RGmyrken at RGmyrken at
Mon Jan 28 23:40:56 EST 2002

Dear Liz Fried,

> The only archaeological evidence for human
>  sacrifice that I know of is among the Phoenicians,
>  and that in Carthage.
>  I can't imagine what his evidence would have been,
>  unless he referred to the Phoenicians.
>  Liz Fried

    Theophrastus' sources are indeed unknown, though direct Greek contacts in 
that period were mainly restricted to the Levantine coast.  It is tempting to 
view Theophrastus as presenting a confused account of the Chaldeans (who, 
like the Syrian Jews of Theophrastus, observed the stars at night) and the 
Indian Kalanoi / gymnosophists (of whom Calanus immolated himself at Babylon, 
which duly impressed Alexander and his associates).  The problem as I see it 
is that neither of these two "philosophical" groups -- who are indeed 
occasionally equated/correlated with the Jews in other sources around this 
time (see conveniently M. Stern, GLAJJ) -- offered holocausts or burnt animal 
offerings as Theophrastus describes.  If -- from my admittedly not quite 
exhaustive reading -- the holocaust offerings are unlikely to be other than a 
Syrian Jewish custom, then doesn't this add credibility to the other details 
Theophrastus reports of the Jews, such as human sacrifice?  

Best regards,
Russell Gmirkin

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