Historiography and Dave
mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon Feb 22 13:19:47 EST 1999
At 00.39 22/02/99 -0800, Dave Humpal wrote:
>Throughout your posts, you keep dismissing evidence as "material that
>would not be acceptable in a court of law."
>It seems to me your parameters for acceptable evidence are far too
>narrow. Bible scholarship is not the same as the criminal justice
All you are telling me is that you set your sights low. Science in its
efforts to get its descriptions right go through all sorts of contortions,
as does medical research. Getting the results right is important in those
cases. Setting your sights low means that you are not that interested in
getting it right.
>If we would apply the same standard to textual criticism that
>you seem to insist on applying to historiography, the field would be
>mostly empty and barren.
This is a response of fear. History to seriously attempt to reconstruct the
past needs rigour. Without it you finish with a maybe-well-sort-of-possible
set of indicators for the past.
>The evidence that we have for much of Biblical
>scholarship is at best circumstantial. Reasoned speculation, educated
>guesses, and textual hypotheses are part and parcel of Biblical
That's why many archaelogists outside the field of euphemistically known as
biblical archaeology look at it with scorn.
>If we would apply your courtroom standards to ANE
>scholarship, we would have to dismiss most of what has been written in
You should for example read the efforts at Jericho under Kathleen Kenyon.
Read the efforts at Mari under Parrot. Ebla under Matthiae. I just read a
report from the current Jericho excavations about the analysis of animal
bones found in a room that showed signs of being for the preparation of
food. The bones were mainly from goats; there were no signs of burning so
they were cooked in a different manner; they were only a certain selection
of bones, so there had been a division of the animals prior to arriving in
this room, also indicating a certain sizing of the animal pieces; and there
is a lot more information that comes from these animals. The results
indicate that goats were in domestic use as meat providers, and while there
was one cow in the sample the abundance of goats shows that this was casual
exploitation of the cow, which had probably been used for other reasons
before being killed. We also have the indication that the goat meat was
cooked in pots, so probably broken up before hand to fit into the pot, then
boiled. This was in an early middle bronze period. We can say a lot about
the people from those bones -- all acceptable in our court of law.
Circumstantial evidence is always considered in court. Consider the
expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt just prior to the time of the fall of
the Canaanite cities such as Jericho. Fall of cities is usually the result
of an invasion. The connection is quite likely given the timing.
>And we would have to ignore almost all the proposed
>emendations in BHS and probably most qeres. It seems to me that any
>study of history and ancient texts requires more latitude than a
>courtroom would allow.
If you aren't too interested in what actually happened. There are lots of
speculative quasi-historical works on the market, from Velikovsky to Von
Daniken. What makes their speculations any different from the ones you and
some others here seem to be proposing?
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