Jesus and The “Back to the Beginning” Paradox of Genesis 11

In the New Testament, Jesus showed his reformation-tradition understanding of Genesis 1 in requiring the rejection of divorce, since the beginning of mankind proves determinative for all time in governing human affairs. Several strands of reasoning operate behind this quite Semitic assumption.

  1. In the future, God will “restore all things” so that God’ s original intent for mankind will come to fruition. Acts 3.21 mentions therefore “the restoration of all things.” Likewise, today we speak of “back to genesis” movements or theological trends in the churches.
  2. God is sovereign. Solomon wrote: “There is no plan, no insight, no wisdom, that can succeed against the Lord.” This means that God’s original plan, not only will prevail “down the road” in the restoration of all things, but MUST prevail since God is Sovereign and Omnicompetent (Cannot fail).
  3. God is All-wise, all-knowing. Since the Lord knows the future with perfect certainty, and knows all that will transpire, or what might have transpired upon all supposed conditions, and since he knows all facts and all relations, real or imaginary, we must realize that He would have created and acted differently to prevent in advance whatever roadblocks once might present later to his original intentions. Genesis 1 displays the divine “Plan A.”

Please notice that God gave to mankind only one language from the beginning. Genesis 11.1 assures us that this singular tongue continued unabated all the way until the account of linguistic differentiation recorded just afterward in that same chapter. This produces an impossibility, God has ordered one language only for all mankind from the beginning as normative for us forever, and then Himself thwarts the original plan by going directly against his linguistic “Plan A.”

This demonstrates that the self-conflicted account of Genesis 11 promotes not actual history, but later rabbinical reasoning about “how the many different languages must have come about. Both here and in Genesis 14, the land of “Shinar” (i.e. Babylonia) shows up conspicuously, which remains consistent with Abram leaving “Ur of the Chaldeans,” and with Abram later styled “ a wandering Aramaean.”

The biblical record offers the consistent testimony that this first language showed up as an early form of Aramaic, the language in which Solomon would have written the first copy of the Proverbs; the tongue of Daniel and his friends, which they learned as the administrative language of the Babylonians of his day; and the tongue spoken by Jesus most frequently in his teaching (as seen behind the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew).

Matthew 19.4 has the passage in question where Jesus indicates the normative status of “what was from the beginning.” Given the teaching that language is responsible for the existence of all things in Genesis 1, this cannot be seen as a trivial point, but rather a supremely important “singular way of relating to God properly.”   Over time, as people and cultures introduce new technologies and new ideas, new words must be invented to “point” to these and discuss them in intelligent ways, and in light of the other referents used in the language (expanded reference, and its new set of relations, transpires as a necessary part of the development of every tongue).  Aramaic is no different.

What would Solomon do? I believe that this question is worth asking, and may be answered plausibly and profitably. Wisdom is found in the multitude of counselors.  This is, in effect what we have in both the form of the Greek tongue handed down to us from Alexandria, and in the form of the Aramaic used by the wisest of men — Solomon, Daniel, the Jewish Rabbis more generally, and by Jesus. “He who walks with the wise grows wise.”

To that end, I propose to take the most versatile and “reference-expanded” of all the ancient tongues (Alexandrian Greek) to create the upgraded Aramaic we ought to use today, by expanded it using Alexandrian Greek as our guide.  We should create an analog between each Greek word found most useful in the early centuries of Alexandrian-Septuagint environment and the older Aramaic used by Jesus and his contemporaries, to cause the same expanded reference traits in that Aramaic tongue as that the Alexandrian Greek experienced in its various academic and crafted uses, by which Greek and Egyptian thought inflected it during the timeframe from Daniel to the lifetime of Jesus and the apostles.

This would create an immensely profitable, and uniquely capable, Aramaic, which would yet retain its highly-expressive abilities to show the poetic and symmetrical, adaptable forms of Semitic thought in every aspect of cultural development.


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