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ANAHITA  July 1997

ANAHITA July 1997

Subject:

Re: The age of the OT.

From:

Tilde Binger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 16 Jul 1997 02:30:03 -0400

Content-Type:

Text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

Text/plain (199 lines)

Dear Jim Miller.
I seem to have trodden on a very sore spot here, since you have
turned all formal:
> To Tilde Bingen,
The name is - if you insist on using last names - Binger, with an R
at the end.

>    Admittedly I wrote in haste, and thus inaccurately.  When I spoke of the
> bulk of the Hebrew Scriptures as pre-exilic, I was not thinking of the texts
> which date themselves to the exile and restoration.
Well, most of the texts I mentioned in my former post, do date
themselves to the exile or thereafter, and a simple numeric count or
count of pages would show that what is left can, by no stretch of the
imagination, be called the "bulk" of the OT.

>    You appealed to Eissfeldt, who is not recent, so I appeal to von Rad who
> felt Deuteronomy dated to the reign of Josiah, and even the latest layer, the
> "P" material, he believed contained extremely ancient material.
von Rad is not exactly recent either.
I appealed to Eissfeldt, since he is a good, solid, ancient
well-established German scholar, whose work is (on both sides of the
Atlantic) seen as the conservative side of main-stream.
Had I appealed to Lemche, Thompson, Davies, Liverani, Garbini or van
Seters, you would have dismissed them out of hand as unreliable
modern hot-heads ("extremist late-daters") without any significance.

Not to put a too fine point to it, since the Deuteronomic redactional
layer (which I presume we are dealing with here), is responsible for
(inter alia) the final redaction of Kings, this "school" simply
cannot have worked before 586 BCE, since it includes events which
purportedly took place then.

The principles of this is, that YOU date the earliest part of a text,
I date the whole. If we should date any text on the basis of the
earliest phrase, then my former letter in this discussion would have
to be dated - by your principles - to BCE, since I quote the OT.

It does not really matter wheter it is von Rad or anyone else who
uses this methodology, disregarding how very great modern icons they
are it is not sound method. Full stop.
We have to proceed from what we have, not what could have been. If we
do the former, we can have hopes of writing and reading sound
scholarship, if we do the latter, we get interesting fairy-tales (and
I am all for them, only not when they are peddeled as scholarship or
science).

> Zimmerli felt the bulk of Jeremiah was pre-exilic
FELT ! Is that an accurate quotation ???
Feelings are all-right by me, but they are not valid arguments in a
scholarly discussion.

> and freely used Jeremiah as
> a contemporary witness to Ezekiel (in spite of the fact that Jeremiah does
> seem to have suffered significant post-exilic tampering).
The book of Jeremiah is - for the better part - concerning the fall
of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, so how this could have been written before
the so-called exile baffles me.

> Cogan and Tadmor cleanly place Kings as pre-exilic, as does Jones.
See above, both von Rad, Cogan and Tadmor are in trouble here.

> Fox has demonstrated a
> heavy dependence in Song of Songs to Egyptian love songs, a dependence better
> suited to the monarchies than the post-exilic community.
I have no quarrel with that. Song of Songs could have been written at
any point between the 15th and the first c. BCE.
There are no internal dating in the text, only externals are
possible, and since (as textual-finds have shown) the poetry of the
greater Levantine (semitic part of it) area is very conservative
throughout the Bronze-  and Iron-age, and well into the
Hellenistic-Roman period, it is possible.

>    Indeed, there is a problem in American scholarship, which I tend to read
> into European scholarship.  Often in Biblical studies the scholar "proves"
> independence from dogma by systematically choosing any option which attacks
> dogma, thus leading to an inverse-fundamentalism.
Oh dear. I do seem to have pounded on a sore point here.
No. There is no dogmatic adherence to "the opposite" here, at least
not from the point where I stand.
There is a sound scepticism, and that is different.
If sound scepticism leads us to question our fondest beliefs, we have
two choices. One is to go where the scepticism leads (which is what I
try (!!!) to do, the other is to hide one's head in the nearest bush
and pretend that this did not happen.

>    Inverse-fundamentalism  especially describes the various, rather
> ridiculous attempts to read "bet-Dawid" in the Tel Dan inscription as
> something else . . . ANYTHING else.  That's fundamentalism.

Nope. That is questioning the sources.
If (and this seems very much to be the case, even if Jim Miller would
not agree) the OT is not a reliable historical source, then we have
to rethink, and indeed re-read the books. (And believe you me, the
texts becomes many times as interesting when liberated from the
historical strait-jacket they have been kept in for the better part
of a century).
There is - in my opinion - no "inverse-fundamentalism" involved in
reading "BYTDWD" (no word divider) of the Tel Dan inscription as
"BetDod" (HouseOfThe Beloved) rather than as "betDawid"
(HouseOfDavid).
That David was an eponymous ancestor of the Jerusalemite dynasty of
Kings (whether this was in the 7th or the 2nd c. BCE is open to
dispute), is above doubt, as is the fact tha Omri was the eponymous
ancestor of the Samaritan dynasty of kings in the 9th to 8th c. BCE.
That king Dan is the eponymous forefather of the Danish dynasty of
kings is likewise above doubt, but that does not make "ordinary"
historians go out searching for him in the archaeological material
That the DWD/Dod of "HouseOfDod" could refer to a person seems
obvious, but it could - equally obviously - refer to a polity (cf.
"House of Omri" in the assyrian texts) or a place, named after the
temple, (cf. House-of-El of eg. the OT).
The context of the phrase will have to tell us which is the more
probable. In this case, the context is very much disturbed and any
reading, whether it be to a (king) David, to a (god) Dod, to a polity
a temple or what-ever, remains a postulate.
To enumerate the possiblities is not "inverse-fundamentalism", it is
sound scholarship, howevermuch you would prefer it not to be.

To quote one of the professors here at my dept. (he said this in the
mid-1960'es, so does this letter date from the mid-1960'es ?):
We have been brain-washed by the Deuteronomists. Our lethargy as
historians have led us to simply paraphrase the OT, and to interpret
every archaeological find in the light of these books, rather than
interpret the archaeology seperately, or in the context of other
archaeological material and only, as a last step in an analysis,
correlate it with what the OT has to say.

> Bingen speaks of
> "dogmatic demands" of a religious community.  How about the dogmatic demands
> of those desperately trying to empty historical materials of their historical
> value?  Even an athiest or agnostic can find significant historical value in
> the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures.
THIS is where you go entirely wrong. I value the OT very highly.
Only, I do not see the only value in an ancient text in its
historicity. That the OT is an ancient collection of wonderful,
subtle and intriguing litterature is - IMHO - self-evident. That it
is a very bad HISTORICAL source for the periods it purports to
describe is an entirely different matter.
To me the Gilgamesh-epic, or the Aqhat-text from Ugarit or the Iliad
and Odyssey are neither better nor worse litterature for the fact that
they are not "historical sources" (i.e., that they do not give us any
reliable information pertaining to the periods they purport to
describe). The same holds true for the OT.

>(Incidently, in the USA "Hebrew
> Scriptures" is usually considered more polite than "Old Testament", as many
> of our scholars are Jewish.)
Sorry. I am not politically correct, neither am I American. Since I
refer both to the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin text, I feel more
comfortable with the term "Old Testament" and if anyone gets sore
feelings, I am sorry, but this is the more comfortable shorthand for
me, and "Hebrew Scriptures" would after all be a total mis-nomer when
the referent is the Septuagint (Ancient Greek version of the OT).

>    Perhaps the caution I request on the asherot inscriptions can be seen as
> obscuritanist as the attacks on the "bet-Dawid" reading of the Tel Dan
> inscription, but I don't think so.  We really don't know enough about the
> asherah worship of the region to make firm conclusions.

Miller. There are no inscriptions mentioning A$RWT, the inscriptions
we have all mention A$RT/H.
No. We do not know very much about the Asherah worship of the region,
I agree, but we know about as much of the Asherah-worship and cult in
greater Syria as we do about ... the mysteries of Demeter in antiquity.
Not very much, but enough.
What we do know - from non-biblical texts and from artifacts -
confirm the picture drawn in the OT itself (!!!) that Asherah was a
significant goddess in Palestine at the time when the OT was written.
And frankly, if you or anyone else wants to argue that this was not
the case, then the argumentation has to become several miles better
than the ... nonsense (sorry) which I have read so far (and I have
read the better part of the litterature concerning this lady).

Best wishes

Tilde Binger
University of Copenhagen
Dptm.of Biblical Studies
Kcbmagergade 44-46
DK-1150 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone +45 35 32 36 58
Fax   +45 35 32 36 52
e-mail [log in to unmask]

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Diotima's address: http://www.uky.edu/ArtsSciences/Classics/gender.html

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