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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Wed Mar 16 12:16:04 EST 2005

On 16/03/2005 14:29, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:

>... 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 didn't actually say this. For one thing I didn't mention Deuteronomy. 
And then I was only pointing out that certain evidence for later 
authorship which someone had put forward was in fact very weak evidence, 
for later true authorship rather than redaction. I consider the issue to 
be open, not clearly proved either way.

>... 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.

And the great majority of Deuteronomy is put on the lips of Moses in 
person, which is a prima facie claim that this material originated from 
Moses. Such a claim needs to be tested, of course, but it is a real claim.

>... 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. ...

Such negative conclusions can drawn from archaeology only with very 
great care. Perhaps the earlier site of Heshbon was in a different place 
from the later city, not yet excavated. Perhaps all earlier remains were 
eroded before or destroyed by the later building works. Perhaps the 
earlier settlement was of nomads with temporary structures, which 
notoriously leave very little archaeological trace.

>... using the Shoshenq
>campaign as a guide for the dating of the United Monarchy, ...

This dating method is back to front. Shoshenq was originally dated from 
the United Monarchy data based on the dates given in KIngs, and on the 
assumption that the biblical Shishak is to be identified with the 
Egyptain Shoshenq I. There is very little evidence for the dating of 
Shosenq independent of Kings, and what there is in fact suggests a 
rather later date than the one usually given.


which states "In spite of some searching in the area, no other candidate 
for the Heshbon of Sihon has yet been found." - i.e. clearly supporting 
my position that the argument from silence is unsafe.

>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. ...

No. Copyists, ancient and modern, routinely update spelling to match 
modern conventions (e.g. I routinely adjust American English quotations 
to the British English I am used to), and I accept that that has 
happened, but that is quite different from your "active editing", and 
even more different from authorship.

> 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, ...

I don't see what link there is between Second Temple spelling 
adjustments and the question of whether the text was originally authored 
100 or 1000 years (to suggest some extreme positions) before the Second 
Temple was built - or for that matter whether it was an early Second 
Temple period composition. Authorship and editing by copyists are 
independent activities.

>... in fact, most scholars claim.  
>Specifically, it places your claim of only "minor post-Mosaic 
>editorial changes" as speculation ...

My point was that there is no evidence for anything more. I am not 
making any claim that nothing more took place, I am just asking for 
proper evidence for such changes if their existence is to be more than 

>... 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. ...

I am not making the claims, you are. So the burden of proof is on you. 
You can't say that your position must be right because I can't prove my 
position, you have to prove your own one or agree that we don't know one 
way or the other.

>... 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.
On the contrary. For one thing, my statement "I see no clear evidence of 
post-Mosaic authorship in the Pentateuch" does not imply that I see any 
evidence that against such authorship. Also, Mosaic authorship is the 
internal claim of (most of) Deuteronomy and has been the traditional 
interpretation of scholars for millennia before anyone rejected it. And 
the evidence on which some people rejected it has been examined and 
found wanting. I simply ask for some convincing evidence from those who 
continue to hold to later authorship.

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

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