The Ottawa School of Theology & Spirituality The Bible: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives September 16 – November 25, 2013 Lecturer - David Steinberg http://www.houseofdavid.ca/ [email protected] Tel. 613-731-5964 Lecture 1 September 16 Lecture 1 Outline • The Land • Critical – Scientific Approach • Israelite Religion • Bible as History Book • Archaeology • Biblical Archaeology Fertile Crescent Trade Routes Mountains and Streams Hills Israelite areas Views of the Bible These lectures relevant to views 2 and 3 1. Divine or divinely inspired errorfree document. Although revealed or authored at one time and place can be understood in every time and place without regard to original context. 2. Divinely inspired complex document whose original meaning(s) can only be understood in context of authors’ social-cultural-historical context. 3. Human complex document whose original meaning(s) can only be understood in context of authors’ social-cultural-historical context. Camel Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, Genesis 24 Greek Science Ancestor of all Modern Science Developed by the Ionian PreSocratic Philosophers Characteristics • separating the natural from the supernatural • creating tools of logical thought • employing logical and empirical research Thucydides Father of Scientific History • • • Unlike his predecessor Herodotus (often called "the father of history"), Thucydides did not included rumors and references to myths and the gods in his writing, Thucydides consulted written documents and interviewed participants in the events that he records. He, like any historian or archaeologist, held unconscious biases but Thucydides was the first historian who seems to have attempted complete objectivity. By his discovery of historic causation, he created the first scientific approach to history. He stated explicitly that human history is causal, and that causes can be proximate and long-range. Events are likely to repeat if the same causes occur again. Understanding long-range causes is a guide to the future as well as the past. Thucydides presents more than an application of causation to history--his work may hold the very discovery of causation as a principle of human affairs. This is an astounding achievement. It makes history, which to him meant any investigation into the facts of human affairs, scientific. Biases in Interpretation • It is a paradox of archaeology that the objects dug up are concrete and real things, yet it is difficult to ascribe any meaning to them. Interpretation takes place, for example in the choices made about what sites to excavate and what portions of those sites to excavate, about what kinds of information to record in the field hooks and computer databases and what kinds of material to send off to specialists for analysis, in the reports written by the excavators and specialists, and in the choices made about what reports to consult in resolving a particular historical problem. Interpretation is greatly affected, therefore, by the question of who makes what decisions in what context. Certain objects or places, for example, may be considered important for one interpreter and not worth bothering about by others. • As with textual interpretation, the assumptions and biases of the interpreters will ultimately influence the conclusions they draw. Our understanding of past culture always has its context in the present. Politics and ideologies (including theologies) can influence how archaeological materials and their relation to literary sources are evaluated. Archaeologists, like scholars in any other discipline, are influenced in their interpretations by the received wisdom of their times, both in the sorts of classificatory schemes they consider appropriate to their subject, and in the way the dating of their material is affected by their assumptions about the capabilities of the people concerned. • The historian's main aim is to reconstruct the human past as accurately as possible. Despite the ideal of objectivity, the relationship between the available material and the variety of aims and interests of the interpreter necessarily involves subjectivity and creativity on the interpreter's part. Historians' choices about what is significant are crucial, as is the kind of history being written. Any political, social, economic, or religious history is likely to be colored by the historian's own views on politics, society, economics, or religion. What’s Around You is What You See • Scientific Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Trains, Telegraphs etc. • Primitive = Pristine (Golden Age in Past; Kohelet/Ecclesiastes; Proverbs) to Primitive = Savage • Evolution, Cult of Progress • Inappropriate Extension of Paradigm – Social Darwinism, Moral Progress, Wellhausen Fad Factor • Modernism Processual Archaeology • Post-Modernism PostProcessual Archaeology Political Correctness • The threat that certain conclusions are ideologically unacceptable displays more heat than wisdom • Asherah Religion in the Context of Culture Archaeological evidence has been fundamental for this investigation. At the same time, the voices of the ancient texts and insights from the social sciences have been critically important. This approach reverses that of the past century, during which time studies of Canaanite and Israelite religions have relied heavily upon written sources, in particular the texts from Ugarit and the Hebrew Bible. The growing corpus of archaeological data has often served as documentation for the texts rather than as an independent witness to Bronze and Iron Age religious practice. Traditionally, studies have focused upon religion as religion rather than viewing it as one aspect of culture as a complete entity. Indeed, "the conceptualization of religion as an integral and integrative part of society rather than as a discrete cultural expression, and as a component of sociocultural identity rather than as its sole foundation, has been slow to penetrate the scholarship of biblical religion" (Meyers 1988: 22). Here, the insistence of anthropologists and sociologists that the organization and practice of religion reflect multiple dimensions of society at-large has enriched our study. Quoted from Archaeology and the Religions of Canaan and Israel (Asor Books) by Beth Alpert Nakhai p. 201 Study of Ancient Israelite Religion 1. Objectivity?? • Considering the nature of the subject, it is not to be expected that the study of religion, will ever set an example of dispassionate scholarly enquiry. Those involved in it always have, in one way or another, a personal stake in the matter. • That is why studies of religion are not merely windows on the subject under scrutiny; they also mirror the views and fascinations of the researcher and the researcher’s society. • Since both Judaism and Christianity claim to be the heirs of Israelite religion, it is often classified as a period in the history of the living religions. Its position is perceived as fundamentally different from that of, say, Babylonian religion, which no living religion claims as its ancestor. It has often required to create an image of the past aimed at explaining legitimizing current views and practices in Judaism and Christianity. Study of Ancient Israelite Religion 2. Interests and Fads • New archaeological evidence, though important, is not commensurate to the shifting modes in the history of Israelite religion. • The history of Israelite religion reflects changing ideological needs, styles and fashions. (Feminism, Modernism, Post-Modernism etc.) Study of Ancient Israelite Religion 3. Three periods • • • 1870–1920, was a time of optimism, in which the history of the religions of humankind was treated as the history of God’s progressive revelation, culminating in the teachings of Christianity, the end of all religion. Israelite religion, according to this view, was an important step toward this dénouement. (Evolutionary paradigm) 1920–60, experienced the loss of this naïve confidence in the notion of progress. History was no longer regarded as the theatre of God’s revelation; nor was the history of religion. Under the influence of dialectical theology Israelite religion was deemed quite irrelevant. (WWI and Depression leading to loss of optimism) 1960s onward – attempt to recover not history as it should have been (which is what biblical theology stood for), but history as it really was. Key themes, or foci of interest, are (1) family religion; (2) the cult of the goddess; (3) religious iconography and the rise of aniconism; (4) and the continuity between Israelite and Canaanite religion. Historiography Some of the common questions of historiography are: • Who wrote the source (primary or secondary)? • For primary sources, we look at the person in his or her society, for secondary sources, we consider the theoretical orientation of the approach for example, Marxist or Annales School, ("total history"), political history, etc. • What is the authenticity, authority, bias/interest, and intelligibility of the source? • What was the view of history when the source was written? • Was history supposed to provide moral lessons? • What or who was the intended audience? • What sources were privileged or ignored in the narrative? • By what method was the evidence compiled? • In what historical context was the work of history itself written? Annales Historiography • Dating from between the World Wars • Rejected the predominant emphasis on politics, diplomacy and war of many 19th century historians. • Combines geography, history, and the sociological approaches emphasis on study of long-term historical structures (la longue durée) over events. Geography, material culture, and mentalities or the psychology of the epoch. • Strives to pose and solve problems and, neglecting surface disturbances, to observe the long and medium-term evolution of economy, society and civilization.