The Galilean-NK Connection: Its Assyrian End (?) a la Reed
- Mahlon Smith wrote on January 21, 2002 9:23 AM:
> Dear Sakari,Since Mahlon's post, Gordon Raynal in a post today has provided some of the
> Since it is Reed who put forth the thesis that "there is a *gap*" in the
> habitation of the region called the Galilee for several centuries after 734
> BCE, the normal rules of argumentation require that *he* or his supporters
> produce data to support this claim. Since I don't have a copy of his book to
> hand, I simply ask you (or anyone else who has read him) to detail the
> archaeological (or historical) data that he cites to support his allegation.
> The excavations of which sites give evidence of such a lengthy period of low
> or non-occupation? How was the dating done to establish this: coins?
> pottery? remains of small settlement built on or near the ruins of a larger
> city whose destruction is datable? What other indications?
detail data Mahlon requested. I would like to flesh Reed's argument and the
data he presents for it a bit more. For I, too, with you, Mahlon, have
difficulty with his argument, but for reasons of a caveat that, IMHO, Reed
himself reveals. I write this in a form of a short (I know some of you will
say: "When has Weeden been short?) essay, :"The Galilean-NK Connection: Its
Assyrian End (?) a la Reed." I will follow this essay with yet another one,
"The Galilean-NK Connection: Alive and Well" and then hopefully, an essay, "The
Galilean-NK Connection: Jesus vs."Hasmoneans" or something to that effect. The
latter will be a trial ballon for a theory. Now my essay here:
I. Reed Presents his Case
According to Jonathan Reed, _Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus_,
archaeological excavations of Galilee have unearthed convincing evidence that
native Galileans at the time of Jesus were Jewish, and that their ancestors
migrated from Judea to Galilee during the period of the Hasmonean expansion in
the Late Hellenistic Period (167-63 BCE). Reed bases this judgment on two
evidentiary factors: (1) archaeological evidence regarding post-Israel
settlement in Galilee, and (2) archaeological evidence of Galilean ethnic DNA in
the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Period (63 BCE-135 CE). From these
evidentiary factors Reed reconstructs the following historical trajectory and
genealogical lineage of the Galileans in the first century CE.
First, with respect to the history of post-Israel settlement in Galilee, Reed
reports that, following the Assyrian conquest in 732 BCE and the subsequent
deportation of Israelites into Assyria, there is virtually no archaeological
evidence for any human presence in Galilee from the seventh to the sixth century
BCE. Therefore, the "almost complete abandonment of the [Galilean] region at
the close of the Iron Age, essentially [rules] out any direct continuity between
the northern Israelites and the first-century Galileans" (27), as Albrecht Alt
("Galilaeische Probleme," _Kleine Schriften zur Geschichte des Volks Israel_,
2:406-7) and Richard Horsley _Galilee_, 25-61) have argued. Reed avers that
the possibility of a historic continuity existing between the ancient northern
tribes and later Galileans depends on a significant number of the tribal
remnants surviving the Assyrian conquest under Tilgath-pileser III in 733-732
BCE and being able to remain Galilee in the face of the Assyrian deportation of
the tribes to Assyria. And such, Reed claims, was just not the case.
Reed acknowledges that extant textual evidence (2 Kings 15 and some Assyrian
texts) does not in itself confirm his position. 2 Kings 15, he admits,
"offers only that Tilgath-pileser III conquered Hazor, as well as 'Gilead and
Galilee and the whole land of Naphthali,' and that he led 'the population into
exile in Assyria' (2 Kings 15:29). And the fragmentary Assyrian texts offer
only the complete names of Hannathon and Merom, and four numbers of exiles from
Galilee (625, 650, 656, and 13,520). These texts," Reed admits, "leave
unanswered precisely which cities were destroyed, the location of those that
are mentioned, and the extent of the deportations" (28f.).
Reed counters, however, that "[t]he past decades' archaeological surveys and
excavations in Galilee permit a more comprehensive analysis of the actual
situation on the ground. Most significant is Zvi Gal's survey of the Lower
Galilee, which when coupled with the results of the stratigraphic excavations in
Upper and Lower Galilee, paint a picture of a totally devastated and depopulated
Galilee in the wake of the Assyrian campaigns of 733/732 B.C.E. . . . . Gal's
surface survey of the Lower Galilee found no occupational evidence from the
seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. at any of the more than eighty sites
inspected . . . after Tilgath-pileser III's expedition" (29).
With respect to the number of deportees, Reed states (34, ftnt. 29) that "Gal
[_Lower Galilee during the Iron Age_, 109] notes . . . that the legible numbers
in the fragmentary Assyrian texts (the largest being 13,520) would have
represented a substantial portion of the Galilean population . . . . The
paucity of Assyrian administrative documents dealing with Galilee confirms its
insignificance and indirectly suggests its destruction." And further, Reed
submits (29, ftnt. 16) that Bustenay Oded ( _Mass Deportation in the
Neo-Assyrian Empire_, 6-16) "has stressed the reliability of the figures in the
Assyrian bureaucratic lists, and noted how they include all classes. . . ."
As Reed's argument unfolds he offers the following from Gal (to which Gordon
Raynal drew attention in his XTalk post of 1/21) in support of his thesis: "Two
corollary aspects of Gal's survey verify a depopulated Galilee after the
Assyrian empire." First, whereas "single-period sites" are in evidence from
the twelfth to fifth century, except for the seventh and sixth centuries.
"But not a single such short-lived site has been found" for those two centuries.
Second, there is no evidence of Assyrian pottery or imitations of that pottery
in Lower Galilee during this "depopulated" period--- only at the Gush Halav site
have post-732 BCE Assyrian surface sherds been located (29f.) --- in contrast to
what has been found in Samaria and the populated coastal areas of the period.
Thus, "[t]here [is] simply an insufficient amount of material culture in Galilee
following the campaign of Tilgath-pileser III for serious consideration of any
cultural continuity between the Iron Age and subsequent periods. The Galilean
ceramic traditions show no continuity between the pre-732 B.C.E and later
periods . . . . There are no villages, no hamlets, no farmsteads, nothing at
all indicative of a population that could harvest the Galilean valleys for the
Assyrian stores, much less sustain cultural and religious traditions through
centuries" (32). "The stratigraphic excavations in Galilee confirms its
abandonment in the seventh and sixth centuries" (30).
Moreover, Reed maintains, a completely depopulated Galilee is not at all
inconsistent with Assyrian practice. "The Assyrian documentary evidence on
mass deportation," Reed points out (drawing upon Oded, _Mass Deportation_, 22,
91), "reveals policy variations from region to region and over time, and
deportation was never restricted to a single class. Very often the lower
classes, including peasants and manual labors, were deported from peripheral
regions to Assyria proper or other provinces for agricultural labor" (33f.) .
And contra Horsley (_Galilee_, 25-29), Reed rejects the view "that the situation
[for Galilee] was analogous to that in Samaria, where in fact only the upper
classes were deported;" the two situations are different. "Since the number and
classes of deportees varied within each region and between regions, the
Samaritans and Galileans do not have analogous histories" (34, ftnt. 26).
Thus Reed concurs with Gal in his conclusion (_Lower Galilee during the Iron
, as quoted by Reed (34): "The cvents of 732/732 [sic] B.C.E. provide a tragic
landmark in the history of Israelite settlement in Galilee, particularly Lower
Galilee. This was an extremely violent and almost total destruction.
Whatever had not been destroyed by the wars was removed or laid waste by the
exiles, and the region was not occupied during the seventh and sixth centuries
B.C.E." Such then was the character of Galilee in the seventh and sixth
century, according to Gal and Reed: it was a deserted land. As a result Reed
concludes: "The position of [Albrect] Alt and its revival by [Richard] Horsley
[that some of the Galileans of Jesus' time are direct descendants of the ancient
northern tribes] must be abandoned" (34).
It is only with the Persian (586-332 BCE) and Early Hellenistic Period (332-167
BCE), Reed avers, that archaeological evidence begins to indicate a repopulation
of Galilee, but even then the archaeological results show resettlement to be
"modest" (35) and ethnically unidentifiable (35, 38). In the Persian period
some evidence (a drinking rhyton, multilingual inscription) points to
probability of "presence of provincial elites and an administrative center."
(35f.) And some sherds were found in Sepphoris at the acropolis. But the
remains suggest little more than peasant settlements (36). Likewise, "the
ethnicity of the people inside Galilee in the Early Hellenistic Period is
difficult to determine, since their material remains consist of only locally
made utilitarian pottery. Whoever they were, they were poor and acquired
little from the outside world by way of trade" (38). Emil Schuerer's theory
(_The History of the Jewish People in the Time of Christ_) that the settlements
were Iturean converts is unsupported by archaeological evidence (39).
With the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty, and particularly the expansion of its
hegemony north into Galilee, a significantly large increase in the population of
Galilee occurs and continues into the Early Roman Period (39, 53), Reed
observes. And now the Galilean population, Reed declares, is indisputably
Jewish, for the DNA (my term) of the material remains all point to Judean
culture. And that means that the Galileans of Jesus' day were clearly
descendants of migrant Jews from Judea (39-53).
And what is this distinctive Judean cultural DNA that makes the Galileans in
Jesus' day indisputably Jews of the Judean variety? Reed reports that
archaeological finds have uncovered four distinctive indicators of the
widespread presence of observant Judaism in Galilee in the period from the
Hasmonean expansion through the time of Jesus. Those religious indicators,
indigenous to Judea, are: "1) the chalk vessels [lathed-turned or hand-carved
limestone or chalk vessels"], 2) stepped plastered pools [or *miqwaoth*], 3)
secondary burial with ossuaries in loculi [*kokhim*-style] tombs, and 4) bone
profiles that lack pork" (44, cf. 45-50, 53, 177, 217). The archaeological
record of the presence of these Jewish "ethnicity markers" (217) in Galilee of
the Late Hellenistic and Early Roman Periods makes it clear, Reed contends, that
"Galilee's population... adhered to or adopted patterns of behavior in private
space that is also found in Jerusalem and Judea, so that in terms of ethnicity,
the Galileans should be considered Jewish" (53). So on the basis of "its
[historic trajectory of] settlement patterns and the presence of [these four]
Jewish ethnicity markers," Reed avers, "[t]he Jewish ethnicity and religion of
Galilee has been demonstrated" (217) and the view that there was a direct, or
even indirect, Galilean connection in Jesus' day to the heritage of the Northern
Kingdom must be abandoned. Reed's position is now also affirmed by John
Dominic Crossan in their recent, jointly authored _Excavating Jesus_. What
follows is Crossan and Reed's joint statement (_Excavating Jesus_, 32):
"The Assyrian Empire under Tiglath Pileser III invaded the Northern Kingdom of
Israel in 732 B.C.E and devastated as depopulated Galilee, including Nazareth.
Other than a few way-stations along roads, Galilee was virtually uninhabited
from the eighth to the second century B.C.E., when Jews repopulated it." . . . .
. "[With the end of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid dynasties], a power vacuum was
created in the second century B.C.E. This period witnessed considerable
movement of peoples, including the movement of Jews into Galilee. Elsewhere,
the Syro-Phoenicians extended their control along the Palestinian coast and
moved inland to the Huleh Valley. The Itureans, a more nomadic and pastoral
people, moved from the Ante-Lebanon toward the northern Golan. Neither group's
pottery or housing style have uncovered in Galilee, but beginning in the late
second century B.C.E., numerous settlements appear across Galilee with coins
from the Jerusalem-based Hasmoneans in their foundations and with a material
culture similar to that of Judea. Pottery forms and types were similar; both
Judea and Galilee used stone vessels; villages contained stepped, plastered
pools, or ritual baths; the people's diets avoided pork; and they practiced
secondary burial as bones were gathered into ossuaries, or bone boxes."
II. But then the Caveat!
Returning to Reed's argument for Galilee being Judea north in his _Archaeology
and the Galilean Jesus_, I encountered what I did not expect, given Reed's
conviction that Galileans were of the same ethnicity and engaged in the same
cultural/cultic practices as the Judeans. In the course of declaring that the
ethnic and cultic character of the Galileans of Jesus' day were Jewish and
"adhered to or adopted" behavior patterns indigenous to Judea, surprisingly, on
two occasions in his book Reed issues a qualification regarding the extent to
which Galileans fully conformed to Judean cultural and cultic practices. I
cite now the qualification rendered by Reed on those two occasions.
First, Reed makes this statement on page 55: "...the term Jews is thoroughly
appropriate for the inhabitants of Galilee in the first century, as is the
characterization of the Galilee as Jewish. In fact, the term's geographical
root (IOUDAIOI) accurately grasps the Galileans' religious roots in Judea. In
terms of ethnicity, they shared the same sociological patterns of behavior, and
they were conscious of a mutual descent in Judea, dating back to the Maccabean
revolt, the occupation of the *Diadochoi,* the rebuilding of the Temple,
Babylonian Exile, and beyond.
Reed, then immediately qualifies the substance of that statement with the
following: "To speak of Galilean Judaism or Galilean Jews is to add an important
qualifier, a point [Eric] Meyer's important work on Galilean regionalism
stressed, but to juxtapose Galileans with Judeans as different, and to stress
their geographical differences at the expense of their common ethnicity, skews
their common heritage and obscures their historical connections. *Galilean
Jews had a different social, economic, and political matrix than Jews living in
Judea or the Diaspora, and even among themselves held diverse attitudes,
practices, and goals-among those preserved in the Jesus tradition* [emphasis:
mine]-but they all were Jewish."
Second, Reed proffers a similar qualification on page 218: "While the material
culture [of Galilee] shared a Jewish character with Judea, *the basic attitudes
of the Galileans and their differences with Judean Jews are not readily
resolved* [emphasis: mine] from the archaeological record."
Have I missed something here? If Galileans are no more than transplanted
Judeans Jews, and Galilee is essentially "Judea North" (my term) as Reed
maintains, then how is it that Galilean Jews developed differently from Judean
Jews? What influences would have caused Galileans to shape their "attitudes,
practices, and goals" in a different direction from their Judean cousins? As
far as I can tell, Reed does not explain why or how such differences arose. Nor
does he specifically identify the source or origin of the non-Judean influence
that shaped these differences, except to state that "Galilean Jews had a
different social, economic, and political matrix than Jews living in Judea."
The upshot of Reed's rather substantial qualification regarding to what extend
the Galileans mirror the Judeans in cultic orientation and practice is that Reed
must acknowledge that not insignificant differences existed between the
so-called Jewishness of Galilee and the Jewishness of Judea. It is an
acknowledgment that, in my judgment, raises serious questions about the
viability of his thesis.
Moreover, having claimed to have demonstrated the "Jewish ethnicity and religion
of Galilee" based upon the unearthing of certain Galilean material remains which
Reed links directly to Judean religious DNA (stone vessels, *miqwaot*, ossuary
and *kokhim*-style burial, and the virtual dietary absence of pig bones), Reed,
amazingly, then severely undermines his case that such Galilean remains are in
fact evidence of the presence of Judean religious DNA in Galilee, making thereby
Galileans observant Jews like their Judean cousins, by admitting the following
(55): "The archaeological analysis does not, of course, solve the question of
what kind of Judaism existed in first-century Galilee. The interpretation or
significance given by various people to their stone vessels or *miqwaoth* cannot
be determined by the artifacts alone, *and certainly regional variations existed
between Judea and Galilee, as well as within Galilee*" [emphasis: mine].
In subsequent discussion, which follows upon this admission, Reed explores the
Jesus tradition and must admit that it departs significantly in its tradition
from the Judean cultic orientation and practice. Jesus and his followers were
Galileans, Reed observes, who did not follow Judean practices. But Reed seems
to explain this as an exception that proves the rule. That is they are an
aberrant representation that proves the rule. But where did this aberrant
representation come from? Out of thin air? I shall return to this question
in a subsequent post, "The Galilee-NK Connection: Alive and Well."