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Is Old Testament historicaly correct?

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Helo
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 09:36am 

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In few last months I went through some websites about history of Palestine. One claimed that Hebrews were only small tribe with no power or kingdom. But there are others who told me that what is written in Tora is truth. Both sides had their proofs but I dont know much about this region in ancient times. Is there any historian who knows where is the truth? Or do you know abou good website?
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Darth Wong
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 09:41am 

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Why would anyone (apart from a raving fundie, of course) assume it's historically correct in the first place? At best, it's a grossly one-sided description of one particular tribe's history, mashed together with all sorts of religious nonsense. At worst, it's pure fabrication.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 09:53am 

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No, it is not. At best, it is an analogy or reaction to some historical events. But the Old Testament is no more an accurate description of History than Inglorious Basterds is an accurate description of WWII.
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Helo
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:09am 

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I am interested in kings David and Solomon. On website I read is stated they never existed or Moses or Abraham. And I dont know what to believe. I am making school work on this subject and I would appreciate any link or information on this history.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:14am 

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Would it kill you to use correct English?
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Helo
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:17am 

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Sorry. I am not from English speaking country and my grammar is quite bad.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:24am 

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Helo wrote:
I am interested in kings David and Solomon. On website I read is stated they never existed or Moses or Abraham. And I dont know what to believe. I am making school work on this subject and I would appreciate any link or information on this history.


To answer your question:


- Moses: You can find the non-biblical sources here.
- Abraham: To my knowledge, there is no evidence supporting his existence other than the bible itself
- Solomon and David: Surprisingly, Wikipedia is good here as well for Solomon and David.

However, keep in mind that I am not an expert on any of this.
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Helo
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:40am 

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Still, thank you. You are teacher of history or something like that? I read few of topics here and you look like someone with great knowledge abou ancient Rome.
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LaCroix
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 10:53am 

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Well, some people here think he IS from ancient roman...
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Liberty
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:22am 

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I found Who Wrote the Bible, by Friedman, to be an excellent book; Friedman looks at who wrote the first five books of the Bible, and how they were put together into the format they are in now. In doing so, he also looks at the history.

I've also been doing some research online about what archeological/historical evidence says about the events mentioned in the Old Testament, and it is indeed difficult to figure out which websites are reliable and which aren't. One thing I've found, though, is that fundie websites that say the Bible is all completely historically verified lie. They twist the truth and lie blatantly. I think one reason is that many of them say upfront that they believe the Bible is absolutely true and any evidence that contradicts it must be false. For instance, the city of Ai was actually destroyed in 2400 B.C. or so, a thousand years before the time of Joshua, who supposedly destroyed it. Ai was never rebuilt. What do the fundies say? Well, that must not actually be the town of Ai, or else the dating they've used is wrong, etc.

The fact is, even something as simple as the Exodus has NO historical verification. The Old Testament says there were 600,000 fighting men among the Israelites at that time, which means that all told there would have been at least two million Israelites. Which makes no sense, seen as Egypt had 3-6 million people at the time and Canaan had a population of 50,000 - 100,000 (this is from Wikipedia's article on the Exodus). Egypt's economy would have collapsed when the Israelites left...and it didn't. Also, the Israelites would have completely overwhelmed the Canaanites, and there should have been a major cultural change as cities were destroyed and a new culture (Israelite) began. Well, there wasn't.

And I agree with Darth Wong - you have to get beyond seeing the Old Testament as anything but another historical document, and you have to remember that it was written centuries after the events in question supposedly happened and was a confusing amalgamation of various traditions and stories, and nothing more. And those who wrote it had a vested interest in making their side look good. Can we learn things about ancient history from it? Probably. Can we trust it as historically accurate? Absolutely not.

But I'm not an expert, and my forte is modern American history, not ancient history. I would like to know if there was a credible website or book that goes through the historical claims of the Old Testament and addresses them with what we know from archeology and historical sources. Does anyone have a suggestion?
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Guardsman Bass
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:34am 

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Those are pretty good, Thanas.

Solomon and David (as well as the nature of the areas they are said in the Bible to rule over) is one of the heavily debated topics on biblical archaeology and the like. Finkelstein and Silberman (in this book, The Bible Unearthed) make an argument that they were probably chieftains/kings ruling over small areas in the highlands that made up ancient Israel and Judea, and which were later spun into glorious, massive empires by their descendants when the Old Testament "history" was being put together later on in Judea. The exact size of what they ruled, as well as whether or not there was ever a "united kingdom" of Israel and Judea (the guys above dispute the idea that one ever existed), is one of the disputed topics.

I'd recommend that book, by the way. It's written for a popular audience, but it's still an interesting read and introduction for lay men like me.

Moses is definitely bullshit, though. There's no trace of anything resembling the migration that's described in the Bible, and Egypt actually controlled and patrolled Canaan during the period in which believers would traditionally put the Exodus.
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Guardsman Bass
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:54am 

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Sorry, I wanted to add but the edit deadline passed -

The Finkelstein/Silberman book is disputed by other researchers, such as William Dever (he wrote a review of the book, but unfortunately I think it's behind a paywall in the JSTOR database - I have access to it through my school account).
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Liberty
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:55am 

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Guardsman Bass wrote:
Those are pretty good, Thanas.

Solomon and David (as well as the nature of the areas they are said in the Bible to rule over) is one of the heavily debated topics on biblical archaeology and the like. Finkelstein and Silberman (in this book, The Bible Unearthed) make an argument that they were probably chieftains/kings ruling over small areas in the highlands that made up ancient Israel and Judea, and which were later spun into glorious, massive empires by their descendants when the Old Testament "history" was being put together later on in Judea. The exact size of what they ruled, as well as whether or not there was ever a "united kingdom" of Israel and Judea (the guys above dispute the idea that one ever existed), is one of the disputed topics.

I'd recommend that book, by the way. It's written for a popular audience, but it's still an interesting read and introduction for lay men like me.

Moses is definitely bullshit, though. There's no trace of anything resembling the migration that's described in the Bible, and Egypt actually controlled and patrolled Canaan during the period in which believers would traditionally put the Exodus.

Wow, that book looks awesome. And my library has it. Yay!
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Liberty
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:56am 

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Guardsman Bass wrote:
Sorry, I wanted to add but the edit deadline passed -

The Finkelstein/Silberman book is disputed by other researchers, such as William Dever (he wrote a review of the book, but unfortunately I think it's behind a paywall in the JSTOR database - I have access to it through my school account).

The wiki article said that the book was very well received and listed Dever as the only one to dispute it. So it sounds like it's probably good history, overall.
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Darth Wong
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 11:58am 

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I think another way to look at this question is to ask: "Is Homer's Iliad historically correct?" The very question seems utterly preposterous on its face, to the point that no one would seriously ask it at all. And yet, the Bible has no greater claim on historical accuracy than Homer's Iliad does.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 12:00pm 

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Guardsman Bass wrote:
Moses is definitely bullshit, though. There's no trace of anything resembling the migration that's described in the Bible, and Egypt actually controlled and patrolled Canaan during the period in which believers would traditionally put the Exodus.


Which would actually fit pretty well with the accounts of Artapanus of Alexandria and especially that of Strabo, which paint him as a disillusioned Egyptian priest who went/was exiled to Canaan and flourished there somewhat.

Darth Wong wrote:
I think another way to look at this question is to ask: "Is Homer's Iliad historically correct?" The very question seems utterly preposterous on its face, to the point that no one would seriously ask it at all. And yet, the Bible has no greater claim on historical accuracy than Homer's Iliad does.


Actually, Homer's Iliad has a much more better point, considering its tale of conflict between two ethnic groups and the sack of Troy has been confirmed at least in part by archeological findings. Unlike, say, Genesis.
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Liberty
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 12:04pm 

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Darth Wong wrote:
I think another way to look at this question is to ask: "Is Homer's Iliad historically correct?" The very question seems utterly preposterous on its face, to the point that no one would seriously ask it at all. And yet, the Bible has no greater claim on historical accuracy than Homer's Iliad does.

Actually, they've found Troy based on the Iliad, and they use it to understand the customs of ancient Greece. It was written by the Greeks after the Greek dark age, and contains many stories and traditions from the great Mycenaean Greek civilization before, and classicists use this information. They don't take it completely at face value, and are aware that it would have changed over time and been biased, but it is nonetheless one of the sources they use.

All things considered, your analogy is a good one; both works are collections of stories that were mythologized over time and were used by people groups to speak of their glory days and remember their past and invigorate their present. Both have traces of history in them and can be used to make or explain archeological finds, but neither should be taken at face value as literally true.
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Guardsman Bass
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 12:09pm 

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Liberty wrote:
Guardsman Bass wrote:
Sorry, I wanted to add but the edit deadline passed -

The Finkelstein/Silberman book is disputed by other researchers, such as William Dever (he wrote a review of the book, but unfortunately I think it's behind a paywall in the JSTOR database - I have access to it through my school account).

The wiki article said that the book was very well received and listed Dever as the only one to dispute it. So it sounds like it's probably good history, overall.


Definitely go ahead and try it out. If your university has paid for access to JSTOR, I'd then go and read both Dever's review as well as Finkelstein's rejoinder to Dever's review (both are quite interesting). Finkelstein seems to come out with the more accurate view of the period.
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The Spartan
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 12:16pm 

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Thanas wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:
I think another way to look at this question is to ask: "Is Homer's Iliad historically correct?" The very question seems utterly preposterous on its face, to the point that no one would seriously ask it at all. And yet, the Bible has no greater claim on historical accuracy than Homer's Iliad does.
Actually, Homer's Iliad has a much more better point, considering its tale of conflict between two ethnic groups and the sack of Troy has been confirmed at least in part by archeological findings. Unlike, say, Genesis.
Yeah, but what we read in the Iliad isn't what happened, it's a heavily mythologized version of what happened. Like the Exodus: there probably was an Exodus, but it wasn't millions of slave fleeing their oppressors, it was, as you say a disillusioned priest leaving with his followers. (I've also heard that the Israelites were actually a band of mercenaries who decided they were getting a raw deal and left, though I have no idea how well that view holds up.)

Similarly, we know Jericho existed and we know that it was destroyed, at some point, but we also know it wasn't brought down by marching around it for seven days and it wasn't sacked by the Israelites. More likely, as I recall, it's ruins were discovered by the Israelites and they took credit for it.
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Twigler
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 12:51pm 

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Also don't forget that whatever grains of truth might be in the books, they're biased.
I recall looking up one of the so-called victories claimed by Hezekiah against the Assyrian king Sennacherib. The bible claims it as a great victory, with 185k Assyrians killed by God himself. On the other hand the Assyrians consider it a victory and mention that they plundered all his lands, locked him up in Jerusalem and that in fear of the Assyrian might, the Hebrew king offered them a ton of gold in tribute if they could please lift the siege and go away.
So while there are two sources here confirming the event did actually happen, it's impossible that both are right.

My money is on the Assyrian account being closer to the truth btw.
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Channel72
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 02:28pm 

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Thanas wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:
I think another way to look at this question is to ask: "Is Homer's Iliad historically correct?" The very question seems utterly preposterous on its face, to the point that no one would seriously ask it at all. And yet, the Bible has no greater claim on historical accuracy than Homer's Iliad does.



Actually, Homer's Iliad has a much more better point, considering its tale of conflict between two ethnic groups and the sack of Troy has been confirmed at least in part by archeological findings. Unlike, say, Genesis.


I have to call bullshit on this. In terms of overall historical usefulness, the Old Testament far surpasses anything written by Homer. In fact, mainstream historians actually rely on parts of the Old Testament to form overall Near Eastern chronologies. Consider, for example, how the standard dating for the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period uses the reference to Pharaoh Sheshonk I, mentioned in 1 Kings 14, as a major anchor point in the overall chronology.


Obviously, the Old Testament is far from a reliable history book. It's heavily mythologized and horribly biased (like most ancient Near Eastern documents), but to dismiss it as pure fantasy, bereft of any real historical value is going way overboard. It is certainly more historically useful than Homer's Iliad, at least. Sure, a lot of it is pure Hebrew mythology, but that doesn't change the fact that it provides historians with a lot of verifiable information about the Ancient Near East. Allow me to break it down:


The Torah: (Genesis through Deuteronomy)

The Torah is essentially worthless as history. It has vague echoes of Near Eastern civilization in the 2nd millennium B.C.E, but since most of it was actually written well into the second half of the first millennium, it's only real value is as an historical record of Jewish cultic beliefs around the time of the Babylonian exile.


Joshua and Judges

These two books are also mostly worthless as history as well. They provide an extremely condensed, mythologized, and confused picture of the formation of the nation of Israel around 1100 B.C.E. In reality, Israel was not formed via a Blitzkrieg-like conquest through Canaan; rather, slowly, over time, various Semitic tribes settled in the area and replaced the original Bronze Age population. However, the picture is somewhat confused, since the original Canaanite Bronze Age inhabitants actually were destroyed via some sort of cataclysm around the end of the Bronze Age, but this was probably part of the overall wave of invasions that crippled the Hittites and the Egyptians as well.


Samuel 1 and 2

Again, mostly worthless as history, other than to establish the existence of the House of David. Most mainstream historians acknowledge the historicity of King David, and there is even a stele dating to the 9th century B.C.E that mentions "House of David". Also, the court narrative in 2 Samuel is acknowledged by most of mainstream scholarship to be based on contemporary sources.


Kings 1 and 2

Despite heavy mythological content, the Book of Kings is an incredibly useful historical source. Many of the personages and major political events in this book can be validated via Assyrian records, and to a lesser extent, Egyptian, Chaldean, Aramean and Moabite record(s). It even serves as a critical reference point in establishing Egyptian chronology during this period. Kings also provides us with invaluable historical information about 1) the expansion and conquests of the Assyrian empire, 2) the fall of Northern Israel and later Judah, 3) the Kings who reigned during this period and the major battles they fought in, (such as King Ahab, who formed a coalition against the Assyrians and fought them in the battle of Qarqar), 4) the expansion and conquest of the Babylonian empire, 5) the Babylonian exile.

Again, all of this is verified by other Near Eastern sources, but the Old Testament accounts give us additional insight into these events and personages. In fact, other than the obviously mythological Elija/Elisha stories and some folksy tales about Solomon, most of Kings, especially the latter half, provides useful historical information, albeit with an obviously biased, pro-Yahweh coloring.


Chronicles 1 and 2

The Book of Chronicles is basically a less-reliable version of Kings, with a more mythologized and white-washed retelling of the David story, and so is mostly worthless historically.


Ezra, Nehemiah

These two books are incredibly useful historically, and are believed by mainstream scholarship to include the only actual eye-witness accounts in the entire Old Testament. They recount the conquest of Babylon via Cyrus of Persia, and give us information about the reestablishment of a Jewish settlement in Judea, and the rebuilding of the temple.


The Major/Minor Prophets

These books are mostly worthless historically, however they contain bits of historical information that supplements what we know from Kings.


So, again, it's ridiculous to say that the Old Testament has little historical value, or to compare it's historical value with the Iliad. Really, the Old Testament provides a wealth of information into Near Eastern politics during the first half of the first millennium B.C. Compare this to the works of Homer, which tell us virtually nothing useful about Mycenaean Greece, other than the existence of certain names and places, echoes of certain Mycenaean weaponry, and the fact that there may have been one or more conflicts over the city of Troy.

Really, this is to be expected, since the Iliad and Odyssey were first written down centuries after the fall of Mycenaean Greece, after Greece suffered the collective amnesia that comes with a multi-century dark age, whereas much of the source material for the Book of Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some of the major and minor prophets was contemporary or nearly contemporary with the actual events themselves. Moreover, many of these events are confirmed by other Near Eastern sources. But despite Heinrich Schliemann's romantic blatherings, nothing found during the excavation at Troy has confirmed any specific event which is said to have occurred in the Iliad, other than the fact that the Trojan war may have some vague basis in one or more real conflicts which happened at Troy.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 02:46pm 

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Channel72 wrote:
I have to call bullshit on this. In terms of overall historical usefulness, the Old Testament far surpasses anything written by Homer. In fact, mainstream historians actually rely on parts of the Old Testament to form overall Near Eastern chronologies.

Consider, for example, how the standard dating for the Egyptian Third Intermediate Period uses the reference to Pharaoh Sheshonk I, mentioned in 1 Kings 14, as a major anchor point in the overall chronology.


Sheshonk I is dated usually iirc from a stela from his reign, the bible usually only enters into it when people start to discuss the extent of his campaigning. So important, yes, but certainly not as important as you make it out to be.

Meanwhile, don't even try to understand Greek and Roman thought without the illiad. Just for that, the historical usefulness of Homer far eclipses that of any old testament stuff.


Quote:
Obviously, the Old Testament is far from a reliable history book. It's heavily mythologized and horribly biased (like most ancient Near Eastern documents), but to dismiss it as pure fantasy, bereft of any real historical value is going way overboard.


Seeing as how you are addressing me, nice straw man there.

Quote:
Again, all of this is verified by other Near Eastern sources, but the Old Testament accounts give us additional insight into these events and personages. In fact, other than the obviously mythological Elija/Elisha stories and some folksy tales about Solomon, most of Kings, especially the latter half, provides useful historical information, albeit with an obviously biased, pro-Yahweh coloring.


You mean....like how Homer tells us about the Greek ethos?

Quote:
These two books are incredibly useful historically, and are believed by mainstream scholarship to include the only actual eye-witness accounts in the entire Old Testament. They recount the conquest of Babylon via Cyrus of Persia, and give us information about the reestablishment of a Jewish settlement in Judea, and the rebuilding of the temple.


Indeed, you are correct. In fact, I would call them the only books that, on their whole, are useful and liable to be cited as far as historical facts are concerned.

Quote:
So, again, it's ridiculous to say that the Old Testament has little historical value, or to compare it's historical value with the Iliad. Really, the Old Testament provides a wealth of information into Near Eastern politics during the first half of the first millennium B.C. Compare this to the works of Homer, which tell us virtually nothing useful about Mycenaean Greece, other than the existence of certain names and places, echoes of certain Mycenaean weaponry, and the fact that there may have been one or more conflicts over the city of Troy.

Really, this is to be expected, since the Iliad and Odyssey were first written down centuries after the fall of Mycenaean Greece, after Greece suffered the collective amnesia that comes with a multi-century dark age, whereas much of the source material for the Book of Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some of the major and minor prophets was contemporary or nearly contemporary with the actual events themselves. Moreover, many of these events are confirmed by other Near Eastern sources. But despite Heinrich Schliemann's romantic blatherings, nothing found during the excavation at Troy has confirmed any specific event which is said to have occurred in the Iliad, other than the fact that the Trojan war may have some vague basis in one or more real conflicts which happened at Troy.


No, but the value for ancient Greek and of course for Greek thought and belief far eclipses that of the old testament whereas antiquity is concerned. Without the Iliad we would not even have the slightest idea of probably about 60% of the literature/mythology/art of the Greeks. For example, the description of the illias as far as ancient combat and weaponry are priceless, especially for interpreting Mycenaean findings.
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Channel72
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 03:24pm 

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Thanas wrote:
Sheshonk I is dated usually iirc from a stela from his reign, the bible usually only enters into it when people start to discuss the extent of his campaigning. So important, yes, but certainly not as important as you make it out to be.

However, the Old Testament tells us that Sheshonk I was contemporary with King Rehoboam of Judah, Solomon's son, which provides us with a valuable anchor point to synchronize Egyptian history in the Third Intermediate Period with events in the Levant, and by extension events in Mesopotamia.

Thanas wrote:
Meanwhile, don't even try to understand Greek and Roman thought without the illiad. Just for that, the historical usefulness of Homer far eclipses that of any old testament stuff.

Sure, of course I have to grant that. But isn't the topic under discussion here the historical correctness of the Old Testament? While the Iliad provides invaluable insight into the Greco-Roman mythos, it's not in any sense "historically correct." In other words, nothing described in the Iliad actually happened, unless you're speaking in the broadest of terms. But many specific events in the Old Testament actually happened, because we can verify them through other sources. Therefore, my point stands that the Old Testament is far more historically "correct" than the Iliad, and so it's wrong to compare the two on that basis.

Thanas wrote:
Channel72 wrote:
Obviously, the Old Testament is far from a reliable history book. It's heavily mythologized and horribly biased (like most ancient Near Eastern documents), but to dismiss it as pure fantasy, bereft of any real historical value is going way overboard.

Seeing as how you are addressing me, nice straw man there.

Sorry. I wanted to also address the comment from Darth Wong you were replying to, and I clumsily integrated it into my reply to you.

Thanas wrote:
No, but the value for ancient Greek and of course for Greek thought and belief far eclipses that of the old testament whereas antiquity is concerned. Without the Iliad we would not even have the slightest idea of probably about 60% of the literature/mythology/art of the Greeks. For example, the description of the illias as far as ancient combat and weaponry are priceless, especially for interpreting Mycenaean findings.

Again, obviously I have to grant you the point about literature, mythology, and art. But I dispute your comment about Mycenaean combat and weaponry. The description of ancient combat and weaponry in the Iliad is a muddled, confused anachronistic mess, which conflates Bronze Age and Iron Age weapons and tactics. Homer even reduces the function of Mycenaean chariots to glorified taxis - he had no idea how chariots were actually used in combat. Other than the mention of the boars-head helmet worn by Odysseus, and the "figure-8" shields, what actual insight does the Iliad provide into any Mycenaean tactics/weaponry?

But regardless, I thought the topic was historical correctness, and not cultural information or insight. But even if we're talking about cultural insight, the Old Testament provides invaluable understanding into three millennia of Jewish/Christian dogma and philosophy. So even without the purely historical element, the Old Testament seems to me at least as useful as the Iliad, if only less awesome because it doesn't have Achilles rampaging around throwing spears while pondering existential dilemmas.
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Thanas
PostPosted: 2010-04-06 03:59pm 

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Channel72 wrote:
Thanas wrote:
Sheshonk I is dated usually iirc from a stela from his reign, the bible usually only enters into it when people start to discuss the extent of his campaigning. So important, yes, but certainly not as important as you make it out to be.

However, the Old Testament tells us that Sheshonk I was contemporary with King Rehoboam of Judah, Solomon's son, which provides us with a valuable anchor point to synchronize Egyptian history in the Third Intermediate Period with events in the Levant, and by extension events in Mesopotamia.


If we accept he is the same Pharaoh mentioned in the bible, an identification that, while being the majority view, is not really unanimous. As for synchronizing him with events in Mesopotamia or in the Levant, I would argue that since we have several inscriptions in the levant from him as well as the depictions and reliefs at his temples, they might not be that important. However, I'd be the first to admit that I have not done extensive study there, so if you know more than I do, feel free to correct me.

Quote:
Sure, of course I have to grant that. But isn't the topic under discussion here the historical correctness of the Old Testament?


Well, true. But you yourself mentioned "historical usefulness" for the first time in your post, so I took that as the basis for my reply to your post.

Quote:
While the Iliad provides invaluable insight into the Greco-Roman mythos, it's not in any sense "historically correct." In other words, nothing described in the Iliad actually happened, unless you're speaking in the broadest of terms.


As I was.

Quote:
But many specific events in the Old Testament actually happened, because we can verify them through other sources. Therefore, my point stands that the Old Testament is far more historically "correct" than the Iliad, and so it's wrong to compare the two on that basis.


I would say that the value of those events are largely conjecture and the verifications usually seem to rely on assumptions. In any case, verifications by other sources usually leads to the bible stories having to be substantially modified, as in the case of moses I quoted above.

Quote:
Sorry. I wanted to also address the comment from Darth Wong you were replying to, and I clumsily integrated it into my reply to you.


No worries.

Quote:
Again, obviously I have to grant you the point about literature, mythology, and art. But I dispute your comment about Mycenaean combat and weaponry. The description of ancient combat and weaponry in the Iliad is a muddled, confused anachronistic mess, which conflates Bronze Age and Iron Age weapons and tactics. Homer even reduces the function of Mycenaean chariots to glorified taxis - he had no idea how chariots were actually used in combat. Other than the mention of the boars-head helmet worn by Odysseus, and the "figure-8" shields, what actual insight does the Iliad provide into any Mycenaean tactics/weaponry?


Well, the Mycenaean period is a period encompassing at its end an overlap of bronze and iron age tactics. However, as far as I know, the practice of champion combat was still used. Nevermind kings having hetairoi, the practice and importance of ships, the descriptions of meals taken together, practices regarding captured cities and the division of booty....

As for the chariots, AFAIK Mycenaean chariots were not really used predominantly in combat but did indeed serve as glorified taxis (though take note that there is at least one passage in the Illias where chariot combat is mentioned, iirc). Feel free to cite a study saying otherwise, though, as I noted, Mycenaean Greece is something I do not focus on.

Quote:
But regardless, I thought the topic was historical correctness, and not cultural information or insight. But even if we're talking about cultural insight, the Old Testament provides invaluable understanding into three millennia of Jewish/Christian dogma and philosophy. So even without the purely historical element, the Old Testament seems to me at least as useful as the Iliad, if only less awesome because it doesn't have Achilles rampaging around throwing spears while pondering existential dilemmas.


Well, to be honest, I consider a work that influenced the predominant Empires on Earth for over 12-1300 years much more important than the old testament text which, in its interpretation, received a lot of values from that earlier mindset. Christian dogma in the middle ages is heavily influenced by Roman values, which are in turn largely the values and ideas of the Greeks.

However, that may just be personal preference.
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LaCroix
PostPosted: 2010-04-07 04:36am 

Sith Devotee


Joined: 2004-12-21 01:14pm
Posts: 2779
Location: Vienna, Austria, Europe, Terra
The Spartan wrote:
Similarly, we know Jericho existed and we know that it was destroyed, at some point, but we also know it wasn't brought down by marching around it for seven days and it wasn't sacked by the Israelites. More likely, as I recall, it's ruins were discovered by the Israelites and they took credit for it.


Wasn't that the ruse for the sneak attack? I hear a pretty convincing theory that the 'red rope' Rahab tied to her window was an important fact. So whenever the Israelites marched around the city, a handful of men climbed up and into town. After seven days, they had enough men in there, and on the signal of the horns, they stormed the gates and opened them, while everybody was distracted by the Israelites blowing the war horns, thinking they would start the storm on the walls now... I just can't remember where I have it from, but it sounds better than a coincidental earthquake, and it explains the rope, which would do nothing to protect Rahab's house in the heat of battle - no one would notice it.
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