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RE: [ANE-2] Re: New article and reviews in JHS, and the New Wall

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  • George Athas
    Hi Doug! While Daniel Miller s review of my book was quite favourable, I don t think he s quite captured the nuance of my argument regarding Jerusalem. Let me
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 1, 2007
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      Hi Doug!

      While Daniel Miller's review of my book was quite favourable, I don't think
      he's quite captured the nuance of my argument regarding Jerusalem. Let me

      Firstly, the main reason I argue BYTDWD is a toponym for Jerusalem is not
      the absence of a word divider (though that is supporting evidence). Rather,
      it is the use of the phrase Bit-PN in other inscriptions of similar genre.
      While the construction "Bit-<dynastic name>" is quite common, nowhere is
      anyone called the "king of Bit-<dynastic name>" (this would be a bit like
      saying "Queen of the House of Windsor" rather than "Queen of England"). This
      is what makes me think that BYTDWD should be taken as basically a single
      lexeme referring to a place, and the absence of a word divider accords with
      this suggestion.

      Secondly, my argument was not that archaeology proves that the biblical
      claim of a bustling metropolis in the days of David and Solomon are
      inaccurate. Rather, archaeology suggests that Jerusalem was not such a
      metropolis when David conquered it, and neither does the biblical text --
      both seem to be in accord. Careful analysis of the biblical text itself
      shows that David conquered a fortress, not a metropolis, and gave this
      fortress the name "City of David". The text then describes some building
      activity in a way which implies there was not much there to begin with. This
      building program may not have amounted to much (the real extent of it can
      only be detrermined at the archaeologist's spade), but it seems to have made
      an impression on the inhabitants who probably had little experience of large
      urban conglomerations. We, as modern readers influenced by medieval and
      renaissance thought and art, have imposed the idea of a massive metropolis
      onto ancient Jerusalem. But it's not really there in the text, and it
      remains to be seen whether it ever really became one before Hezekiah's day.

      More telling, however, is the idea that the united monarchy was really a
      'flash in the pan', since it quickly disintegrated. After all, how could
      such a small state entity hold onto such territories for a long time? The
      'flash in the pan' was probably attributable more to the personality of
      David than state machinery. Yet, it was this 'flash in the pan' which set
      the tone of Davidic ideology, and why the name of David creates such a
      resounding echo (cf. Cyrus the Great, whose gains would have all been lost
      in the numerous revolts of 522-520, had it not been for Darius' quick
      victories; cf. also Alexander the Great). For a brief period, the United
      Monarchy seems to have encapsulated an ideal state of affairs (one king of
      Israel and Judah in a centralised location with the approval of almost all
      involved), and this formed the backbone of later attempts to emulate it (cf.
      Hezekiah? Josiah; post-exilic Jerusalem). I have little doubt that the
      Davidic kings claimed extensive sovereignty based on this 'flash in the pan'
      which served as the canon of Davidic thinking. However, after the quick loss
      of this ideal state, the sovereignty of the Davidides was probably
      significantly less in actual terms before the time of Hezekiah.

      In this regard, we could think of Jerusalem as an ancient analogy to the
      current Vatican -- once with extensive land holdings (though only for a
      brief time in the case of Jerusalem), then reduced to a petty state, but one
      to which most accorded at least token respect. There are a number of points
      where this analogy might fail, but such is the nature of analogies (if they
      were perfect, they would no longer be analogies).

      In terms of the wall recently found, if it dates to the era of the United
      Monarchy (the dating of which has its own hazards), then that's great. But
      all it would prove is that Jerusalem was a fortified hill. We would also
      need to consider the length of its course in order to clarify how big the
      fortification was, how it compares with the strata below and above it, as
      well as what other installations were around it.

      To summarise: David appears to have conquered little more than a fortress in
      Jerusalem. There was some building activity after this, the extent of which
      remains to be seen. But between David and Hezekiah, the rulers of Jerusalem
      claimed sovereignty over more than they seem to have had actual influence
      over, precisely because their ideology stemmed from a brief ideal situation
      which was quickly lost.

      I hope this clarifies some things.

      Best Regards,

      Moore Theological College (Sydney)
      1 King St, Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia
      Ph: (+61 2) 9577 9774

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