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Purveyor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:49 PM
Original message
Bible Possibly Written Centuries Earlier, Text Suggests
Clara Moskowitz
LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.com clara Moskowitz
livescience Staff Writer
livescience.com Fri Jan 15, 9:40 am ET

Scientists have discovered the earliest known Hebrew writing - an inscription dating from the 10th century B.C., during the period of King David's reign.

The breakthrough could mean that portions of the Bible were written centuries earlier than previously thought. (The Bible's Old Testament is thought to have been first written down in an ancient form of Hebrew.)

Until now, many scholars have held that the Hebrew Bible originated in the 6th century B.C., because Hebrew writing was thought to stretch back no further. But the newly deciphered Hebrew text is about four centuries older, scientists announced this month.

"It indicates that the Kingdom of Israel already existed in the 10th century BCE and that at least some of the biblical texts were written hundreds of years before the dates presented in current research," said Gershon Galil, a professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Haifa in Israel, who deciphered the ancient text.

BCE stands for "before common era," and is equivalent to B.C., or before Christ.

The writing was discovered more than a year ago on a pottery shard dug up during excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, near Israel's Elah valley. The excavations were carried out by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkel of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. At first, scientists could not tell if the writing was Hebrew or some other local language.

MORE...

http://tinyurl.com/ydklq4p
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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
1. Interesting.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
2. Yeah, I read this earlier. Interesting.
This puts it at the very end of the bronze age or during the same time as the Greek dark ages.
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Betty Karlson Donating Member (902 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 06:56 PM
Response to Original message
3. How enthralling.
The historicity of the Bible (slightly) affirmed for a change.
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. Antiquity does not imply historicity. If a fable is really OLD that doesn't imply it's true. nt
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Betty Karlson Donating Member (902 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. I should have been more precise:
It would appear that the supposed 'oral tradition' was in fact documented - and that the unchanged nature of (parts of) the Bible stands reaffirmed for a change.
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:07 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Possibly.
However, if it had been written 4 centuries before then it was not "oral tradition" during those four centuries.

But more importantly, the text that was newly discovered is "similar to" certain passages in the Bible. It shows, in fact, the very opposite of the "unchanged" nature of the text. It shows a text that was changed and altered over time.

"The content, which has some missing letters, is similar to some Biblical scriptures, such as Isaiah 1:17, Psalms 72:3, and Exodus 23:3,..." (my emphasis)

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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 11:58 PM
Response to Reply #13
17. given the paucity of literacy, even when it was written a lot of it was
transferred orally.
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Deep13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 02:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
25. Um, how so? nt
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jgraz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:04 PM
Response to Original message
4. Wouldn't it be awesome if it turned out the Bible was more than 6000 years old?
:evilgrin:
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. What does this mean in the big picture?
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Fundamentalists claim the earth was created in 6,000 BC.
So if the Bible was written BEFORE the earth was created ...
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Ah.
Fundamentalist. Wasn't sure who this bit of information would affect the most.
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jgraz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:37 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Actually, I think it's 4000 BC
But who knows? I can never keep track of the crazy shit the fundies believe.
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Speck Tater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
14. I stand corrected. nt
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roguevalley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #5
18. that as usual we underestimate our ancestors. given that the rise of
settled life and communities seem to be only about 10K old, this could change a lot of thinking about how things 'are supposed to be'.
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aquart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:44 PM
Response to Original message
10. Sometimes scholars are just silly.
Assuming the earliest they ever found was of course the earliest that ever existed? Please.
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The Magistrate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 07:46 PM
Response to Original message
11. Mr. Galil, Sir, Is Way Out Ahead Of The Evidence Presented In His Comments Here
Edited on Sun Jan-17-10 07:46 PM by The Magistrate
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 09:46 PM
Response to Original message
15. It means a lot less than they're making it out to mean
The article says that this discovery shows Hebrew was being written earlier than was previously documented. But we already knew that the Phoenician alphabet goes back to perhaps 1100 BC, and that by 800 BC it had spread as far as Greece (where it was used to write down the Iliad and the Odyssey). So it was predictable that it would have been in use for writing Hebrew by the 900's.

It says the use of Biblical-like phrases proves that the Bible itself was written centuries earlier than previously thought -- but it does no such thing. Students of Homeric Greek have shown on linguistic grounds that many of the poetic formulas used by Homer must go back to as early as 1400 BC, but there is no indication that the Iliad or Odyssey as artistic works were composed any earlier than the period when they were written down.

And it says the reference to "the king" shows there was already a kingdom of Israel -- but it certainly doesn't prove that the legendary kingdom of David and Solomon actually existed. At most it means that there were kings of some sort -- perhaps petty rulers who used the legends of a vast empire of Israel at some unspecified past era in an attempt to put themselves on a more equal footing with the rulers of Egypt and Assyria.

The archaeology of Israel is fascinating -- but unfortunately the politics of Israel mean you have to take much of it with a grain of salt.

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jan-17-10 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. There never was "a vast empire of Israel"
Even according to Biblical sources, it split into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah pretty early and was constantly getting conquered by whoever came through the neighborhood (Babylonians, Philistines, Assyrians, Greeks, Romans).

The two kingdoms together were never much larger than the present-day state of Israel.
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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 12:10 AM
Response to Reply #16
19. Some people think it's a recollection of the Hyksos
The Hyksos were a mixed bag of Middle Easterners who ruled Egypt for much of the Middle Bronze Age and had influence as far as Crete. If there ever really was an empire from the Nile to the Euphrates, it was theirs -- and it could have inspired the legends which the later kings of Israel attempted to attach to their own much humbler origins.

It wouldn't be the first -- or the last time -- that history has been turned into legend and then back into history again to serve a political purpose.

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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 07:36 AM
Response to Reply #16
20. Call me cynical...
but this smacks of another potshot in the Israel-Palestine "WHOSE LAND WAS IT FIRST" squabble.
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LiberalFighter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 09:28 AM
Response to Original message
21. If Hebrew is derived from the Phoenician alphabet/writing
Edited on Mon Jan-18-10 09:32 AM by LiberalFighter
how did the Israelites read the 10 Commandments?
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. Someone who believes in the story of Exodus
would probably say that the Hebrews took a Phoenican-based writing system into Egypt when Jacob's family moved there. Which would mean pushing that system back a few more centuries too. They can always say "just because you haven't found any inscriptions in that system that far back, it doesn't mean they didn't exist".
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HiFructosePronSyrup Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-18-10 03:49 PM
Response to Original message
22. Leading scholars discover Bible actually written in 1893.
As a prank by Oscar Wilde.
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Jokerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jan-19-10 09:57 AM
Response to Reply #22
24. +1
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