The Flood

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Sat Sep 30 01:11:51 EDT 2000

Dear Rolf,

Walter wrote:
>>Humanist scholars have built up a series of pottery sequences to date
>>man's culture by in the Ancient Near East. According to this pottery
>>paradigm, there are cities that were founded as early as the 9th millenium

>>BCE (Jericho for example) as well as others, and they have exhibited no
>>flood debris universally dated to the 4th or 3rd millenium BCE when the
>>Hebrew Bible claims the Flood occurred.

To which Rolf responded:
>Your example is a very good test case, and I will again play the devil's
>advocate. In the Bible there is a continuous chronology of persons and
>periods from the flood and down to the fall of Babylon for the Medes and
>Persians in 539 BCE. This chronology places the flood around 2400 BCE. Few
>persons take this seriously, but my challenge to you is to PROVE that
>cultures existed before this date!

It would seem, Rolf, that, as the devil's advocate accepts the literary
efforts of the OT/HB in order to arrive at the date 2400 BCE, he would have
to accept the literary efforts of other cultures, if he didn't want to be
arbitrary. This would include such works as the Assyrian King Lists, one of
which spans the time from Shamshi-Adad I down to Shalmaneser V (and 38
kings before Shamshi-Adad I).

[It's worth noting that because there are actually three well preserved
lists, one (Nassouhi) written at the time of Tiglath-Pileser II showing
that attempts a la Rohl to discount such lists are ill-founded, for one
cannot be ignorant of parallel reigns at the time there was supposed to
have been parallel reigns.]

Naturally, one can add the literature of other realms, such as the
Babylonians of the era of Hammurabi, which also goes back dozens of
generations, then pass back to Mari, Ur, Akkad, Uruk, Lagash, Umma, Kish
and through the various literature well before 2400 BCE. 

The impressive thing to remember is that, unlike the biblical record which
our devil's advocate is taking on trust, much of the information in these
king lists finds support amongst the other realms' records.

At the same time the archaeological evidence (at least in the cases of
Assyria and Babylon) relates many of the names to strata.

>I once wrote a paper about the Neo-Babylonian chronology, and discovered
>that the oldest tablet (astronomical diary) that could help us create an
>*absolute* chronology (=a chronology where an historical event can be tied
>up with unambiguous astronomical observations), was VAT4956. It is dated to
>Nebuhcadnezzar's 37th year and the observations are very accurate. (But
>there are even questions with the connections between astronomy and history
>in this tablet). Before that, very much is conjecture. Eclipses and similar
>phenomena are usually only roughly described, and because such events occur
>so often, they are of little importance as chronological proofs.

The devil's advocate is putting forward arguments that he would not be able
to deal with with the material that he is using to support the 2400 BCE
date. There is absolutely no supporting evidence for that date outside a
collection of books which cannot be dated in itself earlier than DSS times.

The Assyrian King Lists provide both order of reigns and lengths of reigns.
Very much of the order is supported by epigraphy. The lists were updated at
various times and therefore not of late invention. If we trust the dates
provided in the OT/HB which we can only date exceptionally late, why can't
we trust the dates supplied in Assyrian lists and other records? They are
after all supported by contemporary data, whereas date information in the
biblical literature is not. It is after all against good procedure to be
tied to any single source of data, when dealing with matters which are not
strictly within that data.

Rather than the paradigm you would like to discount, I have argued with the
literary/epigraphic evidence, which is of superior historical weight, due
to its mainly contemporary status and its cross-support from other cultures.



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