burial (was Life after Death)
mc2499 at mclink.it
Sat Jan 2 20:59:26 EST 1999
At 09.30 02/01/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Happy New Year Ian!
Thanks, Bryan. Same to you and to all the list.
>> Pardon my ingenuousness, but I can't fathom whether Bryan is arguing from a
>> purely literary position in this post or a "historical" one based only on
>> the internal evidence of the biblical accounts.
>actually you have caught my point. i am not arguing at all, really, just
>saying that it seems to me there is not conclusive support in the Tanak for
>an Egyptian influence on the burial ritual of the Hebrews. my query
>restated: is there corroborating support outside the Tanak that E
>influenced the burial customs of the Hebrews?
Sorry, I was merely quibbling over presuppositions of both you and Peter,
both of you seeming to take the tradition literature as necessarily
representing a historical reality.
>> How knowledge regarding Abraham or any of the patriarchs could have reached
>> later times could at best have been through oral transmission, at worst
>> through cultural creativity. Written records were normally maintained in the
>> courts of substantial powers, not in the hands of "wandering Arameans". The
>> earliest possible times for such written records is to the period when the
>> united kingdom existed. However, the archaeological evidence shows that
>> Jerusalem was only a village in the ninth/eighth century, leaving little
>> hope for a court there of the stature to be able to support a scribal
>> tradition that maintained, beside the economic necessities of that court,
>> its cultural history. The first datable exemplars of the genre of historical
>> chronicles -- to my knowledge -- are those of the Babylonian kings, which
>> are from the 6th century BCE.
>you must have a very limited sense in
>mind for what makes a historical chronicle.
Yes, you're right. I had the notion of chronicle in mind which does not
include the res gestae type documents that you find on numerous walls in
Egypt or various Mesopotamian stelae, but includes various generations of
deeds, as in the various biblical historical works.
>Don't the Egyptian expedition journals count? [egs omitted]. how about
>the execration texts, the El Amarna letters? if you want to go to
>Mesopotamia there's less, but how about Gilgamesh(2000 BCE) or the Mari
>tablets(18th Century BCE)? i think all the examples i have mentioned
>relate to the history of palestine in one way or another.
I had in mind a specific genre of text -- economic texts like those of Mari
or Ebla are not chronicles, neither are the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Amarna
letters. None of these works display any real sense of history, whereas the
Babylonian Chronicles do, as do the Greek historical works that were
produced a little later.
>you mention that Israel didn't have the national leisure to support a
>literary tradition from early on. that makes sense.
I didn't think I'd put it quite that way -- "national leisure". Most text
types were produced for economic (mercantile movements, stock, requests) or
administrative necessity (treaties, deeds, agreements, etc). Then there were
-- to a much smaller extent -- written exercises and court literature. Not
really "national *leisure*".
>you'd think the archaeologists would have found more evidence of a literary
>tradition if one existed. they were, after all, able to find just such
>evidence in Egypt and Mesopotamia. but then again it's always tenuous to try
>and prove something by a lack of evidence.
I was arguing that there is nothing to suggest that such a literature could
have developed in Judea under the city-state of Jerusalem. Under Hezekiah
Judea was postage-stamp-sized. The sanctuary at Kuntillet Ajrud supplied a
few Hebrew inscriptions, but I haven't seen any transcriptions available and
people didn't seem interested in texts that talk about the consort of Yahweh
(Asherah), supporting the symbolism of the pillar (Jacob set up a good few)
and the tree which were later repudiated.
>there is quite a bit that is unique about
>the Hebrew history, culture, faith, that there may also be something unique
>about their literary tradition.
This is not a particularly strong means of argument in this matter. I could
easily say that there was quite a bit unique about the Greek history,
culture and faith, but where is the evidence that much if any of it was
produced before Peisistratos? Is the Hebrew scholar putting up special
pleading for the Hebrew literature?
And, as the common tradition unwinds, I find it very hard to imagine a
Jerusalemite saying to his Babylonian captors, "hold it a few minutes, Nabu,
I wanna go home and get my sacred literature", as he is dragged off to Babylon.
>sometimes i think the archaeologists and
>anthropologists over-stretch in their efforts to "normalize" a unique
>people. best to say we suspect but don't really know, right?
This seems to be excluding archaeological and anthropolicgical evidence
because it belongs to the real world. Leaving aside the logistical nightmare
of the exodus, the Joshua stories concerning Ai and Jericho are simply shown
to be incorrect by archaeology: we know Ai was a ruin for several centuries
before the reputed time of the conquest and the last walls of old Jericho
were from the middle bronze period (recently discovered by an Italian
mission), much too early for a Joshua. The book of Joshua at best represents
speculations of why Ai and Jericho were ruins at the time of writing.
(See my response to Peter's post for indications from the Pentateuch.)
The content of this post has nothing to do with biblical Hebrew, so perhaps
it should be taken off the list. I don't know the policies here!
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