Re: [ANE-2] : Pentateuch question
Have you recovered the work of Berossus?
--- RUSSELLGMIRKIN@... wrote:
> Oswyn Murray referred to a "war of books" in the
> late fourth and early third
> century BCE, with nationalistic histories written by
> Hecataeus of Abdera
> (Egypt, c. 315 BCE), Manetho (Egypt, c. 285 BCE),
> Berossus (Babylon, 278 BCE),
> Megasthenes (after 278 BCE) [my dates]. The Primary
> History (Genesis-Kings)
> was the Jewish entry in this "war of books."
> Genesis-Kings is not only
> modeled on Berossus' Babyloniaca structurally, but
> the Mesopotamian source
> materials in Gen. 1-11 were taken from Berossus
> (which contained
> translations/paraphrase of a number of cuneiform
> sources in a single volume in Greek) and in a
> sequel Berossus and Kings currently under
> preparation I will be discussing the
> use of Berossus in Kings also. Additionally, the
> Exodus story responds to
> Manetho's tales of foreigners expelled from Egypt.
> The Jewish authors were
> clearly aware of this distinctively Hellenistic
> genre and anxious that the wider
> world also know of the antiquity and history of the
> Jews alongside the
> Egyptians, Babylonians and others. The request
> from Ptolemy II Philadelphus for
> the Jews to produce an edition of the Jewish laws
> for the Alexandrian Library
> afforded them the opportunity to produce this
> important work of Jewish
> Best regards,
> Russell Gmirkin
Both Berossus and Genesis-Kings contained a connected narrative including
creation, 10 generations before the flood, a deluge account, and a history down
to the respective fall of the Babylonians under Alexander and the Jews under
Nebuchadnezzar. This doesn't really depend on the Babyloniaca's title of
'Genesis' for book 1 (which I think a more likely original to the Latin
'Procreatio') or 'Kings' for books 2 and 3.
My only contribution to the reconstruction of the fragmenta is the
observation that the (disputed) astrological fragments, if authentic, likely appeared
in a section on Chaldean nomima or customs in book 1. But since the
astrological fragments did not enter into my argument I did not discuss these matters
in my book.
The alleged interpolations in Berossus are a chimera. Lambert's basic
argument was that since the Enuma Elish had the world start out in water, and both
Genesis and Berossus had the world start out in darkness and water, and
Berossus extensively utilized the Enuma Elish in his creation account, that the
addition of darkness can only have been a Judaeo-Christian interpolation.
Implicit in this argument is the faulty assumption that Genesis predated
Berossus. Berossus has a doublet of portions of the creation account, which my book
extensively discusses, arguing that the feature of darkness was part of the
(second) "allegorical" interpretation, in which the Enuma Elish was
interpreted in cosmological terms as a triumph of light (Marduk) over darkness
(Tiamat), which leaves various traces in the Berossan account. The alleged
interpolations are thus original to Berossus, and the fact that the Genesis account
lies closer to Berossus than the cuneiform constitutes an important argument
of literary dependence on Berossus.
Thanks Russell. I'm already very familiar with these.
When you said <<Genesis-Kings is not only modeled on
Berossus' Babyloniaca structurally...>> I assumed this
meant you went a little further than S. Burstein by
providing a newer reconstruction of the fragmenta in
your monograph, which I hope to read soon. Without
your book in hand one can still hear in your words
echoes of Burstein: "the book he [Berossus] wrote ...
became the model for all subsequent attempts by
Hellenized non-Greeks to explain their culture to
their Greek neighbors" (SANE 1/5 , p. 6). That
may be so, but we do not have the text or the
structure of the actual work, only some idea of
Polyhistor's abridgement, and this from a lost
abridgement made by Eusebius.
Given that Burstein couldn't resist using the word
"Genesis" in the same volume as the title for
Berossus' book one - I much prefer Schnabel's less
provocative "en tei Kosmogoniai" - one should ask to
what degree did the Septuagint and Jewish literature
influence Polyhistor and the structure of his
abridgement of Berossus' lost history? Since the
original work seems to have been little read in
antiquity, and interpolated by editors with a
particular interest in Babylonian history, a second
question worth asking is was the "structure" of the
Babyloniaca re-shaped before the time it reached
Polyhistor? Since we have no text we cannot date it.
The Near Eastern material in the fragmenta may have
been an integral part of the Babyloniaca or inserted
at a late stage.
The situation remains the same as when Olmstead
pointed out the weaknesses and epistemological limits
of the textual tradition (cf. J. A. Brinkman, AnOr 43
, pp. 34-5). So I remain very skeptical of using
Berossus to shore up a theory that the Jewish Bible is
a Hellenistic book. Berossus is definitely inferior in
his treatment of Neo-Assyrian history anyway (eg.
Phulos = Pul was the Assyrian name of the Assyrian,
not Chaldean, Tiglathpileser III and the latter was
not directly succeeded by Sennacherib).
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