Re: Archaeological remains dated to the First Temple Period discovered on the Temple Mount

Larry Swain wrote:
Martin Edwards wrote:
There is such a thing as a myth of origin.

Sure, but again, you have to have a society which creates that myth and for whom that myth has meaning, and as such, a myth of origin bears witness to the existence and thought of that society. The question, as above, was evidence for that society's existence, not whether its myths were historically true. Different questions.

The idea that a myth has to be created at some point in time is as true as the fact that an urban legend also has to be created at some point in time. Both have in common the inability to find that point in time or its creator.

If you would like a more recent example holocaustic Jews believe there were gas ovens in the camps. They have gone so far as to protest GE billboards (in Texas about six years ago) advertising the kitchen appliance. It is a world-wide belief.

But you can go through all the holocaust literature and through all the camps and through all the contemporary accounts of the liberators as to what was found in the camps and not find a single mention of gas ovens. Moreover what you do find it mention of the ovens being fired by coal and coke. Who invented the gas oven story and when was it invented? I have traced it back as far as the early 1950s in Hungary so it appeared less than ten years after the war. How much older it is or where it originated I still have no idea.

If that is too touchy an example for you, the abductees Betty and Barney Hill were the first to describe their abductors as being short with large heads and big black eyes and no mouths. It has become a common description. But the first portrayal of aliens looking like that was on an episode of The Outer Limits shortly before they gave that description. In this case it can be traced to a specific source and date.

So why would this appear in religion? If you are religious and have kept
yourself fresh on the tenets and teachings of that religion it is instructive to
inquire as to the beliefs of those who have not. In the good old days you could
send nine out of ten of them to the stake for heresy. There is a tremendous
latent variation among the believers.

Now, Mr G's *hypothesis*
that the Septuagint was created as a myth of origin at the time of the Maccabees is a plausible one.

No, I'm afraid it isn't, not unless you want to say that this myth of origin is the most unique, most surprising collection of documents that the world has ever known. I'm not willing to say that on the face of the evidence, but you have to if you follow Giwer's hypothesis.

First off let me clarify I got it from Aggie but that is not passing the buck as I have spent many hours developing the idea beyond his observation.

Your "objection" has little to do with what I said. If you want something new and unique you can look at the invented religion of Scientology. The more common type of invented religion is that of Islam which draws liberally upon existing religions and traditions. In just the 19th c. we have the Latter Day Saints, B'hai and Christian Scientists as invented religions with heavy borrowing. And not to put too fine a point on it, all the variations on Protestantism are invented religions with heavy borrowing. I know today it is not fashionable to call them separate religions but you could not say that back when they were created without risk of execution by any and all of them for uttering that blasphemy.

The Septuagint is of Islamic type creation. Certainly if Saudi would ever open the area to archaeological study we would find many closely related religions and belief systems that were incorporated into the Koran. Even the Koran describes some of them parts of which are incorporated into Islam such as the pilgrimage to Mecca and the ceremony at the Qab. So also we find many existing religions and belief systems incorporated into the Septuagint. The Koran itself reports many Jewish kings and in fact the simplest description of Islam is Judaism Lite but you must remember Orthodox Judaism was the only Judaism back then.

The major error, whether you prefer the Septuagint or the currently popular OT, is taking it for what it is not. It is not a document promoting monotheism. It was not by its own words either the dominant religion of the region or of the Jews as it constantly rails against them for worshiping other gods without the slightest suggestion the others are not gods themselves. The other gods were created by Yahweh/Khunum.

This is a creation of a mythology to support the worship of a particular god Yahweh whom we first encounter in Ugarit as the spawn of El who rules with his consort Ashara who is also well represented in bibleland archaeology. We can see the creation of this myth in that Yahweh is endowed with some of the characteristics of the Egyptian Khunum, the ram-headed god who made the first people out of clay and all the other gods. We read this clearly in 2 Genesis and in the 1st commandment where Yahweh is declared the elder god by forbidding worship of any god as being before him in time.

As to the local melding the Shofar horn is that of a ram and thus related to the worship of Khunum aka Yahweh. There is also the custom of putting one's sins onto a ram and driving it into the wilderness to die. Drive it away so the sins will not be given back. Into the desert so it will die so Khunum/Yahweh will take away the sins along with the spirit of his sacred animal.

What we do not find is the post-Septuagint form of the religion prior to the Septuagint in the same manner we do not find Islam before Mohamed or Scientology before Hubbard.

As to other things incorporated into the mythology, we find Ramses III
represented by the name Solomon. Similarly we find Solomon ruling the same lands as the New Kingdom of Egypt, from the river in Egypt to the Euphrates but under the name of Israel or Is Ra El after three major gods. If we go to believer websites we find mention of several other contributing sources of the mythology save they treat them as evidence it is not a myth but fact.

The discriminant between a contributing source and evidence of the fact is that these examples are less than trivia when compared to actually finding evidence of a great empire ruled out of Jerusalem. The idea of this great kingdom of Israel was ruled out by the middle of the 20th c. among archaeologists and is today left to the provenance of the believers who continue to find nothing but forgeries on the antiquities market.

So it is not an hypothesis at all. It is merely an observation that the
Septuagint is the oldest known document which pulls all of this together into a single collection which serves as the foundation of for the religion that
appears in Judea shortly after the collection appears. Similarly the Koran is the first document to pull together different aspects of religions in that part of the world into a distinct religion.

If this is correct it is almost certain there was worship of Yahweh in the region along with other Phoenician/Semitic gods such as Ashara who is also Ishtar and Aphrodite. All three of those are also patrons of concubines or consorts as they were called. And from Ugarit and one bibleland description we find the phrase Yahweh and his consort Ashara.

Were you to go back in time and learn all there was to know about the god Yahweh it would likely not fill more than a page or two including his interactions with other gods. It would be nothing like all the books of the OT devoted to this god to the exclusion of all others. Nor would there be any dedicated temples, at most household shrines and rarely only this god having a shrine in the house.

It is not, and may never be, proven, but it is plausible.

Again, no, not really. The LXX betrays for one thing too many Hebraisms to be a concoction of the Hellenistic period, and so must be a translation.

It must be kept in mind that without the OT as a basis for religion no one would be making claims like that. It would not matter to make such fine distinctions which are much less than the difference between spoken Englishes in England.

The answer to that is simply to point out another myth without the least
evidence in fact that there was an older "hebrew" language. Everything identified as an older "hebrew" language is quite clearly Phoenician seen through the eyes of believers who "know what it has to be." There is no evidence Hebrew was ever a spoken language, ever more than a liturgical language until the Zionists appeared in the late 19th c.

As "real" Hebrew appears after the Septuagint the only rational conclusion uncolored by preconceptions is that Hebrew adopted many things from Greek into a generically Aramaic dialect. Thus the few adoptions are most simply explained by the later invention of Hebrew as a liturgical language. They picked what they liked or were most familiar with.

But there is an even simpler explanation. It was a local polyglot dialect already. We see such polyglots today every place where there has been a strong foreign influence. The spoken Chinese language of Hong Kong has many Englishisms in it. So also Japanese with many modified English words and expressions. As far back as the 1970s second generation people from Puerto Rico who had spoken Spanish as a second language all their lives would visit Puerto Rico and find they could barely understand it or be understood. They had adopted too much from English into it.

Compounding that the Hebrew OT has only about one third the number of different words needed to make a working language AND the OT is the only unquestionable Hebrew there is. And by that I do mean working language in ancient times not missing words for a modern language. The limited nature of a vocabulary is one of the marks of a local dialect of mixed languages. They exist for limited purposes usually for commerce.

There is no evidence it was ever more than a liturgical language. It was not a language of the educated as the Talmud is in Aramaic. It never appears in use again until the 20th c. It never appears in history outside of liturgical usage.

Second, the LXX and the texts of the Hebrew Bible reveal a number of authors from different periods interacting with different periods of history and even different types of literature (for example the interaction and reinterpretation of the Babylonian myths and epics would naturally be more important to a society in which the old Babylonian empire was important and a serious threat whereas the interaction with Egyptian Wisdom literature or the sudden influence of Persian dualism would take places at periods where those empires' hegemony was influential on the authors) from different cultures and at the same time NOT BETRAYING any Hellenisms and Hellenistic culture, history, or politics into the texts---or in short (and this is only one example of many I could trot out) to achieve what even modern writers can not: a modern sense of chronology and development of a religion and a society without that chronology being based in history while at the same time not betraying themselves with reading back into the texts they are creating their own time, their own culture, their own language simultaneously however faking such anachronisms into the invented past (i. e. if the Abraham story for example is created in Hellenistic Egypt, how did they know that in the early sixth century BCE what the name of the city of Ur was--that isn't what we know the city was called in 1800 BCE, its not what its called in various Egyptian records, its not what it was called in the Hellenistic era, not even by the Seleucids, but it is what it was called in early sixth century BCE at the beginning of the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire. Pretty good wouldn't you say for a bunch of Greek speakers in Alexandria to be so good as to not introduce Hellenisms, but have the knowledge to introduce anacrhonisms from 3 centuries before their time of which there is no record available to them, and yet conceive of introducing it into their story? This is more believeable to you than simply saying, there was a group of people in the area who like other groups around them had a written language and a small group of written texts that survived and were later translated? Wow.)

That is a lot of words and mainly one sentence long enough to make James Joyce fearful of his record. I see no place to break it up to comment on the points raised.

The first thing we know for a fact as we have so many examples of it, believers have always demonstrated an uncanny ability to see what their beliefs tell them must be there. And this is not just in religion. We see it in politics all the time. We see it in gossip when a neighbor gains a reputation worthy of it or not. We see it running through all the conspiracy theories. And in the disabling case we see it in the extreme in paranoia.

We also see it in the negative sense. For decades doctors could not see that Lister was right about washing to prevent infecting new mothers. Pasteur had the same problem for decades even though his results were as clear then as they are now. Plate tectonics went unrecognized and ridiculed as a crank theory for decades after Wegner's death despite the most common evidence today the east coast of the Americas neatly fits onto the west coast of Europe and Africa.

How did they know back then the name of Ur? What makes you think it was not common knowledge at the time? Why do you assume it was a lost name at the time other than to make a point in favor of what you believe? Further you have to explain how, if it was not known when the Septuagint was created but known only through knowledge lost at that time and preserved by much older writers, how those writers did not know Ur was long abandoned before the mythical Abraham was born.

You have a similar problem with Egypt in making the OT much older than the Septuagint. The OT gets nothing right about ancient Egypt. The closer you want the original creation of the story to "actual" events in the story the less possible it is for the writer to get everything wrong. You cannot claim the creator of Exodus was at the meetings between the king and Moses and actually saw a living god king actually talking to a smelly goatherd or seeing magicians. Nor can you say a witness actually saw the Hebrews escaping the king by entering land ruled by the king at the time. The closer you want the writer to be to the event the more difficult to explain how he is all wrong.

You also make an unfounded statement that the writers were in Alexandria. The earliest claim it is a translation comes in the early 1st c. AD and then almost in passing, short enough to be a later interpolation, i.e. forgery. The _only_ other claim it is a translation comes from Josephus in the late 1st c. AD. Josephus tells the Alexandria story. If you have any familiarity with Josephus at all you know he is not a reliable source on much of anything. You also know he made up stories without the least regard for the facts or even reality. And if I am the first person you have heard this from, that only shows you are not widely read on the subject.

Fact is, no one knows when it was written nor who wrote it. The Maccabes is just a guess. If they did it would have been written in and around Jerusalem. As for the Egyptian influence there, the most common building motif in pre-Roman
Jerusalem was the pyramid. Their god Yahweh incorporates the characteristics of Khunum and many of their customs are based upon the worship of the Ram-headed god.

Although we do not know when it was created we can set a no-earlier-than date which is good enough. That date is after the second inventory of Alexander's conquests as no Jews or Judeans or anyone who could have been the people who followed this religion. The second repeats the absence of them from the first inventory and their absence from the writings of Herodotus in the 5th c. BC. So the current best guess of the believers as the 6th c. is too old because no one finds the followers of this religion in the region until centuries later.

Now you can say it is just a matter of time until the evidence is found but that is an expression of faith not of reason. And it is a matter of religious faith as it requires one to take a book filled with magic as credible.

My reason for saying so is that it is fairly uniform
in style. The stylistic variations in the Hebrew may have developed over the period between its appearance and the appearance of the earliest Hebrew documents in the tenth century, and may have been contrived to achieve a particular effect.

Well, actually, Martin, it isn't that uniform in style. Have you read it? In Greek that is....

I have not read it in Greek either but Aggie the Greek has and also says it is uniform in style if I recall correctly. I'd say a skeptical Greek trumps most anything.

Job (and I have to take the
word of others for this) is strongly Arabic-flavoured.

Not really. More "ANE flavored." I don't detect anything particularly or uniquely Arabic about it.

While seeing "flavors" in Job is almost a fool's errand addressing the story itself is not. Lock away your what it really means companion handbook and put out of your mind everything you were ever told about by people who cannot possibly know more about it than what the text actually says any more than you can.

The story clearly treats Lucifer and Yahweh both as gods. Yahweh does not permit Lucifer to do anything. It is a wager and Lucifer sets the terms and does whatever he wishes to win the bet. And the things he does are the same as Yahweh does in other stories. They have the same powers. There is nothing intrinsic to the story which contradicts the above.

So it is just one more example of Judean polytheism but openly rather than indirectly stated.

Is it not an odd
coincidence that Hebrew became strongly influenced by Arabic in Umayyad Spain in the ninth century?

No, since we aren't talking about "Hebrew" but about a particular kind of Hebrew in a particular locale. The study of Hebrew grammar, the sciences, and some philosophical terms were borrowed from medieval Arabic and are still current, but so what? A number of Hebrew names for example have been adapted into Arabic and are common (Ivrahim for example). So what? This is normal linguistic influence when communities of language speakers rub against each other in close proximity.

The problem with such claims is that if all of what is called Hebrew prior to the Septuagint were put in one place it is only a few thousand words spread out over centuries and we know grammar changes over centuries. Moreover the idea of a standardized written grammar does not appear until Renaissance times at the earliest. Protestants and Catholics still argue over when Latin is the right Latin to use and Latin grammarians on both sides still debate which is the correct grammar. All of this in light of millions of words of surviving Latin. In any event even if all the "hebrew" material were from the same year it would not be possible to make more than an educated guess as to the grammar. There simply is not enough of it to do more.

Don't get me wrong: I do not have enough
evidence to write an article for History Today, but I feel that these lines of argument are worth thinking about.

Not really. Interesting jumping off points, certainly, but once you look into them they are dead ends.

However it appears you have either misunderstand what is being said, are unfamiliar with the available material or both.

For two centuries Catholics in the US have struggled against the slander of
being loyal to the Vatican. Today millions of Americans proudly announce
their loyalty to Israel. Make of it what you will.
-- The Iron Webmaster, 3859
book review a7

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