Question Concerning Inspiration (was Joe)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Thu Dec 14 01:17:21 EST 2000

>>In the business of translation, the contextualisation of a text is
>>important. Without such aid as a historical contextualisation can provide,
>>one limits the efficacy of one's translation work.
>>PK: Precisely. That's why my interest in history is not just a sideline.
>>However, I don't find your approach to contextualisation very helpful, as
>>the only historical context which you allow, in Daniel,
>This was probably the only one we had a chance of agreeing on. You
>definitely wouldn't accept a post-Josephus context for the redaction which
>brought us the canonical Ezra and Nehemiah (and Chronicles for that
>However, when one knows that Daniel wasn't written in the sixth century
>you can start to understand why the Aramaic is so problematical, ie that it
>doesn't reflect any known Aramaic, especially not Persian chancelry
>This is Garbini looked beyond literal (and incomprehensible) readings of
>text and found what was meant in a number of cases in his article of
>"Biblical Aramaic" you may have seen on my website.
>PK: Your "if" trick, but with "when" instead of "if".

Arguments are based on ifs. You sometimes use them as well. If you don't
like them so much, I guess you should stop using them.

>I don't "know" when Daniel was or was not written.

I don't think the reason for this unknowingness is scientific.

>I would not stake my life on the 6th century
>BCE, but I do not accept this as proven false.

This is inerrantist fudging.

You would rather give ear to attempts to make Belshazzar, the son of
Nabonidas, linguistically the son of Nebuchadnezzar in order to maintain the
"historical integrity" of Daniel. You would rather nurse hopes that a Darius
the Mede (son of Ahasuerus = Xerxes) could be somehow pulled out of the
rabbit hat. Its grasp on the history of the time it refers to is not strong,
suggesting it was written well after the period referred to and without (or
without the need for) good sources for the period.

Despite the general geographic context of Mesopotamia, the context of Dan
9:7 is Jerusalem.

The historical content of Dan 11 referring to the struggles between the
Ptolemies and the Seleucids and leading up to Antiochus IV's intrusion into
daily life in Jerusalem with its specific accuracies makes it rather
difficult to understand a better period for the writing of that information,
especially when, as I have pointed out here in the past, one considers that
the historical accuracy mentioned here stops before the death of Antiochus
IV, though Daniel does deal (incorrectly) with his death. This strongly
points to vaticinio ex eventu for the correct Greek history and real
prophecy for the erroneous death of Antiochus, thus we have a good
indication of when Daniel (at least ch11, though chapters 7, 8, & 9 accord
well) was written.

>As for the Aramaic, I prefer
>to base my views on the studies not of Garbini and yourself but of my

This has been one of those issues swept under the carpet because "your
fellow linguists" have abnegated their responsibilities even though the
problems of biblical Aramaic have been indicated by linguists who are
clearly not your fellows, such as Noeldeke and Bauer & Leander. These latter
write: "the stories in the book of Daniel are the work of a writer clearly
not well versed in the language." (Garbini cites this from  their "Grammatik
des Biblisch-Aramaeischen".)

(Incidentally, the Aramaic was imposed on the text after the writing of
chapters 7 to 12 and has artificially separated ch7 from the others through
the language change.)

>>is in contradiction
>>to what the text actually states (that these words were given to Daniel in
>>the 6th century BCE), and as a translator I am bound to give priority to
>>text over a speculatively reconstructed historical context.
>I can only assume that you don't accept the historical context
>for Daniel. Does this mean you are willing to accept that the text has a
>different context? perhaps one based on a literal reading of the text?
>forces adherents to invent kings, play games with the significance of the
>text and stretch times to maintain credibility for such a reading?
>PK: As far as I know, there is insufficient evidence to determine the
>historical context of the writing of the book of Daniel.

Why don't you break down and check out the information to be found in the
more extensive modern scholarly commentaries on Daniel?

>>If there is no
>>external evidence concerning the historical context e.g. of Kings, what
>>I do other than translate in harmony with the historical context as
>>presented in these books?
>Historical context is not something "presented in" a text. It may be
>reflected in the text, but you need to establish a context before you can
>judge the value of what is "presented in" a text. Your question seems to
>mean: if I haven't got clues about a contextualisation, what can I do other
>than make a literal translation. The expected positive response sounds
>PK: Let me expand my shorthand. Scholars have over the years reconstructed
>historical context for the land of Israel in the 10th-7th centuries BCE
>the evidence in the books of Kings etc and the small amount of external

"Historical context" seems to me to be misused in the above sentence.
Scholars have constructed a *literary world* for the land of Israel in the
10th-7th centuries BCE from the stories in the books of Kings etc. It is
something that springs from the Hebrew religious literature, not something
which comes from outside in order to contextualise the literature. So, what
was "reconstructed" cannot in any real sense contextualise anything.

The "small amount of external evidence" suggests the contrary of what your
scholars have "reconstructed."

>In the absence of anything better, I translate in harmony with
>this reconstructed context. The process may be considered somewhat
>but what better can I do?

("Somewhat"!?) You are still pushing a literalist understanding of the text.
You have finished with Kuntillat Ajrud because it specifically indicates
things that you don't want to know about. Where was this Judah while a
waystation used predominantly by Israelite was built in the Negeb? Where was
Judah when Sheshonq I invaded Palestine and dealt with Arad of the house of
Yeroham? (Jerusalem doesn't warrant a mention in the Egyptian description of
this invasion -- at a time when Jerusalem seems to have been a village.)
Where was Judah when Israelite architectural structures were being built at
Lachish and Gezer? Where it should have been, Judah was not.

Not only have we got no evidence for any of the kings of Judah before the
epoch of Hezekiah, but there is evidence to suggest that there was no Judah.


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