A Synthesis of Ancient Palestinian Religion
barre at c-zone.net
Fri Feb 26 16:14:49 EST 1999
The two page post that I sent you was indeed bloated by formatting. I had no idea that this would occur. For the same reason, it was rejected by b-Hebrew. My decision to attach a file was out of a concern for courtesy, as it would allow the recipient to chose to read it or not in addition to the fact that it retains more sophisticated formatting.
My latest thinking on the two traditions regarding the revelation of the Tetragrammaton is that their author's engaged in benign brainwashing. Their goal was to convince their audience that both El and Yahweh were Elohim, a view which they did not themselves share. They regarded these two gods are citizens of polytheism and therefore sought to covertly convince their audience of the enlightened perception of monotheism by identifying both El and Yahweh with Elohim. Here we must be careful not to attribute anachronistic values to the great thinkers. Their splendid ethical thought reveals that in adopting this mode of pedagogy, they did so with a crystal clear conscience. Their success has been perfect, convincing virtually all that have given their thought serious consideration.
That we all have been brainwashed is evident from the responses to my thesis that El and Yahweh are different gods. This is established by empirical research beyond a doubt. Indeed were it not primarily because of these Tetragrammaton traditions, the distinction would not have been challenged. As it is, responses have been obviously fueled by psychological resistance, not by basic common sense. Consider your own position. It is indefensible. Just try.
In that I am certain that the West has been subjected to extremely powerful theological persuasion, I will be posting an essay entitled, "Benign Brainwashing in Ancient Israel: The Purpose and Technique of the Tetragrammaton Traditions." My conclusion is this: Both E and P correctly regared the dual existence of El and Yahweh as polytheism. E was convinced by Mushite Yahwism that God was One and P learned that from E and also 2 Isaiah. In order to communicate their lofty theological conviction beyond their circle, they adopted the strategy we find in our texts--El and Yahweh were identified and absorbed into Elohim resulting in the birth of pure Monotheism, the most stunning theological development in human history.
Allow me to attempt to disarmed the psychological resistance you have toward these ideas. First, I am saying nothing new about the development of Israelite religion. That the informed members this forum are one with regard to Israelite henotheism and monotheism is but a sampling of the consensus opinion. What we are unclear about is just how monotheism conquered polytheistic thought. We have the answer before us. Why does this discovery disturb us? It is not that El and Yahweh are different gods, it is that they are gods and not E or P's God or God at all. This is why El, the god of Israel has been lost. Imagine that! How did that happen. How could such an obvious fact as this seduced modern biblical scholarship? Ancient benign brainwashing.
If I were a modern theologian, I would have no reason to have problem with all this. First, we actually have no reason to feel compelled to adopt any of the theological positions of ancient Israel. Indeed, as moderns, we cannot accept them at face value. We know far more than they did because we are living 3000 years after them and have benefited from the knowledge of our long, intellectual and theological heritage. The development of monotheism by in Israel is a stunning but still ancient achievement. We need to put things into perspective. Consider P's thought with that of our philosophical theists such as Paul Tillich or Rudolph Bultmann. I would say they are just a tad more sophisticated, wouldn't you? Would you seriously present yourself to modern theology as a devotee ancient Levitical Yahwism? That's exactly what you are doing. Why would anyone do such a thing? Benign brainwashing. Behold the Elohist; Behold the Priestly Writer; Behold 2 Isaiah. The power !
of their persuasion is awesome, their technique masterful.
Can our psychology live with the conclusion that Yahweh (and El) were gods of polytheism. Can we read the psalms knowing that a polytheistic god is the object of their worship, that the fear of a god is the beginning of knowledge, that the prophets spoke for a god? Intellectually, we have no choice. Psychology, however, is another matter. We have religious counselors for that. They are known as Pastors. But who will pastor the shepherds on this? Not me. It's not my job. But I might do it if the money is right or at least the perks.
The best way I know to dispel the work of our friends is to give you my present overview of the structure of ancient Palestinian religions in outline form. Basically there are two religions: Elism in the North and Yahwism in the South. Here is how I isolate developments in both traditions:
I. The Northern Tribes
A. El with Hadad in Aram (Reflected in the Oracles of Balaam)
B. El without a vizier god in immigrant Jacob: Bethel, Peniel, Shechem
C. El with Yahweh
1. Son of El Elyon (Jerusalem): Deut 32:7-9
2. Son of El (Kadesh-Naphtali)
D. El is Yahweh (The Elohist)
E. El rejecting Yahweh under Jeroboam (Ps 82)
F. El with Tyrian Baal (Omride) verses Bedouin Yahwism in the North (Elijah): 1 Kings 18:20ff)
G. El with Yahweh by default (Elisha-Jehu)
H. El and Bedouin Yahweh demythologized (1 Kings 19:1-18; Hosea)
II. The Southern Tribes
A. Bedouin Yahwism (Sinai, Edom): Yahweh Sabaoth, Song of Deborah; Blessing of Moses, Ark, Tent.
B. Hebrew Yahwism (Bedouin Yahwists "cross over" into southern Palestine): Abram, divine promise of a region in which to settle and prosper: proto-J traditions about Abram (not (Abraham).
C. Mushite Yahwism (Egyptian, Levitical): Ontological Mysticism; "I Am who I Am." Non- Semitic and not Greek. LXX recognized its meaning.
D. Royal imperialistic Yahwism I (Last Words of David; The Yahwist's Epic)
E. Royal Imperialistic Yahwism II (Solomon): Psalm 2 or with the above.
F. Sagacious Yahwism (Prov 1-9; Hezekian collection from Egypt)
G. Deuteronomic Yahwism (Deut and Dtr)
H. Proto-apocalypticism (Zachariah; 3 Isaiah)
I. Legal Yahwism (Ezra-Nehemiah; Chronicles)
Sources: Hirsch, Wellhausen, Gunkel, Alt, Noth, Fohrer, Cross, Weinfeld, Knierim, Barr, Hanson, Gottwald, Mannheim, Sorokin, Berger-Luckmann, Kuhn.
For your neo-enlightenment,
> **--------- Original Message follows...
Thank you, but please don't send me such long E-mails in future.
20-30K is just about OK, but 139K is quite a problem to receive here.
I am not sure if I was glad or sorry that most of that space was
apparently wasted in the document formatting: at least you did not
expect me to read 139K of text.
You know my position: your Exodus passage is to be taken at face
value, that Yahweh and El were different names for the same high God.
I'm surprised you don't try to argue that the name Judah (Yehuda) is a
compound with YHWH.
> ** Original Subject: Re: An Open Letter
> ** Original Sender: Peter_Kirk at SIL.ORG
> ** Original Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 11:41:23 -0500 (EST)
Lloyd M. Barre, Ph.D.
barre at c-zone.net
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