Fw: [b-hebrew] LORD
Pastor Mark Eddy
markeddy at adams.net
Fri Feb 14 17:18:05 EST 2003
Dear Prof. Yigal,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin"
> Dear Pastor Mark,
> Even if you do not accept them, I'm sure that you are aware of the
> conclusions of critical biblical studies of the past century or so.
I am certainly aware of them. But I do find it harder to believe that a bunch of post-exilic priests made
up the entire history of Israel (as some minimalists would contend), than to believe that the narratives
are based on relatively contemporaneous evidence. And the prophets wrote at the time that the narratives
describe. Most of the narratives don't sound like the myths of that (and earlier) time(s). And the
literary genre of the novel wasn't yet invented. I have never understood why "the book of the law" found
during the time of Jeremiah was supposedly only Deuteronomy and not the whole Torah, or why they would
have assumed that it came from Moses if it had just been written by the Deuteronomic historians who were
still writing their history at the time this book was discovered. The fact that the LXX translators didn't
have a clue about what some of the words they were translating meant leads many Bible students to believe
that many parts of the Hebrew Bible were written well before the 3rd century B.C.
> But even if David DID write Ps. 110, since the whole psalm is in the third
> person, there is no reason to assume that he's speaking from his own
I agree that he is not speaking from his own expeience, except that he is recording an oracle of YHWH,
which he apparently received.
> The psalm is a poem describing a conversation between YHWH and
> someone - that someone NOT being the writer. So, in this case, whether or
> not we accept that the writer's name was David and that that David was the
> King is irrelevant.
I agree with some of this, but not all. The psalm does describe what YHWH says to someone other than the
writer. But the writer of the psalm does refer to himself in the phrase "my Lord." The write is identified
with "my." The writer calls "that someone" "my Lord." So it can make a big difference who this David is.
The Hebrew Bible knows of no David other than the one who became king. It would seem that the burden of
proof is on those who think this David is some other David.
> As far as Melchizedek, you are right that, according to Gen. 14, he was a
> priest-king, a gentile and certainly not descended from Aaron. SO - what
> DOES the psalmist mean? Let's theorize a little:
> 1. He (David?) didn't know the "J" story in Gen. 14, which was written later?
He had to have known this story, or else he wouldn't have mentioned Melchizedek. It doesn't make sense to
say that Psalm 110 made up a name, which would have been meaninless to anyone at the time, which a later
writer then had to write into his (ficticious?) history about Abraham.
> 2. He (David?) didn't know that according to "P", only Aaronides were
> supposed to be priests? Was Zadok an Aaronide?
The same historian that tells us about David's life also tells us about the hereditary priesthood, even
tracing the curse on Eli's family to its end many generations later in David's day. 1 Chr. 6 traces
Zadok's ancestry to Aaron. The author of Samuel-Kings also certainly thought that Zadok had a legitmate
claim to the hereditary priesthood. The story about Samuel's condemning Saul for making sacrifices shows
that they knew that kings of Israel were not also authorized to be priests.
> 3. The similarity to Melchizedek that he was looking for WAS, in fact, that
> of king-priest. Does that make Ps. 110 Hasmonean?
This is way too late for the composition of Samuel-Kings or the final compilation of the Psalms.
Samuel-Kings reads Israel's history in the light of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy was obviously an addition to
pre-existing books of the Torah. The historic David could easily have known about Melchizedek. The
Hasmoneans came after the LXX, which came after the writing of the entire Hebrew Bible. How could any
psalm refer (as an historical reference) to the Hasmoneans?
> 4. ALL of the above?
None of the above.
> I don't know, and I admit that I don't know. You don't know either, but you
> believe, which is your right. But that doesn't make for sound academic
We ought to believe facts. We have to make value judgments about whom we trust to give us the facts.
Objectively speaking the texts of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament are much better attested than
any other ANE texts that have been handed down to us. We don't have to wait to find buried inscriptions to
accept the basic reliability of biblical texts. "What" I believe ought to be something that can be the
topic of sound academic investigation. Otherwise it's just wishful thinking, and not helpful. I agree that
the fact that I believe it doesn't make for sound academic investigation. I don't want it to be.
> As far as Mark (the evangelist), once again, I would not presume to try to
> convince you of what NT scholars have come up with over the past century.
One problem with much of this is that some recent "scholars" put the burden of proof on the ancient
tradition, to prove that Mark wrote his gospel. Instead the burden of proof must be on those who disagree
with the universal testimony of the early church (as recorded, e.g. in Eusebius). Mark is recorded as it
author in the inscription of every one of the earliest extant copies of the Gospel.
> Whoever "Mark" was, nowhere in his Gospel does he claim to have been an
> eyewitness to the events.
Certainly Mark didn't sign his Gospel the way Paul signed his letters. But aside from speculation I know
of no evidence that disproves what every early manuscript of Mark's Gospel claims, or what the early
tradition says about him.
> The same is true for the others.
The Gospel of John most definitely does claim to have been written by an eyewitness (see John 21:24). Some
of the "apostolic fathers" claimed to have known John and vouched for him. There is an unbroken chain
(though slim at times) of writers since John's time, so there is no good reason to believe that John was
written later an an eye witness would have written it.
> Even if "Mathew"
> WAS the tax-collector turned Apostle, HOW would he know of the events of,
> say, the nativity? If your answer is "the Holy Spirit guided his quill"
> that's fine, but I can't use that in academic discourse.
Jesus' mother Mary was alive and well after Jesus left this earth. If Jesus hadn't told Matthew about
these events, Mary could have very easily told him. She hung around with the disciples in Jerusalem for a
while, according to Acts 1:14.
> And the gospels
> are obviously NOT in chronological order, for if so, John (son of Zebedee,
> the Apostle) would be second, before Mark companion of Peter of Dr. Luke
> friend of Paul.
The chronological order of writing doesn't matter that much. Tradition placed John last, filling in some
stories not mentioned by the other three. But I admit that John could have been written earlier. But Luke
himself (1:1) says that others had written about the life of Jesus before he did. Luke was written before
Acts. Acts was written while Paul was still imprisoned in Rome, in the early 60s. I know that "critical
scholars" often place all the Gospels after 70 A.D. But this is based on theological reasons (belief that
they couldn't have predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in that year) rather than on testual or
historical evidence. Mark was also a companion of Paul at times, beginning with his "first missionary
> Please do not take any of this as either a personal attack or as an attack
> on your faith. It is all a part of the open, and hopefully mutually
> instructive discourse that we have come to expect on this list.
I usually don't take anything as a personal attack, even if it's meant that way. I have developed a very
thick skin (or head?) over the years. So don't worry about me. I hope that what I write will also be part
of open and mutually instructive discourse.
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