Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

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

Post by ABuddhist »

StephenGoranson wrote: Mon Dec 19, 2022 7:35 am What?
"But I, and Goranson, were not talking about literature or religion -or even history, for that matter. Rather, we were talking about culture." Sun Dec 18, 2022 4:44 pm--according to ABuddhist
fwiw, I do not endorse that characterization about what "we" were addressing.
I could elaborate, but probably to little avail.
Well, I welcome correction and explanation if you would be kind enough to give it, although I naturally reserve the right to respond to your comments.

But for what it is worth, my understanding of our discussion within this thread was that we were discussing whether Gmirkin's theory should be challenged for trivializing Hebrew culture.

For all readers' benefits, I present our exchange here:
ABuddhist wrote: Sun Dec 18, 2022 9:33 am
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.
From what I quoted (which is the entirety of my exchange with you), it is clear that our conversation was not about religion or history but about culture - specifically whether Gmirkin's model of the Pentateuch's orgins, if accepted as true, would trivialize Hebrew culture and should be challenged for that reason (as you, in my understanding, were asserting). In response, I pointed out that a culture's product's greater recentness and lack of originality does not make the culture or its products trivial /inferior.

I fail to understand how this was not, as I said, a discussion about culture rather than about religion or history.

I suppose that StephenGoranson may assert that the fact that this discussion arose in the context of a controversy about dating a religious text means that our conversation was fundamentally about history and religion, but to this, I say that it is possible to analyze and make meaningful contributions to topics from many fields of knowledges' perspectives when topics entrench upon many fields of knowledges' perspectives. For example, whewn studying Shakespeare's plays, they can be appreciated and discussed from the historian's perspective, the linguist's perspective, the dramatist's perspective, and even the poet's perspective. Similarly, the Pentateuch's origins can be discussed from the perspective of religion, history, and culture. I was discussing the Pentateuch's origins from the perspective of culture - specifically, cultural significance and value.

I note that StephenGoranson has not addressed my broader point in the discussion between us - which he may be able to convince me was not about culture (and if so I welcome his correction) - namely whether challenging Gmirkin's proposal about the Pentateuch's origins on the basis that it trivializes Hebrew culture is an appropriate basis for challenging the model, or whether such a challenge is only an appeal to the consequences which should be discarded in favour of challenging Gmirkin with actual evidence.

I write these words as a Buddhist who has been condemned for my faith because Buddhism's rejection of the existence of souls (or a single soul) supposedly means that we can do whatever evil things we want. But that appeal to the consequences, even if accepted as true (which it is not, according to Buddhism), does not address the actual evidence about whether souls (or a soul) exist. Similarly, even if one accept that Gmirkin's model of the Pentateuch's origins trivializes Hebrew culture (which it does not, as I and Neil Godfrey have argued within this thread), that does not address the actual evidence about whether Gmirkin's proposal about the Pentateuch's origins is correct.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Secret Alias »

But modern people may better understand history - and how to reconstruct history - than Celsus did. After all, modern historians can access written materials in many more langauges and can use dating methods which Celsus could not have.
I don't think that it is reasonable to suppose that Gmirkin had 1/100 of the material pertaining to the Pentateuch being written with the aid of materials from the Library of Alexandria as would Celsus. Maybe 1/1000th, maybe even 1/1000000
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Mon Dec 19, 2022 10:08 am
But modern people may better understand history - and how to reconstruct history - than Celsus did. After all, modern historians can access written materials in many more langauges and can use dating methods which Celsus could not have.
I don't think that it is reasonable to suppose that Gmirkin had 1/100 of the material pertaining to the Pentateuch being written with the aid of materials from the Library of Alexandria as would Celsus. Maybe 1/1000th, maybe even 1/1000000
Or maybe 80/100.

A more reliable calculation is possible when one examines the evidence and uses the evidence (rather than armchair speculative fancy) as a basis for estimates: Plato and the Hebrew Bible
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Secret Alias
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by Secret Alias »

Or maybe 80/100.
Really.
Few sources cite any, but the article Loss of Information from Late Antiquity to the Thirteenth Century states that (for classical literature):

Estimates of the percentage of classical literature that is thought to have survived to the present vary; one widely used estimate is only ten percent.

This article cites Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature by L. G. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson (2013), but I can find no mention in this book for this estimate (I have a copy), so the above '10% survived' should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

The article Reference for the claim that only 1% of ancient literature survives gives us a different figure and, as with the above 10%, is not specifically for Latin literature.

Other sources I have checked do not give percentages. Michael von Albrecht in A History of Roman Literature (1997) says:

Only a small portion of Roman literature has come down to us, and we should never forget how much has been lost.

The Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature (by Knox & McKeown, see above) is even less precise:

It is....hardly surprising that the survival of literary works has been haphazard at best.

The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. 2 Latin Literature makes similarly vague statements in relation to different authors and genres.

Perhaps more useful (and productive) than trying to guess at a percentage is to look at the authors:

...for Latin, we have the names of 772 classical authors. Of these, not a word survives from 276 of them. We have fragments ranging from an aphorism to several pages of 352 of the authors. Of the remaining 144, we possess at least one of their works but rarely all of them. https://history.stackexchange.com/quest ... %20percent.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Tue Dec 20, 2022 12:20 am
Or maybe 80/100.
Really.
Few sources cite any, but the article Loss of Information from Late Antiquity to the Thirteenth Century states that (for classical literature):

Estimates of the percentage of classical literature that is thought to have survived to the present vary; one widely used estimate is only ten percent.

This article cites Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature by L. G. Reynolds and N. G. Wilson (2013), but I can find no mention in this book for this estimate (I have a copy), so the above '10% survived' should be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

The article Reference for the claim that only 1% of ancient literature survives gives us a different figure and, as with the above 10%, is not specifically for Latin literature.

Other sources I have checked do not give percentages. Michael von Albrecht in A History of Roman Literature (1997) says:

Only a small portion of Roman literature has come down to us, and we should never forget how much has been lost.

The Oxford Anthology of Roman Literature (by Knox & McKeown, see above) is even less precise:

It is....hardly surprising that the survival of literary works has been haphazard at best.

The Cambridge History of Classical Literature, vol. 2 Latin Literature makes similarly vague statements in relation to different authors and genres.

Perhaps more useful (and productive) than trying to guess at a percentage is to look at the authors:

...for Latin, we have the names of 772 classical authors. Of these, not a word survives from 276 of them. We have fragments ranging from an aphorism to several pages of 352 of the authors. Of the remaining 144, we possess at least one of their works but rarely all of them. https://history.stackexchange.com/quest ... %20percent.
I clearly misunderstood your original comment. I thought you were saying that only 1/100th of the Pentateuch might have influence from sources in the Alexandrian library. My point was that the Pentateuch arguably is chock a block riddled with Platonic influences.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

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Or both the Pentateuch and Plato go back to some common source. It's not just “either Plato philonizes or Philo platonizes,” That is the other possibility. Of course modern Jewish studies does not take seriously the notion that Philo represents the "original" or even the earliest surviving complete strand of Biblical exegesis. I don't think Philo represents some 'aberrant' exegesis, or an idiosyncratic 'invention' on the part of an Alexandrian Jewish 'mystic.' I think he is filtering a pre-existent (even "Oniad") interpretation of the Bible through learned Greek philosophical technical terminologies and concepts. I agree with you that far/that much. But does that mean that the authors of the text were similarly steeped in Greek philosophical technical concepts? Sometimes life just aligns in a certain way.

When you are raised by a domineering mother you think there is no way this could ever be attractive to anyone. But then you discover there are lots of women raised in similar situations. It's not all like on TV where "men are men" and "women are women" (for lack of better expressions. Sometimes the dysfunction that cut you from the rock makes you the perfect fit for someone else with a similar background. The same thing might be true for the compatibility of the Jewish Pentateuch with Platonism (and their ultimate synthesis Christianity). For believing Christians like Clement and his culture Platonism was "destined" to explain the Bible. Does the fact that there is "no such thing" as destiny necessitate the 270 BCE creation proposal? Or is a fortunate coincidence another possible explanation? It's like saying can I be in love without believing in destiny?
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Tue Dec 20, 2022 1:17 pm Or both the Pentateuch and Plato go back to some common source. It's not just “either Plato philonizes or Philo platonizes,” That is the other possibility. Of course modern Jewish studies does not take seriously the notion that Philo represents the "original" or even the earliest surviving complete strand of Biblical exegesis. I don't think Philo represents some 'aberrant' exegesis, or an idiosyncratic 'invention' on the part of an Alexandrian Jewish 'mystic.' I think he is filtering a pre-existent (even "Oniad") interpretation of the Bible through learned Greek philosophical technical terminologies and concepts. I agree with you that far/that much. But does that mean that the authors of the text were similarly steeped in Greek philosophical technical concepts? Sometimes life just aligns in a certain way.
One scholar who does suggest Philo is witness to "a pre-existent (even "Oniad") interpretation of the BIble etc" is Bernard Barc. I am keen to follow up in some depth some of the arguments he makes. It will take time, though. So far he has generated more questions than answers for me.

But if you see the evidence for Plato's influence in the Pentateuch all laid out as Gmirkin presents it, it is impossible to attribute it to coincidence or common experiences or common roots or such. There is clear borrowing. Before Gmirkin, I read Wajdenbaum, and he led me to read Plato's Laws. It's impossible, I think, to read Plato's Laws and not be reminded over and over of the Pentateuch.

Some scholars have attempted to argue that the Pentateuch's ideas were known to Plato and that the influence was from the Pentateuch to Plato. But when one reads the numbers of similarities and their overall patten it is evident that the authors of the Pentateuch were well-read in Plato.
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by John2 »

I'm still in no position to challenge Gmirkin's idea, but I'd like to flesh it out a little more. While I have reservations, so far I suppose I can at least visualize the writing of the OT in Greek times without getting upset. But now I'm wondering about what Jewish history was like before Greek times if the narrative in the OT is made up. Did the kingdoms of Israel and Judah exist? Was there a first Temple in Jerusalem? Did the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles happen? Is all we know about Jews in Persian times in the Elephantine Papyri? Is Jewish history otherwise effectively unknown before Greek times other than whatever similarities the Papyri share with Canaanite culture?
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by neilgodfrey »

John2 wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 1:32 pm I'm still in no position to challenge Gmirkin's idea, but I'd like to flesh it out a little more. While I have reservations, so far I suppose I can at least visualize the writing of the OT in Greek times without getting upset. But now I'm wondering about what Jewish history was like before Greek times if the narrative in the OT is made up. Did the kingdoms of Israel and Judah exist? Was there a first Temple in Jerusalem? Did the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles happen? Is all we know about Jews in Persian times in the Elephantine Papyri? Is Jewish history otherwise effectively unknown before Greek times other than whatever similarities the Papyri share with Canaanite culture?
According to archaeological evidence (especially various monuments) we know of a small kingdom of Israel around the city of Samaria from about 853 BCE to about 722 BCE. The regular Assyrian name for this kingdom was Land of Omri or House of Omri (cf. I Kings 16:16-23). The only capital mentioned is Samaria. Without the Bible would historians have even called this Kingdom "Israel" at all? It would more likely be known as "Omri".

South of there, in the region of Judah, was sparsely populated and there is no evidence of a kingdom before around 800 BCE. Even if a David or Solomon did exist they would have known nothing of a city of Jerusalem, and certainly had no way to wield power beyond a few hills. There is no evidence of any united kingdom of Israel and Judah. The archaeological evidence tells us that the northern and southern highlands were settled and developed independently. There was no link between them.

It is likely that a kingdom of Judah was formed by the Assyrians as a buffer state against Egypt and to exploit the olive oil industry with Jerusalem as the regional market. Judah became a state and Jerusalem a major administrative centre only in the 700's BCE at the earliest. Assyrian and Babylonian records first refer to Judah (King Ahaz, ca 734 BCE) just prior to the fall of Samaria.

Judah become more powerful as a kingdom after the Assyrians captured Samaria and many of the northern Israelite population fled to Judah.

Yahweh or Ywh was one of the deities worshiped but not the sole one. Yahweh was also worshiped in Syria and the Cisjordan region. So he was not unique to Israel or Judah.

That's the understanding I have picked up via Davies, Thompson et al.
andrewcriddle
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Re: Two failures of the 270s creation proposal?

Post by andrewcriddle »

neilgodfrey wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 5:49 pm
John2 wrote: Thu Dec 22, 2022 1:32 pm I'm still in no position to challenge Gmirkin's idea, but I'd like to flesh it out a little more. While I have reservations, so far I suppose I can at least visualize the writing of the OT in Greek times without getting upset. But now I'm wondering about what Jewish history was like before Greek times if the narrative in the OT is made up. Did the kingdoms of Israel and Judah exist? Was there a first Temple in Jerusalem? Did the Assyrian and Babylonian exiles happen? Is all we know about Jews in Persian times in the Elephantine Papyri? Is Jewish history otherwise effectively unknown before Greek times other than whatever similarities the Papyri share with Canaanite culture?
According to archaeological evidence (especially various monuments) we know of a small kingdom of Israel around the city of Samaria from about 853 BCE to about 722 BCE. The regular Assyrian name for this kingdom was Land of Omri or House of Omri (cf. I Kings 16:16-23). The only capital mentioned is Samaria. Without the Bible would historians have even called this Kingdom "Israel" at all? It would more likely be known as "Omri".

South of there, in the region of Judah, was sparsely populated and there is no evidence of a kingdom before around 800 BCE. Even if a David or Solomon did exist they would have known nothing of a city of Jerusalem, and certainly had no way to wield power beyond a few hills. There is no evidence of any united kingdom of Israel and Judah. The archaeological evidence tells us that the northern and southern highlands were settled and developed independently. There was no link between them.

It is likely that a kingdom of Judah was formed by the Assyrians as a buffer state against Egypt and to exploit the olive oil industry with Jerusalem as the regional market. Judah became a state and Jerusalem a major administrative centre only in the 700's BCE at the earliest. Assyrian and Babylonian records first refer to Judah (King Ahaz, ca 734 BCE) just prior to the fall of Samaria.

Judah become more powerful as a kingdom after the Assyrians captured Samaria and many of the northern Israelite population fled to Judah.

Yahweh or Ywh was one of the deities worshiped but not the sole one. Yahweh was also worshiped in Syria and the Cisjordan region. So he was not unique to Israel or Judah.

That's the understanding I have picked up via Davies, Thompson et al.
The Tel Dan Stele at face value provides evidence of a kingdom of Israel and a house of David c 800 BCE or maybe a bit earlier.

Andrew Criddle
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