[b-hebrew] Re: Eden's Four Rivers (article)

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu May 12 20:05:09 EDT 2005

On 12/05/2005 04:39, Karl Randolph wrote:

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Peter Kirk" <peterkirk at qaya.org>
>>On 11/05/2005 23:41, Karl Randolph wrote:
>>>Would you have been happier had I written, “The only text that 
>>>mentions Abraham rules out that he was from Sumer”?
>>No, I wouldn't, because nothing rules out Abraham being from 
>>Sumer. What text are you talking about, anyway? There are many 
>>texts mentioning Abraham. If you are talking about Genesis 11:31, 
>>this rules out nothing. After all, Haran was only a short 
>>distance off the only practical route from the southern Ur to 
>>Canaan, assuming that Terah and his family, and perhaps their 
>>sheep, didn't want to die of thirst in the desert on the way. If 
>>I meet someone in Seattle who says they come from Moscow, I might 
>>well assume that they are from Moscow in Russia, not Moscow, 
>>Idaho, even though the latter is much nearer.
>>-- Peter Kirk
>>peter at qaya.org (personal)
>>peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
>Oh? Which texts besides the Bible mention Abraham? ...

Well, if you count the Bible, including the New Testament, as just one 
text, I will have to point you to numerous Qumran and later Jewish 
documents and to a whole host of Christian, Islamic etc writings. So you 
cannot speak without qualification of "The only text that mentions 
Abraham". If what you mean is "The Bible rules out Abraham being from 
Sumer", at least that is clear, but is clearly untrue.

>... Are there some 
>from Sumer? Akkad? Any other cities? Unless you can come up with 
>records of Abraham in Sumer, you can’t place him there. There is no 

Precisely. There is no evidence for you to rule out him being from 
Sumer, and no evidence for others to rule out him being from 
Edessa/Urfa. There is insufficient evidence either way.

>... So he turned to one 
>Chinese looking kid and asked where he was born, whereupon the 
>student answered “Canton”. The teacher used this example to extend 
>his tirade, thinking the student was from Canton, China, until the 
>student completed his statement with, “I was born in Canton, Ohio.” 
>The whole class laughed.)
>The Bible mentions only Ur of the Chaldeas. Seeing as this is a 
>place connected to the Chaldeas, a Semitic speaking people, that 
>rules out Ur of the Sumerians, whose language was unrelated 
>to Chaldean. ...

Just as your student being from Canton, Ohio rules out him being ethnic 
Chinese, I suppose? I think the whole class will laugh at your logic 
here just as they laughed at your teacher.

>... Or the ancient pronunciation could have been Ora, very 
>similar to a town far from Ur of the Sumerians. Whether you agree 
>with the Bible or not, the text as it presently stands indicates 
>that Abraham did not come from Ur of the Sumerians, but from a 
>locale connected with Semitic language speaking Chaldeans. 
>Therefore, the only text mentioning Abraham as it stands rules out 
>Ur of the Sumerians.
I might accept "indicates that Abraham did not come from Ur of the 
Sumerians", but "indicates X" does not imply "rules out not X", only 
"makes not X less probable".

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

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