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

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Sep 4 17:19:12 EDT 2006

Dear Phiilipe:

On 9/4/06, Philippe Wajdenbaum <pwajdenbaum at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Karl,
> Thank you for your answer. I am glad we can discuss this issue.

We can discuss it, but we can never reach a consensus.

> ... Among the
> three scenarios that you cite, the common ideas circulating around the
> Mediteranean and the Levant is the most used among modern scholars. The
> borrowing by the Greeks from the Jews was the idea of Clement and Eusebius.
> The last scenario, borrowing by the Jews from the Greeks, is rarely
> defended, because two religions at least are at stake in this. Yet it is a
> possibility.
More than just two religions, history is involved.

The Greek authors were not well known outside of Greek areas until
after Alexander the Great. His conquests did not occur until close to
a century after the text of the Tanakh had been closed, as recognized
by both Jewish and Christian traditions. If this historical reference
is accurate, then borrowing from the Greeks is an impossibility, as
the text was fixed long before Greek ideas were known among Jews.

The only serious challenge to this historical tradition came only in
the last couple of centuries, and then so transparently based on
ideology that many, including myself, reject it.

> You are right to say that there are no sufficiant historical data to prove
> or to disprove anything. But there is one thing: the Greek authors, excepted
> Homer, are known through many sources and were real men.

Who is to say that the reported authors of Tanakh were not real men?
It is only the destruction of Jewish life, together with almost all
preserved records, under Titus and later what was left during the Bar
Kochba revolt that we have lost possibly most non-Tanakh Jewish
records that could have named them.

> ... . The central point of  this text is
> that he says the legislator should become a poet and tell myths to the
> people in order to make them obey the law willingly.
> To me it seems like this text gives the project for the Torah. ...
But you have to deal first with the historical question. The internal
dates of Torah indicate that it was written a millennium before Plato.
There is no undisputed evidence that contradicts those dates. If the
internal dates are accurate, the concept of a project based on ideas
from Plato is an impossibility.

> ...
> Nonetheless, if I am wrong about who copied who, there are still the facts:
> many laws and ideas are common to Plato's Laws and the Torah. So I don't
> understand why, among the hundreds of thousands of books commenting those
> texts, I cannot find one that compares them (except Eusebius)? Isn't it
> because it is a very embarassing point for scholars? And why is Platos' Laws
> the least published and the least studied of his works? Isn't it because it
> raises a question nobody is ready to answer?
> Regards,
> Philippe Wajdenbaum

Philippe, there are probably multiple answers to your questions above,
but probably the most common reason is that most of those who studied
well the Greek authors had little knowledge of Bible if any, and on
the other side, those who had studied Bible have passing familiarity
with the Greek authors at best (I'm in the second group). A few, like
Luther, had studied both, but Luther considered his time spent
studying the Greek authors wasted time, and did not want to waste more
time returning to them. If the reason is embarrassment, the
embarrassment is that we don't want to admit our ignorance, not any
ideological embarrassment. And the reason Plato's laws are not widely
studied is because they are not sexy, or interesting, in the same way
as most of the rest of his writings.

Unless you can prove the historical point that Tanakh is a fiction
from the Hellenistic period, you don't have a theory that will excite
much interest except possibly among those who already agree with you.
And to prove that point, you will have to present data, not
speculation, that no one in the past two centuries has yet presented.

It is because we cannot reach consensus on this issue that we
generally shy away from discussing it.

Karl W. Randolph.

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