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Dear Listers -
Was or was not the Levant hellenized at the turn of the era?
The Hellenes were an occupying force. So were the Egyptians, the
Hittites/Ugaritic peoples, the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the
Each of these had an effect on Hebrew texts.
* - Egyptian Wisdom Literature created Proverbs. The borrowings
are plain. In Proverbs 22:20, the phrase "excellent say-
ings" can be read as "thirty sayings" showing that what
followed came from the Thirty "Chapters" of the Teachings of
Amen Em Apet.
* - Ugaritic gave a foundation of words for thinking in monothe-
* - The Assyrians brought a whole history of war stories from
which much of Joshua derives.
* - The Babylonian/Persian effect came both from the Captivity
and from the Persian conquest. Words like Cherub and
Seraph, Paradise, Hell, Lake of Fire, Angels and a late
version of creation all came from those two cultures.
The points above will be a little too sweeping for many. It is
not my aim to debate the detail, only to outline the general
views. Bear with me.
Each occupation had its effect on the literature. But was it
inevitable? Do we have modern examples? Of course, they are
The one that mimics the Israelite situation best is the British
occupation of Quebec. Though the Quebec one began with a battle,
the end effect was a withdrawal by France from North America,
Louisiana a chip to be sold later. The Greek invasion of Israel
was one of collaboration. However, the Quebec battle and the
Antiochian Temple blunder led in each case to a feeling of them
In Quebec's case, there was a mother country. Israel had only
itself. We might expect therefore for Israel's literature to be
relentlessly of itself. Quebec's would be relentlessly mother
country. Both were what happened, if the DSS material tells us
anything. Quebec developed its own literature and culture based
on and in reaction to the French pre-revolution culture. When
they did import French Republican ideas they had profound ef-
fects. Israel underwent similar changes, resulting in the
upsurge of millennial thinking the DSS material shows.
Mind you, no Frenchman from France sees the Quebec culture as
their kind of French. But then, no pre or post exile Jew would
view the Qumran lode as all essentially Jewish. It would have
floored the restorers of the Second Temple. Their successors,
however, were soon reacting to the baggage brought with them from
Babylon, showing up in the Canonical books like Daniel as the
Jews reacted to Hellenistic hegemonic pressures. North American
Anglo culture shows its effects on Quebec media output less in
borrowing than in reaction. That same effect was going on in
Israel. But Pharisaic writings had clearly taken on Platonic and
Aristotelian world views. These changes show plainly in some of
the DSS material.
I don't think I'm writing to the blind. The results are there to