Archive for August, 2012

Comment-Collapse Trauma from BibleInterp

August 12, 2012

Near the end of last month, LMLK VIP Prof. Yosef Garfinkel published an article (Data, Paradigms and Paradigm-Collapse Trauma: from Biblical Archaeology to Brutal Biblical Archaeology) on The Bible and Interpretation website.

Niels Peter Lemche posted a 6-paragraph comment (BibleInterp Comments [BIC] #2 & #3) against Garfinkel that I promptly challenged on 2 points (BIC #4).

Simultaneously, Philip Davies joined the discussion against Garfinkel (BIC #5).

Dr. Lemche accused me of proceeding with “stupid mantras“, suggesting I read an unspecified “thousands of pages” by him plus the [complete?] works of 5 other scholars & their critics (BIC #6). I must’ve asked a really complicated question, no? Usually when somebody says something genuinely stupid to me, I give them a pithy, rational reply they can quickly digest, rather than recommending they build a spaceship & travel to outer space in search of intelligent life.

In my 2nd comment (BIC #7), I reiterated my challenge to NPL with additional specificity, then challenged Dr. Davies regarding his interpretation of the Tel Dan Stela.

This really frustrated NPL, because he’s used to moderating other forums where he can simply ban participants who bother him. In his 3rd comment (BIC #8) he lamented the existence of a forum where challenges to “the establishment” could reside. What a terrible world we live in! True to the creed of great educators throughout history, he informed me that “the professionals owe [me] no explanation of anything.” Completely unaware of the (negatively) controversial Lipschits/Sergi/Koch peer-review failure by the editors of Tel Aviv, he laughably declared I’d “never join a peer review committee“.

After presenting the introduction to an obscure 1963 booklet that in no way supported his earlier statement I had challenged, he boasted of seeing “no further reason to continue this debate“, falsely accused me of attacking Dr. Davies for being a “non-believer“, & again lamented that I had not yet been “banned” over this.

Kudos to Uri Hurowitz for posting his observation that NPL failed to defend his positions (BIC #10).

Undoubtedly driving under the influence of NPL’s desire, the BI moderator edited my 3rd & final comment (BIC #11), which contained a sarcastic response to NPL, & a response to someone named Martin who had written about the law of conservation of matter & a crucial experiment. Here’s my summary that he deleted:

So before Philip davies (or Dr. Lemche) can present any cogent argument about the Bible, they first need a foundation to account for their ideas, hypotheses, theories; but they can’t, so when their ideas are analyzed in their entirety, they’re found relying on fallacies (& should be abandoned in lieu of a rational one). This is the ‘crucial experiment’ that Minimalism fails.

The deletion of this point proves that it really touches a nerve at BI, because despite their name (Bible AND Interpretation), they generally don’t allow anything but conventional/mainstream interpretations of the Bible on their website. That’s why I resorted to publishing my rebuttals to Cargill & Isbell on my own site (they also rejected my rebuttal to Vaughn/Pillers Dobler, but for reasons unrelated to Biblical interpretation).

Fine. I have no complaint against the BI editors for limiting discussions to views they believe are valid; I’m content with presenting my positions here for the record. It’s unfortunate for BI readers, because they’re misled by what appears to be a lack of reply from me. For example, Dr. Davies posted another message to me (BIC #12), & here’s my entire reply they rejected:

Dear philip davies, thank you for your response. No, I do not know any language other than English in depth. Are you saying you believe that Omri never reigned as a king, & that Assyrian inscriptions mentioning ‘House of Omri’ could not possibly be referring to an Israelite king when they conquered Samaria, that they were simply referring to an ungoverned land named BYT OMRY by its inhabitants for reasons we cannot possibly know?

We don’t have the full word preceding ‘BYT DVD’ on the Dan Stela, but we do have a clear Kaf, & with my aforementioned context of 4 other instances of ‘MLK’ in this small surviving section of the overall stela, that’s an impressive coincidence (1 out of 22); far more impressive than the likelihood of inanimate matter randomly acquiring animation (none out of zillions of scientific experiments). Just sayin’…

As for the formula you mentioned, in 2Samuel 2 we have ‘DVD LMLK OL BYT YEUDE’ (David to reign over [the] house [of] Judah), so again it wouldn’t be wacko for one of his Judean descendants to be referred to as MLK BYT DVD, especially with the ‘house of Saul’, ‘house of Jeroboam’, & the northern kingdom’s attested equivalents.

Oh, & for the record, we do have ‘MLK BYT AL’ in Joshua 12:16. And yes, I know it’s a place, not a dynasty, but I was able to prove you wrong on that point despite not knowing classical Hebrew & Akkadian. Pretty impressive, no?

P.S. A belated ‘thank you’ to Uri Hurwitz for the point about Ben Gurion’s Bible group; I was not aware of that.

When queried, the moderator said he rejected my remarks because he believed Davies would’ve jumped on me for using Omri when the point made by Davies concerned 6th-century Judah. He obviously couldn’t comprehend my argument, & that’s a poor reason to reject it.

Again, my original point was that Davies isn’t applying his same skeptical objectivity consistently (Special Pleading). If you don’t want to believe the HoD on the Dan Stela refers to a Judean king in a small surviving portion of a stela discussing kings, fine; don’t expect me to believe that the laws of nature were randomly suspended to accommodate your belief that everything came from nothing, order came from disorder, & life from non-life.

Martin made a subsequent point (BIC #13) that “we should attend to the difference from things that can be scientifically tested and things that cannot.

Hidden within his statement is the false claim that the existence of God, or the veracity of God’s revelation to us, cannot be tested or known (as science, literally knowledge). He’s presupposing that God would have to be tested the same way we test material objects. Obviously it’s invalid to expect to be able to test all things according to a single methodology.

For example, we can test the transition of solid ice to liquid water by applying heat; yet we would not test the aerodynamics of a paper airplane by applying heat. More ludicrous to emphasize my point, we would never test whether a person cried real tears by applying heat to their face!

We would not test the validity of a (non-physical) mathematical equation via (physical) substances. If 1+2=3 & 3=4-1, you don’t have to apply heat to your computer screen to test my (obviously false) claim that 1+2 doesn’t equal 4-1.

We can indeed test “whether God will wipe away all our tears” (as Martin posited) because we can trace that claim to a reliable source Who would know (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 7:17; 21:4), & we could base our confidence in it the same we act with confidence based on other reliable sources (unless we’re guilty of Special Pleading like Dr. Davies).

This leads into Martin’s subsequent question, “What would show each of the different views to be mistaken?” My answer: We can show that the views espoused by Lemche & Davies rely upon logical fallacies, whereas mine maintains a rational consistency. That’s common among scientists; we uphold theories & ideas until they’re shown to be wrong.

We can easily show that non-Christian religions are wrong; & not only am I unaware of any similar test that has falsified the Bible, every test that we can apply to the Bible confirms its reliability (e.g., its transmission over centuries, events such as the global flood & the Hezekiah/Sennacherib confrontation, seals of named individuals, places bearing synchronized strata, intrinsically honest testimonies).

And thanks to Jose Castro for correcting Dr. Lemche again on whether Hezekiah was a king reigning over a kingdom named Judah, rather than merely a guy living in a place named Judah.

Proving Minimalists to be wrong is like catching fish in a barrel (that they, themselves swam into voluntarily, which is sad).

G.M. Grena