Re: [ANE-2] Re: R. Gmirkin on the date of the Pentateuch
- View SourceTo: ANE-2
In Response To: Russell Gmirkin
On: Dating by Texts
From: E Bruce Brooks
Russell Gmirkin had responded to an earlier "subjectivity" critique by
"With regard to source criticism as a means of dating texts, this has been
used very effectively in classical studies for years. If text A uses text
B, and text B uses text C, and the dates of A and C, then this furnishes
extremely objective evidence that the date of B lies between A and C."
I fully agree, though I would prefer to avoid the term "source criticism,"
which at least in some fields brings a lot of baggage along with it, and I
would leave out the requirement about "dates of A and C," in the sense of
"absolute dates for A and C." My formulation would then be,
If text C uses (or is otherwise aware of) text B, and B likewise of A, then
the relative date sequence can only be A > B > C. This is true even if we do
not know the absolute date of any of the three. A sufficiently complex set
of relatively dated texts can itself serve as a most satisfactory
chronology, and that chronology requires to be attached at only a few points
to an absolute-year chronology to be itself well fixed in time. This is what
the dendrochronologists do, and I think the dendrochronologists have a good
thing going for them.
The only complications of which I am aware in determinations of this sort
are where any of A, B, C are not integral texts. If the datable portion is
interpolated in context, then the resulting (relative) date will only apply
to the interpolation, but not to the context, for which it rather
establishes a terminus ante quem. Similarly, if any of A, B, C are
accretional, then any dating (relative or absolute) of one stratum applies
only to that stratum, and only relatively implicates the other strata.
This complicates the picture, but it does not change the rules. At least as
far as I can see.
To call the conclusion A > B "subjective" because the dates are relative
rather than absolute does not seem to me to be warranted. The degree of
uncertainty seems to me to be fully comprehended in the term "relative."
E Bruce Brooks
Research Professor of Chinese
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
- View SourceFrom: "Niels Peter Lemche" <npl@...>
> The Book of Isaiah cannot be older than its youngest component.I am having problems accepting this particularly with texts so heavily
redacted over centuries. The "historical Isaiah" (The Isaiah of chapters 1-39) lived somewhere during the last half of the 8th and earliy 7th centuries BCE. Deutero-Isaiah (ch. 40-55) lived some 150 years later and Isaiah III (ch. 56-66) later yet. It would seem to me that a text cannot be dated older than its OLDEST component with the caveat that older material can be added later. I think the most comprehensive work to date on Isaiah is "The Book Called Isaiah" by H. G. M. Williamson of Oxford.
The oldest component that can be dated by epigraphy, of Numbers is the
Priestly Blessing discovered on silver amulets from Isaiah's time but this does more to show the complexity of this problem. It cannot be stated with certainty that the blessing was not copied from a text of Numbers (the amulet blessing is missing a line found in numbers) and it cannot be stated with certainty that the text WAS copied from numbers rather than from an oral tradition that later found its way to Numbers.
I do see three different hands (Deutero-Isaiah the most lyrical) in Isaiah, though.