Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

Post by MrMacSon »

FWIW,
from Étienne Nodet, Josephus, 1 Maccabees, and Hanukkah, JSIJ - Jewish Studies, an Internet Journal, vol 19, 2021

  1. When he wrote the Jewish War, Josephus knew of the Maccabean crisis, which was mainly on account of the rivalry between ranking Jews. His source was somewhat similar to Daniel’s descriptions, though he mentions neither the Hellenization problem nor any commemoration. However, he was aware of Herod’s dedication of his Temple, in summer (War 1:401).
    .
  2. When he wrote the Antiquities, he had a Jewish post-Biblical documentation in Hebrew, which was broadly unknown to the Greek historians that he consulted to retrieve additional details. We can distinguish two main parts: first, scattered pieces about Alexander’s arrival, and after him about the Egyptian domination of Coele-Syria in the 3rd century BCE; second, from the 2nd century BCE until Pompey’s arrival (63), facts of Jewish history within the Syrian domination.
    .
  3. That second part included the Maccabean crisis, with many disjointed episodes ...

    https://jewish-faculty.biu.ac.il/files/ ... /nodet.pdf

See viewtopic.php?f=6&t=10144 for more extracts
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Secret Alias wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:45 pm The question is, if Josephus's source was 1st or 2nd century BCE why does he think Jews and Samaritans were following levitical laws when first encountering Alexander.
It is not at all uncommon for later generations to inherit erroneous beliefs about the past. Even historians have been known to repeat false accounts about past times. And that is even especially true of ancient historians.

Stories get fabricated to promote an ideology or political interest etc. Or there can be any number of different reasons. With respect to the story of Alexander recognizing the sabbatical year, one explanation for the emergence of this story was a desire to attribute to Alexander an act of Julius Caesar's.

We know lots of stories about Alexander were made up. No one really believes he had the dream of meeting the high priest that Josephus writes about. I'm not saying Josephus made it up, but that someone did and when Josephus heard or read about it he apparently believed it or at least wanted others to think it true. Certainly someone made up the story we read of in Josephus about Alexander being shown the book of Daniel and in particular the passage that prophesied of him overthrowing the Persian empire.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret -- I have been trying to figure out why you have continually been suggesting I have said Josephus "made it up" -- that he did not have a source. I dismissed your inferences as silly misrepresentation of what I was saying, but now I wonder ---

Are you saying that Josephus made Claim X, and that he must reasonably have had a source to justify his Claim X -- and that therefore we can think Josephus considered the source reliable, so it follows there is a good chance it was reliable -- and therefore Josephus's Claim X is probably true?

Is that what you have been arguing?
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Secret Alias
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Ok. My mother-in-law's death has passed. I am cool now. I had 4 months of stress. It's calm here.

Here's my difficulty.

1. Gmirkin adds the Samaritans to his theory as a kind of afterthought.
2. the Samaritans are 'afterthoughts' of most Biblical research. Not so Schmid. He's good friends with my friend Benny and you can see the efforts Schmid made to incorporate the Samaritans into his model.

Either the Samaritans are and should be an afterthought (i.e. they are so inconsequential that they don't deserve a second or even third thought) or it might be a weakness in Gmirkin's theory. It's really that simple. I find the idea of Samaritans and Jews collaborating on a document which seems to support Samaritan-primacy claims (i.e. that 'the Hextateuch/Pentateuch/Tetrateuch' started with the Samaritans and their fixation with Gerizim) silly. I use the word 'silly' because I want to use a word that distinguishes or rejects any malice on Gmirkin's part. He just didn't take them that seriously. I think this is a problem.

Now you can do what you do. Attack me for caring or considering Samaritans. Fine. But I think it is a reasonable concern.

Why?

Because it is generally agreed that 'in the Persian period' (for Gmirkin a period before the creation of the Torah) the Samaritans were the favorites of the Persians. Things seemed to have changed in terms of 'power dynamics' in the region with the coming of the Hellenistic period.

So, without getting into personal attacks and the rest that you do.

IF the Hexateuch/Pentateuch/Tetrateuch was written with Gerizim/Shechem as the 'center of the universe'
THEN it is not crazy to suppose that Samaritans had an undue or massive influence over the composition of the Torah.

IF the Samaritans basically wrote the Torah (or the Torah was written with Samaritan geographical interests in mind)
THEN it stands to reason that the text was written in an era where Samaritan influence reached its zenith and then Jews and other external groups adopted this original 'northern' text.

SINCE the period that Samaritan influence over the rest of the region reached it's zenith in the Persian era (and everything got progressively worse in the Hellenstic and then Roman periods) the idea that the Torah was composed in the Persian era would follow.

This doesn't mean I proved any of these ideas or concerned. We're at an informal discussion group and I have presented my thoughts/concerns with the ongoing discussion of the role Samaritans played in the composition of the Torah.

You can argue that Gmirkin gave 'just the right amount' of attention to the Samaritans for whatever reason. I like Schmid's model better because he took the time to consider the Samaritans. That's all.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Again. If the Jews wrote the Torah and the coming of Alexander marks the beginning of Jewish dominance over the culture of 'greater Israel' - ignoring all or many other considerations - Gmirkin's theory makes some intuitive sense. Why would the Jews have written in the Torah in the Persian period where they were more or less inconsequential and unfavored? The flipside is of course the possibility that the Jews DID NOT WRITE THE TORAH. Therefore their marginalization in the Persian period has no relevance on the question of who wrote the Torah. The Jews' didn't write the Torah. That's why 'Jerusalem' is never mentioned and Gerizim, Shechem, Bethel and other names for the physical domain where the god who lives/lived at Gerizim is/are mentioned. Given Schmid's interest in things Samaritan https://app.dimensions.ai/details/grant/grant.5219458 https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/J ... 6fc2c76fb2
The widespread neglect of the Samaritans, at least in older literature, is, to put it bluntly, a biblicism. The Bible is an important source for Israel’s history, but it is focused on Judah and Jerusalem.¹⁸ The presentation is weighted entirely toward the South, and where the North comes up, it is generally mentioned in a defensive and even discriminatory manner. Primarily, the explicit passages in 2 Kgs 17:24–40; Ezra 4:1–5; Neh 13:28–30; and 2 Chr 30:1–18 are of interest with regard to the Samaritans. They are open for a historical investigation, but they are colored in different ways by bias—in particular their pro-Judean stance. The Samaritans appear as a syncretistic community with dubious political ambitions.

Older scholarship on the Samaritans remained markedly under the banner of the biblical accentuations. The study by J. W. Rothstein Juden und Samaritaner from the year 1908 bears the subtitle, Die grundlegende Scheidung von Judentum und Heidentum: Eine kritische Studie zum Buch Haggai und zur jüdischen Geschichte im ersten nachexilischen Jahrhundert (“The Fundamental Separation between Judaism and Paganism: A Critical Study on the Book of Haggai and the Jewish History in the First Postexilic Century”).¹⁹ The parallelism of the title and subtitle show clearly that the Samaritans are pagans according to Rothstein as it is true for much Jewish polemic of antiquity.²⁰

A similarly difficult viewpoint appears in James A. Montgomery’s book Samaritans: The Earliest Jewish Sect: Their History, Theology, and Literature,²1 even when taking into account that the English term “sect” is more neutral and more widely used than the German word “Sekte.”²² Lester Grabbe also treats the Samaritans in his presentation Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian under the section “Individual Sects and Movements.”²³ This very categorization of Samaritans as a Jewish group or sect is problematic, as they regard themselves not as a part of Judaism, but as “Israelites”. https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/15845 ... ns_DEF.pdf
And again:
The history and writings of the Samaritans remain an often overlooked subject in the field of biblical studies. This volume, which assembles papers presented at a 2010 symposium held in Zurich, illuminates the history of the Samaritans as well as passages that address them in biblical sources. Through a subsequent comparison to perspectives found in Samaritan sources concerning biblical, early Jewish, and early Christian history, we are presented with counterpoising perceptions that open up new opportunities for discourse. Jörg Frey,Ursula Schattner-Rieser und Konrad Schmid, Universität Zürich, Schweiz. https://www.amazon.com/Samaritaner-Bibe ... 3110294095
IF they were consequential to the origins of the Torah you would expect Schmid to be closer to the truth and Gmirkin further from the truth.

But that's the mistake, oversight I am drawing attention to.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Is it possible that Samaritans and Jews co-wrote a text which is devoted to the sanctity of Gerizim at Alexandria in the Hellenistic period as a lasting testimony to the northern influence over Israelite culture down to the third century BCE? I guess. It might explain why the Israelites don't assemble at the mountain at the end of the Tetrateuch and Pentateuch. I don't know if I can disprove that just because Samaritans were favored in the Persian period. It is possible perhaps that evidence that levitical laws were practiced in the Persian period were retrojected into the past by second and first century BCE Jewish writers. The Persian loanwords, the portrait of God's house having a Persian garden (pardes) might be similar influences from the era where Samaritans dominated Israelite religious life.

But is it likely that in the very era where Jews were emerging as 'co-equals' that they would have accepted a document which didn't mention 'Jerusalem'? I still have reservations about that.

Given that I accept that the Tetrateuch, Pentateuch (Tetrateuch + Deuteronomy), Hexateuch developed over many generations it seems even more unlikely that Jews would have accepted their forefathers all camped out at the Samaritan holy place by the dawn of the second century BCE.

Impossible? No. But less likely IMHO than the alternative hypothesis.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

Secret Alias wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:39 am 1. Gmirkin adds the Samaritans to his theory as a kind of afterthought.
2. the Samaritans are 'afterthoughts' of most Biblical research. Not so Schmid. He's good friends with my friend Benny and you can see the efforts Schmid made to incorporate the Samaritans into his model.

Either the Samaritans are and should be an afterthought (i.e. they are so inconsequential that they don't deserve a second or even third thought) or it might be a weakness in Gmirkin's theory. It's really that simple. I find the idea of Samaritans and Jews collaborating on a document which seems to support Samaritan-primacy claims (i.e. that 'the Hextateuch/Pentateuch/Tetrateuch' started with the Samaritans and their fixation with Gerizim) silly. I use the word 'silly' because I want to use a word that distinguishes or rejects any malice on Gmirkin's part. He just didn't take them that seriously. I think this is a problem.
Don't pretend to understand my research and make statements about it without having read it. You can do better than this. If you are going to critique my theories, it seems to me you should read them first, which will put you in the position of being able to accurately describe them. Rather than taking this step, it seems to me that you are constructing an imaginary idea of what my research says, and then critiquing that imaginary construct into which you have built in certain convenient flaws, rather than my actual views and opinions. And by discounting my research by means of these imaginary features, it seems you are relieving yourself of the need to actually read them. Others on the list have done the same. This sort of circular reasoning, by which one avoids looking into new ideas, keeps people illiterate and stuck in old ways of thinking.

When I encounter a new idea, even one that I currently disagree with, I take the opposite approach. I get intrigued, I immediately get hold of the new book or article and read it in an open-minded fashion, on the chance that this author might hold this different opinion because they know something I currently do not. This allows me at a MINIMUM to accurately understand and be able to present their evidence, reasoning and resulting views. THEN AND ONLY THEN can I accurately assess where they went astray, if that is the case, and further bullet-proof my own research. Or better yet, best possible scenario, assess where I have gone astray, if THAT is the case, learn something new that might challenge and improve my grasp on the subject. Because learning-avoidance is a tried-and-true strategy for achieving exactly one thing, to be frank, namely staying stupid. (To be clear, I'm not tossing insults, but smart people often give an illusion of unintelligence by giving opinions about subjects or different viewpoints they have not properly investigated.)

An academic's best strength is mastering the opinions of others, even those they disagree with you. That is how one learns, not by reading and endlessly repeating only sources and authorities with whom one already agrees. Don't hate or dismiss your "enemies" like the trolls do, who misrepresent and attack new thoughts or ideas, without even bothering to read them, like some of the true dis-believers on this list. Love your "enemies," honestly and thoroughly investigate them, learn from them if they have something new to say, let them challenge and improve you.

Since I've lectured you and given you a bit of a thrashing, let me toss some new insights at you. Clearly, due to the evidence I presented on page 1 of this thread, both Samaritans and Jews took part together in the creation of the Pentateuch. (1) Why the Jews? The Greek author Hecataeus of Abdera wrote a fictitious Greek foundation story in 320-315 BCE in which JUDEA was colonized by an expedition from Egypt led by an Egyptian nobleman called Moses, who established the JEWISH nation, laws, customs, including the city of Jerusalem and its temple--the first appearance of a figure called Moses in any language. Samaritans and Mount Gerizim: NOT MENTIONED, although Moses organized the nation in 12 tribes, like many Greek nation-states. (2) According to all available early traditions, Ptolemy II Philadelphus later sent to Jerusalem and the JEWS asking for a copy of these rumored ancient laws of Moses to translate into Greek for the Great Library at Alexandria. The Jewish high priest and senate responded by sending a delegation for that purpose. According to my theory or model, this delegation were both authors and translators of the five Books of Moses, which did not exist in written form until this prestigious event. (3) Why the Samaritans? According to Pseudo-Aristeas, this delegation included learned elders from all twelve tribes. While this rests more on a foundation of legend than fact, it is evident from the text of the Pentateuch that Samaritans were major participants in this literary project and in fact had the dominant role, since they were more educated and literate than their Judean associates, who largely depended on their background and skills. The Pentateuch was thus a compromise text between the Jews, who were in charge of the project, and the Samaritans, who did much of the actual work of writing. This model accommodates both the historical and literary evidence.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Secret Alias wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:39 am
Now you can do what you do. Attack me for caring or considering Samaritans. Fine. But I think it is a reasonable concern.
Says the one who has called me an ally of evil and lacking any belief in the concept of fairness or interest in truth. I have raised various questions attempting to zero in on the key points in your comments in relation to principles of historical research and as a rule you have ignored them all. They were not personal attacks.

Secret Alias wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:39 amSINCE the period that Samaritan influence over the rest of the region reached it's zenith in the Persian era (and everything got progressively worse in the Hellenstic and then Roman periods) the idea that the Torah was composed in the Persian era would follow.
My point has been that there is no evidence for the Pentateuch having been known in the Persian era. Theorizing why it would be composed in the Persian era is not evidence. If the evidence at hand points to something else we need to revise our theories.

One revision that comes to mind: a work that employs the tools of new rulers to justify the prior status of the Samaritans is plausible when their former status appears to be threatened under the new regime. That's not proposed as an explanation for Gmirkin's view, but simply posed to try to show that theories can always be adapted to explain the evidence. No good posing a theory that has no support in the evidence.

I can't go beyond anything else that Russell Gmirkin has said in response to you. I would like to see you engage with what he has set out in his comment, though.

------
ETA:

MrMacSon has since posted further on the "classic strawman fallacy": - much of our recent discussion has been prompted by your repeated assertion -- despite my repeated attempts to correct your assertion -- that I was saying Josephus "made stuff up". I would appreciate very much if we could seriously engage with what is being said, with the actual arguments and propositions advanced, both in comments and in the book under discussion.
Last edited by neilgodfrey on Sat Nov 26, 2022 4:42 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

Post by MrMacSon »

Russell Gmirkin wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 12:22 pm it seems to me that you are constructing an imaginary idea of what my research says, and then critiquing that imaginary construct into which you have built in certain convenient flaws, rather than my actual views and opinions. And by discounting my research by means of these imaginary features, it seems you are relieving yourself of the need to actually read them. Others on the list have done the same. This sort of circular reasoning, by which one avoids looking into new ideas, keeps people illiterate and stuck in old ways of thinking.
That's a classic strawman fallacy:
  • misrepresenting someone else's argument and attacking one's misconceptions and misrepresentations of that argument

This is worth emphasising [ (4) added by me, using the last two sentences of Russell's (3) ] :
Russell Gmirkin wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 12:22 pm
  1. Why the Jews? The Greek author Hecataeus of Abdera wrote a fictitious Greek foundation story in 320-315 BCE in which JUDEA was colonized by an expedition from Egypt led by an Egyptian nobleman called Moses, who established the JEWISH nation, laws, customs, including the city of Jerusalem and its temple--the first appearance of a figure called Moses in any language. Samaritans and Mount Gerizim: NOT MENTIONED, although Moses organized the nation in 12 tribes, like many Greek nation-states.
    .
  2. According to all available early traditions, Ptolemy II Philadelphus later sent to Jerusalem and the JEWS asking for a copy of these rumored ancient laws of Moses to translate into Greek for the Great Library at Alexandria. The Jewish high priest and senate responded by sending a delegation for that purpose. According to my theory or model, this delegation were both authors and translators of the five Books of Moses, which did not exist in written form until this prestigious event.
    .
  3. Why the Samaritans? According to Pseudo-Aristeas, this delegation included learned elders from all twelve tribes. While this rests more on a foundation of legend than fact, it is evident from the text of the Pentateuch that Samaritans were major participants in this literary project and in fact had the dominant role, since they were more educated and literate than their Judean associates, who largely depended on their background and skills.
    .
  4. The Pentateuch was thus a compromise text between the Jews, who were in charge of the project, and the Samaritans, who did much of the actual work of writing. This model accommodates both the historical and literary evidence.
Last edited by MrMacSon on Sun Nov 27, 2022 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Current State of Samaritan Studies (Hexateuch)

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Secret Alias wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 10:39 am
Now you can do what you do. Attack me for caring or considering Samaritans. Fine. But I think it is a reasonable concern.
I am still trying to understand why you interpret my comments as "attacks". You have many times imputed motives to others here for not agreeing with your views, and I admit I turned the tables and asked what it was about Samaritans that seemed to compel you to insist they had some "true religion" or something to that effect --- it was not an "attack" but an inquiry into your associations with Samaritans. You have since explained something of your personal association with a Samaritan community or certain individuals. I did suggest that you found some sense of community with Samaritans for this or that reason, given your various comments here about your parents and Jews. But it was far from being an "attack" of any kind.

I also raised the idea of patterns of argument/thought in cults to justify their exclusionist stance, but that was not an "attack". God, everyone knows I myself was once part of a cult, so I feel empathy for those I see as being engulfed in the sort of mental processes that led me to that place. I don't "attack" them. I do try to point out why I went the way I did despite believing I was being totally "objective", etc. That's from a motive of solidarity, a sense of common humanity, love, if you will -- but it is not an "attack".
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