furuli at online.no
Wed Mar 15 21:23:25 EST 2006
I have two short comments to this discussion.
Herman Meester wrote:
>2006/3/15, Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at email.com>:
>>Job, whom from his style I take as a late, pre-Exile
>>writer, mentions that after death yet he will see
>>his redeemer in a way that implies resurrection.
>>Because of its lack of importance, I struggle to
>>remember other verses I recall reading. Most of
>>Tanakh is narrative and instructions for daily life,
>>where discussing the afterlife logically does not
>I'll take a good look at Job.
Looking at the case from the point of view of lexical semantics, we
should be careful both with our definition of Hebrew concepts and with
our expression of these with English words.
Applied to the Tanakh the term "afterlife" can be misleading, as well as
"the netherworld" that often is used. I read Hebrew and Akkadian texts
almost every day, and I see a great difference between the mindset of
those who wrote the Akkadian and Hebrew texts. The two mentioned terms
fit excellently Akkadian thought, where there is "a land of no return"
where people go after their death, and where there is a kind of
miserable life. However, it is not a spiritual part of man that goes
down to the "netherworld" but rather the whole creature (cf. Isthar's
descent to the netherworld).
In Hebrew thought the NP$ dies and and go down to $)WL, to the grave,
where there is no life. So any "afterlife" in the sense that man
continues to live after the body dies, is not found in the Tanakh
>>Sheol is the place of the dead, all the dead. It is
>>also a synonym for being dead, in a poetic manner.
>>By the way, where do you get the idea that the book
>>of Daniel was Hellenistic? Daniel wrote well over a
>>century before Alexander the Great was born. Or was
>>Hellenism the idea already suffused throughout
>>Babylon and Persia during the Exile?
>Needless to say Daniel is one of the controversial books of the
>Hebrew/Aramaic Bible. First, it seems that Daniel belongs to the
>pseudepigraphical tradition in which anonymous writers hide behind
>legendary "types" (τυποι) such as Daniel, or Job. Daniel, as a
>legendary sage, is already found in Ugaritic texts. Furthermore the
>eschatological idea of times getting worse and worse and kingdoms
>getting increasingly evil (cf. the "4 empires"), is a Greek (i.o.w.
>This idea cannot be found in the major prophets and the
>Dodekapropheton. In those, the idea of the Day of the Lord is there,
>but this is not eschatological; it is a day of reckoning where the end
>of times is never mentioned. These two separate ideas merged in
>Hellenistic times, and the result was Jewish eschatology, where times
>get worse and worse until the appointed time of judgment, decided by
>God, and this is in many ways the end of this world, has been reached.
>Daniel in this sense is a Hellenistic text.
>Another argument is that in the Jewish tradition the book Daniel does
>not belong to the "Prophets", but to the "Writings". It seems people
>realised the text is a pseudepigraph. All in all, scholarship (not
>uncontested, of course) in majority concludes that the work originates
>in the second century A.D.; cf. also the Maccabaean history,
>I realise that you may not agree; however, we have to note that dozens
>of anonymous writers in Antiquity hide behind famous names. After all,
>it is the message, not the author, that counts. One of my favourite
>books is Qohelet, and I don't really care who wrote the book, king
>Solomon, which I doubt is the case, or an anonymous Hellenistic-time
>Another interesting text is 2Baruch (= Syriac Baruch, = Apocalypse of
>Baruch), a text that talks, among other things, of the destruction of
>the Temple in 70 A.D., but uses the setting of the destruction of the
>Temple in 587/6 B.C. A reconstruction of the Second Temple is not
>mentioned in the text to happen any time soon, so we can conclude that
>to the writer, this was a hopeless expectation. Instead, the word
>"Nomos" is used in an almost Pharisaic way, which places the writer in
>the first or second century A.D. So the Baruch in this text is
>unlikely to have been Jeremia'
I am at present studying astronomical and historical cuneiform documents
from the New Babylonian Empire in order to test the accepted chronoology
(which I doubt). I am also reading secondary literature, and regarding
the question about the date of the book of Daniel, I would recommend D.
J. Wiseman (1983) "Nebuchadrezzar and Babylon". It is a small book of
140 pages, but it abounds with footnotes and is very informative.
Wiseman is one of the great assyriologists (cf. his book "Chronicles of
the Chaldean kings 626-556 B.C. (1956)), and he draws from his great
knowledge of the original documents. Different sides of the personality
and acts of Nebuchadnezzar II are portrayed in the book of Daniel, and
Wiseman, who do not reject the possibility that the book, or parts of it
were written in the sixth century B.C.E. quote several cuneiform sources
that give information about Nebuchadnezzar strikingly similar to the
information given by Daniel. It seems to me that scholarly writings
about the book of Daniel often lack balance: to much weight is put on
arguments in favor of a second century dating at the expense of
arguments in favor of a much earlier dating. Therefore, Wiseman's book
is really a good read.
University of Oslo
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