historiography (Ken, again)

kdlitwak kdlitwak at concentric.net
Sat Jan 1 04:25:41 EST 2000

Ian Hutchesson wrote:

> Unfortunately, Ken, your analogy is inappropriate. Simply not analogous,
> unless you want to discount

There are statues of Darth Vader. What does that prove?   More close to the target
time, there is a status of Diana of Ephesus (I think) with about twenty breasts.  Does
that prove such a being existed?  I don't think so.

> 1) the various statues of Cicero (et al.),
> 2) Cicero's property (ie we have proof of the writer in #1 & #2),

No, we may have property that may have belonged to someone named Cicero, or "Cicero"
might mean something else.  Just as there are varying opinions about data support
biblical traditions, there can be various s opinions regarding classical traditions.

> 3) an epigraphic and archaeological basis to contextualize the literature,

Maybe.  Depends, as do the opinions of biblical scholars on ancient NE data, upon how
you read the data (personally I'm not disagreeing with the notion that Cicero existed
but I also consider the argument that there is some magical relationship between the
date of the earliest MS of something and the date of the autograph to be wholly
without merit.  No one has shown why there's a real relationship.  No one has shown
that the relationship must say much of anything about the date of the autograph, and
any decision, any decision at all, goes beyond the hard evidence, including one that
says the text originated close to the date of the earliest MS.).

> 4) independent literary support that also has #3

I think you missed an earlier post from me. If I use Jim's exact argument, that we
should not make suppositions about the autographs, then the only sure thing we can say
is that based on hard evidence, the MSS alone, the weight of probability is that
virtually all classical literature was penned after the 7th cent. AD.  Therefore,
since it was probably done by a relatively small group of individuals, it stands to
reason they would all agree on its contents, just as it must be posited that the
Persian or hellenistic authors who created the entire biblical corpus ex nihilo met
together and the agreement between the texts on various matters represents collusion
to give the impression of a unified tradition across time.   If this were not the
case, there is no way to explain clear changes in spelling and grammar through texts
across what should, according to the internal evidence be an early text, versus a late
text.  There can be no other possibility.  Of course, how they devised the history of
a language is hard to determine.  Now, if you'd prefer Philo or Josephus or Homer,
that is okay.  The situation is pretty much the same.  Medieval MSS are the first
copies extant.

      I'd posit, to move from my point about MSS, that if we apply Occam's Razor, and
give two choices,
1.  Creation ex nihilo of the history and religion of Israel, along with a language
that shows development, yet which shows enough gaps that scholars argue and even
assume multiple sources
2.  That the texts did develop over time, and thus the development of he language
across the texts makes sense, that the texts are in most cases from long before the
earliest MSS, which explains why they are not in Aramaic and why the Targums came to
exist at all, not to mention other early versions
we can state pretty categorically that the hypothesis with the least number of
difficulties to explain is option 2, and that one, says Occam, is the one that is most
likely therefore correct.  Note that this does not require you accept the events
recorded in total in these texts. It merely argues for the probability that they did
get written over a long time period and reflect the actual development of Israel.

   So, let me be perfectly clear here.  I'm arguing that there is zero, zipporio
relationship between the date of the earliest extant MS and the autograph, except that
the MS provides a terminus ad quem.  That is the sole, only, single thing the MS can
tell us.  Nothing else.  So, I go with the classicists who simply ignore the fact that
all the known classical texts exist only in Medieval MSS or the LXX scholars who
simply ignore the date of Vaticanus ad assume the total contents of the LXX existed
before the 1st cent AD.  The position of Jim West, and Ian Hutchinson leaves little
room for this, but I think it is valid because the MS date means noting.

Ken Litwak

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