Monday, June 23, 2008

This is another post in a series with the label "other bible."

As I continued in my journey through the leftover parts of the Bible, I ran into some rare sections of medrash (rabbinic mythology) that gave a novel and rather long creation myth story. I could have sworn that I had read most of this in the Meam Loez commentary on the Creation Myth of the Bible but the Meam Loez quoted some rare medrashim.

The sexism is steep in all these creation myths, but that is par for the course of ancient days. In this medrash, there is this character called Lilith that is given to Adam to wife. But Lilith is not the submissive help mate that a woman is supposed to be so she leaves and Adam is given Eve. According to the medrash, God tried to create a good, submissive wife for Adam but despite all his strivings, she still ended up being a typical woman, some of her faults only coming to fruition later on: Sarah the eavesdropper, Miriam the talebearer, Rachel the envious, and Dinah the gadabout.

But that was just a side note. What really stuck out to me was the character known as the serpent. This medrash says that he became an infidel because of his high intellect. Yes, you read that correctly. Smartness is bound to make you into an infidel, a heretic just like the serpent. Not only that, but after the smart serpent had seduced God's favorite creations to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (notice how knowledge is bad and prohibited yet again) when God goes to curse his creation he doesn't ask for excuses from the serpent. Before cursing Adam, he gets a chance to explain the situation and pass the blame onto his wife. Eve gets the same opportunity but according to this medrash, the smart serpent doesn't get this opportuinity. Why? Because infidels are good debaters. Yes, that's right. Infidels are smart and good debaters according to the medrash. This answers a lot of questions.

Enter the gnostics. The gnostis were a strange bunch. There were pagan, christian and jewish gnostics. They were a crazy mixture of buddhism, ancient persian religion and pagan, christian or jewish respectively.

I couldn't figure out if this was a universal gnostic myth or unique to one particular sect but the gnostics had a pantheon and the creator god Yahweh, was a loser god. Yes, he had the audacity to create a physical world. The other higher gods were disgusted by him because of his attempt to capture knowledge (gnosis) in the physical. The gnostics completely change the creation myth around. The serpent is the hero because he gets them to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So Yahweh, the almighty god in the Jewish myth is the loser in the gnostic versions. The serpent, the intelligent and good debater is evil according to this Jewish myth but the hero in the gnostic one. Maybe gnosticism isn't all that bad.

So anyhow, all you believers be forwarned. Don't get into debates with skeptics, who are the illegitamate offspring of the Evil Serpent. Just as God was unwilling to get into a debate, so too you, my faith-full friend, should be unwilling to debate. Just stick to curses.