“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.)rgprice wrote: ↑Fri Aug 26, 2022 6:05 am You can't just present a history and religion to a whole society that that has a different history and religion and have them all just adopt the new history and religion and totally forget the past. It just seems that there needs to be some better explanation of how we go from a polytheistic Palestinian population, who had no knowledge of Moses or Ten Commandments or David or Solomon or Twelve Tribes circa 300 BCE to millions of devotees to the Temple priesthood and people sacrificing their lives for the Torah some 50 to 75 years later?
I could understand that if pre-Torah Judahite religions was already pretty similar to what the Torah lays out, but Gmirkin is proposing a pretty major revolution, claiming that the Torah essentially created a whole new religion out of thin air with almost no precedent in Judahite traditions, and then millions of Palestinians just adopted it on the spot.
What I have a hard time understanding is how such a significant population of people adopted so many new religious and historical elements of their identity in such a short period of time. Especially since the Torah does not really put forward what was claimed to be a new religion, rather it claims that its religious doctrines and beliefs had been part of the community for centuries.
Plato’s proposed solution for wiping clean the national memory and substituting a new memory dictated by the ruling class was worked out in the most detail in Plato’s Laws.
1. The rulers should organize the creation of an authorized national literature consistent with its new origin story in which the gods gave the nation its laws to a lawgiver from the distant past.
2. This literature should be exclusively used in schools, festivals, and all other settings, public or private. Strictly enforced censorship and cultural isolation would prevent other sources of information or tradition from reaching the younger generation.
3. He predicted that after the original generation had died off, the new generation educated solely out of this sacred national literature would accept these written texts as authentic history.
This is exactly what happened with the creation of the Hebrew Bible after 270 BCE. See Gmirkin 2017: 255-56, 261, 274; 2022: 265, 268, 288.
Please note that one of Plato's key strategies in persuading the citizenry that their laws were ancient and divine was to retain as much as possible of the ancient religious institutions, priesthoods and local traditions and incorporate them into the new national religious life, though suitably reformed. I discuss this extensively at Gmirkin 2017: 262-63. There was thus significant continuity in religious traditions. Plato's main innovation, besides insisting that all the terrestrial gods played nice, was to postulate a supreme cosmic God who created the cosmos and existed outside the material realm. Otherwise not much change in the area of religion.