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10951Re: Origins of the Book of Kings

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  • frankclancy
    Jul 3, 2009
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      Dear Victor - there are a number of problems concerning Berossus and Manetho - what the wrote, what they knew and what sources they used. Sadly the work of both writers is largely lost. All that is left are fragments and poorly reported claims about what each wrote. In addition, we have to take into account the Epitome of Manetho which was a pro-Jewish distortion of the original work - and probably an epitome of Berossus as well. There is no doubt that it was possible that material from the kingdom of Judah and/or Israel survived and it is possible that Jewish writers may have had access to material in Babylon. However, the only information we have upon which we may rely is that both Berossus and Manetho wrote several volumes of books which were well known in the ancient world. We have absolutely no information about Judean scribes or/and texts from Judah etc. There are no ancient sources (other than the claims you and others make about Biblical texts) which would claim a Jewish writer had published any texts on Assyria, Babylonia or their relationships with Judah and Israel.

      So we have to look for other clues to substantiate Russell's claims about Berossus or substantiate claims about Judean scribes etc.

      Let me provide one example. According to both Kings and Isaiah (but not Chronicles), Sennecherib invaded in the 14th year of Hezekiah but that synchronism causes any number of problems and noone has produced an explanation that satisfies. I think the simplist and best explanation is to assume this reference to the 14th year is based on the Babylonian Chronicles. The first mention of Necho by name or title in the Chronicles occurs in 601 BCE. If we connect the death of Josiah to that reference and count up all the regnal years from 601 to 701 BCE, you will discover that 701 BCE is also the 14th year of Hezekiah. If this synchronism does rely on the Babylonian Chronicles, then it is unlikely that it was calculated in the Persian period because you need to use ante-dating in order to make the synchronism work. Liz Fried argues that the Persians also used antedating - which would not be a surprise - but not as kings of Babylon. In addition, anyone using the Babylonian Chronicles surely would use the post-dating system used during the Babylonian perod and much of the Persian period and on into the very early Hellenistic period.

      I suggest the claim that Tirhakah was the pharaoh in 701 BCE rests on a misreading of the Epitome of Manetho - another Hellenistic text. It is easy to see how such an error was made when we read the Epitome.

      In addition, we have the Biblical claim that Shalmaneser conquered Samaria which is in the Chronicles but does not agree with the historical inscriptions of Sargon.

      All three seem to use non-Judean sources and two seem to be the products of the Hellenistic period - after Berossus and Manetho published their work. In other words, for these Biblical claims, you would need a Jewish scribe reworking the evidence Berossus used - evidence which probably was collected and stored in Babylonian temples. What would a devoted worshipper of Yahweh be doing in such temples and how would he know about the various texts and what was in them?

      Frank Clancy
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