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

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Mar 16 09:29:12 EST 2005

Hello all,

This discussion has shifted from the claim that Yahweh 
worship was somehow different in the 9th-mid 8th centuries
than it was in the mid 8th to 7th centuries, and that earlier
Asherah usage in association with Yahweh was acceptable
to the administration.  Now it seems to discuss Mosaic
authorship of the Pentateuch as well.  Since I have claimed
that the Deuteronomistic view did not accept Asherah usage
contrary to earlier administrative views of the Asherah, the 
fact that you (both Peter and Karl) accept Deuteronomy to 
be dated to Moses makes my claims dependent upon the 
dating of Deuteronomy.  I have no wish to debate Mosaic 
authorship of the Bible, however, and I will only respond to
some points of evidence that were brought up in the last
post, although now they seem to pertain much more to the
issue of Mosaic authorship.  If you have a specific dating of 
Deuteronomy, put it forth with sufficient reasoning that is
grounded in archaeological evidence and language, as has 
been done in  scholarship to date Deuteronomy to the end 
of the Monarchic period or later.


You say,  "Likewise your questions concerning the text is a 
red herring, best answered by those who specialize in textual
criticism."  Yet most scholars who specialize in textual
criticism also accept criticism of the bible in general.  They
may not accept the JPED theory, but a very great
majority would agree that the Pentateuch as a whole does
not actually claim to be written by Moses.  It may claim that
God spoke to Moses, but it doesn't say that this event
occured in the present time of the writer.

You also say, "Numbers 21:28-30 mentioned an event that 
occured during Moses' lifespan." Heshbon did not exist before 
1200 BCE, and the first major building at the site apparently 
occured only during the 9th-8th centuries, with the building of a 
reservoir/pool at the site.   Moses has been dated to the 13th
century by some scholars (related to Albright I think), but 
some dates, which are based on the claim the Exodus
happened 480 years before the Temple, using the Shoshenq
campaign as a guide for the dating of the United Monarchy,
date this to the 15th century.  In any case, as I pointed out,
the first organized building at Heshbon occured during the
Monarchic period, but in all the range of dates proposed for
Moses, no Heshbon even existed.


As for your other claims regarding science, I used the word
"science" informally and perhaps erroneously to denote a
study where the participants agree that various theories can
be validated or invalidated using some agreed-upon body of 
evidence, in this case archaeological evidence.  If you are 
unwilling to provide a date for Moses, you are simply
speculating such a date can be found.  And the very great
majority of scholars today disagree and reject that 
speculation.  While Wellhausen may have had little
archaeological material to work with, today's biblical 
criticism is very much based on the usage of such
archaeological evidence.  Most scholars still seem to
accept the main division between a Priestly, Deuteronomic,
and "JE" sources, although they may disagree on the dates
of these sources, and this disagreement usually boils down
to archaeological and linguistic grounds.


The Pentateuch is written in spelling that cannot predate the
exile.  This means, the Pentateuch as we know it today was
actively edited in the Second Temple period.  It may have been
edited before, and in fact, I think there are very good linguistic
reasons why it probably was composed beforehand and many
portions of it simply passed on with updated spelling.   But 
linguistic evidence that shows the Pentateuch was actively 
edited up and until the Second Temple period is sufficient to 
claim that the Pentateuch might have been composed during 
the First Temple period as, in fact, most scholars claim.  
Specifically, it places your claim of only "minor post-Mosaic 
editorial changes" as speculation no less than the claim that 
during the early Second Temple period the various sources of 
the Pentateuch were conflated together.  You must show 
reasonable evidence to believe that the Torah dates from before 
the Monarchy and the Judges.  And while you are free to hold
that "I see no clear evidence of post-Mosaic authorship in the 
Pentateuch," the fact that most scholars would date 
Deuteronomy much later is sufficient to request you explain
your evidence for Mosaic authorship.

Yitzhak Sapir

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