[b-hebrew] Yahwism (was: their altar)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Mon Mar 7 10:51:48 EST 2005

On 07/03/2005 14:09, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

>...  As for the capability 
>of writing, one should note that this is the first site where
>some type of literature of a religious-theological nature
>is found in the area, at a time when writing at all is very
>rare. ...

Not necessarily, only that very little written material has survived. It 
might have been mostly on perishable materials. As a parallel, it is 
known that writing was used extensively in the Persian empire, in 
Aramaic, but almost none of this has survived. This might give the 
initial impression that writing was much less common than in the earlier 
Assyrian and Babylonian periods, but the distinction is in fact one of 

>... (would one expect a source from
>London to tell the story of the Chosen Nation USA,
>describing England as a small state in the Union?) ...

No, because this was never true - although at one time more or less vice 

>Nevertheless, I think many issues are problematic and
>are just unknowns.  ...  There are just a lot of unknowns that 
>must be treaded carefully.  And here is not the place to
>propound any ideas beyond a simple suggestion or
>statement for thought.

I am happy to agree that there are a lot of unknowns. My objections come 
up only when someone, like Dora, comes up with assertions in this area, 
qualified only by the patronising "Just one thing it sounds like you may 
not be aware of".

> ...
>Because the Deuteronomist would inject his own values into 
>historical descriptions of earlier periods, this is evidence that 
>must be ignored. ...

Not ignored. No evidence should be ignored. It should of course be 
treated with care. But we must be aware that ANY evidence we find, even 
contemporary inscriptions, is necessarily injected with the values of 
the individual author and so not representative of society as a whole. 
The Kuntillet Ajrud inscription is almost the only surviving 
contemporary record of a whole society. If American society were to 
disappear entirely but the only accidentally surviving 20th century 
material happened to be from the Ku Klux Klan or the Black Panthers, 
would that material be taken as typical of the society even if 
contradicted by detailed, although biased, historical accounts from the 
21st century?

> If we want to know what the Yahwist found 
>repugnant, we must look at J and only J.  (I think it's not even
>clear today that J predates Deuteronomist, which is why in
>my earlier message, I described it in terms of "classical"
>criticism.  I think he does predate him, though.)
Well, there is a methodological problem here, that we don't know what is 
"J and only J", or even that J existed at all at least as a coherent 
source. And of course if J is later than D, that is quite incompatible 
with your identification of the milieu of J with Kuntillet Ajrud.

>...  We know nothing of other statements that may
>be theologically loaded.

True, including the Kuntillet Ajrud inscription which is itself 
theologically loaded and so not necessarily representative of anything.

> ...
>Perhaps, although I think you are attempting to read modern
>meanings into ancient words.  When you bless yourself by
>the name of a god, it is unlikely to be someone else's god.
>It is your god.  In any case, it seems more reasonable to
>suppose some connection between the site and Israel than
>with any other nation (Edomites, Judahites) in the area.
Well, I accept that blessing oneself by Yahweh of Samaria in some sense 
makes this Yahweh one's own god. But it doesn't make one an Israelite. 
Kuntillet Ajrud was very likely a crossroads in the desert where traders 
set up shrines to a variety of gods, who were perhaps worshipped rather 
eclectically. If there was no such variety there, why the need to 
identify this Yahweh? Perhaps because there was another, now lost, 
shrine across the road to Yahweh of Jerusalem, with no consort? Who 
knows? So we can safely come back only to "There are just a lot of 
unknowns that must be treaded carefully."

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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