Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

StephenGoranson wrote: Mon Dec 12, 2022 7:23 am 1) If there had been a widely jointly agreed upon text made in the 270s, then one might expect later texts to be closer to one another, with fewer non-copy-error variants.
Subjective. Unsupported. Unintelligible.
StephenGoranson wrote: Mon Dec 12, 2022 7:23 am 2) Imagining or asserting that Jews and Samaritans never wrote down their traditions until the 270s is improbable, evidently in part counterfactual, and, intentionally or not, apparently, prejudiced.
I’m trying to understand what your basis is, other than sheer animus, for your claim alleging some vague prejudice on my part.

My claim is that the ancient Jews and Samaritans were much better read than anyone previously imagined, well versed in philosophy, science, and international law and literature, and brilliantly successful in creating their own national literature, following the literary agenda laid out in Plato’s Laws. Did you not read the last chapter of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible?—of course you didn’t—in which I noted that Hellenistic Era Judea, out of all the nations of the ancient world, was the only one to adopt Plato’s strategy for creating a new constitution, laws and theocratic form of government, supported by a sacred national literature, and that the Jewish experiment succeeded exactly as Plato envisioned, creating an eternal national legal charter that has survived down through time to the present day.

It is only you who slander the Jews and Samaritans, claiming that they were unread and ignorant; but then, in your world you have a perverse record of turning avoidance of reading into a virtue, so I suppose you don’t realize how negative your portrait of the biblical authors truly is, nor how positive mine is. If you had read the books you criticize you wouldn’t make such ridiculous claims.
ABuddhist
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by ABuddhist »

Russell Gmirkin wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 12:09 pm
StephenGoranson wrote: Mon Dec 12, 2022 7:23 am 2) Imagining or asserting that Jews and Samaritans never wrote down their traditions until the 270s is improbable, evidently in part counterfactual, and, intentionally or not, apparently, prejudiced.
I’m trying to understand what your basis is, other than sheer animus, for your claim alleging some vague prejudice on my part.
I wonder whether other datings of the Pentateuch as more recent than traditional datings are also regarded by Goranson as prejudiced. For example, does he think that dating it to the post-exilic period is also prejudiced?
John2
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by John2 »

neilgodfrey wrote: Fri Dec 16, 2022 8:41 pm
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 .....

I have no issue with the idea that Israelite culture has ties to Canaanite culture and it wouldn't surprise me if Passover has a Canaanite precursor. But the "whatever it's name" part seems crucial to me, because the Elephantine Papyri mention Jews and Passover, and in all the other (if later) Jewish writings that mention Passover, it is associated with Moses.

So we could say a) Elephantine Jews (and by extension Jews in Judea) in the 400's BCE observed a Moses-free Canaanite-type spring festival and called it Passover, or b) Passover in the 400's BCE was associated with Moses like it is in (possibly later) Jewish (and Samaritan) writings, and I prefer option b.

I don't know where or when Esther was written, but I know it doesn't mention God or praying. So let's say it was unknown until it was discovered in modern times and carbon dated to the 400's BCE. If we didn't have the Elephantine Papyri and Esther was all we had to go on to know what Jews were like in the 400's BCE, I would assume that the Jews in Esther believed in God (or gods) and praying like Jews do in the OT rather than that they did not believe in God (or gods) and praying.

It's been awhile since I've looked at Esther, but a quick word search is indicating that it also doesn't mention Moses or the Torah, only that "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws" (3:8). And if this is so, then I would assume that the Jews in Esther believed in Moses and some kind of Torah, like Jews do in other Jewish writings.

Would this be going beyond the evidence? Yes, but it would seem reasonable to me to take what other Jewish writings say into consideration, regardless of when they were written, to get an idea of the beliefs and practices of the Jews in Esther.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

John2 wrote: Sat Dec 17, 2022 1:44 pm
So we could say a) Elephantine Jews (and by extension Jews in Judea) in the 400's BCE observed a Moses-free Canaanite-type spring festival and called it Passover, or b) Passover in the 400's BCE was associated with Moses like it is in (possibly later) Jewish (and Samaritan) writings, and I prefer option b.

I don't know where or when Esther was written, but I know it doesn't mention God or praying. So let's say it was unknown until it was discovered in modern times and carbon dated to the 400's BCE. If we didn't have the Elephantine Papyri and Esther was all we had to go on to know what Jews were like in the 400's BCE, I would assume that the Jews in Esther believed in God (or gods) and praying like Jews do in the OT rather than that they did not believe in God (or gods) and praying.

It's been awhile since I've looked at Esther, but a quick word search is indicating that it also doesn't mention Moses or the Torah, only that "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws" (3:8). And if this is so, then I would assume that the Jews in Esther believed in Moses and some kind of Torah, like Jews do in other Jewish writings.

Would this be going beyond the evidence? Yes, but it would seem reasonable to me to take what other Jewish writings say into consideration, regardless of when they were written, to get an idea of the beliefs and practices of the Jews in Esther.
The difference with Esther is that it is known to date late and after other biblical literature had become extant, and it is known to come from a culture embedded in the other biblical literature. So it is reasonable to interpret Esther in the context of other writings known to its authors.

The point about the passover festival is that we are looking at the question of origins, and that implies practices before the literature. We know that there were many etiologies to explain origins of this and that, an etiology of a tribal name, an etiology of a political institution, an etiology of a city, an etiology of a custom, etc. Rarely are those etiologies considered historical because they are usually related to ideas of significance to later generations and cannot therefore belong to the original custom or institution.

Elephantine finds include references to the sabbath day, a seven day week. But we can be sure that those Judeans did not associate the sabbath with an account of God's rest from creation because they spoke of that day as a market day. Clearly the etiology of God resting on that day and sanctifying it was a later etiology for a different religious environment.

It seems reasonable to me to assume a similar development for the biblical etiology of the Passover -- especially given that the Passover at Elephantine is explicitly associated only with the authority of the Persian king and not with Moses. There may have been some notion of Moses and Exodus kept at an oral level or otherwise never found its way into the physical remains, but one would expect some other evidence for Mosaic regulations but there is none.

The etiologies are introduced in stories that are conveyed in Greek genres of history-writing; the content of those etiologies is Hellenistic events and situations; and if one accepts Gmirkin's thesis then one has also a specific motive for the introduction or invention of the etiologies (including the name of Moses) in Hellenistic times.

Before the appearance of the biblical etiology, as I understand and recall (I haven't checked up the details), we have Passover and other festivals being entirely agricultural festivals without any association with Moses.
StephenGoranson
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by StephenGoranson »

First, to address an inaccuracy posted by R. E. Gmirkin, I have read other writings, e. g., his “Can the Documentary Hypothesis be Rehabilitated? A New Model of the Collaborative Composition of the Pentateuch”. Journal of Higher Criticism 15/3 (fall 2020): 4-48.

Second, to address REG's deflection. Yes I used to work in a library, and also in teaching, publishing, and editing. So what?

Third, REG wrote that "...the Hebrew Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria..." Such can be challenged--if allowed--both for lack of evidence and for trivializing Hebrew culture.
ABuddhist
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by ABuddhist »

StephenGoranson wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 7:42 am Third, REG wrote that "...the Hebrew Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria..." Such can be challenged--if allowed--both for lack of evidence and for trivializing Hebrew culture.
With all due respect, your assertion that Gmirkin's model can be challenged for trivializing Hebrew culture is defective for 3 reasons.

1. It assumes, without providing reasoning, that a more recent and derivative Pentateuch trivializes Hebrew culture. But the value of a culture or its products is not based upon newness and orginality - otherwise, for example, Shakespeare and English culture would be always regarded as inferior to, for example, Euripides and Greek culture.

2. The same logic which you use to condemn Gmirkin's model of the Pentateuch for trivializing Hebrew culture can also be applied to all other models in which the Pentateuch, far from being written in remotest history by Moses, was written more recently by people who were falsely attributing to Moses and YHWH words from other cultures/authors. But that would suggest that mainstream biblical scholarship is trivializing Hebrew culture.

3. Such a challenge commits the fallacy of appealing to the consequences. But for the same reason that serious scholars do not challenge evolution because, for example, it reduces humans to mere animals, I think that Gmirkin's theory should not be challenged because it allegedly is trivializing Hebrew culture but for the same reasons why reputable scholars challenge ideas - because evidence does not support the idea rather than because the idea, if accepted, might lead people to accept unfortunate and incorrect conclusions.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Steven Goranson, does a scholar "trivialize Hebrew culture" when the scholar argues that the Hebrews borrowed from Mesopotamian, Hittite, Canaanite and Egyptian cultures to create their literature? (Or do you just "hate the Greeks" ;-). )

Australia is what we call a "multicultural" country. I would feel it would be quite demeaning of Australian culture if the multicultural features of our society were denigrated or even denied and anyone said the only genuine culture of Australia worth preserving and acknowledging is the culture of the racist 'white Australia policy" years, of the years of murdering Chinese and aborigines, of the years when we felt a "national inferiority complex" on the world stage and deplored our musical and literary artists for going overseas to make a name for themselves and trying to hide their Australian accents and origins.

To deny our multicultural society today with all its leading artists, universities, and scientific accomplishments on the world stage, drawing on international influences and contributing something unique in return -- and to say that we only "validate" Australian culture if we focus on an era of "ocker" racism, bigotry, and ignorance that shut itself off from any international influence -- such a focus would be the real "trivializing of Australian culture".
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Secret Alias
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Secret Alias »

It assumes, without providing reasoning, that a more recent and derivative Pentateuch trivializes Hebrew culture.
I am not asserting that Gmirkin is trivializing Jewish culture. However your take is silly. Celsus argues that because Moses copied the Egyptians they aren't a first rate culture. The orthodox trivialized the Marcionites by saying that Marcion's gospel came long after the orthodox gospels. Surely, it doesn't require a lot of explanation, justification or proofs that saying "someone copied something from someone else" MIGHT be slighting, trivializing, lowering the value of someone or something.

I've made the same argument with respect to mountainman's "argument" (more like wish) that a group of scribes at the time of Constantine invented the gospels in the fourth century. "Why should that be trivializing Christianity?" Come on. If I am a Jew and I only show interest in things which "disprove" the status quo about Christianity it can be fairly presumed that I dislike Christianity. The same is true if I am a vegetarian sharing on social media stories about how meat kills you, a nudist who only cites studies about how wearing clothing causes mental illness etc.
ABuddhist
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by ABuddhist »

Secret Alias wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:42 pm
It assumes, without providing reasoning, that a more recent and derivative Pentateuch trivializes Hebrew culture.
I am not asserting that Gmirkin is trivializing Jewish culture. However your take is silly. Celsus argues that because Moses copied the Egyptians they aren't a first rate culture. The orthodox trivialized the Marcionites by saying that Marcion's gospel came long after the orthodox gospels. Surely, it doesn't require a lot of explanation, justification or proofs that saying "someone copied something from someone else" MIGHT be slighting, trivializing, lowering the value of someone or something.

I've made the same argument with respect to mountainman's "argument" (more like wish) that a group of scribes at the time of Constantine invented the gospels in the fourth century. "Why should that be trivializing Christianity?" Come on. If I am a Jew and I only show interest in things which "disprove" the status quo about Christianity it can be fairly presumed that I dislike Christianity. The same is true if I am a vegetarian sharing on social media stories about how meat kills you, a nudist who only cites studies about how wearing clothing causes mental illness etc.
With all due respect, I was not quoting or addressing your claims but rather the claims of StephenGoranson.

But in response to your points, I raise the following counterpoints. Firstly, the fact that a work is more recent than it claims to be and is reacting to and responding to older works can be used in supporting the work's greatness as an intertextual masterpiece. Certainly, that is how I have come to better appreciate GMark, despite my not even being Christian.

Secondly, the fact that people from one religious tradition (or lack of religious tradition - I must not forget the materialist athiests) delight in studying material which disproves another religious tradition need not be proof that they hate other religions; rather, they can just find the true origins of religious movements (rather than the myths and hagiographies which religions have created) to be fascinating. I feel this way, for example, about Daoism.
Last edited by ABuddhist on Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Secret Alias »

Firstly, the fact that a work is more recent than it claims to be and is reacting to and responding to older works can be used in supporting the work's greatness as an intertextual materpiece
Yeah right. Why are you making stupid arguments. Certain things are never true. Like no one ever says naked old body looks better, sexier than naked 19 year old body. No one except for my dog or any dog says this steak would be better after being rolled around on the floor for 5 minutes.
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