historiography

Moshe Shulman mshulman at ix.netcom.com
Wed Dec 29 11:02:03 EST 1999


At 04:20 AM 12/29/1999 -0800, you wrote:
>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.

David, the problem is that, as Ken pointed out, Niels is 100% wrong here.
Nobody in the area of ancient liturature accepts the methodology of not
predating a document before the earliest example. You could imagine what
would be the dating of Homer, Josephus and many others. It is just frankly
wrong. One of the basis for plausibility of an argument is based on
analogy. Our approach to the Biblical text should be no different then our
approach to any other ancient text. Those who are not using the same
appraoch, as Niels is, have the burden of proof as to their methodology,
and why an exception needs to be made for the Biblical text. If there is
one, I have never seen it.

moshe shulman mshulman at NOSPAMix.netcom.com    718-436-7705
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