[b-hebrew] OT- perspective (was Josiah's book of the Law)

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Fri Aug 5 05:20:21 EDT 2005


All conclusions must, at some point, come from the original sources and an 
evaluation of the testimonies they give. Reading scholarly works which evaluate 
such sources is a good way of stimulating oneself to consider such sources and 
to hear another person's interpretation of them but is no way qualifies a person 
to have a better understanding of the sources.

If a person truly has a good understanding of the sources he will be able to 
construct his argument referring only to the sources themselves. 
Often people are unable to defend their assertions and produce arguments of the 
type 'Go and read such and such...'. Such arguments, to me, only succeed in 
demonstrating that the person has not understood the sources enough to be able 
to defend his assertions and conclusions with reference to the sources alone.

Directing list members to bibliography in a dismissive manner belittles the list 
members and does not bring anything of value to the discussions.
While reference to the sources, archeological and scriptural, provides food for 
thought and a firm basis for your argument.

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Yitzhak Sapir
Sent: Fri 8/5/2005 6:38 AM
To: Jim West
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] OT- perspective (was Josiah's book of the Law)
 
On 8/4/05, Jim West wrote:
>  I realize
> some do not and cannot think for themselves, but i think better of you
> than that and thus do not require your every word to drip bibliography.
> As for evidence, the language of the text itself is sufficient to
> establish its lateness, as the late Fred Cryer also recognized.  (see
> any of his writings for confirmation of his views- which i share with him).

I generally provide bibliography because that is the only thing that
separates me from someone who has not read at all and makes 
assertions in the air.  Of course, simply because someone says
something is no reason to refer to them.  Generally, there has to
be some process of evaluation going on in which what they say is
conflicted with anything anyone else says, about evidence discovered
or about a reconstruction of history.  I refer someone to a work after
I've evaluated it, and considered whether I agree or not, in light of the
arguments it brought and the arguments other scholars brought in
response and in light of arguments I construct myself.

Fred Cryer does not appear to figure in as a prominent linguist.  In fact, very
few if any linguists have taken up the claims made by the group of scholars
commonly identified as the "Copenhagen school."  He figures as an
important scholar of the Bible, yes.  But since I generally view 
linguistics as a more objective and scientific endeavor, it is important
for me to see how arguments regarding linguistics hold up.  Important 
linguistic analyses have been made regarding the language, of say, the 
Priestly sources as compared with later sources by those whose primary 
area of expertise is linguistics.  Responses to these arguments are
sometimes of the order of 4 pages within an entire book.  This is an 
essential point of argument made by Hurvitz against Dr. Davies, if I 
remember correctly.  And Dr. Thompson's consideration of Hurvitz's
arguments was also on the order of four pages although I've not read it 
yet because I couldn't locate it in the library when I looked it up.  And
neither Dr. Thompson nor Dr. Davies is a linguist in his main field of
expertise.  This is important not only because of the higher scientific 
status to which I personally hold linguistics as compared with other 
Bible-related studies, but also because although we all come with 
preconceived notions of the dating of Biblical texts, linguists have
much less a vested interest in promoting a particular dating or theory.
They are more interested in the way the language changed over time, 
than with the essential conclusions to be drawn from that in respect
to the Bible.  This in turn makes them slightly more objective.

The arguments by Drs. Lemche and Davies with respect to language,
as I remember them, generally concludes that, well, we simply don't 
know.  Hurvitz has made the claim that the word (ZRH is a late 
word used in Biblical Hebrew.  It replaces the word XCR in earlier 
texts.  Later texts, both Aramaic and Hebrew, that are datable, such
as the Mishna, the Targums, or Sirach, use (ZRH.  Thus, the book of
Kings must predate the Mishna, Targums and Sirach, as well as
Chronicles.  So, at least, goes his argument with respect to this pair
of words.  Now, Drs. Lemche and Davies, and I suppose Dr. Thompson as
well, although I've not even seen what he says, make the argument that
it's possible that in some society there continued to be different 
terminology.  That is, even though all sources that are clearly datable to 
no earlier than late Second Temple times might mention only (ZRH, it
is possible that some society still used (ZRH and so the Book of Kings
was composed by that society.  That is, the archaeological record may not
represent the state of the language objectively due to the phenomenon
of dialects.  Interestingly, similar arguments are made by those who would
date the Torah to the 14th century B.C.E.  And, they're right -- it's possible
that in (ZRH and XCR as well as many other words the archaeological 
record fails to identify the sources written by those who actually wrote the
Bible (such as the dialect of the Sadducees).  But it's ultimately not very
convincing.  In the case of (ZRH/XCR it is more reasonable to ascribe the
change to growing Aramaic influence as well as a break in the old Temple
order, than to a dialect of some society which was very prolific in its writing
but whose writings somehow made it only to the Bible and representatives
of the Bible at Qumran, and not to other texts.

Now, this type of argument cannot really prove anything about First Temple
times, because we don't have texts from the Persian or early Greek period 
with which to compare.  This has been noted by Ian Young for example.  But
it does tend to stand against arguments that the Bible was almost wholly
composed during the Maccabean period.  And when I see scholars 
attempting to redate the Siloam inscription to later times, I see a hint of
some desperation in that linguistics is not on their side.

> > What, not even for Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus?
> 
> 
> And what do Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzer do to prove the Bible's account of
> Israel's history? 

Well it appears to me odd that Nebuchadrezzar's name is accurately 
represented in Jeremiah and Ezekiel whereas the spelling Nebuchadnezzar 
is commonly taken to be a result of a particular usage during the Maccabean 
revolt.  I also think one should not attempt to "prove the Bible's account of
Israel's history" as portions of the account may be historical and portion's
not.  But in my view, the references to many Judaean and Israelite kings in
the archaeological records, in proper time as well as properly relative to one
another are significant in that they show that it is reasonable that the account
of the kings is based on a source which knew this information, which is
unlikely as we get further in time.

Yitzhak Sapir
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