More on Hammurabi and Archaeology
I still do not see a source, other than your assertion for a later dating of Hammurabi. Your argument basically boils down to "There is uncertainty in the field and therefore the field is unreliable."
With regards to Hammurabi, I am not saying that "There is uncertainty in the field and therefore the field is unreliable." RtJB seems to be the kind of person who automatically associates anyone who takes the Torah seriously as being in the same camp as the creationist types who say things like that, but it's a sign of the very large chip on his shoulder that he'd read it into what I wrote.
It's not exactly rocket science. Two completely different and independent sources of information that say the same thing. A period of well over a thousand years according to any reckoning, in which there is a dead match for the entire duration of the period.
No one can accuse the scholars who have painstakingly assembled the stratigraphic record of the Levant of trying to make it match the Bible. On the contrary: the very fact that they've been assuming incorrect dates for the strata all this time establishes better than anything could that there's been no fudging of the data.
In any other field of knowledge, this would be a no brainer.
- First urban settlement
- Brutal, violent culture
- Fortified cities
- Pyramid age in Egypt
- Egypt falls apart
- New nation appears in the Sinai and Negev and then invades those first urban settlers from the Transjordan, wiping out the first urban settlers
- New nation destroys all the cities that the Bible says were destroyed by Israel, such as Jericho and Ai, which wouldn't be rebuilt until the Iron Age
- New nation lives pastorally for centuries and then virtually overnight expands into an empire that stretches from the Nile to the Euphrates (the only such empire in all of human history)
- New nation speaks and writes Biblical Hebrew and is culturally indistinguishable from the Israelites of the Bible
- Empire falls apart in what archaeologists see as being caused by civil war and invasions from Egypt
- Remains of empire last for a few more centuries, plagued by more civil wars and external invasions
- Northern part of former empire is pounded to pieces by invaders from northern Syria and Mesopotamia
- Northern part of former empire is resettled by Newer nation, which despite copying many aspects of its predecessor, is quite easily distinguishable, culturally speaking
- Newer nation rebuilds cities like Ai, which had been in ruins for the entirety of the Middle and Late Bronze Ages.
And it's like fractals. The closer you look -- the more detail you check out -- the stronger the match becomes.
Anyone looking at this objectively would match the two. While there is nothing objective that dates the stratigraphic record as it is currently dated.
Whether we want to lower the dates of the stratigraphy or raise the biblical dates, there is no question that the records match. Independently, and deeply. And Hammurabi is dated without any "uncertainty" to the Middle Bronze Age.
As an anecdote, I discussed this debate we seem to be having with a friend of mine who took Bible classes at YU and his professor never said there was any reason to think Hammurabi was post-MT.
The point being? It's interesting that RtJB uses arguments from authority when it leads to the conclusions he wants to see. The association with YU doesn't guarantee correctness. And his professor was teaching from the book. Not everyone spends the time and energy to do research in this field.
Also, I am not using my rules of logic. I looked to scientific consensus in a field with which I have no familiarity.
What's interesting is that RtJB seems to have a definition of "scientific" that means "anything not connected to religion". Because by any reasonable standard, the various fields of ancient history are anything but "scientific". As Robert A. Heinlein put into the mouth of Lazarus Long, "If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion." And as Leonardo da Vinci wrote, "No human investigation can be called true science without passing through mathematical tests. "
I don't deny the excellent scholarship involved in these fields, but science can be replicated. You can start from primaries and derive it all. That's not the case here. Here, we have a field that's a mixture of 18th century Christian biblical interpretation, and the equivalent of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, with most of its pieces missing, that scholars have been doing their painstaking best to piece together plausably. It's scholarship, but it's not science.
Yet by referring to "scientific consensus", RtJB can make it look as though rejecting the consensus is on par with Flat Earth theories, or denying gravity.
Lastly, referring to the differences between Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities, RtJB wrote:
You can imagine that if these communities were to codify their cultural norms, the documents produced will look quite different from each other, but not that different than surrounding cultures.
This idea is what causes me to be skeptical of, to quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (referring to another mythical legal concept), a "brooding omnipresence in the sky, but the articulate voice of some sovereign or quasi sovereign that can be identified." That phrase perfectly sums up how I feel about the Mesorah.
And yet, despite the cultural differences between Ashkenazim and Sephardim, we all agree on the halakha. We all agree on what's d'Orayta, what's d'Rabbanan, and to the extent that we have differences that came into being after the close of the Torah, we recognize those as being minor.Your focus on cultural similarities doesn't make sense. Anyone looking at Jews today would see cultural similarities between us and the people among who we live. But these are surface qualities. I suspect that RtJB is not so shallow as to be unable to see past surface details. Rather, his fundamental position seems to be a denial of God and a desire to find an excuse, any excuse, to reject the Mesorah. And that's really unfortunate.