Soooo, I go offline to write up some stuff, and I have so much stuff to write at the moment that the only thing that prevents me from having a complete nervous breakdown is the sense of duty (DUTYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY);
anyway I go offline, and the next thing I see when I stumble vaguely downwards in the general direction of the back-to-the-internets and ah-fundies-hell
(or, rather, am summoned back from the seventh circle of hell – the circle reserved for people who have to write things, so that they can concentrate when the sweet, screeching sound of wailing of Xian sinners fills their dark bitter hearts with much needed warmth& warm fuzzy feelings of glee, schadenfreude and GLEE – by e-mails and messages asking me DID U SEE THAT DID U?????)
well, what’s the next thing?
Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests
Well. Let’s start from the beginning
(and also make the necessary disclaimer that I can’t really say anything until I see the article in a proper scientific journal, because, LOL, this is how it works)
(unless you’re a fuckwit who believes Albright& Thiele – as a typical person who deals with ANE, my first reaction was “WTF is Thiele?”, my second reaction was to google, my third was “Ah, USian fundies, OKAAAAY!”, my fourth to e-mail a Prof who is an actual Semitist just to make sure. The Prof’s first reaction was “LOL THIELE”, her second “LOL FUNDIES” so there – that Albright&Thiele are scholars whose research should be still taken seriously in the year 2010. For one, it’s terribly outdated, second, their methodology was, frankly, appallingly unscientific, third, they were both archaeologists, and as such, not really trained to interpret texts properly. The Wiki editors, though, seem to be strangely enamoured of them. It probably has something to do with noxious fumes and sulfurous vapours from the influence of Conservapaedia >.>)
what Galil Gershom seems to claim is:
1. The inscription from from Khirbet Qeiyafa is written in Hebrew.
2. It can be dated to X century BCE.
3. The presence of writing in Israel at such an early period could prove that the Bible was written much earlier than heretofore assumed.
Ad 1> His interpretation seems to hinge on the presence of two verbs which, as he himself admits, do occur in other Canaanite languages, albeit with lesser frequency.
It has to be noted that the text itself is very fragmentary and heavily damaged.
Also, I’d like to remind everybody about the blunders that are in fact sometimes made when it comes to interpreting ancient texts, such as these, where a private letter was suggested to be a part of an epic poem.
However, even if Gershom’s interpretation is correct, it means very little for the chronology of the redaction of the Bible.
Ad 2> I’d have to take a look at whatever was published about the excavations. If anything has been published at all.
It might not have been, yet.
Ad 3> Here, we come to the crux of the argument, and where it’s time to call bullshit.
Because, the lack of Hebrew writing system is NOT the ultimate proof for the late redaction of the Bible. There are multiple other arguments, and trying to turn the scientific consensus (VI century BCE and later redaction) into another false controversy replete with straw men and non-sequiturs is a complete, utter and total failure on the part of whoever did it, be it Gershom himself or the maverick journalist who wrote the press release(1).
There are multiple other factors that have to be taken into account when dating ancient texts, such as, for instance, the cultural background. Sometimes older words for garments, vessels, and the like, have to be explained by added glosses, because they are no longer comprehensible to later readers. There is ample evidence for such “gloss-like” passages in the Bible. There is also plenty of other indirect evidence for the “traditional” chronology being, basically, drivel and complete bullshit, intended to alleviate crazy biblical literalists’ existential Angst about their favourite book(2) not being true.
Also, even if the Hebrew writing was a later invention, it doesn’t mean that writing was unknown in Syria and Palestine. There is evidence that the Egyptian hieroglyphics had been known since at least early III millenium BCE in Arad and Southern Canaan, where they were sometimes used as decorative motives, which might suggest the local population couldn’t read them yet. In the XIV century BCE Amarna several hundred letters to and from Syro-Palestinian kings were excavated, all of them written on cuneiform tablets in Akkadian. Also, this:
The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible’s Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)
Yeah. The Earth was thought to be first created flat, too.
(It most likely was indeed written in a Hebrew alphabet, but arguments like that? Oh, FFS)
Right. I’ll just go and do some work now.
(1) As usual and for anec-datal reasons, I’m a strict adherent of the “always blame the science journalist” theory.
(2) It never ceases to be amusing how some many people claim their favourite book is one they never read.