Niels Peter Lemche
npl at teol.ku.dk
Fri Jan 28 09:52:01 EST 2000
Well, in Aserbeijan, if you are there, you are excused. I do not think that
a library in that place will contain much of what I referred to. If You can
get hold one day of CANE (Jack Sasson ed., Civilizations of the Ancient Near
East, NY, Scribner's, 1995, these four volumes will disclose to you and
other people on this list a wealth of very good information by the leading
specialists from all over the world. I was very honored when invited to
write the overview of Syrian history.
The poblem with the MB date is that it does not provide the right kind of
scenery, except with a radical redating which I do not think is possible.
The study of chronology has gone on for serious since the middle of the 20th
century when people like Albright and Landsberger started creating order out
of chaos. When you approach this subject, everything has to be taken into
consideration. Here again the amateur (I mean it well) has a problem as the
amateur has no chance of controlling the evidence. Sometimes our friend
relies on a single source like Rohl--or Bimson (I read Bimson's dissertation
and found his argument sharp but utterly flawed and impossible)--but canot
control the information there. Van Däniken for instance had a huge following
because his books were appealing to the general public, the same happened to
Velikovski and more like that. It was for the professional (irrespective
this person's personal standing) very difficult to keep from smiling or even
laughing. Peter James' volume I read a few years ago while visiting the
British School in Jerusalem between the breaks of the excavation at Jizreel.
I found his argument most interesting and worth checking. Haven't had the
time to do that yet. But some of his stuff could be serious, indeed. Again
before a verdict can be made, the original sources have to be checked, the
odd ideas left out if not supported by evidence, and we as a matter of fact
has a lot of evidence, especially synchronism between Hittite, Egyptian,
Assyrian, and Babylonian kings, e.g. between Ramses II and Hattusilis III,
and between Hattusilis III and his contemporary Assyrian colleagues, and
when we move to Assyria, the chronology is not that bad, because we are
speaking about a society with an extensive bureaucracy that lasted for many
centuries and made hundreds of observations that help us to put the
chronology right. If we get Ramses right, we easily get the rest right (of
course within a certain limit, someting like thirty years--the ascension
year of Ramses having been moved around from 1304 to 1379 BCE).
All kind of sothic calculations, kabbalistic speculation and the like can be
made, but to the professional, the primary sources must come first.
And if so keen to maintain a MB date, some might find some consolation in my
theory from 1993 that the idea of a conquest and immigration seems mostly to
concern Benjaminite territory (Alt made that point 75 years ago). The
Benjaminites are known from Mari in the 18th century (Binu-Jaminu--formerly
believed to be called only 'Jaminites'). They made up a nomadic group with
pasturages in Gjebel Bishri in central Syria and across the Euphrates to the
east. I guessed that it would be possible to maintain a kind of benjaminite
seperatist group that went to Palestine one year and somehow got settled
there but kept the information about their migrations among them, later
incorporated into the biblical version. My colleague Tom Thompson of course
think that I am crazy. Maybe he is right, but that kind of information can
be preserved even in an oral society.
[Niels Peter Lemche] PK: As for the further literature you cite, I
would love to read it,
> but I doubt if there are any copies here in Azerbaijan. Maybe sometime
> I will have time to go into this in more detail.
> Peter Kirk
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