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    radical strawberry
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    Another thread

    Be careful what you wish for.

    Elsewhere, I've been asked about my affinity for liberal Christianity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    After a long break, I'm back to doing Unitarian services ... not really that much difference with libxian, I figure.
    I'd be interested in knowing more about this -- perhaps another thread?
    I'm not sure I'm comfortable discussing these issues with the above poster. But I'm always up for a discussion with Adrift, and if anyone else would like to join in, they're welcome.

    Feel free to consider this an AMA thread for the former taoist, former lao tzu, and current Juvenal.



    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    Not sure why he's being cryptic about it ...
    Pretty sure I wasn't so much being cryptic, as terse.

    ... but Mark Smith is an Old Testament scholar who is part of the mainstream liberal view on the Old Testament.
    Mark Smith's theology is entirely irrelevant to me.

    And, as I've said before, I don't believe you can justify framing the debate as "liberal" vs. "conservative." Archaeology and linguistics are no more suitable to me for theological debate than cosmology or biology. While all of these discomfit a vocal segment of Christianity, their discomforts are not pursued via scholarly interactions.

    On the contrary, not only are the conservative positions bereft of interaction with these issues, they are best known for an unpardonable anti-academic ferver, exemplified by expulsions of even their most prominent scholars when they stray from orthodoxy.


    With respect to Smith, I am referencing The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel and The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts.

    Conservatives may find his linguistic analysis of the Ba'al cycle problematic to their theology, but that is, as they say, their problem, not mine.

    Smith's analysis, for instance, shows "elohim" is a cognate 'lm, the divine council of 'l, the principal deity of c. 16th century Ugarit, with 'l a cognate of the El attested theophorically in early Israelite place names like Beth-el; the prophets Samu-el, El-ijah, and El-isha; and Isra-el itself.

    An independent linguistic origin for these names would form a meaningful counter. I'm not familiar with any such alternative, and am having trouble seeing how the underlying theology of such a counter would be relevant.

    Archaeological evidence shows no evidence that Israelite monotheism existed prior to the Babylonian captivity. The discovery of a pre-Babylonian temple in Israel that did not incorporate multiple deities would similarly form a meaningful counter, and again, I am not familiar with any such temple, nor, again, what role conservative theology might add to any objective analysis.

    Stuff like the Documentary Hypothesis ...
    Which has no meaningful counter-theory. Indeed, the only opposition I'm familiar with is Mosaic authorship, which makes no pretense of interaction with the textual issues addressed by the original documentary hypothesis and its later amendments.

    ... the multiple Genesis and Noah narratives ...
    Both of which are self-evident in Genesis, and both of which have well-attested extra-biblical precursors that antedate not only Israel as a people, but the emergence of the Hebrew language itself. The flood narratives in particular have an exceptionally well-attested chain of precursors which antedate even the Ur of Abraham — as attested in the law code of Ur-Nammu which delineates inheritance laws associated in the Biblical texts with Abraham and Jacob that are nowhere to be found in the Mosaic law.

    ... God having a wife (Asherah) ...
    This is also not problematical, even after restricting the god to Yahweh, with multiple archaeological attestations from Edom to Samaria, and also likely referenced in Jeremiah as the "Queen of Heaven."

    ... the Israelites were originally polytheistic ...
    I'm fairly sure that's not disputed by conservatives, depending on what one means by "originally." It's certainly undisputed that polytheism was the most common religious practice during Israel's pre-Babylonian history.

    ... the Israelites were originally commanded by Yahweh to commit child sacrifice ...
    That's new to me, and surely not common, as far as I'm aware. In fact, the aborted sacrifice of Isaac reads best to me as a polemic against the practice. Its practice in Israel is certainly not promoted by Smith, or any other author I've read, which is admittedly a smaller list than yours.

    ... the Israelites never entered/left Egypt and are actually a lower class of Canaanites who went off and did their own thing ...
    After the late bronze age collapse of the Mediterranean empires in the 13th century, the few Canaanite survivors were all lower class. And it should be noted that west Canaan was previously part of Egypt. They didn't have to leave Egypt if Egypt left them.

    Yahweh was a lower god in Elohim's pantheon who rose through the ranks to displace him ...
    That's a misrepresentation. No one says Yahweh rose through the ranks. Like the Ba'als, he found a people willing to promote him above the rest, which was apparently the thing to do. In the process, they adopted his epithets, and priestly offices, and cultic practices, inter alia, a practice so amenable to pantheons, it was later adopted by both the Greeks and Romans.

    Yahweh was a god borrowed from Midian, etc.
    There is limited but very suggestive support for this theory.

    There is a Yhw attested among the Shasu in Midian. Abram and Sarai were renamed to include an added "h" by Yhwh. There is evidence of a special animosity toward the Midianites. Fraternal fights are always the most vicious.

    If I recall, Smith is a practicing Catholic, but still holds many of the views above.
    Smith has found evidence for many of those views. I make the distinction as it is also the distinction between faith and scholarship. Further evidence, and further thought, have modified his views as is apparent in his prefaces to later editions, something which may also be possible for one's faith, but with an associated risk that has no analogue.

    You might remember that showmeproof was thoroughly familiar with his work and other liberal Old Testament scholars who hold similar views like Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Israel Finkelstein, William Dever, Richard Elliott Friedman, and Jon Day. Leaning towards the conservative side you'd have scholars like Michael Heiser, John Walton, John Sailhamer, John Goldingay, Tremper Longman III, Richard Hess, David Garland, etc.
    As I've said, you're much better read than I am, in this field anyway, as is showmeproof. This is just barely a hobby for me.

    I know Finkelstein, Dever, Friedman and Walton from this list, and would add Peter Enns as a more approachable author for those who'd rather avoid Smith's morass of footnotes and endnotes.

    I'd also point out that while Walton could fairly be said to lean toward the more conservative side, he's similarly been regularly rebuked by them for not being conservative enough.

  2. #2
    radical strawberry
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    This is the only thing I've seen of Trevor Longman III, and it only attracted my attention in re-reading the CT story (cached) after seeing him referenced by Adrift as a "leans conservative" counter-scholar.

    JR Daniel Kirk notes that another big OT name, Tremper Longman III, was disinvited from RTS for expressing doubt over the historicity of Adam in September 2009.


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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Be careful what you wish for.

    Elsewhere, I've been asked about my affinity for liberal Christianity.





    I'm not sure I'm comfortable discussing these issues with the above poster. But I'm always up for a discussion with Adrift, and if anyone else would like to join in, they're welcome.

    Feel free to consider this an AMA thread for the former taoist, former lao tzu, and current Juvenal.





    Pretty sure I wasn't so much being cryptic, as terse.



    Mark Smith's theology is entirely irrelevant to me.

    And, as I've said before, I don't believe you can justify framing the debate as "liberal" vs. "conservative." Archaeology and linguistics are no more suitable to me for theological debate than cosmology or biology. While all of these discomfit a vocal segment of Christianity, their discomforts are not pursued via scholarly interactions.
    Parsing the archaeology and linguistics as it applies to the religions of ancient Israel is where the liberal/conservative divide usually comes into play. Various scholars, even within their divide, interpret the data differently. So, while you may find no justification for liberal/conservative framing, it's helpful to others. Certainly to lay readers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    On the contrary, not only are the conservative positions bereft of interaction with these issues, they are best known for an unpardonable anti-academic ferver, exemplified by expulsions of even their most prominent scholars when they stray from orthodoxy.
    Perhaps a distinction without a difference, but technically Waltke resigned, not expelled https://www.christianitytoday.com/ne...y-updated.html

    And while I think RTS was in the wrong, pressure to align with a University's ideals resulting in expulsion/resignation isn't uncommon even at the secular level as we recently witnessed with the Weinstein's at Evergreen, and more justifiably with Stallman, Zuckerman and Ito at MIT.

    That aside, the conservative position is not bereft of interaction with these issues. Scholars like Heiser and Hess directly engage with them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    With respect to Smith, I am referencing The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel and The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel's Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts.

    Conservatives may find his linguistic analysis of the Ba'al cycle problematic to their theology, but that is, as they say, their problem, not mine.

    Smith's analysis, for instance, shows "elohim" is a cognate 'lm, the divine council of 'l, the principal deity of c. 16th century Ugarit, with 'l a cognate of the El attested theophorically in early Israelite place names like Beth-el; the prophets Samu-el, El-ijah, and El-isha; and Isra-el itself.

    An independent linguistic origin for these names would form a meaningful counter. I'm not familiar with any such alternative, and am having trouble seeing how the underlying theology of such a counter would be relevant.

    Archaeological evidence shows no evidence that Israelite monotheism existed prior to the Babylonian captivity. The discovery of a pre-Babylonian temple in Israel that did not incorporate multiple deities would similarly form a meaningful counter, and again, I am not familiar with any such temple, nor, again, what role conservative theology might add to any objective analysis.
    Yes, none of this is unfamiliar to those with a passing understanding of mainstream Old Testament scholarship. It sounds to me that you've already written off more conservative leaning scholarship on the subject before even interacting with it. If you were at all inclined, you may want to check out Richard Hess' work Israelite Religions and Michael Heiser's papers like Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82? and Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Which has no meaningful counter-theory. Indeed, the only opposition I'm familiar with is Mosaic authorship, which makes no pretense of interaction with the textual issues addressed by the original documentary hypothesis and its later amendments.


    Both of which are self-evident in Genesis, and both of which have well-attested extra-biblical precursors that antedate not only Israel as a people, but the emergence of the Hebrew language itself. The flood narratives in particular have an exceptionally well-attested chain of precursors which antedate even the Ur of Abraham — as attested in the law code of Ur-Nammu which delineates inheritance laws associated in the Biblical texts with Abraham and Jacob that are nowhere to be found in the Mosaic law.
    Mosaic authorship alone is not the only view more conservative leaning scholars hold. Some hold to some modification of JEDP, some take an approach between core early authorship and later editors. Heiser, summarizes his view here: https://drmsh.com/mosaic-authorship-...s-jedp-part-3/

    Also, the fact that I mention the dual narratives does not mean that I necessarily disagree that they can't be read from the text. Again, Hesier thinks that some scholars go too far looking for J,E,D and P strands, but that isn't to say that conservative leaning scholars reject the entire notion of an edited and altered Old Testament.


    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    This is also not problematical, even after restricting the god to Yahweh, with multiple archaeological attestations from Edom to Samaria, and also likely referenced in Jeremiah as the "Queen of Heaven."
    I suppose it depends on what you mean by problematic, and where one suggests the problem lie. So for instance, did some ancient Israelites believe that Yahweh had a consort? If so, was this considered heterodox pre-captivity? When/how did this view develop? Is Asherah (asheratah) a proper name to begin with? I don't think there's much debate that in some regions at some times in Ancient Israel a consort can be identified, but scholars are not completely unified on some of the other matters. Hess deals with this subject at length in Israelite Religions, but also see Steve Wiggins', A Reassessment of ‘Asherah’. A Study According to the Textual Sources of the First Two Millennia B.C.E.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    I'm fairly sure that's not disputed by conservatives, depending on what one means by "originally." It's certainly undisputed that polytheism was the most common religious practice during Israel's pre-Babylonian history.
    Again, it depends on what's being disputed. Was this a heterodox view? Is it more appropriate to label the ancient Israelites henotheists? Is our picture of the line of evolution from polytheist to monotheist completely accurate? (Again, see Heiser's paper “Does Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Demonstrate an Evolution from Polytheism to Monotheism?")


    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    That's new to me, and surely not common, as far as I'm aware. In fact, the aborted sacrifice of Isaac reads best to me as a polemic against the practice. Its practice in Israel is certainly not promoted by Smith, or any other author I've read, which is admittedly a smaller list than yours.
    It's fairly common. Smith suggests it in The Early History of God. See the section starting around pg. 171.


    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    After the late bronze age collapse of the Mediterranean empires in the 13th century, the few Canaanite survivors were all lower class. And it should be noted that west Canaan was previously part of Egypt. They didn't have to leave Egypt if Egypt left them.
    Yes, that's the view I was referring to.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    That's a misrepresentation. No one says Yahweh rose through the ranks. Like the Ba'als, he found a people willing to promote him above the rest, which was apparently the thing to do. In the process, they adopted his epithets, and priestly offices, and cultic practices, inter alia, a practice so amenable to pantheons, it was later adopted by both the Greeks and Romans.
    I don't know how you imagine my sentence to be a misrepresentation unless you're misreading me somehow. It is argued that Yahweh was a lesser deity (compared to El), one of many sons of El Elyon, and a member of his court. As a warrior god, his cult status grew in Israel and eventually supplanted / was combined with that of El. Smith himself outlines the process,

    "El as a separate god disappeared, perhaps at different rates in different regions. This process may appear to involve Yahweh incorporating El's characteristics, for Yahweh is the eventual historical 'winner.' Yet in the pre-monarchic period, the process may be envisioned--at least initially-- in the opposite terms: Israelite highland cult sites of El assimilated the outsider, southerner Yahweh. In comparison, Yahweh in ancient Israel and Baal at Ugarit were both outsider warrior gods who stood second in rank to El, but they eventually overshadowed him in power. Yet Yahweh's development went further. He was identified with El: here the son replaced and became the father whose name only serves as a title for the son."

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    There is limited but very suggestive support for this theory.
    I'm aware.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Smith has found evidence for many of those views. I make the distinction as it is also the distinction between faith and scholarship. Further evidence, and further thought, have modified his views as is apparent in his prefaces to later editions, something which may also be possible for one's faith, but with an associated risk that has no analogue.
    Sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    I know Finkelstein, Dever, Friedman and Walton from this list, and would add Peter Enns as a more approachable author for those who'd rather avoid Smith's morass of footnotes and endnotes.

    I'd also point out that while Walton could fairly be said to lean toward the more conservative side, he's similarly been regularly rebuked by them for not being conservative enough.
    I don't think the divides between liberal and conservative Biblical academia are as rigid as you think. Sure at some university/seminary level it's important, and certainly among many lay people, but I think among scholars themselves, and at conferences like SBL, there's not as much fuss about who leans left or right. Both sides read and use each other's material, and there is plenty of crossing over the lines among individual scholars (Pete Enns is definitely an example of that).

    I think maybe when you wrote this reply you were thinking I was coming against liberal scholars like Mark Smith. I wasn't. While I don't agree with all of his conclusions, I think his work is interesting and important in helping us get some understanding of the ancient worldview. The point of the post you replied to was only to share a number of liberal scholarly views (many of which Mark Smith holds), and to identify the scholars who lean into either liberal or conservative camps.




    All that said, I'm not sure if any of the above addresses CP's interest in your going back to Unitarian services. I think maybe you misread him in that other post, and thought he was questioning your point that they're not much different than "libxianity," when I think he was merely interested in your going back to a service in the first place.

  4. Amen Cow Poke, seer amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Which has no meaningful counter-theory. Indeed, the only opposition I'm familiar with is Mosaic authorship, which makes no pretense of interaction with the textual issues addressed by the original documentary hypothesis and its later amendments.
    What about the Supplementary Hypothesis as a counter-theory? Or do you count that as an "amendment" of the documentary hypothesis?

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    All that said, I'm not sure if any of the above addresses CP's interest in your going back to Unitarian services. I think maybe you misread him in that other post, and thought he was questioning your point that they're not much different than "libxianity," when I think he was merely interested in your going back to a service in the first place.
    That.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

  7. #6
    radical strawberry
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    I've rewritten this response a number of times. Pardon the delay, please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    Parsing the archaeology and linguistics as it applies to the religions of ancient Israel is where the liberal/conservative divide usually comes into play. Various scholars, even within their divide, interpret the data differently. So, while you may find no justification for liberal/conservative framing, it's helpful to others. Certainly to lay readers.
    These inquiries are barely a hobby for me in comparison to my own work, and when you speak of academics in the same terms lay people like myself use for politics, it's confusing. When I speak of conservative values, I'm talking about small government and personal responsibility.

    One of those responsibilities, especially when speaking with those with lesser familiarity, is to frame opposing positions fairly. This won't do ...

    Perhaps a distinction without a difference, but technically Waltke resigned, not expelled https://www.christianitytoday.com/ne...y-updated.html

    And while I think RTS was in the wrong, pressure to align with a University's ideals resulting in expulsion/resignation isn't uncommon even at the secular level as we recently witnessed with the Weinstein's at Evergreen, and more justifiably with Stallman, Zuckerman and Ito at MIT.
    There's no hiding behind "technically" on Waltke's expulsion, or even Enns' for that matter, though I left him out because he can't be compared with Waltke in terms of orthodoxy or gravitas. Their spineless presidents gave them no choice. While I'm loathe to defend Bridges, Evergreen's equally spineless president, he deserves some credit, I guess, for not bowing to the students' demands to fire the Weinsteins and the other faculty on their list.

    The academic fallout from the Epstein scandal is non sequitur.

    Scraping the barrel on that one.

    Nor is there a meaningful comparison between RTS, which is entirely mainstream for evangelicals, and Evergreen, "arguably the most radical college in the country," according to Weinstein himself.

    Respectively, you're comparing a round from a howitzer to the pop from a cap gun. Waltke's forced resignation was earth-shakingly unexpected, and entirely inexcusable, as evidenced by the fact no one in their own community defended it. Served RTS right when Knox snatched him up immediately.

    The Weinsteins knew what they were getting into when they took the job. Evergreen has always been an asylum.

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    radical strawberry
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    Again, please pardon the delay. This portion of my response was similarly begun last week, but has proven quite time consuming to flesh out. I'm somewhat mortified that my last post has gone without its supplement this long, leaving the impression I had deliberately neglected the portion of your post I found most valuable.


    Continuing with the more academic content ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    That aside, the conservative position is not bereft of interaction with these issues. Scholars like Heiser and Hess directly engage with them.
    And this is why I like speaking with you. I do want to know if there's a meaningful opposition, and I'm fairly sure that you'd be aware of it if it exists.

    Yes, none of this is unfamiliar to those with a passing understanding of mainstream Old Testament scholarship. It sounds to me that you've already written off more conservative leaning scholarship on the subject before even interacting with it. If you were at all inclined, you may want to check out Richard Hess' work Israelite Religions and Michael Heiser's papers like Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82? and Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible.
    Hess' Israelite Religions has attracted notice from Smith.

    "Echoing the works of William Foxwell Albright and Cyrus Gordon, Richard Hess's new book on Israelite religion offers a survey of Israelite religion fundamentally based on the framework and claims of the Bible and informed by archaeological evidence and extrabiblical texts. The book provides a clear, conservative treatment of this material from the Middle and Late Bronze Age down through the demise of Judah in 586. To the scholarly discussion of these sources, Hess adds his own expertise, particularly in Bronze Age texts. The field now has a general treatment of Israelite religion produced by a scholar with a strong faith in the Bible's veracity. Even if readers do not share Hess's strong trust in either the Bible's historical claims or his high dating for many biblical texts and traditions, this volume nonetheless presents a good listing of research."--Mark S. Smith, Skirball Professor of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, New York University

    Your second Heiser link is a duplicate of the first, and should instead have linked to ... Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible. Both follow from similar treatments in his dissertation, The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Jewish Literature.

    I note first that neither of these works interact with the extra-Biblical, pre-Israelite origins of El. And the arguments themselves are less than convincing, e.g.:

    Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82?

    If the prophetic voice now pleads for Yahweh to rise up and become king of the nations and
    their gods, the verb choice (מהָ֣קוּ” ;rise up”) means that, in the council context of the psalm’s
    imagery, Yahweh had heretofore been seated. It is actually Yahweh who is found in the
    posture of presiding, not El. El is in fact nowhere present in 82:8. If it is critical to pay close
    attention to posture in verse 1, then the same should be done in verse 8. Doing so leads to the
    opposite conclusion for which Parker argues.

    This is incoherent. Heiser has it that both sitting and rising up denote positions of superiority.

    As I've said, this is barely a hobby for me, but I can't help noting that both Smith's, "The field now has ..." in his review of Hess, and the provenance of the Heiser monographs, argue strongly that these are fringe positions in scholarship.

    You're aware, no doubt, that Heiser is writing for Liberty University's Faculty Publications and Presentations, not for peer review, and that Liberty's required doctrinal statement, including the affirmation that, "The universe was created in six historical days," would exclude even N. T. Wright due to his endorsement of Walton, and Walton himself, of course.



    Video 3:10 ff.

    Mosaic authorship alone is not the only view more conservative leaning scholars hold. Some hold to some modification of JEDP, some take an approach between core early authorship and later editors. Heiser, summarizes his view here: https://drmsh.com/mosaic-authorship-...s-jedp-part-3/
    Heiser's position is Mosaic authorship, as I suggested, with minor modifications he has not systematized.

    My take is that we don’t have four sources writers with competing agendas. Rather, there was a Mosaic core, patriarchal traditions that began as oral history, a national history, rules for priests and Levites, and a primeval history section. This sounds a bit like sources, but it’s not quite the same. By way of a simplistic summary (this is just a loose description; I haven’t systematized this, since I find so many other things more interesting):

    And again, this blog entry is part of a series never intended for peer review. More, it was written within the constraints of Liberty's doctrinal statement, which does not specifically require Mosaic authorship, but clearly implies it, a position which may reflect his own independently conceived conclusions. Still, his lack of academic freedom cannot help but cast this generous view into doubt.

    The works this entry interacts with are Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? — which was recommended to me by robrecht as a source you'd agree was worth examining — and Rendtorff 's Das überlieferungsgeschichtliche Problem des Pentateuch (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 147).

    Translating a passage from somewhere inside this tome, Heiser cites Rendtorff:

    The positing of ‘sources’ in the sense of the documentary hypothesis can no longer make any contribution to understanding the development of the Pentateuch.

    Yes, I can handle the German, and I could even handle the expense, which is not trivial. But no, that's not an expense I'm willing to suffer in order to search out the original text to check the accuracy of his translation and the context of the commentary.

    On a side note, Rendtorff deceased in 2014, two years after Heiser's blog entry was posted, in 2012. Oddly enough, the publisher lists BZAW 147 with the date 2015, suggesting a revised edition published posthumously.


    I'd add that Heiser's commentary, including this citation, is aligned with much I've seen from creationist arguments, i.e., nitpicked criticisms of a theory with the implicit suggestion that its demise will somehow, miraculously perhaps, resuscitate and rethrone the previous paradigm previously abandoned due to its clear contradictions with fact.

    As I've noted about creationism with respect to the theory of evolution, the complete and utter demise of all forms and later amendments to JEDP would leave us with two failed hypotheses, mut. mut.


    On a related note, my first search for Rentdorff yielded a link to Deuteronomy in the Pentateuch, Hexateuch, and the Deuteronomistic History, also from 2012, but of clearly greater depth and authority. Searching for Rentdorff turned up three hits, all related to Das überlieferungsgeschichtliche Problem,

    Hans Heinrich Schmid saw his “J” in close relationship to Deuteronomism (8) and in the wake of Rolf Rendtorff and Erhard Blum (9) the notion of a Deuteronomistic layer or composition in the Pentateuch became a common assumption in scholarship (at least in Europe). (10)

    This, at least, suggests that Heiser is overstating Rentdorff's dismissal.

    Also, the fact that I mention the dual narratives does not mean that I necessarily disagree that they can't be read from the text. Again, Hesier thinks that some scholars go too far looking for J,E,D and P strands, but that isn't to say that conservative leaning scholars reject the entire notion of an edited and altered Old Testament.
    Every scholar thinks some scholars go too far, which should not be read as a criticism of their scholarship. They should go too far, because it's the interaction with those pushing the boundaries that illuminates where new hypotheses can and can't find support. As an outsider, I feel obligated to stay near the consensus, rejecting fringe positions outright until they've gathered some minimum of support. I hope you understand why monographs posted as faculty publications for Liberty U aren't likely to budge the needle.

    Frankly, I can't imagine the existence of dual, or even dueling, narratives, are not obvious once they've been pointed out. Peter Enns work, Inspiration and Incarnation — with a general content which had been used for years with his classes at Westminster Theological Seminary before it caused his summary dismissal by the board, despite his support from within his department — outlines a number of these in Chapter 3, The Old Testament and Theological Diversity.

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by problematic, and where one suggests the problem lie. So for instance, did some ancient Israelites believe that Yahweh had a consort? If so, was this considered heterodox pre-captivity? When/how did this view develop? Is Asherah (asheratah) a proper name to begin with? I don't think there's much debate that in some regions at some times in Ancient Israel a consort can be identified, but scholars are not completely unified on some of the other matters. Hess deals with this subject at length in Israelite Religions, but also see Steve Wiggins', A Reassessment of ‘Asherah’. A Study According to the Textual Sources of the First Two Millennia B.C.E.
    I'd include a link to Wiggins were it not for Amazon's notation: Out of Print--Limited Availability. That doesn't strike me as a work received to any great acclaim.

    Again, it depends on what's being disputed. Was this a heterodox view? Is it more appropriate to label the ancient Israelites henotheists? Is our picture of the line of evolution from polytheist to monotheist completely accurate? (Again, see Heiser's paper “Does Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible Demonstrate an Evolution from Polytheism to Monotheism?")
    Inadequacies in the accuracy of the line of evolution within the biblical texts themselves don't obscure the basic fact of evolution itself adequately evidenced inside them, and much more compellingly outside them, and if the best of the best criticism is a faculty publication from Liberty U, I can only conclude the alternatives no longer betray a pulse.

    It's fairly common. Smith suggests it in The Early History of God. See the section starting around pg. 171.
    Yes, the mlk sacrifice. I'd forgotten about that, and am duly impressed with a familiarity that allowed you to so quickly contradict me, and happy to find we're reading from the same edition. I can't copy and paste from Kindle, but I can transcribe well enough. Pardon any typos, please.

    To conclude this chapter's very brief consideration of Yahwistic cult practices, child sacrifice may not have been a common religious practice; the biblical and inscriptional records do not indicate how widespread the practice was. The religion of high places was generally Yahwistic in name and practice, allowing a wider variety of cultic activity than its critics in the second half of the monarchy. The religious practices of the high places were fundamentally conservative, preserving Israel's ancient religious heritage.

    That's certainly a promotion by Smith, but in opposition to "originally commanded by Yahweh", it's relegated to a carry-over from pre-Israelite religions.

    Yes, that's the view I was referring to.
    I've never actually seen an author suggest that Israelites leaving Egypt should be revisited as Egypt retreating from Israel. It was an idea that might well have scholarly support, but evolved for me independently in a discussion of the textual evidence of the tradition with former member technomage.

    I don't know how you imagine my sentence to be a misrepresentation unless you're misreading me somehow. It is argued that Yahweh was a lesser deity (compared to El), one of many sons of El Elyon, and a member of his court. As a warrior god, his cult status grew in Israel and eventually supplanted / was combined with that of El. Smith himself outlines the process,

    "El as a separate god disappeared, perhaps at different rates in different regions. This process may appear to involve Yahweh incorporating El's characteristics, for Yahweh is the eventual historical 'winner.' Yet in the pre-monarchic period, the process may be envisioned--at least initially-- in the opposite terms: Israelite highland cult sites of El assimilated the outsider, southerner Yahweh. In comparison, Yahweh in ancient Israel and Baal at Ugarit were both outsider warrior gods who stood second in rank to El, but they eventually overshadowed him in power. Yet Yahweh's development went further. He was identified with El: here the son replaced and became the father whose name only serves as a title for the son."
    It was the suggestion that he rose through the ranks that I found misleading, though certainly I could have been misreading you. I see no evidence of ranks beyond the duality of father and sons in the 'lhm, and less evidence of a fixed tradition that could be identified with Yahweh. On the contrary, as Smith suggests, the process as described is less displacement of a prior deity than assimilation of its attributes.

    I'm aware.
    I hope I haven't suggested that anything I'm likely to bring up isn't already well known to you.

    Sure.
    Okay.

    I don't think the divides between liberal and conservative Biblical academia are as rigid as you think. Sure at some university/seminary level it's important, and certainly among many lay people, but I think among scholars themselves, and at conferences like SBL, there's not as much fuss about who leans left or right. Both sides read and use each other's material, and there is plenty of crossing over the lines among individual scholars.
    Again, I don't think in those terms. At most, I think in terms of the academic freedom necessary to pursue one's studies to whatever conclusion they might lead.

    (Pete Enns is definitely an example of that).
    (And an example of the risks uniquely posed to scholars attached to conservative schools, such as WTS, ref. Enns and RTS, ref. Waltke.)

    I think maybe when you wrote this reply you were thinking I was coming against liberal scholars like Mark Smith. I wasn't. While I don't agree with all of his conclusions, I think his work is interesting and important in helping us get some understanding of the ancient worldview. The point of the post you replied to was only to share a number of liberal scholarly views (many of which Mark Smith holds), and to identify the scholars who lean into either liberal or conservative camps.
    I know you "lean conservative." I don't really know what that means, and it doesn't much affect my consideration of your sources. The reason I expanded on your list was to elicit commentary, especially from you, and especially critical commentary that pushed back against these common understandings.

    And also, obviously, to answer the charge that I was being cryptic.

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrift View Post
    All that said, I'm not sure if any of the above addresses CP's interest in your going back to Unitarian services. I think maybe you misread him in that other post, and thought he was questioning your point that they're not much different than "libxianity," when I think he was merely interested in your going back to a service in the first place.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    That.
    That's just a geography thing.

    I'm living down in the boonies south of Homestead, with the nearest Unitarian service about 30 miles away, north, in Miami. But with my recent purchase of a property in the East Everglades, the distance is cut in half on the weekends when I'm working the land. So why not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terraceth View Post
    What about the Supplementary Hypothesis as a counter-theory? Or do you count that as an "amendment" of the documentary hypothesis?
    Please feel free to expand on this. I'm not familiar with this alternative, or how it differs from Wellhausen.

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    tWebber Adrift's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Hess' Israelite Religions has attracted notice from Smith.
    Yes, I'm aware.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    Your second Heiser link is a duplicate of the first, and should instead have linked to ... Monotheism, Polytheism, Monolatry, or Henotheism? Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality in the Hebrew Bible.
    Sorry about that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    I note first that neither of these works interact with the extra-Biblical, pre-Israelite origins of El. And the arguments themselves are less than convincing, e.g.:

    Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut. 32:8-9 and Psalm 82?

    If the prophetic voice now pleads for Yahweh to rise up and become king of the nations and
    their gods, the verb choice (מהָ֣קוּ” ;rise up”) means that, in the council context of the psalm’s
    imagery, Yahweh had heretofore been seated. It is actually Yahweh who is found in the
    posture of presiding, not El. El is in fact nowhere present in 82:8. If it is critical to pay close
    attention to posture in verse 1, then the same should be done in verse 8. Doing so leads to the
    opposite conclusion for which Parker argues.

    This is incoherent. Heiser has it that both sitting and rising up denote positions of superiority.
    No, I don't think he's asserting that rising denotes superiority, rather he's rebuffing the view that one's posture in the court necessarily has to do with position of authority, and thus forces the reader to see two separate deities in the passage (El Elyon and Yahweh). Those who assert that a separate/higher deity, El Elyon, is presiding rather than Yahweh, do so by asserting that the posture is important for denoting who is presiding (sitting) and who is merely prosecuting (standing). Heiser is saying that that doesn't make sense if it's agreed that Yahweh is seen rising from a seated position in verse 8. Rising doesn't necessarily denote the position of authority to Heiser, rather "the psalmist wants Yahweh to rise and act as the only one who can fix the mess described in the psalm." And this is perfectly in line with passages like Isaiah 3:13, and Amos 7:7-9.

    Scripture Verse: Isaiah 3:13

    The Lord takes his place in court; he rises to judge the people.

    © Copyright Original Source



    Scripture Verse: Amos 7:7

    This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. 8 And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said,

    “Behold, I am setting a plumb line
    in the midst of my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them;
    9 the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
    and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
    and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”

    © Copyright Original Source




    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    I can't help noting that both Smith's, "The field now has ..." in his review of Hess, and the provenance of the Heiser monographs, argue strongly that these are fringe positions in scholarship.

    That's correct. Somewhat unlike New Testament studies, the mainstream position in Old Testament studies leans largely to the left. Heiser's views appear to be gaining some momentum among his peers lately though.


    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    You're aware, no doubt, that Heiser is writing for Liberty University's Faculty Publications and Presentations, not for peer review, and that Liberty's required doctrinal statement, including the affirmation that, "The universe was created in six historical days," would exclude even N. T. Wright due to his endorsement of Walton, and Walton himself, of course.
    I believe those papers are just archived at Liberty. Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities was published in the peer-reviewed HIPHIL (Hebrew Bible Theology, Interpretation, Poetics, History, Interactivity, and Linguistics) Volume 3, 2006, and Toward an Assessment of Divine Plurality was published in the peer-reviewed JESOT (Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament) 1.1 (2012).

    Dr. Heiser was only an adjunct for Liberty in their distance learning program, and he is not a literal six day creationist.

    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    More, it was written within the constraints of Liberty's doctrinal statement
    It wasn't. Till this year, Dr. Heiser's main employment was as Scholar in Residence at Faithlife Corporation for Logos Bible Software, where he enjoyed plenty of academic freedom. He recently left that position for a role as Executive Director of Celebration Church's (currently non-accredited) Awakening School of Theology.
    Last edited by Adrift; 10-05-2019 at 04:41 PM.

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