Can the anthropological tools such as kinship analysis be used to identify what is historical and what is anachronism in the Bible? I believe so. I've been having an interesting conversation with Scott L at The Prodigal Thought on this very subject. Scott takes the view that people living in the time described by Genesis "had some revelation, but that revelation was in seed form. It’s only as the revelation progresses in the OT writings that we get the idea that the Messiah would be the ‘Son’ of God."

Yet Scott apparently believes what Jesus says in John 8:56 - "Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." So my question is, if you believe what Jesus said, why do you doubt that Abraham had expectation of the appearing of the Son of God? It is a contradiction to say that you believe Jesus and then to discount what He says as anachronism.

Abraham’s people certainly didn’t have the perspective we have today, but they had the ancient expectation of the Son of God’s appearing in the flesh. This ancient expectation came from what God promised in Genesis 3:15 – the Protevangelion. In other words, God, in His immense faithfulness, has raised up witnesses to His Righteous Son in every generation. Just as an infant recognizes the parent and responds to that love, without intellectual knowledge, so humanity has had consciousness of the Father’s love for the Son, even before Jesus’ Incarnation. This is proof that the Son abides eternally with the Father and was with the Father “in the beginning” and that all things were made through Him.

Scott goes on to say: "So Abraham had some kind of revelation in his day. But I think it could possibly be a little too anachronistic to read a full theology of the ‘Son of God incarnate’ back into Gen 3:15 and Abraham’s understanding. Even those words in Gen 3:15 would not have registered as Messianic to Adam and Eve. They would have been thinking about one of their immediate sons or grandsons."

How very perceptive! My research on the kinship of Abraham’s people using the Genesis geneological information shows that they DID believe it would be one of their sons! They traced bloodline through the mothers and made sure that the daughters of priests (such as Mary) only married priests or the sons of priests. The intermarriage between priestly lines begins in Genesis 4 and continues until the time of Jesus. The lines of Cain and Seth intermarried. The lines of Ham and Shem intermarried, and the lines of Joktan and Sheba intermarried. These are the ruler-priest ancestors of Abraham and it is from these priestly lines that Joseph and Mary are descended. Therefore we have no reason to doubt that Abraham believed that the Son of God would one day be born among his people. This is the heart of Holy Tradition received by Abraham and passed to the Church.

I believe that anthropology is the best discipline for examining the tradition that Abraham "our father in the faith" received. I recognize that this is a controversial point. Looking at Abraham and his people through the lens of anthropology, the evidence points not to "some special revelation", but rather that Abraham's Horite people received a well-developed tradition that involved worship of Horus, who was called the "Son of God".

The Jewish historian Josephus, quoting an ancient authority, speaks of the Horites as "conquerors of Egypt and founders of the Assyrian Empire." Abraham's grandfather was Na'hor - a Horite name. Abraham's mother was the daughter of Na'hor, so she too was Horite. I don't think that we should be overly surprised then to find that Abraham believed in and expected the appearing of the Son of God.

The phrase “to this day”, which is found throughout the first five books of the Bible, implies considerable time between the event described and the time of the writer. However, we must be careful when labeling biblical material as anachronisms. Some so-called anachronisms, such as camels in Abraham’s time (Gen. 24), have been shown to represent realities of the time. We take as an example the representation of camel riding on Mesopotamian seal cylinders dating to Abraham’s time. (See Gordon/Rendsburg, in BANE:120-12; and Journal of Near Eastern Studies 3, 1944, pp. 187-93.)

So can anthropology help to clarify what is and what isn't anachronism? What do you think?

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I think that anthropology, like other disciplines, already helped clarify apparent anachronisms about the Messiah.

Our Biblical hermeneutics already understand that prophetic messages were not understood in every detail by those delivering or hearing them. We go in assuming that there was a "seed" planted - this is usually how Biblical prophecy works. Moltmann wrote of "the God of promise and fulfillment," often revealed over centuries or even milennia.

Yesterday's Gospel (RCL) showed that Peter, standing right there with Jesus and having just called him "Messiah," was still expecting a "new David," a warrior to drive out the Romans rather than the suffering servant that Jesus was talking about. And that "new David" concept itself had grown from the seed of God's promises to David and Solomon - to keep a Davidic king on the throne perpetually. But the earthly, Jerusalem-based dynasty ended quickly, and the promises were understood to mean something more.

Still, your information about Horus is helpful. It supports Paul's emphasis on God's revelation flowing through all creation, or, as a friend put it, "Good missionaries don't bring Christ, they show how he is already there."
Quite right, Timothy. That's why the colonialist attitude of missionaries to impose their culture was so damaging.

My argument is that the earliest identifiable missionaries were the Afro-Asiatic ruler-priests, some of whom - the followers of Horus - spread the expectation of the appearing of the Son of God.
Analysis of the kinship of Abraham's people reveals a unique pattern of intermarriage between patrilineal priestly lines. The pattern is traced through the cousin brides who named their first born sons after their fathers. So Lamech's daughter married her patirlineal paralell cousin and named their first born son "Lamech" after her father. This pattern appears to apply only to the Afro-Asiatic ruler-priests and continues from before Noah to the time of Jesus. The persistence of this unique pattern suggests that the ruler-priests wanted to protect their bloodline. But why? I have argued that they had expectation of the appearing of the Son of God from their bloodline. I've been told that I am imposing a later theological development upon the Old Fathers, but am I? The evidence of Scripture, kinship analysis, and linguistics strongly suggests that this concept is not anachronism.
For more on this, go here.
Hello,
I think you are very correct. I think they were expecting a Mechelzedek - a rightous Molech. But this is not just a Semite tradition. This is also a Hamite tradition. Especially keeping the mother of God in the line of the Priestly Class. The Horus tradition is Hamitic. Thank you for pointing out the Horite connection to Horus. I never thought about that before.

Alice C. Linsley said:
Analysis of the kinship of Abraham's people reveals a unique pattern of intermarriage between patrilineal priestly lines. The pattern is traced through the cousin brides who named their first born sons after their fathers. So Lamech's daughter married her patirlineal paralell cousin and named their first born son "Lamech" after her father. This pattern appears to apply only to the Afro-Asiatic ruler-priests and continues from before Noah to the time of Jesus. The persistence of this unique pattern suggests that the ruler-priests wanted to protect their bloodline. But why? I have argued that they had expectation of the appearing of the Son of God from their bloodline. I've been told that I am imposing a later theological development upon the Old Fathers, but am I? The evidence of Scripture, kinship analysis, and linguistics strongly suggests that this concept is not anachronism.
Yes the Horus - Horite connection is Hamite and traceable to Egypt. However, as analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham's ancestors shows, the descendents of Ham and the descendents of his brother She intermarried, so it is difficult to speak of this culture trait as exclusively Hamitic. You may be interested in this discussion of the intermarrriage of the 2 lines: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/03/sheba-lines-of-ham-and-s...

The line of Japid (Japheth) did not intermarry with these 2 lines. Here is something on that: http://jandyongenesis.blogspot.com/2009/10/where-did-noahs-ark-land...

Your comment about expecting a Melchizedek is interesting. Could you elaborate?

Thanks for your interest in Biblical Anthropology!

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