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Matan Torah at Mount Sinai

Discussion in 'Orthodox Judaism DIR' started by Ehav4Ever, May 13, 2020.

  1. Ehav4Ever

    Ehav4Ever Well-Known Member

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    A few years ago I started a practice of writing position papers to both a) prove out the things I hold by in terms of Torah/Halakha/Philosophy and b) as an easier way to respond to debates (especially when they were repetitive.)

    Attached below to this post is a paper I wrote in response to questions I got about whether or not Matan Torah at Mount Sinai could have been faked. I will post some of the others I wrote on this topic here in the following posts of this thread.
     

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  2. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    In your attachment you write:

    Also, if the documentary theory were correct the Samaritan Torah would have Elohim in it more than YHWH. This is because the Samaritan version of the Torah and their culture is derived from the descendants of the “Northern tribes” who separated from the Kingdom of Yehudah (Judah) and formed the Kingdom of Yisrael. ...​

    That strikes me as a very weak claim. So, for example ...

    In his Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, Emanuel Tov writes:

    Against the testimony of both the Samaritan community and the Jews, most scholars ascribe the origin of the community to a much later time. According to one view, based on the book of Ezra, the Samaritans are people of Samaria (the Northern Kingdom) who separated from the people of Judah (the Judaites) in the Persian period (see esp. Ezra 4:1-5). Others, on the basis of Josephus, Antiquities, XI, 340-345, ascribe the origin of the community as well as the building of the temple in Sechem to the period of Alexander the Great. According to Purvis, the Samaritans separated from their Jewish brethren after the destruction of their Temple by John Hyrcanus in 128 BCE. The paleographical evidence mentioned above also points to this late date. Coggins is another scholar who supports a late date.​

    Similarly, Wikipedia:: Samaritan Pentateuch: Scholarly perspective notes:

    Modern scholarship connects the formation of the Samaritan community with events which followed the Babylonian captivity. One view is that the Samaritans are the people of the Kingdom of Israel who separated from the Kingdom of Judah. Another view is that the event happened somewhere around 432 BCE, when Manasseh, the son-in-law of Sanballat, went off to found a community in Samaria, as related in Nehemiah 13:28 and Josephus. Josephus himself, however, dates this event and the building of the temple at Shechem to the time of Alexander the Great. Others believe that the real schism between the peoples did not take place until Hasmonean times when the Gerizim temple was destroyed in 128 BCE by John Hyrcanus. The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch, its close connections at many points with the Septuagint, and its even closer agreements with the present Hebrew text, all suggest a date about 122 BCE.

    Excavation work undertaken since 1982 by Yitzhak Magen has firmly dated the temple structures on Gerizim to the middle of the 5th century BCE, built by Sanballat the Horonite, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah, who lived more than one hundred years before the Sanballat that is mentioned by Josephus.

    The adoption of the Pentateuch as the sacred text of the Samaritans before their final schism with the Palestinian Jewish community provides evidence that it was already widely accepted as a canonical authority in that region. [emphasis added - JS]​

    If this product of the Documentary Hypothesis had been accepted as canonical prior to the formation of the Samaritan community, why should the similarities between the SP and MT be view as evidence against the Documentary Hypothesis?
     
  3. Ehav4Ever

    Ehav4Ever Well-Known Member

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    Greetings. The problem with the above is that you have to also get information directly from the Samaritans of what their version of their history is. For example, I met with the community that is here on the Israeli side and I also got my hands on their texts. Their claim of their personal history doesn't match what is mentioned about them. I.e. there may have been in history more than one group of "Samaritan." They claim that they descend from a "group" of Northern Israelis who were allowed to return to Shomron after paying a heavy tax to the Assyrians.

    There are a number of scholars who have taken a different approach to the Samaritans. That is to look into what the Samaritans say about themselves. I.e. the information above from Emanuel Tov and the Wiki are considered to be speaking of a "a" group of Samaritans but may not be 100% true specifically for the ones that currently exist in Holon and Shechem. (There used to be about a million Samaritans in this region until the Turks took out a large number of them. There used to also be Samaritan communities in Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.)

    A few good resources for learning the perspective of the modern day Samaritans are the following:
    1. A Grammar of Samaritan Hebrew: Based on the Recitation of the Law in Comparison with the Tiberian and Other Jewish Traditions by Abraham Tal
    2. Samaritan Documents Relating To Their History, Religion and Life by John Bowman
    3. The Keepers, An Introduction to the History and Culture of the Samaritans, by Robert T. Anderson and Terry Giles
    4. Also, see the following DNA research on the "modern day" Samaritans which has shed a bit more light on their origins. HERE
    One of things brought in the above is that some scholars have the view that there in history was more than one Samaritan group. I.e. that when scholars say "Samaritan" they should consider that there was several stages of Samaritanism and not all of them were connected.

    What I am stating is that the original documentary theory didn't even take the Samaritan Torah into account, just like it did not take into account Jewish texts from more isolated Jewish communities in Yemen, China, etc.
     
    #3 Ehav4Ever, May 13, 2020
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  4. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
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    In my opinion, the problem of the above is that, confronted with multiple options, you not only posed the one most supportive of your presuppositions but, also, ignored (suppressed?) scholarship that does not support your argument. Frankly, it's a distasteful approach.

    In any event, since debate is inappropriate in this forum, I'll simply be on my way.

    L'shalom ...
     
    #4 Jayhawker Soule, May 13, 2020
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  5. Ehav4Ever

    Ehav4Ever Well-Known Member

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    I don't see it as debate I can accept your critique. Though you may have missed something.

    The Samaritan position on their history, and the other scholarship I presented about their position, wasn't "the" only point I listed in the paper. I actually listed several others that the documentary theory does not take into account.

    Also, what the information I provided about the Samaritan claims of their own history still brings up the issue of - If they were able to construct a claim that they represented the Northern tribes and if they are shown to genetically match Jews on the male side then it also makes sense that even if one wants to say their text was constructed later than what they claim about their oldest text the Abisha scroll then they would have enough reason to mirror their text on the principles of the Northern kingdom. I.e. the use only texts found in the Northern tribes and words only used in the Northern kingdom. (In the notes I also mentioned that most scholars date the Abisha scroll at the 12th cent.)

    I do agree with you that the Samaritans are one of my lessor points. I presented several others besides it. Again, it was one of many issues that the Documentary Hypothosis didn't take into account when it was constructed and many of the later versions also ignore them.

    Also, I can't suppress the other views since it is known what they are when the name documentary theory is mentioned. One could make an argument that the Samaritan historical claims are ignored or suppressed since often they are not included in detail or at all. For example, I am the one who added the information from Samaritans to the Wiki years ago because it was never included in the original article and most people only know of the Samaritans from non-Samaritans. As a Jew it would easier for me to not include the Samaritans in the picture at all.

    Thank you for your comment.
     
    #5 Ehav4Ever, May 13, 2020
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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