The professor tapped the eraser end of his pencil on his antique oak desk thoughtfully for several minutes.
"Well," he said slowly, "I certainly see why you find your little theory so compelling."
"Yes. You have done an excellent job with it."
Her eyes widened. "I have?"
"Indeed. You have."
"You mean I'm right?"
He smiled what he intended to be a kind smile.
"Well, I wouldn't go that far. The problem, Miss.—what's your first name?"
"The problem, Sofia, is that while you have built an ingenious case, I might even say a brilliant case, it is built on flawed evidence."
"I don't understand."
"Unfortunately, you have only the translation to work with. If you could consult the original, as I can, you would be able to see the problems immediately." "What problems?"
"It's way too complicated to explain to an undergraduate. But I do apologize for my impatience. The only way you could possibly have known you were wrong would be if you could read ancient Hebrew. It was very unfair of me to be impatient with you."
He attempted an even kinder smile.
"I hope you will forgive my impatience."
She gave him a slight, puzzled, look. "Oh, sure. I guess…"
"You really did an incredible job—with the evidence you had available."
"So. Anything else?"
She frowned for a moment, then, with a sudden start, she reached for her back-pack1.
The professor stood for some time after she left, staring at the door. He tossed his pencil onto his desk, rubbed the back of his head with one hand, then, finally, sat down. He swung around to face his computer, called up a new document, and began to type2.
The words appeared, one after another, on the screen3:
Parallelism and Context in Genesis II, a Reconsideration
Miss Simple's Case for Parallelism in the Two Creation Stories4:
|First Creation Story||Second Creation Story||Miss Simple's Parallels|
In the Beginning,
In the Day that,
|b)||Without form, void, Darkness, Deep||No water, and no man to till the soil.||
Void, Darkness, Dry=empty
Spirit addresses Void
Word addresses Deep
Stream addresses Dryness
Human addresses Disorder
Spirit and Water vs. emptiness
Word and Human vs. disorder
|d)||Sky = space separate from chaos||Garden = space separate from wilderness||Obvious Parallelism|
|e)||Creation of plants||Trees planted in Garden||Obvious Parallelism|
|f)||Lights and Times echoes c)||Rivers and Civilizations echoes c)||
Both echo c):
light and many lights,
stream and many rivers
Sky is filled with birds
Garden is filled with trees
Two spaces being filled,
both echo d)
Creation of animals
and humans: male, female,
Creation of animals,
humans split into male and female,
naming of animals
Creation of animals,
male and female humans,
naming implies dominion.
1A bag for carrying paper-based books. It strapped onto ones back. Hence, the name.
2A primitive form of data-entry.
3A primitive form of data-display.
4Readers with an interest in ancient politico-religious world-views will recognize that the above parallels are, with important modifications, accepted without question by current scholarship. It is important to note that this was not the case at the time P wrote. Still, P's work in general tends to carry a philosophical agenda, in addition to the general interpretive and satirical points, and it is not at all clear just what that agenda is in this dialogue. Some have suggested that P's writings must be seen as a work unto themselves, in which this particular text is mainly introductory, but I, for one, find that solution unsatisfactory. -ed.