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Berossus And Genesis, Manetho And Exodus: Hellenistic Histories And the Date of the Pentateuch (The Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies) [Hardcover]

By Russell E. Gmirkin (Author)
Our Price $ 181.80  
 
 
Item Number 207975  
Buy New $181.80

Item Specifications...

Pages   332
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 5.9" Height: 1.3"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Jul 30, 2006
Publisher   T. & T. Clark Publishers, Ltd.
ISBN  0567025926  
EAN  9780567025920  


Availability  146 units.
Availability accurate as of May 25, 2017 12:31.
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Item Description...
Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus proposes a provocative new theory regarding the date and circumstances of the composition of the Pentateuch. Gmirkin argues that the Hebrew Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars at Alexandria that later traditions credited with the Septuagint translation of the Pentateuch into Greek. The primary evidence is literary dependence of Gen. 1-11 on Berossus' Babyloniaca (278 BCE) and of the Exodus story on Manetho's Aegyptiaca (c. 285-280 BCE), and the geo-political data contained in the Table of Nations. A number of indications point to a provenance of Alexandria, Egypt for at least some portions of the Pentateuch. That the Pentateuch, drawing on literary sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria, was composed at almost the same date as the Septuagint translation, provides compelling evidence for some level of communication and collaboration between the authors of the Pentateuch and the Septuagint scholars at Alexandria's Museum. The late date of the Pentateuch, as demonstrated by literary dependence on Berossus and Manetho, has two important consequences: the definitive overthrow of the chronological framework of the Documentary Hypothesis, and a late, 3rd century BCE date for major portions of the Hebrew Bible which show literary dependence on the Pentateuch. >

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
unlikely story  Jan 20, 2007
I was not persuaded that the first five books of the Hebrew Bible were "composed in their entirely about 273-272 BCE" in Alexandria. A lot of research went into this book, but, I suggest, faulty methodology and odd framing of questions led the work astray, to quite implausible conclusions about the origin of the Torah and its Greek translation. The book mostly addresses Greek writers, or rather the fragmentary remains of such. But the Hebrew Bible is in Hebrew not Greek. The book overfocuses on Greek; underfocusses on the Hebrew text. I'm reminded of A. Momigliano's earlier complaint about another work: that it was "Hellenization of an unknown entity." The book's bibliography lacks, for instance, the names Tov, Kraft, Wevers and Schniedewind, who could have offered Gmirkin more reasonable and well-informed views of the composition of the Hebrew Bible and its translations; Gmirkin misspelled the Hebrew scholar Gesenius as Genesius.
Berossus was largely ignored in his day; that's one reason his works survive only in fragments; few bothered to copy him. Gmirkin fails to inform readers about this. Yet the book urges that 70 or 72 (?) bilingual Jewish scholars went from Jerusalem to Alexandria to write (in Hebrew) a polemic response to his Greek: Genesis. There's a tension in the book, between the page one thesis claim quoted above and later weasle words allowing that perhaps sources were available earlier. Even in Gmirkin's internally-inconsistent book, in some pages, the Bible did not "start" when other pages insist. Gmirkin somehow takes the foundation myth Letter of Aristaeus, assigns it a new author, and extracts the part he finds credible, useful to him. Gmirkin seems to me to use two standards of proof. Was Berosus' work, for instance, even known to have been in the Alexandria Library? There's no direct evidence, but Gmirkin assures that it was, doubtless. (Plausible, arguably, but not doubtless--a word overused by Gmirkin.) On the other hand, arguments from silence (in some Greek texts! after a quite iffy reassigning text away from Hecataeus of Abdera) are used implausibly against pre-273 Hebrew written Torah--and against pre-273 Greek translations. And when Moses was called a lawgiver, that's explained away as a non-writing variety lawgiver, despite a long-functioning temple. Too many ifs. On pages 53-55 Gmirkin attempts to reassign text that shows awareness of written Torah away from Hecataeus of Abdera, who most scholars agree wrote this; but that attestation, by itself, disproves Gmirkin's proposal by predating his imagined composition time. So he seeks to reassign it a new author and date it much later. This text also says that the Jews were "so docile...they fall to the ground and do reverence to the high priest...." Gmirkin's proposal implausibly places the time of "docile" Jews right at the end of the civil war by the two high priest claimant sons of the warrior Alexander Jannaeus, and supposedly written in the view of one travelling with Pompey. An odd time for one with the Roman army to mention docility.
I recommend James Barr's "Did the Greek Pentateuch Really Serve as a Dictionary for the Translation of the Later Books?) in the Muraoka Festschrift--earlier translations than the LXX, and hence earlier Hebrew Torah, are quite the sensible conclusion. Gmirkin's dismissal of Linguistic Dating of Texts (p. 17 and three lines on p. 18) could be considered too skimpy to do that subject justice. The book and its bibliography lack much direct attention to the Hebrew text. One might have expected, given his thesis, quotes from, say, Berossus in Greek, then the Hebrew Torah, then Greek translation, with detailed comment on how Genesis supposedly depends on Berossus. Genesis simply does not read as Gmirkin's scenario would require. Also, the temple in Elephantine does not attest to non-existence of written Torah then, any more than does the later temple at Leontopolis. In fact, the Elephantine papyri, Cowley 33 and 32, may well attest to Deuteronomy 12, and possibly the Pentateuch as well, by promising to the governor of Yehud to comply with its explicit law limiting the burnt sacrifice, the 'olah, to one place only.
This book fails to give a plausible account of the origin and nature of Hebrew Torah, and of the Greek translations (including both understandings and misunderstandings), and of its Vorlage in comparison to other texts, such as MT.
Given Gmirkin's interest in Sherlock Holmes, one may suggest that the question has been unfortunately framed. Holmes, alas, did not say: Dear Watson, the Torah was composed anciently over a long time by many, many of whose names I know not. The book tends toward a discrete, new, conclusion, of "the butler did it" variety. The book is characterized by strident ("doubtless") overreaching for novelty, unfortunately, because it results in a thesis which is a work of fiction.
 
The Bible started as a 3rd century BC cultural studies grant  Oct 7, 2006
This stunning book presents a theory, argued in meticulous detail, that proposes the who, when, and why the Pentateuch was written. Gmirkin argues on a number of grounds for an early 3rd century BC _terminus a quo_ (no earlier than) date of production of the Pentateuch. These arguments would stand whether or not there was a viable scenario at that time, but it happens there is an excellent one: the traditions surrounding production of the Greek Septuagint. Like Sherlock Holmes solving a vexing mystery, Gmirkin snaps the conclusion into place: the Hebrew Pentateuch was produced as a sort of cultural studies project/grant from the Egyptian ruler Ptolemy II, who gave Jewish scholars access to the famous Library of Alexandria, from which these Jewish scholars wrote their history of the Jewish people. The traditional source analysis of J, P, E, and D, Gmirkin argues, reflects collation of input into the final documents, like the production of work done by a committee. (That is, Gmirkin accepts multiple sources going into the Pentateuch, but dates each of them to early 3rd century BC, on the basis of argument.) In this revolutionary thesis of how the Pentateuch was written, Gmirkin argues, for example, that the biblical exodus story was a Jewish response to Manetho's anti-semitic story of the expulsion of lepers from Egypt, and not the other way around as has traditionally been supposed.

Gmirkin then argues that the Hebrew version of the Pentateuch was translated into Greek contemporary with its Hebrew production. (Compare Josephus's later publication of his 1st century AD _Wars_ first in Aramaic and then in Greek, nearly simultaneously, as a later parallel.) The legendary tradition of the Septuagint's production in the _Letter of Aristeas_, Gmirkin argues, is actually a garbled tradition of the production and publication of the Pentateuch itself. That is, a known tradition of the Pentateuch's time, place, and circumstances of production has been in plain view all this time, but has heretofore not been recognized as such.

Note that Gmirkin's thesis on the date of composition of the Pentateuch does not address issues of historicity of the contents of the Pentateuch, which could contain accurate information concerning the past or be highly legendary or some mixture thereof, depending on the quality of the 3rd century BC Jewish scholars' sources in the Library of Alexandria. That is a distinct set of issues, separate from the issue of date and place of production and publication.

Gmirkin addresses matters such as linguistic dating, illusory reasons why the Pentateuch has been thought to have been in existence prior to 3rd century BC, and so on. Gmirkin's thesis is stunning in its simplicity and coherence, such that informed readers are sure to ask after reading it, "Why didn't I think of that?" There is sure to be a wild ride of scholarly discussion and controversy over Gmirkin's thesis and argument. This is one of the most important studies of this decade for those interested in historical-critical questions concerning the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.
 

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