[b-hebrew] Rohl's Chronology Deconstructed

Brian Roberts formoria at carolina.rr.com
Mon Jul 26 17:13:03 EDT 2004

Dear Marianne,

On Monday, July 26, 2004, at 04:25  PM, MarianneLuban at aol.com wrote:

> And yet his arguments against those "mainstream scholars" (who are not
> exactly in agreement on chronological matters, themselves) have 
> persuaded few
> knowledgeable persons.  If you are saying that these "mainstream 
> scholars" never pay
> any attention to new and persuasive arguments from their peers--you 
> would be
> very wrong, indeed.

This depends greatly upon whom a scholar considers to be a peer, or up 
to par, or at their level academically. It's easy for some to dismiss a 
Rohl or a Courville on just such those grounds.

>>> If Rohl is correct that Saul is Labayu, then the places mentioned in
>>> association with Saul's wars against the Philistines (cf. 1 Samuel,
>>> chapters 6-14) "ought" to possess archaeological evidence of being in
>>> existence in Late Bronze Age times and _not_ the Iron Age (1200-1000).
>>> My investigations into the archaeological findings on the various 
>>> towns
>>> mentioned in the Saul narratives concluded that these towns did _not_
>> exist
>>> in the days of Akhenaten and Labayu, they existed ONLY in Iron Age 
>>> times,
>>> after the arrival of the Philistines who arrived ca. 1175 BCE as the
>> Pelest
>>> in the days of Pharaoh Ramesses III who reigned ca. 1182-1151 BCE. 
>>> Ergo,
>>> Rohl's "alternate chronology" needs some more "work." For the data 
>>> cf. the
>>> below article
>> Please.  We all know that archaeology is based on the accident of
>> preservation.  To say that we "ought" to find archaeological material 
>> at
>> such
>> and such a place for such and such a time, is to bypass the actual 
>> sporadic,
>> not to say whimsical, flyspecks of preservation that we do encounter 
>> and
>> suggest that what is essentially a random process - the accident of
>> preservation - should follow some kind of rule set that makes what we 
>> want
>> accessible to us several thousand years later.  It just doesn't work 
>> that
>> way.  Factors such as erosion, rebuilding, destruction on a massive 
>> scale by
>> enemies, and what-have-you, combine to make the whole thing a very
>> unpredictable process.  That may not be what we want, and we may not 
>> like
>> it,
>> but those factors tell us, in essence, that if we don't like it, too 
>> bad.
>> This is why arguments from silence will never get anywhere, especially 
>> in
>> this
>> field.  To say that "there's no positive evidence where we 'ought' to 
>> expect
>> it," is equally to say "there's no negative evidence where the 
>> accident of
>> preservation might have wiped something out, either."  It would be 
>> nice of
>> scholars would get a handle on the fact that absence of evidence does 
>> NOT
>> equal evidence of absence.  If you're into C programming, it would 
>> look like
>> this:
>> (absence_of_evidence) != (evidence of absence)
>> That's how arguments from silence ALWAYS work.  What's important is for
>> qualified Egyptologists who, like Rohl, don't have some kind of ax to 
>> grind,
>> to examine the revised chronology *on its own merits* and *based 
>> strictly on
>> the evidence presented* and determine whether there might be something 
>> to
>> it.
>> Unfortunately, since he presented the material in popular form, first 
>> in a
>> television show and then in a popular book, too many scholars have just
>> written him off as a headline-grabbing crackpot instead of seriously
>> examining what he said.  That's just sad.
>> Before someone brings it up, I really don't care one way or another 
>> whether
>> Saul was Labayu or whether he was Saul.  None of this chronology stuff
>> matters to me at all, I have my own little niche off in the grammatical
>> corner.  But the way that Rohl's material has been treated by 
>> "scholars"
>> betrays an attitude that really bothers me, and that's the only reason 
>> I get
>> involved in this type of discussion.
> But these "scholars"--and I don't know why you cast doubt on them by 
> putting
> this word in quotes--don't simply say "Oh that Rohl, he is a 
> boat-rocking
> trouble-maker" but give reasoned arguments contra him.  I would say 
> that that re
> ally bad treatment in the academic world is to ignore someone 
> altogether.  One
> of the reasons I believe Rohl has received so much attention from other
> scholars is that they have seen the potential impact his theories have 
> on the
> uninformed.  Rohl wrote the above mentioned book and it was so  
> well-produced and so
> expertly laid out(graphics and whatnot) that few laymen would suspect 
> that
> claptrap could be so beautifully presented. (Most scholarly works tend 
> to look
> the opposite of "fancy" but those for "popular consumption" do--no 
> accident
> there).  Plus, Rohl was very visible on television, going about like 
> Indiana
> Jones, complete with a "sidekick", Bob Bianchi.  I think it is scarcely 
> any wonder
> that other scholars decided to deal with all this before it got to be 
> "dogma"
> in the eyes of too many people.  But, even so, it is, to a considerable
> degree.  There is an entire mailing list devoted to Rohl and his 
> theories.  I once
> joined it and got tremendous flack for making too many "points" against 
> him.
> The opposition I received was virulent and hardly reasoned.  It was 
> like "This
> is a list of Rohl fans and we don't want your arguments."  When my 
> points were
> too sensible, the moderator, who apparently worshipped Rohl (a woman) 
> simply
> did not allow them through. So I quit.  And I am not the only person 
> who had
> this experience.  And that, sir,  is the other side of the coin of 
> intolerance.

There are reasoned arguments on both sides of the chronology issue.

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