Part 1: Tracing source of Scriptures

23 Nov, 2014 - 05:11 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Every organised religion or denomination has its own authorised version of scriptures.

The earliest Judaic and Christian scriptures were first written in Hebrew and Greek, respectively with the latter appropriating Judaic Hebrew Scriptures which they renamed as the “Old Testament.”

The collective name for the Hebrew Judaic and Greek Christian scriptures is “Bible.” This literally means “the book” and is derived from the Canaanite principal seaport of Gebal/Gubal (modern day Jbail/Jubayl/Jebeil).

The city state was renamed by Greeks as “Byblos” or “Byblus” because it was through Gebal that Egyptian papyrus (the root word of “paper”) was imported into Greece. — Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Expert stonemasonry was a major industry of Gebal (cf. 1Kings 5:17, 1Kings 5:18, KJV “stonesquarers”), while Shipbuilding was another, for Ezekiel 27:9 tells us that caulkers from Gebal worked on ships at Tyre.

Skilled technologies, paper making, fine stonework, and seaworthy shipbuilding distinguished Gebal.

The principal seaport was subject to the ancient Egyptians from the 15th century BCE during the Old Kingdom and it is the same period that the Canaanites (called Phoenicians by Greeks) developed their own alphabetic scripts of twenty-two letters based on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

The seaport was also associated with the ancient Egyptian and Canaanite solar cosmic power, Byble or Biblis, whom the Greeks referred to as the grand-daughter of Apollo, the great solar cosmic power.

Byblia was also a name for Venus, an astral feminine cosmic power of sensuality among the ancient Greeks.

Therefore this author will refrain from using the word “Bible” and substitute it by “Scriptures” not to perpetuate theological ignorance, until such a time that new knowledge has been discovered.

From around the 3rd century BCE, there was sizeable concentration of Hellenized (Greek-oriented) Hebrews in ancient Egypt when it was under the Greek Empire (336-146 BCE) from 332 BCE.

According to ancient document called the “Letter of Aristeas,” the Hellenistic emperor of Egypt, Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BCE) is said to have requested seventy Hebrew Levite scribes and copyists identified as Sopherim (400 BCE — 200 CE) to produce a composite writing from the available ancient oral knowledge, texts and manuscripts.

As a result, the “Septuagint” (the oldest Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures) was produced around 300 and 200 BCE!

The Hebrew Judaic Scriptures consists of the Law (“Torah” or Pentateuch), Prophets (“Nevim”) and poetic Writings (“Kethubhim”).

There are two schools of thought about authorship.

The Torah is either viewed as having been divinely authored through Moses to make it called “Mosaic Laws.”

This is the literalist and historical approach. It is also the traditionalist, conservative and orthodox perspective, and is based on the externalist position that the Divine is humanoid or anthropological.

This is coercively prescriptive and the only monolithic approach taught in our education system and churches.

Alternatively, is the reformist, progressive and transformative approach that eschews dogma and unashamedly defends individual autonomy, responsibility and the common or shared bonds, ground and perennial truths as human beings with integrity, humility and positive impact.

It assumes that the Torah, like other scriptural texts, is a product of human endeavour and was written by numerous writers over a period of time based on a “redaction of …originally independent documentary (human) sources.” This is based on the internalist position that the Divine is a cosmic force or energy and every human being is a bearer and diverse vehicular expression of such a Divine.

Through the grand powers of human agency (reasoning, discernment and causation), one can internally discover within to externally manifest the Divine, which is an infinite, eternal and impersonal life sustaining cosmic force or energy.

The reformist and transformative approach to life means keeping rational traditions innovatively and scientifically; embracing human diversity and conscience while affirming commonality; asserting authority of texts and sages without undermining open, critical and pluralist scholarship.

Along this thinking of human authorship, there are literary strands identified as the Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D) and Priestly (P) sources (Don Closson, “Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?” 2001.

The documentary hypothesis was formulated in the 19th century by Julius Wellhausen, a German Lutheran historian, linguist and textual critic.

It was the JEDP that the Septuagint (pronounced sep’ — too — uh — jint) was said to have been produced containing both a translation of the oral Hebrew and variant material from other civilisations like the ancient Egyptain cosmology and Babylonian creation epic and flood story.

“In the real world of archaeology, J, E, D, and P do not exist. Their existence is purely theoretical. The recent publication entitled The Book of J is a modern theoretical reconstruction, not the publication of an actual ancient document.

“The identity and content of J, E, D, and P vary from scholar to scholar. Even the number of source documents varies, depending on whose book you read. If the documentarians are detecting the historical facts about the composition of the Torah, we should expect that, with time, their views should converge upon a single set of facts, and would be increasingly validated by archaeological data. Instead, documentarians grow more diverse and are increasingly at odds with historic facts.

“There is no record, within or without the Torah, written or oral, that these were the source documents, or that they were destroyed after the final copies were made — which is the only way to explain their non-existence today. If holy documents were edited into a harmonious whole and if the source documents were destroyed, the ancients had no reason to suppress the event, because the people who carried it out would have seen themselves as piously motivated and would have recorded the ceremony as an important spiritual milestone.

There are “no literary ancestors of the Torah (having) been discovered, although similar literary forms and similar stories have been found from the era in which the Torah purports to have been written. There is no record in any of the oral or written traditions of the (Hebrews) that there were literary ancestors of the Torah and there is no record that the Torah was purified by the destruction of rival documents, as we find with the Koran in Islam.” — “The Torah in Modern Scholarship” (1993) by Rev. Kenneth W. Collins, an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“As of today almost all contemporary (scriptural) scholars recognize that the first five books of the (Hebrew Scriptures) were not written by a single author and that they are in fact a compilation of separate sources composed by different schools of thought.”.

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