neilgodfrey wrote: ↑Fri May 19, 2023 6:54 pm
The focus of Gmirkin's study is a comparative analysis of the Pentateuch with Greek works and comparing this analysis with the well-worn studies that have sought comparisons with the Asian works. It is about broadening the scope of material for comparison.
That is the key point -- that time and time again the comparisons show closer affinities (more numerous, specific in detail and theme) with Greek literature than with the Asian lit
. Not always, but often.
By simply ignoring this analysis we close ourselves off from the question of how to explain these affinities.
This, for me is a hugely important point. How do we explain these affinities? I think that Gmirkin and you too, to be honest, view the Levant as essentially an Asian country, for which cultural connections with the ANE are more or less normative, expected, unremarkable. And that's no surprise since, as you correctly point out, hitherto scholarship has "sought comparisons with the Asian works" for exactly the same reason: they too assumed that the Levant was "essentially Asian" - Eastern - and that this was therefore the natural direction in which scholars should be looking for answers. As a result of this approach, the biblical affinities with Greek literature have been viewed as anomalous and in need of special explanation (in one direction or another). However I think that this is a skewed way to look at the cultural landscape of the 1st millenium.
I think that the evidence of those numerous "closer affinities" in the biblical literature and Greek literature actually shows something different: that the Levant should be considered as primarily belonging to an Eastern Mediterranean cultural commonwealth that naturally includes Greece, Ionia, Syria, Phoenicia, Philistia etc (while of course recognizing that the area was frequently under the political and cultural domination of ANE empires, however marginally, so it was also part of the ANE cultural "field"). I think that this membership of/participation in Eastern Mediterranean culture has been disguised by a strong Eurocentric world view that has contructed an East/West divide between the European Greece and the Asian Levant. I suspect that this is a legacy of the ancient Greeks themselves, who considered the Levant's non-Greek speaking inhabitants as barbarians (by definition) and certainly didn't recognise (or take much interest in) the cultural affinities that connected them. But acknowledging this connexion means that some
, perhaps even many, of the parallels between Greek and biblical literature can and should be understood as cases of the cultural affinity that had existed since the Greek Archaic period (if not before) and as a result, may not need any "special" circumstances at all (such as the Gmirkin's Alexandria scenario, or Waijdenbaum's anonymous super-smart Hellenistic Jewish author) to explain them.
This is not to say that there couldn't also be much later "borrowings" directly from Plato, as Gmirkin proposes, but it does raise the bar for determining whether a parallel is the result of a longstanding cultural affinity or a later borrowing. In her book Making a Case: the Practical Roots of Biblical Law
Sara Milstein discusses the "quality of parallels" between CC and Mesopotamian law, and refers to Bruce Wells who "prposes the following terms for assessing the relationship beween CC and other legal traditions (in increasing order of closeness): "resemblance," " similarity," "correspondence," and "point of identicalness" - and Morrow, who "presents a helpful set of criteria for determining allusions: translaton or close paraphrase; textual oprganization (i.e., content that appears in the same order; density of criteria (i.e., multiple points of contact); uniqueness, as opposed to coincidence." This sort of precise evaluation on a case by case basis is not something Gmirkin does.
The question of the "goring ox" is a good case. The somewhat "mathematical" answer that Gmirkin gives is simple:
Goring ox: Pentateuch: Yes; ANE (Hammurabi): Yes; Greece: no; Ergo: From ANE
Killing ox: Pentateuch: Yes; ANE: No; Greece: Yes (mule); Ergo: From Greece.
But if there was indeed a shared cultural commonwealth between the Pentateuch and Greece (and the shared casuistic sacrificial regulations proves that this is the case) then that equation doesn't go without saying. It may be that the shared Eastern Mediterranean cultures developed a notion that animals that kill humans must be killed. We can't know for sure, but it is possible. Looking at the other side of the coin - ie how close are the treatments of this issue in Plato's Laws and the Pentateuch, we find that there are considerable differences. Formally, Plato's mule (not an ox, and presumably not edible), comes in a discussion of various forms of manslaying by humans, animals and inanimate objects - not casuistic cases. And there is little common detail apart from the death of an animal. In Plato, all offenders (human, animal & inanimate) are, after accusation, trial and killing, thrown "outside the borders of the land" (873b-c; 873e,874a) which has no counterpart at all in the Pentateuch. Meanwhile, though the Hammurabi Laws that are clearly close models for the goring-ox rules of the Pentateuch don't discuss the fate of the ox, another ANE law - Eshnunna 53-55 - repeated almost verbatim in Ex 21:35 expressly discusses how the cost of the offending ox is to be shared between parties. It may be that, in view of this, the (pre-)pentateuchal scribes felt that this issue similar stipultaions needed to be extended to the other, manslaying, cases too. In any case, the relationship between Plato's Laws and Ex 21:28-32 is not particularly close. However, the fact that manslaying animals are indeed killed in both books may indeed point to some shared cultural attitudes to animals, sacrifice, the repayment of blood for blood, which Marilyn Katz discusses in her essay Ox_Slaughter_and_Goring_Oxen_Homicide_Animal_Sacrifice_and_Judicial_Process ]Ox-Slaughter and Goring Oxen: Homicide, Animal Sacrifice, and Judicial Process
(which Gmirkin references)
I also have difficulties with Gmirkin's understanding of how he explains the ANE motifs that he does identify in the Pentateuch. Again, he is unwilling to see them in terms of any normative cultural links to Mesopotamia and either (a) goes down the Hellenistic line (adapted from Berossus) or (b) insists that these motifs came with the Babylonian
deportees to Samaria - as if Babylonian cultural motifs could only reach the Levant by means of actual ethnic Babylonians, which I think is an oddly literal attitude at the very least. 
neilgodfrey wrote: ↑Fri May 19, 2023 6:54 pm
The idea of a collaborative project at Alexandria is Gmirkin's best explanation for what he finds in his analysis of the Greek influence in the Pentateuch. It coheres with the independent, external evidence -- what is and is not in the archaeological record and with other writings of the era.
Why is the command not to "seethe a kid in its mother's milk" (or "boil a suckling kid" according to another interpretation) repeated verbatim in three places (Exod. 23:19b; Exod. 34:26b; Deut. 14:21b)? Why did a "contemporary collaboration" come up with three statements of exactly the same rule, situated in three quite distinct law codes? It should be pointed out that modern scholarship no longer considers Exodus 34:11-26 as an earlier Yahwistic text makes an attempt to incorporate and conflate laws from different
codes and remove (or paper over?) the conflicts between them. As one of the codes included in this is HS, and literary criticism has determined that HS is not a source independent of P, but a supplementary expansion of it, we can establish a diachronic succession: P > HS > Ex 34:11-26.
neilgodfrey wrote: ↑Fri May 19, 2023 6:54 pm
I have asked austendw for specific contradictions and duplications etc that he believes cannot be explained apart from a model of a very long -- let's say at least a generational -- process. I really would appreciate anyone positing such "evidence" for what austendw calls the "diachronic" model.
The strongest one that comes to my mind is the two natures of Yahweh: the relative "liberal" of the early chapters of Genesis and the "godfather" figure of Exodus.
Actually I don't get how you might construe the characterisation of the character of Yahweh in the two books as potential evidence of diachronicity. For me, diachronicity is primarily implied by the literary-critical evidence of stratified supplementations. A difference of view could surely, especially from a Hellenistic period perspective, be attributable to contemporaries with differences of opinion.
I would really appreciate specific examples to support your case -- what are some instances that simply defy a likelihood of different priestly groups, Judeans and Samaritans, working together, with some more Hellenistically inclined than others?
I don't argue that there wasn't textual intervention from different "interest groups" ...as it is very likely that various different strata had difference sociological origins (priests, levites, lay interests ) and different axes to grind. What I do I suggest is that this did not take the form of the scholarly collaboration or such-like that Gmirkin proposes.
I suddenly think of Deuteronomy 1-11. The repeated
3rd person introductions (1:1; 1:3; 4:44; 4:45;5:1a) and the various 1st person introductions to the laws: (4:1, 5:1b; 6:1; 8:1) which go unfulfilled until the actual start at 12:1. This suggest that there were more than one supplementation to the introduction, especially considering the self-contradicting historical reviews of various events described in Exodus-Numbers (not least that sometimes the people in Moab are expressly described as the people who heard the 10 commandments at Horeb, which learly contradicts other texts in Deut where they are the second generation - the first having died off). All this suggests repeated supplementation by scribes - not necessarily the result of huge conflicts between sociological groups but different, differently motivated additions.
 This peculiar understanding of a culturally inert Judea resurfaced when Gmirkin and I were discussing of his analysis of the biblical account of the assassination of Sennacherib in 2 Kings 19, where Gmirkin suggested it was "special pleading to imagine [that] these distant events were known in Judea" - revealing an assumption that Judea was some sort of cultural "backwater" that for some reason couldn't have heard accurate details about a major Assyrian political event until they read about it centuries later in Berossus.