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Biblical archaeology is a sub-discipline of historic archaeology which focuses primarily on the geographic region of modern Israel, Jordon, and the Sinai—in other words, the lands generally described in the Christian Bible. Biblical archaeology is devoted to the discovery and investigation of the places and artifacts mentioned in the Bible and to the study of Biblical times and documents. Biblical archaeology is a part of Near Eastern archaeology.

There are some people who think that biblical archaeology focuses on proving the literal readings of the Bible: this is not true. While scientific archaeology (not the pseudoarchaeology promoted by some cable TV channels and popular books) demonstrated that many of the places, events, and people described in the Bible are, in fact, historical, at the same time, scientific archaeology has shown that there are many misconceptions, fallacies, and frauds in some of the Biblical stories.  In fact, archaeology raises more questions about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament than it provides answers.

One of the goals of early Biblical archaeology was to provide the historicity of the patriarchs and to locate them in a particular period in archaeological history. However, there is no direct archaeological proof that Abraham, for example, ever really existed. On the other hand, archaeology does provide some insights into the pastoral nomads and the migrations during the period about 1800 BCE. There is also no direct archaeological evidence of Moses nor any evidence of a mass exodus from Egypt.

Another area of controversy involves the archaeological evidence that Yahweh (the term that some early monotheists used to indicate their god) had a wife. In 1968 archaeologists found a Hebrew cemetery inscription from the eighth century BCE at the site of Khirbet el- Qôm. The inscription gives the name of the deceased, and it says “blessed may he be by Yahweh and his Asherah.” Asherah is the name of the old Canaanite Mother Goddess, the consort of El, the principal deity of the Canaanite pantheon. At the site of Kuntillet Ajrud in the Sinai, which dates to this same period, there are numerous “Yahweh and Asherah” inscriptions.

Since Egypt is mentioned in some biblical stories, some people feel that there should be archaeological evidence in Egypt to support the veracity of the Bible. Egyptologists, however, find very little evidence that the biblical stories actually happened. The Exodus account, for example, appears to be a mishmash of stories that probably originated in the expulsion of the Hyksos (the Asiatic kings who ruled Lower Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period). Many archaeologists have concluded that the Exodus story was simply a convenient use of folk tales to allow the Israelites to define themselves as a distinct nation. The story is mythical rather than historical. Egyptologist Ian Shaw, in his book Ancient Egypt: A Very Short Introduction, reports:

“It is an irony of biblical archaeology that the more we investigate the texts and archaeological remains that link Egypt with the Bible, the less substantial and less convincing these kinds of connections appear to be.”
The goal of archaeology is not only to seek to understand the past and the changes which human societies have undergone, but to correct misconceptions about the past. While the Bible, like oral traditions in other regions, can provide some broad guidelines for research, the stories from the oral traditions are often very different from those told by the material remains. It should be kept in mind that the Bible was written by an elite group to further their purposes, and that today’s archaeology focuses on the lives of ordinary people.  

Originally posted to Street Prophets on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 08:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (147+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    state of confusion, Jay C, Aunt Pat, ruleoflaw, Youffraita, MT Spaces, trumpeter, SchuyH, midnight lurker, annetteboardman, FloridaSNMOM, AuntieRa, slksfca, SneakySnu, Ree Zen, concernedamerican, Fishtroller01, Mary Mike, OldSoldier99, J M F, ER Doc, Alexandra Lynch, marykk, IreGyre, Kimbeaux, 3goldens, pragmaticidealist, Gowrie Gal, Navy Vet Terp, DeminNewJ, cotterperson, Joy of Fishes, Its a New Day, FG, lcrp, rebel ga, arizonablue, doingbusinessas, ninkasi23, bythesea, Ducktape, belinda ridgewood, Byron from Denver, GAS, prettygirlxoxoxo, madmsf, wildweasels, ancblu, eyesoars, Themistoclea, kathny, Onomastic, roses, jakedog42, Egg, Orinoco, Amber6541, Grubdnikk, radmul, irishwitch, Polly Syllabic, Brooke In Seattle, Vatexia, walkshills, US Blues, anodnhajo, dp, DJ Rix, aaraujo, paytheline, suesue, Steven D, Munchkn, Cameron Hoppe, Alexandre, CA ridebalanced, sebastianguy99, glorificus, Wolf10, eru, OleHippieChick, stevenwag, NYFM, simaramis, sydneyluv, a gilas girl, enhydra lutris, SoCaliana, rat racer, AnnieR, Keone Michaels, kevinpdx, greycat, ExStr8, myboo, Steveningen, yellow cosmic seed, LanceBoyle, Vico, radarlady, Cronesense, millwood, Just Saying, letsgetreal, howabout, Mighty Ike, gchaucer2, ricklewsive, poe, Hirodog, JekyllnHyde, BYw, Yosef 52, ontario, mamamedusa, weck, Portlaw, blueoasis, kerflooey, Notreadytobenice, Flyswatterbanjo, david78209, crose, devis1, 207wickedgood, sensetolisten, Chi, Rolandz, DWG, EJP in Maine, KenBee, renzo capetti, Alfred E Newman, marleycat, golem, yella dawg, FrY10cK, elginblt, BobboSphere, jbob, MA Liberal, marina, Powered Grace, IL clb, Bob Duck, cybersaur, MadEye
  •  But I saw Moses part the Red Sea on the History Ch (42+ / 0-)

    So it has to be true, right?
    I mean, its not for nothin they call it THE HISTORY CHANNEL.

    SPOILER ALERT - Chuck Heston did it better.
    Oh yeah, and Jesus looked like Brad Pitt with a beard.

    •  And Satan looked like, well, you know.... (23+ / 0-)

      "The President is trying to make it tough on members of Congress. It's just sick." -- John Boehner (R-WATB)

      by OldSoldier99 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:57:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As well as no evidence of a great exodus of slaves (33+ / 0-)

      IIRC, there is no evidence, textual or otherwise, in the Egyptian records of an Egyptian army, with or without the Pharaoh, being destroyed while in pursuit of a large group of escaping slaves, and you might think they would have noticed that...
           I would also expect someone might have noticed the plagues. The death of every first-born Egyptian child was probably worth writing down.

      -7.25, -6.26

      We are men of action; lies do not become us.

      by ER Doc on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:11:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Egyptian Pharaoh's wouldn't (13+ / 0-)

        advertise getting their butts kicked by Hebrew slaves who claimed a different God too.

        Text was special back then. Used for glorifying the Pharaoh.

        snark-didn't you see the movie "The Ten Commandments"?

        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:03:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  true, but NOBODY talked about the Hebrews (18+ / 0-)

          There's little archaeological or historical evidence of any kind for the biblical Kingdom of Israel, especially considering how rich and powerful the Bible says it was under David and Solomon.  Even if pharaohs didn't celebrate defeats, the record is equally empty of victories.  And it's not just the Egyptians who are silent on dealings with ancient Israel; we have piles of clay tablets written by the Babylonians and the Assyrians, not all of which are fulsome praise of some king or another, and none of which even tangentially mention Israel.

          Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom also ruled the Levant (including what is now Israel) from the 16th to the 11th Centuries BC: i.e. during the entire period that the Old Testament is supposed to have taken place.  Any ancient Jewish state would have to have formed either afterward as Egypt declined and lost control of that region, or hundreds of years before when the world had not yet been created!

          The stuff actually dug out of the ground between the Jordan and the Mediterranean suggests that the Jews started out as indigenous Canaanites who gradually developed distinct beliefs and practices.  

          •  Further... (8+ / 0-)

            Any significant Hebrew kingdom--David is historically attested outside of the Bible, as is Ahab, but importantly, Solomon is not--any significant Hebrew kingdom would have existed in the duration between the Levant's domination by  the Egyptians and the Babylonians.  During the interregnum between foreign overlords, so to speak.

          •  First Egyptian mention of Israel found so far (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rktect, samddobermann

            is the Merneptah Stele (wiki):

            Israel is laid waste and his seed is not

            3,200 years ago.

            •  That isn't a reference to Israel (3+ / 0-)

              Wikipedia is wrong.  From your link

              The stele was discovered in 1896 by Flinders Petrie in the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Petrie called upon Wilhelm Spiegelberg, a German philologist in his archaeological team, to translate the inscription. Spiegelberg was puzzled by one symbol towards the end, that of a people or tribe whom Merneptah (also written Merenptah) had victoriously smitten--"" Petrie quickly suggested that it read: "Israel!" Spiegelberg agreed that this translation must be correct. "Won't the reverends be pleased?" remarked Petrie. At dinner that evening, Petrie who realized the importance of the find said: "This stele will be better known in the world than anything else I have found." The news of its discovery made headlines when it reached the English papers.[1]
              This is from John Roemer.

              "Six years after his work at Tell el-Hesi, Flinders Petrie was digging at Thebes, sifting his way through ton upon ton of sharp stone fragments, the pitiful debris of royal temples. It was, he recalled later, disastrously dull labour, and he was tempted to leave it. Then,
              all at once, objects that had been buried for millenia among the rubble started to turn up. A fine portrait sculpture of the king who had built one of the temples was found, the first ever discovered of the Pharaoh Merneptah, that son of Ramesses II who in those days was widely believed to have been the 'Pharaoh of the Exodus'. Then his men came across a huge rectangular granite block lying face down in the rubble, a great grey stela covered in small lines of hieroglyphic (see
              Plate 3). The block was massive and Petrie did not have the equipment to move it; but what a fascination! A huge new monument, well preserved and covered in history. Petrie had his men clear some of the
              rubble out from under the stone so that, as he says, 'one could crawl in and lie on one's back, reading a few inches from one's nose'.

              Then he asked a visiting scholar, who specialized in inscriptions, to examine the lengthy text. 'There are the names of various Syrian towns', he reported after a miserable afternoon on his back in Petrie's trench, 'and one which I do not know, Isirir'. 'Why,' said Petrie, 'That is Israel'. 'So it is,' his friend replied, 'and won't
              the reverends be pleased'.  "

              [Note the difference in spelling, and even that is not quite right;
              its wnn-y s:y:r i*A not Isirir or ...

              The Stele actually talks about campaigns in northern Egypt against Libyan tribes and the last passage which supposedly refers to Syrian towns is simply very poorly translated with the y ending a word from the previous clause.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:16:55 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Actually there IS one stella (iirc) (0+ / 0-)

            that mentions the victory over the Israelites.

            True that "the Jews started out as indigenous Canaanites who gradually developed distinct beliefs and practices."

            I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

            by samddobermann on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 01:36:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Suppose they weren't Hebrews (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The Sons of Israel didn't become Hebrew or Jewish for centuries after the Exodus but rather lived among the people of Canaan intermarrying and worshiping their gods.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:34:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe (9+ / 0-)

        On the other hand, Alta California was invaded by massive army/colonizing forces from Mexico consisting of 60 people, 40 people, 120 people.

        Perhaps from the Egyptian point of view, a couple hundred escaping slaves was not a matter of national importance, nor would the turning back of the local constabulary when the Hebrews ran into a swamp to get away from their chariot mounted persuers.

        "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

        by Orinoco on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:58:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Someone Would Have Noticed. (8+ / 0-)
          37 Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock.

          – Exodus 12:37-38

          So 600,000 men.  Say another 600,000 women and as many children, and you have nearly 2 million people marching out of Egypt with enough livestock to support them.

          I'm thinking someone would have noticed.


          •  Numbers weren't always literal (8+ / 0-)

            Biblical Hebrew does not have numerals; letters were used instead.  And numbers were sometimes poetical -- literalism is not the Jewish tradition, but something that grew out of control in 19th century christianity in a sort of reaction to industrialization.  The Hebrew Bible (Tanach) is largely poetry and should be read as such.

            The number "forty" is thus an expression for "many", as in "twice the number of fingers and toes".  So 600,000 may have been a literary device too.

            The History Channel and Universal Studios version also mistranslates "yam suf" as Red Sea.  The crossing was in the Sea of Reeds, a swamp.  You can imagine how some people got through on foot and an army with horses might have gotten stuck in the muck, especially once the tide rolled in.  Low tide is a "parting" in contrast.

            There has been a push among some supporters of the Palestinian cause to deny the very existence of the Jewish people, claiming that we're all descendants of the Khazars or something.  Israeli settlers make similarly preposterous claims that the Palestinians are foreigners.  A more likely explanation (backed by genetics) is that there were the two Kingdoms, Judea and Israel, and Israel (the northern kingdom) was conquered by Assyria.  Thus, its tribes were "lost".  But the actual people largely remained behind, subjugated and later intermarried with Assyrians.  They became the Samaritans, of whom about 360 still exist as such with their own religion.  But most of them eventually adopted Christianity or especially Islam, and are now called Palestinians and live on the West Bank.  So the Israelis are oppressing the descendants of conquered Jewish tribes.

            •  It's been suggested that "thousands" should be (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, Orinoco, samddobermann

              translated as "platoons" or some term for a military group.  This is supported by the sentence construction, which usually goes, "The tribe of --- had [so many] thousands/platoons and [some number in the hundreds] of people.  

              I like to think the text of Exodus wasn't complete fiction pulled out of thin air.  I could believe Moses was an Egyptian priest or prince who accepted the monotheistic religion that Pharaoh Akhenaten tried to impose on Egypt.  
               Moses may have fled Egypt when followers of the traditional polytheistic religion prevailed, rather than after he killed a taskmaster as it says in the Bible.  Later, he may have converted to monotheism a group of slaves, or perhaps when he became their leader they already had a similar monotheistic belief system.  

              Most of the plagues are consistent with some ecological disaster, perhaps beginning with the Nile turning red not from blood but from some freshwater version of red tide algae.  Maybe from his time in the desert Moses picked up some contacts who could give him early warning of some of those plagues.  A time of several ecological disasters would be a good opportunity to lead a group of slaves into escape, and the desert would be a good place to stay for a few years until the plagues had played out.  

              Even the subsequent narrative in the Bible, in which the Children of Israel enter Canaan could have to do with the aftermath of infectious disease plagues.  After conquering some of the native tribes, leaders such as Saul are punished for failing to follow divine instructions to kill all the people and even the livestock.  Perhaps some priest recognized signs of an infection among the conquered group, and recommended genocide as a way to protect the victors from the disease.  If Saul didn't follow that recommendation, the resultant epidemic and epizootic  could easily be seen as divine retribution.

              We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

              by david78209 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 08:22:19 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  boy, I hope nothing too important is riding on the (6+ / 0-)

              literal truth of the Exodus story.  Forget about the Red Sea parting, or the fleeing Israelites being 2 million strong.   The evidence now is that

              --the Egyptians did not use slave labor at all in building the pyramids etc
              --the story of Moses itself has clear antecedents in older myths of the mideast
              --most importantly, the people of 'Israel' was in no sense differentiated yet from the Canaanites during the period (1600-1300) of the supposed Egyptian captivity.

              There's a ton of other stuff in the thread along these lines, which I won't rehash but just point you to.   Though the Palestine-descent-from-Israel idea is interesting and I'm not sure that's been mentioned.

              •  The pyramids are much older (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, Cassandra Waites, Orinoco

                Somehow people conflate the biblical era with the pyramid era, and assume that the Hebrew slaves were the ones who built the pyramids.  That's not in the Tanach and it's not in Jewish tradition.  The pyramids go back a lot farther in time.

                There are certainly parallels in the Moses story to other older stories.  That doesn't mean that there is nothing behind them, or that Jews are really the Venezuelan actors hired to push out the Palestinians.  There is reason to suggest that the little-known Hyksos who are said to have conquered Egypt at one time were really the Hebrews, and that when the Pharonic Egyptians (I'm not sure of the right ethnic term; they're probably the ancestors of the Copts) took back control a couple hundred years later, the Hebrews/Hyksos found themselves in deep doodoo.  Jewish religion did not yet exist (since it is based on the Laws of Moses), but early Hebrew monotheism did.

                There were a lot of tribes circulating around the Fertile Crescent in those days.  National boundaries in the modern sense didn't exist.  So "Hebrew", "Canaanite", and other neighboring peoples, especially pastoralists, had overlapping lands, and resorted to national/tribal traditions to maintain their identity and culture.  So the ancestors of today's Jews almost certainly did live in the CisJordan area, but so did others.  The extremist settler view ("ours alone") is wrong, but so is the extremist anti-Jewish view.

                •  They also used solid stone NOT brick (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  for the entire construction of the pyramids.

                  There is no way slave labor that included producing bricks with or without straw could have been involved in the actual construction of the pyramids proper. The construction of the living areas near the building sites would have been a different story, but still not something anyone would have necessarily wanted to use slave labor for.

                  Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

                  by Cassandra Waites on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 08:23:54 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  And the fish I caught (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, ER Doc, samddobermann

            was thiiiiiiiiiiiiiii..................iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis big!

            Some stories grow with the telling, and that one was probably told a lot before it was ever committed to writing. Say 60 men, and 60 women, and another 60 children, along with a couple herds of goats and some flocks of sheep.

            Really, the Spanish became the dominant culture in Alta California, a place roughly the same size as the fertile crescent in the middle east, on the strength of several hundreds of colonists, soldiers and priests. One of the largest early expeditions, which founded three missions, iirc, had a total of 120 men, women and children, and 40 mules. Around 24 of them were soldiers, there were a couple officers, four or five priests, some mule skinners, farmers and craftsmen and their wives. But the priests and officers kept written records and sent written reports back to their headquarters, so the numbers are known.  

            If two million people had marched out of Egypt and wandered around the Sinai Desert for forty years, we'd still be finding the skeletons, manna or no manna.

            "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

            by Orinoco on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:26:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  The word elim means clan as well as thousand (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, Orinoco, samddobermann

            six hundred clans being somewhat different from six hundred thousand.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:18:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting. (0+ / 0-)

              Since this was a great escape, rather than a migration, I wonder how many of those clans might have been represented by only one or two people?

              There was a tradition of obtaining slaves both through warfare, kidnapping and the like, also through selling community members in hard times. I imagine anyone enslaved by either of those methods would try to retain the memory of their clan affiliation, and pass that affiliation down to any children they might have while enslaved.

              Sensible slave overseers would undoubtedly try to break up large clan groups, as they discovered them, by moving people around to different construction sites, farms, mines, even different parts of the country. This would reduce the possibility of slaves organizing themselves along clan lines and creating problems for the overseer. I'd guess most work sites had many clans represented by few individuals.

              Once escaped, though, they would try to organize themselves along clan lines, and were probably surprised to find so many clans represented among so few people.

              "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

              by Orinoco on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:02:31 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Go to numbers 1 (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                And the children of Reuben, Israel's eldest son, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, by their polls, every male from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war;

                Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand clans and five hundred.

                46 clans = 500 men so roughly ten men to a clan in the tribe of Reuben; probably a thousand people in the tribe

                For the total of all the fighting men

                These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred thousand clans and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.
                600 clans, totaling three thousand five hundred and fifty men

                six fighting men to a clan on average; I'm guessing the ages ranged from twenty to forty ie; 20, 24, 28, 32, 36, 40. Some tribes may have had more or less.

                Maybe two thirds of the Exodus was formed of the tribes of Israel and there were others who accompanied them

                Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:08:49 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't think they added those numbers correctly (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  If you look at the numbers for each individual tribe, you get a total army of 5,500.

                  I'm guessing a 'clan' might be an extended family: a patriarch and all direct descendants. So a 60 year old man might have 5 or 6 sons under the age of 40, and maybe 3 or 4 grandsons of military age. So figuring 10 fighting men per clan makes sense.

                  So, 5,500 military age men, 5,500 wives of those men, 600 clan patriarchs, 600 clan matriarchs gives us 12,500 adult Israelites, probably an equal number of children (under military age, so infants to 19 years old) plus an equal number of non-Israelites along for the ride... 37,500 people.

                  Seems a reasonable number for a migration out of Egypt, but still a bit high for a bunch of escaped slaves running from the bounty hunters.

                  Since the census was taken twenty six months after the great escape, I'm thinking we may have a 'Cain's wife' situation here: the escapees went back to their old stomping ground in the Sinai, and spent a couple years rounding up members of the clans who had not been in Egypt.

                  "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

                  by Orinoco on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:44:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The sons of Israel went to Mount Horab (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    They arrived there after leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea from Elim to Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba.

                    The story is clear that these people however oppressed they felt by their new overseers weren't slaves but rather professional people, skilled craftsmen, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, priests, scribes and competent administrators wearing silk and scarlet leather and loaded down with many talents of gold and silver.

                    Most were probably men, few of them children or old, their women and families similar to those who accompanied the western migrations that settled the new World with those who were too young or too old, too sick or disabled staying home.

                    In general they would have been adventurers who joined in the migration to exploit the copper boom going on in the mountains surrounding the wadi Arabah which heads north from Elat up towards the Dead Sea.

                    Like the miners that traveled west to the gold strikes in California and Alaska carried with them everything they owned and when they arrived at Elim they bought boats to cross in when they crossed deserts they had carts and wagons drawn by horses and mules.

                    The crossing would have involved vessels the size of those Hatshepset sailed to Punt and possibly even parts of her fleet, trading vessels with multiple decks and large holds making one week round trips with perhaps six clans per vessel per trip. The hundred trips took two months so lets allow one vessel per tribe.

                    Once in Elat at Mount Horab on whose slopes Moses used to tend the flocks of Jethro Midian there is a reunion with the descendants of the people from whose homes these Egyptians left more than four centuries earlier.

                    Its reasonable that as the Exodus continued with the Sons of Israel and those who had joined them walking the metes and bounds of Edom they met a lot more people with associations to their tribes and some of those who had left Egypt settled among them while others who had been living in Edom joined the migration.

                    Over a period of forty years the population in transit may have dwindled or grown but its not likely that
                    a desert could support any large scale movement except between wells.

                    Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                    by rktect on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:39:55 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Herod's massacre (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ER Doc, Ojibwa

        of the innocents would have been pretty noticeable as well. And the census. And a guy who rode into town astride a totemic animal along a pathway strewn with palm fronds. And the unheard of meeting of the Sanhedrin on the Sabbath. All of that stuff would have been pretty newsworthy, right? Right?

      •  The Sons of Israel were not slaves (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        but according to the story they might well have been the Hyksos who once held power but no longer had any clout under a new Pharoah who didn't know Joseph.

        According to the Biblical Account they included a lot of professional people, competent administrators, skilled artisans, thieves, priests, people with the ability to conduct a census, doctors, lawyers, diplomats, military men, cattlemen with herds, goldsmiths, and people dressed in silk and scarlet leather carrying many talents of gold and silver, so probably not slaves, but perhaps people disgruntled by their change of circumstance.

        There is pretty good evidence in the list of the stations of the Exodus that they left from the tombs of Karnak taking with them the bones of Joseph from Succoth, the dark place. This occurred when Thebes was the capital of Egypt so they went to Thebes port in what was known in Greek times as the chain of Aphrodite. The first seven stations are in Egypt between Succoth and Elim from where they sailed to Elat following a common well documented trade route for that period.

        Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

        by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:31:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There are several questions I have (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, rktect

          there are no tombs at Karnak, and what port are you talking about with the "thebes port"?  One on the Red Sea?  Thebes had nothing itself other than a river landing.  What is the Chain of Aphrodite?  I admit I do not know Greek Egypt as well as later and earlier periods but I am unfamiliar with the designation.

          •  I see below that you refer to the tombs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            of Karnak as being on the West Bank.  Why are these called tombs of Karnak?  I have never heard that designation.
            Our disciplinary backgrounds are obviously extremely different!  It may be that this is what is leading to my confusion.

          •  Great Questions (0+ / 0-)

            In most of Egypt the Egyptians who were not among the nobility were often illiterate working people agricultural workers, laborers, miners, sailors, or serfs

            Before 1500 BC in the intermediate periods the foreign kings or Hyksos had been powerful in Egypt at places like Sais and Avaris  because they established and  controlled what the Greeks called emporia, the ports and points of entry that controlled international trade.

            Generally small villages along the Nile were not well enough organized  to resist the domination of the sea peoples Libyans and other proto Greek foreign adventurers.

            Not only along the Mediterranea Sea where there was trade with Canaan, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and points beyond through intermediaries but also along the Chain of Aphrodite, the string of oasis bordering the Red Sea there was trade with Thebes furnishing supplies to the mortuary trade in Karnak which had tombs, temples and mortuaries galore.

            The Chain of Aphrodite running south from the tip of the Sinai included Myos Hormos, Bernice, Ptolomais, Adulis, Avalities, Malao or  Marsa Alam, Mudus and Mdsylium

            Thebes was linked to several ports but in terms of the Exodus specifically Ptolomais or as it was known then Pi ha Harorth, the mouth of Hathor reached by the wadi Hadramat and located opposite Baal Zephon so that the temple of the god of the west wind was across from that of his consort Asherah or Hathor.

            The oasis were full of sacred groves of tall straight palm trees suitable for use as masts known as teraphim.

            During the disruptions in the 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th dynasties hordes of Libyans and other foreign bandits expenaded their interests in Egypt raided the villages of the delta set themselves and their crews up as barons and lived like kings

            In the urban emporia the Hyksos trading houses furnished professional classes, foreign workers, scribes and skilled administrators, the priests, skilled craftsmen, merchants, lawyers, investment bankers, diplomats and mercenary troops.

            In the 17th Dynasty the Hyksos were defeated and driven out of the delta. In the 18th Dynasty Thebes continued as  the capital of Egypt based on its monopoly of the mummification industry at Karnak which was located across the Nile.

            Recent excavations have pushed the history of Karnak back to around 3200 BC (4), when there was a small settlement on the bank of the Nile where Karnak now stands.

            Two brick-built mastaba tombs dating from the 3rd or 4th dynasty have been found in the Theban area, and a small group of tombs have been found dating from the 5th and 6th Dynasties in the area of the necropolis known as el-Khokha. In addition, no buildings survive in Thebes older than the portions of the Karnak temple complex, which date from the Middle Kingdom, although the lower part of a statue of King Niuserre of the 5th Dynasty has been found in Karnak.(2)

            The 18th dynasty mortuary temples at Karnak are famous, richly decorated and full of tales of Egypts campaigns against the Hyksos and other foreign invaders.

            Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

            by rktect on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 08:18:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  You're right! (7+ / 0-)

      The film version is the definitive version of the Moses tale.  The writers did great, incorporating the story from Exodus, mentions by the later prophets, Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, elements of some of the tales from the Qur'an....I think it's too bad they left out some of the more apocryphal stuff and Joseph Smith's Book of Moses.

      This is how you do it right--suck in the entire mythos of a character, fold it all into the story!  I even have people tell me the "Biblical" tale of Moses being a Great General in Egypt.  Of course, there's no mention of that in the Bible.  Who cares?  The point was to take a character who was the subject of myriad myths and legends and bring them into one.  In so doing, unite a people.  So why not play along?  The Ten Commandments is as much a part of the American Mythos as George Washington's Cherry Tree!

      I appreciate your low standards ;)

      by Cameron Hoppe on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 01:53:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  At Some Point You Have to Choose. (6+ / 0-)

        Generally speaking, the more research you do, the more likely it is that you'll find mutually incompatible accounts.  In the realm of creative writing, even how an artist reconciles two differing versions of a story involves some selection and rejection of each.  Case in point: if you wanted to write a story about Jesus, there's not much reconciling the account of the the Koran (son of Mary and an angel) with that of the Bible (one-and-only anointed offspring of God).

        Specifically with reference to Moses, there are some interesting theories out there, notably the (to be fair, somewhat discredited) offering of Sigmund Freud.  I don't recall all the ins and outs of Freud's argument, but his starting point was that the story of Moses is an inversion of the standard myth. Normally (think Oedipus), the dangerous offspring of royalty is left in the wilderness, nursed by someone lowly, and returns to royalty later. In Moses' case, the son of a lowly Hebrew was exposed, and found by the daughter of the ruling monarch.

        Obviously, part of this story involves the concept that the Pharaoh is far below God, and God's chose, in dignity. But Freud argued that the ancient Hebrews deliberately flipped the older myth to suit their identity.  (His thesis was immediately and savagely attacked, and remains outside the mainstream to this day.)

        •  I don't know, (5+ / 0-)

          Freud's theory makes a lot of sense. Who ever the Hebrews were, it is clear that they were underdogs, and the Bible was clearly not written by the victors for once.

          •  Oh, Spot On There! (10+ / 0-)

            That is one of the really important feature of biblical/Hebrew/Jewish culture that you've touched on.  (For the record, "Jewish" refers to post-Babylonian exile worshippers of Jahweh. Hebrews before the exile, Jews after.  And the Jews who returned from Babylon were at odds with the Hebrews who hadn't been whisked away, for ever after. (Traces of this are preserved in stories like where the Jew Jesus alludes to the debased status of local Hebrews in speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.)

            Anyhow, the Jews continued to extol their God even after that God was worsted in battle.  And so the supremacy of a god over such historical accidents as defeat and national subjection became one of the most important traits of religion as we know it today.  It's several steps beyond even the "you-sinned-so-the-Philistines-are-gonna-whup-your-ass" morality of the period of Judges.  Babylon and the Assyrians and later Alexander and then the Romans exercised total, unquestioned historical supremacy over the Jewish people, and they worshipped their God even more fervently as a result.  It might be fair to call that one of the major innovations in worship in human history.

        •  The more research you do (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Cassandra Waites

          the better the facts stand out from the fictions.

          According to what the story says the Exodus takes place during Egypt's 18th Dynasty when Thebes was the capital of Egypt,

          Moses (meaning guard or observe the birth) is an 18th dynasty Egyptian name similar to Kamose, Ahmose, or Thutmoses.

          Moses is born in a time of war when a new pharoah who knew not Joseph has come to power, 80 years before the Exodus which places the story at the time of the expulsion of the Hyksos

          Joseph was buried in Sukkoth meaning the dark places or tombs of Karnak across the river from Thebes and thats where the journey starts from.

          There is no connection to the cities Rameses or Pithom which turned out to be bricks from an ancient canal.

          The crossing of the Red Sea is by boat with the description of voyaging in a boat as a parting of the sea and a walking dryshod between walls of water documented as an idiom in Sumerian texts.

          Hatshepset's 18th dynasty fleet built to transport mortuary goods across the Red Sea from Elat to Elim and up the wadi Hadramat or Ham ma ma'at to Karnak in return for Nubian gold is the way most people would have chosen to cross the Red Sea in that period
          and for centuries earlier.

          The route goes from Succoth through Egypt to Elim in seven stations passing through the chain of Aphrodite.

          When the Red Sea is crossed all the action takes place in and around Elat for another 10 stations at Mount Horab a place where Moses tended the flocks of Jethro of Midian and is reunited with him

          Once you get that far you find that stripped of the religious gloss the whole Penteteuch begins to make sense, especially where it agrees with the Egyptian campaign literature in discussing the wars with Kadesh and Hatshepsets hatred of the Hyksos.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 04:38:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Moses simply means "born of" (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, rktect, Cassandra Waites

            So Tuthmoses means Born of Thoth, and Rameses means Born of Ra.  

            And the 18th dynasty is earlier than most I have heard   suggest (including Kitchen, who does believe in a somewhat literal exodus).  Per-Ramses has been identified as Qantir.  

            •  There is a bit more to it than that (0+ / 0-)

              There are no vowels in Egyptian so essentially you have two hieroglyphics M (a preposition with the sense of from or as an idiom to come forth from) and ses (which means to guard). The general sense of midwife is present.

              Kamose last ruler of the 17th Dynasty defeated the Hyksos and by bringing an end to the Hyksos brought forth the rebirth of Egyptian culture that became the 18th Dynasty

              Ahmose (who may have been Kamose with a new name)  is generally considered to have brought the 18th dynasty into existence

              Thutmosis was a great statesman who brought forth the state of Egypt from the djadi (the watershed of the Jordan) into upper retnu (the watershed of the Orontes).

              Moses brought forth a new religion which worshipped the written law as symbolized by the ten commandments.

              Ken Kitchen despite being totally wrong about just about everything developed the concept of datable textual artifacts. Its pretty clear that despite the lack of evidence for an Exodus from Egypt's delta in the 19th or 20th dynasties, there is a lot of evidence for a literal Exodus across the Red Sea which has been emerging since Glueck and "Rivers in the Desert" was written in the 40's.

              The first seven stations are in Egypt Between Karnack and Thebes port of Elim (modern Quaseir)

              Next comes the crossing of the Red Sea and  ten stations in and around Mount Horab located at Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba.


              Following that the metes and bounds of Edom are walked heading up from Elat to the brook of Egypt, then following the kings highway east to Moab and Petra, then following the wadi Arabah south back to Elat.

              In the Negev there are the the remains of the campsites, Egyptian faience and other Egyptian artifacts related to the worship of Hathor.

              Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

              by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:58:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  actually the general writing is (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, rktect

                ms (a single biliteral sign) and s, rather than the other way around.  

                •  Gardiner p 570 (0+ / 0-)

                  ms is a biliteral but by itself is just phonetic dependent on its prefix or suffix for meaning.

                  ms i (F31, B3) Bear, give birth
                  p 607 birth, ms w t; give; ms det B3 bear give birth
                  p614 ms d det man, hate

                  where it refers to personal names its different.

                  As used in cartouches such as that of Ahmose or Ramesses
                  it refers to the birth of the moon or sun respectively and
                  has the sense of an astronomical observation or omen,
                  where the king has guarded or observed the occurance of an astronomical event such as a solstice. In the case of Ahmose the observation of a star might begin a new regnal year and dynasty.

                  Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                  by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:28:04 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  He used Hatshepsets fleet to cross (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, samddobermann

      The crossing of the Red Sea was part of a major trade route bringing frankincense and myhr to Karnak's mortuaries for the mummification industry across the Nile from Thebes during the 18th dynasty when Thebes was the capitol of Egypt.

      With those items, in return for Nubia gold came bitumen, and natron from the dead sea, linen and papyrus from Byblos and Tyre, Juniper berries or Ben Jamin from Kadesh and Hazor, and cedar from Lebanon.

      Hatshepset built a fleet to go to Punt to get these items directly and shorten the route through Midian and the mountains bordering the Red Sea in what is now Saudi Arabia to Elat at the Head of the Gulf of Aqaba from where they shipped to Thebes port Elim, modern Quasir which was reached by the wadi Ham ma Ma'at, the straight road to Ham. Punt would have been located in modern Yemen where the Bab l Mandab straight separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden.

      After leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea by ship just like everybody else, the sons of Israel hung out around the mountain of god located at Elat and then walked the metes and bounds of Edom heading up to the brook of Egypt, back along the kings highway to the border of Moab and Midian and then back down the Arabah to Elat visiting Petra and other border cities as they went.

      Before Hatshepset, in the 12th Dynasty the sea trade is reference in "The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor"

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 03:15:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The book the Hebrew Goddess is a gem of a book (19+ / 0-)

    "We need a revolution away from the plutocracy that runs Government."

    by hangingchad on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:00:09 AM PDT

  •  Request: (12+ / 0-)

    Jericho  -- a mutual friend had his students peel-down the archeology of that particular place in a Biblical Studies class.

    Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

    by MT Spaces on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:23:38 AM PDT

  •  I have an issue with the designation itself (39+ / 0-)

    Archaeology is archaeology.  But by terming it "Biblical" "you" (not you, Ojibwa, but the generic "you") present a certain mindset, which confuses the people looking at it (even the scholars themselves -- it distracts them from looking at exclusively the archaeological evidence).  I had this concern when I was in grad school and did a year-long course on the "Solomonic sites" in Iron Age Palestinean archaeology.  The reliability of the text is sometimes good and sometimes more problematic.  But it creates a lens through which everything is looked at, or perhaps more accurately a smokey mirror which reflects material in a sometimes murky image.  

    Oh well.  That is just my opinion; I tend to think that rhetoric is very important and it drives my students bonkers!

    Thank you for the diary; it is a major component of what I do (Near Eastern Archaeology) and provides important content and support for the investigation of the past throughout the area.  

    One other thing -- have you ever had the joy of having someone call you saying "I need someone to head up my archaeological project because I have found (from satellite photos in this case) the route of the Exodus and the Egyptians won't talk to me about starting a project because I don't have a Ph.D. but I can provide funding if you put your name at the top of our permit application."  Those are the really fun phone calls!

  •  true enough. (12+ / 0-)

    "It should be kept in mind that the Bible was written by an elite group to further their purposes,"

    and, to convince the ordinary folks to buy into it, they claimed it was written by god. hey, who's going to argue with god?

  •  By the time of the late Romans (25+ / 0-)

    the Holy Land was turned into a sort of Disneyland. They went so far as build a hill where they thought there should be one, but wasn't.

    One has to wonder if the locals did not play Helena, showing here the things she wanted to find. If the Emperor's Mother wanted to see the manger that Jesus was born in, wouldn't you be under a bit of pressure to show here some old stable in Bethlehem?

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:42:00 AM PDT

  •  hey now. . . (17+ / 0-)

    this is a new take on something old, Ojibwa. I've messed about with the subject matter doing the philosophy and religious studies professoring stuff, but not quite on the level you have just presented. Thanks. Gives my brain more to chew on and I like that feeling. Very engaging diary, yours!

    Treat the world (yourself, and others) as part of a living organism. Everyone and everything will benefit.

    by richholtzin on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:46:52 AM PDT

  •  Last year I attended a great joint presentation (20+ / 0-)

    at the university where I teach, given by a professor of classics and a professor of biblical archaeology.  The classics prof. specialized in pre-roman Iberia and in migrations and cultural contacts.  The archaeology prof. specialized in Israeli sites.  Both of the presenters emphasized the severe limits of the "biblical" portion of "biblical archaeology".  The way they saw it, the difficulty comes in bridging the gaps in the material record, and the gaps in the textual record, with all the attendant difficulties of the textual records' being compromised, mixed imaginative and documentary, etc.  The best that one can hope for is the ability to articulate new and innovative questions, new ways of framing whatever evidence one has.  

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:53:30 AM PDT

    •  Exactly. (15+ / 0-)

      That's one thing I find so incredibly fascinating about Biblical, as opposed to Roman or Greek, archeology: the gaps are so tantalizing.  And we have a document, the Bible, which pretty much sets the narrative of what we're looking for.

      The last significant archeologist who was looking to find the Bible in the ground (much like how Heinrich Schliemann was looking for the Iliad in the ground at Troy) was William Albright. He remains the historical giant of his field, and he was steadily making discoveries throughout his career which belied his own premise.

      The Hebrew conquest of Palestine never happened.  The destruction layers at various cities don't match up in time, and don't match the biblical narrative.  The exodus is far more difficult to say anything conclusive on. By its nature, being a period of transience, by definition there would not be significant monuments or buildings.  But even identifying a period in Egyptian history--the expulsion of the Semitic Hyksos, likely several centuries too early to fit the biblical narrative?--is hard.

      Too many gaps.  That is the tantalizing and magical charm of the field.

      The backbone of modern biblical archeological work is the Documentary Hypothesis, which states that the Pentateuch is actually an amalgam, a later-edited mashup, of earlier books from several different sources (Jahwist = Judahite, Elohist = Israelite, Deuteronomic, and Priestly) which were combined in order to provide a united mythic and ethnic history for the variest nortwestern Semites living in the area of Israel.  Just look through Genesis for the two separate accounts of the Creation and the Flood, and you'll start to gain appreciation for the theory.

      •  They mentioned some of what you mention-- that (6+ / 0-)

        the Hebrew conquest never happened, etc.  Fascinating stuff.  

        I came away with a strong sense that there is a big market for this kind of research, no matter how fraught with gaps and uncertainties it might be, because it dovetails with and feeds into megabucks tourism and culture industries in the middle east and the mediterranean.  There will always be a big interest in discoveries, revisions, and exposure of the gaps, because at bottom all kinds of constituencies take it as a given that there is some material, evidentiary truth basis for what is laid out in the Bible.  Gaps they can live with, even celebrate--- what counts is the quest for what everyone seems romantically or spiritually committed to believing "happened".

        That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

        by concernedamerican on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:38:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The dismantling of the old myths (12+ / 0-)

        just raises the much more fascinating (to me at least) question of how and why did they come into being given how unfounded they've turned out to be. What ancient entity, which was never really that powerful or important, came up with these remarkable myths in such seemingly coherent (but actually not) fashion, in the form of the Old Testament? I can see the Egyptians or Romans or Greeks or Persians inventing such myths, but a bunch of not very important Semites (of which I am one) provisionally ruling over pockets of a not very important part of the world (except that it was a natural crossroads)?

        It's as if 500 years from now they'll be celebrating the accomplishments of MySpace, Radio Shack and Commodore and not Apple, Google or Microsoft.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:00:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And in response to your last sentence, I respond: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, Aunt Pat, crose

          see Wall-e.

          That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

          by concernedamerican on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:19:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  It makes sense (9+ / 0-)

          if you interpret the Hebrew Bible as a book of allegorical instruction in religious mysticism.  It begins at Eden, which is an allegory of the Conversion experience.  And ends at Isaiah or Jeremiah who explain in greatest detail, though allegorically, how they became mystics/prophets who achieved Union (Isaiah) and what service they tried to do Israel/the world by so becoming (Jeremiah).  With a bunch of minor mystic/prophets' testimonies stapled on largely to testify that this career was/is open to anyone, from bottom of the social pyramid sheep herder to craftsman to to p of the heapwealthy merchant.

          In between a set of bits of regional oral history are assembled to illustrate the intermediate steps and events and thinking.  Where the history has to get changed, shortened, or extended to make what is perceived to be the necessary allegorical point, the authors did that.  There's also a lot of adding and revising to correct to what the appropriate theological or emotional outlook or problem is at various phases of the mystic journey- Psalms come in, the Book of the Dead is taken from Egyptian literature and rewritten to fit the appropriate theology, the Song of Songs is brought in to illustrate the powers of the high Contemplative Prayer experience, etc.

          The real strangeling of the canon is the Book of Esther, which is hard to explain.  In the Kaballah a chartings of the contents of the HB and Jewish mystic journey suggest vaguely that the point could be about da'ath, literally knowledge, by which is meant the certainties (as such) of occult origin.  Maybe the point of the book is to lay out the bizarre and grotesque and paranoid nature of the occultic outlook- and that it generates tempting selfcongratulatory fictions that resemble reality close enough for people to insistently believe them, but which are untruths.

          If this is what the HB is, then the archaeology and historical records discovered can deviate from the tale in the HB very substantially without Judaism getting into much real trouble.  Zionism perhaps more so.  

          But if this interpretation of the Book of Isaiah is true, then the Christianist interpretation of it is wrong and the retconning to it that is the Virgin Birth (which doesn't fit the known dates of Cyrenius's tenure in Syria and the Augustinian census anyway) becomes weird and ignorant.

          •  Lots of ancient peoples had their sacred texts (5+ / 0-)

            which clearly served primarily as tools of political dominance. But why did that of the Hebrews, as fairly minor peoples by any measure, end up becoming the source of one of the world's great religions and cultural traditions?

            Was it something about its quality, or sheer dumb luck?

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 12:43:18 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Most likely the wilingness to war against (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, Wolf10

              religions in order to spread theirs. All three of the Abrahamic religions are quite culturally aggressive.

              •  Culturally aggressive? please explain (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, BrianParker14, samddobermann

                I've been hounded by Christians and Muslims to convert to their faith) or I'll be damned to hell.

                I never had that kind of encounter with Jews.

                I understand that the price of admission, for men, to Judaism isn't quite a pound of flesh but something to think about.

                Meanwhile, not having chosen to join a religion, and having been warned since the age of 4 about the perils of not being baptised (I only met Muslims as an adult). . . part of me feels damned...........

                The power of suggestion.

                Please do point me in the direction of Jews trying to spread their religion to converts so I can fill in my education/experience.

              •  Judaism is not missionary (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, EJP in Maine, samddobermann

                Christianity and Islam are both triumphal/missionary, believing themselves to be the One True Religion for all mankind. Judaism is purely national -- it is not meant to be adopted by others, and many of its rules are designed to separate Jews from others (i.e., discourage intermarriage).  In that sense it's more like Shinto or some Indian religions (in both coincidental meanings of that term).  

                The Christian Bible includes a mistranslation of the Hebrew Bible (Tanach), but Jews do not push Tanach on others.  Hell, we're busy enough arguing amongst ourselves.

                •  Judaism from its earliest forms held a view (0+ / 0-)

                  of exclusiveness and condemnation towards pagan religions... a kind of "you are not good enough to be us" attitude.  That is aggressiveness of another kind. It creates resentments and I think it is that attitude that caused much of the early problems for the hebrews in history. Plus they certainly were not above attacking people of other faiths if there is any nugget of truth in the Old Testament stories.

                  If anything, the reaction in that part of the world towards Judaism and the treatment of the Jews into modern history probably was the reason they tempered their aggressiveness.  But make no mistake about it, the religion based on the god Yahweh was arrogant and pushy, and we do see a reflection of that today in the behavior of the state of Israel.

                  •  I recently saw a video of a Jewish (0+ / 0-)

                    settler telling a group of Arab men that he had the right to plant seeds on their family's land because God gave the land to the Jews, and that when the Messiah comes back, these Arab men will be the slaves of the Jews.

                    •  This settler is a fanatic (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ojibwa, K S LaVida, Cassandra Waites

                      and not representative of many other Israelis. The "god's law trumps man's law" justification for seizing others' land is ridiculous on its face and would not stand up in any legitimate civilian court, even Israel's. Unfortunately, the territories are still governed by military, not civilian law, and so Israel's legal system doesn't apply to them. It's quite pathetic and a primary cause of the strife. But don't take this nutjob's word as the final word of all Israelis.

                      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                      by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:37:10 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I don't take this nutjob as the final word (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        on all Israelis. However, right now the government of Israel with its constant land grabs seems to certainly be reflecting what this settler said and acting on it.

                        •  It's a coalition government (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          K S LaVida

                          where a far-right minority party has for years been able to exploit disunity and apathy on the left to ally with religious parties to form a ruling coalition. Most Israelis don't like or want the settlements, but are too passive and in denial to do anything about it. Plus, many have been radicalized by the rockets into aligning with the far right, even though they know they're just as bad. It's really quite surreal, given how vibrant and hedonistic Israel proper is.

                          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                          by kovie on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:28:07 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I agree with that assessment. (0+ / 0-)

                            The left in Israel had better get off their fannies because people are increasingly seeing what Israel is doing to the Palestinians and it is turing the tide of world opinion. Blame it on videos and mass communication, but Israel can no longer hide behind its massive US lobby or count on the goodwill of nations who support it.

                            What a horrible mistake the world made when it advocated taking people's lands to create a new entity in the middle east.  The whole adventure of creating Israel was bound to backfire, but the cause of Israel's potential fall will be squarely on their heads if they don't cut out the arrogance.

                          •  I agree with your first paragraph completely (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            However the second one I don't entirely agree with. Sure, there is much land in Israel proper that was not acquired through what most people who say was lawful means. But there is much that was.

                            The original core of what would become Israel was mostly lawfully acquired, even if sometimes through sneaky land purchases from the absentee Ottoman and Arab landlords of the lands in question who didn't really care what would happen to the Arab and Bedouin tenants living on them.

                            I'm talking about the original pre-British Mandate era from the late 19th century through the end of WWI. Of course, it's undeniable that much of the land was stolen, or acquired through the "spoils of war" principle, especially during the 1948-9 war of independence.

                            But that's ancient history that no one's about to reverse, no matter how much Hamas & Hezbollah claim otherwise, mostly for political reasons. At this point we're talking about post-67 borders and how that will be resolved. The pre-67 borders are pretty much frozen, other than land swaps in any final deal.

                            I personally find the whole "Israel should never have been founded because it was founded on stolen land" argument to be not just academic, but strained, because this could be said of every country in the Americas, including, of course, the US, where native peoples continue to be robbed of their lands, yet few people are calling for it to be returned to them.

                            I also believe that the 2-state solution is at best a mid-term one. In the long run there can only be one state, because the growing Arab population within Israel proper, and the economic non-viability of any proposed Palestine, make that inevitable, making Israel as a truly Jewish state a long-term impossibility. But in the end that will be to the benefit of both sides, even though it may also one day lead to a civil war and redivision, this time on more realistic lines.

                            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                            by kovie on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 07:18:36 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  these nut jobs have been fed shit (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:

                        by the Christianists from our culture. A pox on all fundamentalists.

                        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                        by samddobermann on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:19:16 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  It seems best to me to think of it (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Ojibwa, crose, KenBee, samddobermann

                    as a survival of bronze age tribal religions.  But then, I am an atheist unitarian so I tend to explain everything through very anthropological theorizing.  Usually a Marxist approach, actually.  

                  •  It's not the sort of aggressiveness that (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    merits legitimate attack. In fact it's not really aggressive at all, unless one considers Mormons, the Amish and evangelical Christians to be aggressive in their rejection of other religions. They generally didn't try to impose their beliefs on others. On the other hand, they did use their imagined superiority to justify attacking others. A difference without a distinctions for their victims.

                    Reason #57 for why I don't like religion.

                    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:39:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Sorry, but that smacks of anti-Semitism (0+ / 0-)

                    You imply that in "modern history" (the past few centuries) the mistreatment of Jews worldwide was because of aggressiveness.  That doesn't fit reality; it's blaming the victim.

                    Every nationality and religion believes itself to be right, at least for itself.  Jews historically kept to themselves and did not try to impose their will or religion on others -- it was the Church and especially the Spanish who tried to stamp out Judaism from its territories a few centuries ago, to give one example.

                    The stories in the Tanach are a mix of history and, well, legend, told for their teaching value.  Christians interpret them differently from the way Jews do, though I can't speak for the haredim, a modern reactionary fringe with its own made-up retrograde view of the religion.  You're cherry-picking "arrogant and pushy" (hmmm, where have I heard that stereotype before?) out of what I assume is the Christian Old Testament, but the Tanach has a lot of diverse passages, reflecting several different theologies that the Jewish people had held during the time before Ezra compiled the final canon around 2400 years ago.  Oh, and one thing about the Jewish deity to note is that while there are various concepts of who or what He is, and there is no central "faith" requirement in Judaism per se, he isn't named "Yahweh".

            •  See Daniel Quinn's novel Ishmael (5+ / 0-)

              for a plausible explanation of the motivations behind Biblical mythology from implausible characters. From Wikipedia:

              Ishmael  [a telepathic gorilla] proposes that the story of Genesis was written by the Semites and later adapted to work within Hebrew and Christian belief structures. He proposes that Abel's extinction metaphorically represents the nomadic Semites' losing in their conflict with agriculturalists. As they were driven further into the Arabian peninsula, the Semites became isolated from other herding cultures and, according to Ishmael, illustrated their plight through oral history, which was later adopted into the Hebrew book of Genesis.

              Ishmael denies that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was forbidden to humans simply to test humans' self-control. Instead, he proposes that eating of the Tree would not actually give humans divine knowledge but would only make humans believe they had been given it, and that the Tree represents the choice to bear the responsibility of deciding which species live and which die. This is a decision agricultural peoples (i.e. Takers) make when deciding which organisms to cultivate, which to displace, and which to kill in protection of the first.

              Ishmael explains that the Fall of Adam represents the Semitic belief that, once mankind usurps this responsibility - historically decided through natural ecology (i.e. food chains) - that mankind will perish. He cites as fulfillment of this prophecy contemporary environmental crises such as endangered or extinct species, global warming, and modern mental illnesses.

              The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

              by Wolf10 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:49:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I think this is a great question esp w/respect to (6+ / 0-)

              the spread of Christianity in the first two centuries of that movement.   The mythology of the Hebrews was just what it was--they had their origin myth etc like every other people did--and we know for a fact that the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, Persians etc weren't overwhelmingly impressed with that original version of monotheism.  But the Jesus people seemed to really have something going.  Yes they were aggressively evangelical, and they came along at a time when the surrounding empires were starting to unravel, so that probably helped.   Still, it's far from obvious that this particular Jewish messianic cult would have had such traction at that time/place.   I actually ask my students to ponder this question every term when we study monotheism.

              Of course, once Christianity becomes the official state religion of the Roman empire, I think your question is pretty much answered after that point.   They didn't call it the Roman Catholic Church for nuttin...

              •  The attraction was its promise (0+ / 0-)

                of an afterlife. Something that the Jewish religion didn't have. The other religions that had afterlives didn't have meeting up with your friends and family after . . . .

                It is/was the perfect religion for slaves: There will be pie in the sky when you die.

                I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

                by samddobermann on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:24:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            • your ? really how did the Hebrews come up (4+ / 0-)

              with Monotheism in the first place?  That's certainly another interesting one.   Here it really matters whether we believe in a monotheistic Moses (coming down the mountain with the tablets) around 1300 BC, or instead that the Abraham-Moses-United Kingdom narratives are essentially created in post-exile, 5th-3rd century times.   In the latter case it would seem likely that Persian Zoroastrianism is a big influence--although I'd say they were likely a big influence regardless of when we think the Israelites became monotheistic.  

              •  There's no evidence the Hebrews were literate (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, Aunt Pat, rktect

                before the 900s, so the first thousand years of Old Testament "narrative" (the Creation, the expulsion from Eden, Abraham, Moses, the conquest of Palestine) could only have been transmitted down to the 900s as oral tradition-- myth, in other words, not scriptural text, subject to all the distortions and confabulations one would expect of an oral tradition.

                There is no reason to consider the Pentateuch to be "the word of God." There isn't even evidence the Hebrews were committed monotheists until the 900s.

                •  I would say the 900s is generously EARLY for any (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ojibwa, Aunt Pat

                  extant OT text, but sure.   In fact one question is whether there even were 'Israelites' as a distinct cultural identity before 900, literate or otherwise, or were they still just upland Canaanites?    

                •  There is no evidence of a "Hebrew" language (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but other semitic, afroasiatic and unclassified  languages served to tell the story.  A good part of it was cribbed by scribes from pre-existing wisdom literature they found in their libraries, but at least some of it, particularly the part found in the Pentetuch is absolutely fascinating in as regards the textual architects.

                  Take for example the creation of a new god by the ancient Egyptians. Generally its easiest to think of their gods as platonic ideals submitted as paired opposites.

                  The god is carved in stone, the stone is placed in an ark and the ark is placed in a sanctuary.

                  After half a Milena of living in Egypt the "Sons of Israel" as tribes can be thought of as pretty thoroughly assimilated  and likely to treat their new gods in much the same manner. If you look at the rock in the box the people who embarked on the Exodus carried with them its the image of the written law in the form of the ten commandments. The written law is seen as sovereign over all the other gods because being written it can be seen as unchanging and absolute. That argues for some literacy.

                  Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                  by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:01:55 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Nah, the other question (6+ / 0-)

                on how their version of god and such became the foundational one for the west, not how they developed or came upon it, which is also interesting but not what I was asking. Both, of course, are part of the overall question of how we got here, in terms of dominant religions and religious thought.

                Personally, I'm increasingly leaning towards the Mel Brooks version that has this old geezer (although he wasn't that old at the time) pulling this practical joke for the ages, not realizing it would be taken so seriously and lead to so many wars and buildings and such--let alone Joel Osteen and the jazz hands thingee with the closed eyes and constipated look.

                Oy gevult, it was just a joke you putzes! There's no god--it was my crazy uncle Sammy the sphepherd with the white beard and cane!

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 05:35:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I thought Egyptian Atonism was the first (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, david78209

                monotheistic religion.

                The best way to prevent abortions is to arm fetuses.

                by Flyswatterbanjo on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:23:02 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  some would say, yes. So that could have been an (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Flyswatterbanjo, EJP in Maine, Ojibwa

                  influence too, if the Israelites had ever really been in Egypt, building the pyramids :-)  Realistically, there were a whole bunch of different religions knocking around that part of the world for several millenia, influencing each other.  But the Zoroastrian version of monotheism is supposed to have come from the older Indo-Iranian culture, which would have had a jump even on the Egyptians.

                  Of course, in the beginning was the Word.  So God would say that He was the first monotheism...

            •  It got caught up in Christianity (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The Bible got caught up in Christianity.  While most if not all sects of Judaism did not proselytize, Christianity did.  Christianity saw itself as the fulfillment of God's promises to the Jews, so the Jewish Bible was kept around.  


              "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

              by Yamaneko2 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:00:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Then why did early Christianity prevail? (0+ / 0-)

                Lots of religions proselytized, some violently (of course Christians were to do this centuries later in the Crusades, of course). Why did this one win out? Was it a matter of luck, the skills of its leaders, or was there something about its beliefs that allowed it to prevail? Why did Constantine pick Christianity and not other religions? How did an ascetic offshoot of an already severe religion become the dominant religion in the west? It's nearly as amazing as how the descendants of a small tree shrew evolved into humans.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:45:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  By the time Constantine came around (6+ / 0-)

                  there were a lot of Christians.  So by then it wasn't a surprise (after all his mother was Christian).  

                  The more interesting question is why it spread in the first century.  It was one of the eastern mystery religions like the cult of isis, which is also widely attested.  Christianity appealed to both the rich and the slaves, with no distinction.  It was not exclusive to one group (they proselytized which seems to have been rare).  And it promised a better afterlife, which a lot of religions didn't.  They were for this life, which (when it sucked) obviously wasn't a good argument for how much the gods loved you.

                  •  I meant, of course, the more interesting question (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kovie, Ojibwa

                    for me.  You may find Constantine more interesting.  It is completely in the eye of the beholder.  Sorry -- didn't mean to come across as being as arrogant as that sounded!

                    •  Not at all (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Ojibwa, EJP in Maine

                      They're all interesting. And, actually, you're probably right to find the earlier history more interesting, since by the time Constantine picked it as the state religion, it was already quite big and established, and he was making a political more than religious decision, not unlike today's fake pious leaders.

                      I guess the Christians had a better "product", in that it was more internally cohesive and appealing and in touch with the times, and better "sold" by its practitioners, benefiting from their worldliness and sophistication and willingness to travel far on missions, taking advantage of the transportation and communication technologies of the time.

                      Of course, many people would just say it was a better product, period, and eventually sold itself. But I think it's clearly that it's not that simple.

                      I mean, Papa Johns sells a lot of pizzas. Why not Papa Jesus?

                      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                      by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:28:28 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

            •  Hmmm. (4+ / 0-)

              Let me try to answer that more adequately tomorrow when I have more time.

              The short version: the religion of Israel arises in a pocket of the world with fairly uniquely wide socio-ecological spectrum and internal pressures and critiques of religion arising from this diversity across its east-west axis.   At the same time it is juxtaposed north-south between regional superpowers- in Egypt and Mesopotamia- yet separated from them by substantial deserts, which creates a history of cycles of invasion and violent destruction and destruction followed by liberations and brief periods of great prosperity.

              At some point roughly coincident with the times in which the religion was first written down there is a surprising and externally not fully explicable collective decision made: to make the religion and its aims the national project.  And to pay the price for its heroic nature, whatever that price may be- in land, in power, in numbers, in a perpetuity of wars and oppressions.  This was not a commitment made lightly and took many generations to be accepted.  

              When it was accepted it became the national identity.  Individual Jews could disagree with the theology all they wanted so long as they lived in a fashion compatible with carrying on the project- keeping the teachings and memories and sense of obligation to the project, its aims and manifestations, alive, and having children to carry these on.  I don't think any other significantly large ethnic group has ever made a similar decision.

              The success of Christianity is actually simpler to explain.  It took all the elements of Judaism and pared them down.  It kept parts of the mystic core in the particular form of Jesus of Nazareth and the examples he set.  What it did uniquely was created by Paul of Tarsus, which was to interpret the teaching as license to create an institution willing to take up and comfort most of the people who felt unwanted and unvalued, indeed despised, in Gentile societies.  The tradition emphasizes how Christianity gave slaves, widows, orphans, the poor, criminals, prostitutes, and other undesirables a social place.  

              But the first major critic, Celsus, is remembered for pointing out that Christianity became intellectually peculiar very early on, to the point of rejecting rationality and intellectuals outright.  Which suggests what we can clearly read out of documentation of the medieval Church and can see in the contemporary one, which is that just about from the start it drew in certain varieties of mentally peculiar and aberrant and declining people.  It gave the mildly mentally ill a place to go and respect if they kept their behavior within certain lines.  And that is unique in the Ancient World, where insanity even if mild and harmless was judged harshly and given little compassion or respect where identified.  Cruel ridicule, extreme fear, and violent abuse were common responses.  The Church changed this substantially by insisting on the dignity of the mentally aberrant.  But in so doing it had to choose between incompatible groups of outsiders.  When it was forced to choose between gay people and people with OCD who obsessed about sexual behaviors of gay people, the OCD crowd apparently won out.

            •  No, I think because they invented (0+ / 0-)

              the day of rest. Before the tradition that god created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, people and especially slaves worked 7 days a week.

              The whole creation in 6 days mishegas set out a day of rest every 7th day.

              That was very attractive and certainly lasted.

              I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

              by samddobermann on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 02:15:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  This has been the really interesting piece for me (12+ / 0-)

        to explore lately.  I teach a (required) Western Humanities course that spends a fair amount of time on the monotheistic traditions, and until this term we've unfortunately used a very old humanities textbook that lays out "established" dates for all the Old Testament milestones, e.g.:

        1900 BC: Abraham migrates to Canaan
        1600: Joseph leads the tribes to Egypt
        1300: Moses leads exodus out of Egypt
        1300-1100: conquest of Canaan
        1100-1000: establishment of United Kingdom of Israel
        after 933: split into Northern and Southern Kingdoms
        722: conquest of Northern Kingdom of Israel by Assyria
        580: conquest of Judea by Chaldeans

        Whereas, as I now understand the scholarship, the Pentateuch that comes into being in the 5th-3rd centuries essentially invented (or appropriated earlier texts that had invented) everything up to and including the United Kingdom, and the whole idea of the Israelites as distinct from the Canaanites--so also Abraham and Moses.  And the idea of a 'Abrahamic' monotheism existing in the Bronze Age...

        It almost makes the Mormons seem disciplined in their historical narratives, by contrast.   And it certainly becomes interesting to teach the History of Monotheism, in a few hours of classroom time.   To a class of usually literal-minded Christians...

        •  There is nothing monotheistic about the Penteteuch (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The deities used as Toponyms are often given names that are feminine plural such as the sacred groves or Teraphim, the tall straight cedar or oak trees suitable for masts or the pillars of a temple viewed as consorts to male gods who epitomized power by having for example the strength to make the tall trees sway; In Exodus Elim and Elat plus Pi Ha Haroth in the chain of Aphrodite have sacred groves of palm trees . In Genesis, the story of Abraham and Sarah lists covenants with El Shaddai (Samsi Adada of Mari, the lord of the land); Yahwah (the power of the air), El Roi (Hagars spirit of the well - the power of water), and Moloch,( the power of fire).

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:19:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Fragmentary/Supplementary Hypothesis (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, EJP in Maine, KenBee, rktect

        The classic Documentary Hypothesis has fallen by the wayside in recent years- too much of the J/E split was, upon further examination, not capable of being differentiated.  Computer examination has also helped some in recent years, and has pointed out that it's possible that some of what was seen as different isn't actually different.  The Creation narratives, for example, are linguistically difficult to distinguish; while a computer can differentiate D from everything else, and P if you add a third layer, it takes a lot of fiddling to get it to see chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis as being written by different authors.  And that's a problem for Wellhausen's hypothesis, since that was supposed to be one of the most obvious examples of P.

        The Documentary Hypothesis also suffered from being illogical- it suggested that there were 4 separate texts that someone (a Redactor) put together.  What's much more popular these days is what you suggested a few comments earlier- that either there were original texts that were added to over the centuries until a final redaction (Supplementary Hypothesis), or even moreso, Fragmentary Hypothesis- that is, a bunch of fragments were eventually put together by a single author/redactor.

        You seem knowledgeable on this issue, and I wouldn't want to seem to be correcting you here- just adding nuance for those reading the comments.

        •  no, very cool--I'm only vaguely knowledgeable, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          though I think there are some genuinely knowledgeable folks in the thread...

        •  Its both logical and illogical (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          depending on your perspective. Ancient wisdom literature was certainly plagiarized, copied and added to. You can tell by the Toponyms. The name Jerusalem for example started out as URU URU salam Ki which is reduplicated Akkadian for place of places of peace in reference to its being a trading center for the incense and mortuary goods trade between Lebanon, Syria, Canaan and Egypt.

          Genesis 14 has at least one example where attempting to read the text in Hebrew instead of Akkadian results in reading four kings where a description of one king is intended.

          At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar,[a] Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim,
          The text itself, even in translation to English, strings together fragments of mostly Akkadian rather than Elamite roots. "Ched" or ked is an Egyptian suffix used to indicate a state of being; shown in hieroglyph as a boat drifting downstream, used in th same sense as  mar/ched, tou/ched, deta/ched etc; An omer is a common ANE measure of about a half gallon. The Akkadian root "rl" means uncircumcised and in context here means illigitimate.

          In Akkadian it makes perfect sense to have one king Amraphel in power "URU Ki" or at "this place here", rather than a second king Arioch or Aruki. Rather than "Arioch king of Ellasar" we would now have (URU Ki el asar ched o rl a omer tD Elam) all perfectly good Akkadian, most of it grammatical and an interesting comment

          Its logical that the errors occurred over time as the dominant language for the region changed.

          Pi ha Hathor opposite Baal Zephon refers to the temples to a god of the west wind and his consort mixing Egyptian, Greek and Phoenician names.

          Its obvious that people came back to add glosses to the original text to explain or flesh out things like Abraham's covenants with the four gods he and his household have arrangements with, and the stations of the Exodus reveal half a dozen different linguistic conventions because there were many different peoples living in and around Edom and Elat.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:45:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  When I was in my teens and early (20+ / 0-)

    twenties, I loved reading James Michener books. One was titled The Source and was about the layers of historical artifacts in a "tell" mound in the middle east. It talked about Asherah and Astarte.  Michener always used historical facts and mixed them with fictional characters to entertain and educate.

    His book Hawaii was very influencial in my formation of a negative opinion of missionary work and the destruction it causes to indigenous cultures.

    More and more biblical archeology is having the effect of undermining the Jewish claims to the lands of Israel being "given" to them by a god and to claims of original ownership of property there.

  •  Haven't done extensive study but . . . (12+ / 0-)

    Most peoples project backwards and invent an mythology of their origin. There are certain points in the Old Testament which attempt to be a historical record, but like so many "historical records" of that time, it's more "story" than "history". And the story reflects what the writers wanted people to think, not what actually happen. Like so many cuneiform messages about how fabulous and victorious various kings were.

    However, it's not true that an ancient piece of parchment was found in the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found that when translated read "Don't believe the hype."

  •  Most of the Bible (5+ / 0-)

    Most of the Bible including the New Testament has  been plagiarized  using stories and myths from earlier civilizations.

  •  If You're Looking... (7+ / 0-)

    ...for some rationality on the topic of "God gave this to us!" and "We got here first!" type myths, Joseph Campbell's four-book series, the Masks of God (and particularly vol. 1, Primitive Mythologies), is the best place to go.  

    Essentially, all of these stories are mythic and psychological constructs.  In other words, make-believe.  The make-believe can be very profound and accurate psychologically, and it is possible to trace the historical lineage of many stories, but make-believe they are.

  •  Presuming (6+ / 0-)

    Presuming our evidence is the evidence, presuming our evidence is all the evidence, presuming that we can reason clearly, and presuming that we can select, academically, the simplest logical theory, then yes.

    Presuming otherwise, all of the "answers" are tenuous and all the explanations incomplete and should, academically, be answered with, "There is/is not physical evidence at this time." We should be humble.

    The simplest explanation of the "wife" stuff, for example, is that there were areas of syncretism and apostacy, as well as areas where the belief was more and less as we know it in scribal tradition, and therefore there would be no surprise at all to find blendings with all sorts of blessings. The Hebrew Bible itself has loads and loads and loads of instances -- for long periods of time -- of "Baal" cults among the kings. I.e. no one knows if we're finding a "normal" tomb or a "weird" one or a "heretic" or a "priestly" one (see the Franks Casket, for example, and the various Sutton Hoo finds for how mixed grave goods can be).

    Everyone is innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:35:50 AM PDT

  •  One thing I would love to see (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Aunt Pat, terrypinder

    is the development of Talmudic archaelogy in Iraq.  The Talmud discusses cities, urban housing patterns (multiple houses built around courtyards with entrance gates - thus, multiple families lived within a semi-public enclosed spcace), canals, and the rabbinical academies.  Saddam Hussein pushed archaelogy to glorify Babylonia's ancient past, but not from the Talmudic period, roughly 200 to 500 CE.  Unlike with the Bible, I don't think there is any doubt that the rabbis were accurately describing the lives in which they lived.

    Now that Iraq has been "liberated", we should get something for the 4,000 plus American lives that we lost, the tens of thousands more maimed, and the hundreds of billions of dollars wasted.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:38:45 AM PDT

  •  My understanding is that biblical archaeology (8+ / 0-)

    and near east studies are extraordinarily legitimate and respected fields. When the diarist writes:

    "scientific archaeology has shown that there are many misconceptions, fallacies, and frauds in some of the Biblical stories." -- he/she is correct, and the scientists often making those discoveries are biblical archaeologists.

    They're studying the bible as an artifact FROM history, not solely AS history, and in so doing, separate fact from fiction.

    For instance, there's this really interesting dig at Safi....

  •  A quibble or two. (9+ / 0-)

    The explanation above is well done and largely correct.

    This statement is problematic.

    It should be kept in mind that the Bible was written by an elite group to further their purposes, and that today’s archaeology focuses on the lives of ordinary people.
    The first half is true, but we need to be careful about assigning intent.  The people who knew how to write were those in the priestly/scribal class, so they wrote about their religion.  The result may have been manipulative, exclusive, or coercive without the intent.  Much modern biblical interpretation seeks to work its way through this built-in bias and find ordinary people, in a way analogous to archaeologists.

    The biggest problem is with the second half.  Archaeology finds what it finds, whether this is the material remains of the lives of the ordinary or the powerful.  Unfortunately, material remains are only a little better than texts.  The lives of the wealthy and powerful leave more artifacts behind.   "Ordinary people" are far more difficult to find, for reasons similar to those that make them hard to find in texts.  The society that leaves behind material remains was also produced "by an elite group to further their purposes."

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:44:32 AM PDT

  •  In college over 30 years ago I spent a few weeks (9+ / 0-)

    on a dig in Israel. Not one of the major ones like Megiddo or Masada, but a smaller one just outside the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikvah, called Tel Aphek. It spanned the Iron Age to Ottoman eras, which of course included much of the biblical era, including the Roman era. I was just a volunteer taking a non-credit course with no intention of going into the field (although I did major in the related one of history), but I'm proud to say that I uncovered a beautiful Roman mosaic floor (that the professor in charge immediately pointed out was damaged by a 4th century earthquake that left a fracture across it).

    Well, that, plus uncovering a set of human graves that was probably from the 20th century and of local Arab villagers whose story, although unknown at the time of the dig, was quite possibly tragic, the likely victims of one of the region's many wars, given that their gravesites were unmarked.

    IIRC one of the dig's major findings was a letter dated from the 1st millenium BC or so that referred to King David, who I know has been verified from multiple sources as having existed, albeit with a story different from and not quite as heroic as the one most of us know (basically, he was a mercenary for hire who became the top warlord, and thus king, which is how most of today's mideast monarchs and despots became king or leader).

    Then as now, politics was about power, public relations and deception.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:50:58 AM PDT

    •  Actually David comes across in the Bible (10+ / 0-)

      as a petty murderous tyrant.  Reading Second Samuel and the beginning of First Kings, it's hard to find much to admire in him.  If he wrote most of the psalms, then I guess that was a good way for him to pass the time when he wasn't ordering someone's murder.

      "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

      by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:00:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  As I like to remind people (9+ / 0-)

        Us Hebrews gave the world many things, among them an ancient tradition of political murder and ethnic cleansing of the sort that still prevails in that part of the world (and not just in Arab and Muslim countries if yo get my drift), cleaned up for propagandistic and political purposes.

        Of course, we also gave you gefilte fish, dreidels and Woody Allen, so it's a wash, I guess. (Ok we gave the world a whole lot more and the evil stuff was mostly done by a fairly small group with unwitting or cowardly acquiescence by the masses, but the same can be said of many other peoples.)

        As with the Egyptians, Romans, Byzantines and Florentians (and so many others), where there are much cultural riches, there is also much evil.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:10:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  wait, you're citing gefilte fish as a positive? oy (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kovie, Ojibwa, david78209
          •  Hey, I'm about to practically live on them (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, david78209

            for the next 8 days so back off, you anti-carper you!

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 12:38:23 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You're citing Woody Allen as a positive? (0+ / 0-)

              He may be a nice person, but his movies are downers.

              *Are we humans or are we dancers?* Annie Lennox (thx Words In Action & OPOL)

              by glorificus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:22:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I decided to leave woody alone--he really seems (0+ / 0-)

                to be a matter of taste.   Like gefilte fish.   On the other hand, matzos--what's not to like?

                •  In the words of the great Edgar G Robinson, (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  "Where's your Moses now?"

                •  I bought a pack. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I'm not Jewish. but I bought a pack of Kosher-for-Passover matzo to see what they tasted like.  They taste like you would expect "the bread of affliction" to taste.

                  Of course, in my case they are not seasoned with decades worth of family meals in a tradition that goes back well over two millennia.  And I have not tried them smashed into crumbs, mixed with egg and chicken fat, rolled into balls, then floated in chicken soup that tastes exactly like what my mother and grandmother used to make.  

                  "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

                  by Yamaneko2 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:47:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I assume they're water, not egg matzoh (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    If so, try them with butter or margarine, whipped cream cheese, cheese, jelly, jam or marmalade, or even Nutella. Or pate, which is fancy chopped liver. They can be quite good if paired with a suitable spread or topping. Think of them as large unflavored water crackers, which is what they basically are. You have Carr's, we have Streit's.

                    They also make a decent bread crumb for cutlets, and I imagine meatloaf or meatballs. Very versatile.

                    If all else fails, there's always pigeons.

                    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                    by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:52:19 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  I'd say it's the opposite (0+ / 0-)

                He appears to be a real jerk, but his movies are generally happy.

                "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:53:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  You did give us Jesus Christ... (4+ / 0-)

          There's the joke that a Catholic boy boasted that he could become Pope to a Jewish boy.  The Jewish boy reminded him that the Pope's boss was a Jew.

          "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

          by Yamaneko2 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:40:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

            I always knew that that Nazarene boy would come to no good.

            "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

            by kovie on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:47:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why do you think "Galilean" was a dirty word? (0+ / 0-)

              I can imagine the Temple and Roman authorities rolling their eyes when Jesus, his disciples and followers entered Jerusalem that day.  "Another fanatic from the hills!"  "I here (insert period equivalent of banjoes) -- better row faster..."  The bemusement would have ended when Jesus went after the moneychangers...

              "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

              by Yamaneko2 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:55:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  And King Solomon was a tax (6+ / 0-)

        and spend Democrat, if you are to believe the Bible. :)

        It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

        by se portland on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:29:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Nawww... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines would qualify him as a Republican defender of family values.  

          "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

          by Yamaneko2 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 09:48:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  par for the course for kings and heroes (5+ / 0-)

        In the Iliad, Achilles comes across as a vain glory hound who only wins because he's half-god ... but the ancient Greeks would have had nothing but contempt for a loser.  The only honor lay in victory, which was held as proof of moral superiority (i.e. divine favor) as well as physical superiority, which the ancient Greeks also placed very high value on.

        Before the revolution started smoldering, the French were criticizing King Louis XVI for not waging wars (as they criticized his grandfather Louis XV) and for not taking a mistress.  Despite the modern stereotype, this kind of behavior in a king was seen by the French of that day as unacceptably effeminate.

        Read the tales of "Bulldog" Drummond if you have the stomach for it to find out that this conception of a worthy man and a great hero as some kind of psychotic ubermensch was commonplace as late as the 1920s.

        It's a very VERY recent phenomenon - as in no earlier than 1945 ... for obvious reasons - that humanity in general has really started to outgrow the idea that might makes right: not that the good guy always wins, but that the winner is always the good guy.

  •  My dad is very interested in this topic. (8+ / 0-)

    He subscribes to the Biblical Archaeology Review. It goes without saying that there are a lot of religious and political controversies mixed up with the science. I haven't read the magazine in a while, but those conflicts were often displayed in the letters to the editor. Fundamentalist Christians offended that archaeology didn't support their religious views were most common.

    Gondwana has always been at war with Laurasia.

    by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:55:31 AM PDT

  •  I have no problem with the Bible. (5+ / 0-)

    It's how people interpret it that causes problems

    There wouldn't be much Archeological evidence to Bible stories. That was a very long time ago and climate and conditions in that area would have destroyed it.

    IMO, The Bible is a bunch of diaries written by scribes. It could be all true. Sounds reasonable to me.

    Some allegory yes, even some fable. But stories like King David, probably true. New Testament true.

    Still, not to be used literally. That was a very long, barbaric time ago. And throughout history, people never behaved well.

    The Bible is what everyone calls, "a cautionary tale" about teaching people, how not to act like rabble!

    I could go on. I have a minor in Philosophy/Bible Studies. Taught by a very smart Chinese PhD/Professor, (old enough to remember WWII in China). Just had to say his nationality. It so describes his personality.

    Being a Sociologist; I thought of studying Archeology, but how would I get there?

    Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

    by rebel ga on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 10:56:30 AM PDT

  •  Of course the early Hebrews worshipped their (7+ / 0-)

    god as well as Asherah and probably others too.  If they weren't worshipping more than one god, why is there so much in the bible saying that they were; why were the prophets always criticizing them for it?

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:01:52 AM PDT

  •  Exodus and Cohen Modal Haplotype (7+ / 0-)

    One bit of genetic evidence that may seem to support at least some parts of the Exodus it the existence of the Cohen Modal Haplotype signature.  For those who don't know what that is:

    Basically, any male Jew with a name like Cohen, Coen, Kohn, etc, may be related to the Kohanim, the 'priest caste' in Judaism, and geneticists have found a way to trace this lineage through the Y chromosome, which is only passed from father to son.  So what this means is, while we'll never know if there was really a Moses, there was almost certainly an Aaron (Moses' brother, who was the first Kohen), and the Cohens are descended from him.  

    Makes you wonder who this Aaron was, and, if Exodus didn't really happen, how he came to be the first High Priest and establish his line which still exists today.

    "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

    by Brian A on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 11:12:55 AM PDT

    •  common ancestor =/= the Bible is true (9+ / 0-)

      There's nothing preventing the Cohens, et al. from being descended from the Jewish priestly caste of the Temple Period - at the very least the Second Temple existed; we have the ruins plus Roman accounts of their destroying it - and through them from a figure in the undefined past.  

      The leap of faith is between the evidence for this common ancestor and the claim that he was the biblical Aaron, therefore the Bible is true.  You cross the line from good archaeology to bad when you try to fit the facts into the preconceived narrative.

      •  Oh I agree (4+ / 0-)

        I dont think I wrote my last sentence well, because it was meant to convey exactly what you just said.  It's interesting to speculate who the real "Aaron" was and how he came to be the common ancestor of all Cohens.  How far back does the genetic link go?  What temple period does it trace back to?  

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:19:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  the priest from the dominant tribe at the time? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brian A, mamamedusa

      ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

      by James Allen on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:38:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Very interesting idea (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, mamamedusa

        Even more interesting, to add to that: I think the Cohen signature is distinct from the Levite signature (the Levites were the tribe traditionally associated with being priests).

        "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

        by Brian A on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 04:34:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  "My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, mamamedusa

      my whole priestly caste thanks you."
             -- George M Cohan

  •  I respectfully disagree (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    It should be kept in mind that the Bible was written by an elite group to further their purposes, and that today’s archaeology focuses on the lives of ordinary people.  
    This should be left to the individual's interpretation. I, for example, speak only for myself when it comes to interpreting literature such as the biblical texts. To me, classical literature is highly symbolic and thus makes sense for the individual's world experience only when read metaphorically, not literally. Archeological findings can neither prove nor disprove symbolic stories' legitimacy. Myths from ancient times too are to be read symbolically. We may never know the exact events behind these myths but when we analyze them as symbols relating to human events then we interpret them in relation to our current existence, not to the existences of persons who lived in ancient times.

    To me, the complexity of the levels of meaning in classical texts do not lend themselves to a simple dismissal as "written by an elite group to further their purposes." There may have been busy bodies who did their best to manipulate such literature in order to empower themselves, which is highly likely, but that does not dismiss the many levels of wisdom found in biblical texts, nevertheless.

    Again, I respect points of views and speak for myself when it comes to my own.

    Claiming to speak for everyone with an argument that "it should be kept in the mind" about the assumed illegitimacy of the biblical texts however fall short of the spirit of the progressive principles.

    As the story goes, Thomas Jefferson had explained his study of biblical texts as finding diamonds in dung. I can relate to that. I believe he didn't forsake the diamonds because of the dung, and neither do I.

    And that's me.


    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 12:24:22 PM PDT

  •  As someone who has done research (8+ / 0-)

    in this area, let me make a few amendments.

    The Hyksos were a Canaanite people, and Egypt expelled them after a couple of hundred years. Formerly happy to live along the Nile, Egypt then pushed its borders North in a protective move, annexing Canaan.

    In response to direct Egyptian occupation and the settlement of Egyptian clients -- the Philistines, or Sea People -- some Canaanites moved out of the administered cities into the uplands, reverting to a pastoral way of life.

    The evidence for this is in the pottery, which, allowing for differences between urban and rural lifestyles, is Canaanite in style. They also took with them the writing system, language, and elements of the pantheon. Yaweh is/was the Canaanite god of high places -- an appropriate choice for a hill dwelling people.

    Eventually, the people formed into 10 affiliated tribes, (becoming 12 only when the Philistine mercenary, David, brought Judea and Benjamin into this confederation). We have evidence that this had happened by at least 1200 BCE, as there is an Egyptian stela of roughly that date proclaiming victory over Israel.

    Much of the Torah was written during the later Assyrian and Babylonian captivity. This is quite clear in the text. Many of the myths ascribed to Moses belong, in fact, to Sargon, a Sumerian emperor of a much, much earlier period.

    These myths include being hidden in the reeds to protect the baby Moses/Sargon/Jesus from the wrath of a jealous king out to kill all boy children. You can also guess at the period as Abraham is of the city of Ur, an ancient Sumero-Akkadian city in the south of Mesopotamia.

    There is also the oddity that no other prophet in the Torah mentions Moses. Others, such as Isiah, are referenced by later prophets, but the central law-giver, himself? Bupkiss.

    In short, the Exodus is tribal memory of liberation (through migration) from Egypt, but little more, being written many centuries after the fact. It serves to establish the Levites as descended from Moses, and so legitimating that priestly class in preparation for the theocracy of the Second Temple Period on return to Judaea.

    •  so what do you think was the state of 'Israelite' (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Identity, and religion, as of the 1000-900 period which was traditionally thought to be the United Kingdom?  Given that the Pentateuch version of the story comes from 5+ centuries later?

      Did these 10-12 tribes of pastoral former Canaanites consider themselves a distinct people, e.g "Israelites"?  Were they monotheists yet-- in other words had Yaweh become the One True God, creator of the universe etc?  How much of subsequent, backdated narrative would they have recognized about themselves?

      •  The united kingdom was just that, (0+ / 0-)

        and the sense of shared identity would have been strong.

        The advent of monotheism was quite late, likely an artefact of the exile. Certainly in the pre-Davidian days it was not present.

        In terms of self-identity, look at how long the 10 tribes tolerated being ruled by Judea, one of the other two: Two reigns. David's and Solomon's, then told them to take a hike.

        To what extent did the earlier pastoralists consider themselves a single people? The Song of Deborah suggests that it may have been early, but rather than a single people, more of a confederation of peoples.

  •  History is generally written by the victors (5+ / 0-)

    but the Old Testament (my Christian designation) is remarkable because it was compiled by the losers, a doormat of a "nation." It's a shallow comparison, but there's a lot of Popeye eating spinach in it. But the place is real, few stories even in ancient myth are likely built up out of complete fantasy. Something originally happened, & it happened somewhere.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 01:21:02 PM PDT

  •  google "False Testament" written for Harpers (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, Wolf10, protectspice, Portlaw

    It outlines the history of Biblical archaeology, how it's been used to advance Israeli interests, and how the archaeological record quite simply no longer supports the Biblical narrative.

  •  And remember (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    (I'm a medievalist, trained and working with material culture)

  •  I like Daniel Quinn's take on the Bible as (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, yellow cosmic seed

    presented in his novel Ishmael. Through his his principal character, a telepathic gorilla, in dialogue with a human, he explores the motivation behind the stories. An implausible fictional character provides plausible real-world explanations having to do with conquest, power, attitudes toward nature and so forth.


    The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

    by Wolf10 on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 02:35:13 PM PDT

  •  Love this, Ojibwa! (4+ / 0-)

    and the discussions that your writing encourages.  

  •  A very good take on this subject... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, DK in SD, EJP in Maine

    ...can be found in "The Bible Unearthed." It shows how modern archaeology fails to support either the exodus or the conquest of Canaan. Indispensable as a resource.

  •  Well, there was Pharaoh Shishonq-I, (3+ / 0-)

    who was recorded as having invaded that territory (Canaan) and listed treasures taken from there:

    I believe he had a victory stelae erected that specifically listed "the land of the tribes of Israel" or "the Habiru" (Hebrew), something like that. Around mid-900 BCE.


    The internet is ruled by cat people. Dog people are busy playing outside.

    by Canis Aureus on Sun Mar 24, 2013 at 07:12:43 PM PDT

  •  Old news (0+ / 0-)

    All of the the contents of this post are well covered in the book "The Bilbe Unearthed"  Dr. Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman...........Institute of Archaeology..Tel Aviv. This was also discussed in Hithcens's book ..."God is not Great"

  •  Israel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Their is no evidence of the first five books of the bible based in archaeoloogy. This fact renders Chrsitianity as a myth.  

  •  A casual read is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don't Know Much About the Bible: Everything You Need to Know About the Good Book but Never Learned, by Kenneth Davis
    Talks about god's wife.
    Worshiping one particular god but there were many.
    Transitioning to the belief in one god only.
    Getting rid of god's wife.
    Getting rid of human sacrifice
    Getting rid of animal sacrifice
    Emphasizing reading (writing and arithmetic).

    About 3,000 years ago.
    Go back another 3,000 years "when god was a girl"
    BBC documentary (one hour):

  •  The Bible is a storybook... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, samddobermann

    nothing more. Read it, don't read it. But don't take it literally.
    Of course, having said that, I would love to see all those gospels written that never made it into the bible. I heard once that there may actually be some that elevate women to equal status!
    What's in the bible is certainly not ALL of what was written back then. It was cherry-picked for inclusion, by men, to control the masses.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Mon Mar 25, 2013 at 05:09:49 AM PDT

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