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ANAHITA  August 1997

ANAHITA August 1997

Subject:

Winding up: Biblical dating.

From:

[log in to unmask]

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Tue, 12 Aug 1997 15:02:14 -0400

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text/plain

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Dear TB:

I think you are Absolutely Wonderful.  I really admire your energy & passion
& outrageousness, which is also important in scholarship.  I really look
forward to your book & believe it will be a major contribution to the field.
 But, we have really reached a dead-end in these arguments: & also to the
point, they should not be publicly posted, as I think they are exhausting
interest in the topic.  I'm replying only because they have been public, to
date.

1) <<When calling e.g Maccabees
apocryphal or pseudo- or deutero-canonical, you are assigning them.>>

How presumptuous I sound.  The canons have been defined by the communities
themselves.  You just cannot say that the Douay Bible is the "OT", or that
Luther's canon, since he relies heavily upon Rashi's commentary, is "Jewish"
& therefore his canon should be counted as part of the Hebrew Bible.  We just
don't do things that way.

I am simply telling you that The Apocrypha are not part of the Hebrew Bible.
 I don't care where they go, they don't go into the Hebrew Bible or the "OT".
 We may not have a Mazoretic text before the European Middle Ages (call that
period what you will); but we have no evidence The Apocrypha were included in
the Hebrew canon prior to that period, & every reason to conclude they were
not.

Were they extra-canonical literature in the Jewish communities around the
world?  Doubtless, they were.  They could not but be in circulation, if they
were part of the literature of the larger Christian or Islamic community.
 But they were not in the Hebrew Bible.  We have only to look at the Biblical
stories in the Koran to realize what singular versions of Biblical stories
were current in the somewhat isolated Jewish communities, such as Medina, in
Late Antiquity.  But that does not make these stories, or the manuscripts in
Qumran, part of the Hebrew Biblical canon.

2)<< <....> the discussion is not whether this
 or that bit is old or new. To me the question is, when do we have the
 litterary whole. <....> We do not have any of the
 purported original bits and pieces, and if we do, they are placed in
 contexts of other times. Therefore IMO we cannot discuss any
 purported - but now lost - "original" but only the original we have.
<....> What I do have a problem about is, that
 the (late) whole is dated by the purported earliest bits thereof.<....>
 By datin the whole to the time of the earliest bits, we discount the
 originality and competence of the writer (be he author, collector or
 redactor), and reduce the OT to a BCE folkloristic study, rather than
 a unique collection of fine litterary compositions, centered on a
 religious core.>>

If a Victorian censor put a fig leaf on a statue of David, that would not
have made him Michelangelo; nor would it have made the David a late 19th
century work.

The censor of this collection is not the author.  One of the challenges of
Biblical scholarship is dating the bits.

Think of it.  If we say that the Song of Deborah is c. 1100 BCE & is the
earliest segment of the Bible, we have a picture of the society in which
Deborah & Yael & Sisera's Mother & her female court advisers lived, which
comes from a contemporary bardic tradition. Should we sweep them all up into
the 6th century BCE or the 3rd century CE & say it is a post-exilic work, or
was edited for the rabbinical canon?  Then we have a writer writing --or an
editor compiling-- a story about women who were leading armies, living alone
as nomads & heading female administrations of cities, in times when they were
being forced from public life or even when they were being excluded from
reading aloud in public.

No one is dating all of Judges to 1100.  The stories cover at least a
300-year period, & while stylistic dating may be imperfect, we aren't all
_that_ bad about it.

In any case, the exact dating of Judges is not to be resolved by saying it is
post-exilic (which is not a date I would give the commentator's notes, but
that is going on other sources & I really have no insight of my own.)  I
simply cannot imagine an Ezra wanting to have anything _at all_ to do with
Judges.  Women prophets, idols of Israel's god, scatology, a comic book hero
who spends the night with a prostitute & still has the strength to uproot &
carry the city gates an hundred miles uphill & down & deposit them at a
sanctuary.  It Took A Lot of past authority to get this into rabbinical
canon; I don't think compiling this text was the idea of a post-exilic
compiler.  (Hey, let's goose this text up a little, guys!)  This was part of
the historical epic from a very early date.

You want my opinion?  It's just as hard to squeeze everything into the
post-exilic period as it is to say it was all written by Moses from dictation
by G-d.

Sheila Shiki y Michaels

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

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