[b-hebrew] Torah (was: Amalekites)!

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Mon Aug 16 03:24:58 EDT 2004


I’ll have to agree with Shoshanna here.

As for the origin of our modern idea of history, it appears to have come not from the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greeks told history either 1) because it was a rollicking good story, to which liberties could be taken to improve the story line, e.g. the Illiad and Odyssey by Homer, or 2) there is some sort of moral or relational lesson to be learned from the story. In neither case was historical accuracy important.

What Shoshanna, I and some other members on this list dispute is that this Greek view of history was also normative for the Biblical authors as well. Thus it was possible for Esau’s grandson to be named Amalek without the presupposition that he had anything to do with the founding of the Amalekites.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
> > In my experience, it is only people who do not believe in the Divine
> > Origin of the Torah that believe it is historically not accurate.
> >
> > Shoshanna
> > _______________________________________________
> I disagree, Shoshanna.
> At least, depending on your definition of "historically accurate". Our
> modern conception, that everything must be either right or wrong, is just
> that - a modern conception, that has its roots in Greek logic. It was
> unknown in the Ancient Near East. Hazal (the sages of the Talmud) said it
> correctly - the Torah has seventy aspects, and all are the word of the
> living God. They also said that the Torah spoke in human language - that is,
> in terms that would be understood by the people of the time. Its all a mater
> of context. The purpose of the Torah is NOT to teach us history - it's to
> teach us about our relationship with God. In many cases, this was done by
> illustration, by use of literary genres such as Mashal, Midrash etc. These
> genres were understood by the intended readers as just what they were -
> literary means of getting the message across. It's us moderns who have
> insisted on reading "history", in the modern sense of the word, into them.
> Now that is not to say that the whole Tanakh is a fable. I assume that there
> was a tribe called Amalek. What the Torah is trying to do in Gen. 36 is to
> show how that Amalek is tied into the family of Israel (read what Obodiah
> has to say about Esau, Jacob's brother, in general). Since the people of the
> time were perfectly aware, that genealogies were used as a literary means
> for reflecting on the "relationships" between tribes and their componants,
> they understood that Gen. 36 was doeing the same.
> Now how does any of that negate the Torah's divine origin?
> Yigal
> (BTW, I'm taking off for a few days, so I probably won't respond until
> Wednesday or so.)
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