A Brief Note for Yosi Garfinkel
We can quibble about whether the Shephelah is Judah rather than the highlands, but that this part of Palestine and this city were part of a political system called Judah is quite another supposition. Where is the proof? I suspect Garfinkel is just using a biblical figure to fill the gap. If so, we have just another example of the old biblical archaeology.
By Emeritus Professor Philip Davies
University of Sheffield, England
My original response to Yosi Garfinkel accused him of several inaccuracies, The End of Biblical Minimalism? (http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/dav358019.shtml). This fault seems habitual with him, to judge from his latest contribution to Biblical Archaeological Reviews website (http://www.bib-arch.org/scholars-study/minimalist-response-garfinkel.asp).
He asserts that minimalists assign a Hellenistic date to the biblical literature and cites my own book (In Search of Ancient Israel) in support. But I do not hold this view (apart for a few biblical writings where there is a scholarly consensus anyway). My book focuses rather on the Persian period. Did he really read my book, as any self-proclaimed historian of minimalism should have? Or does he have just a very poor memory?
He also repeats the assertion that the Tel Dan inscription mentions a king of the house of David. In my earlier response to him, I pointed out that the word king is a conjectural restoration by the original editors. Why does he repeat this factual error?
Garfinkel does not explain exactly why Qeiyafa should be associated with any biblical figure or a king of Jerusalem. Perhaps this is because he uses Judah both as a geographical and as a political term. We can quibble about whether the Shephelah is Judah rather than the highlands, but that this part of Palestine and this city were part of a political system called Judah is quite another supposition. Where is the proof? I suspect Garfinkel is just using a biblical figure to fill the gap. If so, we have just another example of the old biblical archaeology. There is, in fact, no reference to a kingdom of Judah in Assyrian records until the 8th century (nor of course in the Mesha nor Tel Dan stelae!), and a competent historian should attach some significance to this and not assume a political state by the name of Judah exists until there is archaeological or epigraphic evidence of it.
Concerning the issue of pig bones, I see no reference to Hesses article Pig Lovers and Pig Haters: Patterns of Palestinian Pork Production, (Journal of Ethnobiology 10 : 195-225) or Zedar, The Role of Pigs in Near Eastern Subsistence: A View from the Southern Levant, in Retrieving the Past (ed. J.D. Seger; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1996), 297-312, nor to the work of Sapir-Hen cited in Finkelstein Reconstructing Ancient Israel: Integrating Macro- and Micro-archaeology, Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 1 (2012), 133150: 141. The evidence is rather more complicated than Garfinkel realizes (or should realize).
Finally: I cannot see how aniconism can be evidence for Judahite religion when there is so much evidence from Iron II (and even later) of the use of religious icons in Judah. But then, I cannot understand the patterns of thought of someone who does not or cannot read what he cites, repeats errors previously pointed out to him, and has an imperfect grasp of both archaeological methodology and logic. So perhaps any further conversation between us is a waste of time.
Not a very good foundation especially since their unbelief removes any hint of objectivity from their work.
To be objective one must be honest and I see no objectivity in any of the unbelieving scholars. Their chorus of denials removes that factor as well.
Objectivity requires an open mind and I have yet to see that evident in any minimalist or atheistic work.
Davies writes in references to the Tel Dan inscription:
"In my earlier response to him, I pointed out that the word “king” is a conjectural restoration by the original editors."
The combination of 'Byt [plus name]'
in the clear meaning of 'Dynasty' is of course well attested in Aramaic inscription of the time. The Tel Dan inscription mention of BYT DVD clearly means 'David's Dynasty' as attested dozens of times in the Hebrew bible. Thus a reference to a royal person by modern editors is natural and does not need defense.
Where, incidentally do English expressions
like The House of Windsor come from?
But here we are the kernel of the problem. Back in my Hellenism article from 1992, I argued that a text should be dated ante quem. The DSS are in most cases the earliest copies of texts that someday made it into biblical scripture. This is a terminus ante quem. You cannot argue that Genesis is younger than the Genesis fragments among the DSS. But I also argued (which is most often not acknowledged) that this is not necessarily the final word about dating. Thus the Exodus story--and perhaps also the kernel of this story in the Book of Exodus--must have been around c. 200 as Hezechiel wrote his exodus tragedy around that time, quoting as it seems from the quotations from his play, a LXX-like version. So now we have evidence of manuscripts and stories in
existence before the DSS.
The problem with dating something unknown a quo is simply that we often know far too little. Biblical scholars have for 200 years used the biblical story itself to date something, but basically this is circular argumentation and has led to
absurdities, like the dating of historical literature to the time of Solomon, now evaporated in the thin air of redundant scholarly speculation. The story about how biblical Israel--a society that never was--came into being is a subject still to be investigated. This is very much a question of scale and social organization. People able to write texts like the ones in the Old Testament are Gelehrter or literati. What have they been doing for living? Not producing food, they were producing texts. So a kind of parasites from the point of view of the peasants. We therefore have to look for a society of a scale that can afford to feed these "parasites".
You could also say that we have the same situation as in archaeology: A wall is not dated according to the latest evidence. It is dated according to the earliest. That's the reason why Kenyon taught her people to dig under a wall. Many archaeologists seem to be too happy with their beautiful walls to do the necessary destruction--pulling down the wall to get under it--with the result that their dating sucks, or hang freely in the air.
An example: The Persian Period, and the Hebrew Bible. The dating of texts to this period placing their composition in Jerusalem demands that there was a place in Jerusalem in, say the 5th or even 4th century, where this might have happened. Our Tel Aviv friends don't think that it is likely that there was much in and around Jerusalem in the Persian Period. If they are right, we have to find another place or another time. Ussishkin has argued in favor of Jerusalem becoming a city no earlier than the first part of the 2nd century. If this is the case, Exodus did not originate in Jerusalem among the local Gelehrter, as it was in existence before the place was again turned into a city.
I am aware of recent endeavors to find a place in Josiah's Jerusalem, i.e., at the end of the 7th century. And maybe the society was big enough to includex these literati, but so far we only have one scrap of evidence, the Aronite
Is this Logical?
- Niels Peter Lemche wrote:
about how biblical Israel--a society that never was--came into being is a
subject still to be investigated. "
Since you state that the subject is still to be investigated, how is is that it deals with something "that never was"?
From a strict logical approach this statement does not make sense. For instance, further investigation may show that the story has a solid basis indeed.
The reaction to Shlomo Sand (The Invention of the Jewish People) in Israel is symptomatic. I do not care about his Kazar hypothesis. My daughter in law, Yael, née Vilenchik, comes from a Lithuanian family but her DNA says that she is from Lofoten! But Sand's demolition of Jewish history writing during the last 150 years (mostly in German) is absolutely methodologically in order. This has not prevented Israeli Bible people to call it the worst book ever.
Liverani almost forty years ago wrote about the low standards of oriental studies. He proposed that this in those days dominating German basis had never known (or read) Croce, arguing that history is a social construction. Well, later on Habermas called the human being a social construction, and it is generally assumed that all history is social construction, and so also biblical Israel -- a kind of golden past in the biblical narrative -- is a social construction. Therefore it is easy for a historian to deconstruct biblical Israel showing it to be an invention created to silence opposing stories. You will see much more of this coming up in the years to come. And if you don't want to, read BAR. Otherwise, find Liverani's Israel's History and the History of Israel is a good place to begin.
Or you can be a regular reader at Bibleinterp.com.
I scratch my head: there was no rebuttal from NP Lemche of the logical blunder he committed in a previous message.
Instead, he shot in all directions, Liverani, my ignorance, his daughter-in-law's DNA, modern politics and so forth.
It seems to me that he is in full agrement with Merenptah who declared that Israel is finished. And that was over three thousand two hundred years ago.
But...Israel is mentioned already then.
You don't have a clue about what history is. You don't understand that I have for many years not accepted the biblical story as anything except a hyperstory created by Jewish literati with a special purpose. You don't understand that what you read in the Bible is not history but a narrative about things past and should be studied as such.
That biblical scholarship has for all too long slavishly followed this narrative considering to be historical truth (at least in its main traits). It is simply intellectual laziness. That at least European scholarship is moving and that fast is quite evident.
I have of course no intention of defending myself on your terms. They belong to the way the past was studied until a generation ago or more, if you move from backyard biblical studies to modern historical research inspired not least by French historians like the members of les annales. It has more to do with philosophy that previous history writing, but its base is modern, even post-modern. In this discourse your arguments have no weight.
So, I have nothing further to say to you. Except: get updated. Not logical blunder here. Different categories as Russell told us.
I don't believe that no one is listening - or this discussion would not be taking place. I presume that 'biblical Israel' exists (on this debatable showing) as an element in a major literary work but never existed (on the same showing) as a real element in ancient history.
What is biblical Israel and what would be evidence for its 'reality'? Certain features are mentioned, aniconism among them. To me it seems as if we think that the Bible presents Israel or Israel/Judah as a people showing a common determination to cleave to a certain way of life whose features and characteristics we can seek in the archaeological record. This interpretation may have its deep roots in the experience of English-speaking Protestants, notably in the American colonies. It's an extremely prevalent interpretation but I think it's wrong. The Bible doesn't say that the Israelite people showed determination to stick to the right way, quite the contrary, that they would not by any means stick to it and that their kings made efforts - which were at very best sporadic and inadequate - to make them. If we were one day to have an archaeological record that more or less conformed to the biblical record we would find that all the things that were wrong by biblical standards, presumably including icons and idols, were much in evidence. We would find flourishing religious diversity rather than one way of life. We would have records of royal decrees - sometimes proclaimed, sometimes revoked, sometimes reinforced - against certain cults among the backsliding and gainsaying people that Israel, according to the Bible, was.
Perhaps one day this record will emerge.
Dear Niels Peter,
Apparently the mention of Merenptah brought forth the ad hominem attack against me. Please note that I was not a member of his court, nor had I the honor to be one of his scribes.
Dear Martin (comment 14),
If you're interested in the development of the cult Yahweh, you may wish to consult De Moor's The Rise of Yahwism, among many other works on the subject.
If you're interested in Hebrew inscriptional, extra-biblical evidence from the pre-exilic period you may want to check Ahituv's Handbook on the subject.
The number of foreign ANE texts relating subjects mentioned in the Hebrew bible is large. They're available in various collections.
Among the many works on historicity of biblical texts, may I recommend K.A. Kitchen's On the Reliability of the Old Testament. It is based on a vast amount concrete evidence.
Of course, everything has to be studied critically, and one needs always to keep an open mind
your attack point was this sentence:
The story about how biblical Israel--a society that never was--came into being is a subject still to be investigated.
your mistake is that you consider this biblical Israel to be a real thing. It is, on the pages of the OT, otherwise not. Therefore the sentence makes perfect sense. It came to being in the minds of people who wrote about it. It is called cultural memory. So the question meant: why did these writers invent biblical Israel? What kind of political and religious ideas lie behind? The marginalization of the Samaritans? Here Liverani's "history" is a good place to begin.
Now the issue of ancient Israel has not come up. Here the question is: Why did modern scholars invent this ancient Israel? For religious or political purposes or both?
That Joan does not want to read me is not my problem. Except that she says that nobody will read me; well, nobody perhaps in her entourage. And you reference to Kitchen tells me a lot. As James Barr said already in 1977, Kitchen is 1000% a fundamentalist (and he is proud of being it).
So on to memory studies if you want to understand the present discussion, apart from the one you find in religious or politico-religious contexts. Everything is about deconstruction and construction.
So, first, anyone asserting or denying the existence of 'ancient Israel' needs to say which one they mean. And before invoking the evidence of the Bible they need to compare all the relevant biblical texts. For example, if David brought together the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, as 1 Samuel states, uniting them under one throne, where did the kingdom of Judah come from? Was Judah ever part of Saul's kingdom? If not, why not? If it was, how and why did it become independent? This is where I would like to start the discussion of 'biblical israel' in fact - in which biblical texts is the term 'Israel' intended to include 'Judah'? Then, when we have decided that there is a substantial number of texts that include Judah and a substantial number that do not, we ask why this should be so, and whether, historically, Judah LEFT Israel, or JOINED it. And go on from there to a more sophisticated level of discussion.
(The thought is dawning on me that the definition of an atheist biblical scholar is one who reads the whole bible and not the bits of it learned in school....... )
Were I a fundamentalist I would not expect to find evidence for faithful solidarity among the people of that time and place around religious or moral rules: this is what the Bible says did not happen. I would expect archaeologists to find icons and idols galore. Some fundamentalists may misread the Bible at this point. If they do, I think it is because of embattled Protestant experience (I sometimes think of myself as an embattled Protestant) going back to the seventeenth century.
I thank Uri for his reading list. I have tried to read Kitchen but his style is too embattled for my taste. I would respectfully suggest to Uri that he didn't reply to what I actually said - and tried not to say in a provocative way.
English ways of speaking about royal houses have been mentioned. I'd suggest that Henry V was King of England, not King of the House of Lancaster, but still it would be correct to call him 'a king of the House of Lancaster'. When you draw attention to the dynasty rather than the territory of a monarch you imply that there is more than one relevant dynasty, like Lancaster and York, somehow in play for the same territory. Were this to be the way of things in ancient Aramaic I would have thought that 'King of the House of David', if that phrase exists, would imply that there was one land with two kings, like Sparta or later Rome.
God save the Queen.
One would think that any work should be judged on its merit, not on its author's faith. Your application of religious epithets to scholars whose work you do not like is offensive.
Kitchen's serious discussion of the historical importance of the OT should be judged on its merits. I consider him indispensable for any serious work on biblical historicity. However, it is not written in stone ,and by all means let those who disagree refute specific points.
It would be unfair to discuss even briefly here the vast body of evidence which supports his thesis
Because of your offensive remark, I checked again his specific criticism of your main points in pp. 458 - 462 , On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Sorry, I agree with him.
Please understand that one can be quite familiar with your positions and also with the fashionable attitudes of those who disconstruct and reconstruct history and reject them both.
Just two additions to works on Israel's religion:
Richard Hess The Religions of Israel (Note the plural); Jan Assmann On Mosaic Monotheism, or its English equivalent.
The free and natural style of Kitchen was frowned upon by a number of people. I happen to enjoy it.
Kitchen and Assmann are important Egyptologists. Hess did significant work on biblical and extra-biblical personal names.
I made a misprint, Kitchen is not a 1000% fundamentalist, only 100%. He has therefore no place in critical biblical scholarship. His often displayed contempt of critical scholarship is wellknown. He is an outsider without much uynderstanding of what has been going on here. As Barr said, no reason to waste time on it. If you want to, your decision. I don't lnow your affiliation within the academia. I therefore don't know if you have the background for critical evaluation of say Kitchen. My suggestion was to read Liverani, as he really understand thne field, although like Kitchen coming from outside.
I also, in my own way, asked you to get acquainted with modern historical methods, especially the French -- les annales, histoire de la mentalité, and memory studies. Assmann's Moses is funny--a tradition from Freud. I don't know if he is really serious about his Moses.
By the way: Nobody will say that Kitchen is a bad egyptologist. We would only like him to use the same critical sense when he turns to biblical material.
Of course the HB, and - importantly - extra-biblical
evidence must be the basis for any discussion of the
historical reality behind the text.
The same holds true about religious ritual.
Certainly there is much evidence of
iconic worship. On the other hand, and contrary to Philip
Davies' brief response to Garfinkel on this specific point,
Yahweh is a 'peculiar' god im more ways than one, and he has no physical body unlike other gods in the ANE. Worship of an
aniconic deity would not leave traces of physical images.
This supports Garfinkel's argument. But this is a tricky subject; generations of scholars wrestled with it.
In Hebrew theophoric names both in the HB and in the extra-biblical evidence such as bullae and seals, Yahweh dominates. For example 'Jonathan', 'Netanyahu' where the shortened deity name is prefixed or suffixed to the verb 'give'.
See J D Fowler on the differences between Hebrew
and foreign theophorical names; also J Tigay and J De Moor
on the subject.
Finally, I cannot but add that no serious historian of nations and nationalism can be a committed political nationalist, except in the sense in which believers in the literal truth of the Scriptures, while unable to make contributions to evolutionary theory, are not precluded from making contributions to archaeology and Semitic philology. Nationalism requires too much belief in what is patently not so. ... To be a Fenian or an Orangeman [N. Ireland], I would judge, is not so compatible, any more than being a Zionist is compatible with writing a genuinely serious history of the Jews. [end quote]
This is an absolutely true statement, and it doesn't matter much whether we talk of historians (including of course archaeologists) living in a conflict ridden area like Israel/Palestine, or in a rather stable society like Denmark under basically the same royal house for 1100 years (the tale we tell to our children). It has to do with cultural memory and constructionism.
The reaction in modern Israel to historians like Sand and Pappe shows that people here are not ready to skip their beliefs (religious or secular) when it comes to evaluating historical artifacts.
By the way: Uri Hurwitz points at PNs, and it is true that Yahwistic names dominate, especially in Judah towards the end of its political existence, but also other divine names pop up, and then, was this Yahweh the Yahweh of the Bible? Or the Yahweh who at his side had his Ashera? (even 2 Kings 23 says so)? Or the Yahweh of Deuteronomy 32 (LXX) who is subordinated to the highest god. In itself a name says little. The multitude of Scandinavian PNs with "Tor" as the theophoric element abounds, but does not say anything about the survival of Asa-belief in cold north. We also where I live have an extraordinary percentage of Hebrew biblical names, but the children get them in the church.
Instead of asserting the biblical truth about Yahweh, Uri Hurwitz should have invested energy in explaining the difference in the pantheon of Iron Age Palestine (including Israel)and the one of the Late Bronze Age. Here is food for thought. That Yahweh was an aniconic deity from old of is only an assumption based on biblical evidence. Who says that a bull figurine such as that found at Ashkelon by Stager is not representing Yahweh? Then it might be Yahweh as Ba'al, but when the pronunciation of the divine name was forbidden to Jews, they choose as a substitute adonai, meaning the same as Ba'al (which is evident when we read the Greek myth about Adonis).
I do not hope that it comes as a surprise to Uri and others, but we are only at the beginning of the process of deconstruction national myths.
I agree with Hobsbawm that a certain neutrality is necessary but on the other hand none of us can escape all forms of loving and loathing. We have to cope with this fact about ourselves since we cannot eliminate it.
Sorry, I can't take seriously your question whether there is any connection between the Yahweh in extra-biblical PNs and Yahweh biblical names.
You may find it useful to compare Hebrew theophoric names with Phoenician, or Assyrian or Akkadian. Such collections are readily available. Or, conveniently, there is J D Fowler's book on the subject.
Surely you would not mind if I suggest that you read the full chapter 32 of Deuteronomy which you yourself mentioned? It is a poem of praise of Yahweh's might and singularity. Yahweh alone is mentioned eight times; note the end of verse 12 . To draw different conclusions from one textually corrupt verse 3 as some do, is to ignore its context.
Of course in the various books of the HB his name appears thousands of time alone.
I don't know a single graphic presentation of Yahweh that is accepted in scholarship, thus your suggestion in your last mail is sheer speculation.
The subject of Yahwism cannot be compressed into a few paragraphs.I mentioned before some of the literature.
And finally let me state that I have no interest in discussing here modern political events, nor do I care about the abstract verbiage involving the nature of history. Ranke is enough for me.
Please feel free to have the final word in this exchange.
I think that whatever you say, it has to be seen in light of your recommendation of Kenneth Kitchen. Almost 50 years of experience has told me that there is a gap that cannot be bridged. No critical scholar will side with you, but there will be a lot of support from evangelical people. That is not my concern. As to method critical scholars will side with me, although few will agree with everything. That's how critical scholarship works.
But if you can support Garfinkel's ideas -- ole biblical archaeology from the 1950s -- it also says something about the use of evidence in evangelical-conservative circles.
The tactic is still the same as it was hundred years ago among fundamentalists as they were known previously. Never enter into a serious discussion. Your use of Deut 32 says so: I was referring to the LXX version of v. 8, nor the Hebrew, but you seem to overlook this fact.
As to names, you just shout, and don't see any implications of what I wrote. Of course there are no (maybe a few--still discussed) Yahwistic names outside Palestine in the Iron Age, and yes, it seems likely from what we know that this deity had his former home outside of Palestine, and that we don't find Yahwistic names, e.g., in the Amarna letters, but who is this Yahweh that turns up in Iron Age inscriptions together with his Asherah? Yahweh from Teman, Yahweh from Samaria? Or the Anatyahu from Elephantine? In DDD (Dictionary of Deities and Demons), Karel van der Toorn has a fine way of expressing the character of Yahweh worship in Palestine in the early Iron Age: Poly-Yahwism.
However, I know so little about your background which makes it very difficult to discuss these matters. I think that you owe us an explanation. It would also be nice if you explained your methodology. Leopold von Ranke (he was a "von") is OK, aber veraltet. Maybe already a look at his contemporaries, Barthold Georg Niebuhr and Johann Gustav Droysen will tell you that you have to study source criticism even if you join the von Ranke people and play their game. Then you can move on to the great French historian Ernest Renan. It is not and never was as simple as you believe. Whenever you have a text purportedly to be historic, there are in fact an enormous amount of approaches to this text (in your case Deut 32) is to be discussed before any person in a naive way can accept whatever is written in this text as historical facts. Take Kitchen: He will never accept anything like your approach in Egyptology, but when it comes to the Old Testament his background within the Liverpool "school" of Thomas Eric Peet simply makes him blind for problems present in the biblical texts. He just dismisses critical scholarship as irrelevant, but it has been highly relevant for more than 200 years.
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