New evidence on when Bible was written

Discussion in 'History' started by Plazma Inferno!, Apr 12, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Eliashib, the quartermaster of the remote desert fortress, received his instructions in writing — notes inscribed in ink on pottery asking for provisions to be sent to forces in the ancient kingdom of Judah.
    The requests for wine, flour and oil read like mundane, if ancient, shopping lists. But a new analysis of the handwriting suggests that literacy may have been far more widespread than previously known in the Holy Land around 600 B.C., toward the end of the First Temple period. The findings, according to the researchers from Tel Aviv University, could have some bearing on a century-old debate about when the main body of biblical texts was composed.
    The new study, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, combined archaeology, Jewish history and applied mathematics, and involved computerized image processing and the development of an algorithm to distinguish between the various authors issuing the commands.
    Based on a statistical analysis of the results, and taking into account the content of the texts that were chosen for the sample, the researchers concluded that at least six different hands had written the 18 missives at around the same time. Even soldiers in the lower ranks of the Judahite army, it appears, could read and write.

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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    It is perhaps worth pointing out that "the bible" in this context is the Jewish bible, i.e. the Old Testament. What this discovery seems to do is shed light on literacy rates at the time immediately before the Babylonian exile. It is thus something that could have some bearing on when and how the Old Testament came to be written.

    But there is nothing in this research about biblical texts themselves, so it is just helpful background information.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The Jewish people have always placed a high priority on literacy. In medieval Europe, for example, among the Gentile people only historians, priests, kings (and not all of them!) and other scholars could read and write. Whereas the Jewish people insisted that their male children were able to read the Talmud--in fact it's one of the requirements for a Bar Mitzvah. And it still is--in biblical Hebrew, regardless of what language you speak at home or in the external community.

    During the Diaspora, a few Jewish tribes decided to walk toward the East, unlike most of their brethren. When they reached China, the Chinese authorities were quite impressed with the fact that they were literate--most of them in both Hebrew AND the language of the country they had lived in. They checked off a list and said, "Let's see... you bathe regularly, you keep your houses clean and free of parasites, you pay your taxes, you transact business more-or-less honestly, and you teach your children to read and write. Welcome to China!"

    The Jews were welcomed so well that within a few generations they had intermarried and vanished as a separate community. Today you might see a Chinese fellow in the western side of the country with an aquiline nose.

    They built a few temples, and some of them are still standing. A population vanished, but because of civility, not hostility!
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I never knew that. How interesting. I wonder if that literacy accounts for their apparently disproportionate success in Europe, in business, the law etc. - and possibly some of the resulting resentment of it......
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Of course. There are a couple of important examples:
    • The Jews believed in cleanliness, which is noted in the Torah (Old Testament). Their homes were clean and they did the best they could to keep out vermin, such as rats. As a result, when the Plague hit Europe, the death toll was much higher in the Gentile communities than in the Jewish communities. The Gentiles, of course, assumed that the reason for this was that the Jews were in league with the Devil and he was protecting them.
    • The Jews read the Torah in the original Hebrew, and correctly interpreted a word to mean "usury" (loaning money at what we now call "predatory interest rates"), which was a sin. Whereas the Gentiles, who read it in Greek or Latin (and in fact few of them could read at all so they had to accept the interpretation of their priests), incorrectly interpreted that same word to mean "lending money at interest." As a result, few Gentiles were willing to go into the banking business. Guess who did? The Jews were Europe's bankers for several centuries. E.g., the surname "Rothschild" is still famous in the financial sector. You can imagine where this went awry. When people felt poor (which was invariably the fault of their own governments), they blamed the Jews and burned down their villages. Interestingly, the Muslims made the same mistake. Their solution, however, is much different from the Europeans. When a person comes into a bank in a Muslim country, rather than paying interest, he pays a rather hefty "service charge" for the transaction--up front! Such a deal for the bankers!

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