[b-hebrew] R. Gmirkin on the Date of the Pentateuch

goranson at duke.edu goranson at duke.edu
Tue Oct 17 06:34:11 EDT 2006

With all the posts on the relation of the Hebrew Bible to its Greek translations
lately on this list, perhaps it is appropriate to mention a new book:
Russell E. Gmirkin, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic
Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, (T & T Clark, 2006). From page one:
"The central thesis of this book is that the Pentateuch was composed in its
entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria that later
traditions credited with the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch into
I find the book unpersuasive, despite its frequent use of words such as
"doubtless" in its string, thicket, of hypotheses and assertions. The bold
thesis statement is restated later, but with various weasel words added (e.g.
pages 21, 251, 253). It is unclear, for example, whether the book settles on
translation by the seventy or seventy-two proposed fluent bilingual visitors
to the Library of Alexandria or "a single individual (or a very small group) as
shown by consistent style and vocabulary."(251) On ane-2 (yahoo) list 25 Sept
John Wm. Wevers, author of "Textual History of the Greek Genesis... Exodus ...
Lev... Num...  Deut" offered a caveat to Gmirkin's online claim of one
translator in contrast to his proposed 70 authors; Gmirkin responded 27 Sept
that "....I don't think it materially affects my arguments which are of a
purely source-critical nature."

I consider several of Gmirkin's assertions doubtful, and the committee
composition scenario implausible, and may write further, after following up
some related reading. If one wishes to read a favorable, if not a cheerleader,
review, one can go to amazon.com, where G. Doudna (thanked in the book) has
posted, with the review title, "The Bible started as a 3rd century BC cultural
studies grant."

Stephen Goranson

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