Archive for the Genesis Category

Genesis 1:26-28

Posted in Genesis on 12/09/2010 by Zombie Luther

Are Zombies “Green”?

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild beasts of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild beasts that move upon the earth.”

Genesis 1:26-28

In this passage, humans are given a species wide mandate to rule as benevolent kings (cf. 9:2, Ps 8:5-8, Heb 2:5-9) over animal and plant kingdoms.  In the past few generations, increasing attention has been given to the question, what exactly does it mean to “subdue” the earth?  The Zombie Bible Commentary, though, would like to raise the obvious burning question for zombie enthusiasts, are zombies green?  Zombies are, by most renderings, entirely focused on humans with all other animal and plant life existing simply as scenery.  Likewise, it would be quite difficult to imagine zombies having “dominion” over anything at all.  All of this is obvious, but it is worth going over it so that we can dismiss any notion of zombies having the role of steward over creation that humans do in the language of Genesis.  Even in the highest views of zombie potential, their stewardship would function in a hands-off, let nature get back to nature, approach.

Even if zombies don’t particularly fit the role of having “dominion” over creation as humans are said to have, are they green?  Imagining a world overrun by zombies is almost always focused on the human-zombie conflict; that is, we imagine burnt out buildings, war zone like destruction, and wandering groups of people struggling to survive in a post-societal world.  This would most likely involve environmental destruction similar to other battlefields.  Imagining a scenario in which the zombies win and humans are either extinct or a small minority on the planet, there are definitely some “green” qualities to zombie supremacy: 1) no need for fossil fuels of any kind and 2) no need for agriculture/consumption of large animal populations.  Unless zombies begin to consume other animal life and wipe it out along with human beings, a zombie supremacy would provide the rest of the planet an opportunity for a restart of sorts.  Yes, zombies are quite green and could be quite good for the earth, except that billions of people would have to die in order to bring it out.  Oh well, once we’re zombies we won’t care anyhow.

Genesis 1-2

Posted in Genesis on 10/06/2010 by Zombie Luther

Zombie Origins?

It may be troubling for the zombie enthusiast to find no mention of zombies in either of the Biblical creation myths.  It is worth remembering that in the first creation story (Gen. 1-2:3), the stages of creation focus on categories of things, rather than lists of specifics.  Noticeably absent from this list are the dinosaurs, for instance.  In the second creation story (Gen. 2:4-2:25) the main thrust is on the primordial man and woman with almost no mention of other creatures.  In a general sense, then, the zombie enthusiast can read the creation stories in Genesis similarly to everyone else, as myth that simply does not address much outside of their intended purpose: a liturgical exposition of the formation of the earth out of chaos by Elohim (first creation story) and a pastoral story of the first couple, Eden, and their evolving relationship with YHWH (second creation story).

It may be disappointing to zombie enthusiasts, but there is simply nothing in the first two chapters of Genesis that addresses zombies.  It is not until Genesis 4 that the first zombie reference occurs with the story of Cain and Abel where the cause of the first instance of zombie regeneration is left obscure.

Genesis 2:7

Posted in Genesis on 09/13/2010 by Zombie Luther

Anthropology of the Undead

And the LORD God formed Adam out of the soil of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Some questions have been raised by previous entries on the Zombie Bible Commentary.  Is a zombie still essentially the person it was before dying (and subsequent regeneration)?  Does the soul of the person still dwell in the body of a zombie, or has it been set free?  These are good questions that all hinge on the “anthropology” of a zombie.

First, a crash course on the Biblical anthropology.  In general, the most common understanding of souls held by Americans (unless you are a materialist) include the following beliefs:
1) the soul is immortal and permanent.
2) the soul pilots the body.
3) the soul is set free from the body at death for something better.
4) the soul is what makes us human.
5) (at least some) non-human animals have souls.

These five tenets abound in film, TV, and continue to show up in polls of Americans concerning their beliefs.  The Bible has some critiques of these beliefs though.  Regarding #1, the Bible teaches the soul is only immortal insofar as that after God creates it, God chooses to sustain it.  The difference here is that the Bible does not allow for the soul existing as a self-sustaining, and permanent, entity.  Nor does it allow for the belief that the soul has always existed.  Regarding #2, the Bible takes a different approach to the whole mind-body problem.  In the Western philosophical tradition, the question of how the material and immaterial are said to interact has resulted in a wide array of opinions ranging from panpsychism (all material has some level of ‘mind’, bears some relation to pantheism and panentheism), functionalism (things that function as though they have mind/spirit, probably do)*, and a ghost in the machine view in which the soul somehow directs and guides the body.  The Biblical view, though, is to view man as a singularity, not a composite of flesh stuff and spirit stuff.  This leads to position #3.  This view actually has far more in common with Platonism/Neoplatonism than with the Bible.  In ancient Greek thought the soul was an immortal thing exists in itself and only temporarily dwells in fleshy stuff.  In the Bible, though, a Platonic view of the immortality of the soul is not supposed as already mentioned.  What is asserted in the Bible is the resurrection of the dead.  Now to #4, the unique quality of a living being in the Bible is a Hebrew word ‘nephesh‘.  This term encompasses “soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, [and] passion”**  It is a kind of catch-all that could be summarized as unique aliveness.  In the verse above, notice that this unique aliveness is a product of God’s energies.  This unique aliveness also applies to issue #5, animals have ‘nephesh‘ too.

Now to the questions of zombie anthropology.  Is a zombie still the same person it was before regeneration?  The answer is quite simply no.  Where the confusion lies is in forgetting the process of becoming a zombie which always begins with having died.  Said person, having died, no longer has the “breath of life” nor ‘nephesh‘.  In the case of pseudo-zombies, AKA “the infected,” things are more complicated because having been infected implies that one can be cured.  In this case, the person has not died, but then again, it is not a true zombie.  Even so, we can suppose that something similar to what is described by Dante in which the soul leaves the body before having physically died.***  Because the person has died before becoming a zombie also takes care of the question regarding the potential indwelling of a soul in the body.  Beyond the fact that the zombie has already died and become undead, it would be near-impossible to argue that a zombie meets the requirements of personhood in the first place, so it cannot be the same ‘person’ as it once was while still alive; therefore, even for the materialist, the answers are still no.

It is because of the more recent turn in zombie literature that these confusions have arisen.  The truly horrific qualities of zombies stem from the fact that they are lifeless, soulless, automatons that relentlessly pursue the living.  Making them all the more horrifying is that in the case of a true zombie scenario, being confronted with zombies is to be confronted with your own future since it is all who die who become zombies, not just the bitten.  This is why it is important to distinguish between zombies in the true (a la Romero) sense vs. their more recent appearances in literature.

*The vast majority of science fiction is based on a functionalist view when dealing with intelligent alien species.

**see Gesenius’ Lexicon.

***See the quotation below from Canto XXXIII of Inferno:

Then he replied: “I am Friar Alberigo;
He am I of the fruit of the bad garden,
Who here a date am getting for my fig.”
“O,” said I to him, “now art thou, too, dead?”
And he to me: “How may my body fare
Up in the world, no knowledge I possess.
Such an advantage has this Ptolomaea,
That oftentimes the soul descendeth here
Sooner than Atropos in motion sets it.
And, that thou mayest more willingly remove
From off my countenance these glassy tears,
Know that as soon as any soul betrays
As I have done, his body by a demon
Is taken from him, who thereafter rules it,
Until his time has wholly been revolved.
Itself down rushes into such a cistern;
And still perchance above appears the body
Of yonder shade, that winters here behind me.
This thou shouldst know, if thou hast just come down;
It is Ser Branca d’ Oria, and many years
Have passed away since he was thus locked up.”

Genesis 6:1-13

Posted in Genesis on 09/03/2010 by Zombie Luther

Noah vs. the Undead

As all good Bible reading zombie enthusiasts know, Abel is the first recorded zombie in scripture.  What the world was like (according to Genesis) in the days of Noah is a question that has fascinated commentators for literally 2,000 years.  What has particularly caught the imaginations of readers are these words:

That the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; so they took them wives of all whom they chose. . . There were giants [Nephilim] on the earth in those days; and also after that, for the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, and they became giants who in the olden days were mighty men of renown. (Gen 6:2, 4).

Interpretations of the days of the Nephilim (from the Hebrew root “to fall”) tend to fall into two categories: they are either the progeny of Seth or of angels.  The first school can be dated to the Dead Sea Scrolls in which the phrase “children of Seth” is attached with the understanding being that Seth’s children are condemned for their rebellion.  Variations on this theme are found in the comments of Shimon bar Yachai, Julius Africanus, Augustine of Hippo, and the Epistles of Clement of Rome.  Support for the other theory also goes back to the Dead Sea Scrolls, but also has the ancient testimony of the book of Jubilees, the Ge’ez manuscripts of I Enoch, and other Aramaic “folk” literature.  The source that seems the most reliable is that of the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan.  A newer third view is that none of this is historical, but is mythological language with questionable application.

Zombie enthusiasts, though, have a fourth view of those days.  This fourth view is focused on the following verses:

And the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.  So the LORD said, I will destroy men whom I have created from the face of the earth; both men and animals, and the creeping things, and the fowls of the air; I am sorry that I have made them.  But Noah found mercy in the eyes of the LORD.  The earth was corrupt in the presence of God, and the earth was filled with wickedness. And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth.  So God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is full of wickedness through men; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Gen 6:5-8, 11-13).

God looks down and sees the entire wickedness of man, this all agree on.  What God sees, specifically is quite clearly a bronze age zombie uprising.  God states that all creatures, “man and animal” are to be “blotted out.”  The uniqueness of the situation, the reason for world-wide obliteration is the inability of human society to handle a zombie uprising.  Zombie enthusiasts are all aware that the best tools for dispatching a zombie are chainsaws and guns.  Zombie enthusiasts also know the importance of fortified shelter and safe transportation.  In the bronze age, these things would have been quite difficult without divine intervention.  Looking at the inclusion of animals in the pronouncement of God, it is clear that this zombie plague was full-blown and not isolated to the human species (cf. World War Z).

Cue verse 8: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”  Why did Noah find favor?  Noah and his sons are the first Biblical example of a zombie hunting team.  Beyond combatting the zombie horde, they also combatted the ensuing moral collapse (cf. v. 5) that so often follows a zombie uprising (hyper-indulgence as seen in Dawn of the Dead, psychopathic torture/experimentation in 28 Days Later and Day of the Dead, exploitation of the poor in Land of the Dead), hence the description of Noah as “blameless in his generation” (v. 9).  This zombie interpretation is further supported by verse 11’s description of the earth being simultaneously “corrupt” (survivor response & moral collapse) and “violent” (man vs. zombie and man vs. man).  The full extent of the zombie uprising reverberates in verse 13 wherein “all flesh” is blamed for filling the earth with violence.

The zombie interpretation of the days before the flood also explains another key question raised by the Zohar.  It is the typical pattern in the Old Testament that when God tells his faithful that a population is condemned for their wickedness that said faithful person either 1) intercedes for the population (cf. Abraham arguing on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah) or 2) warns the populace and calls them to repentance (cf. Jonah in Nineveh).  Noah does neither of these things.  The reason Noah neither warns the people nor tries to talk God out of destroying them is that he was surrounding by the undead, which can be neither warned nor turned to repentance.  The only recourse for God and his righteous zombie-slayer was annihilation (the flood) and escape (the ark).