obeyed. Doesnít He? So it seemed pertaining.
Iím sorry for having caused you sorrow. Forgive me!
arcura asked this follow-up question on 10/28/2000:
But please consider this. Without an exercise in faith would I have investigated and offered the above views of the sound of God, about Adam, and who or what the serpent was?
If I take your idea of what faithful Bible study is to heart, I'd have to quit studying it. It is faith in God and His word which causes me to study and search for insights into knowing Him and his word better. Hundreds of thousands of Christian people have been doing that for 2000 years.
I did not offer the above analysis and questions as if they were chiseled in granite. They are merely an observation which I asked others to offer their analysis.
You offered yours, my thanks.
But I do disagree with it because you analyze me more rather than the observation.
I stop here before committing a new "faux pas".
I was very much tempted to initiate a debate about what does it mean to interpret the Scripture with the ingredient of faith. But that is an other kettle of fish.
I'm sorry to have contributed to your affliction.
Somebody has compared my interventions with the delicate movements of an elephant in a chinaware store. He's probably right!
God bless you