[b-hebrew] Language, migration and Jewish identity

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 09:34:23 EST 2007

On Nov 9, 2007 1:41 PM,  Jim Stinehart wrote:
> Yitzhak Sapir:
> Here are my answers to your three  questions.  (Pursuant to the good  advice
> of George Athas, I will try to keep my posts  short.)
> 1.  Famed German scholar Gerhard von Rad, at p. 187 of his book "Genesis"
> (1961), paperback edition 1972, states:
> "The 'iniquity of the Amorites' is here [at  Genesis 15: 16] to be understood
> as their sexual  corruption…."

The original quote was:
> Do you realize that secular scholars, in
> their published works, try to tell us that "the iniquity of the Amorites" at
> Genesis 15: 16 refers to untoward sex practices of Gentiles in Lebanon?

I see nothing in the quote you brought above about Lebanon.  In any case, the
book is 46 years old. That's old!  You really should use more recent
and you should avoid the word "secular scholars" for actual names, especially
when it might just be one opinion amongst many.

> 2.  To the best of my knowledge, in the last 40 years not a single scholar at
>  a leading university in the West has written an article or book comparing
> the  Amarna Letters with the Patriarchal narratives.  No detailed debunking of
> any claimed  comparison has been done either.  There simply is nothing recent
> out there at all that has been published  on this subject by any secular
> scholar at a leading university, to the best of  my knowledge.

Well, the debunking goes hand in hand.  You don't debunk a theory that isn't
proposed.  If no one proposed it, why would anyone waste time debunking it?
Do you see anyone trying to debunk the theory that Martians are cute and
furry?  However, that no one has written any article of comparison may just be
because no one thought it was a convincing case to be made.  You have to
think you have a case before you sit down to write an article or book.  This
doesn't mean that universities forbid them to consider the possibility.  You
said they are not allowed to consider the possibility, not that they don't
consider the possibility possibly because they reject the idea very early.

As a short point, the only thing that really matches between the Patriarchal
narratives and the Amarna letters is the name of the king - Abimelekh vs.
Abimilki.  But, this is a very common name.  "Milku" (king) was an epithet
for Baal.  That's where the Molekh comes from (possibly vocalized as
"boshet" - shame).  We have all kinds of names, with deities or their
epithets and various family components in the name.

> 3.  Probably the most famous Biblical Minimalist is Niels Peter Lemche.  In
> his book "Prelude to Israel's Past"  (1998) at p. 25, Niels Peter Lemche refers
> to the Patriarchal narratives as  "fairy tales".  To put that comment  in
> some context, here is a little of pp.  24-25:
> "For the authors of the Pentateuch, the  narratives are idyllic portrayals of
> the patriarchs….  We are moving in a world of fairy tales  and sagas where
> mythical motifs are blended with  legend."
> Although mainstream secular scholars would  not use the inflammatory phrase
> "fairy tales", they in fact for the most part  agree with most of Niels Peter
> Lemche's analysis of the Patriarchal narratives,  at least in broad outline.

I think it is Thomas Thompson who you should really look up for an analysis of
the Patriarchal narratives.  But in any case, if you yourself agree
that mainstream
secular scholars would not use the term, why do you put the term in
their mouths?
Furthermore, again, it is best to refer to the scholars (so far only
Lemche, and I
have to look up the quote to see if you omitted anything substantial) by name,
rather than say "anonymous scholars."

Yitzhak Sapir

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