14 Points for the Understanding of Jewish History

1. “History” as a genre did not exist in ancient Palestine. “Story” did. That “Story” might have been made up or misleadingly combined to suit the author’s purpose.

2. Judaism is not a gene. It is either nationalistic, as before the exile or, as after the Exile, ideological in nature. While it has a strong component of heredity to its ideology, it should be noted that most Palestinian Muslims are likely descendants of Jews.

3. Scissors and Paste did not exist before the Byzantine era or so (see esp. pages 205-6). It was nearly impossible for a writer to combine two sources written sentence by written sentence.

4. Written “Story” requires a literate society, or at least class.

5. A Jewish state is a truly rare thing, and, until the State of Israel era, could never become a world power.

6. Using late sources to determine the nature of the identity of groups in earlier eras is not a wise idea. Correspondingly, the Omride/Joashite state had no concept of “Israelite” and “Canaanite”.

7. Oral history is ever-changing and unreliable. As a corollary to point 4, no written tradition derived from an oral one is legitimate.

8. Motive should always be examined when studying texts.

9. A large portion of history is unwritten.

10. Interpolations can occur.

11. Mistakes can be made by authors.

12. It is rarely necessary to write the history of the recent past.

13. Golden-age thinking has always existed, and is not necessarily correct.

14. To find out the history of a site mentioned in a text, do not take the text at its word-Excavate! Excavate! Excavate!

Note as of May 4, 2014: I’m surprised how well these points have held up for the last two years! They were only updated twice, both times on February 28, 2012, around 9:51 PM. This was just after I had started reading the Vridar blog in depth. The first thing I remember from when I began reading it in depth was the post “Uncommon Tantrums over a Common Era”. I added the strikethroughs to the second sentences of points 6 and 7 due to my present belief that these sentences, as I had worded them here, were too strong and were not justified.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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