Re: [asa] JDEP

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Date: Sat Sep 02 2006 - 10:10:56 EDT

In a message dated 9/1/2006 7:20:23 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:
JDEP and some other approaches that impose later than traditional dates onto
Biblical passages often involve assumptions about progressive social or
religious evolution. Although such views were commonly presented as part of
evolutionary biology at least into the 1930's and even today often claim to be
supported by evolutionary biology ( e.g., claims of Marxists), in fact they are
contrary to a current understanding of biological evolution. There's nothing
about biological evolution that says that Israelites could not have had a
particular theological view before 500 BC or that semi-nomadic people couldn't have a
king, etc.

Dr. David Campbell
Dr. Campbell,
You are right that evolutionary biologists should not be dating biblical 
events, but it is not evolutionary biologists who are making the claims for this 
You would be very interested in Finkelstein & Silberman's The Bible Unearthed 
or Liverani's History of Israel.
The claim that Israelites "could not have had a particular theological view 
before 500 B.C." or that "semi-nomadic peoples couldn't have a king" is not 
coming from evolutionary biology. 
It is coming from ANE historians and Israeli archeologists.
They are concluding that the Israelites prior to the 7th century B.C. 
worshipped Yahweh and his consort Asherah based on the dates when symbols of Asherah 
are found in sites in what was the northern kingdom of Israel before the 
Assyrian deportations. Archeology is saying that Israelite religion was not 
monotheistic prior to the 7th century B.C. The argument is that Yahweh's consort was 
abandoned (no symbols of Asherah found in Judah dated after 7th century B.C.) 
after the Assyrian deportations by the survivors of the northern kingdom who 
fled to Judah and began the reactionary editing of the Hebrew Bible and 
instituted a severe religious reform aimed at removing the foreigners and their 
foreign gods who were put in place of the Israelites in the effort to reunify 
Israel and its people. Embracing one God, was rejecting all the other gods placed 
by imperial administration. 
The archeological evidence does not support a "kingdom" during the time of 
David or Solomon. Strictly speaking, a kingdom has literacy, written records, a 
standing army, borders, a priestly/governing class. Jerusalem was a tiny 
village in the time it was supposedly a "kingdom." There is no evidence of the 
social stratification or signs of literacy in Judah necessary for the maintenance 
of a state in the time David and Solomon were "kings."
A very important point regarding evolutionary biology, however -- Kevin 
MacDonald has identified an "evolutionary strategy" within the Hebrew Bible. He has 
been attacked as an anti-Semite for his claims but the work of ANE historians 
and Israeli archeologists now supports him. 
If the Hebrew Bible was edited to reverse the forced diversification of the 
northern kingdom of Israel and remove the foreigners and their foreign gods as 
the ANE historians and archeologists are saying, then it follows that the 
bible contains a program for "niche displacement" of the administration imported 
by the Assyrians. 
Niche theory is an aspect of ecology. Here is what D.S. Wilson, the 
evolutionary biologist had to say about the relationships between research programs in 
evolutionary biology and ecology:
Two major developments in intellectual thought may allow functionalism to 
succeed as a research program in the future, despite its past failures. The first 
is progress in evolutionary biology, which provides the foundation for 
functional explanations of all kinds… Advances include not only multilevel selection 
theory… but also the integration of ecology, evolution and behavior, the 
mature empirical study of adaptations and modern evolutionary approaches to human 
behavior. If evolution is the foundation of functionalism, then there is a new 
foundation upon which to build. 
So, now we have ANE historians (Liverani, Davies), Israeli archeologists 
(Finkelstein and Silberman) and an evolutionary psychologist (Kevin MacDonald) all 
pointing to the same processes from different disciplines: which is simply 
that the bible was an evolutionary strategy (a deliberate adaptation) stimulated 
by the threat of exile/extinction. In evolutionary psychology, MacDonald 
looks for the sociobiological processes he knows so well in the texts of the bible 
and the history of biblical Judaism. He sees the same processes repeated over 
and over again in the anti -Semitic cycle. He calls it "mirroring" at the 
agonistic interface. In ANE history and archeology, they are now identifying the 
origin of the cycle in the re-editing of the bible in the 7th century B.C. 
reactive to the forced diversification of Israel by the Assyrians. 
So, if we now accept the history and archeology of Israel and Judah, we can 
see that evolutionary biology, integrated with niche theory in ecology, has 
valid statements to make about the nature of the God in the Hebrew Bible.  
The current state of biblical studies now points to the very historical 
circumstances/ the precipitating event, in which an evolutionary strategy can be 
seen to have been deliberately developed and recorded in the biblical texts, 
which means the evolutionary psychologist, Kevin MacDonald is no longer making 
statements about "Judaism as an evolutionary strategy" in isolation.
The following is from an unfinished draft. I have indicated where the quotes 
are from Liverani or Finkelstein and Silberman. I have a pdf of a review of 
Liverani's History of Israel. If you write me, I'll send the pdf.
"In 720 B.C., the Assyrians forever change the course of western civilization 
when they destroy the northern kingdom of Israel and capture the Israelite 
capital of Samaria:  
“Then he [Shalmanaser, king of Assyria] invaded the whole country and 
reaching Samaria, besieged it for three years. In the ninth year of Hosea he captured 
Samaria and deported its people to Assyria and settled them in Halah and on 
the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of Media.”12
“…Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, 
Hamath, and Sephairvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the 
Israelites; so they occupied Samaria and lived in its cities. ”13 2 Kings 17: 
The so called 10 tribes of Israel that Shalmanaser deports are dispersed 
among the people of the Assyrian empire and vanish from history. Most of the 
Israelite deportees are the aristocracy and the people from Israel’s main 
population centers. The compliant common people of the countryside are allowed to 
remain and work the land. The Assyrian conquerors then repopulate the urban centers 
of the northern kingdom of Israel with foreigners who have foreign gods. 
These foreigners from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sephairvaim rule on behalf 
of the Assyrians. They repopulate the northern kingdom’s main centers. 
The population of the southern kingdom of Judah, which is poor, rural, remote 
and of lesser interest to the Assyrians teems with the incoming survivors. 
Judah is vitalized by the Israelite survivors from the north and reacts to the 
Assyrian conquest and the diversification of the northern kingdom of Israel: 
“… After the fall of Samaria, with the increasing centralization of the 
kingdom of Judah, a new, more focused attitude toward religious law and practice 
began to take hold. Jerusalem’s influence – demographic, economic, and 
political – was now enormous and it was linked to a new political and territorial 
agenda: the unification of all Israel.”14 2 Kings 17: 24-25
The Israelites who survive the conquest of the northern kingdom bring 
literacy and the fervent desire to recover the northern kingdom of Israel with them 
to the poor, remote southern kingdom of Judah. They devote themselves to the 
idea that the damage to Israel is reversible. They centralize administration in 
Jerusalem and set out to remove all traces of the foreign peoples who now 
populate Israel’s main centers in their place. Their aspirations are reflected in 
a new theology. 
“When Judah suddenly faced the non-Israelite world on its own, it needed a 
defining and motivating text. That text was the historical core of the Bible, 
composed in Jerusalem in the course of the seventh century B.C.E.”15   Israel 
Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed, Archeology’s New 
Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts, page 247
Judah begins a religious transformation that will remove the foreigners along 
with their foreign gods and repopulate the northern kingdom of Israel with 
Chief among the new policies written into the Bible is the command to remove 
the religious cult centers other than Jerusalem (to centralize administration) 
and the prohibition against intermarriage with non-Israelites (to maintain 
genetic isolation)."
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  rich faussette
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Received on Sat Sep 2 10:11:54 2006

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