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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Continuing my comments on Andrew's response:
andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 05, 2023 10:11 am 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.
Of course. Plato wrote of the gods and the Pentateuch in its final form stresses the worship of one god to the exclusion of others. Again, we see Hellenization here. That is, a blending of two cultures. That's what Hellenization was, especially in the early stages. The Pentateuch is not an imitation of Homer or Plato, but an analysis of its contents does show many instances (many of which I posted above) of the application of the teachings and decisions of the philosophers on the road in Crete.

But there is one small detail that is worth keeping in mind: the original text of the Pentateuch was more favourable to polytheistic ideas than its subsequent redactions. Deuteronomy 32 speaks of the division of the "sons of god" among the tribes of the earth, with the portion of the god Yahweh being Israel. Similarly in the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 we read of a council of gods deciding to create humans, then afterwards we read of "sons of gods" mating with mortal women. These passages were modified in later editing and/or revisions of the tradition and interpretation (e.g. the nations in Deut 32 were changed to being according to the "sons of Israel) -- again, even such revisions of an original text was known among Hellenistic era Greeks who made similar types of editing "improvements" to Homer.

Plato also insisted on a change to the gods of Greece and wanted all tales of immorality among them to be banned. He -- as did other philosophers -- also tended to speak of God as a supreme being. We find in Genesis 1 the same kind of god that Plato imagined the Demiurge to be -- a being removed from time and space from his creation, immortal yet without form as we understand it -- not anthropomorphic at all, but very much the sort of being Christians (and other religions "of the book") often imagine. That figure of god was Plato's creation and that is the same type of divine figure who enters Genesis 1. He has no Mesopotamian or Levantine counterpart.

There are many aspects of Greek culture and thought that the Pentateuch rejected. Nudity was acceptable among Greeks in public settings but was frowned upon by the Hebrews. They did not take that aspect of Greek culture on board but condemned it -- as we seem to read about in the shame of Noah, for example, and the shame felt by Adam and Eve.

One can make a list of Greek ways that the Hebrews opposed, but one is still left with the clear links between Pentateuch's laws and the way they are presented -- the preface, the origins, the exhortations with promises -- and the discussion points in Plato's Laws.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 05, 2023 10:11 am 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
Again....

Yes, it looks as though the Pentateuch was incorporating local Canaanite-Transjordan-Nabatean/Judean/Samaritan rituals into the Pentateuch. Again -- the blend of cultures. But Plato certainly endorsed animal sacrifice. He even describes a covenant renewal ceremony (not in Laws but another work) where the leaders of Atlantis poor the blood of a bull over a covenant stone and promise to keep the covenant forever etc etc -- not unlike the Exodus covenant ceremony in some respects. But I don't know to what extent the Pentateuch speaks of rituals as a form of bribery of the divine.

But anyone reading the Pentateuch cannot fail to be impressed by the strongly moral message, the commands to be holy, the central command being to love God and then neighbour. Plato did endorse religious feasts on a regular basis and that's what the Pentateuch does, too.

Somewhere else I think Andrew said the Laws stressed rewards in the hereafter. Well, yes, Plato taught the immortal soul. But the Pentateuch rejected the idea of an immortal soul so it could hardly endorse a happy life in the Elysian fields. But there is no doubt that the Laws very much stressed happiness and fulfilment of life in the here and now -- just as did the Pentateuch.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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The Origins of Judaism: Re-examining the Archaeological Evidence - Dr. Yonatan Adler
History Valley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp-io2R5kLE


48:00
https://youtu.be/Hp-io2R5kLE
When did Samaritans and Jews break up to two separate groups?
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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Leucius Charinus wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:40 am The Origins of Judaism: Re-examining the Archaeological Evidence - Dr. Yonatan Adler
History Valley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hp-io2R5kLE


48:00
https://youtu.be/Hp-io2R5kLE
When did Samaritans and Jews break up to two separate groups?
I like interviews like these. Ask a professional scholar a question and he will respond not just with his own opinions but will set his views in the context of other views found among his peers, with attempts to help the listener understand what the issues are.

One work that Adler cites in his book is The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity? by Bourgel -- available open access at https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/10/11/628

Bourgel's conclusion, which in some part answers the question "when did the Jews and Samaritans break up?":
The question of the Samaritans in the Hasmonean period is multifaceted and needs to be treated with different approaches. In the first place, the attitude of the Hasmoneans toward the Samaritans has turned out to be a more complicated issue than was initially assumed, and it may be reductive, if not erroneous, to simply see it as one of hatred and rejection. In my opinion, the Hasmonean rulers, as part of their general endeavor to religiously unite their new territorial acquisitions, sought to bring the Samaritans to recognize the Jerusalem temple as the only legitimate place of worship, and its priesthood as the only legitimate priesthood; while Jonathan used persuasion, John Hyrcanus, for his part, used coercion. However, their attempt eventually backfired and turned the Samaritans against them and the Jerusalem cult, the majority of the former remaining exclusively loyal to Mt. Gerizim. It should be added that the principles of this policy were abandoned a few decades later, when the Samaritans were expelled from the Jerusalem Temple in the days of the Roman procurator Coponius (6–9 CE; Ant 18:29–30120).
That the first attempt should be through persuasion fits with other evidence (e.g. Schorch's analysis of the origins of the so-called "Samaritan additions" to the Pentateuch demonstrating the strong likelihood that those "additions" were actually the results of harmonious cooperation between Judeans and Samaritans) that the Pentateuch was composed as a joint Samaritan and Judean effort.

Ιn the youtube interview, Adler notes that the Pentateuch's message is not "self-evident" but needs interpretation. It is too easy for us to read it through the eyes of later polemicists and misinterpret its original words -- which in turn mis-guides our entire view of its origins.

I cannot say much for certain, but at the moment I tend to wonder if Russell Gmirkin is way too conservative and dates the Pentateuch way too early. I wonder if a stronger evidence-based argument can be made for it being composed in the late third or even early second century CE.

Adler says it's "possible" that the work was sitting on a shelf unread for decades or centuries, or read only by a tiny handful of people. But I think a moment's reflection leads us to insist that the first option is not at all "possible". It would be like a copy of "Streetcar Named Desire" sitting in a medieval monastery since the middle ages. Sometimes the literary nature of a work testifies to whether it is possible that it comes from this or that era.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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neilgodfrey wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:40 pm

I like interviews like these. Ask a professional scholar a question and he will respond not just with his own opinions but will set his views in the context of other views found among his peers, with attempts to help the listener understand what the issues are.

One work that Adler cites in his book is The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity? by Bourgel -- available open access at https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/10/11/628

Bourgel's conclusion, which in some part answers the question "when did the Jews and Samaritans break up?":
The question of the Samaritans in the Hasmonean period is multifaceted and needs to be treated with different approaches. In the first place, the attitude of the Hasmoneans toward the Samaritans has turned out to be a more complicated issue than was initially assumed, and it may be reductive, if not erroneous, to simply see it as one of hatred and rejection. In my opinion, the Hasmonean rulers, as part of their general endeavor to religiously unite their new territorial acquisitions, sought to bring the Samaritans to recognize the Jerusalem temple as the only legitimate place of worship, and its priesthood as the only legitimate priesthood; while Jonathan used persuasion, John Hyrcanus, for his part, used coercion. However, their attempt eventually backfired and turned the Samaritans against them and the Jerusalem cult, the majority of the former remaining exclusively loyal to Mt. Gerizim. It should be added that the principles of this policy were abandoned a few decades later, when the Samaritans were expelled from the Jerusalem Temple in the days of the Roman procurator Coponius (6–9 CE; Ant 18:29–30120).
That the first attempt should be through persuasion fits with other evidence (e.g. Schorch's analysis of the origins of the so-called "Samaritan additions" to the Pentateuch demonstrating the strong likelihood that those "additions" were actually the results of harmonious cooperation between Judeans and Samaritans) that the Pentateuch was composed as a joint Samaritan and Judean effort.

Ιn the youtube interview, Adler notes that the Pentateuch's message is not "self-evident" but needs interpretation. It is too easy for us to read it through the eyes of later polemicists and misinterpret its original words -- which in turn mis-guides our entire view of its origins.

I cannot say much for certain, but at the moment I tend to wonder if Russell Gmirkin is way too conservative and dates the Pentateuch way too early. I wonder if a stronger evidence-based argument can be made for it being composed in the late third or even early second century CE.

Adler says it's "possible" that the work was sitting on a shelf unread for decades or centuries, or read only by a tiny handful of people. But I think a moment's reflection leads us to insist that the first option is not at all "possible". It would be like a copy of "Streetcar Named Desire" sitting in a medieval monastery since the middle ages. Sometimes the literary nature of a work testifies to whether it is possible that it comes from this or that era.
The time of the split between Jews and Samaritans may be partly a matter of definition. It was probably a process rather than a sudden event.
One piece of evidence for pre-Hasmonean hostility between Jews and Samaritans is Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) chapter 50
Two nations my soul detests,
and the third is not even a people:
Those who live in Seir, and the Philistines,
and the foolish people that live in Shechem.
it is generally (though not universally) accepted that the dwellers in Shechem are the Samaritans.

FWIW Ben Sirach, normally dated c 180 BCE appears to know most of the Hebrew Bible.

Andrew Criddle
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 9:07 am
neilgodfrey wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:40 pm
One work that Adler cites in his book is The Samaritans during the Hasmonean Period: The Affirmation of a Discrete Identity? by Bourgel -- available open access at https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/10/11/628
The time of the split between Jews and Samaritans may be partly a matter of definition. It was probably a process rather than a sudden event.
One piece of evidence for pre-Hasmonean hostility between Jews and Samaritans is Ecclesiasticus (Ben Sirach) chapter 50
Two nations my soul detests,
and the third is not even a people:
Those who live in Seir, and the Philistines,
and the foolish people that live in Shechem.
it is generally (though not universally) accepted that the dwellers in Shechem are the Samaritans.
I invite you to read the open access article I linked to and referred to explicitly as a contribution to the discussion of the split between the Judeans and Samaritans. Bourgel is aware of the evidence that has been advanced in favour of the traditional viewpoints, including the Sirach 50:25-26, and discusses it in some depth, in the 22 page article. On page 4:
Many have assumed that the “foolish people ( גוי נבל )”, against who Ben Sira voiced his hatred, are to be identified with the Samaritans. 23 This stance derives from the above-mentioned statement of Josephus that Shechem was the city of the Samaritans at the time of Alexander the Great (Ant 11:340) and from an analogy with Gen 34:7 where Shechem, Dinah’s rapist, is reported to have committed a “ נבלה (an outrageous thing)” against Israel. Although this interpretation is not entirely without credibility, one should bear in mind with Peter Van der Horst and Reinhard Pummer that not every mention of Shechem in ancient literature is necessarily related to the Samaritans. In fact, it could also be that Sir 50:25–26 refers to the “non-Samaritan inhabitants of Shechem,” 24 for instance the “Sidonians in Shechem (τῶν ἐν Σικίμοις Σιδωνίων)” mentioned by Josephus in several passages (Ant 11:340–347; 12:257–264). 25 In this respect, the existence of inscriptions from Mt. Gerizim bearing Greek and Arabic names may be evidence that other population groups lived in the area. 26 Likewise, not every use of the word נבל has necessarily to do with the Shechemites; it suffices to quote in this regard Sir 49:5 where the Babylonians are called a "foolish foreign nation (גוי נבל נכרי) ."27 Furthermore, Pummer has rightly stressed that the city at the top of Mt. Gerizim, rather than Schechem, was the metropolis of the Samaritans in the Hellenistic period. 28 Therefore, caution should be applied in too readily considering Sir 50:25–26 a polemic against the Samaritans.


23 See among others (Purvis 1965; Skehan and DiLella 1987, p. 558; Kartveit 2009a, pp. 140-48; Marttila 2012, pp. 206-15).
24 (Van der Horst 2003, p. 32; Pummer 2009, p. 12; 2016, pp. 47-50).
25 (Pummer 2016, p. 86). On the "Sidonians in Shechem," see below.
26 (Dusek 2012, p. 104).
27 See (Bourgel 2017, p. 386).
28 (Pummer 2009, p. 12).

FWIW Ben Sirach, normally dated c 180 BCE appears to know most of the Hebrew Bible.

Andrew Criddle
I am quite open to Ben Sirach being dated ca 180 BCE. Clearly the Pentateuch existed before it was being imposed on various peoples by the Hasmoneans.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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P.S. -- the same article by Bourgel also suggests the likelihood indicated by some of the evidence that the split between Judeans and Samaritans was piece by piece, groups by groups, rather than necessarily being totally black and white -- as you also propose, Andrew.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:33 pm
<SNIP>
andrewcriddle wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 9:07 am
FWIW Ben Sirach, normally dated c 180 BCE appears to know most of the Hebrew Bible.

Andrew Criddle
I am quite open to Ben Sirach being dated ca 180 BCE. Clearly the Pentateuch existed before it was being imposed on various peoples by the Hasmoneans.
Part of my point here is that Ben Sira seems to already recognise a Biblical canon of Law and Prophets as in later Judaism. This diverges from the Samaritans who seem never to have accepted this sort of extended canon.

Andrew Criddle
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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Dating the origins of Judaism may depend largely on how one defines "Judaism."
Here is one (extreme?) example, and not the only one:
Rosemary R. Ruether, "Judaism and Christianity: Two Fourth-Century Religions,"
Sciences Religieuses/Studies in Religion 2 (1972) 1-16.
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Re: The Origins of Judaism, Yonatan Adler

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andrewcriddle wrote: Sat Jan 28, 2023 6:14 am
Part of my point here is that Ben Sira seems to already recognise a Biblical canon of Law and Prophets as in later Judaism. This diverges from the Samaritans who seem never to have accepted this sort of extended canon.

Andrew Criddle
Yeh, that's a good point. But what I have to set it against is the evidence that Samaritans and Judeans worked together as equals in composing the Pentateuch (I attempted to draw attention to just one of the more recent arguments in another thread -- but the evidence is abundant in other ways, too, as Gmirkin himself points out in his earlier book, Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible.)

Then there is the evidence that the book of Joshua is also Samaritan-friendly. Couple this with the argument that the final chapters of the book of Numbers were redacted to accommodate a removal of the book of Joshua from a hitherto Hextateuch and a whole host of questions arise. What we don't know far outweighs what we do, to parrot the old truism. So it is not without reason to think that Samaritans and Judeans did see eye-to-eye even beyond the Pentateuch for a time.

The case for the Samaritan-Judean split has been presented that it was gradual, piecemeal, faction by faction, as has been mentioned already.

Other little factors that mess with clear and obvious arguments are the notion of canon, and then, especially, the evidence for redactions of the Hebrew text in the early "rabbinic" era post 70 CE.
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