Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..

Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at bezeqint.net
Sun Jan 27 15:13:45 EST 2002


Since we are dealing with theoligical narrative, and not childrens'
adventure stories, one would expect to find the authors' opinions implied,
even if not overtly stated, in these stories. And that is indeed often the
preferred method of the biblical narrators. The reader is left to draw his
own conclusions from the protagonists' words or deeds.*
So one can't regard the Jephthah narrative of Judges 11 or the Battle of
Michmas narrative of 1 Samuel 14 as objective reporting. Yes, both Jephthah
and Saul are depicted as rash; Saul the more so in comparison with his brave
son Jonathan (ahem!) and the soon-to-be-king David.
That is all the more reason to place weight on the absence of condemnation
in principle of human sacrifice in both these narratives (and the Binding of
Isaac), in our assessment of the attitude towards human sacrifice in the
Bible.
Sincerely,
---
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College

* Sometimes this is more difficult, sometimes less so. Is David the ideal
king he is portrayed to be in later tradition, or is he a rat, a ruthless,
cynical Macchiavellian despot?




----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <Peter_Kirk at sil.org>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2002 9:51 PM
Subject: RE: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..


> There is no explicit condemnation or approval of these actions because
> that is not appropriate to the genre of literature. In general there is
> very little explicit positive or negative assessment of actions in the
> historical books, except sometimes in quoted prophetic messages and in
> the summaries of kings' reigns in the books of Kings and Chronicles.
> Also the refrain in Judges "all the people did what was right in their
> own eyes" (e.g. 21:25) surely implies a general disapproval.  We cannot
> infer either approval or condemnation from a bare historical account.
> Probably the audience is intended to draw a conclusion, i.e. these
> should not be treated as neutral accounts of facts. And there is
> certainly enough in the books of Samuel to indicate a negative
> assessment of Saul relative to David.
>
> Peter Kirk
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Jonathan D. Safren [mailto:yon_saf at bezeqint.net]
> > Sent: 27 January 2002 16:02
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: Re: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..
> >
> > The rashness of Jephthah's vow comes across very clearly in the
> narrative,
> > as does the rashnes of Saul's in 1 Sam. 14. But there is no
> condemnation
> > by
> > the author, either overt or implied, of human sacrifice. The same goes
> for
> > Saul's intention to sacrifice Jonathan - the people condemn the
> intention
> > to
> > sacrifice the hero of the day and redeem him, but nowhere is there
> > condemnation in principle  of human sacrifice. Likewise Gen. 22, the
> > Binding
> > of Isaac - the angel stops Abraham in the act of sacrifice and a ram
> is
> > discovered to take Isaac's place; but nowhere in the narrative is
> there
> > condemnation, neither overt nor implied, either by God or by the
> author of
> > the very practice of human sacrifice.
> > ---
> > Jonathan D. Safren
> > Dept. of Biblical Studies
> > Beit Berl College
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Glenn Blank" <glennblank at earthlink.net>
> > To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
> > Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2002 2:24 PM
> > Subject: Re: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..
> >
> >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > ----------
> > > >From: "Jonathan D. Safren" <yon_saf at bezeqint.net>
> > > >To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
> > > >Subject: Re: Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..
> > > >Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 11:02:12 +0200
> > > >
> > > > The God who accepts human sacrifice in Jud. 11 is not the same God
> who
> > > forbids it in >Deuteronomy.
> > >
> > > God accepting human sacrifice?  No, but a man who made a rash vow,
> never
> > > intending it to be a human sacrifice, but determined to keep his vow
> to
> > the
> > > letter.  Jud. 11 gives no indication of God's reaction to this
> > sacrifice.
> > >
> > > glenn blank
> > > Pensacola FL
> >
>
>
> ---
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