historiography

Ken Litwak kdlitwak at concentric.net
Thu Dec 30 03:02:53 EST 1999




Jim West wrote:
> 
> At 04:20 AM 12/29/99 -0800, you wrote:
> 
> >
> >I don't understand how you can assign a burden of proof here for one
> >position over another.
> 
> Because those who wish to posit the existence of something before there is
> any evidence for that something are obliged to show by weight of evidence
> that it did exist before there is a trace of it.
So you would say, based on this, that the LXX was first produced in the
4th-5th cent. AD and the burden of proof is on those who say it was from
an earlier time.  You would be required to say, by what you say here,
that Aristotle, Cicero, Thucydides, Herodotus, Homer, etc., were first
created after the 7th cent. AD.  Do you wish to defend these positions? 
No one in classics of LXX studies would take you seriously.  Why is the
Hebrew Bible any different?  The problem is that some posters are
conflating two issues that are separate issues:  the date of the
autograph of a text; and the historical reliability of that text based
on some definition of external evidence (a useful but problematic
criterion).

   I'm treating only one of those two questions right now:  what does
the date of MS tell us about the autograph's date?  According to you,
the burden of proof is on me to show that the LXX was written prior to
its appearance in Vaticanus.  Now, please deal with this issue alone. 
Do not conflate it with validating the events recounted in that
document.  In fact, how about choosing a book like Qoheleth, which isn't
really about any specific events, or Proverbs.  


> >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,
> 
> So if a ms purports to be from say Moses, you believe the burden to
> demonstrate otherwise rests on those who question Mosaic authorship?  I say
> the opposite is true- those who support Mosaic authorship are obliged to say
> WHY they accept the notion.  In court, one must PROVE one's case and not
> merely state it.
Exactly, but in court there is prosecution and defense.  You cannot
merely say that those who believe in an early date for an autograph have
to prove it.  Instead, you must prove your case that it is not from an
early date.  Notice again, that I'm talking about the date of the
autograph, not the reliability of the contents.  A few years from now,
it will be two completely separate issues what the copyright date is of
a  biography of Bill Clinton and its assessment of what he did or did
not do while President.  Facticity of content is a completely, totally
separate issue from the date of composition.  This is pretty obvious but
ever poster I've seen that posits a Persian or later date for the whole
TaNaKh seems to equate these two.  They don't argue for why this is
valid.  They simply do it.  So I'm waiting for a justification.  YOu
can't tell someone else "You have to prove your position" and be let off
the hook for proving your own.  So prove to me the autograph of
Leviticus is 2nd century BC or whatever, or prove to me that the LXX was
first written in the 4th century AD.  I'm waiting.  This should be very
interesting.  

 
> > 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.
> 
> I disagree.  When one assumes authorship or time of origin he or she is
> obliged to say why he is convinced of that position.  Those who look to hard
> evidence (like an actual manuscript) have the benefit of real evidence and
> not mere supposition or the acceptance of a traditional understanding.
> Exodus, for example, may have existed before the 2nd century BCE- but
> without ms support that is a mere supposition and those claiming otherwise
> are obligated to offer proof.Note to Niels:  You complained that I was wrong to say that some thought that the autographs were from about the same time as the earliest MS.  On the contrary, Jim's position can be read as nothing else than this.  What say ye?  

Ken Litwak



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