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Re: orion-list Orion List: 63BCE and all that

On Tue, 21 Sep 1999 17:16:18 -300, risa@mail.hol.gr writes:
>It was kind of you to send me such a civil private note - only it
>was not private as you sent a copy to someone else. Hence, it
>belonged out here on the list.

   I looked for it from the List and was surpsied it didn't appear.
   Ah Technology...

>I agree that concrete evidence, archaeologial or otherwise, is very
>important. Archaeological evidence, however, needs other evidence,
>including textual, to interpret it; it cannot be interpreted in a
>vacuum. When we lack textual or other evidence, we stand in danger
>of misconstruing the concrete evidence, of interpreting it wrong,
>and making fantastic and *creative re-constructions. Fittingly
>enough, perhaps the best exposition of the dangers of treating
>archaeological evidence in a vacuum comes from a fine *creative
>writer: Stephen Vincent Benet.
>See if you can locate a collection of Benet's short stories at the library.
>Look up, and read, "By The Waters of Babylon" (Benet knew his scriptures;
>the reference is quite deliberate and purposeful.) The setting is the U.S.
>after devastating Atomic warfare; the protagonist a young priest who
>dares to cross into the forbidden area, the "Dead Places" across the
>river, in search of metals. He wanders around hunting through the ruins.
>He discovers that the builders of these great ruins were, after all, men,
>not demons. After much wandering he finds the remains of a statue of George
>Washington. The inscription is damaged: there are lacunae, it now reads
>[W]ASHING[TON]. The denoument of the story is particularly appropriate:
>    Nevertheless, we make a beginning. It is not for the metal alone
>    we go to the Dead Places now -- there are the books and the writings.
>    They are hard to learn. And the magic tools are broken -- but we can
>    look at them and wonder. At least, we make a beginning. And when I am
>    chief priest we shall go beyond the great river. We shall go to the
>    Place of the Gods -- the place newyork -- not one man but a company.
>    We shall look for the images of the gods and find the god ASHING...
>When one examines archaeological evidence in a vacuum, without other
>evidence, including textual, to help interpret the concrete, one is
>creating a "god ASHING."

   Thank you very much for your point.  It's exactly as I see the

   I tended to think that filtering took longer "back then" until I
   had done my summary in my book.  No sooner was it in press and
   out, I learned where my ancient sources had many things wrong. 
   My first source was Josephus about whom I was cautioned, "Trust
   him only on details that his keepers walked over."  

   For his details on the ground, he is exact to the meter. 

   When I learned from the Slavonic Josephus the way he came into
   the Romans' hands, setting a model that Masada later was NOT to
   follow and doing so likely for his example, then I began to read
   his other pieces with a different light, that he was trying until
   he died to earn his way back to his homeland.  

   He knew there were, at the time, other kinglists.  His Manetho
   historiography is another matter.  Stories were another matter. 
   They all differed.  Redford, whom I normally titrate carefully -
   he sometimes has different opinions in different chapters - is
   very cautious on J's Manetho.  Moreover, the other sources,
   mostly later, all offer different accounts.  The lists in other
   sources support each other too.  But the accounts in the others
   agree more with each other than with Josephus.

   A decade ago, I took for granted the dating of The Kingdom.  The
   Britannica date of 966 for Solomon beginning the Temple I took as
   a given.

   But there's nothing on the ground.  If your evidence is internal
   to the texts you're using, and internal only, there's a problem. 
   I can't find enough elsewhere to support the historiography.  A
   few more other epigraphic finds and _maybe_ there's a case.  

   Gratefully, we have here, now after fifty years in Ratzinger et
   predecessors' custody, texts collected over 150 years and depos-
   ited in the 60's  BCE.  On analysis, they show a great deal of
   inconsistency among them.  So my fellow scholars tell me.  The
   early days of analysis reported more texts resembled LXX later
   MSS than MT.

   So, my view changed.  The corpus was hortatory and in develop-
   ment.  I have a major rewrite on my hands now.


   Now convince me contra.

>Sincerely yours,
>Dr. Rochelle I. Altman, co-coordinator IOUDAIOS-L  risa@hol.gr


Tom Simms
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