Thursday, June 29, 2017
JEDP questioned. . .
If the central theory that the bulk of the OT material is post-exilic is allowed, then that material is legend and myth more than real history and its portrayal of figures like Moses or David to be literally made up and not factual or historical. The conventional wisdom of this theory is that pre-exilic Israel was not monotheistic and was functionally incapable of such complex prose such as Genesis or Psalms represent. According to the Documentary Hypothesis theory, this literary culture was not Israels but was borrowed from other cultures more advanced, from the culture of Mesopotamia.
When a set of ostraca was discovered in the Negev, the assumptions underlying the Documentary Hypothesis theory were called into question. Ostraca are simply shards of pottery used to jot down notes -- essentially scrap paper. These ostraca were unearthed at Tel Arad, a fortress city in southern Judea on the border of the Negev. Although Tel Arad predates ancient Israel, it was used as a fortress during the reigns of David and Solomon. It was expanded and eventually used even in the Roman period when it was finally abandoned. Many artifacts recovered from Tel Arad, including these ostraca, date from 850-600 BC, during the time of Elijah and Elisha, as well as Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Though discovered in the 1960s, they were largely unreadable until modern technology creating imaging software allowed archaeologists to more accurately reconstruct the text of the ostraca. What was found conflicts with the basic assumptions of the Documentary Hypothesis. Reconstructed Hebrew letters revealed a surprising level of literacy among the Israelites of the period. While most of the ostraca were about military subjects, others preserved priestly details proving a level of literacy even for the average ordinary Israelite. If a culture had literacy so deeply embedded to such a common level, it casts doubt on the need for or the reality of literary borrowing by the Israelites from the Babylonians. It gives evidence of an independent literary tradition that adds credence to the text of the OT as real history.
Source: The Times of Israel, "New look at ancient shards suggests Bible even older than thought", Tamar Pileggi (Apr 12, 20016).
Once again Dr. Paul Maier is proven correct. The more we excavate and find archeological clues to the past, the better the history of the Bible looks in comparison.