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Re: [ANE-2] Re: R. Gmirkin on the date of the Pentateuch

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: 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
    Message 1 of 37 , May 2, 2006
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      To: 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
      saying:

      "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
    • Jack Kilmon
      From: Niels Peter Lemche ... I am having problems accepting this particularly with texts so heavily redacted over centuries. The
      Message 37 of 37 , May 4, 2006
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        From: "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.

        Jack Kilmon
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