Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Historicity of Moses Revisited

somewhere else : So, Dionysus was a Copy of Moses, may One Presume? · Assorted retorts from yahoo boards and elsewhere : Historicity of Moses Revisited

Why do people believe that Moses didn't exist just because they can't find historical evidence due to looking in the wrong place and time and a misunderstanding of how legend is born out of historical facts like is the case for King Arthur?

Geoffrey Sea
writer, historian
Legend is born out of historical fact? You mean like the Easter Bunny? Huckleberry Finn? Little Red Riding Hood? Cinderella? Jesus? Godzilla?

Why do people believe that Moses existed just because a storyteller 2400 years ago made up a story about him?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Easter Bunny, Huckleberry Finn, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Godzilla are not legends in the first place.

Including Jesus in the list was cheap polemics.

For your question, if a storyteller 2400 years ago made up a story about Moses, why did the audience so obviously come to believe Moses existed?

If Lovecraft invented a story of Harvard being founded by a man haunted by the Old Gods, would you have a tendency to believe that that really happened? Or would you rather insist John Harvard was a Puritan clergyman from Cambridge UK?

Why would people 2400 years ago have been more stupid and extremely gullible than you?

Geoffrey Sea
There was no audience. The Penteteuch was written by temple priests for temple priests. We have no idea what ordinary people of the time believed. It was people centuries later who took the Torah mistakenly to represent some belief of “the Jewish people.” The only part of the Torah widely disseminated were the law codes. Remember, there was only one temple, and for a long time, only one copy of the Pentateuch, a copy we no longer have access to. Moses did not become popular until the Christian Old Testament was promulgated by Rome.

Adding comments

Which shows his grounding in cancel culture. Let's suppose someone else is interested in the answer he is blocking his ears from. The Pentateuch was supposed to be read aloud to the people every seven years, and from very soon after 2400 years ago, there were Pharisees who were reading the Pentateuch in their synagogues, because Ezra had decided that the Pentateuch should no longer be locked up in the temple alone.

Why do people believe that Moses didn't exist just because they can't find historical evidence due to looking in the wrong place and time and a misunderstanding of how legend is born out of historical facts like is the case for King Arthur?

Donald Davie
Former Self Employed /Retired
King Arthur never existed anymore than Moses they are folk tales , the Egyptians were very meticulous about keeping records and the fact is that Moses's name is no where to found in any of the temple's or on any tablets from the time of pharoahs

Hans-Georg Lundahl
r i g h t …
Nennius (a historian) was obviously incapable of distinguishing folks from folk tales and that the time of Mons Badonicus battle matches a time when a man victim of adultery could (if in a very honourable position) in Roman law be obliged to get his adulterous wife executed is obviously coincidence (this was the law between Constantine and Justinian).

Egyptians may on and off have been excellent at meticulous record keeping, but partly due to changing capitals and dynasties, and partly due to foreign invasions, they were not always lucky in preserving the records to our time.

Plus, there is a highly probable Egyptian custom called “damnatio memoriae” which we see in Moses not naming the pharao of the Exodus, or any other of them, and which Egyptians would not name Moses, for the same reason.

Plus there is what seems a trace of the ten plagues in the Ipuwer papyrus.

Why do people believe that Moses didn't exist just because they can't find historical evidence due to looking in the wrong place and time and a misunderstanding of how legend is born out of historical facts like is the case for King Arthur?

Michael Chase Walker
Lives in Santa Monica, CA
Gosh, I don’t know, have you ever read a book, watched a play, sat through a movie, sat around a campfire, told a story to a child at bedtime? Brace yourself, because this will come as a shock. Humans tell stories. Yeah, I know, crazy, right?

They’ve been telling stories for ten of thousands of years. They’re good at it. Now, some of those stories get adopted by kings who insist that everybody in their realm believes them. They don’t just stop there, sometimes they invade other realms and demand everyone in that region believes them too. Sometimes stories just spread all on there own. Sometimes those stories get told so many times for so long people forget they’re just stories from ages ago and believe they actually happened. The thing is not only do we have storytellers, but we also have historians, scientists, archaeologists, and anthropologists. They’re really good at what they do too which is distinguish between a legend, fable, myth, religious belief, or an actual person or event. Sometimes they search and search for evidence of a legendary person and discover they were just made up. Sometimes people don’t care about that and believe in them anyway. Religions are especially good at taking a mythological person and making them seem like they actually lived. Storytellers are good at that too. Priests, rabbis, and theologians are really good at convincing others too. They’ve got all kinds of books, artifacts, music, and art to further persuade others too and even get people to give them money. Lots of folks fall for it. Lots of others don’t.

Best thing you can do is use your intellect and investigate the evidence on your own. Some times you just have to grow up and learn when some is pissing on your leg and tells you it’s raining. I know, crazy, right?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“Sometimes those stories get told so many times for so long people forget they’re just stories from ages ago and believe they actually happened.”

Would you mind telling us a probable scenario with some details of how such a thing would happen?

Key word : probable.

Michael Chase Walker
The two versions of the creation stories in Genesis

The Garden of Eden

Noah’s flood

Moses and The Exodus ( Evidence shows they were entirely fictional

The Conquest of the Canaanites

The Story of Job

"I wrote to frustrate biblical minimalists, then I became one of them"*

William G. Dever
Biblical Archaeology Review 2007

Archaeologist William G. Dever further writes:

"With most scholars, I would exclude much of the Pentateuch, specifically the books Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers... much of what is called the English Bible, "poetry", "wisdom" and "devotional" literature must also be eliminated from historical consideration... Ruth, Esther, Job, and Daniel, and other historical novellae with contrived real-life settings, the latter dating as late as the Second Century, BCE."

The interesting part of this is for a great deal of ancient Jewish history up until the 6th century, the story of Moses, Passover and Exodus were unknown to the Jewish People. It wasn’t until the eighteenth year of King Josiah (621 BCE) that the High Priest Hilkiah claimed he miraculously “found” “the book of the law of Moses in the house of the lord.”

II Kings

The story was reworked for 300 years and only finally declared The Book of the Law of Moses in 400 BCE by Babylonian Rabbi Ezra the Scribe, and by virtue of the power vested in him by the Persian Emperor Artaxerxes IV - binding for all Jews,

(See Eduard Meyer’s Geschischte des Alteriums Vol II Part 2 page 208)

“The truth is that virtually every modern archeologist who has investigated the story of the Exodus, with very few exceptions, agrees that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way it happened if it happened at all.”*

Rabbi David Wolpe: “Did the Exodus Really Happen?”

* note
I uniformatted Michael Chase Walker's use of italics for quotations.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
I think you are trying to give me examples of stories that were first told as stories, and then accepted as true.

My actual question was if you had a likely scenario in which this could happen, and by scenario I did not mean a list of supposed examples in which accprding to Wolpe or Dever “it actually happened” …

All people living now (or at least all communities existing now) would agree that Silmarillion is fiction. All would agree that deviating from Tolkien’s text for Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power and Appendices may be a good or a bad artistic choice on the part of Netflix, but it’s neither adding historic scholarship, nor deviating from a historic source. How would, on your view, a 22:nd C. audience come to believe this had actually happened?

What Hilkiah found would not have been when either Exodus events or Genesis events came to be believed, it would be a correction on technical details “what were we going to do with a lady raped in the countryside who didn’t cry out” and so (correct answer : outside cities, there was no one to cry out to so she’s treated like a genuine rape victim and not stoned).

It cannot have been a parallel to Joseph Smith receiving “golden tablets” since the time when things had been in disorder in Judah had been so short it would have been impossible to forget whether those events happened or not.

Michael Chase Walker
I selected Rabbi Wolpe and Archaeologist Dever as they were commenting on Moses (and the Exodus) as first mentioned in the OP, but not as historical figures turned to legend, but precisely the opposite. To this day, many still believe Moses and the Exodus were actual events when even Israel’s most acclaimed national archaeologist has frustratingly admitted there’s no evidence to substantiate it. Christopher Hitchens tells the story of Ben Gurion commissioning an archaeological team to “go forth and find the keys to the kingdom” after Israel became a modern nation but alas to no avail.

Obviously, there are die-hards who still cleave to the idea that King Arthur was historical. I don’t subscribe to that theory either and as I have authored numerous screenplays and musical books on Camelot I found nothing in my research to persuade me toward historicity.

Certainly, the predominant view for eons has been Moses was a historical figure, but now it has become a kind of insider joke at the Museum of Israeli Antiquities where they display empty baskets labeled evidence for “The Ark of the Covenant” and “Evidence for the Exodus”.

The Israel Museum’s The new exhibition chronicles the meeting of ancient Israel and Egypt and makes this point very graphically:

The hall devoted to the best-known part of the story — the Exodus from Egypt — is an empty room with exactly one exhibit on display: a movie featuring co-curator and Israel Museum Egyptologist Dr. Daphna Ben-Tor, who explains that the hall is empty because there is no archaeological evidence whatsoever to support the biblical tale.

Just narrow focusing on Moses: His mythological origins are overwhelming, so again, as with most religious figures when empirical evidence is insufficient, we must consider the mythology. While it is certainly widely discussed amongst scholars, and controversial indeed, there is strong evidence that while the Moses of the Ta’anakh is a mythological hero he is also a composite character comprised of historical figures of the Akkadian King Sargon of Agade, and Hammurabi, the lawgiver, and the mythological Greek horned Gods Bacchus/Dionysis and Orpheus/Musaeus.

This was the widely held belief of both Plato and the Jewish philosopher Artapanus, and oddly enough one of the various reasons why early depictions of Moses were with Dionysian horns on his head. (See: Why even some Jews once believed Moses had horns )

(See: Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, by Donald A. MacKenzie, [1915], The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Hesiod's Theogony,).

Oddly, it was none other than Sigmund Freud who first attempted to excavate the archetypal psychology around Moses’s origin story in Moses and Monotheism, and was excommunicated by the Jewish community for suggesting he was not Jewish, but a heretical Egyptian monotheist who was banished to the desert along with his followers.

“Freud speculates in his book Moses and Monotheism that Moses was an Egyptian subject, probably of noble origin whom the myth undertakes to transform into a Jew.”

(Freud OpCT page 15)

Freud's Moses and Monotheism is a brilliant treatise on how myths become religions and the psychology behind them. But Freud is just one of those I mention.

We have the actual account of Sargon’s birth from his own writings which predate the Moses legend by thousands of years. The same story is told and retold long before Jews even knew there was a Moses.

Dr. Otto Rank in his equally brilliant Myth and the Birth of the Hero analyzed and compared the Sargon/Moses legend to some seventy-odd variants of the same legend drawn from Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Japan and Polynesia, Greece and Rome, Iran, Celtic and Germanic, Turkish, Esthonian, Finnish, and European lore.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
“Obviously, there are die-hards who still cleave to the idea that King Arthur was historical.”

Count Chesterton and myself as some.

You recall how Arthur is supposed to execute Guinevere, but is reluctant to do so, delays, and gives Lancelot (the adulterer, the name need not be factual) the opportunity to save her?

You may know that this was not the Roman law in Codex Iuris Civilis … the problem is, Arthur is before CIC, and it was actually the law from Constantine to Justinian.

And the timespan for Mons Badonicus battle fits the time between Constantine and Justinian.

But back to Moses.

“he is also a composite character comprised of historical figures of the Akkadian King Sargon of Agade, and Hammurabi, the lawgiver, and the mythological Greek horned Gods Bacchus/Dionysis and Orpheus/Musaeus.”

I have written a piece reversing the connexion between Moses and Dionysus.

Stage 1 : Egyptians call Moses demonic;
Stage 2 : they are obliged to call him divine;
Stage 3 : his adversary is no longer the Pharao but Pentheus (a composite, apart from non-Egyptian nationality, of the Pharao whose daughter picked Moses up and of the Pharao who saw Hebrews walk off and got his son ending up dead);
Stage 4 : ends up getting more adored by Greeks than by Egyptians.

There is a theme too. Moses, Jesus, Dionysus, Hindoos and Buddhists have a cult with some kind of altered mind (drunkenness in Dionysus-worship, prayer being autohypnotic in the four religions now still extant), which contrasts with the very businesslike cults of Egyptians, Olympians (except Dionysus worship), Capitolians (except Bacchus worship).

There is also the fact that any group tends to be less accurate and more variable when speaking of outgroup phenomena rather than when speaking of own origins.

So, I think my mechanism for Moses - > Dionysus is fairly well covered. Unlike yours for a strange god become an own patriarch to the Hebrews.

“none other than Sigmund Freud”

The ultimate anti-realist when it comes to analysing the human psyche. A N Y improbable allegation can be made about a human psyche, individually, collectively or on the scale of mankind, because A N Y improbable connexion would end up “censored” and therefore inaccessible to the concerned.

That’s what I call admitting your roots.

In other words, given you trust in Freud, you don’t feel the need to invent a probable transition from made up story to perceived own history, you are totally content with a totally improbable one.

And like Freud, obviously the Hebrew archaeologists would merit excommunication by the Jewish religious community, if the Jewish religious community meant anything.

Btw, do you have a good source for Freud getting the well-merited excommunication?

Now, you mentioned Sargon. Yes, there is a parallel - with lots of contrasts - when it comes to the childhood survival. But who says that massacres of children for superstitious purposes is not a thing? Recently, under Roe v. Wade, 63 million unborn children were massacred under superstitious pretexts like “he would live a miserable life” or “he would not integrate but become a criminal” … and obviously some children escape such attempts.

Donald A. MacKenzie, [1915], is from a time when the idea myths just sprung up like mushrooms and even crept into niches of history, and no more thoughts about that. In other words, not at all the kind of guy I’d go to for a “probable scenario” (my words in the first comment) how a made up story came to be believed as history.

If you actually tried to provide a probable scenario (as opposed to appealing to MacKenzie and Freud and Israeli archaeologists), I think I missed it.

Why do people believe that Moses didn't exist just because they can't find historical evidence due to looking in the wrong place and time and a misunderstanding of how legend is born out of historical facts like is the case for King Arthur?

BSc (Hons) Astrophysics from University of Leeds
Prove to us all beyond even a scintilla of doubt that Moses and King Arthur are not just historical, but historically true, and within that post you will explain the data and allyou read to come to this conclusion. So, as you agreed, you will reply to this, with completely irrefutable, independent, peer reviewed evidence and explain the “right places” that you have obviously been looking in, and using. Correct? Of course I am. So we will be waiting for you to send all of your data that have obviously have close to hand, and on your laptop, well in your cache (it will only take a few seconds to copy and paste it), which will enlighten me, and everyone else to the sources that you have found showing the non-wrong evidence. I would love to a have an unquestionable, rock solid date of Moses’s life and death. You obviously do, so let us know when you are pickeinllll

Hans-Georg Lundahl
It seems you know a little too little on how historic discussion is conducted.

The one thing I appreciate is that you make a distinction between “historical” and “historically true” …

King Arthur’s wife being an adulteress and law requiring at the time the execution of a such is in fact consistent with Roman law between Constantine and Justinian, and that is the space of time in which the battle of Mons Badonicus is set, with which he is credited (along with Aurelius Ambrosius).

Thank you. Apologies for getting certain detail wrong. And I’m always happy to admit it so, and thank you for the correction sir. I didn’t know that. (Obviously) 😉

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Now, what would you consider to be proof positive of Moses?

No comments: