Religious Studies 015
Notes for Week 6 (18-20 February 2003)
by Allison Myers and Sarah Peterson

I. Comments on Papers
A. Don't simply regurgitate others people's ideas
B. Focus should not begin with historical analysis but rather analysis of the authors'/society's views
C. Be aware of your preconceived ideas and assumptions

II. List of Movies on Exodus, then on Jesus- Cecil B.DeMille

III. Identifying Etiologies-Some folklore and some related to actual physical conditions
A. Rainbow-Noah
B. Languages-Tower of Babel
C. Weak tendon in Jacob's descendants (Jacob's Ladder story)
-Is that medically correct?
D. Rock Piles in the Jordan
E. Many such stories are found for names of people and places
1. Red Sea
a. (From Davis book) Term related to the turn over of reddish silt
b. Hebrew term (Yam Suf) actually means "Sea of Reeds."
[Dead Sea also was called the Asphalt Sea because it produced bitumen]

IV. Concerning the route of the Exodus
A. Red Sea vs. Reed Sea
1. Various routes are suggested after the crossing if it was in fact the Red Sea
2. If the crossing was of the Reed Sea, a marshy area to the north of the Red Sea, then there is more
latitude for where certain cities, mountains and landmarks may have been
B. Many of the place names are no longer used
C. Clues
1. Linguistics- Names that sound similar, or have similar meanings
2. Traditions about connections -- Less reliable, we can document the construction and transmission of erroneous traditions that are of modern origin (start a rumor!).
D. Ultimately, there are many hypotheses about the specific route (assuming that the traditions are historical), but no one knows

Q. Why didn't anyone ask Jesus for historical details about himself when he was around?
A. -Jesus was a preacher of the end times, and his message was very specific. He was not concerned with those kinds of issues.
-His disciples didn't understand the full scope of his message/ministry. They didn't think to ask because they
didn't fully comprehend his significance for them until after he was gone.

Q. How do you imagine the info being passed down? Don't perceptions change how the the tale is related?
A. Yes, very much so!
I. Material we have has been filtered and shaped by countless story tellers. We can see this change in the Jesus stories more clearly because we have more accurate information about the time, from outside sources, and we have more texts to compare and contrast. But this kind of creative editing was certainly present in Jewish scriptural traditions as well.
A. Death of Judas (three differing accounts!)
B. Census of David -- compare 2Sam. 24 (God instructs) to 1Chron. 21 (Satan leads)
C. This process continues in modern times as people take sections of the bible and interpret them in relation to modern issues
1. Women's issues
2. Homosexuality -- e.g. David and Jonathan lovers?

II. This idea of revision after the fact also relates to "prophetic" passages in Jewish scriptures, in the New Testament, and in modern times.
A. Israelite prophets claiming, "Babylon will fall"
B. N. T. prophecy of "the great abomination" in Matthew and Mark becomes "the City of Jerusalem surrounded by armies" in Luke
C. Nostradamus (middle ages)
D. Explanations
1. vaticinium ex eventa- prediction/prophecy written after the event
2. very general predictions of an obvious nature "The snow will stop"
3. edited to be more specific after the fact

III. If we can see these alterations, most of which we can not, we can use them to learn certain things about the time when they were written/edited, and the people who did the editing.
A. The temple destruction after it's surrounded by armies indicates that Luke was writing sometime after 70 CE.
B. The differences in the motivation for the census of David could mean the Chronicler was from the priestly tradition (negative towards the census) and the author of Samuel was connected to the Deuteronomist.

Exodus up to David
Abraham-Isaac-Jacob-(Egypt) Joseph- - - Moses
Moses- Hidden in reeds, raised in pharaoh's household, kills Egyptian, flees north, marries, has vision, returns with commission, 10 plagues,
Passover = Israelites allowed to leave Egypt. Crossing of Red/Reed Sea, destruction of Egyptians, Song of Miriam (perhaps oldest form of story because it was transmitted in poetic form)

Exodus is the founding event of the Israelite tradition. It establishes them as the "chosen people" of God

Prophet claim- Egypt/our enemies will be clobbered and Israel is God's child

Q. Why do Christians not celebrate Passover?
A. I. Easter is correlated to Passover in the Christian tradition.
A. John- Jesus is crucified as the Passover lamb is being slaughtered
B. Matt, Mark, Luke- Night before Jesus' death is the Passover ("last supper")
II. Calendars
A. Islam Strictly lunar (354 days per year)
B. Modern nations- Strictly solar (365.25 days)
C. Jewish Calendar as it comes to be preserved under Classical Judaism-Both
1. the cycle is lunar but it must be brought back into line with the solar calendar because of the agricultural festivals
2. Lunar- cycles of 29.5 days per month
3. 11.25 shorter than a solar year
4. compensation comes with a 13th month every 3 years
[ The Dead Sea Scroll people attest a symmetrical solar calendar of 364 days; possibly the remaining lag was adjusted in connection with the Jubilee Years scheme -- we don't know]
[Some have suggested that this may be a solution to the conflicting accounts of Jesus' death -- his disciples used the solar Jewish calendar, while the 4th Gospel reflects the priestly luni-solar reckoning.]

See calendar email for more precise info:

"cycle one ("religious calendar")
first month, 14th/15th (Passover/Unleavend Bread Pesach, 7 days) -- Ex 23.14, 34.18, etc
50 days later (Pentecost/First Fruits/Weeks Shavuot) -- Lev 23.15

cycle two ("civic calendar")
seventh month, day one (Trumpets; New Year [Rosh ha-Shana] on "civic calendar")
10th day, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) -- Lev 16.29, 23.26, Num 29
15th day, Booths/Tabernacles (Sukkot; 8 days) -- Lev 23.33

other celebrations:
Purim (see book of Esther) -- early spring, before Passover
Hannukah (see books of Maccabees) -- winter (8 days)


King Ahab's Wife (Norther Kingdom), Jezebel, invited other Gods to be worshipped
-therefore in most literature she is regarded in a negative light

Voltaire's treatment of the Bible [yesterday's Religious Studies colloquium, in this very room]
-highly satirical, caustic, questioning the credibility of the biblical stories
-he wrote during the French enlightment, period of realism (died 1778)
-a reporter from the DP heard Prof. Kraft and the speaker joke that an old book she was using was written by
Voltaire and "signed by Voltaire himself" and took the statement literally (see DP article)
-similarly, it may be incorrect to understand all the biblical stories literally
-to be completely certain of the messages in the Bible we would have to know the people involved, hear their
tones of voices, know the context of what they were talking about
-important to ask: Who is reporting? What is their stance on the subject?
Biblical Example: Paul's writing to the Corinthians "You are so wise!" Clearly meant to be sarcastic.

-Archaeologists can tell transitions between one culture and another by layers of a dig
-other historical tools include the literature of a time or written records such as writing on walls and tablets in Egypt and elsewhere

-Historical materials start to match up with the stories in the Bible around 800 BCE, somewhere just after the time of Soloman (died around 921 BCE)

-In Jewish tradition, many names started with "Ja" because it referred to YHWH (names meaning YHWH saves, YHWH hears, etc.) -- also Hebrew verbs in 3rd person singular start with "J" (he saves, he hears, etc.) -- also many names end in "el" for God (e.g. Israel, Michael), "ach" means brother (e.g. Achitophel), "ab" means father (e.g. Abraham)

-King David solidified the nation of Israel politically by military action
-May have used "conscription"- drafts men to fight in wars

-His son, Solomon built the temple and palace and many roads
-Certainly used conscription of men for civil service in building projects

-King David was around from 1000 BCE +, his son Solomon died around 921 BCE
-After Solomon's death there was a rebellion of the 10 tribes in the north under a man named Jeroboam
-Northern Kingdom became called Israel, which lasted until about 720 BCE (capital in Samaria)
-South, the remaining tribes: Judah, Benjamin and half of Manasseh, became called Judah, lasted until 586 BCE
-After Solomon's death his son, Rehoboam becomes king in Jerusalem

Where were the biblical authors from and what was the relationship between these two nations like?
-The Yahwist and/or Elohist (the earliest strata) may have been related to the Northern Kingdom, but the Deuteronomic, and Priestly sources definitely represent the Southern perspectives.
-The two kingdoms united when faced with a common threat, like the Assyrians, but during peace were in
fierce competition.

-Assyrians conquer Samaria (capital of Israel)
-The Neo-Babylonians (also known as the Chaldeans) conquered the Assyrians and were a threat from the east
-Sea coast is inhabited by Philistines ("the sea people," from which Palestine gets its name)
-Hypothesized political relations likened to the classical Greek city-states, tribal leagues united for defense and festivities, but otherwise independent "tribes"
-Story of a concubine that was cup up into 12 pieces, one piece sent out to each tribe, who then sent a
representative back to deal with the problem at hand
-"Amphictiony" (Greek tribal league, used as a model)
-We should be the judges, use our own critical thinking skills to formulate our own theories on how it was.
-All anyone can do, unless there is direct evidence, is guess, and our guesses are as good as anyone else's.

-Editors of the biblical accounts didn't all live at the same time
-Among scholars it is believed that there was, however, some form of final editing prior to the time of Alexander the Great for most of the individual works that later were collected into "the Bible"

-Nebuchanezer overthrows Assyrians, revives Babylonian kingdom, takes Judah captive
Jonah Story-Between Assyrians and Babylonians
-Jonah told to go to preach to Nineveh (capital of Assyria)
-He doesn't want to go, finally goes, is shipwrecked, and swallowed by giant fish
-Allegory or real event? Don't know

-Isaiah 1-39 speaks of Jerusalem and the temple as actively in use, 40-end Jerusalem has been destroyed, covers a period of at least 150 years
-The "book" of Isaiah we now have was clearly edited after the fall of Jerusalem
-How much did the editor change or keep the same? We will never know.
-Same question applies to Chronicles: thorough rewriting by the Priestly editor? Appears so.
-Samuel/Kings on the other hand may not have been as consistently distorted.

-after the exodus, there is a period of wandering in the wilderness
-they survive on "Manna" (compare modern wafers?) = God's response to the lack of food for the Israelites
-Quails to eat in the evening
-Fire leads them by night, cloud leads them by day
-Moses taps the rock and water flows out
-Moses taps the rock twice and is forbidden to enter the Promised Land
-the people take gold and melt it into a Golden calf to worship while Moses is away on the mountain
-because the people worship the calf, Moses breaks the tablets with the 10 commandments out of anger
-40 years wandering intended to kill off the sinners of the golden calf episode?

End of Pentateuch- Moses' death burial and the succession of Joshua
-suspected that Moses dies near Mt. Nebo where he could look over into the land without entering it (see Deut 34)
-God buries him in a hidden grave-explicitly states that no one knows where it is.
-Moses ordains Joshua.
-Joshua (or "Jesus" in Greek) is Moses right-hand man
-People listened to Joshua, but no other prophet ever reached Moses' heights, according to the bible.
-This addition might have been a southern kingdom touch which was intended to counter the Northern tradition that Joshua was a new Moses.

Don't be fooled into thinking that these stories are all there was. There are many parallel stories with different details. These were just the one which made the final cut. Other books and records are mentioned in the Bible.
-Ancient tablets have been found with records on them-Ebla (political records ~1200/1300 B.C.E.)
-Rash Shamra tablets contain poetry and other records of "Ugaritic" culture

-Levites are all men
-Laws at the time kept women at a distance
-Laws against "cross-dressing" may have had a religious context and, like other anti-homosexuality laws, may not have been as homophobic as they seem
-Such laws might just be the result of the belief that mixing things was bad, and impure or as a mechanism for distinguishing themselves from the people around them
-The ideal of purity was maintained by not mixing unlike things together
Example: the tale of Phinihas (Israelite and Moabite/Midianite woman)

Baccus (Roman) or Dionysus (Greek) - God of wine and Fertility

-Refer to the ancient people as Israelites, not Israelis, which is a modern designation not a biblical term

-2nd circumcision story before crossing the Jordan ("flint knives")

-spies sent to Jericho where they meet Rahab
-Hospitality theme-Rahab shows the spies great hospitality and she alone is saved
-Circle city 7 times blow horns, walls fall down

-How well does the archaeological record match these stories?
-at best, archaeologists say that the conquest of Canaan described in Joshua was too neat
-The evidence of change in cultures doesn't show a widespread immediate turn over.
-Infiltration theory
-There was certainly periods of cohabitation

Archaeologist's philosophy: data should be interpreted independently of literature and not forced to correspond to make the archaeological evidence fit the literary account

Should have read through Joshua, Judges, Samuel-Kings, and Chronicles (all consecutive materials)

/end, week 6 notes/