Documents before the second century (NPL)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Fri Dec 24 17:31:39 EST 1999

Dear NP,

>> 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?

Consider the Animal Apocalypse of 1Enoch. This is a crypto-history on the
Jewish people down to the victories of Judas Maccabaeus. This is not a
didactic work in that it is not introducing new cultic or tradition
materials. It is presenting the events that have "happened" in the past as
though they were seen at the time of Enoch. There is a tentative dating of
the text to about 161 BCE -- it may even have been edited again after the
death of Judas (I'm not sure, but see an indication in some of the repeated
material at the end of the apocalypse). At this time of writing all the
content of the crypto-history, by necessity, was well-known to the hearers
of the text, ie it had to be well-known for the hearer to recognize the
various animals, otherwise be able to say aha! when an explanation was
given. If this was not the case then the text couldn't work: one couldn't
see the "will of God" in the events that had happened (at least as outlined
in the AA) and the crypto-history presented by Enoch would merely be a
bunch of obscure animal stories. You'll find various Genesis episodes in
the earlier parts of the AA. The literary record in no way points to an
oral tradition, so that leads us to a written source for the knowledge
alluded to in the AA.

In the AA we find Jacob and his twelve sons. This should mean that the
twelve tribes of Israel were already well established, so the song of
Deborah with its ten tribes must be before the development of the twelve
tribes which had been institutionalized before the AA.

If one goes on to consider the status of Levites in Deuteronomy, it is
rather different to what comes from with Ezekiel and the Zadokite hegemony
of the cultus. It is extremely difficult to postulate a period after the
rise of the Zadokite high priests when Levites could have come in to
Jerusalem to continue their performance of cultic rites. This should
indicate that the relevant sections of Deuteronomy were written before the
exclusion of the Levites from direct cultic activities.

I think there are other indicators of written texts reaching back before
the second century. The "prophecy" in Daniel 2 of the figure of various
metals has a curious verse (v43) that deals with a marriage between the
Ptolemy Berenice and Antiochus II. In 11:6 it is part of a crypto-history
of the struggles in which the Jerusalemites found themselves between the
Ptolemies and the Seleucids and the marriage and its failure was merely one
episode. However in 2:43, it is the only solid historical event alluded to,
making it topical to that writer and thus datable to the third century.

These are random attempts to establish certain written works prior to the
second century. It's funny that the necessity to find some tangible
indications for such works hasn't arisen before. It's seems funny that
noone has attempted it before -- so I'm sure someone has. So, I'm sure you
have some ideas of your own.



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