I thought I’d share a recent email I received from someone with a question about a new book that claims that one version (source) of the book of Genesis teaches readers that humankind was created by a group of gods:
I was talking with Kevin Smith (via email) a few weeks ago, about his interpretation of creation according to the book of Genesis.
As you may know, Kevin is the author of the book ‘Gods in the Garden’ which puts forward the idea that there were essentially two creation origins of “man”…. one by the Lord God, and another (previous) by the “gods” (elohim).
I don’t claim to be a Hebrew scholar, but having read much of your material, I respect your work in this area. Therefore I was curious if you had read Kevin Smith’s book, and could give me your impression of his work?
Kevin Smith is an internet radio talk show host. His show, The Kevin Smith Show, focuses on paranormal topics.Â His website notes that “He is a former International Police commander, a native of Texas, and graduate of Dallas Baptist College.”
I have been interviewed by Kevin (a couple years ago as I recall) and found him more well read than most talk show hosts I’ve interacted with.Â I could tell he had a nose for information (former cop) and a ready mind.Â He was pretty well acquainted (for someone who had no knowledge of the biblical languages) with critical approaches to the Bible.Â He was also very engaging.Â All that said, his idea here doesn’t have a prayer.Â His lack of knowledge with respect to biblical languages is his undoing.Â Here’s my response:
** [Dear X] I haven’t read Kevin’s book, but it’s easy to see what he’s doing.Â Since the late 19th century it has been fashionable in critical biblical scholarship to see the Pentateuch as a patchwork quilt of sources (not written by Moses). The sources are called:Â J, E, D, and P.Â J and E are so named because (so the theory goes) one source uses Jehovah (Yahweh; the LORD) as the name for God and the E source uses Elohim. Kevin is taking this common source-critical idea and using it to argue as you describe.
** Other than the problems with the traditional (since the late 1800s!) view of source criticism for the Pentateuch, Kevin has one fundamental, “my view is D.O.A.” problem.Â Even if the source divisions are correct, the “E” source (that uses elohim for the name of God) NEVER has elohim as the subject of a plural verb (EVER) when describing creation (of anything).Â If you have read my discussion of Zecharia Sitchin’s nonsense you know that elohim, though “shaped” as a plural noun, gets grammatically paired with a SINGULAR verb form nearly 1500 times in the OT.Â That is because “elohim” became a proper name for the singular God of Israel – and Hebrew grammatical agreement reflects that.Â Therefore, when elohim creates in the E source, it is a SINGLE elohim, not plural.Â Kevin’s idea is doomed by the text.Â Don’t waste any time considering it.
Let’s hope Kevin sticks to things he knows in the future. He’s good at what he does, but this is nonsense.