Sam, Chr & Josephus (Peter)

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Sat Mar 17 07:20:10 EST 2001

Ian, see some comments below.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
Sent: 16 March 2001 22:13
To: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: Sam, Chr & Josephus (Peter)

>Thank you, Ian. You make it difficult for me to answer by claiming
>on your posting, a first as far as I remember. So I can't quote it back to
>you without your permission. I don't propose to ask for that.

I simply don't want this new work going out to anyone without recognition
for it.
There was absolutely no restriction cited other than that. So, don't worry,
there is no reason for you to degrade yourself to ask for permission. The
alternative to posting with a copyright notice was not to post at all. Which
you have preferred?

PK: Fine. Thanks for posting it anyway.

>I'm not sure what you think you gain from quoting three documents whose
>dates are almost totally unknown.

There are very many dating indications for Ezra:

1) No-one in second temple times knows the work (the first person to cite
the Ezra
tradition was Josephus and that was 1 Esdras);
   a. A strong argument from silence is the lack of Ezra in Ben
      Sira's list of worthy men, where, had there been such an
      important tradition, one should have found Ezra;

PK: I accept this as a significant argument, though still from silence.

2) Ezra's Aramaic is in a mess attempting to reproduce Persian Chancelry
without understanding what was necessary;

PK: But I don't accept this one. You have quoted your friend Garbini's
argument many times, but that doesn't make him correct. You have also many
times before rejected attempts by others on this list to quote other
recognised scholars as authorities or even as having arguments which need to
be answered. In the same spirit, I reject Garbini's analysis. In case you
wonder, I have read the Garbini article on your website, and, as a linguist,
I found its arguments unconvincing. One important point is that we simply
don't know enough about how Aramaic might have been spoken in Judaea in the
5th century BCE to prove that the Aramaic of Ezra is not of this origin.

3) 1 Esdras has priority over Ezra
   a. because of the way that text has been carved up, with its last
      chapter being inserted into Nehemiah (Josephus attests to the
      original order;
   b. because the use of divine names are in a much more arbitrary
      distribution in 1 Esdras, while the tetragrammaton is never
      used in the foreign rulers' letters in Ezra;

PK: You seem to assume a process of starting with an arbitrary distribution
which is then harmonised. There is an alternative possibility that the
original was the more consistent which then became arbitrary during copying
and translation. Can you show me why your assumption is a priori more

>You cannot disprove any suggestion that
>all three, or their Hebrew Vorlages, date back to the 5th century BCE;

Point 2 disproves that possibility for Ezra.

PK: It would if it were proved itself, but it isn't. See above. Actually,
this wouldn't disprove it, as there remains the possibility that Ezra was
written in Hebrew in the 5th century BCE and later partly translated into
(bad) Aramaic. Not very probable, I admit, but to prove something you have
to discount all other possibilities.


>This list was then corrupted by haplography involving
>a scribe slipping from one occurrence of "Amariah, Ahitub, Zadok" to
>another - a well attested process - and this corrupted list made its way
>into the Ezra material.

Doesn't work, Peter. It would need for an existent text to disappear from
tradition, for, had Chronicles existed at the time the list of Ezra was
written it
would have been corrected to reflect what was already known. As it wasn't,
Chronicles didn't exist at least in the form we have it today.

PK: Your argument doesn't work: "it would have been corrected" is
demonstrably a false conclusion. Ezra is different from Chronicles, and they
have both existed for centuries. That in itself is proof that there is no
universal rule that such texts are corrected to harmonise with one another.

>It is simply not true that the shortest version is
>always the most original.

I never claimed that. But you've often attempted to put what you want to
against onto me.

What we do know is that there have been examples of both processes, long
from short
versions and short from long.

What I have claimed though is that if the Chronicles list had been
available, during
any of the redations of the Ezra tradition lists, it would have been used to

the correct list.

PK: And vice versa? Why not? But this harmonisation didn't happen, neither
one way nor the other. Why?

One can see that Ezra has added certain names to the 1 Esdras list -- I
don't think
even you would like to push your luck and claim that the list was reduced
once to the Ezra version and then to the 1 Esdras version (you can't even
try for
haplography on the second occasion)!? --, certainly not from the 1 Chr 6
list --
otherwise all names would have been reinserted --, so you now have two
sources (Occam is smiling), as those added names had to come from somewhere.
At the
same time, Chr which was written within the same speech community, was never
consulted. Then, the Ezra high priestly lineage tradition was mutated again
to form
that found in 2 Esdras, by reference to the Eli information found in Samuel,
is contrary to the Chr tradition. This latter you would like to have existed
this text. As these speculations, which seem to be implications of your
didn't happen, the Chronicles list was never available.

PK: As we have four different but not completely independent lists, there
must have been at least three separate processes to make the necessary
changes. You are proposing three different lengthening processes. Occam
smiles at that equally. I suggest three shortening processes, or perhaps a
mixture of different processes. I never argued that Chr was within the same
speech community.

Of course, if you can produce a more coherent development which includes all
data I will read it.

PK: I don't have time, unfortunately.


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