SV: [b-hebrew] Samaritans

Uri Hurwitz uhurwitz at
Mon Mar 21 12:25:59 EST 2005

    Dear Thomas,
     It is not clear from your reponse below  what your position is about a temple in Jeruslem that according to HB was detroyed by the neo-Babylonians. Do you accept that such a temple existed,or do you consider it also one the inventions made up in Hellensitic times? If ,on the other hand, you accept the existence of such a temple, do you have an appreciation as to when it was built,   to what deity it was dedicated, and by whom?
  Have you responded to the very specific criticisms of K. A. Kitchen in pp. 450 - 458 of his On the Reliability of the Old Testament? Surely these highly specific comments by a major scholar deserve an answer.
  If you're interested, I'll forward you offline an overview of an on going major archaeological site in Israel  -- Beth Shemesh --the findings of which support the existence of a stong central political body in the late 10th - 9th century.
  Finally, I'm sure everybody would join me in wishing your wife a speedy recovery.

"Thomas L. Thompson" <tlt at> wrote:
Dear Yigal,
Well the Samaritans and their relationship to Judaism is not directly my own field, and it has only been a relatively short time that this question has taken up much of my time, but I will try to address your two questions, as both of them seem to me to be quite important.

2) This is an intriguing question. I think quite possibly that Gerizim is original to the Pentateuch. How early that is is another question that is partially dependent on a satisfactory description of its composition. I suspect, for instance that Genesis--or much of it--is later than, for example Exodus-Numbers. Whether the torah is common to Palestinian literature or whether it is adopted by Judaism is an important consideration. If it is common in its origin to both Judaism and Samaritanism, this might suggest a Persian period + chronology.
As for the status of Gerizim, the excavations strengthen the idea that this may be very early indeed. How early is something we will have to wait for patiently as--insofar as I have understood--they have not gotten down to bedrock yet, but 6th century is early indeed--far earlier than Jerusalem's temple.

1) I argued already in my Early History of 1992 that the populations of the regions of Judea and Samaria should be dealt with in separate but related histories from the Iron Age. Judaism seems to be the relatively latecomer, when one begins to consider identification and self-identity as Jews and Samaritans (that is, Shomronim)--a relationship of the older tradition of the Samaritans and the younger Judaism, which has many confirmations in the biblical traditions (see here my new book, The Messiah Myth, Basic, New York, April, 2005). Ingrid's 2000 book on the Samaritans deals extensively--and I think essentially correctly--with Josephus' treatment of the Samaritans as both tendentious and distorting.


Thomas L. Thompson
Professor, University of Copenhagen

Yigal Levin wrote:

Dear Thomas,

If you are willing to share them, I would be interested to hear your views
on the following two issues:
1. The role that the political division between Samaria and Jerusalem,
especially during the Persian Period but perhaps also during the Iron Age,
had on the development of Judaism and Samaritanism into two distinct groups.

2. As far as it is possible to tell from the archaeological and textual
evidence, when do you think that Mt. Gerizim attained its status as the
Samaritans' cultic center? Was it not only after the sack of Samaria by
Alexander and its conversion into a Greek city? Or is there evidence of it
having occurred earlier? Would this not then give us a date for at least the
inclusion of Mt. Geranium into the Samaritan Pentateuch?

Thank you,


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