Dating the Pentateuch
Niels Peter Lemche
npl at teol.ku.dk
Thu Mar 23 01:30:41 EST 2000
As you stated, the place has "to first exist." Tell Hesban (Heshbon)
exist" before 1200 BCE, so the Exodus, if occurring circa 1540,
BCE, possesses, at the very least, "fictional elements."
As you well know, the "latest elements" date a historical
composition. If I
am correct in asserting that Madai's Japhethic descent is based on
Athenian Greek Medus myth, which can be no earlier than the 6th
then obviously we have to date the Pentateuch to period after the
by the 6th/5th century BCE, allowing for a passage of time, at least
century or two, maybe more, for the national memory banks to have
when Heshbon really came into being. The national memory banks would
have to have a period of time, at least a hundred or two hundred
forget just when the Pelest/Philistines had arrived in Canaan (they
arrived in the 12th century, ca. 1177 BCE).
I understand that the Pentateuch preserves Pre-Exilic traditions,
garbled (some from the early Bronze Age, i.e., Jericho's fallen
I would hazard "an educated guess" that some of these traditions
1000 BCE at the earliest, because Isaiah knows some of these
traditions and parts of his oracles appear to date to the 8th
This "educated guess" sees the time of David or Solomon for the
some of the motifs later found in the Pentateuchal narratives,
about 200 years before their appearance in statements by Isaiah,
Amos. It is about 540 years from the Hyksos expulsion (1540 BCE) to
of David and Solomon, time enough for the account to become
forming Exodus traditions alluded to still later by Isaiah.
So, in conclusion, I understand that the Pentateuch as we have it,
probably a creation of
the 5th centruy BCE, but preserving some Pre-Exilic traditions,
Isaiah, Hosea and Amos, who in turn must have picked them up from
earlier times, the Davidic/Solomonic era, I suspect.
Was there a real Exodus ? No ! The Pentateuchal account is fiction
revealed by archaeology, but it is
ultimately drawing on an Iron Age fiction.
In regards to the Homeric epics, I note a reference to a "lake of
Gyges/Gygean lake," as
Gyges lived in the 7th century BCE, this may be a "historical
composition (if not a later interpolation) ?
All the best, Walter
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld
As you know, I have a few objections to a date as early as the 5th
century BCE. Otherwise you reasoning is not that bad (as the say in
Jutland). You probably have an even later part of the Iliad in the Shp
Catalogue where I remember from my past education that the claim has been
that this reflects the role of Athens in the 5th century.
As long as such dates are only used to establish a terminus a quo,
they are very helpful. But a terminus ad quem must be established on other
considerations as well. Think of Ai/et-Tell, not in existence since the 23rd
century and still conquered by Joshua. If you will not resort to the old
game of moving around with places to make it fit the Bible, the only thing
will be to resort to Noth's discussion of local etymologies: A ruin was
there of proportions. Who conquered the city and destroyed it? Who conquered
this land? By all means Joshua. Summa summarum: Joshua conquered Ai!
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