[b-hebrew] Tanach book order - different in Christian Bibles

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Sun Sep 3 19:24:37 EDT 2006


I don't think there will be any problem merely pointing out
similarities between Greek literature and Tanakh.

The problem is when one tries to determine who borrowed from whom.
There are three possible scenarios: the Greeks borrowed from the
Hebrews, the Hebrews borrowed from the Greeks, and there were ideas
that were common to both cultures (indeed, known throughout ancient
Levant) that similarities are the result that both were similar in the
first place.

On 9/3/06, Philippe Wajdenbaum <pwajdenbaum at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Karl,
> Thank you for your answer. I thought that it was possible to discuss this
> subject here, by having read some of the archives of the list; I understand
> it is very sensitive. I do not want to make proselytism, just to express my
> opinions. I have been reading a lot of Greek litterature and just find
> strange how many parallels are to be found with the Tanakh. So I started
> asking myself questions. The book of Micheal Astour is a very good one, as
> he points many of those parallels; after him came Martin West and his "East
> face of Helicon".
> But these authors think that ideas only travel from East to West, never the
> other way around. This can be called proselytism also, in your definition of
> the term.

Yes, but they are not members of this list, nor pushing their ideas here.

> ... It is true that many mythical characters and Greek gods have a
> semitic origin. But what the Greeks knew from the semitic world seems more
> like Cananean or Phenician culture rather biblical culture. For instance
> Belos derives from semitic god Baal or Bel, Melikertes from Melkart, the
> biblical Molekh; and also Adonis that comes from Tammuz, as you mentionned.
> These gods are the idols despised by the authors of the Tanakh; but I don't
> think the Greeks knew anything directly from the Tanakh. For instance,
> Herodotos knew only Syria and Palestine. Yet you can find many parallel
> themes with the Bible in his Historia. Did he copied the Bible, and
> deliberately hid his knowledge of Judea? Maybe.
In Herodotos' day, the Jewish diaspora had already reached all over
the Persian Empire, including those Greek cities under Persian
control. Likewise Jewish ideas were known wherever there were Jews.
Thus it is possible that Herodotos knew of Jewish ideas, while not
being familiar with the relatively insignificant province of Judea.

> ...
> >Just as there was trade in objects, so there was trade in ideas as
> >well. The Jewish diaspora, started under Nebuchadnezzar, could very
> >well have reached Greece by the time of Plato, so you can't rule out
> >his being influenced by and taking examples from Hebrew sources. Jews
> >and Jewish ideas were known in Hellenistic cities in Asia Minor by
> >Plato's time.
> Indeed; but my problem is that I find very accurate parallels with all the
> famous Greeks writers, from Homer to Apollonios Rhodius. The Fathers of the
> Church claimed that all of them stole from the Bible. This was a rational
> point of view, for men who knew both litteratures very well.

I refer to my question above, where I tend to point to the book of
Romans, chapter two, where Paul wrote that there are a lot of
similarities between Jewish ideas and the rest of the world, because
the ideas are common to all people. While the Church Fathers may have
claimed that the Greeks stole from Tanakh, Paul took the third option
I mentioned above, claiming that they were common ideas.

> ... I have come to
> the opposite conclusion. The reading of Plato's Laws is very disturbing. I
> recommand it to anyone who has some curiosity, not wanting to push my
> opinions about the dating. These similarities raise a huge question, and I
> find it troubling that no one, either in universities or anywhere, is ready
> to discuss it.
It could be that if the similarities are mentioned, the question
immediately comes up, which came first? Who borrowed from whom? But as
I mentioned at the beginning, the similarities could be from the fact
that many of the ideas were common to all peoples, not just one from
which all others borrowed.

> >You admit "But yes, these theories do ruin both judaism and
> >christianism if they are right." That admission is enough to say that
> >you are not to push your beliefs, for that is proselytism to your
> >religion. You may mention your beliefs, and others on this list may
> >counter with interpretations based on their beliefs, but in the
> >absence of historical data neither can insist in this forum that his
> >interpretation is the correct one. Proselytism is the venue of other
> >forums, please not here.
> The ideas I express are not a religion, and I just wanted to have some
> opinions about them, and I do not expect others to agree; I think that what
> I say is correct, knowing many evidences that I am willing to share with
> you, not to convince you but just to make you realise, at least, of the
> great similarities with the Greek litterature. This can help for giving
> etymologies and focus on the topic of the hebrew language. But if the idea
> of a Greek influence is not acceptable here, I will not insist.
> Regards,
> Philippe Wajdenbaum

Your beliefs are religion, if you define religion according to
function, not form.

The problem is that we know so little about ancient history. Even the
years when prominent kings reigned can, in some cases, be off by as
much as centuries. While we recognize that such disagreements exist,
it is not our purpose to push one side over the other.

When was Tanakh written? Internally, several of the books give a date.
For example, Daniel makes the claim that it was written by the court
official who retired at the end of the 70 year Babylonian Captivity.
Isaiah wrote the names of the kings who reigned during his life. There
are several other similar examples, though not all books have
authorship dates. Are those trustworthy dates? Some of us say "Yes"
while others say "No". The reason I bring this up, is that if those
dates are accurate, then it is impossible for borrowing to have come
from Hellenism to Tanakh, but it leaves open the possibility of shared
ideas or borrowing from Tanakh to Hellenism. If those dates are not
accurate, then all bets are off. But we have no external data either
to verify or falsify those internal dates, so whichever position we
take, it is one of faith. That's why we don't proselytize on this

Karl W. Randolph.

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