Way back on Aug 31, 2006, Robert M. Whiting posted a message (#2379, under the title “Re: Tel Zayit and Izbet Sartah abagadaries” that he in a later message re-titled “Science and ‘Silliness'”) that I felt compelled to challenge. However, my response was rejected due, according to the 6 united moderators, to its being “nonfactual evangelistic diatribe”. Note that Bob Whiting’s original message was not dubbed “nonfactual minimalistic diatribe” or “nonfactual atheistic diatribe” despite the fact that his message contained no references, facts, or specific examples–it was just a flippant exposure of his personal bias against the value of faithfulness when recording history. Here is my response (in italics) that they believe is irrelevant to ANE research–you decide for yourself whose message was more scientific, factual, & objective (Bob’s original remarks preceded by “>”):
> science is based on evidence
No, science is based on an interpretation of evidence! A subtle but important distinction.
> Silliness is based on claims of what *might* have happened
> based on speculation or on the possibility of evidence
> exisiting that *might* be discovered some day.
Let’s take a specific ANE example. One chronicler at one period of time wrote that Sennacherib confined Hezekiah to Jerusalem like a bird in a cage, & another writer during a later period said Sennacherib left Jerusalem with shame of face. In LMLK seals, I have contemporary archeological evidence to support the Biblical version; namely, the fact that about half the specimens can be attributed to the period immediately subsequent to the Assyrian destruction layer [ref. #1]. Judeans were not confined to Jerusalem; they apparently shifted eastward away from the Assyrian destruction region, & possibly resettled some sites in northwestern Israel [ref. #2]. LMLK seals also complement the Biblical chronology of an Assyrian destruction occurring in the middle (i.e., 14th year) of Hezekiah’s 29-year reign. Note that LMLK seals don’t mention Hezekiah by name; they’re found in stratified contexts attributable to Assyrian destruction. We have to thank Sennacherib for mentioning Hezekiah by name, & for bragging about his conquest of Judea!
The story about the angelic massacre is irrelevant to my knowledge/science. If anyone wants to challenge my interpretation of this evidence, I’d be very interested in hearing from you; all I ask is that you argue from evidence, & not your perception of my theological position.
> Science is not about what *might* have happened or what
> *might* exist.
Sure it is. Pick up any history book. Even if it’s an eyewitness account, it’s an interpretation of what *might* have happened or what *might* exist. It *might* be accurate, or it *might* be inaccurate. It has to be considered in its totality (author, publisher, content, references, etc.).
The excavators of Ramat Rahel are hoping that a Hezekian archive *might* exist there. Is such an expectancy unscientific? Does any minimalist really believe Hezekiah had no literary archive?
> In general, science is not necessarily even about what did
> happen or what does exist.
Science is about knowledge, & knowledge is about what may or may not have happened, what does or doesn’t exist, & what is expected to happen/exist or not happen (e.g., Global Warming).
> Science is about what can be proved with evidence to have
> happened or to exist.
> Bob Whiting
That’s a nice statement for the black & white regions of our world, but what about the gray regions? Are they off-limits to science, or are they the exclusive territory of minimalists?
George Michael Grena, II
Redondo Beach, CA
Ref. #1: The www.lmlk.com/research/lmlk_strat.htm page shows a majority of x2D & x2T types stratified above the Assyrian destruction layer (rows colored blue), & a majority of x2U, x4C, & x4L types stratified below it (rows colored purple). The “Inscription Styles (i.e., Seal Sets)” chart near the bottom of the www.lmlk.com/research/lmlk_corp.htm page lists 354 x2T & x2D specimens, & 388 x2U, x4C, & x4L specimens. That’s about half & half according to my North American arithmetic.
Ref. #2: x2T & x2D types are prevalent at east-Judean sites such as Khirbet es-Samrah, Hurvat Shilhah, Jericho, el-Ful, & en-Gedi, as well as northwestern-Israel sites such as Kiryat Ata & Jezreel, not to mention core Judean sites such as en-Nasbeh, Gibeon, Jerusalem, & Ramat Rahel. x2U, x4C, & x4L stamps dominate the Shephelah, particularly Lachish & Beth Shemesh. Map showing all relevant sites available on the www.lmlk.com/research/lmlk_geo.htm page.
Again, the above was deemed “non-factual, evangelistic diatribe” by:
Trudy S. Kawami, Ph.D., Columbia University Art History & Archaeology, Director of Research, Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
N. P. Lemche, Professor Dr.Theol., Department of Biblical Exegesis, The University of Copenhagen
Marc Cooper, Missouri State University, Department of History
Robert Whiting, University of Helsinki
Charles E. Jones, The American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
In their joint rejection letter forwarded to me by Minimalist authority, Niels Peter Lemche, they stated that my opinions reflect a “North American orientation”, & that their opinions belong in northern Europe, with the implication being that that’s where all the “fact-oriented”, scientific scholars are.
Cult: a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.–Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
Song of the week: “Javert’s Arrival – Little People” by Les Misérables Dream Cast (click the song title to visit Amazon; click here for a 29-second sample; 360kb).