Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Some Guidelines for Thinking About Biblical Historicity vs. Archaeology: Part 2 of 2

Alrighty we are now gonna do uh some guidelines for thinking about biblical historicity versus archaeology part two which was the unplanned part because we only got through half last time or a little bit of more than half so let's just do a quick review of last time um i know this was like .

Three weeks ago if there are any questions lingering from last time then maybe you can ask them uh now but maybe they'll come up in the middle of the thing so let's go so we i'm just gonna review the objectives uh main objective provides some guidelines for thinking about biblical .

Historicity versus archaeology and i want to emphasize these are guidelines these are not rules okay these are just like you know um ways to think not like specific uh litmus tests two to raise questions and discuss problems which fall within the scope of the general topic .

Without necessarily arriving at answers okay i can't answer all the questions this is new to me as well three to demonstrate how many hidden assumptions questionable premises and unwarranted biases lurk behind claims made by archaeologists and scholars of ancient history which we definitely did last time and .

We're definitely going to do today four to leave you with the impression this is my agenda that claims made about biblical historicity by archaeologists and scholars of ancient history should be examined with a critical mind before drawing conclusions obviously you should examine everything with a .

Critical mind but you need to be particularly critical with his historians and archaeologists in the sense that you don't treat that don't treat them the same way you would treat let's say like you know the results of like a physicist or a chemist or something like that you know or a computer program or a .

Mathematician all right um also just a reminder uh that unlike most of my chiron which are much more interactive and feel like learning um since i'm not an expert in this then then uh most of the sheer really is gonna be me reading .

Uh from rabbi dr joshua berman's book anima i mean and so think of it as like a guided reading but please interrupt me with questions because that's really where the learning comes from you know i i forgot to mention this last time i would have just given the text to you guys but i feel like like reading it and expressing thoughts .

And questions we have as we go is much more productive for all of us so that's why uh that's why i didn't just like give you the text okay so quick review of last time uh oh sorry that's the book right uh on imami by robert joshua dr joshua berman and then we did rabbit um .

Robert godley's book last time but we're not i don't think i quoted at this time so we had six guidelines know why you accept torah uh absence of evidence doesn't equal evidence of absence corroboration equals evidence but not proof remember how speculative ancient history is that's as far as we got last time and .

Then the two for today are remind the double standard in academia and beware of anachronistic fallacies so quick review number one know why you accept torah we do not accept torah because of the historical and archaeological evidence we accept torah because of .

Torah messina because of the proof of authority or if you have some other reason for accepting torah then like you should just know why you accept torah and as long as you have that clear and you were constantly going back and reviewing it and updating it and answering questions .

On it so then your foundations will be solid and um and will not necessarily be shaken by questions that are posed by archaeology and history two absence of evidence doesn't equal evidence of absence so this is where we talked about how .

It's it's a logical mistake to say or it's a mistake to say ah if there's no evidence for euthys mitzrayim then that means it didn't happen because what you have to do is you have to say how much evidence could we expect to find for it and and is it reasonable for there to be is it reasonable to assume .

That it could still be true even though we don't have evidence and for example we said that you know 99 of the papyruses that were written um from that time period don't exist anymore and none of them exist from the area where each mistrian was said to have happened .

Um we also said that there are many historical events that are accepted by historians but there's no evidence uh you know because it's not something that would have been left behind i think we talked about the mid bar and how these things wouldn't be left in the mid bar .

So just because you don't find evidence does not mean that the thing didn't happen three corroboration equals evidence but not proof uh this is just where we talked about how like you should note not only when in other words if you find things that that .

Uh in if you if you uncover evidence that can support the argument even though it doesn't necessarily prove it so for example all the historical or the historical details and trends and geography and names that are used by the torah and like animals that were used and stuff like that .

Do line up with what we know about those historical periods so that doesn't prove the torah but it is evidence and should be taken into account and number four remember how speculative ancient history is so this is where we did the um motel of the mysteries um and uh where you know that was the the .

Children's book where uh it was a fictional account of discovering uh a motel room after it had been buried for two thousand years and then the um the the archaeologist was theorizing about what all the objects really were so like he mistook a toilet .

For a an altar a sacred altar because it was gleaming white porcelain that the room was centered around you know and he mistook a um uh toilet paper for ancient parchment you know that you deposit in the altar you know so like when you're when you're in modern history or like medieval history .

Then you could know a lot more but when you're talking thousands of years ago then it's very very hard to um to know for sure whether the narratives that you're constructing to explain what you find are really based in fact or whether they're really based in an imagination or some combination of both .

So that covers what we did last time uh any i know i know this is like three weeks ago any leftover questions uh on those points that that i dropped your memory about just now okay so now we get into some uh some more controversial stuff i saved the .

Controversial stuff for the last two uh the double standard okay we all know what a double standard is i think which is when you apply one standard uh to one thing and you you you're supposed to apply the same standard to something else but you apply a different standard so let us do our guided reading of chapter .

Three of anima rabbi dr joshua berman says can not be trusted on anything as a historical source okay now remember he's writing for the he's not writing i mean he's obviously writing for religious jews but he's also writing for the skeptic so this is going to sound .

Like opi corsus because he's trying to address ob courses here okay he says can to not be trusted on anything as a historical source should be considered innocent i.e historically accurate until proven guilty i.e erroneous or guilty unless and until its claims can be corroborated by external sources .

Um now obviously what do we what do we take it as we religious jews historical source right so we assume that it's innocent until proven guilty meaning we assume that everything in torah is historically accurate unless we find something that is not historically accurate okay and then then we have to .

Re-examine that so here's what he says now as a credible meaning believable as a credible historical source that's not has many strikes against it it contains materials like the garden of eden's story that seem frankly mythical in nature it recounts supernatural occurrences .

That a modern historian cannot accept as factual and it regularly describes earthly actions as the result of divine causation many of its texts scholars believe were composed centuries after the events purportedly documented and as with the exodus few of those .

Events can be corroborated by independent outside sources so in other words he's saying if you are a modern historian and you look at the torah you will dismiss the torah and say it's not historical because of these these features okay now that probably is not a surprise .

That historians don't accept torah for these reasons but i'll tell you what is a surprise oh hold on a second in short that's not in this view is a book of religious propaganda history that suits its writer's purposes and the view is well buttressed butters means supported .

But it is no less problematic for that and the reason is simple now this is the shocking fact many other historical inscriptions from the ancient near east and elsewhere are susceptible to the same charge okay meaning if you take documents from those time periods then which are accepted by historians .

Then it has exactly the same features as the torah so he goes and gives examples cuneiform and hieroglyphic texts that tell of divine revelations to royal figures are found everywhere overt propaganda on behalf of the kings of yore and the gods they served nor can most of the events recorded in these ancient records be corroborated by .

Cross-references to sources from other cultures frequently the events themselves are miraculous often the events occurred if they occurred at all centuries before the texas date of composition many of these characteristics are true for example of the kadesh poem of ramses .

Ii which he talked about earlier in the book god speaks to the pharaoh the pharaohs diadem spews forth fire in miraculous fashion hittite accounts of the battle brief as they are do not corroborate the egyptian records archaeological excavations of tal qadesh have produced .

No evidence of the battle so in other words the torah which has these these miraculous and supernatural things and doesn't have any corroboration from other sources is rejected by historians but these other ancient texts which have exactly the same features .

Are accepted by historians okay um he says yet to one degree or another scholars routinely accept ancient near eastern texas historically reliable literally dozens of scholars have attempted historical recreations of the battle of kadesh on the basis of ramses inscriptions alone meaning that these scholars will treat .

The one text of this poem from ramses as historical even though there's no corroboration anywhere else scholars today use the works of livy to reconstruct the history of the roman republic founded several centuries before his lifetime and all the historians of alexander the great acknowledge as their .

Most accurate source aryans anabasis which dates from four centuries later so in other words you know one of the arguments people make against the torah's historicity as they say well the torah was written hundreds of years after the event happened so how can we possibly rely on it well .

How can you possibly rely on these historical accounts of alexander the great or the roman republic which were written hundreds of years afterwards but they do rely on them of course they exclude the blatantly unrealistic elements which they peel away from the remainder before crediting its reliability .

Meaning they don't accept the miraculous stuff by contrast however when it comes to biblical sources the questionable elements are often taken as prima facie evidence of the untrustworthiness of the whole so in other words what this means in english is is if they find a miraculous .

Supernatural thing in an ancient egyptian inscription they'll accept the historical event and they'll just they'll they'll just dismiss the supernatural part but with torah they say oh it has something supernatural the whole thing must be false okay that's what you call throwing out the .

Baby with the bathwater and now he gives a good experiment this is a thought experiment okay um oh sorry not yet not yet this is all the more remarkable to put it mildly in light of one of the significant differences between biblical literature and the writings of other near eastern .

Civilizations and you might have heard this before throughout the tanakh displays a penchant meaning a a habit of uh or a trend or pattern for judging its heroes harshly and for recording israel's failings even more than its successes .

No other ancient near eastern culture produced a literature so revealing a fault so realistic about the abuses of power we're so committed to recording those abuses for posterity on this point at least there's universal agreement yet in the academic precinct recognition of this fact has not in the .

Least improved the tanaka reputation as an honest reporter of historical events so i think rabbit godly made the point in one of the excerpts we read last time where he said if you look at the ancient egyptian records you'll find like military victory military victory silence military victory .

And you'll be like oh i guess they only had military victories but then if you look at the hittite records from the period of silence you'll find that the hittites won and the egyptians just didn't record it you know so the so again not that it's dishonest but .

Like they're recording propaganda so they're only going to report their successes but the tanakh reports arguably way more failures than successes so if anything it should be even more believable as an honest record yet he's saying that academics don't recognize this .

Okay remember enjoy me anytime you have questions because this is like uh again guided reading okay but i wanted to be a discussion if you have questions okay now here's a thought experiment oh here's the thought experiment imagine the tanakh had never spoken about hebrew enslavement or of an exodus from egypt okay so just .

Like pretend that never exist save your most never existed okay instead a story much like it turned up in a first millennium bce inscription from a dig in trans-jordan the land of the ancient moabites telling of the earliest period of this people and their deity kamosh .

The inscription reports that the moabites were slaves in egypt but mighty kamosh defeated amun and ray at the sea liberating the slaves and enabling them to set out homeward to moab while their enemies perished under a storm of hail okay so this is this didn't actually happen but he's saying let's say they found a document .

From ancient moab that said this okay in the face of such an account scholars would assuredly be skeptical of the theological and supernatural elements but i suspect they would look for clues of an authentic core especially if there were peripheral evidence of the kind i pointed to above .

In connection with the biblical account they would be impressed for instance with the story's demonstrably demonstrable familiarity with egyptian names its awareness of settlement patterns in eastern uh delta and of the correct way of naming pharaoh and its cognizance of royal .

Fortifications outside of egypt and the geography of the sinai peninsula the negev and the trans jordan um would these hypothetical scholars also pounce on the lack of any mention of moabite slaves in egyptian sources i doubt it that so many of the accounts details accord with our knowledge of the period would lead many to assess .

The source as trustworthy especially in the absence of hard evidence to the contrary the reliability of uh oh sorry so another was like this is again it's just illustrating the double standard if they found a document that said exactly you'd see it's been trying story but for another .

Ancient tribe then they would accept it and just say no the supernatural stuff is not real but for for safer shamos they reject the entire thing because of the supernatural stuff okay the reliability of ancient sources extra biblical as well as biblical is a vexing issue .

In the previous chapter i noted that in a wide variety of pre-modern and ancient sources we find embellishment and imagination layered upon a basis of fact in any of these sources where does reality end and sculpting of events to produce a message begin these questions are not easy to answer but from an academic perspective the .

Tanakh should be subject to the criteria of analysis applied to other comparable ancient texts the fact that it is not so treated that a double standard is in operation tells us something about the field of academic biblical studies and about the academy itself now here's a shocking quote .

There is great truth in the observation by archaeologist and israel prize uh winner amicai mazar that quote the interpretation of archaeological data and its association with the biblical text may in many cases be a matter of subjective judgment inspired by the scholars personal values beliefs .

Ideology and attitude towards the data okay now if you were reading a uh a medical report or a medical study or if you were reading a a chemical analysis or you if you were reading a a mathematical uh paper you know a research paper in math and and .

And the results were inspired by the scholars personal values beliefs ideology and attitude towards the data you would say this is not reliable okay yet this pulitzer prize-winning um archaeologist okay this archaeologist is acknowledging that in the field of biblical um .

Uh biblical archaeology then all of these biases play a role okay so that's someone from within the field you know uh acknowledging that the field is is very very very biased okay so that is the message for here is that there is a double a double standard in academia and uh and that when you see academics .

And archaeologists and historians dismissing evidence from the biblical period you know on the basis of like supernatural miracles or on the basis of they're not being corroboration you have to realize that they're not applying those same standards elsewhere .

Okay and there are many other examples um like for example uh i i meant to incorporate this into the powerpoint you can look it up though um you know there are many archaeologists this might shock you many archaeologists who hold that dove and milk never existed okay which you know i guarantee you that if .

They found ancient texts about a moabite king from the same period they would just assume that that that they're true and that he existed okay now i believe maybe four or five or six years ago they found a seal uh like like a um .

I don't know if it was a seal like on a stamp or like a on a jug from the time period of dove and mellow you know so so that would be evidence you know that that well existed because i think it like has name on it or something you got to look at the sources yourself or maybe they just knew .

It from other things but like what they'll do is they'll say oh well this only indicates that this small area is true it doesn't indicate the existence of the davidic monarchy you know but again in in any other area let's say like the you know like some of the wars he mentioned in europe that there's no .

Evidence of if they found one artifact then they would say oh this is proof that the entire you know uh period in history happens so like it's just it's a double standard or another example he gives in the book is he says that at um uh historical conferences they'll issue like warnings to people .

Who submit research based on biblical stuff and say now now you biblical scholars we have to be very objective in our fields and he says they would never say that to any other like ancient scholar you know so like they have a double standard here i have a question on that .

So you're saying that like for the torah let's say or for other sources if they find one thing verify then normally they would say oh yeah like it just shows the whole thing is true but what are you saying before is that correct um it would not that not that every detail is true .

But it would show that they're let's say let's say there was a question of did a certain king exist you know and they found an artifact that was verifiably from you know a kingship with that name then they would say okay so the kingship does exist you know um like and this happens all .

The time in ancient egyptian history because it's so many thousands of years where like let's say for example like you know they will not know that there was an entire dynasty and then they'll find one artifact which is clearly from a you know from a new king that .

That it doesn't correspond to anything before or after so they'll pause it and they'll say oh there must be have been another dynasty here and they'll they'll just on the basis of that say that this entire dynasty existed and then they'll fill in evidence how is that different because like for .

The torah i don't like based on that you couldn't say like oh because you find a coin of david whole torah must be true like that does show that that david's kingdom was actually a kingdom but it's still like that oh right so i'm not saying that it would that they should .

Take this as a proof of the torah as a whole i'm saying that that they shouldn't in other words the same assumptions of validity and authenticity that they give based on small pieces of evidence from other ancient texts should also be .

Given to torah so like again like the fact that there is a um you know a let's say like the examples he gave of how the torah has you know the naming conventions of paro and is familiar with geography and is familiar with like the uh you know like the domesticated animals .

And all this other stuff like you know and uses the same language and the same names these should all be taken as like oh this is an ancient text but they're not even willing to say that the torah is an ancient text they'll say that the torah was written many many years later as a fabrication .

They're saying this should just should just be like a small detail in support of like this isn't the main argument but like it yeah i mean it should be evidence not necessarily proof like point number three but they should at least treat it as evidence yeah okay thank you yeah okay now this .

Point we gotta we have a warning here this is our last point okay it's nuanced and i think some people should say i shouldn't teach it okay because it's dangerous but again my the whole premise of this this entire topic is you will encounter these problems .

Okay in your adult life in college on the internet and i would rather you be exposed to that in the environment of orthodox jewish learning when you can ask questions and like we could have conversations about this then you stumble upon your own and then .

It undermines like your your conviction okay so brace yourself for danger okay all right uh so i'm calling this beware of anachronistic fallacies let's just review our definitions an anachronism we said last time is the act of attributing a custom event or object to a period in which it does .

Not belong so for example the example i gave last time the ninth grader asked what was rashi's major in college unaware of her naive anachronism fallacy we know from english which is a failure in reasoning which renders an argument invalid okay so she fell prey to the straw man .

Fallacy and rejected her opponent's argument despite its abundant evidence so what i'm calling an anachronistic fallacy is a failure in reasoning in which a person projects modern ways of thinking into the past mistakenly believing that people in the past .

Thought in the same way as people in the present so you are making a mistake in your analysis because you're assuming that the way you think about things is the way they used to think about things back then and then you apply all the standards of your type of thinking to .

Them okay and i'll give an example of this right now actually i should have incorporated this into the thing let's say you um you you you tell me that aristotle was an idiot because he he didn't base any of his um scientific uh conclusions based on uh experimentation .

So i would say no he's not an idiot there is no such thing as the scientific method in the time of aristotle you know so so for you to hold aristotle to those standards of empirical studies and like double-blind tests and like placebo and all this other stuff that's an anachronistic fallacy you're .

Taking modern standards of evidence and and modern you know uh rigors of like you know of hard sciences and you're projecting them backwards and saying they should have used those standards but that's just not what they had and that's not how they operated .

Okay so here we go consider this if you take all of biblical literature and all of rabbinic literature throughout the middle ages you will not find anywhere a hebrew term for history okay there's no hebrew word for history in biblical hebrew or medieval hebrew of course you can .

Find innumerable discussions of evidence of events of the past but you will never find these referred to as history you will never find that one who discusses the past is called sorry this will say his story in okay um sorry i scanned this on the airplane uh or consider this even more surprising .

Uh observation there's no hebrew equivalent in biblical orbitals for the words fact or fiction okay we take fact and fiction as like distinct categories like you go to the library and you know whether you're looking in the non-fiction section or the fiction .

Section no distinction made like that in biblical organic writings okay this is astonishing because the rabbis were clearly attuned to the moral values of ms and czech air of truth and falsehood when a word in one culture has no precise translation in another culture it is a sign that the two cultures .

Exhibit not only a lexical gap meaning a gap in their language but a conceptual one as well there's no word and hence no clearly defined concept in biblical and talmudic writings of a realm of statements or compositions that have the quality of representing fact as opposed to other statements or writings who receive the downgraded .

Characteristic of fiction shocking fact okay i just never thought about this i mean it's obvious but i never thought about it okay the near total absence of the conceptual categories of history fact and fiction from the biblical and rabbinic records speaks volumes about how far we as moderns .

Stand from the world of our forefathers during those periods it means that we are likely to find genres of writing here where these categories appear to us as blurred when we speak of history fact and fiction we must realize that we are utilizing modern categories of thought .

That these are categories that the modern mind has constructed we think history simply means a discussion of past events with factual accuracy but we assume that this history has existed for well all of history but it has not the concept of history itself has a .

History and we need to understand how it came to be only by doing that can we understand how our sacred sources biblical and rabbinic relate to us the events that develop for our fathers so he is saying we need to understand the history of history of what it means to be engaged in the study of history or what it means .

For there to be historical text okay so this part i kind of summarize it um in i think this is in my my own language here okay um he has several pages on this so he says what are our assumptions when we read a history book or history text .

So here they are and i'm gonna state them on the screen and then say what as opposed to okay we assume that the historian is providing facts together with a scholarly interpretation okay let's say you read a history book and it turns out that the guy wasn't using facts you probably would reject it and say .

This is not history two the historian has not embellished his factual account in any way okay let's say you were reading a history book and you found out that when the guy told about world war ii he was really just engaging in a pro-american propaganda you know and not actually reporting facts but like he .

He like you know made up details here and there okay you would say ah this guy is not a historian three that there's we assume that there's a difference between historical fact and historical fiction uh i don't know how many of you have read historical fiction novels but when you're reading historical .

Fiction novel you are very aware that it is different than a history textbook okay so we have a clean category and if let's say midway through mr bader's class in history um then he he mentioned in passing he's like oh you know by the way guys the thing that we're using for history .

Class is really a novel you would like you would drop it and run okay um four we assume that there's a discipline called history that has well-established rules of inquiry that determine how this work was researched and written okay we assume that there's such a thing as like historical research methods .

And like historical standards uh five five that the historian we assume that the historian has sources which he makes available in some form and is therefore subject to critique and examination by other scholars so imagine you found out that the history book that you were reading did not cite its sources .

To you or the publisher okay or you're reading a biography that had no endnotes that had absolutely no bibliogra you know no bibliography nothing that said his sources you would reject it okay you would say this is not history six you assume that the historian is expected to avoid preaching his own .

Values okay if you found out that this person was not just giving an objective account of history but is like giving his own agenda his personal beliefs you would reject it uh seven that the historian is academically qualified to write such a text if you found out that the guy who .

Wrote your history textbook was a um uh a not to insult um not to insult people who have this profession let's say you found out that your whole history textbook was a uh a preschool teacher okay who had no historical training or a stay-at-home mom who just who likes .

Reading history and then she just wrote a history textbook you know like you would at least be skeptical all right you you would uh you would not assume that they're academically uh uh qualified and we assume that you as a reader of history text are expected to draw your own conclusions about the implications .

Of the facts and their interpretation presented there so in other words when we read history we read it as they're giving us facts and then we have to draw our own conclusions about like what what to make of it like let's say like let's say it's a uh a history of world war ii right so .

We are expected to to to you know let's take the atomic bomb right so the dropping of the bomb if you read a history of the bomb it's not going to tell you harry truman made the morally correct decision to to bomb the japanese no no it's gonna tell us the facts and we as a reader have to evaluate was that .

The right thing to do or not okay so these are all of our modern assumptions okay dr joshua berman says if these presumptions all seem quite obvious they were not to pre-modern writers and readers okay in other words before the modern era .

These all of these points were not recognized or not agreed upon okay these are all modern assumptions history then and now are alike in name only in fact to properly distinguish between accounts of the past that are read today and accounts of the past that were written and read in pre-modern times we .

Would need to we would do well to employ two different terms okay in modern times we would read works of history this history employs all the presumptions laid out above in pre so in other words history is all of these guys all of these premises .

Okay that's what we mean by history in pre-modern times however it would be more correct to say that when people read accounts of the past they were reading exportations now i assume that many of you are not familiar with the ver with the noun x rotation so i'm going to define it exportation is an address or .

Communication emphatically urging someone to do something and i was trying to think of an example that most or all of you could relate to so the only example i came up with is uh every year before purim the school hires an emt or police officer to give an exhortation against underage drinking we're familiar .

With this from chilhov i think many jewish high schools have these things now would you agree that reading a chapter about alcohol consumption in a medical textbook looks very different than the type of speech that we used to get and shall have it before purim yes right the speech that we give before .

Purim was based on facts but clearly it had an agenda clearly it was it had a rhetorical purpose which was to persuade kids not to drink it was designed to scare them it had it was interlaced with religious values and sometimes the values of the .

Speaker himself right so that's an exhortation it's not fiction but it's not strictly objective non-fiction it is non-fiction presented with an agenda okay so now dr bruhn goes on pre-modern writers .

Never wrote with a disinterested aim of chronicling the past for its own sake rather the deeds of the past were harnessed for rhetorical effect to persuade the readers to take action in the presence to believe in the powers of a deity to deliver salvation to exhibit bravery or other civic virtues .

It was expected that writers would not only narrate the deeds of the past but evaluate them as well offering praise or blame um the essential nature of these compositions is exportations leaves us trapped unaware by our modern binary categories of fiction and non-fiction in other words .

We just plug everything and we say okay is this fiction or non-fiction but in the past not so clear as one modern scholar of these so-called histories has noted quote we have no useful category for the realm inhabited by ancient historical texts rather than being literature the works .

Of ancient historians came far closer to the modern genres of non-fiction novel or popular non-academic history where a degree of embroidery and imagination is layered upon a basis of fact and this is remember he's not even talking about torah yet he's saying .

All ancient and medieval histories had this character to it they were exhortations not modern history while history and fiction were conceptually distinct in the middle ages medieval accounts of the past are full of what we would today consider fictional elements invented material speeches .

Secret conversations letters and battle scenes okay which again i just i gotta stress this okay if you read a medieval uh history book okay you would have made up speeches that are reported as though they actually happen it would have made up conversations and .

Letters and battle scenes and this was totally accepted okay it would include miracles it would include type scenes where the same ordered sets of activities seemed to occur across works kind of like um uh like framing events as though they are patterns okay for example like .

I'll give you an example from tanakh you know um the story of uh yosef and paro and the story of daniel in the vulcan nazar is what he would call a type scene it's two different events from different periods which are told as though they are the same pattern the roman historian cicero claimed that .

The facts as known to the writers were subject to rhetorical amplification and invention now cicero is one of the most famous historians but he's saying yeah you can you can invent stuff and you can amplify stuff this heritage of classical antiquity remained influential throughout the middle ages .

Far from detracting from the veracity of work plausible fictional embellishments endowed an account with credibility it made them more believable often these embellishments would give an account greater depth enabling an author to probe the thoughts and motives of historical actors the contr uh oh i think it's supposed to .

Be this contributed to the value of the peace exhortation such embellishments ensured that the peace would achieve what all assumed was its purpose to inspire and instruct this is why many scholars of these materials question whether we can construct fully accurate histories of these .

Periods on the basis of these accounts so again compared to the pre-purim uh drinking speech right if if the uh if the person says like you know uh like if emt says i have never seen a case where like uh a person gets into a a a drunk driving accident and uh emerges .

Unharmed right he's saying that to try to convince you not to drink a drink and drive if you actually look at the statistics you probably will find cases where they they came out unharmed but he's not incorporated into his in that to his exportation because that would defeat the purpose of of his .

Speech one thing that readers did not expect to find in historical accounts of rome was a detail of the historian's sources roman historians were notoriously silent about the sources of their accounts this further underscores the fundamental truth that these records of the deeds of the past .

Do not represent a sustained effort to arrive at fully factual truth rather they are harnessing uh they are a harnessing of accepted historical details for the sake of exhortation uh history is written for telling not proving wrote the first century roman rhetorician quintillion .

Okay so this is another reason by the way why you cannot expect to find corroboration necessarily in ancient history because there were not like nowadays we have historians meticulously writing down stuff that is happening now and keeping their sources and making the sources publicly available .

Back then they weren't even concerned with proving things and it was still called history okay pre-modern readers of these works of exhortation also harbored certain pre-assumptions about the all presumptions about the authors of these works that differ from those we harbor concerning modern writers of history .

Such readers would never have assumed that these writers had special research training that qualified them to compose historical accounts livy was trained in rhetoric cicero famously described history as a job for a public speaker in roman times there was no systematic study of history and no methodology for doing so .

Even in medieval times history was not a discipline that was taught there was no option for a student to enroll himself in course called history or to be examined meaning tested in a field called history indeed the first faculty in a field called history was established in berlin in 1810 so if you said you oh sorry .

That's supposed to be 18 10 not 8 10 18 10 okay um it is only with the rise of academic discipline of history in the 19th century that the practice of annotation and citation of sources becomes the norm so in other words there is no such thing as like the subject of history and historians and historical .

Like qualified authors at all all right so where does this leave us so this is where he makes his point the books of the tanakh were written and read along the lines of exportation these are works in which a degree of embroidery and rhetorical embellishment is layered upon a basis of fact .

The primary interest of all books of the tanakh is to bring israel to greater covenantal piety in its relationship with the almighty the tanakh assumes that the readers and listeners approach the biblical attacks in submission meaning that they accept it with a desire to learn its lessons the tanakh .

Assumes that readers leave it to the divinely inspired authors of the texts to determine the most effective way to cast the events of the past in order to transmit its lessons okay in other words tanaka is assuming that you accept the tanakh is not trying to establish itself .

As a historical document by modern standards so if you as a modern person try to hold it to those standards you are the one who's making that mistake because that's not what this nag was trying to do and that's not what any ancient or medieval historians were trying to do .

Okay tanakh assumes that you are accepting all of the facts as factual and its goal is to frame those facts in a way to achieve its goals which is to persuade you in beliefs to give you good meadows to instruct you in halacha to tell a certain story about claudia .

Sorel that gives us a certain view of ourselves in relationship to hashem so it's not trying to be a historical book okay even though it is based on history this can be very threatening here's the dangerous part this can be very threatening .

For some on religious grounds because it suggests that some aspects of the biblical accounts um are oh sorry this is another scanning mistake are not fully factual but rather rhetorical but this is threatening only if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of buying into what our not .

Modern environment tells us sorry our modern environment tells us yeah sorry uh again you gotta remember that this was uh on the airplane and also i did not have a charger uh at the time to go back and uh and uh and fix this so uh uh my apologies for the typos here um .

The environment we live in tells us that the more factual an account is the truer it is and hence the more valuable it is okay that's an important thing i should have highlighted that that we are used to saying the more factual something is the truer it is but that's not the case in ancient times .

By contrast the tanakh and indeed the entire rabbinic tradition proceeds on different traditional assumptions a different tradition of assumptions this is bad scanning the tanakh is a valuable account of the past not because all account oh i'm sorry this is really bad this .

Page must have been really bad when i scanned it the tanaka is a valuable account of the past not because all account all of the accounts it records as fact is a valuable account of the past because of the divine authority behind it it is valuable because it casts the .

Events of the past in a way that ensures that we come away with the most important messages that those events have to teach our modern environment tells us that we should read the news or learn about past events and then process the facts for ourselves determine the meaning on our own .

Determining meaning on our own our sacred sources insist that we come to the sacred text in submission with a belief and commitment that this alone is the best way to understand the meaning and lessons of the events that are portrayed poor trade this is how god has authorized that we relate to these .

Events okay so i want to give you an example uh i know we're almost done here an example that we are familiar with because we just did it okay and the text here comes from alatora.org but the example is the mobile okay so alatora.org says flood stories have survived in many .

Cultures from central american maya to the hindu in india the closest parallels to the biblical account not surprisingly are the mesopotamian versions these are similar to the biblical story not only in the general concept of a divinely wrought flood wiping out mankind .

But also in many of the particulars describing the event it is the differences between the versions though that are the most telling as they highlight the unique values and belief systems of the children of israel distinguishing them from their polytheistic neighbors for extent .

Alright fine so what are examples so here are three mesopotamian accounts of the flood the famous one is the epic of gilgamesh which is found in the 11th tablet of the epic of gilgamesh the hero of this account is finder of eternal life another one is the epic of .

Atre this version is also babylonian in origin it has survived several fragments but the oldest and fullest known copy dates to the 17th century bce another one is the epic of zeus sudra the sumerian account focusing on the hero zeosutra is known from a single fragmentary tablet excavated and nippur dated to the 17th .

Century bce the tablet contains an account of both creation and the flood and sometimes called the redo genesis now if you go to alatora.org and you click on a table it'll show you a table comparing the different elements of these stories for example who is the god in the story so an epic of gilgamesh it's so-and-so .

In uh in the sumerian version and so and then our version is hashem who was the hero of the story uh na pishtim in their version no akana version what's the reason for the flood so in one i forgot what they are but let's say and one of the things it was that the um that mankind was too .

Noisy okay i think that was one of them or let's say hypothetically uh another one is that the men were um were getting too powerful and the gods were threatened in ours it was hamas you know that there's too much hamas on the earth okay so the question is what do we make of these different accounts of the mob .

In light of dr berman's principle okay like there's different historical accounts what are we supposed to do so if so the answer is you have to remember to not judge them as modern history okay if you judge these accounts by the standards of modern history you would view the differences as .

Reflecting either lies or inaccuracies you would say well was the guy named not peace name or was his name noah you know was it like you know what did the flood cover this or that but if we view these as exportations events of the past that were recast for .

Rhetorical purposes then obviously there will be differences okay each culture will tell the story in a manner which furthers its own beliefs values and agendas so what what this is saying is it has a factual basis there was a flood that destroyed a civilization but the babylonians are obviously not going .

To draw the same moral implications as we do they're going to say that it had that the person who would happen to was someone in their ancestry right whereas we treat noah as our ancestor even though he's not from cholesterol but we treat him as our ancestor and we're going to say we're going to .

Harness the the torah is going to harness this for our purposes to promote the values of not doing hamas and gilearas and vodazara so that's a good example of exhortation and furthermore if the mobile was not global as we .

Demonstrated earlier this year why did the torah tell it as if it were a global event isn't that misleading now some of you might have won wondered this when we did the mobble thing so the answer is what dr berman said it would only be misleading if we judge the torah by the academic standards of modern history so in modern history .

If if if it said that the flood was over the entire earth so then like and and we find evidence that it wasn't over the entire earth so that disproves the story but if we recognize that the account of the marble is an exhortation that it makes sense that the torah would tell the story of the mobile in the most .

Effective manner possible in this case by emphasizing that all life on earth was destroyed even though it was only the the people and animals in that particular civilization just like an emt who gives you a uh uh uh anti underage drinking thing will say that like .

If you drink and drive you will get permanently uh you know uh harmed and like go to jail or something like that you know it doesn't mean that every single you know factually speaking that's not strictly speaking true but he's emphasizing something for rhetorical effect .

So that is uh the um the six guidelines and i actually added a seventh but uh in case i had extra time why did i think i'd have extra time but this is really uh points that we made before which is um remember is that any line of thinking that causes .

You to uproot one of the foundations of torah it's us or to think about and it's not us or intrinsically to think about it's us or because if you have a deficient mind and you think that you're capable of arriving at the truth in a certain area but you're not trained .

To do so then it can be dangerous so just a reminder that if you confront questions like this and you are not trained to be able to answer or to navigate like those subjects then don't go into those areas until you're ready you know you got to know yourself .

And uh and stay on guard against denying easy caring and with that we get to the beep of the watch okay and the uh the shear is over uh as usual i'll take questions um uh that you have uh but uh you're dismissed if you're if you're done for today i think you have a great job have a good .

Job this makes sense i feel like in like a archaeological context or like a historical context but i feel like as jews i feel like it's a little bit lacking because it seems to be saying that back then everyone wrote like this yeah kind of like diminish like the .

Torah being special and from god because everyone wrote in this way okay good i'm glad you made that point so dr berman actually leads by addressing that point and he says uh he shows examples where uh this is actually coming up in a couple of partios .

Where you see you're familiar with the phrase difficult collection adam right that the torah speaks in the language of man now we say that to mean that like the torah will describe god in physical terms because that's what we understand but dr berman brings proofs from the rambam and the raw bog and maybe one .

Other person that not only does the torah speak in human terms the torah used ancient literary conventions and wrote in the ways that they wrote back then because that's what people that was the most effective way to communicate and the example the robot .

Gives is uh is really good uh you guys are you familiar with parshas vayakkel and pakude what makes those partios unique if you've ever had to give a dubai torah on vayako or pakude anyone know what i'm talking about are they like the repeat of the mishkan stuff they're the repeat of the mishkan .

Details they're the most boring partios in all of tanakh there's almost no rashi because it's almost just a repeat so basically you have terumah and tatava which is telling you how to make like the klim and then you bayakum and just walks through all the steps again so rabaag asked the question .

Why would god include this and the answer he gives is he says uh and i would find actually what i have i'm i'm not alone i have my books right here hold on uh he says oh if you ever want to know what robot use the green raw blog is the robot to .

Use um because it's the most accurate and it's got good footnotes um oh you know what i just realized uh hold on i thought i highlighted it last time i did it maybe i didn't highlight it i'll just call you the raw blog if you're interested in the source i could give it .

To you later um robot says that it was the style in those times to go into elaborate detail when describing like palaces and sanctuaries and it would make people have like greater all for the mikdash to do it you know so and the analogy i give .

Is like you know i i don't really know what popular magazines are but let's say like when you go to the grocery store like stop and shop there's like you know uh people and like us and like and let's say you know there it describes in detail all of the drama and and like styles and .

Fashions and stuff of celebrities so if you read if you took a magazine like that and you put it into a time period in the past they'd be like who cares about like like the kardashians you know but for a modern reader modern reader cares about it so .

So to answer your question elisheva is to us it diminishes the torah by saying that it was written based on the styles of the times back then but the robot's point and the ronald's point when it makes this also is that it actually enhanced people's appreciation for the torah and their conviction and its truth because .

It was writing in a normal in in what was like a conventional way and if it didn't write in that way so then people would look down on the torah because it was uh it was it was it was some alien sort of like style you know like that didn't have anything to do with anything .

Yeah um but yeah that worked back then but now we're kind of having the same problem that we're trying to prevent right and and that's really what dr berman is trying to do with his book as a whole is he's trying to say that if you really understood what the torah was um trying to do .

And if you learned about how um if you learn examples of these ancient texts it would give you greater appreciation for the torah okay and in fact this is a cool thing while i was in seattle dr berman was touring egypt and every day and this is the first time he had been to egypt so every day .

He would um uh post pictures of what he saw like in the pyramids and show how like it uh it explained um like and shed light on certain things that the torah said for example and by the way this is during the time it didn't have my charger so i i didn't really read a lot of stuff .

Because i didn't want to be on my phone every day so the one example i i saw was he um he showed a picture of um uh in fact hold on just one second let me just uh i'm let me see if i can get it on my computer really quickly um if i can't then i'll just tell you about it um .

Dr berman i follow him on wait facebook joshua berman and wait i can just joshua berman here we go and let me just see yeah hold on yeah okay good this is the example okay so let me just share here hold on .

Okay so this was um a picture he posted and he says i gotta move this thing out of the way hold on uh he says on the final day of my trip to luxor i gained insight into the torah's account of brick making as the focal point of the enslavement while in the tomb of one wrecking mary a local governor in charge .

Of the public works in luxor under one of the pharaohs during the second period of servitude rekhamir's tomb featured depictions of various stages of the work he oversaw tanning carpentry winemaking and brick making brick making in this depiction is assigned to prisoners of war and is at .

The bottom of the register it is the lowliest hardest work the register depicts five stages you can see them all here okay as another picture drawing water out of a reservoir pouring into the trough mixing the mud either with a tool or by trotting in it pouring it into wooden frames to attain .

Form setting the bricks out to dry in the sun schlepping the bricks to the site where they are needed by far the most uh attention in this register is devoted to the schlepping of the bricks look at the picture below at the bottom left this slave strains to lift the double load of brick .

That will be suspended from both sides of a pole that rides across his back okay that's the pole there um in the center another man has managed to straighten up and begins to walk at the right another man balances a heavy load on his head immediately behind him is a task master with a with a stick or a rod .

Um uh at the top left seated is another task master with a stick or a prod prior to the admonitions uh admonishments in leviticus 26 that's the tokuga hashem promises i am the lord your god who brought you out from the land of egypt to be their slaves no more i have broken the rods of your yokes and have made you all walk .

Erect rashi and rush bomb interpret rods to be something that holds together the yoke of a draft animal and the yoke here is israel's experience of the enslavement generally but note that the verse is entirely in the plural hashem broke the rods of each and every person .

Not a metaphorical yoke of the bondage of all i wonder whether motus refers to the rods that slaves shoulder to carry the double load of bricks as depicted below and when you look at that slave in the lower left you can well understand that the paired opposite to the rods of the yokes is the deliverance of i have .

Made you walk erect so so i thought that was a pretty cool thing um and uh and the reason why i'm bringing it up now is because rabbi berman's whole approach is the more you understand about ancient cultures the more you appreciate the truth and .

Beauty of what the torah was saying and the same thing goes for literary conventions is the more you realize how ancient texts wrote the more you'll realize what the torah was trying to do and even though it's different from what our modern standards are you'll appreciate how god .

Was like speaking to the people in ways that could that they could hear and the only reason he's not speaking to us that way is because there's only one torah given you know um and like you know god can't reveal himself to us uh again and that's why we mean naveem because the purpose of the navin .

Was to speak to each generation in their language not to give the missiles differently but to translate the torah into terms that people could understand in their own like language and that's also the purpose of ham nowadays that like you know when rav soloveit quotes you know modern philosophers and like and and rav .

Liftenstein uses literature and rabbi jonathan sacks quotes like popular culture you know they're translating the torah into terms that apply to us the only difference is they're human and hashem did it like through divine knowledge and he did it really well in torah but we we can't modify the .

Torah for those things so i i don't know if that satisfies you but that is that's my answer to your question is that like the more we learn about those ancient literary conventions and and archaeological evidence the more we should theoretically appreciate torah .

And its truth i like that but if you're thinking about torah a lot of the like proof and like the validity of it comes from the torah itself yeah certain historical accounts like sinai like that's so fundamental for believing in torah and if you're going .

To say that the stories like the historical stories in torah shouldn't be immediately accepted as true because it's not that type of account then what does that do like validity just to clarify that's not what i'm saying is i'm saying that the that exhortations .

Are based on a historical core but not all of the d but there is such thing as embellishing details okay so in other words we maintain that all the events of torah actually happened okay like you know that with the exception let's say of like if you hold a gun aiden as a muscle god and i think is the .

Only the only exception but all of the events of the torah happened um and we accept them because of of the proof of torah messinai which does not depend on anything joshua berman said that was the first principle you know so c9 cni's not touched but i'll tell you .

What might be touched okay and this is this is an example here is um uh and and joshua berman goes into an example of this like he says um let's take and say for yehoshua talks to uh khaleev okay when they sneak in and when they spy in okay and she has a whole discussion so dr berman goes and shows how .

Like it is very very unlikely that that the discussion as reported by safer yeshua took place word for word and he brings proofs of this because the stuff that she says is not something that you that that a canaanite woman would say like like he has a really good .

Argument about it you know so what joshua would say is yeah the invasion of israel by yoshua happened but did the detailed word for word discussion like happen as historical fact or is that embellishment that the torah is saying for for their purposes you know for the purpose of torah or here's .

Another example that even though you don't disagree with that i'll give you another example moshe talked with paro a lot right do you think that the words reported in the torah are the only words that were said between them obviously not right because there was .

They clearly talked like human beings it's not like they said moshe said one sentence in the process of another sentence and they were done like they clearly had a lot more discussion you know but the torah is depicting the narrative much like a historical uh novel let's say let's say a .

Historical novel that would talk about you know um uh like you know uh you know what george washington said to his men before they cross the delaware you know like we might have an actual text of the speech then there might also be like embellishments that are told in a way .

That is like to uh you know for a rhetorical effect that's what he's saying that the torah will do as well is that there's that that not all the details are um are uh like are are said you know like let's say here's another example the giants right like that that uh that there were .

Uh giants in the time of noah you know so i'm sure in in ancient times they thought that these were literally giants we now know enough about physiology that it is literally impossible to have a giant human being because they'll die okay so why did the torah say giants because they were probably very big .

Strong people like football players or something like that you know and the torah wants to amplify the fact that these were powerful men who were going and stealing all the women you know so it caused them giants you know so that's the type of thing so my answer to your question leah is the core historical events first of all .

Towards me cni we accept because of the proof of tournaments you know we don't accept it based on the text and then even in the text of the torah with the exception possibly of gonadon uh then we hold that all of the historical narratives in the torah are true uh it's just that the the the particular .

Details might be said as exhortations and amplified so that so why would then we be like concerned if people do or do not have like a academic bias about torah if we know that it's just uh like an exaggeration because the academics .

Are are denying the existence of the historical facts themselves like the historical core you know um meaning they are they would the academics say that there was no exodus at all okay meaning saying that the jews like that their bread didn't have time to .

Rise that is a detail you know and we would not be bothered of the fact that they uh rejected that but they denied that they were ever jews in egypt they denied that there was an exodus they denied that there was you know crossing the sea to deny like the entire thing deny us wandering .

Around in the mid bar so those that that's why we are concerned with that okay now i'm sure you'll have questions about this going forward but as questions come up in you know in the year or like even after the year then you know let me know and i'll address them because like i said .

I'm learning about this for the first time as well and i think i need to educate myself in this because this is where you know ramon was facing the threat of aristotelian philosophy you know rehearse was facing the threat of the enlightenment and like secular judaism .

We we face the threat of the um of what he call it of uh um modern academia and the uh and archaeologists and historians so like that's why i want to educate myself in this as well but i have a question yeah um so i remember like in the very beginning we were discussing this like .

Not today the other day we were doing this you were saying something about an article about like the chariot wheels found like in the um somewhere and then you were saying how i'm not sure if i understood correctly is that true or is it no that was uh so that i led .

With because uh that was a totally made up story by a satire that never happened no they didn't that didn't happen it was it was it was the the if you go to snopes.com and you look up like chariot wheels so then uh it'll say that it was from an actual satire site .

And on the site it says that their articles are not true but then someone picked it up and then it started being spread around as it was a true story yeah yeah and it happens every couple years like i've seen it make its rounds like multiple times you know .

Alrighty anything else before we end for today okay so hopefully this is useful and um uh i don't again that but the book itself the joshua berman's book i i wouldn't say that i recommend it for all of you now but know that it exists .

Okay and if you ever let's say do take a course on like biblical history or something like that then i would say you should read the book uh and like i just gave like the the outlines but he has the real power comes from his example after example after example and like .

Detailed stuff so um i think it's a worthwhile book all righty thank you thank you have a good day good job


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