Similarities between the Pentateuch and Greek literature have long been noted and discussed in scholarly literature, but most of those discussions have assumed that the Greeks and the authors of the biblical books were independently drawing on Asiatic stories or even that some Greeks were exposed to translations of parts of the Pentateuch. (Evangelia Dafni is one such scholar who today argues for that latter position; Franz Dornseiff once argued for the former.) Others have flatly denied any serious or significant analogies between the Pentateuch and Greek works, relegating supposed parallels to coincidence or over-active imaginations. That dreaded fourteen letter word comes to mind: “parallelomania“.
Russell Gmirkin [RG] has a new book, Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts: Cosmic Monotheism and Terrestrial Polytheism in the Primordial History. My blog posts on his two earlier books are archived at Berossus and Genesis and Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible. I anticipate doing a chapter by chapter review of his new work on Genesis 1-11.
Genesis 1-11 or the Primordial History covers the span of time from Creation and the misadventures of the first humans, through the Flood and up to the Tower of Babel story. It stops prior to the introduction of Abraham and the beginning of Israel’s story. The Primordial History stages characters with enormous life-spans, a talking snake, angels with flaming swords, a god walking the earth, “sons of god” mating with women to produce “men of renown”, a world-wide flood that reminds us of the Epic of Gilgamesh and a divine intervention to confound the languages of humanity and scatter them across the earth. Before all of that we read how God created heaven and earth, beginning with the creation of light days before he made the sun! These chapters are clearly a different type of unit from the rest of the Pentateuch. Where does it all come from?
Even within chapters 1-11 exegetes have long noted a sudden break between the seven-day creation (1:1 to 2:3) on the one hand and the detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, (2:4ff) on the other. How did two accounts, one seeming to contradict the other, come to be placed side by side? And what are we to make of the different names of God: Elohim and Yahweh Elohim?
The ideas explored in RG’s new book will be a challenge-too-far for some readers who have been immersed in the Documentary Hypothesis and its assumption that the writings of the Bible evolved over centuries from the time of the biblical kingdoms of Israel-Judah (from 900 BCE) and were more or less completed by the end of the Persian era in the fifth century, that is, before the conquests of Alexander and the onset of the Hellenistic period. This traditional view holds that the first five books of the Bible grew out of the literary matrix of Mesopotamia and Syria-Canaan. Possible Greek influence is not even considered.
In his earlier books RG explored the case for a Hellenistic date for the Pentateuch and this new volume is a continuation of those earlier works. His aim is to see what happens when we compare a wider range of possible influences — adding Greek data into the mix — on the Primordial History. I hasten to point out that RG by no means denies influence from the Levantine-Mesopotamian region. But the devils are in the details when identifying the most likely sources of transmission. It is not an either-or discussion but a modified form of both-and, albeit with some adjustments concerning what the evidence indicates about who was responsible for the transmission and when.
In his opening chapter RG explains
- how he will go about identifying the sources behind the Primordial History
- an overview of the history of the scholarly views of Genesis 1-11 and where his own research fits.
To what shall we compare thee?
Scholars have long noted similarities not only between biblical and other Levantine-Mesopotamian literature but also between the Greek and that Asian literature. Some have gone further and (as I mentioned at the beginning) identified where Greek epics and stories are comparable to biblical ones. RG cites some of these and I have added links to those publications available to read online. The titles will give you some idea of the breadth of comparisons:
- Gordon, Cyrus Herzl. “Homer and Bible; the Origin and Character of East Mediterranean Literature.” Hebrew Union College Annual 26 (1955): 43–108. Online: https://archive.org/
- Bremmer, Jan N. Greek Religion and Culture, the Bible, and the Ancient Near East. Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
- Burkert, Walter. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992. Online: http://archive.org/
- Dafni, Evangelia G. Genesis, Plato Und Euripides : Drei Studien Zum Austausch von Griechischem Und Hebräischem Sprach- Und Gedankengut in Der Klassik Und Im Hellenismus. Neukirchen-Vluyn, 2010.
- Dafni, Evangelia G. “Genesis 1-11 und Platos Symposion Überlegungen zum Austausch von hebräischem und griechischem Sprach- und Gedankengut in der Klassik und im Hellenismus.” Old Testament Essays 19, no. 2 (2006): 584–632. Online: https://repository.up.ac.za/
- Hagedorn, Anselm C. Between Moses and Plato Individual and Society in Deuteronomy and Ancient Greek Law. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004. Online: https://archive.org/
- Launderville, Dale. Piety and Politics: The Dynamics of Royal Authority in Homeric Greece, Biblical Israel, and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2003. Online: http://archive.org/.
- Louden, Bruce. Homer’s Odyssey and the Near East. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
- Malul, Meir. The Comparative Method in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical Legal Studies. Alter Orient Und Altes Testament. Kevelaer, Neukirchen-Vluyn: Butzon & Bercker ; Neukirchener, 1990.
- Morris, Sarah. “Homer and the Near East.” In A New Companion to Homer, edited by Ian Morris and Barry B. Powell, 599–623. Leiden: Brill, 1997.
- Niesiołowski-Spanò, Łukasz. “Primeval History in the Persian Period?” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 21, no. 1 (January 2007): 106–26. Online: https://www.researchgate.net/
- Penglase, Charles. Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod. London: Routledge, 1997. Online: https://archive.org/
- Walcot, Peter. Hesiod and the Near East. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1966.
- West, M. L. The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Online: https://archive.org/.
In the (translated) words of one of the above names when discussing Plato and the opening chapters of Genesis:
The text corpora in question show an astonishingly large number of common features with regard to the mode of expression and the construction of thought, so that the comparison seems not only appealing but also meaningful. (translation of E. Dafni’s Gen 1-11 und Platos Symposion, p. 587 – German original in side box)
So the idea that we might meaningfully compare Greek works with biblical ones is not something invented by RG. The questions arise over the significance of those comparisons and what comparative studies and source criticism can tell us about the origins of the Judean Pentateuch-oriented religion.
My own school-day paperback copies of Homer’s epics are still marked throughout with notes I made of episodes that pulled me up with surprise because they call biblical narratives to mind. Such observations surely cry out for scholars to look more closely to see what to make of them and those kinds of observations are the justification for RG’s undertaking of his exploratory study.
But there has to be a limit on what one compares. Some scholars think “going Greek” is going too far when studying the Bible and want to limit comparisons to what is found in the immediate neighbours of the Hebrews. RG reminds readers of James Frazer’s twelve volumes of The Golden Bough that attempted to find meaningful comparisons among myths in cultures world-wide. Therefore RG restricts his comparison to cultures that were unquestionably in direct contact with one another. Once sources for comparison are identified, the comparison itself must be made with some rigour, since we can rightly expect critics to pounce on any sign of weakness here.
Next, the data is systematically compared for both common and divergent features within the historically proximate cultures. An analysis is performed as to whether the commonalities are sufficiently unique or distinctive as to demonstrate the transmission of intellectual traditions between the cultures being compared. In some cases, where there are two-way cultural interactions, establishing the direction of cultural influence may also require supporting evidence and argumentation. (Plato’s Timaeus, p. 4)
I am used to seeing scholars who write about comparisons between “pagan” literature and the gospels set out dot-point lists of criteria for determining the validity of parallels. RG doesn’t do that. I think his point about systematically assessing “whether the commonalities are sufficiently unique or distinctive” does the job quite adequately, thank you.
The researcher also needs to be able to explain how any argued transmission of ideas occurred.
Where dost thou come from?
Identifying sources behind a narrative is important if one wants to have a clear idea of what was in an author’s mind, of what he or she was trying to say and why. Identifying sources can also help us decide where to place the literature on a historical time-line. These questions are all addressed by RG in his discussion of his methods.
Earlier today I came across a classic example of how source criticism can be both fraught with danger and still necessary for a proper understanding of the meaning of an episode. In Exodus 32:32 Moses begs God to kill him instead of the entire nation of Israel. One scholar, Holzinger, interpreted this passage, in part, as Moses expressing a desire for martyrdom to save his people. Holzinger pointed out that such an idea was a late one in the history of Israel and was sourced from later prophets – hence proving that the narrative in Exodus was itself very late. H’s critic, Dornseiff, responded by saying that H had it backwards, that the Exodus narrative was very early so the idea of matyrdom for the salvation of the nation could not be what the author meant with the words of Moses.
We do one thing differently here
The present volume applies the disciplines of comparative studies and source criticism to the study of the Primordial History in a standard manner, as described previously. A departure from virtually all other scholarly studies of Genesis 1-11 down to the end of the twentieth century is made in one respect only, by taking into account Greek and Hellenistic literature and culture as well as that of the Ancient Near East. The novel conclusions drawn in the present study are primarily due to this broader comparative base. (p. 5)
That one difference is going to be difficult for some readers to accept simply because the hypothesis that the Pentateuch was composed gradually over centuries before the Hellenistic era has become so entrenched that it is widely treated as a “reified fact”.
“When everyone is agreed on something, it is probably wrong” (TLT)
If one is going to buck the “conventional wisdom” one had better demonstrate that one does indeed understand the grounds for that “conventional wisdom”. So RG sets out the history of how the prevailing view came about and at the same time exposes its flawed assumptions. I wrote a less detailed outline of some of the major points a few years back:
- Who wrote the Bible? Rise of the Documentary Hypothesis
- Did a Single Author Write Genesis – II Kings? (Demise of the Documentary Hypothesis?)
As RG explains, the two “solid” beams underpinning the Documentary Hypothesis and the pre-Hellenistic date for the Pentateuch have been the belief that
- King Josiah’s discovery of the “book of the law” (or Deuteronomy) per 2 Κings 22-23 (621 BCE)
- Ezra’s reading of the Law to the returnees from Babylon per Nehemiah 8-10 (ca 450 BCE)
have a historical basis.
Remarkably, all these schools of biblical criticism adopted the same chronological horizons for the development of the Pentateuch, a centuries-long process understood as having begun in Iron II Judah and Samaria and ending in the Persian Era. The origins and lasting popularity of the pre-Hellenistic paradigm can be traced to the extraordinary success of the Documentary Hypothesis at the end of the nineteenth century as well as the continued acceptance of the methods of historical criticism that sought to date Pentateuchal sources by means of chronological inferences drawn from later historiographical and prophetic texts. (that is, the texts of 2 Kings 22 and Nehemiah – quote from p.9)
Anyone who has studied the covenants between Israel and God in Exodus and Deuteronomy with the aid of commentaries will be aware of the purported parallels with Hittite and Assyrian vassal treaties. I suspect that most of us who have noted those similarities were also struck by some very stark differences but, being led by the commentaries, we quickly let those differences slide from view. Meanwhile, as RG has elaborated in Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, more obvious parallels with fewer differences are to be found in later Greek writings.
The main point to note is that the pre-Hellenistic dating of the Pentateuch ultimately rests on circular reasoning. There is no external, independent evidence to corroborate the claim that the stories of Josiah and Ezra are historical events.
By arbitrarily excluding consideration of Hellenistic Era comparative data that might demonstrate cultural and literary influences at a time later than hypothesized, these historical assumptions were reinforced in what amounted to an implicit circularity of reasoning on a fundamental level. (p. 13)
“The elephant in the room” (MPM)
What was the Judean religion like before Alexander’s conquests? How can we know?
Is there evidence for or against the existence of the “books of Moses” that early?
We do have archaeological evidence that casts serious doubt on the existence of the religion of the Pentateuch before the Hellenistic era. It’s the cache of documents found at a Jewish garrison in Elephantine, Egypt, from the fifth century BCE. These documents demonstrate close ties with their fellow Judeans in Jerusalem. They called themselves Judeans and worshiped Yahweh. But they also had their own local temple and their correspondence with the Jerusalem authorities makes it clear that the there was no problem having a temple in addition to the one on Mount Zion. The seventh day was recognized but it was a day of work and marketing. Passover was observed but only as an agricultural festival and apparently nothing more. And other gods were worshiped alongside Yahweh!
This trove of documents contains no direct or indirect indication of the existence of any biblical writings that discouraged any of the historical practices at Elephantine that scholars once discounted as heterodox. Rather, there is every indication that the practices of the military colony at Elephantine was representative of prosaic Yahwist religion throughout the Persian Era that knew nothing of the biblical writings hypothesized under the pre-Hellenistic research paradigm (Granerød 2016: 17, 204-6, 340; 2019). (pp. 13f)
That sort of evidence has to be a worry if we insist that the books of Ezra and Nehemiah are indicators of serious history.
It also opens up the question of when monotheism became the main feature of Judean religion. RG will present an interesting possibility to that question, too.
The Copenhagen school of biblical criticism started it all
Author: Niels Peter Lemche
Title: The Old Testament – A Hellenistic Book? (the link is to the article online) [I posted about this article in The Old Testament – A Hellenistic Book? (and other digressions)]
That above article, RG explains, “inaugurated the modern study of the Pentateuch as a Hellenistic Era composition . . . noting that external evidence for the biblical text in the form of preserved manuscript fragments or references in extra-biblical texts of known date appear only in the third century BCE and later.”
The major substantial contribution of the Copenhagen school of biblical criticism has been the deconstruction of historical criticism’s methodologically unsound approach to dating biblical texts, with its over reliance on an uncritical reading of the biblical historiographical narratives (Davies 1992; Thompson 1994, 1999; Lemche 1998, 2008). A major theme of the Copenhagen school is that historical facts regarding ancient Israel should be secured by demonstrably contemporary archaeological, inscriptional and epigraphical evidence rather than externally uncorroborated biblical accounts. (pp. 14f – the first four links are to the contents of the books online)
We have no biblical texts older than the Dead Sea Scrolls that are mostly dated to the second century BCE, Lemche stressed. Further, there is no reason to assume that the Hebrew originals were much older than their Greek translations.
Author: Russell Gmirkin
Title: Berossus and Genesis
Lemche’s deconstruction of the pre-Hellenistic paradigm for the Pentateuch opened the way for Russell Gmirkin’s book Berossus and Genesis in 2006 in which he sought to demonstrate a case for the biblical books being entirely composed in the Hellenistic era, around 270 BCE. See the Gmirkin: Berossus and Genesis archive for discussions about that book.
Author: Philippe Wajdenbaum
Title: Argonauts of the Desert
Philippe Wajdenbaum in Argonauts of the Desert produced a long series of entries that suggested the narratives in the Bible’s “Primary History” (Genesis to 2 Kings) were adaptations of Greek stories from Plato, Homer, Hesiod and others. Wajdenbaum led me to read afresh Plato’s Laws and I was taken aback at how many “echoes” there were of the Bible. Or rather I should say that the Bible echoes Plato. Again, Vridar discussions of W’s book are at the Wajdenbaum: Argonauts of the Desert archive.
Author: Russell Gmirkin
Title: Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible
RG, impressed by much of W’s evidence for a relationship between Plato’s Laws and the Bible, undertook to write . . .
. . . a broader, more systematic comparative approach was called for with respect to the Mosaic law collections, one that took into account the full range of Ancient Near Eastern and Greek legal traditions. . . .
Gmirkin 2017 . . . prominently utilized both broad comparative techniques, extensively analyzing both Greek and Ancient Near Eastern legal and literary traditions, and source criticism. The latter showed reliance on Plato’s Laws, both for legal content in the Pentateuch and for the impetus to create an authoritative national literature, the Hebrew Bible. (p. 19)
My posts on that book are all listed and linked at Plato and the Hebrew Bible (Gmirkin)
Author: Russell Gmirkin
Title: Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts
On the dedication page of that book we read:
To Thomas L. Thompson, a true original
Without whom this book would not have been possible
Thomas L. Thompson was a Copenhagen professor and a lead member of what we call the Copenhagen school. I have posted often on TLT’s works.
So we come to the new book by RG. Others (Niesiołowski-Spanò, Wajdenbaum: see links above) have shown the similarities between aspects of Plato’s Timaeus and the Hebrew Bible but RG’s work takes us deeper into systematic comparisons. Both Ancient Levantine-Mesopotamian creation myths and the Greek cosmogonies are taken into account. The questions I asked in my opening paragraphs (Where does it all come from? What are we to make of apparent double accounts of creation and variant names of God?) may be answered afresh if we are open to the possibility that the authors of Genesis 1-11 were familiar with Plato.
TLT = for the source of Thomas Thompson’s words, see the post Thompson’s Rule.
MPM = Matthew P. Monger. From the Preface to Dimensions of Yahwism in the Persian Period by Gard Granerød:
This book [is about] the Judaean community at Elephantine in the Achaemenid period. . . . I found myself emphasising the religio-historical aspects at the cost of the original biblical-theological interest. Therefore, the alternative title jokingly suggested by the PhD student Matthew P. Monger — The Elephant in the Room: Persian Period Yahwism and the Judaean Community at Elephantine — does indeed capture some important aspects of the present book.
Gmirkin, Russell E. Plato’s Timaeus and the Biblical Creation Accounts: Cosmic Monotheism and Terrestrial Polytheism in the Primordial History. Abingdon, Oxon New York, NY: Routledge, 2022.
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26 thoughts on “Biblical Creation Accounts and Plato – 1”
Plato and Kim Jong-Un walk into a bar: https://www.listennotes.com/podcasts/sott-radio-network/mindmatters-plato-and-kim-WvE18hYHnq9/
Something fishy going on here: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Laura_Knight-Jadczyk
I hope Gmirkin is not being taken advantage of like the elderly and ailing clinician Dr. Andrzej Łobaczewski was when he gave his manuscripts to these charlatans to translate into English and edit as they saw fit.
First, the original translation of Ponerology was completed in 1985 at the direction of Dr. Lobaczewski himself. If you’ve tried to read it, you’ll know it was not the greatest translation. As the editor of the latest edition, I can assure you that my translators and I did not simply translate as we “saw fit.” The new edition was checked word by word against the Polish by native Polish speakers.
Get your facts straight, Mark.
As for the interview, I’m also the interviewer in question. What, you didn’t enjoy our exciting and insightful conversation with Russell? I thought it was quite nice.
Which kook(s) edited the first edition?
High Strangeness: Hyperdimensions and the Process of Alien Abduction. Author, Laura Knight-Jadczyk. Contributors, Richard Dolan, Harrison Koehli.
Yes, LKJ was one of the editors of the first edition. And without her, the book would never have been published in the first place.
If UFOs aren’t up your alley, you may get something out of this one:
It’s ok to have diverse interests, and unpopular ideas. Or maybe it isn’t. Guess I missed that memo. But I’m glad you have it all figured out, though! Kudos.
Thanks for the link. You sold at least one book for her today.
An awful lot of weight has been given the Josephus’ dismissal of Homer-era Greeks as illiterate (Against Apion, book 1). Yet, having written a couple of novels, I find it literally incredible that The Odyssey at least was not written in some sense rather than composed orally as he claims. Regardless of that, the structure of the book is far ahead of anything in the Jewish scriptures in terms of complexity, characterisation, and plotting. If anything, the crudeness of the Pentateuch stories almost argues against Greek influence. Or, more likely, that the influence was from a sophisticated culture to a primitive one and that a great deal of subtlety was lost in translation.
Generally, Josephus’ claims of the Antiquity of the Jews casts an often unacknowledged shadow over the whole question of the origins of the OT. This has been aided and abetted somewhat by the early Christian church’s desire to sell their religion to the Romans as “Ancient Wisdom™”; ancient Romans being no more immune to such marketing as the modern day perusers of, say Avebury’s Henge Shop book section.
The Old Testament is old; say’s it right there in the name, innit? Must be true! That’ll be £14.99, thank you very much. Would you like a crystal with that?
My only complaint about RG’s thesis is he ignores or dismisses the influence of Egypt’s religion on the Torah. Gerald Massey, in the 2nd volume of “Egypt: Light of the World” details how “the Book of Going Forth by Day” influenced the Torah and the NT.
I have seen (along with other scholars) some Egyptian influence in select Psalms and some of Proverbs, as well in the ark construction. As for “The Book of Going Forth by Day” (the Egyptian Book of the Dead), I can see (along with other scholars) how the Egyptian resurrection motif (Osiris) has some affinities with the NT, probably via Egyptian syncretism and mystery religions in Hellenistic and Roman times, but I don’t see a strong case for Egyptian influence on Exodus. I believe Massey fancifully claims that the well-known image of Hathor as the sun rising over a sycamore tree (especially as pictured in an image in the Louvre) is the basis for the imagery of the eternally burning bush in Exodus, but the thorny bush [Heb. seneh] of Ex. 3 is neither a tree nor a sycamore [Heb. shiqmah], which is not found in the Sinai. I argue that God as a divine fire that does not consume what is burned in Exodus is taken directly from Stoicism (Gmirkin 2022: 122-23).
I appreciate your taking time to respond to my comment.
One of the major features of this site that many of us have appreciated over the years is the rigor with which Neil and Tim have pursued research into the topics discussed or the books reviewed. I am raising a concern regarding the tenor of comment on this recent contribution by Mr. Gmirkin. When I see the name of Laura Knight-Jadczyk appear who has promoted channeling as a source of knowledge (yes, she was used as a translator of an old Polish work – I am not questioning her skills in this area) or when the theosophist Gerald Massey is cited as one we need to consider for Egyptian sources (he was a promoter of theosophy and made many wild claims about Egypt and Jesus or Egypt and Herod, for example), then I feel we are departing from the methodology of rigor and rationality that Tim and Neil exemplify. Gmirkin has discussed in his Berossus and Manetho book the various influences that Egypt may have provided to the thought world and writing of the Pentateuch. Maybe Mr. Faubel hasn’t seen or read that work. Let’s hold the line…
In his latest book I wonder if Gmirkin mentions if Lizard people his writing buddy LKJ is so worried about while channeling 6th dimension beings on a Ouija board had a role to play in any creation myth.
Thank you for the delightful and succinct exposition on ad hominem.
I do find the lovely, personable Laura Knight-Jadczyk a true paradox, since her book on PaleoChristianity is a quite erudite, well-reasoned, and heavily footnoted contribution to Jesus Mythicism (a field with which I find myself in disagreement, but not dismissive toward). I found her translation of Lobaczewski’s book (including her introduction to the first English edition) a truly invaluable and hugely insightful contribution to the study of psychology applied to pathological mass movements, of which we currently see several.
Her other works are, shall we say, to understate matters, outside my area of interest.
However, may I remind you, my unread friend, that Sir Isaac Newton spent only a couple years inventing calculus and writing his great works on gravitation and on optical physics, while his main lifelong interests were those of alchemy, numerology and biblical chronology.
Or that Tyche Brahe, Johann Kepler and Galileo Galilei were both astronomers and professional astrologers.
Or that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the gifted author of the great Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, was also a devout spiritualist.
Not to mention the well-documented personal and intellectual eccentricities of Leonardo da Vinci, Edgar Allan Poe, Nikolai Tesla, Buckminster Fuller, Richard Feynman, and many others.
I myself have had occasional pleasant conversations on cosmology and quantum dynamics with genius prize-winning contemporary physicists who also incidentally believe in time travel, telepathy, and such-like. I try to dodge such subjects in favor of other topics within, shall we say, what the rest of us like to call reality.
My theory is that highly intelligent people often suffer from an irresistible intellectual over-excitability, what the psychologist Dabrowski called ‘nadpobudliwosc’ or ‘superstimulatability.’ This makes them highly susceptible to interesting ideas. And as we all know, when right brain creativity is not evenly balanced with left brain critical thinking (my preferred combination), the result is the type of theories Mark has become an expert on via Wikipedia. Mark, if you ever enter a real university library and find one of my books there, you might check out the bibliography for titles by Knight-Jadczyk. Let us know what you find.
Hey, what happened to the posting by Mark T that I was responding to? (Darn moderators doing their job, I suppose.)
Concerning “This traditional view holds that the Bible grew out of the literary matrix of Mesopotamia and Syria-Canaan. Possible Greek influence is not even considered.”
Greek possible influence maybe in Kohelet, Proverbs, and Daniel, for example, have long been considered.
In TaNaK, that is, rather than in Torah——-both evidently imo grew by long accretion.
Thanks for the correction, though someone in another place had alerted me to the error and I had fixed it before you posted your comment.
But do note that “this traditional view” was a clear reference to the Documentary Hypothesis and it was that that I was discussing — and Ecclesiastes, Proverbs and Daniel are not part of the DH.
The “traditionally view” of the Torah was based on assumptions by scholars who assumed they knew how the Scriptures were collected and produced. Turns out, almost all of those assumptions were wrong.
If, on the c.273-272 Torah creation hypothesis, Judaeans/Samaritans/Israelites had no national literature, what was there to “erase”?
And if, hypothetically, such was nonetheless erased (“clean slate”), what then was hypothetically incorporated in c. 273-272?
“Plato’s program of creating a mythic past in which the divine laws of the nation had been established in distant antiquity faced an obvious practical difficulty, namely the living memory of the new colonists. Plato fully recognized this problem and sought to overcome it by devising strategies to erase the nation’s memory of any other way of life, like erasing a tablet and starting with a clean slate. In order to erase the cultural memories of the past and replace them with new memories, the rulers would exercise complete control over the nation’s education, literature, public speech and cultural contacts with other nations…” (Gmirkin 2017 = Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, 255.)
According to RG’s thesis, Plato’s program was not copied slavishly in every detail by the authors of biblical books nor was every situation Plato described transferrable to another people. Even Plato allowed for variations. See the latest post for the sources verifying this fact: https://vridar.org/2022/10/03/why-genesis-1-3-is-different-from-other-myths-biblical-creation-accounts-platos-timaeus-3b/
A good critic of a thesis will begin by first demonstrating that he has a clear grasp of the idea he is criticizing and will present it in its strongest form possible: he will then apply his critique.
Distorted readings of the texts and misapplications of them only demonstrate that the critic is intellectually dishonest in his agenda.
What was erased was “the living memory of the new colonists… the nation’s memory… the cultural memories of the past.” This is clear from the passage, yes? Such memories typically take the form of oral rather than written tradition. Does that clarify matters?
Your second question is best answered by reading my book, especially the last chapter.
Oh, so not *exactly*?
Well, perhaps, NG, you forgot reading what Russell Gmirkin wrote on Biblical Criticism and History Forum on August 26, 2022:
“This is exactly what happened with the creation of the Hebrew Bible after 270 BCE.”
You have a distinctive ability to read the letter of selected words and miss their intent and context, taking the letter to use as a tool for your vicious agenda, Stephen. A charitable reader would note the apparent contradictory words that RG has written and seek to understand the context of each and the sense of what he was conveying each time.
There is no place for casuistry here. I have seen too much of your personal hostility and vendettas on display elsewhere to trust you here.
Yes, the replacement of earlier national memories based mostly on oral traditions was replaced by a new official national memory in the form of the Hebrew Bible in 270 BCE and thereafter. This took place exactly according to the literary agenda laws out in Plato’s Laws.
But note that a handful of written sources existed from earlier times: the royal annals of Judah and Israel, authentic prophetic oracles (Haggai) and some Persian Era official correspondence (Ezra) preserved in the temple. Possibly a few psalms and proverbs. Not a lot. I have also written about in various books and articles which you should track down and read. I don’t believe you have read Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible in which many of these issues were extensively discussed.
From Neils post:
“That dreaded fourteen letter word comes to mind: “parallelomania””.
The lecture that coined that term makes this valid point a number of times “Detailed study is the criterion, and the detailed study ought to respect the context and not be limited to juxtaposing mere excerpts.”
A main conclusion of Sandmel’s parallelomania lecture states:
“It seems to me that we are at a junction when biblical scholarship should recognize PARALLELOMANIA for the disease that it is.” (caps added)
Intentional or not, this created a label that can shut down fact based discussion which shows the true nature of historical texts foundational to western/global society.
Wikipedia deals with PARALLELOPHOBIA in conjunction with parallelomania.
Parallel “mental derangement characterized by excitement and delusion,” i.e. mania
Parallel “irrational fear, horror, or aversion; fear of an imaginary evil or undue fear of a real one,” i.e. phobia
Labels can shut down open respectful dialogue and destroy good learning environments, like here. Labels are often developed by orthodox positions to minimise discussion in areas they consider taboo. Labels are a powerful communication and learning limiting technique.
It seems there may be some sophisticated labelling trying to discredit a solid thesis which solidly indicate significant foundations of western civilisation were fabrications of a very powerful and ongoing nature.
Objectively factual knowledge is necessary to understand society. I think everyone needs to know Russell’s and similar info to truly understand past and present western society.
Sources (just add https:// to complete the links):
I mention Sandmel and parallelomania in passing on page 3 in my chapter on methodology. The modern antidote to parallelomania (which looks for parallels between different cultures separated in time and geography) is to insure that the cultures being compared are in the same historical stream, that is, in some sort of direct or mediated contact such that one could have influenced the other. There’s a lot of parallelomania that still goes on in conventional biblical studies, such as contacts between the biblical world and ancient Ugaritic royal correspondence or Hittite vassal treaties. Evidently when they add a dash of salt to the soup in Ras Shamra or Ismir, they can taste it in Jerusalem.
In my research, Jews and Greeks were demonstrably in the same historical stream during the Hellenistic Era, and contact between the Greek intellectual world and the Jews was in most cases mediated by the Great Library of Alexandria.