historiography

Niels Peter Lemche npl at teol.ku.dk
Wed Dec 29 09:52:40 EST 1999


What do you think that we have been doing for the last 200 years (almost 400
if you include Spinoza)?

Of course I would agree with the gentleman that said that it was ridiculous
to date the text according to the date of the manuscript extant. But this
date is a fact (of some kind), and to change the age of the text to
something earlier demands hypotheses and analyses, that's why the burden of
proof rest on people that argue in favour of an earlier date, and if we have
a satisfying explanation for the text that says that it need not be older
than, say the 2nd or 3rd century BCE, why should we move further into the
darkness? Again it is a matter of presenting arguments that can be the
subject of a falsification process, not to present nice hypotheses drawn
from the blue air, or naively deducted from the text itself. By God, I would
like to see how many sholars of the 4th millennium that would be able to
date Eco's The Name of the Rose exactly to the 20th century, if they did not
possess particulars about the origin of this novel. Then the text must have
been composed by Ado from Melk (or whatever his name was).

There are plenty of valuable introductions to the history of Old Testament
studies-for all levels. Why do people not read at least one of them? To the
many conservative minds here, I can recommend at least large sections of the
book published by David W. Baker and Bill T. Arnold (not exactly
minimalists) (eds.): The Face of Old Testament Studies. A Survey of
Contemporary Approaches (Grand Rapids; Baker Books, 1999). Otherwise the
discussion will invariable turn around the possibility of a new invention of
the powder. I like the boopk, although I am not personally on line with most
of the authors, but they present a fair and critical evaluation of the scene
of OT studies around the turn of this century.

NPL

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	David Humpal [SMTP:ebedyah at elite.net]
> Sent:	Wednesday, 29 December, 1999 13:20
> To:	Biblical Hebrew
> Subject:	Re: historiography
> 
> Niels wrote, "...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...."
> 
> I don't understand how you can assign a burden of proof here for one
> position over another.  It seems to me that if a manuscript purports to be
> from a certain time period, the burden of proof must lie in disproving
> that
> statement, or at least equal weight must be given to the actual words of
> the
> text as is given to the date of extant manuscripts.  Historically,
> documents
> we now label pseudepigraphic only became that way because the manuscripts
> were proven to be not what they claimed to be.  In other words the burden
> of
> proof lay in disproving the claims of the text.  This approach to me seems
> to have just as much merit as your approach.
> 
> Rev. Dave Humpal ebedyah at elite.net
> First Christian Church, Merced, California
> Bible Study Site http://www.elite.net/~ebedyah/PastorsHomePage.htm
> 
> 
> 
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