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

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Fri Mar 11 23:56:18 EST 2005


I take the position that unless there is evidence to the contrary, that one should take an author at his word. In juristic terms, innocent unless proven guilty.

For example, did Xenephon take part as a mercenary of a failed coup attempt, later to act as one of the leaders bringing the 10,000 back to Greek territory? He wrote his book “Anabasis” making just such claims. What evidence is there to doubt such claims?

On the other hand, Homer made no such claim for his presentations, rather he was an entertainer with a rolicking good tale, with which he took liberties to “improve” the story line.

Now look at Tanakh: even in those writings where the author(s) neither observed nor participated (e.g. Kings, Chronicles), the author(s) claimed historical accuracy because of the sources referenced. If one thought the book inaccurate, go check the referenced volumes (which, sadly, no longer exist). Other authors, particularly the prophets, claimed to have participated in or observed the events they recounted.

The only reason that I know of to doubt Tanakh’s authors, is philosophical, not historical nor linguistic. Around 1800 if not before, philosophers made the a priori decision that, for example, prophetic utterances were recorded after the events “prophesied”, that without any evidence pro or con, ancient Jews were mostly illiterate, and many other similar claims. Early speculations were at least honest that they based their whole house of cards on beliefs, in particular evolution. (Here I refer to citations in the PhD dissertation by Dr. Samuel R. Külling, published under the title “Zur Datierung der Genesis “P” Stücke”.)

Your response to Peter Kirk is just speculation upon speculation. To paraphrase, that there is writing indicates royal authority and approval, that scribes were connected with royalty, that mention of Yahwey having a consort Asherah therefore reflects an earlier stage of the cult later codified as Tanakh, and so on and so forth. The whole is speculation upon speculation. If any one of those assertions is wrong, the whole house of cards comes crashing down. And on top of it all, when reading the references that Peter Kirk provided, there is apparently less surviving writing at Kuntillet Ajrud than on the Gezar calendar. Such scant evidence proves nothing.

If, OTOH, we take the authors at their word the same way we take Xenophon, with the main discrepencies the result of copyist errors over the centuries, we can then derive a workable hypothesis for the history of the of the Hebrew language, as I illustrated in my last missive.

In closing, the JEPD theory, its antecedants and later development, is not only unnecissary for the study of Biblical Hebrew language, it can actually be wrong.

Karl W. Randolph.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Yitzhak Sapir" <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com>
> Karl,
> While the acceptance of the specific sources
> JEPD is doubted, that does not mean you can
> replace them with an uncritical assessment of
> the Biblical sources.  Thus, simply because a
> book claims to be from the time of Moses,
> David, or Nebuchadrezzar does not mean you
> can uncritically accept that claim.  In the case
> of Moses, one may suggest that it is unclear
> when he lived and that dating his life depends
> on the use of other unrelated sources (the
> books of Kings and Joshua).
> Yitzhak Sapir
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