peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Thu Dec 30 22:45:53 EST 1999

Thanks for bringing in this idea of a network of information. Yes, no 
doubt we have networks for Caesar, Cicero etc including various 
documents (not datable in themselves as the MSS are later), 
inscriptions (more likely to be datable, but could be forgeries or 
interpretable otherwise like Tel Dan), other archaeological evidence 
etc. These build up consistent pictures into which we can fit the 
historical figures and events. But if for such a network (probably not 
one of these two) the archaeological evidence were weak, someone might 
be able to make a case that the documents are much later, the 
characters in them may not actually have existed and that the events 
recorded in them may not have happened.

Surely exactly the same applies to the history of ancient Israel - 
focusing for now on the First Temple period. A network has been put 
together based on the biblical documents, other documents and 
inscriptions from the ancient Near East, and archaeological evidence 
including a few inscriptions from Judea and Samaria. From this network 
a reasonably consistent picture has been put forward - there are some 
inconsistencies indeed, but it would be suspicious if there were none! 
To be more specific, I would refer to the version of that network 
described e.g. by John Bright "A History of Israel" (3rd edition, SCM 
1981). I am far from claiming that this picture is perfect, but I 
would say that it is in the right general area.

Now some people who have looked at the archaeological evidence keeping 
this network in place have concluded that this evidence is 
insufficient. Are they also contending that the network is 
inconsistent or otherwise unbelievable? I'm not sure, and I believe 
that most such allegedly unbelievable points can be attributed to a 
lack of archaeological evidence because the evidence has been 
destroyed, or has not yet been found. (For example claims that 
Jerusalem was only a small village - when much of the evidence which 
could disprove this has been eroded and a large amount may still be 
buried under the Temple Mount). But I will for the time being accept 
that "not proved" is a sensible claim, and seek the additional proof 
which might help.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: historiography
Author:  <npl at teol.ku.dk> at Internet
Date:    30/12/1999 14:55

True, but a case can be made for Cicero's place in the first century BCE, 
because there are simply so many different sources that go together to form 
what I have already called a network of information. We have other cases, of 
cause, texts from the Old Babylonian dynasty, Ramesside inscriptions contra 
Hittite sources, etc.

But apart for the silver plates with 50 and 75 % of Num 6:24-26, nothing 
from Palestine/Israel to help us with the HB.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:     Jonathan D. Safren [SMTP:yonsaf at beitberl.beitberl.ac.il] 
> Sent:     Thursday, 30 December, 1999 14:18
> To:     Biblical Hebrew
> Subject:     Re: historiography
> Dear Jim,
> I think he's got you there. You are evading the point.
> As for Cicero, we ARE talking about Cicero and any other ancient 
> writer/ing for
> whom/which the earliest manuscript is hundreds of years after the 
> autograph.
> You MUST apply the same standards of judgment to Cicero, or the Rig-Veda, 
> or to ANY
> written document that you apply to the Bible. And vice versa. 
> Yours,
> Jonathan
> --
> Jonathan D. Safren

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