Melchizedek (More Dave) (Peter's response)

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Fri Dec 24 00:27:00 EST 1999

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[3]: Melchizedek (More Dave) (Peter's response)
Author:  <mc2499 at> at Internet 
Date:    23/12/1999 15:00

>>>you need to show either than
>>>GenAp is older than Genesis
>>I don't have to show that GenAp is older than Genesis generally. All I have 
>>to do is to point out the unsupported assumption that GenAp is based on 
>>Genesis. We actually have a synoptic problem here.
>PK: Your theory relies on this Genesis 14 passage being 2nd century. 
>You have completely failed to prove that. In principle you could prove 
>it by proving that at this point Genesis depends on GenAp (and that 
>GenAp is 2nd century),

Sadly we have to work with the data we have. I can't just do the "we don't 
know so let's leave it as it is until someone puts an undebatable fact in 
our laps" routine. This only favours the status quo whether it is right or 
wrong and that may only survive through its user base to justify its 
existence regarding any particular case.

The situation however is relatively simple. We have a number of documents 
that are principally before the second century BCE. We also have others 
that are clearly from the second century (or later), eg Ben Sira, Daniel, 
Judith, Jubilees, and various DSS. Whereas in those from the second century 
we have a relatively frequent use of the term "Most High God", those 
biblical texts that are depended on in second century literature (ie are 
earlier than the second century) do not use that terminology. Although we 
don't have an exact science, we have a good dating indication with the use 
of el elyon in the Hebrew literary tradition. We have no tradition before 
the second century for the use of the particular term. One might argue that 
there are isolated earlier cases, but no-one has done so, one has only 
suggested that isolated cases from earlier times exist.

PK: Thank you for your clarification here.

>but you have not been able to prove it,

I don't think you are able to say anything at all about proof, Peter.

>only to
>show that perhaps this synoptic problem is insoluble. If your theory 
>depends on an unprovable solution to an insoluble problem, it is 

This is laden with the hidden assumption that there is a clear resolution 
to this synoptic problem. Am I not correct? Have you looked at the various 

PK: No. Have you? Dave has, and tells us that there is a clear 
solution, that GenAp depends on Genesis. Your theory depends on you 
proving the opposite. Can you? If not, your hypothesis is unprovable 
and so valueless. In fact I see that you are now shifting your ground 
to claim that they have a common source also linked with Jubilees. 
Does that rescue your hypothesis? Only if you can prove the dates of 
documents which don't even exist! (By the way, Genesis 11:10 tells us 
that Arpaksad was born two years after the flood.) Now a lot of other 
generally accepted scholarship like JEDP itself may be equally 
valueless, but that's another matter...


Hypotheses are hypotheses, some more probable than others. I have put 
forward what I consider a valid hypothesis. You have attempted to treat it 
as something it isn't.

PK: As a hypothesis it is valid, but it appears to be unprovable, at 
least you have not shown a proof.


>PK: Perhaps "Israelites" was a loose term which I used. I mean that 
>the subject of much of Genesis is Abraham and his descendants, and (in 
>the author's view) these people did not use the term "God Most High", 
>but Melchizedek did.

You seem to be working under the assumption that there was just one author 
of the text when all indications we have of religious texts is that they 
have been through long periods of development...

PK: Sorry, I was hurrying again, and the apostrophe ended up in the 
wrong place perhaps. For "author's" read "authors'" if you prefer. If 
there were many authors, no one of them considered that Abraham and 
his descendants used the term "God Most High", but the (probably) one 
author of the Melchizedek passage did consider that Melchizedek used 
this title. Is that clear now?


Is it not true that just prior to the Melchizedek episode the king of Sodom 
went out to meet Abraham (v17) and spoke to him in v21 as though v17 was 
immediately before?

PK: Sounds like you are now talking about events in the life of the 
historical Melichizedek.


>I may not
>be able to prove their dating before the second century, but you 
>cannot disprove it either. If you are insisting on provable datings, 
>are there any Jewish books datable to before the 2nd century which do 
>NOT evidence Melchizedek speculation?

If I understand you correctly, Deuteronomy does not evidence Melchizedek 
speculation. But I think there is something that didn't work in the 
transmission of your idea here.

PK: Can you prove a date for Deuteronomy? If not, your statement is 
pure speculation. OK, Deuteronomy does not mention Melchizedek, that 
may be very doubtful evidence suggesting that Genesis 14 was written 
after Deuteronomy, but since we have no idea when Deuteronomy was 
written (proposed dates range from the 15th to the early 2nd century) 
that doesn't actually tell us very much, does it?

>>7) is it true that the Hasmonean rulers who flourished around that 
>>   time were known as the "priests of the Most High God", the
>>   epithet found in Genesis only in the Melchizedek episode? 
>>PK: Maybe, but this tells us nothing except for the obvious suggestion 
>>that the Hasmonean rulers valued the Melchizedek tradition. Of course 
>>that does not imply that they invented it.
>Given the emergence of a Melchizedek literature that appeared in Qumran 
>times, the times of the Hasmoneans, and that they were in fact 
>priest-kings, hinted at in the name Melchizedek, -- the amalgamation of 
>roles that had never been *institutionalized* before...
>PK: Never? What about David?

What about David? He clearly had his priests according to tradition. When 
was the bit you want to quibble about brought into conflict with the 
priestly information?

PK: There are conflicting traditions here. In one of them apparently 
David and his sons themselves acted as priests, although they were not 
the only priests.

>What about the historical Melchizedek?

What historical Melchizedek?

PK: You wrote "roles that had never been *institutionalized* before". 
To validate your "never" you must disprove the existence of one man 
who, according to ancient documents, institutionalised those roles in 
the time of Abraham. And you must do so without assuming in advance 
your conclusion that the Melchizedek traditions are not ancient, or 
your reasoning becomes circular. Have fun!

>I can't prove their existence, but you can't disprove it.

You can't disprove Robin Hood or King Arthur, but we usually don't mention 
them in historical analyses. Such analyses go on as though those figures 
didn't exist. But then you couldn't disprove some form of Atlantis or 
Gilgamesh's mate Humbaba, the single breasted Amazons, Zeus, Utnapishtim, 
etc, etc.

>.. <snip> ... We see that before Qumran times there is no Melchizedek 
>PK: No we don't, you speculate about it.

The operative word in my statement is "see". If you can see Melchizedek 
speculation before Qumran times all you have to do is show it, otherwise 
you also cannot see such speculation before Qumran times. I think the 
latter is true and you're dealing with linguistics.

PK: Well, some say linguistics should be the subject of this list. So 
here is some more: is there not a logical difference between "I do not 
see X" and "I see that X does not exist". For X, read the lost 
pre-second century manuscripts of the Melchizedek story. I don't see 
them now, but that does not mean that they never existed.




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