(Originally posted on LMLK Blogspot 5-13-2006.)
This week I engaged in an extremely short-lived debate with 2 university professors (who have no connection to LMLK research) who asserted that a prominent Biblical figure never actually lived. They were offended at my suggestion to keep an open mind on the subject for numerous reasons. I was disappointed/frustrated that people employed by institutions whose goal is to educate, encourage, & open their students minds would not only be intolerant of alternative opinions, but would engage in censorship, mischaracterization, & insults.
Here are some examples of their pseudo-logic (bear in mind that these people are undeniably knowledgeable, with extensive & well-respected academic backgrounds):
1) If you state a differing belief, you’re accused of promoting a personal belief–a very bad thing apparently; if you agree with their personal beliefs, you’re scientific & scholarly–no problem. (Note that I’m not talking about UFOlogy or divine miracles here; I’m simply talking about whether a particular Biblical figure actually lived.) Bear in mind that modern science is founded on testable observations; historical science BY DEFINITION is merely an interpretation of data–a belief.
2) If you compare the usage of ancient Hebrew texts as evidence to the usage of texts from other ancient cultures, you’re imputing the university professors with anti-Semitism. (Sounds like someone has a guilty conscience, doesn’t it?) Would the historicity of Biblical figures be more believable if there were no ancient Hebrew texts? Is it my fault that the vast majority of people–from scholars to screwballs–believe Socrates, Plato, & Aristotle actually lived?
3) If you believe any Biblical characters existed that were not mentioned in contemporary texts of external cultures, you’re an advocate of Biblical inerrancy (a silly doctrine with no tangible definition). Every single person who believes people like Paul, Jesus, Solomon, Moses, & Abraham MIGHT HAVE existed is ipso facto an advocate of Biblical inerrancy. That includes hundreds of millions of people who for centuries have embraced Judaism, Christianity, & Islam.
4) If you point out #s 1-3 above, you’re puerile.
Their demeanor surprised me, but it shouldn’t have.
The History section of my LMLK vol. 1 book illustrates academic debates that never needed to be. I don’t understand why otherwise-clever people are so eager to go out on a limb & metamorphose their ideas into laws/facts, entirely skipping over the Hypothesis & Theory stages that characterize what I would call Smart Scholarship.
With LMLK research, the gray areas include:
1) Dating–When were the 21+ seals made/used? For many years scholars erroneously divided the seals into 3 classes spread over a long period of time; current mainstream scholars go to the opposite extreme by congregating all 21 types into a single, short-lived chronological class.
2) Meaning–What message did the seals convey? Oh, for the late 19th-century days of an open, unbiased mind! For more than a century, all but one archeologist (R.A.S. Macalister) have assumed the inscriptions represent places & the icons connote pagan symbolism.
Both problems can be summarized in this: How much weight should be given to inference when historical facts can no longer be witnessed? Why are so many scholars afraid to preface their remarks with the simple phrase, “I believe…” or “I don’t believe…”? What would be the harm in that? I’d be placated if they’d say, “Most scholars who think just like me believe…” It seems that some scholars have so much info in their brains that it occasionally debilitates their reasoning function!
To a certain degree, we owe a debt of gratitude to Sennacherib for destroying many Judean sites (acting on God’s authority per Isaiah 10:5-6), & for bragging about his incomplete/illusory victory over King Hezekiah (in his cuneiform prisms). Otherwise, we would not only be debating over which reign(s) LMLK seals belonged to, but scholars would have another name on their Santa Claus list of Biblical figures who never really existed.
(More along these lines in my next book, which I obtained the LOC Control Number for this week–yippee!!!)
On a less philosophical & more personal note, the latter part of the week involved shopping for minor upgrades to my PC. In retrospect, I’m amazed at how well my computer’s performed over its 3-year life (which equates to about 15 dog years). I purchased/assembled it in the spring of 2003 prior to beginning my first book, & aside from an occasional reboot (due to conflicts from my dial-up modem that have now been eliminated thanks to a DSL connection), it hasn’t given me much grief. Oh that we could upgrade academia to a better performance!
P.S. When I originally posted this last night, I forgot to include a link where you could learn more about the 2 anonymous scholars I referenced above.