Re: Genesis in cuneiform on tablets

Date: Fri Oct 11 2002 - 02:32:08 EDT

  • Next message: "Re: higher criticism"

    Peter wrote,

    << Ok, granted. So we have two possibilities: the patriarchs either
      belonged to the 5%, or they hired scribes. In my answer to Dick Fischer,
      I wrote: "As for the patriarchs writing clay tablets, Wiseman
      underscored the fact that the biblical text presents them as quite
      mighty princes in their times (cf. Abraham). And if the genealogies of
      Gen.5 and 11 can be set parallel to the king lists found on cuneiform
      tablets, the same would apply to these patriarchs. I think the usual
      representation of the patriarchs as 'primitive nomads' is not supported
      by the evidence." As for the 600 cuneiform signs with multiple values,
      how does this look in comparison with Chinese? Doesn't Chinese have many
      more signs? What's the literacy rate (in globo, and among simple people)
      in modern China? I was told that modern Tamil has 247 different signs,
      but all children learn them, even those who live here and have to learn
      up to three western languages besides. >>

    If Gen 5 and 11 are compared to the king lists, then they were indeed written
    by scribes. Of course the patriarchs could have learned cuneiform if they
    went to school long enough, but all of the historical indications are that
    they did not.

    <<Is it known for certain that early Sumerian pictographic writing was
    grammar-less? Or is it possible that an unconventional type of
    grammatical conventions is built-in but hasn't been deciphered as yet?>.

    Pictographs are just simple pictures, somewhat like our modern circles with a
    diagonal line through them. They cannot even be called Sumerian. They are so
    lacking in grammatical indications that they could just as easily be German
    as Sumerian. Further, they begin with 1200 signs, which get boiled down to
    600 over the next couple of centuries. Even when you get the first Sumerian
    it is so primitive, scholars still have to do a lot of guessing as to what it

    <<The two books or tablets you mention are the third and fourth ones. The
    story of the Tower of Babel is in Gen.11, i.e. on the fifth tablet
    written by Shem, who was born 626 years after Adam's death (if we assume
    no gaps). When he was 100, his first son was born. As this event is
    recorded on the sixth tablet (Gen.11:10b-27a), Shem probably wrote his
    tablet less than 726 years after Adam's death (the first two tablets
    would have ben written by Adam). These at most about 726 years are the
    only part of the genealogy in Gen.5 that has to be covered by a fully
    functional writing system. So the 800 years of grammatical writing you
    grant don't cause any problem. These circumstances certainly don't
    constitute an impossibility decisive against Wiseman's model.>>

    OK, I'll admit I was wrong. You could squeak this theory into Gen 5: Adam
    writes his books the year of his death when Lamech is 56 years old. This is
    sometime c. 3000 BC if we give the theory the best possible benefit of the
    doubt. Lamech then lives another 126 years and gives birth to Noah, who lives
    500 years and gives birth to Ham, Shem and Japepth (5:32), thus one only
    needs 626 years to get from the death of Adam to the end of Gen 5, leaving
    174 years to spare before we know the Tower of Babel was built. But, this is
    at least stretching the possibilities since writing isn't all that well
    developed in 2700 so how much less in 3000 BC? And the Tower of Babel could
    have been built long before we first hear of it being rebuilt in historical
    documents. But, let us go on.

    Now we have the end of Gen 5 at c. 2374 BC (3000 minus 626) and the Flood a
    hundred years later c. 2274 BC when Noah is 600. This presents an
    archaeological problem. No archaeologist is going to be willing to say that
    even southern Mesopotamia was covered by a Flood in 2274 BC, much less by a
    Flood that let the ark land on a mountain in Urartu. Indeed, this date places
    the Flood right on top of the empire of Sargon of Agade, which covered
    Mesopotamia and continued until c. 2150 BC, and was followed shortly
    thereafter by the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur. So archaeology makes the
    chronology demanded by this theory highly improbable, and thus the theory
    itself is highly improbable.

    <<In the meantime, I have looked up the "other reasons for doubting
      Wiseman's theory", for which you referred me to Hamilton's book. He sees
      three main problems: SNIP>>

    But, you overlooked (on p. 6) what is perhaps the most telling point: a much
    more extensive study of colophons (H. Hunger's study in 1968) than existed in
    Wiseman's day shows that colophons never mention the author. Adam, Noah,
    Shem, etc are then at best owners of the tablets. Even if the "tolodoth" are
    colophons they prove nothing as to the original authors.


    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Fri Oct 11 2002 - 11:11:18 EDT