The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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neilgodfrey
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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Secret Alias wrote: Wed Jan 04, 2023 4:20 pm But "Israel" = northern Israel. What don't you understand?
Okay. I see the game you are playing. You are telling us that "the argument is so obvious you have to be really dumb not to see it. It is as plain as the nose on your face. If I need to explain it you must be too dumb to even understand it so why should I bother."

Well, if it's so obvious there has to be a reason everyone does not already take it for granted. But please don't go to that other game you have so often played by accusing others of being so deficient in character and motivation that they are in some sense wilfully blind.

These are childish games, SA. This is a discussion forum, as you so often like to remind me. So please discuss. Explain your argument.
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Secret Alias
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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There's no game. For my part I was think you had suddenly developed brain damage or something. There were two kingdoms in the first commonwealth period. Jerusalem was part of the "kingdom of Judah." Ok you get that much right. "Jew" is developed from this term. And then let's look at this map:

Image

What's the name of the kingdom that lies just north of the kingdom of Judah? Hmmm. I see an "I" and then a "S" and then a "R" and then a "A" and then a "E" and then a "L." I-S-R-A-E-L. Hmmm. It's funny you just can't see what this spells. I will give you hint. The Pentateuch made up this myth (you like the word "myth" so I'd expect you to take the next step). There is this myth about a guy named "Jacob" and wrestles with god or an angel and is then called "Israel" and then he passes this name to his sons but especially Joseph who eventually gets buried here and his descendants settle in the land.

The "myth" part is that there were these 12 sons and blah blah blah. The history part is that the northern kingdom has that name. What is it again? I-S-R-A-E-L. It spells something you can't seem to see. So there is this "myth" and then there is "history." In history "the kingdom of I-S-R-A-E-L" and to the south the kingdom where all the Jews come from. If only you could put those letters together I-S-R-A-E-L. Hmmm.

What was it that Aristotle said two things can't occupy the same space or in the Physics:
(208bl): That places exist and are distinct from what occupies them is held to be proved by the fact that different bodies can be and are said to occupy the same place. If places were not something different from the bodies that occupy them, this would not be so.
So "Judah" is one place and "Judah" isn't this other place I-S-R-A-E-L (whatever those letters spell). "Judah" and "I-S-R-A-E-L" aren't the same thing. They are separate places. Oh I am starting to get it. I wish I could figure what people descended from this land with the name "I-S-R-A-E-L." If only we had spelling to help us solve this mystery.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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Secret Alias wrote: Wed Jan 04, 2023 6:23 pm There's no game. For my part I was think you had suddenly developed brain damage or something.


. . . . They are separate places. .....
I am perfectly aware of the difference between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

I am perfectly aware of the stories in Genesis.

Now what is your actual argument?

What is it I don't get, -- and do please try to be nice. I am really trying hard to be patient and civil with you.

Pretend you are addressing Gmirkin. Be respectful and clear about your point.
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Secret Alias
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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The argument is that "Judah" wasn't Israel.
andrewcriddle
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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neilgodfrey wrote: Wed Jan 04, 2023 1:07 pm
andrewcriddle wrote: Wed Jan 04, 2023 5:21 am
IF the Jews believed, before the composition of the Pentateuch, that the institution of a single sanctuary for worship meant NOT a single sanctuary location to be decided later BUT a single sanctuary at Jerusalem, THEN I would expect some indication in the text.
It may well be that an earlier text requiring a single sanctuary, location unspecified, was finally redacted by Jews who, despite believing that this sanctuary must be at Jerusalem, did not update the text to reflect this. However, I have more problems about our present Pentateuch being a basically original work by Jews who held that the single sanctuary must be at Jerusalem.

(I hope I've explained what I am arguing, YMMV as to how plausible my argument is.)

Andrew Criddle
What I was most curious about and what prompted my question was not simply the expectation of an explicit preference for Jerusalem but "some basis in the Pentateuch for preferring Jersusalem to mount Gerizim".

I am reminded of another Greek foundation myth, that of Cyrene. The absence of the name Cyrene in the account serves to add to the mystery and supernatural air of the prophecy:
As the next morning was fair, they cast their hawsers off and sailed. Euphemus then remembered that he had had a dream in the night, and in deference to Hermes, god of dreams, he took pains to recall it. He had dreamt that he was holding to his breast the lump of earth which the god had given him and was suckling it with streams of white milk. The clod, small as it was, turned into a woman of virginal appearance; and in an access of passion he lay with her. When the deed was done, he felt remorse - she had been a virgin and he had suckled her himself. But she consoled him, saying in a gentle voice: ‘My friend, I am of Triton’s stock and the Nurse of your children; no mortal maid, but a Daughter of Triton and Libya. Give me a home with Nereus’ Daughters in the sea near Anaphe, and I will reappear in the light of day in time to welcome your descendants.’

Euphemus, after committing his dream to memory, told it to Jason. The dream reminded Jason of an oracle of Apollo’s, and putting the two things together, he made a prophecy himself, exclaiming: ‘My noble friend, you are marked out for great renown! When you have thrown this clod of earth into the sea, the gods will make an island of it, and there your children’s children are to live. Triton received you as a friend with this little piece of Libyan soil. It was Triton and no other god that met us and gave you this.’ (Voyage, E.V. Rieu's translation. pp. 189-193)
Other foundation myths of Cyrene: https://vridar.org/2017/07/31/five-foun ... of-cyrene/

(There are several striking parallels between the Apollonius's story of the Argonauts and the Israelites journeying to Canaan, not the least of which each group is depicted carrying a sacred vessel through the wilderness. Whether an argument can be made for the Pentateuch being inspired in any way by Apollonius's version of the story is another question, though.)

My point here is that when I first read about that dream of the clod of earth and the way it was said to have such importance for the future, I was mystified. I was not aware of the genre of Greek colony foundation myths at the time. The myth did not identify Cyrene as the colony that was the subject of the prophecy.

And by not naming Cyrene the mystery of a supernatural prophecy was all the more enhanced, made "credible" in that world and time when supernatural prophecies were so often clouded in mysterious ambiguities that left the first hearers wondering what and how exactly the prophecy was to be fulfilled. It was the later generations who looked back and saw "clearly" that it was meant for such and such a city -- in this case Cyrene.

(Secret Alias, if you are reading this, noted that the people of Cyrene were not so "narcissistic" that they were "compelled" to make clear reference to their city in their foundation myth as you seem to assume people would be by nature.)

As for the issue of preferring Jersusalem over Mount Gerizim, there are several implicit hints of places that could be interpreted as references to Gerizim (beginning with the Garden of Eden "in the east") and Jerusalem (Abraham's offering of Isaac is at a place interpreted differently by Samaritans and Judeans). I think Gmirkin is right when he says the evidence in the text suggests a collaborative authorship. Another scholar who has argued for the Hellenistic origin of the Pentateuch, Barc, posits that the author was a bridge-builder, seeking to bring together Hellenistic and other groups, Samaritans and Judeans, into embracing a common myth. The rift between Samaritans and Judeans, between Hellenists and anti-Hellenists, broke out later. It is a mistake, from this perspective, to assume a hostile rivalry between Judeans and Samaritans at the time of the composition of the Pentateuch.

Genesis, as the introduction to the Pentateuch (or it was possibly originally only the first four books with Deuteronomy a separate story), makes no condemnation of other races or even other gods. It is a story of harmony at that level. The intolerant and genocidal views that entered in later parts of the multi-volumed work were not those of the Genesis author(s).

We still have more questions than answers about these books, but the answers we do have seem to point to efforts at cooperation or bridge-building of some kind. The story, even from the opening chapters of Genesis, is more about harmony and co-existence at a "racial/national" and theological level than rivalry.
I'm not sure if you are suggesting that Genesis is an early Hellenistic work and the Pentateuch in anything like its final form much later. If so I regard this as wildly unlikely but I may be misunderstanding you.

(I think you may be exaggerating the tolerance of Genesis see eg Genesis 34 )

Andrew Criddle
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Secret Alias
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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If you look at Adler's presentation he's making it clear that the Jewish authorities didn't have the ability to impose the Law on the general population. This would especially be true in ages where foreigners ruled the Land. The "coincidence" that we start to see evidence of legal observance in the Hasmonean period would fit within this understanding. As the Jewish priesthood had on the ground "muscle" in the governing body of Judea we would expect less and less freedom for the general population. From what I remember of the Maccabean literature the portrait before the "good guys" - the Maccabees - appear is of Jews acting like Greeks. Then the good guys destroy the good times and everyone is forced to have their lives governed by clerics. Sort of reminds me of Iraq after the fall of Saddam or Iran in the 1970s. A book is only a book, laws are only things written on paper until someone comes along and enforces those laws. People generally like freedom unless priests and religious figure can convince them that their misery is being "caused" by other people's good times.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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This is not a point-by-point reply to Neil's interesting post about perceived resemblances between the Pentateuch and Plato's Laws. But I will be trying to explain why I see them as very different works.

An immediately obvious difference is that the Laws takes the form of a debate between three old men about how to construct a right-thinking society that would avoid corruption by pseudo-progressive ideas from outside and repudiate the trendy life-style of modern disrespectful kids. The form of the Dialogue raises real questions about Plato's real views and intentions in a way that has no parallel with the Pentateuch. I am going to ignore this issue. Whatever Plato really meant, Platonists took the Laws at face value with the Athenian as Plato's spokesman.

There are some striking parallels between the Laws and the Pentateuch. e.g. The marriage and inheritance rules of Zelophehad’s Daughters has resemblances (as well as important differences) to the rules about heiresses in the Laws. It may be worth noting that this passage is probably a very late addition to the Pentateuch. On the other hand, this is generally likely to be an important issue in a pre-modern society. It is plausible that the Laws and the Pentateuch often cover similar issues because in many ways they are dealing with similar societies.

Important differences are the preoccupation of the Laws with numerology and its worrying tendency to want to regulate every detail of people's private and family life. The Laws defends its proposals in terms of living this life so as to have a good afterlife which is something the Pentateuch notably does not do. The argument of the Laws depends upon a distinction between the spiritual and physical realms. This may be implicit in the Theology of the Pentateuch but not in its anthropology in the way it is in the Laws.

The Pentateuch is committed to upholding monotheism. Not neccesarily in the sense that there is only one God, but in the sense that there is only one God the Israelites should worship. The Laws is not. The Pentateuch bases its ordinances not upon dialectic and (pseudo-) science but upon God's revelation to his people. Israel is to obey God because of their covenant with Him and the history of his vindication of his people. All of this is unlike the Laws.

The Pentateuch upholds an unusually elaborate system of ritual observances for reconciliation with God. Sin offerings, trespass offerings etc. This is something which the Laws is very uneasy about. It opposes any suggestion that one can be in God's favour by rituals rather than moral behaviour.

Andrew Criddle
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Jan 05, 2023 9:36 am If you look at Adler's presentation he's making it clear that the Jewish authorities didn't have the ability to impose the Law on the general population.
Where does Adler say anything like that? Or is that your own imagination without bothering to read Adler?
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 05, 2023 10:11 am This is not a point-by-point reply to Neil's interesting post about perceived resemblances between the Pentateuch and Plato's Laws. But I will be trying to explain why I see them as very different works.

An immediately obvious difference is that the Laws takes the form of a debate between three old men about how to construct a right-thinking society that would avoid corruption by pseudo-progressive ideas from outside and repudiate the trendy life-style of modern disrespectful kids. The form of the Dialogue raises real questions about Plato's real views and intentions in a way that has no parallel with the Pentateuch. I am going to ignore this issue. Whatever Plato really meant, Platonists took the Laws at face value with the Athenian as Plato's spokesman.

There are some striking parallels between the Laws and the Pentateuch. e.g. The marriage and inheritance rules of Zelophehad’s Daughters has resemblances (as well as important differences) to the rules about heiresses in the Laws. It may be worth noting that this passage is probably a very late addition to the Pentateuch. On the other hand, this is generally likely to be an important issue in a pre-modern society. It is plausible that the Laws and the Pentateuch often cover similar issues because in many ways they are dealing with similar societies.

Important differences are the preoccupation of the Laws with numerology and its worrying tendency to want to regulate every detail of people's private and family life. The Laws defends its proposals in terms of living this life so as to have a good afterlife which is something the Pentateuch notably does not do. The argument of the Laws depends upon a distinction between the spiritual and physical realms. This may be implicit in the Theology of the Pentateuch but not in its anthropology in the way it is in the Laws.

The Pentateuch is committed to upholding monotheism. Not neccesarily in the sense that there is only one God, but in the sense that there is only one God the Israelites should worship. The Laws is not. The Pentateuch bases its ordinances not upon dialectic and (pseudo-) science but upon God's revelation to his people. Israel is to obey God because of their covenant with Him and the history of his vindication of his people. All of this is unlike the Laws.

The Pentateuch upholds an unusually elaborate system of ritual observances for reconciliation with God. Sin offerings, trespass offerings etc. This is something which the Laws is very uneasy about. It opposes any suggestion that one can be in God's favour by rituals rather than moral behaviour.

Andrew Criddle
Thanks for the feedback, Andrew.

I'd like to respond over time to different points you have raised.

My initial comment is about the nature of Hellenization. I have understood that this process is about blending the cultures of east and west rather than merely imposing Greek culture on the east. (Though the comparative extent of blend/domination varied in different regions and at different times.) It is arguable that the Pentateuch is such a blend. The most obvious instance of this would be the status of the god Yahweh being rewritten in roles that at times recall Zeus.

On the different formats of the two works, yes indeed, a speculative conversation among three old men is about as far from the thunder and lightning Mount Sinai episode as one can get. But what the dialogue is proposing is, of course, not a repeat of dialogues in order to establish the laws in the new ideal colony. The three men are in the role of the philosopher-rulers, let's say, who are deciding how to introduce and administer the laws as well as the nature of the laws to be introduced. What they propose is that a myth of origins be written to introduce those laws and that that myth of origins should make it very "clear" that the laws are of divine origin.

That is, the philosophers are discussing the desirability of finding the best way to facilitate belief among the inhabitants that their laws are not of human origin but from God.

It follows that the myth itself should be as far removed from any scenario of three old man having a chat while they walk along a country road in Crete as possible. There is to be no hint of human dialogue in the myth that they (or was it the Athenian of the three men?) propose and agree upon.

What we read in the Pentateuch is the idea that they were agreeing upon: a myth that "proved" to citizens that their laws were unlike the laws of any other civic body, a belief that their laws were delivered by God alone.

The three old men in dialogue was the sausage making machine. The sausage itself was the Mount Sinai story.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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This is a very important point.
Not neccesarily in the sense that there is only one God, but in the sense that there is only one God the Israelites should worship.
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