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Re: orion Orion Mishnah as History
> Well, the question is whether one wants to do history (as "wissenschaft")
> or whether one wants to talk about what the "folk" believe.
With in the sources, all of them that are generally being used in this
forum, that distinction can never be made, history is the folk belief of
these peoples. You cannot impose a philosphy that was a product of the
Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries upon any ancient source.
> requires certain rules of evidence in order to declare something
> historical. I like to use the newspaper editor's rule (which is of course
> not even a good historical test), do you have two independent sources
> saying the same thing?
You are still dealing with folk beliefs,in fact you are dealing with four
folk beliefs, the first source's, the second source's, the interpreters
and the reader's.
Very little in the Mishnah is confirmed by any
> source that stands at the same distance from the C1 or even in the C1.
> Paul V. M. Flesher, Director
> Religious Studies Program
> University of Wyoming
> Laramie, WY 82071-3353
Ist off, there is a great deal of other outside sources that varify a
good portion of the Mishnaic material. Such as the DSS, Greek sources,
Roman sources, Macc; I + II, Josephus, and so on.
2nd, Mishnaic literature is a collection of books that perhaps could
fill up entire library shelves, and not one book. So in your theory this
material could support itself as well as contradict itself as does
happen, even with other sources, much like Josephus and the Bible, but in
a much larger scale in terms of the amount of literature that is actually
involved. Pirke Avoth for example is believed to have been a much
earlier text included later into the Mishnah.
3rd, most of our historical sources do not have obvious collaborating
sources. Such as the the DSS, but most of us would not conclude the the RT
and the WP never existed, nor had any true effect upon the DSS
4th it is not scientific to neglect or regect a potential source for
information simply because you are ignorant of that information, as it
appears to be the case with you sir, as your observations are due to the
lack of observation and understanding of the Mishnaic sources. You have
concluded the unreliability of the Mishnah without any comparitive study
of it in terms of other sources from other cultures. For example Homer.
Homer's tales are being used by serious archaeologists as a source for a
greater understanding of the prehistoric Aegean. If this is true for
lesser serious historical accounts that were even further removed in time
from their point of origin, then why not a serious attempt by traditional
Judaism to preserve is Oral tradition that was threatened to be lost due
to the disasters of 70 and 135 AD. Also you have negated the fact that
mishnaic literature is our only source for what happened within Judaism at
certain periods of time, such as the establishment of the academy at
Yavnah and what happened within it. You also seem to have concluded that
the Mishnah had one author, as this is untrue, and each reference must be
very carefully evaluated in terms of content as an independant source.
We cannot be dealing with a FICTION as this would imply that there was a
collective effort to falsify tradition by hundreds of traditional people.
I have more to say, but too much is being said, but my conclusion is that
there is a very big double standard in the use of traditional Jewish
sources. People have jumped to the conclusion that it is fiction. But this
is typical of the ethnocentric nature of the Revisionist approach, in that
we are more capable of understanding and writing history that those who
directly inherited that history and wrote about it in the ancient past.
Revisionism is by definition ethnocentric and also very unscientific. If
this was a forum of Cross-Cultural psychology and Anthropology many of you
would have been laughed off the list for concluding that a peoples'
historical traditions are not valid in understanding their more ancient
past. And that they were falsified works of total fiction. It would be one
thing if we were dealing with mythology or cosmology of a tribal society.
But if we are dealing with the genaeology of that society of its past
chiefs and what they did a revisionistic conclusion would be problematic,
even unacceptable. As what other sources do we have under such
conditions,so anthropologists still treat that material very seriously
(needless to say revisionism does not exist as a strong current
in anthropology, gee I wonder why?). But we are not dealing with a
primative tribal society, we are dealing with a literate society with a
strong cultural sence of history and its preservation. The rejection of
the Mishnah reflects a cultural bias, not science. A criticism of the
Mishnah is more acceptable, but you have to address it as such, and each
piont by piont. I would never argue that mishnaic literature was 100%
true, maybe only a portion, but that portion should be addressed and
looked into, not rejected outright and never investigated.
I do not mean to attack anyone, as such issues as ethnocentricity do
tend to lurk in our subconscious. I am just trying to reveal that it
appears to be present.