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RE: biblical historicity (was Amenhotep II)

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  • Graham Hagens
    ... If I did it this not surprising because Neils (speaking for the Moderators) appears to have been giving mixed messages recently. In a reply to Michel
    Message 1 of 9 , Jun 18 6:36 AM
      Niels Peter Lemche wrote Saturday, June 17 in reponse to my:

      >> I think I missed something

      > Yes, I think you missed something.

      If I did it this not surprising because Neils (speaking for the Moderators)
      appears to have been giving mixed messages recently.

      In a reply to Michel Bardiaux's question: "I dont understand how *this*
      thread does not violate the ban on discussions of historicity... unless the
      ban means something entirely
      different from what I thought."

      Neils wrote June 16: "It definitely does not mean something else! Michel is
      absolutely right.
      It shows how important it is to strictly adhere to protocol. Discussions
      about the historicity of the Exodus are no more acceptable than
      discussions about the historicity of the story of the Paradise or of the

      My query was to attempt to achieve some clarity on the question of just what
      is acceptable. If Exodus, Paradise and Flood are clearly out, what is in?

      Neil's posting of 6/17 makes some progress in clarifying the question - if
      only by revealing that the 6/16 statement is less than the whole truth.
      There are 'grey areas,' and the phrase "strictly adhere to protocol" remains

      >There are several lists available where such questions as the
      >historicity of the biblical patriarchs or 'who was Moses?' are
      >continuously discussed. It is not so that by banning these subjects from
      >ANE-2 that we have cut off people interested in discussing these topics.

      >However, why are we not discussing such topics: Because it is demanded
      >on the ANE-2 that discussions are based on facts, i.e., there must be
      >solid evidence of what people are discussing.

      For example the discussions surrounding ancient concepts of Paradise (Eden)
      and floods did present extra-biblical evidence. Perhaps not 'solid' perhaps
      not 'facts': but what is a 'fact,' what is 'solid?' In my opinion good
      portions of those threads were quite interesting and relevant to the natural
      and social history of the ANE.

      >An example: It is OK to discuss the biblical narrative about the time of
      >Judges as seen in light of contemporary evidence from the LBA-EI
      >Transition, mainly material. Such a discussion should not turn on the
      >historicity of, e.g., Gideon, or of Ehud. Why? Because Gideon and Ehud
      >belong to a literary world as long as there are no testimonies relating
      >to them from a world outside of the biblical narrative.

      That is helpful. That is the type of clarification I was looking for. So if
      the Book of Samuel tells us that there was a shrine at Shiloh, and
      Finkelstein tells us he has found one (which he hasn't yet) that is fair
      game. Yes?

      >or there might not be relations between the way Palestinian society is
      >described in the OT and the same society as it appears in material
      >remains. There are two solid corpora of material, the textual on one
      >side, and the material on the other. That will be the beginning of the
      >discussion: Should the discussion of the literary evidence make it
      >likely that the biblical narrative is about 500 years later than the
      >Period of the Judges. The biblical narrative has little importance for
      >what happened in the 11th century BCE. It is still relevant as an
      >illustration about how a later period saw this early period.

      Fair enough. And vice versa. So if material evidence provides support for
      the hypothesis that some of the literary evidence is nearly contemporary to
      the events described, exploration of the relationship between the two is

      >This has to do with logical categories. We have texts and we have
      >(archaeological) artefacts. We can discuss any biblical text as a text,
      >and we can discuss any material discovery from the ME as a material
      >discovery. If we are to transgress these categorical boundaries, there
      >must be link between the two categories, such as an inscription
      >mentioning a biblical person: Example: The Assyrian references to the
      >'House of Omri', including the mentioning by name of Ahab of Israel, or
      >the Babylonian Chronicle reporting the year of 597, including the
      >conquest of Jerusalem (we have no extra-biblical source mentioning 587).
      >A different example: Abraham. Here there is no link, although many
      >scholars have been all too eager to jump at every possible or impossible
      >link (like Pettinato who opted for the mentioning of Abraham in the Ebla
      >tablets -- which turned out to be a false reading of these tablets).

      >...say creation, Cain and Abel,
      >and the Flood. However, we can end up in a grey zone if we turn to the
      >tower of Babel, not because the story in Genesis 11 is historical -- it
      >is still a mythical narrative -- but it relies on something historical.
      >The author of Genesis 11 played with narrative elements well-known to
      >his audience like the existence of the tower of Babylon, i.e. the
      >ziggurat of the temple of Marduk in Babylon itself.

      As in the case of Flood or floods

      >Thus in the recent discussion about the situation of Paradise, it is
      >perfectly acceptable to discuss this geographical setting as part of the
      >narrative: Was the author referring to known geographical realities? We
      >are still in the field of literary studies, and are not mixing up
      >categories creating false arguments that must be rejected.

      So there we go. Part of the Paradise discussion was acceptable. Perhaps it
      would have helped if you had made such a clarification in your reply to

      >Thus a classic example of a discussion which may be relevant, is the
      >implications of the Tel Dan inscription because of its mentioning of
      >'the house of David' -- if this is the correct translation of the bjtdwd
      >in line 9. We do not recommend any extended discussion of this
      >inscription, except if new arguments are presented. Most discussions
      >have so far been repetitive, not to say redundant. But any argument that
      >would be able to through new light on this inscriptions and on the
      >question of a historical David is OK.

      Of course. A key role of the Moderators is to minimise repetition

      >These recommendations are not just white or black. It is rather a grey
      >zone moderated by some of us. But one thing is absolutely clear: Any
      >reference to biblical inerrancy, verbal inspiration or the like will
      >lead to a mail being rejected -- right out of hand.

      Grey is grey, and clear is clear and inerrancy is out. Out out out.

      Graham Hagens
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