SV: [ANE-2] Re: R. Gmirkin on the date of the Pentateuch>dating the Pentateuch
If it can be shown that text A uses text B. then there would be no
question that text A is later than text B. What frequently happens,
however, is that it cannot be shown that text A does in fact use text
B. We have three possibilities with regard to the relationships between
texts A and B:
1. Text A uses text B and must be dated subsequently to text B.
2. Text B uses text A and must be dated subsequently to text A.
3. Texts A and B both share a common culture background and may or may
not be dated to the same ** broad ** time-frame.
It is a demonstrable fact that writings of a period share a common
With regard to dating based on orthographic features there is less room
to arrange the development based upon one's personal theory of history.
TextS A and textS B may be shown to stand in a path of development based
upon features such as plene or defective writing (upper case "s" to
call attention to the fact that I am not speaking of only one text).
Texts A, however cannot be said to be dated to pre-exilic, exilic,
post-exilic or Hellenistic times based upon a perceived history of
development; however, it can be shown that there is a history of
development which exhibits a trend in the development of orthography.
If any stage can be dated based upon some factors, other stages in the
series must be either prior to that time or subsequent thereto based
upon where they stand in the chain. Such dateable texts might be those
such as First Isaiah which is fairly universally accepted as being from
the time it purporsts or Daniel which is commonly dated to the time of
us Epiphanes by all except those who will accept only its
self-proclaimed date. From these dates a historical trend can be
established. Thus, while defective writing does not in itself say that
the work was promulgated by Ezra, it does place it early in the
As I indicated, I have little faith in this discussion about early
biblical Hebrew and late Biblical Hebrew (including orthography). To use
a chronological framework in a linguistic analysis seems a bit primitive
when we have so few anchors for the analysis.
So far scholars still have problems figuring out the rules within the
As to Zeitgeist, this is correct. It would thus be possible to argue
that parts of the NT are placed within the same Zeitgeist as some
essential parts of the DSS: not that the answers are identical, but the
But we still miss an anchor because your dating of 1. Isaiah is
questionable because you use the text to date itself. We 'know' (alias
assume) that the little apocalypsis in Isa 24-27 is one of the latest
texts in the HB, and that parts of Isa 1-39 are either embedded in a
deuteronomistic phrased narrative (espec. Isa 7), or is simply identical
with 2 Kgs (the final part). It is accordingly problematic to say that
we have parts here that go back to the time of Isaiah, although it is
commonly assumed to be so. The lack of stringency in the discussion
among biblical scholars is generally too well-known and I doubt that it
is necessary to expose it in this way.
So, if we assume that Isaiah 1-39 is basically a late 8th century or
early 7th century text, you have a point, but only if we assume.
Biblical scholarship has built up a house of cards by assuming this, and
on the basis of this assumption to carry on to the next hypothesis,
based on the assumption, making a new postulate accepted as an argument
on which to build a new argument, alias a postulate. It is really very
sorry that the notion of logic has played a very little role.
So, basically: What evidence (apart from selfconfirming assumptions) do
you really have for anything in the HB being pre-3rd or 2nd century,
apart from the text of the Chatef Hinnom amulets (the Aronite Blessing)?
It is like John Collins in his new book, The Bible after Babel, 2006)
who argues that there is plenty of evidence for a late 7th century
authorship of parts of the HB, whereas the minimalists with there date
in the Hellenistic-Roman period has no evidence. I am most sorry, apart
from the above mentioned amulets, Collins has no evidence, only
assumptions and generally accepted opinions; the minimalists have the
evidence in the form of physically preserved manuscripts.
And please, don't tell me about the importance of the bullae from
Jerusalem from the time of Josiah or Zedekiah: Let's hope that some of
them are genuine!
Niels Peter Lemche
PS: Your argument about the linguistical development of Hebrew from, say
the 7th to the 3rd century would be greatly helped if we had an
uninterrupted sequence of material. But there is very little from the
6th, 5th century and 4th century from Israel/Palestine.