Melchizedek (More Dave) (Peter's response)

Niels Peter Lemche npl at teol.ku.dk
Thu Dec 23 18:13:38 EST 1999


> From:	peter_kirk at sil.org [SMTP:peter_kirk at sil.org]
> Sadly we have to work with the data we have. ... 
	  ... 
> The situation however is relatively simple. We have a number of documents 
> that are principally before the second century BCE. 
> 
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	You are talking about data available. Please, tell me what kind of
data say that we have a number of documents from before the 2nd century BCE?
Yes, inscriptions from Palestine in the Iron Age, of course, Elephantine
papyri also ... talking only of Hebrew literature, but when we approach the
Bible, what 'data' do we possess that proves anything to be 'principally pre
2nd century BCE'? Never forget the often quoted (by me) line from Bernd Jörg
Diebner of the Dielheimer Blätter: 'We cannot prove it, but it is a fact!'
-- the addition to that line (again Diebner) is 'Speech of figure instead of
argument within OT scholarship' (Sprachfigur statt methode in der
Erforschung des AT'.)

	This mail is principal in character. I do not say that there cannot
be anything older than the 2nd century BCE. But it is hard to prove if we
have no data, as you may see it. the oldest MSS for the Hebrew texts are
still DSS, i.e. presumably 1 cent. BCE, or perhaps 1st cent. CE, which means
that the ungoing discussion about the dating of the DSS is very important
also for the dating of biblical texts. Whenever we moves beyond the time
limit set by the date of the earliest manuscripts, we are depending on
personal ideas, wishes, guesses etc.

	NP





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