Autographs, MSS and REAL Historiography Re: Methods in bibli cal scholarship

Niels Peter Lemche npl at
Tue Dec 28 04:01:41 EST 1999

> Basically here, as elsewhre, Niels Lemche (along iwth others) have
> stated tat since there are no biblical MSS from before the 2nd century
> BCE (a later dating for many DSS would really invalidate all the factors
> used to decide the dating of MSS, unless of course one conisdres Frank
> Moore Cross and colleagues to b unscholarly).  If we grant that there
> are no biblical MSS from before the 2nd century BCE, this is supposed to
> proe sometihng, Nields would have us believe.  I reject this as patent
> nonesense in anoy other area where MSS are involved. 
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	The nonsense is that you are introducing something you cannot
control and continue in the old fashion to build hypotheses on hypotheses
until you end up with the nonsense called 'ancient Israel'. I cannot prevent
people for reacting according to their beliefs but the have to follow
procedures they themselves and other scholars can control. The examples
mentioned from classical literature are different because of the many ways
of external control. Thus is is quite easy from a historians point of view
to argue that Caesar's Galic wwars belongs to the period described. It can
be done from archaeology (Roman influebce in Gaul), and it can be done by
comparing the information there to other Roman and Greek information. There
are plenty of external sources. 

	Again Litwak is making the usual mistake of thinking that we are
arguing for a Hdellenistic date without assuming that something is earlier.
We never did. If Mr. Litwak goes back to the article I wrote about this in
SJOT seven years ago, he will se that the argument there is that we have to
present a decent argument if we want to antedate the content of a manuscript
to the period that precedes the oldest copy of the text. The burden of proof
rests on the people who think so, that the text is older than the oldest
extant manuscript, but I did not say that it is always impossible. Sometimes
it would be nice if people tried to read and see for themselves what is our
position instead of creating images of their 'enemies' that are false.

>  If The Copehagen
> position is valid, I would like to invie any of its adhernets to go to
> next yearr's annual SBL meeting and attend the "Septuaint and COgnae
> Studies group" meeting.  Stand upa nd ell them taht because the earliest
> complete LXX MS is Vaticanus, dated aorund the 4th to 5th century AD,
> that this is when the Septuagint originated or very close to it.  
> Go to a meeting of classicists. Telll them that since there are no MS of
> classical writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Seutonius, Thycidedes, etc,
> from before aout 700 AD, that these works acame into ein at or just
> before the 8th cent AD.
> IN boht cases I predict you'll either be laughed out of he room or
> simply ignored as a nut case.  Virtually no one in LXX studies, no NT
> textual criticism or classical studies or Shakespeare studies or any
> other area of historiography or literatrystudes equts the date of the
> earliest MS with the date of the autorgraphs.  If no one else makes this
> assumption, that there must be some connection, an assumption Niels has
> made, and assertd, but never given real argumentation for, is there any
> reason whatsoever that we should treat the Hebrew Bible as an
> exceptoin?  No, we should act like scholars in all other disciplines and
> specialties.  The date of the earlisest MS is completely irrelevant to
> the date of the composition of its autograph.  
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	I suppose that the laughing will be about you as you did not check
your sources befoe you started talking so you do not not know what you are
attacking, a ghost perhaps of something you imagine. If you want to speak
about stupidity, then start doing it privately that I can answer you in the
same fashion without troubling the community on this list.

>     ANother matter that springs from this is taht those who make the
> assumption taht MS date somehow relates to auttograph date is that we
> should not have a prolem with saying the biblical texts are not
> historical while treating stelas as plain, objective truth.  The texts
> have been robbed of the chance to speak of what happneed.  So to deal
> with this, they are givne genres completely out of keeping with what
> they internally show of htemselves.  1 Samuel is historiography.  Read
> Albert Cook, Histoyr/Writing, before you disagree.  It is not simply
> eidfying litrature or fictiojn just because one wishes to pan its
> accounts as unhistorical.  
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	Your hvae so litrtle sense of what history was about in ancient
times that I suggest that you start studying the subject. I would suggest
that you start by reading Quintillian, and continue with Cicero, and then
you can come back.

	And let it end here...


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