After reading your analysis, I believe you that Lot was not a "good guy." I need to read the second in the series, but I'm wondering why so many have thought of him as being righteous. What purpose in the grand scheme of things does this serve (if any)?
Thanks for reading, and read on, for as you surmised I attempt to answer that very question in Pt 2. :)
Excellent-- the Lot Tale has always bothered me, especially when one considers the fact that LOT was saved from a fiery death that was supposedly bestowed due to sexual immoraltiy, and then commits grevious sexual sins with his daughters, who bore him sons....
I enjoyed reading your take on the passages of Genesis retelling the journey of Lot. And, certainly, when read through the lens of religiosity, you make very compelling comments. But, I reread the book recently from an historical story viewpoint, and I can’t come to the same conclusions that you have on certain aspects of the story, especially those conclusions that follow the lines of religious dictum – of what is and what is not righteousness - of what this story should read like. Certainly, such writing as this is about confirming, but as you make clear, this story is not clear at all.
I agree that Lot was not a good person. But when you take Christianity out of the story, and boil it down to just one man who had a relation, who he couldn’t get along with, and then set out in a new direction for cities that were already established, to make his own life there, I don't agree that the authors of the story, aimed for such precise circumstances to make Lot look unrepentant and unrighteous, especially when they didn’t take the time to enunciate it bluntly. Sure, 2nd Peter goes in the opposite direction and calls him up as righteous, but again viewpoints matter here. Much can be lost through translation, but here, I do think that modern religion tends to add more meat to this story by insinuating such things like “left” is bad and “mountains” are best.
Abraham had his unrighteous moments just as his relations, though not as glaringly obvious. Lot was a traveler, he was nomadic and thus pretty keen to encounter new situations/people and acclimate to new communities/mores. This is probably why Lot acted when he met the ‘visitors’ at the gate, to both learn where ‘they’ had come from, and where they were going (and this is what brought me to this commentary. As the line spoken at chapter 16:18 is nearly identical to Socrates’ welcome of Phaedrus in Plato’s work written around 350BCE. And, I’d like to know more about this great coincidence for readers of antiquity and bible study).
What is lacking here is the volition of Lot’s own daughters. If Abraham’s wife, Sarah feels angst for having to have her husband lay with her lady-servant, then the Lot daughters were oblivious to the rape of their father? I doubt the reference was left out by the authors, and is actually required work on the part of the reader, to see that not only was Lot not perfect, but Lot’s daughters were just as apt to sin. Though he was drunk, probably from self medication, which was often the case in prehistory where mental illness was greatly unknown, drinking away his pain seems likely, just as the rape of Lot by his randy daughters. But again though, if we're all well aware of the Lot’s transgressions, then the commentary significantly leaves blank the issue of Lot Family daughters' rape of their father. The issue of procreation is front and center, as the lists of lineage is large in Genesis. What’s lost in this commentary’s religiosity is 'this' story of real individuals trying to make it in an antique time period where real dangers did prevail most times, a place that is a far cry from today’s safe judgment and secure experience.
Thanks for reading.
To clarify, I approach analysis of the story, NOT based on "modern religious dictums" as you say, but on the basis of the examining the cultural context in which the story was written and would be heard and understood.
Although analysis of Genesis is of interest to Jews and Xians alike, my target audience is primarily JWs, who accept the idea that it's important to get as close as possible to understanding the originally-intended meaning in order to better understand the word of God (I'm an atheist, but am adopting that idea for the purposes of the article).
Hence I'm looking for hints from conventions that were known to be respected by the author (such conventions are commonly accepted by scholars, and it's a well-studied subject).
When I'm referring to the concept of say, mountains being viewed as holier than the plains, that's hardly a questionable claim: we have multiple lines of evidence to confirm that such a belief was prevalent amongst Jews of the period when the story was written, where the concept is seen in the Tanakh, secular sources, archaeological findings, etc.
Here's a source from Jewish Encyclopedia (1908) for bamot (high places):
In a sense, your post is confirming my point that a Xian living in Greece who read then-ancient account some 700 yrs later would be unfamiliar with Hebrew conventions and motifs (as most modern readers are), primarily since our knowledge of history is supplemented by taking a more-methodical approach (we also have access to ancient writings that have been discovered over the past two centuries, and help reveal the evolution of theology over time, esp as seen in inter testamentary writings like the Nag Hammadi library, Dead Sea scrolls, etc).
This would explain WHY "Peter" seemingly was ignorant of subtle clues that would've not been missed by the Jewish audience hearing the story in Judea, circa 500 BCE. The meanings were as plain as the noses on their faces to them, but seemingly lost on the author of 2nd Peter.
And even if "Peter" did understand the clues, the story still was problematic for fledgling Xian doctrine, since it didn't fit: 'transferrable righteousness' was not seen as compatible with 'individual accountability', so that critical element of the Lot story had to be exorcised (not possible) or suppressed by simply declaring Lot as righteous (very possible).
BTW, I didn't declare Lot to be unrighteous: I only said (and the Genesis account itself only says) that Lot was saved due to Abraham's righteousness, not his own.
Regardless, as you noted, 2nd Peter goes a tad overboard with profuse declarations of "righteous Lot", as if declaring him to be a Saint.
Although it's implied that Lot isn't worthy of salvation and was saved due to whom he was related to, the Yahwist doesn't explicitly say that Lot WAS unrighteous, and likely for reasons I explained in the article (Lot's offspring were distant cousins of the Israelites, and not the archetypical "bad guys" like the Canaanites were made out to be).
The Yahwist was nothing, if not a subtle storyteller, and the account is more damning by what it doesn't say.
<i>I agree that Lot was not a good person. But when you take Christianity out of the story, and boil it down to just one man who had a relation, who he couldn’t get along with, and then set out in a new direction for cities that were already established, to make his own life there, I don't agree that the authors of the story, aimed for such precise circumstances to make Lot look unrepentant and unrighteous, especially when they didn’t take the time to enunciate it bluntly. </i>
As I explained in the article, the Yahwist source wrote the account, and much like with the Cain and Abel story (which he also penned), he created confusion with his love of subtlety and a penchant for word play (he had a weakness for a good pun).
All of these subtleties literally got "lost in translation" for modern readers, as well as for the aurhor of 2nd Peter, who likely relied on the Greek Septuagint (a Hebrew to Greek translation).
Subtlety often creates confusion, and Xian readers come to the sorry loaded with preconceptions, such that they already KNOW Cain "was the worlds first murderer", and Lot was righteous, etc.
With these articles, I am challenging those preconceptions, those classic "propagation of errors".
<i>Abraham had his unrighteous moments just as his relations, though not as glaringly obvious. Lot was a traveler, he was nomadic and thus pretty keen to encounter new situations/people and acclimate to new communities/mores. This is probably why Lot acted when he met the ‘visitors’ at the gate, to both learn where ‘they’ had come from, and where they were going (and this is what brought me to this commentary. As the line spoken at chapter 16:18 is nearly identical to Socrates’
Brilliant re-assessment putting the works further in context. Thanks for all your hard work.
Thanks for the kind words!
BTW, I haven't seen you around the AXP boards lately: hope all is well with you! :)
Been busy trying to promote some of my work, but I have been lurking and catching up on AXP episodes...
Righteousness comes only by believing what God has said--as in, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Gen. 15:6.
So, Lot, in believing God's representatives, got out of town. None of us have any righteousness of our own, God says,"There is none righteous, no, not one/" Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53: 1-3; Psalm 143:2/ Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10. Lot's only righteousness was that when push came to shove, he believed God. But that was enough! It was enough to save him from God's judgement and destruction!
Thanks for reading the article and your comment!
"Righteousness comes only by believing what God has said--as in, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Gen. 15:6.
Lot's only righteousness was that when push came to shove, he believed God. But that was enough! It was enough to save him from God's judgement and destruction!"
Hmmm, I'm not entirely convinced that claim holds true across the board, even when only looking at other examples in Genesis.
E.g. Genesis 18, where Abraham negotiated with God on behalf of the unknown 'righteous men of Sodom', acting as their mediator by getting God to agree to spare the entire city, if only ten righteous men were found inside (which begs the question: was God willing to accept the collateral deaths of NINE righteous men?).
So if being labelled as "righteous" only required "belief and obedience to God's orders" (as you suggest), where in the account does it mention anything remotely close to God and/or angels warning the Sodomites to repent of their wrong-doing or face destruction?
Where in the account does it mention any such fair warning having been delivered to ANY Sodomites, righteous or unrighteous alike?
Answer: it doesn't mention anything of the sort.
Instead, the account offers a tale of judgment and destruction without ANY warning or opportunity for repentance: in that sense, it's analogous to the flood account, with no 'fair warning' given in the original Genesis account (and only found in NT's 2nd Peter, which I cover in my article about Noah).
The closest thing you get to 'fair warning' in the Sodom account is where Lot's son-in-law was given the opportunity to be spared from destruction, but he blew off Lot's warning, dismissing it out-of-hand as the result of Lot's reputation as someone not to be taken seriously (a drunkard, as depicted later in the account).
So the otherwise "righteous" son-in-law (deserving of deliverance from God's destruction) died as a result of ignoring, not the warning given by God or His angels, but by ignoring the warning coming from Lot, someone with a reputation of prone to pranks and/or drinking binges.
"So, Lot, in believing God's representatives, got out of town. None of us have any righteousness of our own, God says,"There is none righteous, no, not one/" Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53: 1-3; Psalm 143:2/ Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10. "
Psalm 14:3 doesn't use the Hebrew word (tsaddich) that's translated as, "righteous", so you might want to check the accuracy of your current Bible translation (is that how the New World Translation handles that passage?).
Besides, if you read on in Psalm 14, notice verse 5, saying that God is with the 'righteous generation'.
So how is it even possible for an entire generation to be said to be viewed by God as 'righteous', when you claim that verse 3 says "no men are righteous"?
(And let's just also ignore that the Bible elsewhere describes MANY humans as 'righteous', with Noah being one obvious example.)
I suspect you're cherry-picking scriptures that you feel fits your desired explanation, but you're allowing that conclusion to contaminate what the Bible actually says.
That practice is so common, it warranted being given a name: 'eisegesis'.
Adam W. Gueebly