Question Concerning Inspiration (Jack Baker)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Dec 11 16:31:25 EST 2000

>I am smiling a little at the rather naive use of "history" being used as a
>cudgel in this discussion.

And naturally, I'm amused at the early ad hominem in the statement above.

>I wonder if anyone has remembered that history is
>not something that scholars "do." History is what people actually live.

Naturally I don't agree with this. History, as a *study*, is the attempt to
recover what happened in the past and is precisely something that scholars
"do," ie attempt to recover what happened.

How 'bout if we work on the assumption, Jack, that you use definition X of
"history" and I use definition Y.

>knowledge of history is limited to the various artifacts that have come
>to us or been found over the years. These artifacts are then subject to
>interpretation and proud men write their histories - which are never very
>accurate except in minor details.

Our knowledge of what happened is limited, etc...

>In our discussion we have a living nation (Israel) that exists today. It's
>presence give rise to the need to "find" their history. We can trace this
>back without dispute (I think) to at least the days of our Lord Jesus

(No, we cannot. We are dealing with two different entities. The living
nation, as you call it, was born in the twentieth century.)

>Beyond that we have to rely on the various artifacts for
>information. In our discussion we have (broadly) two such artifacts from
>which to draw.
>The first is the finds of archeology - in our case a site that Ian himself
>has refered to at one time as a "major presence" and at another time as an
>insignificant link on a trade route.

This is a misrepresentation through omission. Perhaps had Jack done the
right thing and kept the posts he intended criticising he might not have
misrepresented them. It always better to know what you're talking about,

>I did not keep the previous postings so
>I don't have the exact words. This simply shows that any ancient artifacts
>can be interpreted to fit different theories (presuppositions?) One thing
>sure. Whatever we learn from this site tells us nothing about anything that
>predates it. It also tells us almost nothing about the contemporary setting
>of the whole area.

This is a little misleading. We need to understand how an Israelite trading
presence can be so far off the beaten Israelite track. Trading by sea is
relatively neutral as a means of communication; rivers become more
restrictive with the fact that powers can extract "taxes" on vessels using
the river. Land communication is far more difficult in that every place you
pass through will attempt to extract money from the trader. This leads one
to ask necessarily how it is a waystation whose major presence was can exist
in territory which is beyond a hypothetical Judah from Israel.

I have looked at cities such as Lachish and Gezer as having indications of
Israelite architecture in the gate works and the inner gate. If there is an
Israelite presence in the Shephelah, then the waystation at Kuntillat Ajrud
is much more understandable.

>The second is the ancient writings (the Old Testament.) I'm sure that Ian
>smiling at that statement. But don't forget, we have a living nation today
>and they have written their history down through the centuries just like
>other nations. While ancient writings sometimes were exaggerated and even
>mythologized over the centuries it doesn't change the fact that they were
>written on a solid foundation of fact. The underlying fact cannot be
>or swept away by exaggerated details.

There are far too many assumptions here to respond to. There is some notion
that there is an underlying fact that may be extracted from a tradition.

>In the case of the united, then divided kingdom we must remember that
>peoples exaggerate the record of their history in order to exalt
>According to Ian (if I have understood rightly) there never was a united

According to Ian there is no evidence at all for a united monarchy, nor in f
act for a divided monarchy. We have more evidence available that reflects on
the period attributed to the divided monarchy and that evidence suggests to
me that there was in fact no divided monarchy. If there was no divided
monarchy then there was no united monarchy.

This doesn't mean that related populations cannot see themselves as having
been from the same origin and speculating on those origins and the implied

>It is only a myth of the O.T. and was written at a late date.

I don't like the word "myth" in such discussions as these. It invariably
contains negative implications wanted by the user of the term. (Myths are
other people's religions.) The user puts up a straw man argument which
involves a text either being true or false ("myth", "fiction", "fake", etc),
hiding the very many other possibilities as to the nature of the text.

>To what end? That would make sense if the story somehow enhanced the glory

Modern rationalisations need to be shown to apply to ancient situations, not

>In fact the O.T. gives the picture of a nation that had glorious
>beginnings and a sad history of decline.

This is a rather standard ancient development. One starts of with a golden
age and finishes with the mess we have today.

>In other words, no one would ever
>fabricate such a story.

I gather Jack is not familiar with ancient Greek traditions.

>It does not enhance their reputation. Quite the
>opposite. There is no reason to do so.

There is no reason which Jack can see to do so.

>It is also false to suggest that the whole thing is made up. That is
>impossibile. If you doubt me just try to rewrite your nations history and
>pass it off as genuine and see how far you get.

I start to smile a bit more widely at this stage.

I think of that fabulous American history of the wild west, which is mainly

Let's not wax lyrical about our non-understandings of ancient times.

Traditions are not histories, though there may be historical information in
traditions. It can be extremely difficult however to extract that history.
How can one ever know what is and what is not historical data in unsupported

>I think we need to stop "doing history"

You should start doing it before thinking of stopping, but you have not
attempted to roll your sleaves up at all.

>and start looking at all the data.

I'm all for looking at all the data.

>That means a serious treatment of the O.T.

I have always argued for a serious treatment of the OT/HB.

It's those people who wilfully persist in making literal readings of complex
texts -- whose contexts (ie purposes for writing, time of writing, audience,
etc) are unknown --, who don't attempt to give a serious treatment to the

When you don't know the genre of a text then a literal reading could very
easily be a wrong reading. (Try reading Gulliver's Voyage to Lilliput
without an understanding the politics of Dean Swift's time, and a literal
reading will make the text seem like a nice little children's book and the
significance has gone way over your head.)

So let's get going on a serious treatment of the OT/HB and stop with the
literal readings.

>Ian, you are certainly not doing
>history by brushing aside the most significant and the most ancient record
>(even if extant copies are not that ancient) that exists for Israel's

This is rhetoric which assumes what needs to be shown, ie "the most
significant and the most ancient record". Looking at the parenthesis above,
we see the dawning of a perception of a problem: "hey, these texts we have
are not that ancient."

>Your lack of integrity

Ad hominem #1

>at merely brushing aside the record of
>living history cannot be justified by empty statements

Ad hominem #2

>that there is nothing
>to it. Neither can you establish a position by outshouting everyone else

Ad hominem #3

>that your data and your interpretation of it is the only valid one. In fact
>(as mentioned above) you have contradicted yourself in your own

Still a misrepresentation

>of your "facts" in order to suit the particular arguement. If you are
>serious about "doing history" (which I doubt)

As you don't know me, you are not in the position to make such flippant

>you will have to begin by
>treating all the evidence....especially the O.T.

The problem is a simple one, Jack. You have a series of documents you cannot
date. This means that their relevance to times prior to the earliest copies
of the various documents cannot be ascertained. They could be a bunch of
crap. They could contain historical information. They could be a mixture of
historical information and non-historical information. As there is no way at
present to decide what is historical information and what is not, you are
left with literary texts which are functionally unusable as historical

(One good exception is Daniel as a second century historical document
providing useful insight into the situation in Palestine at the time of the
Hellenistic crisis. Enough context can be reclaimed for Daniel to validate
it as historical material.)

If you are going to use literary material for historical purposes there are
a number of things you must do: 1) show basically when a text was written,
2) give some indication as to why it was written, 3) show that it has a
basis in what happened, not just the trappings.

So Jack, if you are going to respond with another little rhetorical number
which basically says "I believe the text is important and so should you,"
you won't get another response. It's not sufficient that you believe that it
is important, you need to be able to show that it is historically relevant
to the times for which you think it is. Try it, you'll find that it's not
that easy.


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