Birth of the "Judean way of life"

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2941
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Birth of the "Judean way of life"

Post by DCHindley »

While trolling for fish on "lake reddit" [https://www.reddit.com/r/AcademicBiblic ... sher_fish/] I saw this article in the Times of Israel (25 May 2021, 7:00 am):

https://www.timesofisrael.com/bad-judea ... nt-israel/

The article is mainly about the archaeology related to Jewish observance of the Torah dietary commands. That the command not to eat pork was clearly observed according to the lack of such remains in the relics, the equally prohibited consumption of scale-less/finless "fish" was, in reality, not evident at all. Judeans everywhere ate lots of them.

There are all sort of debates ongoing about how this situation could have come to be. However, be that as it may, I think the most interesting thing said by the author of the article, Amanda Borschel-Dan, is this:
Birth of a religion

In [Ariel University’s Dr. Yonatan] Adler’s upcoming 2022 book from Yale University Press on the Origins of Judaism, he will discuss more fully when the religion as a practice was born. Spoiler: It’s centuries later than when the Torah was redacted.

“We don’t have evidence for any of these [Torah] practices or prohibitions prior to the second century before the common era, that is to say from the period of the Hasmonean Dynasty,” said Adler. “We do not have any evidence that the Judean masses, that your regular every day Judean you would have met on the street of Jerusalem, prior to the middle of the second century BCE had any knowledge of the Torah and or that he observed the rules of the Torah.”

Adler is the first to emphasize the archaeology maxim that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

“Judaism could have begun before the mid-2nd century,” he said, but the lack of evidence currently makes that conjecture. “It could have emerged during the long Hellenistic period — sometime during this time is the best time to be seeking the emergence of Judaism.”
For a while now I have suggested that Judaism as a belief system had "re-fashioned" itself in Hasmonean times. This is very interesting, not whether ancient Jews had a different definition of what qualified as a "scale-less fish" or whatever.

Shades of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible by Russell E. Gmirkin © 2017 – Routledge

DCH
User avatar
Secret Alias
Posts: 13587
Joined: Sun Apr 19, 2015 8:47 am

Re: Birth of the "Judean way of life"

Post by Secret Alias »

This helps explain the origins of Christianity. At one time we must imagine that there was just the 10 commandments. That was 'the Torah.' Then this other garbage.
andrewcriddle
Posts: 1965
Joined: Sat Oct 05, 2013 12:36 am

Re: Birth of the "Judean way of life"

Post by andrewcriddle »

IIUC there is a potential ambiguity in the Biblical texts. They could be understood as forbidding water creatures without fins AND scales (the standard interpretation) or those without fins OR scales.

It is possible that the texts were originally understood to forbid those without fins OR scales e.g. shellfish and were reinterpreted in Hellenistic times to mean without fins AND scales.

Andrew Criddle
User avatar
DCHindley
Posts: 2941
Joined: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:53 am
Location: Ohio, USA

Re: Birth of the "Judean way of life"

Post by DCHindley »

Hi Andrew,

That is a possibility.

I do not recall off the top of my head whether the studies that the article referenced included shellfish remains along with fish bones or scales.

When I made the original post, I was more intrigued by the refashioning of Judean culture to suddenly begin to practice these things that formerly had not been, or only partly/occasionally been, practiced. I suppose the specific practices (such as avoidance of pork and shellfish) could have been modeled on oral folk tradition or even priestly traditions.

The takeaway for me is that Judeans, before the Maccabean rebellion and establishing of the Hasmonean kingship by Simon, were probably way more Hellenized than we usually think, if this transformation of practices took place to "reverse" it. Some of these dietary or ritual practices may never have really been universally observed in the times of the Judean/Israelite kings, but they form something as a foundation myth for the new order (Simon).

There could even be implications for reconstructing the sources of Ezra-Nehemiah/1Esdras/Chronicles. I have been doubting that these books were edited in their present form in the Persian period, and my suspicion has been that it happened in Maccabean or Hasmonean times. The sources seem to have been incredibly mixed up in the surviving presentations.

DCH
andrewcriddle wrote: Fri May 28, 2021 11:59 pm IIUC there is a potential ambiguity in the Biblical texts. They could be understood as forbidding water creatures without fins AND scales (the standard interpretation) or those without fins OR scales.

It is possible that the texts were originally understood to forbid those without fins OR scales e.g. shellfish and were reinterpreted in Hellenistic times to mean without fins AND scales.

Andrew Criddle
Post Reply