Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
ABuddhist
Posts: 699
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:36 am

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by ABuddhist »

John2 wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 6:24 pm
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 4:37 pm
The evidence of Elephantine does not allow us to assume that there were traditions about Moses and the Exodus associated with observances of Passover and Unleavened Bread prior to the Hellenistic era.

Not to sidetrack you, but for me it's enough that the Elephantine Papyri mention Passover to assume that the writers were aware of Moses (from oral or written traditions), the same way I would assume that someone who mentioned Disneyland knew about MIckey Mouse. If one element doesn't exist without the other in Passover traditions outside of Elephantine, why assume that this was the case for Elephantine Jews?
The asumption that Moses must have been always associated with the passover is quite major, though, because we know from history that myths and legends are not stable, but shift in terms of characters. So Perseus over time became associated with Pegasus, who was originally associated with Bellerophon; the discourse in the Perfection of Wisdom in 8,000 lines was originally associted with an almost forgotten Buddhist monk before being associated with Shakyamuni Buddha; the deeds attributed to Nanabozho were atributed due to Longfellow to Hiawatha, etc. Why could Moses and Passover not similarly have shifted is something which your reasoning ignores.
Last edited by ABuddhist on Sun Dec 18, 2022 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 5608
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

John2 wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 6:24 pm
neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 4:37 pm
The evidence of Elephantine does not allow us to assume that there were traditions about Moses and the Exodus associated with observances of Passover and Unleavened Bread prior to the Hellenistic era.

Not to sidetrack you, but for me it's enough that the Elephantine Papyri mention Passover to assume that the writers were aware of Moses (from oral or written traditions), the same way I would assume that someone who mentioned Disneyland knew about MIckey Mouse. If one element doesn't exist without the other in Passover traditions outside of Elephantine, why assume that this was the case for Elephantine Jews?

I always understood the festivals like Passover long preceded "the Israelites". They were originally Canaanite festivals related to the harvest.

e.g. Was Passover Originally an Ancient Canaanite Ritual to Stop the Rains?

We know Yahweh and El were worshiped by people in the area long before "biblical Israel" -- but we don't assume those people had any notion of Moses or the Exodus. Far from it.

Many biblical scholars have long approached the archaeological evidence in the way you present it: to interpret it through the Bible. That is, biblical assumptions are read into the raw data.

But a sound method argued by others holds that we should attempt to understand the raw data in its own terms, being careful not to bring to it assumptions that may well be anachronistic. Yahweh, El, Passover, ..... if they are associated with local contemporary evidence that points to marriage to Asherah, a pantheon of gods, harvest festivals of Canaan and surrounding regions, then they should be interpreted in the light of those associations. We don't have any evidence of the existence of the Pentateuch and myths of Moses and Exodus (which are embedded in Greek genres from the moment of their first appearance) until the Hellenistic era.

An excerpt from ye olde 1980 Illustrated Bible Dictionary that I long treasured:


passover.png
passover.png (469.04 KiB) Viewed 265 times
StephenGoranson
Posts: 1166
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by StephenGoranson »

I am familiar with several iterations of the c. 273-272 Torah creation in Alexandria proposal.
For example:

“Plato’s program of creating a mythic past in which the divine laws of the nation had been established in distant antiquity faced an obvious practical difficulty, namely the living memory of the new colonists. Plato fully recognized this problem and sought to overcome it by devising strategies to erase the nation’s memory of any other way of life, like erasing a tablet and starting with a clean slate. In order to erase the cultural memories of the past and replace them with new memories, the rulers would exercise complete control over the nation’s education, literature, public speech and cultural contacts with other nations…” (Gmirkin 2017 = Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, 255.)

Mr. Gmirkin wrote that that "took place exactly."
R. Gmirkin Vridar-blog-commented, 2022-10-03 21:24:27 GMT+0000 at 21:24:
"Yes, the replacement of earlier national memories based mostly on oral traditions was replaced by a new official national memory in the form of the Hebrew Bible in 270 BCE and thereafter. This took place exactly according to the literary agenda laws out in Plato’s Laws.

But note that a handful of written sources existed from earlier times: the royal annals of Judah and Israel, authentic prophetic oracles (Haggai) and some Persian Era official correspondence (Ezra) preserved in the temple. Possibly a few psalms and proverbs. Not a lot. I have also written about in various books and articles which you should track down and read. I don’t believe you have read Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible in which many of these issues were extensively discussed."

My (SG) questions now:
In the Gmirkin scenario:
Did the proposed delegation bring traditions?
Were those traditions erased?
Were newly-invented "traditions" made as replacements?
Was the delegation complicit in the above?
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 5608
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

StephenGoranson wrote: Fri Dec 16, 2022 9:22 am I am familiar with several iterations of the c. 273-272 Torah creation in Alexandria proposal.

For example:

“Plato’s program of creating a mythic past in which the divine laws of the nation had been established in distant antiquity faced an obvious practical difficulty, namely the living memory of the new colonists. Plato fully recognized this problem and sought to overcome it by devising strategies to erase the nation’s memory of any other way of life, like erasing a tablet and starting with a clean slate. In order to erase the cultural memories of the past and replace them with new memories, the rulers would exercise complete control over the nation’s education, literature, public speech and cultural contacts with other nations…” (Gmirkin 2017 = Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, 255.)

Mr. Gmirkin wrote that that "took place exactly."
R. Gmirkin Vridar-blog-commented, 2022-10-03 21:24:27 GMT+0000 at 21:24:
"Yes, the replacement of earlier national memories based mostly on oral traditions was replaced by a new official national memory in the form of the Hebrew Bible in 270 BCE and thereafter. This took place exactly according to the literary agenda laws out in Plato’s Laws.
If "familiar" means "well known from long or close association" you are not "familiar with "several iterations" at all -- as your "examples" prove: one is from what you read on this forum and the other is from a blog comment. That's not evidence of being "familiar" with "several iterations" of an author's work!

StephenGoranson wrote: Fri Dec 16, 2022 9:22 am But note that a handful of written sources existed from earlier times: the royal annals of Judah and Israel, authentic prophetic oracles (Haggai) and some Persian Era official correspondence (Ezra) preserved in the temple. Possibly a few psalms and proverbs. Not a lot. I have also written about in various books and articles which you should track down and read. I don’t believe you have read Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible in which many of these issues were extensively discussed."

My (SG) questions now:
In the Gmirkin scenario:
Did the proposed delegation bring traditions?
Were those traditions erased?
Were newly-invented "traditions" made as replacements?
Was the delegation complicit in the above?
Well well -- so you had your answer all along so why were you asking me about something I wrote as if to lead me into saying exactly what you quote Gmirkin as saying here?

And why are you asking your questions again when you quote the direct answers just above them?

Are you trying to force some kind of "gotcha word game" where you can find an opportunity to accuse Gmirkin of who knows what?

You have Gmirkin's answer to your questions. What's your obsession about?
John2
Posts: 3952
Joined: Fri May 16, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by John2 »

ABuddhist wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 7:13 pm
The asumption that Moses must have been always associated with the passover is quite major, though, because we know from history that myths and legends are not stable, but shift in terms of characters ... Why could Moses and Passover not similarly have shifted is something which your reasoning ignores.

For the sake of convenience, I intend this to also be a response to Neil's most recent reply to me.

I know little to nothing about whatever relationship Passover may have with Canaanite culture. All I can say is that Neil's link seemed speculative (and I don't mean that pejoratively. It was interesting speculation and prodded me to want to take a closer look at the question), and that McConville outlines some decent arguments against a relationship here:

The origins of Passover and Massot. It used to be thought that both of these feasts had their origin on Canaanite soil, and were only adopted by Israel on their arrival there. More recent scholarship, however, has tended to think that the Passover has its roots in Israel's nomadic period prior to the settlement.


https://www.google.com/books/edition/La ... frontcover


I don't know what to think as far as this question goes. "But there is one thing I do know" (to cite Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer), and it is that non-Elephantine Jewish and Samaritan writings associate Passover with Moses. So if the options are that a) the Passover in the Elephantine Papyri was like that in other Jewish and Samaritan writings, or b) it was a Moses-free version of Passover that may or may not be related to a Canaanite spring festival, then I choose the former, regardless of when the OT was written.
User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 5608
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

I see I will have to post links to "less speculative" information -- the reference to Encyclopedia Britannica not being enough. ;-) --- What is speculative is the 1985 publication (McConville's work on Deuteronomy) is that the Israelites were ever a nomadic people who eventually settled in the land of Canaan. The archaeological evidence addressed in the literature more often since 1985 is that the Israelites were indigenous to Canaan, were never from "outside". The feasts of Passover etc were in existence long before any associations with biblical stories which do not appear in the record until the Hellenistic era.


---- added later.......

I would treat any festival in the same region that was seven days long, at springtime, with a "perfect" lamb or calf set aside for the occasion, and its blood smeared on the doorposts of the house ..... whatever its name in the local language, I would take to be the precursor of the Passover that was later found in the same region, celebrated at the same time of year, with the same rituals .....
StephenGoranson
Posts: 1166
Joined: Thu Apr 02, 2015 2:10 am

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by StephenGoranson »

So far, neither NG nor REG has been willing to attempt to answer:
Why would a proposed 270s Jewish and Samaritan delegation to Alexandria participate in erasing some traditions and faking other traditions?
ABuddhist
Posts: 699
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2021 4:36 am

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by ABuddhist »

StephenGoranson wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 5:29 am So far, neither NG nor REG has been willing to attempt to answer:
Why would a proposed 270s Jewish and Samaritan delegation to Alexandria participate in erasing some traditions and faking other traditions?
But Gmirkin has answered that question in his books. They were inspired, he claims, by Plato's claims about the best way to shape a society.
Russell Gmirkin
Posts: 141
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2016 11:53 am

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

StephenGoranson wrote: Fri Dec 16, 2022 9:22 am I am familiar with several iterations of the c. 273-272 Torah creation in Alexandria proposal.
For example:

“Plato’s program of creating a mythic past in which the divine laws of the nation had been established in distant antiquity faced an obvious practical difficulty, namely the living memory of the new colonists. Plato fully recognized this problem and sought to overcome it by devising strategies to erase the nation’s memory of any other way of life, like erasing a tablet and starting with a clean slate. In order to erase the cultural memories of the past and replace them with new memories, the rulers would exercise complete control over the nation’s education, literature, public speech and cultural contacts with other nations…” (Gmirkin 2017 = Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, 255.)

Mr. Gmirkin wrote that that "took place exactly."
R. Gmirkin Vridar-blog-commented, 2022-10-03 21:24:27 GMT+0000 at 21:24:
"Yes, the replacement of earlier national memories based mostly on oral traditions was replaced by a new official national memory in the form of the Hebrew Bible in 270 BCE and thereafter. This took place exactly according to the literary agenda laws out in Plato’s Laws.

But note that a handful of written sources existed from earlier times: the royal annals of Judah and Israel, authentic prophetic oracles (Haggai) and some Persian Era official correspondence (Ezra) preserved in the temple. Possibly a few psalms and proverbs. Not a lot. I have also written about in various books and articles which you should track down and read. I don’t believe you have read Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible in which many of these issues were extensively discussed."

My (SG) questions now:
In the Gmirkin scenario:
Did the proposed delegation bring traditions?
Were those traditions erased?
Were newly-invented "traditions" made as replacements?
Was the delegation complicit in the above?
Oh, I see Goranson is still harassing me here as well as on the ANE-3 discussion group. My response there, just posted, was as follows:

First, as a matter of accuracy, Stephen Goranson has not read any of my books or articles on the Hellenistic Era dating of the Pentateuch in the 15 years since my first book Berossus and Genesis in 2006, and is thus not familiar with my research as he claims, despite incessantly posting on it on various internet forums, including this one. Had he read Gmirkin 2017 or 2022 his questions would have been answered, since I thoroughly discuss these issues in the final chapter of both books.

Unfortunately, due to his harassment here, I will have to take time from my schedule to answer his queries. I apologize to the list for the unavoidable length of this posting.

Both ancient Jews and ethnic Samarians were autochthonous people, so it is evident that their foundation stories of their ancestors having migrated from Babylonia and later colonizing the Promised Land from Egypt as narrated in the Pentateuch are fictional. I would say this is the position of most biblical scholars, other than fundamentalists, today, although whether these fictions are grounded in national memories and traditions or invented out of whole cloth is a matter of study and debate.

I have argued that the Babylonian origin story is relatively ancient, an “authentic” tradition reflecting the actual origins of Babylonian educated elites brought to the Neo-Assyrian province of Samerina by Sargon II in 710-709 BCE (Zadok 1976; Na’aman and Zadok 1988: 44-46). These ethnic Babylonians were an important component among the Samaritans who participated in the creation of the Pentateuch as a literary project conducted under royal invitation at Alexandria in ca. 270 BCE and were a source of many Mesopotamian traditions embedded in the Hebrew Bible (Gmirkin 2020). The Babylonian origins of Abraham thus reflects their memories and traditions.

The story of the children of Israel as a colonizing expedition from Egypt led by the Moses draws on the much later fictional ktisis or foundation story in the Aegyptiaca of Hecataeus of Abdera, dated to 320-315 BCE, a positive account which contains the first documented mention of Moses in any language (as argued in Gmirkin 2006: 34-71; 2017: 222, 226). Other details in the biblical account also draw on (and vigorously respond to) Manetho’s negative stories of Judea and Jerusalem’s temple as foundations by the Hyksos and other later undesirables (ca. 285 BCE). On the biblical foundation story of Genesis–Exodus as a classic example of a Greek ktisis, see Gmirkin 2016; 2017: 225-231; Weinfeld 1993.

The creation of the fictional biblical foundation story directly followed Plato’s advice at Laws 7.798a-b that for the constitution and laws of a new nation to be successful and last down through time, the citizens must be persuaded “by any means possible” that their laws were ancient, divine, and unchanged since having been given to the original founding generation. At Republic 2.382a-e, Plato stated that members of the ruling class were permitted create fictional accounts of the ancient past, prior to the existence of historical records, for the benefit of the citizenry, so long as they portrayed the gods in a positive light. Plato’s doctrine of the “Noble Lie” or “Noble Fiction” is well known and much discussed in modern scholarship. Plato gave one example to illustrate the “Noble Lie” at Republic 3.314b-d, a fictional story of the foundation of Athens in which the gods who created the first Athenians mixed the souls of of ruling class of Guardians (the philosopher-kings) with gold, the Auxiliary warrior class with silver, and agriculturalists and craftsmen with iron and bronze. In Timaeus and Critias he expanded on this Athenian foundation story with the famous fictional tale of the ancient war between heroic Athens and the fleets of Atlantis, another example of a “Noble Lie” set in ancient times. (On the biblical use of Timaeus and Critias in Genesis 1-11, see Gmirkin 2022.) In Plato’s Laws 8.848c-d (and other scattered passages) he gave a third fictional foundation story of the proposed colony of Magnesia as a return of the descendants of the ancient Magnesians (although Plato knew otherwise), and the new colony as a divinely established restoration of the ancient nation. The fictional foundation story of the Exodus is of the same character as these fictionalized foundation stories in Plato’s writings, as I discussed in detail in Gmirkin 2017 and elsewhere.

Plato acknowledged that the traditions and historical memories of the initial generation would conflict with the new myths regarding the ancient divine origins of the nation and its laws. To counteract this he proposed an ambitious literary agenda in Plato’s Laws whereby the legislators, after creating their new laws and constitution, would subsequently supervise the creation of a new national literature, consistent with the divine national origin story, combining carefully censored, edited and revised older writings (systematically removing any objectional profane or unholy content) with new compositions as needed, of all genres, for exclusive use by the nation in their system of universal education and public national holidays. With only this literature to inform them, and carefully isolating them from foreign cultural contacts, Plato estimated that within a generation or two the old traditions and memories would be erased from the national consciousness and replaced by these new carefully constructed memories found within their sacred national literature. Indoctrinated since their youth, they would come to firmly believe their legal system was both ancient and divine. The origins of the Hebrew Bible has been a long-standing unsolved problem among both biblical scholars and students of Ancient Near Eastern literature and libraries, but I argued in Gmirkin 2017: 250-299 and elsewhere that its creation was a direct implementation of the literary agenda laid out in detail in Plato’s Laws, and that its success as a national charter and the lasting loyalty of the biblical readers to the laws of Moses down through time exactly corresponds with Plato’s predictions.

All this information has been laid out with extensive footnotes and documentation in my published research. I don’t think it should be necessary to take time away from other more important projects to spoon-feed this information on this or other forums to Goranson, whose reading on this subject is apparently largely confined to the internet, despite his employment as a stacks librarian at Duke University.



Gmirkin, Russell E., Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch. Library of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 433. Copenhagen International Series 15. New York: T & T Clark, 2006.

—“Greek Genres and the Hebrew Bible.” Pages 91-102 in Ingrid Hjelm and Thomas L. Thompson (eds.), Biblical Interpretation Beyond Historicity. Changing Perspectives in Old Testament Studies 7. London: Routledge, 2016.

—Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible. New York–London: Routledge, 2017.

—“‘Solomon’ (Shalmaneser III) and the Emergence of Judah as an Independent Kingdom.” Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spanò and Emanuel Pfoh (eds.), Biblical Narratives, Archaeology and Historicity: Essays in Honour of Thomas L. Thompson (Library of Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Studies series; London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2020), 76-90.

—Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts: Cosmic Monotheism and Terrestrial Polytheism in the Primordial History. New York: Routledge, 2022.

Na'aman, Nadav and Ran Zadok, “Sargon II's Deportations to Israel and Philistia (716-708 B.C.),” Journal of Cuneiform Studies 40 (1988), 36-46.

Weinfeld, Moshe, The Promise of the Land: The Inheritance of the Land of Canaan by the Israelites. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Zadok, Ran, “Geographical and Onomastic Notes,” JANESCU 8 (1976), 113-26.


Best Regards,
Russell Gmirkin
Portland, Oregon
RussellGmirkin.com

User avatar
neilgodfrey
Posts: 5608
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:08 pm

Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

StephenGoranson wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 5:29 am So far, neither NG nor REG has been willing to attempt to answer:
Why would a proposed 270s Jewish and Samaritan delegation to Alexandria participate in erasing some traditions and faking other traditions?
You are not pressing the same question each time, SG. Last time you asked it was a "What did X do?" type question. Now you are asking a "Why did X do such and such?" type question. You began by asking what I meant by a particular sentence I wrote about Gmirkin's point.

I have answered your "what I meant" question, and your subsequent "what" question as fully as I can for myself and you have even quoted REG's very clear answer to your questions.

So why do you reject our answers and keep asking the same questions over and over and accusing us of not answering?

Because your questions are "loaded questions" -- the way you phrase them and the terms you drop in (e.g. complicit, faking, erasing) are cleary designed to draw us into a somehow admitting to some sort of "neo-fascist" or "anti-semitic" (your terms) innuendo in our replies.

It appears you will only be content if we say that certain Jewish scribes had a secret plot to cancel the cherished cultural identity of their compatriots and fake a totally new identity and set of traditions and then foist them on a lot of mindless dumb sheep who ignorantly swapped their long-held memories and embraced new ones -- because, you want us to say, Jewish leaders are evil enough to do that, and Jewish people are stupid enough to follow those wicked leaders blindly.

Your vicious personal agenda against both REG and me has made it clear that you won't be content until you can push us into declaring that we are antisemitic or at least the Gmirkin hypothesis is antisemitic -- which is utter, utter nonsense!

https://effectiviology.com/loaded-question/
Post Reply