"Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
StephenGoranson
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"Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by StephenGoranson »

forwarded:


Full recordings from the conference "Yahwism under the Achaemenid
empire (prof. Shaul Shaked in memoriam)" are now available on the
conferences website and youtube channel.

The conference website: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www ... Fjvxi_QhOj$

Our Youtube channel: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www ... Fjv3tVGzb6$

The videos available are:
- Remembering Prof. Shaul Shaked: Family, friends and colleagues share memories
- Dr. Gad Barnea (University of Haifa): Features of Achaemenid-era
Zoroastrianism: some echoes from Yahwistic sources at Elephantine
- Prof. Ingo Kottsieper (University of Münster): From יהה צבאת to יהו
מרא שמיא: Aspects of religious development on Elephantine
- Dr. James D. Moore (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin): Administering
Religion and Cult at Elephantine
- Prof. Karel van der Toorn (University of Amsterdam): Persian
Imperialism and the Religious Imagination in Early Judaism
- Dr. Jason Silverman (University of Helsinki): Yahwism in the
Religious Field of the Achaemenid Empire: Using Bourdieu as a theorist
of religious change in the Persian Empire
- Dr. Ohad Cohen (University of Haifa): Shining a light on להוא in
Judean Aramaic : Evidences from Achaemenid Imperial Aramaic
- Dr. Margaretha Folmer (Leiden University): The linguistic milieu of
Elephantine Aramaic
- Prof. Michael Shenkar (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): The
Achaemenid Dynasty, Zoroastrianism and the Origin of the Fire-Temples
- Prof. Oded Lipschits (University of Tel-Aviv): "Those who live in
these ruins in the land of Israel" (Ez. 33:24): Some Thoughts on
Living in the Shadow of the Ruins in Persian Period Judah
- Prof. Israel Finkelstein (University of Haifa): Archaeology's Black
Hole: Jerusalem and Yehud/Judea in the Persian and Early Hellenistic
Periods
- Prof. Reinhard Kratz (Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen): Where
to put Biblical, Torah-centered Yahwism in Achaemenid Times?
- Prof. Konrad Schmid (University of Zurich): The End of History and
the Ends of History: Assessing the Political-Theological Status of the
Achaemenid Empire in Persian Period Judaism
- Prof. Itamar Kislev (University of Haifa): The cultic fire in the
priestly source
- Prof. Bezalel Porten (Hebrew University, Jerusalem): יהו and its
cognates in personal names: the problem of Yama
- Prof. Antonio Panaino (Università di Bologna): Cyrus as Mašiaḥ or Χριστός
- Prof. Diana Edelman (University of Oslo): Yhwh Shomron and Yhwh
Elohim in the Achaemenid Province of Samaria
- Prof. Stefan Schorch (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg):
The Samaritan Pentateuch as Textual Witness of the Pentateuch in the
Persian Period
- Prof. Tawny Holm (Pennsylvania State University): Samarians in the
Egyptian Diaspora
- Prof. Benedikt Hensel (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg):
Was there an ‘Idumean Yahwism’? Material and Biblical Evidence on
Religion and Yahweh-Worship in Idumea
- Dr. Laurie Pearce (University of California, Berkeley): Through a
Babylonian looking glass: what is the problem with foreign wives?
- Prof. Ran Zadok (University of Tel-Aviv): Issues pertaining to the
Judean exiles in pre-Hellenistic Babylonia

- Closing event: Prof. Yonatan Adler and the origins of Judaism: Book
presentation and discussion
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neilgodfrey
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by neilgodfrey »

I would like to encourage anyone who thinks we have evidence for the "biblical religion", or "Biblical Yahwism", or for knowledge of any of the Pentateuch in the Persian period to listen to Kratz's Yahwism Under the Achaemenid Empire.

Kratz begins by warning that biblical scholars risk making fools of themselves (compared with other scholars of ancient history/historiography) if they continue to ignore the evidence and pretend to know more than we can know -- and concludes by saying that we have no evidence at all that what we read in the literature we take to be from the Persian period (Esther-Nehemiah, for example) has any historical relevance. The reason many scholars like to speak of Persian era Yahwism is that works like Ezra-Nehemiah give us a convenient narrative. But we have no idea who wrote them, when, where or why.

If there was a "biblical Yahwism" of some kind in the Persian period it was so limited in extent and influence that it left no trace in the epigraphical or other archaeological evidence.

Kratz re-affirms the work of Adler who demonstrates that we are not simply falling back on arguments from silence but that there is clear evidence that "Biblical Judaism" only makes its historical appearance in the second century.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

The links provided do not appear to work. (Or at least for me.)

Conference site is found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/
Videos can be found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/paper-videos
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neilgodfrey
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by neilgodfrey »

Russell Gmirkin wrote: Sun Jan 15, 2023 8:34 pm The links provided do not appear to work. (Or at least for me.)

Conference site is found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/
Videos can be found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/paper-videos
Hi Russell -- I have another question for you (not sure if you have seen the two I left for you at viewtopic.php?p=148856#p148856), this one is arising out of one view expressed by Stefan Schorch who sees the early Pentateuch as being open to decentralized modifications across both Samaria and Jehud from its earliest years. I was wondering what your thoughts are on his view of it as both an open and closed text by different groups and whether such a view can be rationalized with your own model of the Pentateuch's origins and purpose in composition.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by neilgodfrey »

A general question for anyone who has listened to the conference video by Oded Lipschits, "Those who live in these ruins in the land of Israel" (Ez. 33:24): Some Thoughts on Living in the Shadow of the Ruins in Persian Period Judah".

Lipschits most frustrated me when he waxed eloquent about local Judeans of Jersusalem (only about 1000-1200 of them!) looking each day at the ruins left by Babylonians pining hopefully for a glorious future to arise out of those ruins .... imputing later texts into the minds of illiterate village farmers and pottery makers -- but made me most curious when he stressed the actual hard evidence: that there were no material changes in the life of people around Jerusalem from the Babylonian conquest right up to the time of the Hasmoneans.

(He again frustrated me by saying that any group who had been sent by Persian authorities to Jehud were sent for the express purpose of rebuilding the temple -- though they didn't do that and Lipschits himself observed that their numbers were too few to carry out any such mission anyway! --Again, the frustration arises from his attempting to fancifully inject a biblical narrative where the archaeological evidence is by his own admission clearly against it -- Or is he playing a diplomatic game of self-protection in Tel Aviv?)

But if there is no material change even at the beginnings of the Hellenistic era, what sorts of changes --- again, I suppose this is directed again to you, Russell -- or developments might we have expected that prompted the writing of the Pentateuch?
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 1:02 pm A general question for anyone who has listened to the conference video by Oded Lipschits, "Those who live in these ruins in the land of Israel" (Ez. 33:24): Some Thoughts on Living in the Shadow of the Ruins in Persian Period Judah".

Lipschits most frustrated me when he waxed eloquent about local Judeans of Jersusalem (only about 1000-1200 of them!) looking each day at the ruins left by Babylonians pining hopefully for a glorious future to arise out of those ruins .... imputing later texts into the minds of illiterate village farmers and pottery makers -- but made me most curious when he stressed the actual hard evidence: that there were no material changes in the life of people around Jerusalem from the Babylonian conquest right up to the time of the Hasmoneans.

(He again frustrated me by saying that any group who had been sent by Persian authorities to Jehud were sent for the express purpose of rebuilding the temple -- though they didn't do that and Lipschits himself observed that their numbers were too few to carry out any such mission anyway! --Again, the frustration arises from his attempting to fancifully inject a biblical narrative where the archaeological evidence is by his own admission clearly against it -- Or is he playing a diplomatic game of self-protection in Tel Aviv?)

But if there is no material change even at the beginnings of the Hellenistic era, what sorts of changes --- again, I suppose this is directed again to you, Russell -- or developments might we have expected that prompted the writing of the Pentateuch?
I have a very low opinion of those who engage in hallucinatory speculation about the minds of the biblical authors or their communities.
I think the circumstances that prompted the writing of the Pentateuch can be ascertained with a high degree of confidence from relatively more objective considerations.
(1) The (fictional) foundation story by Hecataeus of Abdera in his Aegyptiaca written for the Ptolemies (320-315 BCE) in which an Egyptian named Moses led a colonizing expedition to the uninhabited land of Judea and founded its constitution, laws, and Jerusalem’s temple.
(2) The consequential belief among Ptolemaic educated elites that there existed an ancient Mosaic constitution and laws.
(3) The Ptolemaic request to the Jews for a copy of those laws, resulting in
(4) The creation of the Pentateuch as a prestige project and as a foundational document for the Jewish nation in ca. 273-272 BCE.
(1) – (3) can be corroborated with a fair degree of confidence from a critical reading of Hellenistic Era literary sources, and plausibly lead to (4), which is independently corroborated by dating arguments proceeding from source critical studies on the Pentateuch.
In consequence, I don’t see material changes as having been any sort of a factor in the creation of the Pentateuch.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 12:49 pm
Russell Gmirkin wrote: Sun Jan 15, 2023 8:34 pm The links provided do not appear to work. (Or at least for me.)

Conference site is found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/
Videos can be found at https://www.yahwistichistory.org/paper-videos
Hi Russell -- I have another question for you (not sure if you have seen the two I left for you at viewtopic.php?p=148856#p148856), this one is arising out of one view expressed by Stefan Schorch who sees the early Pentateuch as being open to decentralized modifications across both Samaria and Jehud from its earliest years. I was wondering what your thoughts are on his view of it as both an open and closed text by different groups and whether such a view can be rationalized with your own model of the Pentateuch's origins and purpose in composition.
I use the following as guides for determining the purposes, mind-set and biases of the biblical authors.

(1) The fact that the authors of the Pentateuch drew extensively on the legal materials in Plato’s Laws and also appears to have closely followed the literary agenda in that document gives us an amazing resource in understanding their motivations. Plato’s Laws explains why a nation should be organized in a certain way, why its literature should have certain specific features, etc. This was a highly influential document (along with other Platonic texts, that give us additional insights).

(2) Other insights are provided by the biblical text itself. For instance, the Pentateuch clearly indicates that its authors intended for the Mosaic laws to be authoritative, promulgated via recurrent national religious holidays, etc.

Both (1) and (2) indicate that the Pentateuchal authors intended for the text of the Pentateuch to be authoritative and that any changes or modifications to this text should have official approval at the highest levels. But there is no direct evidence for the existence of any official mechanisms in ancient Judea/Samaria for the enforcement of these authorial intentions. Consequentally,

(3) Once we get into reception history, all bets are off. There are no guarantees that the authors’ intents would be respected by readers, copyists, or the communities in which these texts were distributed. Here we get into textual criticism, where you have to look at actual changes made in later times as evidenced by textual finds. There was a lot of textual fluidity in the biblical text, much as there was in Greek texts throughout the Mediterranean world. Scorch could well be right—I haven’t listened to his lecture and I’m unfamiliar with his arguments.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

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Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 4:22 pm In consequence, I don’t see material changes as having been any sort of a factor in the creation of the Pentateuch.
I believe you are quite correct in your identification of the Hellenistic sources for the Pentateuch, as I think you know. (And I think there is much weight in your conclusion about motivation, too.) What I find myself questioning is whether a better case can be made for dating their composition even later than you do -- when there is stronger archaeological evidence for the sort of scribal activity required for the Pentateuch -- and the infrastructure for enforcement. (I have covid right now and the good side of that is I am laid up and free to listen to the presentations almost non-stop.)
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:16 pm
Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 4:22 pm In consequence, I don’t see material changes as having been any sort of a factor in the creation of the Pentateuch.
I believe you are quite correct in your identification of the Hellenistic sources for the Pentateuch, as I think you know. (And I think there is much weight in your conclusion about motivation, too.) What I find myself questioning is whether a better case can be made for dating their composition even later than you do -- when there is stronger archaeological evidence for the sort of scribal activity required for the Pentateuch -- and the infrastructure for enforcement. (I have covid right now and the good side of that is I am laid up and free to listen to the presentations almost non-stop.)
Any factual arguments are of course relevant. One could argue for a slightly later date of the LXX, which some put later in the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The earliest biblical scroll fragments from Qumran, which might date as early as ca. 250 BCE, suggest the date cannot be lowered significantly. Demetrius the Chronographer (221-204 BCE) puts a lower limit on the Primary History (Genesis-Kings). Sirach (ca. 185 BCE) puts a pretty firm terminus post quem for most of the Hebrew Bible. Then one has various pseudepigrapha thought to date to the mid/late third and early second centuries whose dates also must be accommodated. One also has a reference to the Torah in a fragmentary Jewish legal papyrus in Egypt of the late third century BCE. The Zenon Papyri of 259-256 BCE show Jewish-Egyptian business scribal activity. But coin evidence seems to show continuous uninterrupted scribal activity of Yehudite elites from the Persian period onward. And references to correspondence with the temple and nobles of Jerusalem in the Elephantine papyri also show a scribal culture. So I personally don't see an argument regarding scribal capabilities, although I've seen subjective assessments (that I disagree with) that the small population of pre-Hellenistic Jerusalem was incapable of supporting a scribal culture capable of producing biblical texts.

But again, I'm open to other viewpoints or any sort of argument proceeding out of evidence, pushing the date either earlier or later.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: "Yahwism under the Achaemenid empire" conference

Post by neilgodfrey »

Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 9:15 pm
neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 5:16 pm
Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 16, 2023 4:22 pm In consequence, I don’t see material changes as having been any sort of a factor in the creation of the Pentateuch.
I believe you are quite correct in your identification of the Hellenistic sources for the Pentateuch, as I think you know. (And I think there is much weight in your conclusion about motivation, too.) What I find myself questioning is whether a better case can be made for dating their composition even later than you do -- when there is stronger archaeological evidence for the sort of scribal activity required for the Pentateuch -- and the infrastructure for enforcement. (I have covid right now and the good side of that is I am laid up and free to listen to the presentations almost non-stop.)
Any factual arguments are of course relevant. One could argue for a slightly later date of the LXX, which some put later in the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The earliest biblical scroll fragments from Qumran, which might date as early as ca. 250 BCE, suggest the date cannot be lowered significantly. Demetrius the Chronographer (221-204 BCE) puts a lower limit on the Primary History (Genesis-Kings). Sirach (ca. 185 BCE) puts a pretty firm terminus post quem for most of the Hebrew Bible. Then one has various pseudepigrapha thought to date to the mid/late third and early second centuries whose dates also must be accommodated. One also has a reference to the Torah in a fragmentary Jewish legal papyrus in Egypt of the late third century BCE. The Zenon Papyri of 259-256 BCE show Jewish-Egyptian business scribal activity. But coin evidence seems to show continuous uninterrupted scribal activity of Yehudite elites from the Persian period onward. And references to correspondence with the temple and nobles of Jerusalem in the Elephantine papyri also show a scribal culture. So I personally don't see an argument regarding scribal capabilities, although I've seen subjective assessments (that I disagree with) that the small population of pre-Hellenistic Jerusalem was incapable of supporting a scribal culture capable of producing biblical texts.

But again, I'm open to other viewpoints or any sort of argument proceeding out of evidence, pushing the date either earlier or later.
Thanks for the detailed response. That's helpful as I continue to ty try to process so much from different quarters. As I try to clarify various strands of ideas I may post them on my blog.
Last edited by neilgodfrey on Mon Jan 16, 2023 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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