Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Post by neilgodfrey »

rgprice wrote: Thu Aug 25, 2022 4:20 am. . . .

Why would Hellenistic writers produce material that praises Cyrus and calls Cyrus the messiah?

. . . .

Why would Ezra include:

Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.

Why would Hellenistic writers state that the Jews worshiped the God of Cyrus? . . . .
Bernard Barc has an answer to that question. Barc's thesis is that the Hebrew "Bible" in its final Hebrew form was principally the work of a Hellenistic Jew, or at least a Jew who worked to build ties between Hellenists and "traditionalists", and that after his death the program of compromise fell apart and anti-Hellenists won out -- my translation of a passage from p. 232 of Les arpenteurs du temps: The stories and figures created to explain the origins of the Pharisee movement were
backdated and [became] contemporary with the Persian period, thus escaping any suspicion of contamination by Hellenism .... From the time of the Maccabean revolt onwards, the idea that the Judean religion could have been influenced by Hellenistic culture became unbearable for the unconditional defenders of the Torah.
rgprice
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Re: Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Post by rgprice »

Plausible.
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

rgprice wrote: Wed Aug 31, 2022 11:10 am I have considered something that Gmirkin does not mention that I have noticed, but which may aid his thesis.

There is the possibility that after the fall of the Persians, the Jewish elite who were carrying out the program that Gmirkin proposes (supposedly), may have declared that the Persians had suppressed their true heritage, and that the priesthood was now revitalizing the truth about their ancestors.

...

This is plausible.

In the case of the Jews, what would have happened here would have been a much more rigorous re-writing of their history, but after 200 years of Persian rule, who would know any better?

So, I think that this potential for "re-education" does provide a plausible scenario for the possibility of what Gmirkin proposes.

Nothing in the Deuteronomistic works mentions the Persians. However the fact that ostensibly later works, such as those of Ezra and Isaiah praise the Persians, may challenge the proposal I just laid out.
I appreciate and welcome the healthy input of critical thinkers (such as RGPrice, Neil Godfrey and others) who have read, understand and seriously considered my lines of argumentation but may disagree with parts of my analysis. I am always reviewing my own arguments to see if they stand scrutiny.

I'm interested in defining the parameters of pro-Persian material in the Hebrew Bible: what themes were present, what social groups may have contributed this material. My preliminary observations are:

(1) There doesn't appear to be any detectable pro-Persian material whatsoever in Genesis-Kings.
(2) Pro-Persian material in both earlier (Haggai [ca. 500 BCE]) and later works (Isaiah [3rd BCE], Ezra [2nd BCE], Nehemiah [2nd BCE]) appear to be consistently associated with (authentic) Persian authorization of the rebuilding of Jerusalem's temple. Persian authorization of a return from exile and support for Judean governorship appear to be relatively late and novelistic, although Ezra may contain some [highly reworked] Persian Era provincial correspondence.
(3) The locus of authentic Persian Era information in the Hebrew Bible appears to have been (pre-Maccabean) temple archives, which seem to have preserved oracles about the foundation of the temple, and (probably) some official Persian Era correspondence.
(4) Two potential social milieus that could have produced this pre-Persian content are Jerusalem's temple personnel (note the anti-Samaritan polemics in Ezra-Nehemiah) and early second BCE scribal circles (given the prominence of the fictional figure Ezra the scribe).
(5) Davidic descendants could have constituted a third group, in light of the prominence of Zerubbabel, but I consider this unlikely, since the Davidic content is more convincingly explained by the Zerubbabel's incidental mention in authentic oracles in Haggai.
(6) A relevant datum, but of unknown significance, is the Persian colony of Elephantine. At least one of the soldiers stationed there (in the Hellenistic Era, as I recall) was alternately referred to as Jewish and Persian, so the ethnicity of those stationed there was somewhat fluid. The Egyptians appear to have hated these Jewish troops due to their association with the Persians and with Cambyses in particular. How, if at all, does this play into matters?

Although I can't promise to respond, I would be interested to read how this analysis comports with others on this list who have thought about some of these same issues and may have some original insights or considered some information I may have overlooked.
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Post by neilgodfrey »

Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 02, 2023 11:50 amI'm interested in defining the parameters of pro-Persian material in the Hebrew Bible: what themes were present, what social groups may have contributed this material. My preliminary observations are:

(1) There doesn't appear to be any detectable pro-Persian material whatsoever in Genesis-Kings.
Was the region from the Euphrates to the Nile a single Persian satrapy? I seem to recollect Thompson(?) suggesting that the land promised to Abraham's descendants and said to be the extent of Solomon's kingdom coincided with that satrapy.

(You may already have addressed this point but if so, it escapes me at the moment.)
Russell Gmirkin
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Re: Origins of Jewish monotheism: Gmirkin vs Isaiah...

Post by Russell Gmirkin »

neilgodfrey wrote: Mon Jan 02, 2023 4:58 pm
Russell Gmirkin wrote: Mon Jan 02, 2023 11:50 amI'm interested in defining the parameters of pro-Persian material in the Hebrew Bible: what themes were present, what social groups may have contributed this material. My preliminary observations are:

(1) There doesn't appear to be any detectable pro-Persian material whatsoever in Genesis-Kings.
Was the region from the Euphrates to the Nile a single Persian satrapy? I seem to recollect Thompson(?) suggesting that the land promised to Abraham's descendants and said to be the extent of Solomon's kingdom coincided with that satrapy.

(You may already have addressed this point but if so, it escapes me at the moment.)
References to the Promised Land as stretching from the Euphrates to the "River of Egypt" (i.e. the Wadi el-Arish, below Gaza, that formed a northern boundary of Egypt at various times) appear in Gen. 15.18 (promised to Abraham) and 1 Kings 4:21 (fulfilled under Solomon). The region “across the River [Euphrates]” corresponds to the Ebir-Nari of the Assyrians. Various Assyrian kings, starting with Shalmaneser III (LAR , I, §634), claimed to have "received tribute of all the kings who (live) on the other side of the Euphrates." The boundaries of Solomon’s empire from Tiphsah to Gaza (1 Kgs 4.24) correspond closely with those of the satrapy Abar-Nahara of the Persian period, which stood in close continuity between the earlier Assyrian Ebir-Nari. Tiphsah is the Thapsacus of classical literature, possibly to be identified with the toponym Tapsuhu that first appears in cuneiform texts of Nabonidus (Neo-Babylonian period) and Cyrus (Persian Era). See Laetitia Graslin and André Lemaire, “Tapsuhu, «Thapsaque? »,” NABU (2004-2) 55; Michal Gawlikowski, “Thapsacus and Zeugma: the Crossing of the Euphrates in Antiquity,” Iraq 58 (1996): 123-33.

So one could conceivably take the region from the Euphrates to the River of Egypt (not the Nile, but the Wadi el-Arish) as either the Neo-Assyrian or Persian region "Beyond the River [Euphrates]." There are many Neo-Assyrian references in the account of Solomon's reign (such as Dor and Megiddo in 1 Kings 4:11-12, famously, capital cities of Neo-Assyrian provinces--I think Nadav Na'aman discusses this) that point to the earlier Neo-Assyrian period in my opinion. Similarly Finkelstein points to the Neo-Assyrian period for geographical references in Genesis 14. The topic is too broad to discuss here, and involves issues of source criticism, but many pre-Hellenistic toponyms in Genesis-Kings appear to have neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian associations. Persia is notably absent (including in Genesis 10, where one might reasonably expect reference to Persia rather than Elam).
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