The Bible Unmasked

Chang said:

Thanks very much for the reply. Sorry I took so long finding it, I guess I'm having trouble navigating. There must be an easy way to find a response to your posts, isn't there?

go to the top on to "Show unread posts since last visit."
when somebody has replied to a thread where you have posted something you see on the left column a little yellow star

I found the book on Amazon, $30, and its only a few states away from me (MA).

It has great reviews, and it looks like its just what I was looking for.

Thanks Again!!!

I've actually continued my Bible studies since Secret History was written and the situation is a lot worse than I presented it there. The Documentary hypothesis is now down the toilet. Read Gmirkin's "Berossus and Genesis and Manetho and Exodus" along with Louden's "The Odyssey and the Near East." Excerpts are posted in the Odyssey thread here on the forum that should give some indications of where current day research is going.

ADDED: I'll add those posts to this thread since they are relevant to the topic.
I've got a scanned version of Louden's later book - 2011 - Homer's Odyssey and the Near East - so it will be easier for me to include some excerpts to sharpen ya'll's perception as you go along!!!

The Odyssey’s larger plot is composed of a number of distinct genres
of myth, all of which are extant in various Near Eastern cultures
(Mesopotamian, West Semitic, Egyptian). Unexpectedly, the Near
Eastern culture with which the Odyssey has the most parallels is the
Old Testament. Consideration of how much of the Odyssey focuses
on non-heroic episodes – hosts receiving guests, a king disguised as a
beggar, recognition scenes between long-separated family members –
reaffirms the Odyssey’s parallels with the Bible. In particular this book
argues that the Odyssey is in a dialogic relationship with Genesis, which
features the same three types of myth that comprise the majority of
the Odyssey: theoxeny, romance (Joseph in Egypt), and Argonautic
myth (Jacob winning Rachel from Laban). The Odyssey also offers
intriguing parallels to the Book of Jonah, and Odysseus’ treatment by
the suitors offers close parallels to the gospels’ depiction of Christ in

Lowe, in his analysis of classical plot types
in Western literature, revises Northrop Frye’s (1976) claim for the Bible’s
pre-eminence as most influential text, replacing it with the Odyssey (2000:

A generation ago, it hardly seemed controversial to declare that “western literature
has been more influenced by the Bible than by any other book”. Yet already this
is looking less true, and perhaps it never was. In the forms and media of popular
fiction, at least, the pagan influence of the Odyssey has always been incomparably
more alive. Now, as the traditional borders between high and low culture seem to
be opening permanently to traffic, that persistent influence is more visible than

Lowe argues for its pre-eminence not only as a paradigm for later narrative,
but for its command of an unprecedented variety of narrative types (128):
[T]he Odyssey is the most encyclopaedic compendium of technical plot devices in
the whole of ancient storytelling, and one of the most dazzling displays of narrative
fireworks anywhere in literature.

Lowe divides Western literature into two subdivisions, a major key, first
present in the Odyssey, and aminor key, first present in the Iliad (2000: 128),
a neat correction of the usual bias that assigns greater importance to tragedy.
In his major, Odyssean, key, the protagonist has greater control, makes
decisions consistent with those forces that govern the protagonist’s world,
whereas in his minor, Iliadic, key, those forces are beyond the protagonist’s

What does it mean to say that the Odyssey is an epic? What is an epic?
Myths employ traditional components, verbal formulas, motifs, and type scenes,
such as divine councils, or a host receiving a guest. Traditional
types of characters, such as heroes, gods, prophets, and patriarchs, are also
constituent elements of myth. Specific genres of myth are also recurring
elements of a mythology. By a genre of myth I mean that myths can
be seen as falling into, or existing, in specific categories, each usually
consisting of a few interconnected type-scenes. Audiences, performers,
and cultures, in a certain sense, acquire an understanding of a “template”
of the respective genre of myth, to which some individual modifications,
local details, accrue, to make a given instance of the genre fit into a specific

A few such genres are well known: creation myth, depicting the
creation of mortals, gods, or the earth, as in the Enuma Elish, the Sumerian
Enki and Ninmah, the Babylonian Adapa, Genesis 1 – 6: 4, Hesiod’s Works
and Days (47–174), Ovid’s Metamorphoses (1.5–88), Milton’s Paradise Lost
(5–6), and the like. Theoxeny, when a host receives a stranger who is really
a god in disguise, ending favorably, with Nestor (Odyssey 3) and Abraham
(Genesis 18; cf. Ovid, Fasti 5.493–544), or ending with the destruction of
those who violate hospitality (Odyssey 1, 17–22, Genesis 19, Metamorphoses
8. 611–724), has been explored by Reece (1993: 10, 47–57, 181–7).

This study argues that the Odyssey’s larger plot combines several distinct
genres of myth (eighteen, by my count), including theoxeny (explored
in Chapter 2), romance (Chapter 3), creation myth (Chapter 5), combat
myth (Chapter 8), and catabasis (Chapter 9). For those genres that lack
established names, I have put forth simple descriptive titles, Sea-monsters
and the fantastic voyage (Chapter 7), The king returns, unrecognized and
abused in his kingdom (Chapter 12). I will establish and analyze these and the
other genres of myth that together make up the Odyssey by demonstrating
that the same genres are also extant in Near Eastern mythic traditions.

I will argue that Genesis shares more genres of myth in common with
the Odyssey than does any other ancient narrative.

My study demonstrates that the genres of myth that comprise the Odyssey
are also extant in Near Eastern cultures, often in Gilgamesh, but most
frequently in OT myth.Why do commentators usually omit consideration
of the substantial parallels between Homeric and OT myth?2 Modern
audiences may, even without realizing, project their beliefs onto how they
read ancient texts. Given the long dominance of Christianity and Judaism
in the West, a majority of modern Western audiences, whether consciously
or unconsciously, may, on the basis of their faith, regard biblical and
Homeric narratives as opposites, seeing the former as “true” or “real,” but
the latter as “false,” “unreal,” or “fictional.” Intentionally or unintentionally,
faith has erected a wall between the study of the two narrative traditions. I
ask readers, therefore, to consider the parallels I adduce, and the arguments
proposed concerning them, as objectively as possible.

I define myth as, a sacred, traditional, narrative, that depicts the interrelations
of mortals and gods, is especially concerned with defining what is moral or
ethical behavior for a given culture, and passes on key information about
that culture’s traditions and institutions.6 My definition should be thought
of as applying best to ancient Near Eastern texts including Gilgamesh,
the Enuma Elish, and other Mesopotamian narratives, the Ugaritic Kirta,
and The Aqhat, the Bible, especially the OT, European epics including
the Odyssey, Iliad, Argonautica, and Aeneid, Hesiod, Greek tragedy, the
Mahabhˆarata and the Ramˆayana, and some later epics, such as Beowulf and
Paradise Lost. This list should not be taken as a value judgment privileging
or validating one myth over another, but a natural grouping of texts that
bear close relations to each other, texts that can provide contexts for each
other, and may have genetic relations with each other.7

Lowe, much as I define myth as illustrating “what is moral or ethical
behavior for a given culture,” stresses the Odyssey’s central moral concerns
(2000: 140–1):

[T]he three great Odyssean principles that will become virtual constants of the
rule-system of classical narrative: that crime brings inevitable punishment, brain
is intrinsically stronger than brawn, and trespass on another’s property is an
invariably fatal violation . . . any mortal contempt for divine status or authority –
invariably brings retribution, whether on the ogre Polyphemus, the beggar, Irus,
or even (in his blasphemous final outburst to the blinded giant) Odysseus himself
. . . To a great extent, the narrative roles of the human players themselves are
straightforwardly defined in terms of these moral laws.

I define epic not as a type of myth, such as “heroic myth,” but as a framework
that can contain within it any other kind of myth, but which features a heroic
protagonist and heroic modality, depicts that hero’s close interaction with the
gods, and through his dilemmas, explores some of the meanings of mortality,
what it means to have to die.8

OT myth’s relevance is evident in the close parallels three well-known
myths offer to the Odyssey. Joseph, separated from his brothers and father
for virtually the same length of time Odysseus is away from Ithaka, meets
with them unrecognized, submits them to various painful tests, before
revealing his identity to them. The recognition scenes serve as the climax
to his narrative, as do Odysseus’ recognition scenes with Penelope and
Laertes. The parallels suggest a highly developed form of romance, with
intricate recognition scenes, is a mythical genre common to both Greek
and Israelite culture, as explored in Chapter 3. Odysseus’ crew, confined
on Thrinakia for a month, in revolt, sacrificing Helios’ cattle in a perverse
ritual, offers extensive parallels to the Israelites’ revolt against Moses, and
perverse worship of the gilded calf in Exodus 32. The myths of Jonah and
Odysseus suggest that Greek and Israelite culture both have a genre of
myth we might think of as the fantastic voyage.

As these examples indicate, very different types of myths are used to
depict the various stages of Odysseus’ larger narrative trajectory from Troy
to Ithaka. Gaining an understanding of how these smaller units function
helps reveal how the Odyssey as a whole functions, how it ties together
distinct mythic types into a large, smoothly functioning composite. Many
of the genres of myth in the Odyssey, such as theoxeny, challenge usual
assumptions of what constitutes an epic. For the greater part of nine books
(14–22) Odysseus, to all outward appearances, is a beggar, associating with
lowly slaves, abused, unrecognized in his own kingdom – unexpected
behavior for an epic hero. The Odyssey establishes its central concern with
non-heroic genres of myth in the Telemachy (Books 1–4), which especially
explores hospitality myth.Here the focus is first on Telemachos’ observance
of the sanctity of hospitality, and the suitors’ thematic violation of the
same (Book 1). Later the patriarch Nestor offers exemplary hospitality to
Telemachos, now a guest, and to the disguised Athena (Book 3), furthering
the Odyssey’s use of non-heroic genres of myth. In these ways and others
the Odyssey has more in common with Genesis and parts of the gospels (see
Chapters 9, and 11–12 of this study) than with most heroic myth, or the

As I will argue, the parallels are far too frequent and close (differences in tone
and narrative agendas notwithstanding) for coincidence. The similarities
between Greek and Near Eastern myth suggest some form of diffusion. I
assume that each tradition, Homeric or Near Eastern, learned or acquired
a “template” of the respective genre of myth, to which each culture then
made some modifications, added more local details, to make it fit into
the specific context in which that culture now employed it. The Odyssey,
for instance, uses theoxeny as episodes in the lives of warriors, Odysseus,
Nestor, and Telemachos, whereas OT myth employs theoxeny as episodes
in the lives of patriarchs, Abraham and Lot. Because of the different type
of characters featured, the respective instances have different modalities.
The warrior Odysseus himself carries out the destruction of the suitors, as
demanded by Athena, whereas in Genesis 19 destruction rains down from
the sky.My analyses do not depend on verbal echoes between the different
forms of the same myth. Rather, the genre of myth exhibits parallels at
a morphological level, different instantiations using the same themes and
type-scenes, if differing in some details.

The likeliest scenario for cultural diffusion is Greek contact with Phoenician
culture, whether in ancient Syria, on Cyprus, or in the Greek world.9
Ongoing archeological research affirms how close ties were at times between
Greeks and various Near Eastern peoples, the Phoenicians in particular.
Since the Greeks obtained their alphabet from the Phoenicians (see
Teodorrson: 2006: 169–72, and Powell 2002: 99–108, for recent discussions),
and Greek myth assigns key roles to Phoenicians (Cadmus, most
importantly), it is likely that the two cultures also engaged in exchanges of
narratives, or specific genres of myth, as well.10

Recent work on the OT has dramatically brought forward the dates for
when the texts reached a form like that which we have. Though the OT
contains units of considerable antiquity, the larger narratives were edited,
rewritten, redacted, at much later times, when influence between the two
cultures may well be from Greek to Israelite culture. If we consider how
widespread were Greek language and culture during the time in which OT
narratives reached their final form, and how comparatively limited was the
use of Hebrew, the likelihood that OT writers were influenced by Hellenistic
culture, rather than the other way around, increases considerably.
I will occasionally suggest, then, that a Greek instance of a specific genre
of myth not only predates an Israelite instance of the same mythic genre
in the OT, but that the OT myth is reacting to, possibly even adapting, a
Greek myth.11

If OT composers were influenced by Greek myth, it is likely that they
encountered the myths in written form. Since Greek culture also impacts
the OT through the Septuagint, since Jews of the period knew Greek, were
part of Hellenistic culture, to some degree, and probably could not help
but be exposed to some forms of Greek myth, I will therefore often give
passages of OT myth in Greek from the Septuagint. Doing so sometimes
makes the parallels between the Odyssey and OT myth even closer, and,
since the authors of the gospels read the OT in Greek and quote from the
Septuagint, also makes parallels between the Odyssey and NT myth more

If Genesis is the book of OT myth with the most parallels with the
Odyssey, Jacob is the character that participates in the greatest number of
genres of myth found in the Odyssey. Parallels and differences between
Jacob and Homeric protagonists illustrate a key difference between the
respective mythic traditions. The Odyssey has heroes, warriors, kings, and
their families as its protagonists and central characters, whereas Genesis,
employing many of the same genres of myth, has patriarchs and their
families as its protagonists. Menelaus wrestles with Proteus, as Jacob does
with Yahweh (Gen. 32:22–32);Nestor hosts a positive theoxeny as Abraham
does in Genesis 18; Telemachos hosts a negative theoxeny as Lot does in
Genesis 19;Odysseus’ recognition scenes closely parallel Joseph’s in Genesis
43–5. Genesis shares considerable parallels with the Odyssey because the
Torah offers large-scale parallels, wandering and return, a nostos, sometimes
put forth as a generic classification for the Odyssey.

My view of the Homeric gods is close to Allan’s recent study (2006).
He convincingly undermines long-held assumptions that the Homeric
Olympians in the Odyssey are incompatible with those in the Iliad in
their sense of justice, or that in both epics we should see them as amoral.
Though he does not consider the Near Eastern texts with which we are here
concerned, my own conclusion is that Homeric epic maintains very similar
notions of justice, reward, and punishment, as does OT myth (though I
leave further discussion to specific instances in the various chapters). When
contemporary commentators argue that a specific act by a Homeric god is
immoral or amoral, they do not place the act within an ancient context to
see whether or not in other cultures of the same period, such as OT myth,
a god behaves in the same manner, with a sense of justice perhaps equally
at odds with modern notions. I will argue that Yahweh’s destruction of
all the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, or having the Israelites slay
each other in Exodus 32 until over 3,000 die, are at least as problematic as
Poseidon’s destruction of the Phaiakian crew in Odyssey 13.
A little background on the comparisons between the Odyssey and the Bible will be helpful here. Russel Gmirkin has proposed a somewhat revolutionary hypothesis that he argues very well and the only criticisms I've found of it are very weak and come from people with a vested interest in the Bible being "the word of God."

The following excerpts lay out Gmirkin's hypothesis and I've also included his synopses of the work of some of my favorite authors on the topic ... he also includes the arch-enemy, Dever - the true believer. Garbini is my all-time favorite from this list, but van Seters, Lemche, Thompson and Davies run close behind. All of the books mentioned here are among those I have read over the past few years.

Berossus and Genesis said:
This book proposes a new theory regarding the date and circumstances of the
composition of the Pentateuch. The central thesis of this book is that the Hebrew
Pentateuch was composed in its entirety about 273-272 BCE by Jewish scholars
at Alexandria that later traditions credited with the Septuagint translation of the
Pentateuch into Greek. The primary evidence is literary dependence of Gen 1—
11 on Berossus's Babyloniaca (278 BCE), literary dependence of the Exodus
story on Manetho's Aegyptiaca (ca. 285-280 BCE), and datable geo-political references
in the Table of Nations.

A number of indications point to a provenance
of Alexandria in Egypt for at least some portions of the Pentateuch. That the
Pentateuch, utilizing literary sources found at the Great Library of Alexandria,
was composed at almost the same date as the Alexandrian Septuagint translation
provides compelling evidence for some level of communication and collaboration
between the authors of the Pentateuch and the Septuagint scholars at
Alexandria's Museum.

The late date of the Pentateuch, as demonstrated by
literary dependence on Berossus and Manetho, has two important consequences:
the definitive overthrow of the chronological framework of the Documentary
Hypothesis, and a third-century BCE or later date for other portions of the
Hebrew Bible that show literary dependence on the Pentateuch.

Gmirkin said:
The crucial first step in dating the Pentateuch is establishing a true
terminus ad quern. Chapter 2 shows that the early date of Pentateuchal sources
according to the Documentary Hypothesis is entirely lacking in external corroboration,
since archaeological evidence, including an analysis of written finds
in Judea and at Elephantine, does not support the existence of any written Pentateuchal
materials prior to the third century BCE.

The first evidence of the existence
of the Pentateuch has commonly been taken to be Hecataeus of Abdera's
Aegyptiaca, usually dated to the period 320-300 BCE. One literary fragment
almost universally attributed to Hecataeus (namely Diodorus Siculus, Library
40.3.1-8) mentioned Jewish books of the law and even quoted a passage that
appears to come from Deuteronomy. This seemingly establishes a terminus ad
quern of ca. 320-300 BCE for the composition of the Pentateuch.

Chapter 3 shows this commonly accepted conclusion is in error, since it can be demonstrated
that the passage is not from Hecataeus at all, but from Theophanes of
Mytilene, writing in 62 BCE.

Chapter 4 shows that the Septuagint translation of
the Pentateuch into Greek is the first true evidence for Pentateuchal writings in
any language
and yields a terminus ad quern of ca. 270 BCE. This is a conclusion
of major importance, for it opens up the possibility that the Pentateuch borrows
from or shows awareness of other literary texts written as late as ca. 270 BCE.

Specifically, this indicates the necessity for reappraising the relationship between
the Pentateuch and works by the historians Berossus (278 BCE) and Manetho
(ca. 285 BCE). The similarity of Gen 1-11 and Mesopotamian traditions in
Berossus such as the creation and flood stories has often been noted; likewise
the similarity of the Exodus story and two accounts of the expulsion of foreigners
from Egypt to Judea in Manetho. But a dependency of Genesis on Berossus
or Manetho has never been seriously considered before, since it was assumed
that the Pentateuch took shape by the time of Hecataeus of Abdera, that is, before
Berossus and Manetho wrote. Close similarities between Berossus and Genesis
have thus in some cases been attributed to Jewish interpolations in Berossus; the
many scholars who have posited a relationship between the expulsion stories in
Manetho and Exodus have unanimously assumed that Manetho engaged in
polemics against the Jewish account. The shift in the Pentateuch's terminus ad
quern from ca. 320-300 BCE to ca. 270 BCE raises for the first time the possibility
that the borrowing and polemics took place in the opposite direction: that the
Pentateuch drew on Berossus and polemicized against the Egyptian expulsion
stories in Manetho.

The next step in dating the Pentateuch is establishing a terminus a quo. This
is done using a number of independent arguments. Chapter 5 argues that all of
the well-known Mesopotamian influences on Gen 1-11 are best explained by
knowledge of Berossus, who translated all the relevant Mesopotamian traditions
into Greek in 278 BCE, and whose Babyloniaca is often closer to the biblical text
than were the original cuneiform texts.

Chapter 6 shows that the geographical
information in the Table of Nations reflected the political divisions into Seleucid,
Ptolemaic and disputed territories after 278 BCE, and that the related story of the
Curse of Canaan reflected circumstances at the end of the First Syrian War, in
ca. 273-272 BCE.

Chapters 7 and 8 argue that the Exodus story was based on
Manetho's account of the expulsion of foreigners from Egypt into Judea. The
traditions in Manetho can be demonstrated to have drawn exclusively on native
Egyptian sources and display no awareness of the biblical account.

The Exodus story, meanwhile, shows considerable knowledge of Manetho's accounts regarding
Hyksos and expelled Egyptians, showing systematic agreement with
Manetho in all details favorable or neutral to the Jews but containing polemics
against precisely those points in Manetho that reflected unfavorably on the Jews.

The Exodus story thus appears to have originated in reaction to Manetho's
Aegyptiaca written in ca. 285 BCE.

Chapter 9 argues that the figure of Moses as a
magician and deliverer of the Jews was modeled on Nectanebos II, the last
pharaoh of Egypt, as portrayed in legends of the late fourth and early third century

Chapter 10 shows that the geography of the Exodus reflects toponyms
of the early Ptolemaic period and may allude to certain features of the Ptolemaic
Nile-to-Red-Sea canal in place in ca. 273 BCE.

As summarized in Chapter 11, these multiple lines of evidence are consistent
with the composition of the Pentateuch having taken place in 273-272 BCE.

Analysis of the sources utilized in the Pentateuch point to Jewish access to Greek
manuscripts of the Great Library in Alexandria.
Authorship of key portions of
the Pentateuch by Jewish scholars knowledgeable in Greek, and having access to
Alexandria's library in 273-272 BCE, points to the identity of the authors of the
Pentateuch with the team of seventy (or seventy-two) Jewish scholars whom
tradition credited with having created the Septuagint translation about this same
time through the generous patronage of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. The objective
of the Septuagint scholars' literary activities is best understood as the composition
of the Hebrew Pentateuch itself, and only secondarily its translation into
The diverse Pentateuchal sources J, E, D, P and H are best interpreted as
illustrating the different social strata and interests among the scholars at work on
the project.

Gmirkin said:
The dominant theory on the composition of the Pentateuch is still the Documentary
The version of the Documentary Hypothesis summarized (and
somewhat oversimplified) here is that of J. Wellhausen.2 Wellhausen believed
that the various sources of the Pentateuch represented different phases in the
development of the Jewish religion and could be correlated with Jewish history
as presented in the Hebrew Bible.

The Documentary Hypothesis as presented by
Wellhausen identified four distinct sources in the Pentateuch and sought to date

The oldest was thought to have been J, reflecting a phase when the worship
of Yahweh was not yet centralized in Jerusalem. This was thought to correlate
with the historical period before Solomon's temple; but since J also made
allusions to a period of rule under kings, J was dated to the early monarchy, ca.
850-800 BCE.

Next came E, the Elohist, with similar perspectives as J, but
characteristically using the name El rather than Yahweh. Since it was thought
that E was added onto the existing narrative of J, it was dated somewhat later.

The combined source document JE is thought to have taken shape in 850-750
BCE, in the "golden age of Hebrew literature."3

D was dated to 621 BCE, the eighteenth year of Josiah, when a book of the
covenant was allegedly discovered in the temple according to 2 Kgs 22-23.
Wellhausen believed Deuteronomy was a new composition intended to bolster
Josiah's intended cult reforms that centralized worship of Yahweh at Jerusalem
and eliminated competing cults.

Wellhausen convinced the scholarly world that P, the Priestly Code, was written last.
Wellhausen argued that P reflected the period when Second Temple Judaism
began to emerge among priests of the Babylonian exile, and that P was officially
introduced by Ezra in Judea in 458 BCE.

Wellhausen believed that the different Pentateuchal sources represented
different stages in a linear evolution of Jewish religion from primitive, decentralized
polytheism to a centralized monotheistic cult of Yahweh at Jerusalem to
the priest-dominated Judaism of the post-exilic period.

Wellhausen's application of historico-critical methods sought not only to date the Pentateuchal sources,
but also to construct a picture of the historical developments that had prompted
dating of Pentateuchal sources. Thus, for instance, he posited that the
legal scroll discovered in the course of temple renovations
under Josiah's reign was actually a new composition—the book of
Deuteronomy—which the religious leaders introduced as an ancient and authoritative
Mosaic text in order to lend authority to the proposed reforms of Josiah
centralizing the cult of Yahweh at Jerusalem.

He similarly posited that the
ancient and authoritative scroll of the law that Ezra reportedly brought from
Babylon and read in Jerusalem had been recently composed by exilic priests.

As discussed in Chapter 2 below, archaeological evidence fails to support the historicity
of Josiah's reforms, essential for Wellhausen's theory of the historical
circumstances which produced—and dated—D. The Elephantine Papyri show
no evidence of the existence of any Pentateuchal writings as late as 400 BCE.
Wellhausen's dating theories largely founder on the collapse of his view of
Israel's historical and religious development.

Wellhausen's dating of sources relied heavily on using biblical historiographical
texts as a springboard for creative historical constructs that proposed to
explain the specific circumstances behind the composition and introduction of
Pentateuchal materials. This entangling of dating issues with subjective historical
constructs was a major methodological flaw in Wellhausen's approach.
7 The
Documentary Hypothesis as developed by Wellhausen illustrates the grave
danger of circular reasoning inherent in dating texts by means of a historical
construct created to facilitate the dating of these same texts.
Under the methodology
advocated in this book, the dating of texts is properly an enterprise
prior to and entirely separate from the writing of history.

Gmirkin said:
In his important and influential 1983 book, In Search of History, J. Van Seters
articulated the idea that the Hebrew Bible should be viewed as historiography
rather than historical fact8 and systematically compared the historiography of the
Hebrew Bible with that of other peoples in the ancient world, notably the
Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Levantines and Greeks.

Van Seters found the closest parallels with Mesopotamian historiography to occur in the book of Kings,
which contained some stories of later kings that closely resembled the relatively
objective Babylonian Chronicle Series of the Neo-Babylonian Empire.9

Van Seters also found a number of parallels with Greek historiography, such as the
Hebrew Bible's use of eponyms, etiologies, stories about inventors,10 and histories
built around genealogies."

He also compared the collection and utilization of logoi by the Deuteronomist to that of Herodotus.12

In Van Seters' later 1992 book, Prologue to History, he cited further instances of possible borrowing from
the Greeks in J portions of Genesis, notably the idea that the gods cohabited
with human women and begat superhuman, gigantic offspring.

The Table of Nations, with its interest in eponymous ancestors and in genealogies of ancient
heroes, also strongly paralleled Greek historiographical interests as reflected, for
instance, in the Hesiodic Catalog of Women. and Mesopotamian histoiriography,
with its "antiquarian" interest in the Flood and the pre-Flood world, also substantially
influenced early Genesis.15

Van Seters thus saw both Greek and Mesopotamian
influence on the Hebrew Bible.
Van Seters dated J to the exilic, pre-
Persian period, based on the land-promises in Genesis, stories of patriarchs
sending their sons back to Mesopotamia for wives, and especially in Babylonian
influences on the primeval history.16

A major defect in Van Seters' dating is that the pioneering Greek prose writers
that Van Seters cited as displaying close parallels to biblical historiography,
notably Hecataeus of Miletus and Herodotus, wrote in the fifth century BCE and
later, after the exilic period.17

Another major problem for Van Seters is the lack
of a plausible mechanism for transmission of Greek and Mesopotamian historiographical
ideas to reach the Jews in the period he considered, since Greeks
and Hebrews had almost no direct contact before the fourth century BCE.18

Noting Greek-Phoenician trade contact in the pre-Persian period, he therefore
proposed the Phoenicians as transmitters of Greek historiographical traditions to
the Jews around the close of the sixth century BCE. This suggestion is unconvincing,
since Phoenician historiography—as known from the writings of Philo
of Byblos—contained almost none of the Greek features one would expect from
Van Seters' analysis.19

Van Seters attempted to account for the influence of
Mesopotamian historiographical traditions on the Pentateuch by positing that the
Pentateuch was composed during the Babylonian exile. Van Seters appears not
to have considered the problem of Jewish access to cuneiform traditions, which
were first made available to the larger world by Berossus's translations in the
Babyloniaca in 278 BCE.
20 This book proposes that Jewish scholars were
exposed to Greek and Mesopotamian historiographical tradition (the two already
fused in Berossus's Babyloniaca) from scrolls they had access to at the Alexandrian
Library in ca. 273-272 BCE (see Chapter 11).

Gmirkin said:
Another influential book, published not long after Van Seters' In Search of History,
was G. Garbini's History and Ideology in Ancient Israel in 1988. Garbini
followed Van Seters in recognizing the influence of Greek historiography in the
Hebrew Bible's use of genealogies, eponyms and logoi.

Like Van Seters, Garbini saw the need to posit an intermediary between Greek and Jews, but
instead of the Phoenicians, Garbini proposed the Philistines.22 Garbini made the
interesting proposal that the references to Ur and Harran in the story of Abraham
dated the tale (that is, the logos) to the time of Nabonidus (555-539 BCE), who
promoted temple cults of the moon god Sin in those two cities. Garbini suggested
that the Jews in Nabonidus's time traced their ancestry to Mesopotamia much as
Jews of later times claimed kinship with the Spartans or the Damascenes.23

One of Garbini's more important contributions was his close attention to evidence
for terminus ad quem dates of biblical books.

Garbini considered a passage routinely attributed to Hecataeus of Abdera, variously dated to 320-300 BCE, as
the earliest evidence for Pentateuchal writings in some form.24 References by
Aristobulus (ca. 150 BCE) and The Letter.ofAristeas to a previous defective
translation of the Pentateuch into Greek corrected by the Septuagint were also
considered significant evidence of early Pentateuchal writings. Aristobulus's
summary of an alleged translation preceding the Septuagint lacked any mention
of events from the book of Genesis. Garbini took this to indicate that Genesis
may have been composed as late as the time of the Septuagint translation,25
which he considered a major new redaction of the Pentateuchal traditions.26

Though Garbini emphasized terminus ad quem data, he never developed any
rigorous arguments regarding terminus a quo dates. As a result of Garbini's
dating of biblical texts at or close to the terminus ad quem, his conclusions seem
highly subjective.

As a whole, Garbini's intuitions with respect to the late dating of biblical
materials are broadly confirmed in this book.
In some cases, this book proposes
even later dates than that of Garbini, but within a more rigorous logical framework.

Theophanes of Mytilene, writing in 62 BCE, is shown to have been the
true author of the passage on the Jews usually attributed to Hecataeus of Abdera
and mistakenly thought by Garbini (among others) to demonstrate the existence
of Jewish writings ca. 320-300 BCE
(see Chapter 3).

References to an alleged Greek translation of the Pentateuch earlier than the Septuagint in Aristobulus
and The Letter ofAristeas1(which Garbini took at face value). are shown to have
no historical foundation: these were based entirely on Egyptian claims to have
colonized Judea as reported in genuine passages of Hecataeus of Abdera, which
later Jewish authors believed must have relied on some defective early Greek
translation of the Jewish Exodus story (see Chapter 4, §§1-3).

All evidence for Jewish writings in Greek or Hebrew prior to the Septuagint thus evaporates and
the Septuagint translation in ca. 272-269 BCE becomes the true terminus ad
quem for the Pentateuch
(see Chapter 4, §4).

Indeed, this book ultimately concludes
that the Hebrew text behind the Septuagint represents the original Pentateuch
itself, newly composed in 273-272 BCE (see Chapter 11), not a redaction
of some earlier version as Garbini held.

Gmirkin said:
Building on Garbini's book, P. R. Davies presented a case for dating the Pentateuch
and other biblical texts to the Persian period in his 1992 book, In Search
of "Ancient Israel"
. Davies' proposed dates for biblical texts centered on arguments
that the concept of Israel itself only emerged in the Persian period. Davies
argued that a reconstituted Israel was the ideological creation of the Persian
Empire, pointing out that Persian policies implementing the organization of the
Persian Empire included the restoration or creation of temples, the establishment
of law codes, and the conscious creation of feelings of new ethnic identity among
relocated populations

Davies proposed that Jewish laws were codified at the initiative of Darius I.
Davies appeared particularly impressed by Darius I's instruction for Egyptian
scholars of the House of Life to produce a new edition of Egyptian legal texts
(which J. Blenkinsopp compared to Ezra's mission).28 But Darius I's instructions
to restore Egyptian temples and legal institutions in 518 BCE were clearly a local
concession intended to mollify Egyptians for the excesses of Cambyses, including
the destruction of legal and religious texts.29

The Jews, in direct contrast to the Egyptians, suffered no disruptions of their temples under Cambyses and
remained loyal during the uprisings in Egypt and elsewhere that followed Cambyses'
death in 522 BCE.30 The known historical forces that prompted Darius I's
legal initiative in Egypt were thus absent in Judea, undermining Davies' theory.
Additionally, while Darius I actively promoted his own reputation as lawgiver in
Persia and Egypt,31 his name was not associated with Jewish law in either
biblical or extra-biblical sources.

Davies dated Deuteronomy to the sixth or fifth century32 and other materials
mostly in the Persian period hypothetically emanating from temple scribal
schools that continued producing biblical texts down into the third century BCE.33

Davies' theory of different scribal schools or "colleges" specializing in producing
legal materials, historiography, wisdom literature, etc., was "an exercise in
imagination," as he himself acknowledged.

Like Garbini, Davies put little confidence in the historical value of the Kings
tradition. Davies pointed out the circularity in making biblical texts contemporary
witnesses to the history they related by assuming that their earliest possible
date of composition represented their actual date of composition.
35 Although
acknowledging the doubtful historical content of Ezra-Nehemiah, he also
invoked these books as describing Persian initiatives in establishing religious
institutions in Yehud.37

Although Davies' book was extremely valuable in questioning the historical
presuppositions of the Documentary Hypothesis,38 Davies' own approach was
highly reminiscent of that of Wellhausen. Both were concerned with constructing
histories of the Jews, but for slightly different reasons.
Whereas Wellhausen's
major interest was tracing the emergence of centralized worship at
Jerusalem and the creation of the familiar institutions of Second Temple
Judaism, Davies' interest was in investigating the emerging idea of Israel itself.

Much as Wellhausen proposed that Deuteronomy was promulgated among the
Jews to support Josiah's reforms, Davies believed the Pentateuchal and historiographical
literature, and even the idea of Israel itself, were created at Persian
initiative. Wellhausen and Davies largely agreed on Ezra's role, although Davies
saw Ezra as an agent of the Persians (and as less than historical). Davies'
historical theories regarding the Persians as creators of the idea of Israel were
hypothetical at best and very hard to separate from his theories on dating of
biblical materials. The same criticism made regarding Wellhausen's mingling of
history-writing and dating of texts also applies here.

In an article published in 1993, N. P. Lemche listed four major reasons for dating
the Hebrew Bible to the Hellenistic period.39

First, he asserted that a lack of reliable historical content in the historiographical
books of the Hebrew Bible pointed to a late date of composition.

This argument does not appear sound, since there are many examples of late
historical texts that drew on old reliable sources, and older historical texts,
nearly contemporary with the events they relate, that are known to have been

Second, following Van Seters, Lemche suggested that the idea of (re-establishing
a Jewish kingdom in Palestine likely arose in the Jewish Diaspora still
living in Mesopotamia.41 (By contrast, Davies had argued that the idea of Israel
arose among populations transplanted from Mesopotamia to Judea by the

Third, also following Van Seters, Lemche noted that the Hebrew Bible
reflected Greek and Mesopotamian historiography.
Lemche suggested that the
historiographical books of the Hebrew Bible were patterned after the structure of
Herodotus, which, if true, would exclude Van Seters' dating of the Deuteronomist
historian and JE to the exile.

However, the structural parallels Lemche
attempted to show between Herodotus's History and Genesis-Kings are forced
and unconvincing. Further, one would expect that if the authors of the histories
of the Hebrew Bible had been substantially influenced by Herodotus, quotations
or ideas from Herodotus would be found somewhere in Jewish historiographical
writings, but direct borrowing from Herodotus has never been detected.

No real evidence exists that the Jewish authors of the Pentateuch or the Deuteronomist
knew Herodotus.

This book will argue that the Jewish historical writings closely
followed a different pattern, that of Berossus's Babyloniaca, which contained a
connected narrative that included creation, the flood and a history of the kings of
Babylon and Persia down to Alexander's conquest. Direct borrowing from
Berossus will be demonstrated in the primordial history of Gen 1-11 (see
Chapter 5).

Fourth, Lemche argued that the Neo-BabyIonian or Persian periods did not
provide a realistic opportunity for Greek ideas about historiography to have
reached the Jews.
Lemche accepted Van Seters' suggestion that the Jews of the
exile could have been exposed to ideas of Mesopotamian historiography, but
pointed out that for the majority of Jews who chose to stay in Mesopotamia
rather than return to Judea, the exile did not end in 538 BCE.42 He rejected Van
Seters' idea that Jews in the exilic period were exposed to Greek historical traditions
by way of the Phoenicians as lacking any real evidence. Instead, Lemche
suggested that Jews in Mesopotamia as late as the early Hellenistic period could
have been exposed to both Greek and Mesopotamian historiographical
traditions.43 This last argument appears to have been Lemche's main reason both
for dating Jewish historical writings to the Hellenistic period and his suggestion
of a Seleucid, Mesopotamian provenance.

There appears to be considerable merit to Lemche's fourth argument that
Jews learned of Greek ideas of historiography during the Hellenistic period,
when Jews and Greeks came into direct contact. But both Van Seters and
Lemche assumed that Jewish exposure to Mesopotamian (Babylonian) ideas of
historiography must have taken place among Jews living in Mesopotamia. Yet
given that Babylonian historiographical writings existed only in cuneiform texts
stored in temple libraries until the translations made by Berossus,44 it seems
unlikely that Jewish residents in Mesopotamia would in fact have been exposed
to Babylonian literary traditions.
This book will argue that Jewish Alexandrian
scholars were exposed to Mesopotamian historiography through Berossus's

In 1994, T. L. Thompson attempted the first history of South Syria based solely
on archaeological data without utilizing biblical historiographical accounts.45

Thompson extended his history down to the Persian period, when Thompson
dated the emergence of Israel among new populations transplanted to South
Syria from Mesopotamia
.46 Thompson considered the Persian period the terminus
a quo and the middle of the second century BCE as the terminus ad quem for
the composition of biblical manuscripts figuring Israel.47 At the time, Thompson
largely rested his dating arguments on interpretations of Ezra as documenting
Persian restoration (creation) of Jewish identity and national literature.48 In
1997, Thompson acknowledged that his historical reconstruction of the Persian
period had relied too heavily on biblical materials,
but still viewed the Persian
period as a valid terminus a quo for the development of the idea of Israel
expressed in the biblical texts.49

While Thompson considered it possible that Genesis-Kings existed in some
form in the Persian and Hellenistic periods, he argued that these texts were still
undergoing revisions as late as the Hasmonean period.50 Thompson's argument
largely rested on a scheme of biblical chronology that calculated exactly 4000
years between the creation of the world in 4164 BCE and the Maccabean
restoration of the temple in 164 BCE. Thompson argued that the chronology in
the historiographical materials in the Hebrew Bible was revised after that date.51

Thompson's argument required that Jewish chronographers possessed an accurate
calculation of the interval of 374 years between the Cyrus Decree in 538
BCE and the restoration of the temple in 164 BCE,52 whereas it is well known that
no extant Jewish sources from the Second Temple period correctly calculated
these dates.53 If a 4000-year scheme was being promoted after the Maccabean
restoration of the temple in 164 BCE, it is strange that Eupolemus, the Maccabean
envoy and the author of a book The Judean Kings in 158/157 BCE, knew
nothing about it, but calculated 5149 years between Adam and his day.54 Additionally,
the book of Sirach, conventionally dated to ca. 180 BCE, attests to
various episodes in the Hebrew Bible that Thompson proposed were written in
the Hasmonean period.55

According to A History of Israelite Religion by R. Albertz of the Heidelberg
School,56 Persian authorities required a formal Jewish law code in order to grant
local autonomy in the province of Yehud. Albertz argued that a law code was
created by the Jerusalem priests together with the council of elders (the later
gerousia), i.e. the constituted authorities in Persian Yehud, who respectively
contributed the Priestly Code and the non-priestly Deuteronomistic composition
(which included JE materials). The Heidelberg School viewed the Pentateuch as
a compromise text which included oftentimes contradictory material from lay
and priestly groups. The authority of the Pentateuch was said to derive from the
ruling status of the elders and priestly college.

This approach attempted to extract sociological information from the Pentateuchal
and other sources—for instance, claiming that the seventy elders under
Moses reflected political institutions of JE's authorial group. Albertz sought to
reconstruct historical and sociological developments in Yehud during the
Persian period from such considerations.57 A defect of his approach was the
absence of rigor in dating the texts from which such information was extracted,
which led to historical insights which may be valid for the groups behind specific
texts, but for a different period than that proposed for the given text.

While the Heidelberg School's model of the composition of the Pentateuch
served to explain, plausibly, both the authority of the Pentateuch and the unresolved
contradictions of its sources, there is no direct biblical or extra-biblical
evidence of a Persian initiative behind the composition of the Pentateuch.59

What the Heidelberg School hypothesized for the Persian period appears to be
documented for the Hellenistic era in The Letter of Aristeas, which claimed that
Ptolemy II Philadelphus requested the Jewish priests and lay council of elders to
produce an official copy of the Jewish legislation—in both Hebrew and Greek—
for the Great Library of Alexandria.
Taking The Letter of Aristeas to refer to the
composition as well as translation of the Pentateuch (see Chapter 11, §3), many
of Albertz's astute sociological observations still apply within this later historical

Egyptological data relevant to the Joseph story and the Exodus have been studied
by D. Redford.60 Redford systematically analyzed details of both accounts
and found that the stories reflected topographic, onomastic and other data of the
Saite, Persian and Ptolemaic periods
.61 Interestingly, Redford concluded that a
Saite or Persian period date of composition should be assigned to both the
Joseph and Exodus stories,62 although a Ptolemaic period dating was equally
consistent with the data he analyzed. Redford did not state his reason for excluding
a Ptolemaic period dating of composition in either study,63 but it seems
likely he was influenced by the Documentary Hypothesis, which held that the
Pentateuch was finalized by Ezra.64

A recent attempt to date biblical texts by means of archaeological data was made
by W. Dever in What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know
65 Dever's highly polemical book, when it discussed archaeological issues,
was primarily concerned with finding "convergences"66 between Iron I and II
archaeological data and biblical accounts from the Judges period to the fall of
Dever argued that such convergences showed that biblical historiographical
texts (primarily Judges-Kings), as well as some of the Prophets,
reflect Iron Age "realia" and therefore could not have been composed in the
Persian or Hellenistic periods.67 Dever recognized the possibility that certain
books such as Kings may have been edited and redacted in the exilic period, but
considered convergences with Iron II archaeology to demonstrate that significant
portions were composed during the monarchy.68 Although Dever invoked oral
traditions to explain how Iron Age realia occasionally appeared in documents
composed in the exilic period, Dever did not allow for the possibility that oral
traditions could have persisted into the Persian or Hellenistic eras.

The raw archaeological data Dever assembled are important and relevant, but
Dever's analysis of their significance failed to take into account key issues of a
source-critical nature. A major defect in Dever's book—given its central thesis
of archaeology's relevance to textual criticism70—is its uncritical acceptance of
the Documentary Hypothesis, despite a lack of any corroborating archaeological
(see Chapter 2).

Another problem in terms of basic methodology is
Dever's general application of archaeological dating arguments without sufficient
care to determine what specific source documents those arguments apply
One can agree with Dever on the need for textual criticism to come to terms
with the archaeological data;71 the desirability of "isolating a reliable 'historical
core' of events" in the Hebrew Bible—especially in Kings—and the utility of
archaeological data in progressing toward that objective;72 and that certain parts
of the Hebrew Bible corroborated by archaeological evidence might be useful as
a "possible source for history-writing."73 But Dever failed to correlate archaeological
evidence properly with specific sources, instead arriving at the over-general
conclusion that the biblical writers "knew a lot, and they knew it early."

A more careful methodological approach is to refrain from making broad
statements on the historical reliability of composite documents, but instead
identify specific source documents and analyze their antiquity and historical
content individually. With respect to the book of Kings, for instance, archaeological
evidence tends to corroborate the antiquity of the Royal Chronicles of
Judah and Israel, but a pre-exilic date for this source does not affect the dating of
the Pentateuch, since these chronicles did not draw on Pentateuchal materials.

On the other hand, archaeological evidence casts doubt on the antiquity and
historical reliability of both the Deuteronomistic ethical commentary on the
kings of the Divided Monarchy and the novelistic Tales of the Prophets that also
drew on the Pentateuch.

The Prophets, like Kings, were composite documents
combining ancient and late materials, and archaeological evidence supporting an
Iron II date for prophetic texts utilizing the Pentateuch is lacking. The archaeological
data that Dever cited thus have value in corroborating the antiquity and
possible historical usefulness of select biblical source materials, but do not
exclude a Hellenistic Era date for the composition and final redaction of Kings
and other biblical texts as Dever attempted to persuade.

Being able to disabuse oneself of the notion that the Bible is at all as ancient as say, The Odyssey or Mesopotamian texts, really helps to get the cobwebs out of the brain so that texts can be looked at more objectively.
As ya'll know, I've been peeling through piles of books for years, and finally there is a way to bring this material to all of you in a more-or-less condensed format that may be an enjoyable project. I had certainly despaired of it because it is all so enormous. Naturally, I'm going to have to think about Fomenko in relation to the Odyssey and Iliad and more at some point, but I think my comments in the Fomenko thread stand:

So, moving on here. Gmirkin discusses dating:

Gmirkin said:
Historiographical Dating

Under this approach (termed historico-criticism by Wellhausen and his predecessors),
texts are dated in conjunction with historical theories that also seek
hypothetically to explain by whom the texts were introduced and for what historical
motives. A proposed historical background becomes the key to dating the
text. This approach was utilized by the historian Wellhausen and in recent times
by Davies and Albertz.

This book takes the position that the dating of texts should be strictly divorced
from the writing of history.
Dating a text is an attempt to establish a fact, while
history writing, or historiography, whether ancient or modern, is ultimately a
form of storytelling, an entirely different enterprise. It is the essential task of the
historian to synthesize and interpret, to take into account all available historical
data83 and to transform them into "history," that is, a story that in some ways
makes sense of the past. In a sense, the skills of the historian work against the
interests of scientific investigation, for a sufficiently persuasive and engaging
historian may be capable of telling a story so detailed and compelling that it
takes on the semblance of fact. But a historian's ability as a storyteller should not
translate into authority as a creator or arbiter of historical fact. For this reason,
the ascertaining of the underlying facts of history—including the dating of
texts—should be pursued as a technical discipline separate from historical

Inductive Dating

Under this approach, features of a text are compared for significant correlation
with contemporary literary genres, literary parallels, language usage, cultural
details, social institutions, relevant archaeological discoveries and other concretely
historical data.84

One important instance of this approach was Van Seters'
comparison of Jewish historiography with that of other cultures. He established
that the historiographical writings of the Hebrew Bible showed influence from
Mesopotamian historiography of ca. 750 BCE or later85 and Greek historiography
of 520 BCE or later86 (although Van Seters avoided drawing chronological conclusions
from the Greek data which were inconsistent with his theory of an exilic
period dating of J87).

Garbini, who viewed the prominence of Ur and Harran in
the Abraham story as details deriving from the time of Nabonidus, also utilized
inductive dating technique. The best practitioner of this approach is arguably
Redford, who showed that the Egyptological data of the Joseph and Exodus
stories was consistent with the Saite, Persian and Ptolemaic periods.

One limitation of this approach is that in many cases it is subject to the
criticism of being an argument from silence. The many Egyptological parallels
of the Joseph and Exodus stories starting with the Saite period listed by Redford
do not preclude similar, less frequently attested or (so far) unattested Egyptian
language parallels, etc., of an earlier period.

The inductive dating approach thus in many cases falls short of absolute
proof, since it often simply points to a specific period rather than absolutely
excluding earlier or later periods.
This is not always the case, however, as sometimes
it is possible to show that a particular detail is not only appropriate for one
period but also is anachronistic for other periods
. For instance, the mention of
"Ur of the Chaldees" is anachronistic before the ninth century BCE, when
Chaldea first appeared as a locality in Assyrian records.88 Similarly, Lydia (Lud)
in the Table of Nations is anachronistic before ca. 700 BCE.89 The mention of
coinage prior to the seventh century BCE is anachronistic, as likely also the mention
of camel transport before about the ninth century BCE.90 Yet such details can
always be argued to have been late glosses on an older text.

Another limitation of this approach is the often capricious manner in which it
preconceptions of terminus a quo and ad quem, when other periods not considered
might provide equally good or better parallels. Van Seters, for instance,
arbitrarily took the historiographical data to indicate a date of composition of the
sixth century BCE. As Lemche pointed out, the historiographical data equally or
better fit the Hellenistic period. Redford admirably considered data from all
Egyptological periods and found the Joseph and Exodus stories to correlate with
Saite, Persian and Ptolemaic data. Yet in his statement of conclusions, he arrived
at a date in the Saite or Persian period, when a Ptolemaic era dating is equally
Redford evidently considered a Ptolemaic (Hellenistic) era dating
excluded by unstated terminus ad quem evidence of a non-Egyptological character.

Subjective and often unstated assumptions of terminus a quo and ad quem
dates thus significantly affect inductive dating arguments, both in determining
the scope of historical investigation for collection of relevant data and in the
chronological inferences drawn from those data.

Deductive Dating

Under this potentially rigorous dating approach borrowed from classical studies,
terminus a quo and ad quem dates are determined by source-critical evidence,
defining a date range outside of which it is impossible the text was written.91

This is usually accomplished by deductively establishing a sequence of literary
dependencies that identify dated texts both older and younger than the one in
question. The objective is to establish as narrowly as possible the upper and
lower chronological limits within which the text must have been written.

Garbini paid the closest attention to terminus ad quem data, but developed no
terminus a quo arguments. Among those who do not consider the Pentateuch
completed under Ezra, a terminus ad quem of ca. 300 BCE is almost universally
accepted for the composition of the Pentateuch, although Garbini argued for a
final redaction, including the addition of Genesis, at the time of the Septuagint
translation (ca. 270 BCE), and Lemche also allowed for a third-century BCE
Pentateuchal date.92

This book utilizes both deductive and inductive dating arguments, while historiographical
dating arguments are strictly avoided.
First, deductive techniques
are used to establish that the earliest evidence of the Pentateuch is its translation
into Greek, resulting in a terminus ad quem date of ca. 272-269 BCE
(rather than
ca. 300 BCE based on a mistaken attribution of a fragment of Theophanes to
Hecataeus of Abdera).

A terminus a quo of 278 BCE is then established based on
the Pentateuch's utilizing Berossus (278 BCE), Manetho (ca. 285 BCE) and likely
Cleitarchus (ca. 275 BCE), as well as displaying knowledge of the organization
of the Seleucid and Ptolemaic realms of 278 BCE or later. This hard evidence
deductively establishes a date range of composition of 278-269 BCE for the

Within that date range, additional date evidence of an inductive type is also
developed. The Curse of Canaan is argued to have reflected conditions at the end
of the First Syrian War, ca. 273-272 BCE.

Geographical references in the
Exodus account that appear to display knowledge of the Ptolemaic water lock
put in place in ca. 273-272 BCE also point to the same date.
These inductive
arguments are the basis for the proposed more precise dating of 273-272 BCE for
the Pentateuch's composition, but it must be emphasized that the deductive
terminus a quo and ad quem arguments pointing to 278-269 BCE are central to
this book, while the inductive arguments are supplemental and secondary.

An important benefit of dating texts by means of literary dependencies is the
generation of additional data relevant to establishing textual provenance. The
identification of specific texts influential on the formation of the Pentateuch
(notably Berossus and Manetho) unexpectedly points to an intellectual (if not
necessarily strictly geographical) provenance of Alexandria, and documents the
exact means by which Jews were exposed to Greek and Mesopotamian histori-
ography and Mesopotamian cuneiform traditions by way of the Alexandrian

Date, language and locale favor identifying the authors of the Pentateuch
with the Septuagint scholars who were present at Alexandria at the requi-
site time, knew both Greek and Hebrew, were said to have been knowledgeable
in Greek literature, and had access to the Great Library where the Greek literary
texts antecedent to the Pentateuch were housed.

The identification of the date,
locale and authors of the Pentateuch, carefully established step by step, provides
for the first time a rigorous logical foundation for drawing substantial historical
conclusions regarding the circumstances under which the Pentateuch and other
biblical materials were composed. It must be emphasized that these historical
conclusions rise or fall on the strength of the supporting arguments and in no
way guided the preliminary research on date and provenance this book presents.

Conclusions regarding the official Ptolemaic patronage of the authors of the
Pentateuch and later biblical literature arose organically out of the earlier
inquiries first into date and then into provenance: the impact of Alexandrian
scholarship on the composition of the Hebrew Bible came as much as a surprise
to this author as it may to many of his readers.
Let's look now at some things that Louden has noted about the Odyssey and how those same things appear in the OT in rather distorted versions. What is below will be from "Homer's Odyssey and the Near East". It deals specifically with "Divine Councils" in myth and epic.

My thought about this is that it depicts an understanding of hyperdimensional influences on the life of an individual. While the gods may not actually exist as depicted, the hyperdimensional influences that are suggested in these dramas seem to be rather accurate, to say the least!

What is also interesting is Louden's discussion of apocalypses as being of three graduated types and that the gods cause them. This reminds me of the Cs saying that weather and Earth Changes are what we perceive of 4th density wars and other activities.

That humans can be the "cause" of apocalypse (as in, getting the gods angry at them and getting smashed for it) also comes up from the Cs when they say that the human experiential cycle reflects cosmic events and vice versa.

Louden discusses Gilgamesh as though it were older than The Odyssey and we'll leave this open for a bit. I have to get out another book that addresses that problem. For now, we just need to see the analysis of the councils of the gods and their interactions with humans to understand what the ancients were trying to tell us about hyperdimensional realities.


After a short proem (Od. 1.1–10), and brief transition, the Odyssey’s first
scene is a divine council on Mount Olympos (Od. 1.26–96). I define a
divine council simply as a conversation between two or more gods, often a
large assembly of them, usually with the chief god presiding, usually concerned
with the myth’s protagonist. Since they depend on the presence of more than
one god, divine councils are a naturally polytheistic genre, and also occur
outside of epic.1 ...

Our context for analyzing
the Odyssey’s divine councils will be the divine councils in Gilgamesh, the
Ugaritic myths, the Iliad, Hesiod, and Old Testament myth.2 ...

In most Greek or Near Eastern heroic myths three gods typically define
the parameters of a hero’s career
.3 The three gods are each associated with
a specific type-scene through which they demonstrate and act out their
specific relationship with the hero.

The sky father, Zeus, in Homeric epic,
judge and ruler of the cosmos, supports the hero and guides his destiny
by presiding over divine councils involving the hero, rather than personally
intervening on his behalf.

A mentor god defends and advises the hero,
speaks on his behalf at divine councils, and personally appears to him in

A third god places obstacles in his path, speaks against him
at divine councils, and causes the deaths of others around the hero, a
divine wrath.

The three gods suggest a legal configuration in which the
sky father is judge, the mentor god a defense attorney, and the wrathful
god a prosecuting attorney.

The three typical functions, and the gods who
serve them, are already visible in Gilgamesh. Anu is the sky father who
presides over divine councils, and supports Gilgamesh but does not appear
to him in person.

Shamash, the sun god, also alluded to in OT myth,4 is
the mentor god who appears face-to-face before Gilgamesh in theophany,
advises him, and speaks on his behalf in divine councils (George 2003:
V.1, VII.1).

When Gilgamesh rejects her advances, Ishtar develops a divine
wrath against him, speaks against him at a divine council (George 2003:
VI.81–114), and causes Enkidu’s death.

In the Odyssey Zeus presides over
divine councils that focus on Odysseus, and supports his return.

Athena, his mentor, speaks on his behalf at divine councils, appears to him in
theophany, and advises him how to proceed (Od. 13.221–440).

Poseidon develops a wrath against him because of the Polyphemos episode.

I call this traditional divine configuration the epic triangle.

Though many gods are often said to be present at a divine council,
only two usually speak in any given instance. In Mesopotamian myth a
full divine council was thought to include fifty-seven gods.5 A Homeric
divine council on such a scale opens Book 20 of the Iliad, at which the
narrator specifies that all the rivers and nymphs were present (Il. 20.4–32).
But in spite of the plentiful attendance, only two gods, Zeus and Hera,
actually speak.

The two gods who speak up at a divine council tend to be
two of the three deities that comprise the epic triangle. Thus most divine
councils, Homeric and other, consist of a dialogue between the sky father
and either the mentor god or the god with a divine wrath.

This simple distinction, whether the divine council features the sky father speaking with
the mentor god or the wrathful god, subdivides divine councils into two
basic types.

Any given divine council either concerns the gods acting on
behalf of the hero, as the mentor god advocates, perhaps righting a wrong
which he suffers, or it is concerned with the gods acting against him, as
the wrathful god desires, often resulting in the death of others around

{This is so typical of what we have observed of hyperdimensional manipulations or what Mouravieff calls the "General Law". A certain person cannot be directly attacked, but 4D critters attempt to get to you through people around you, to hurt you, to entrap you, to wear you out. This "divine council" thing seems to be an attempt to relate that there are certain "laws" that govern the interactions between hyperdimensional beings and humans.}

The Odyssey’s first divine council, programmatic for the entire epic,
depicts the sky father conversing with the mentor god. Though all the
Olympians except Poseidon are said to be present (Od. 1.26–7), the council
is a dialogue between Zeus and Athena (Od. 1.32–95). In what is probably
an instance of ring composition, the Odyssey’s last divine council features
the same two gods, Zeus and Athena
(Od. 24.472–86).

In the divine council that separates the Telemachy from the rest of the epic, and serves as fanfare
as the narrative is about to turn its focus to Odysseus (Od. 5.3–42), though
all the gods are again said to be present (Od. 5.3), and Zeus presides as
usual, only he and Athena have speaking parts (Od. 5.5–42). Hermes is
addressed but does not take part in the dialogue.

This specific subtype of divine council that opens the Odyssey, between
the sky father and the mentor god, is common in Near Eastern epic and
myth. In the Ugaritic epic, the Aqhat, the war and storm god Baal converses
with El, the sky father, asking him to grant offspring to Danel (Corpus
des tablettes cun´eiformes alphab´etiques [CTA] 17.i.16–27).

From the perspective of Greek myth, El combines the functions and characteristics of
Zeus, who presides over divine councils, and Kronos,
a less dynamic, more
aged figure.

In helping bring about the birth of Aqhat, Danel’s son, Baal
clearly acts as the mentor god for the protagonist.

The Ugaritic myth Kirta features a similar scene, in which again Baal intervenes with El in a divine
council to get the sky father to help Kirta obtain offspring (CTA 15.ii.11–

In Gilgamesh, Enkidu dreams of a divine council (Gilgamesh Vii.i,
Dalley 1991: 83–4) in which Shamash, the sun god who serves as mentor
to Gilgamesh, speaks on his behalf with Anu, who presides over the divine
councils, and with Enlil, a god whose functions are difficult to determine.

The opposite, complementary, subtype of divine council, which depicts
the sky father conversing with the god who has a divine wrath against the
hero, occurs three times in the Odyssey, and is also extant in Near Eastern
myth. This subtype generates greater drama because it usually precipitates
some form of apocalyptic destruction.

I define an apocalypse as a genre of myth in which a god, angry at mortals’ disrespect, destroys them in large
(explored in Chapters 10 and 13).

Gilgamesh offers a paradigmatic instance of this subtype, and its link with apocalyptic destruction, in the
dialogue between Ishtar and Anu, Gilgamesh VI.iii–iv (Dalley 1991: 80–1;
VI.81–114 in George [2003]). When Gilgamesh rudely rejects her offer of
marriage (discussed in Chapter 5), an enraged Ishtar goes to her father
Anu, threatening to raise the dead so they eat the living, unless he allows
her to use the Bull of Heaven to kill Gilgamesh. If she were to descend
to the underworld and release the dead,7 they would soon outnumber the
living, resulting in a large level of destruction, a full-scale apocalypse.

{This is VERY interesting in terms of psychopathy. Releasing the dead? "Living" meaning those with human souls and empathy and "Dead" meaning those without, i.e. psychopaths, those who can never "wake up", so to say. A world ruled by psychopaths is a world that is bringing on its own destruction, it seems to me. And that is what we are seeing today in our world. Not a pleasant thought.}

But Anu mediates her wrath, talking her down to a lower level of destruction.
Concerned that the Bull would cause seven years of drought for Uruk,
he hesitates. But Ishtar assures him that she has stockpiled grain,8 and he
relents. When she does send the Bull of Heaven down, several hundred
people still die (600 or 1,200), but far fewer than would have been the case
if she had followed through on either of her two other options.

{The "Bull of Heaven" sounds like a cometary cataclysm - possibly Tunguska type.}

Anu’s mediation of Ishtar’s wrath in this council implies three possible
degrees of apocalypse, presented in descending order.
Ishtar’s initial threat
to unleash the dead so that they eat the living would probably result in the
destruction of all or most human life, a full-scale apocalypse:

If you don’t give me the Bull of Heaven . . .
I shall set my face toward the infernal regions,
I shall raise up the dead and they will eat the living,
I shall make the dead outnumber the living!
Gilgamesh VI.iii9

Full-scale apocalypse is also extant in Noah’s flood (itself modeled on
the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Utnapishtim/Ziusudra), and Hesiod’s
earlier races (of Gold, Silver, and the first Bronze race).

Anu’s concern that the Bull would cause seven years of famine in Uruk,
which would perhaps destroy the population, represents a middle degree
of apocalypse, the destruction of an entire city,

On no account should you request the Bull of Heaven from me!
There would be seven years of chaff in the land of Uruk.
Gilgamesh VI.iii

This middle degree, the destruction of a whole city
(often leaving a lone
survivor, “the one just man,” discussed in Chapter 13), is the most common
degree of apocalypse in ancient myth,
manifest not only here in Anu’s
concern for Uruk, but in the myth of Troy, in the myth of Sodom and
Gomorrah, in Ovid’s Baucis and Philemon (Metamorphoses 8), in Poseidon’s
initial wish to punish the entire city of the Phaiakians (Od. 13.152), and
in many others (cf. Works and Days 240–1; discussion at Louden 2006:

Anu here mediates Ishtar’s wrath, persuading her to adopt the lowest of
the three levels of apocalyptic destruction. Her subsequent annihilation of
several hundred people instead of the majority of the race, or the whole
city, is a significantly lower degree of destruction, which I call a contained

The Odyssey is structured around three contained apocalypses:

Helios’ destruction of the crew at Thrinakia (Od. 12.376–419), Poseidon’s
petrifaction of the Phaiakians’ ship (instead of their whole city, Od. 13.125–
64), and Athena’s direction of the destruction of the suitors (Od. 13.393–5,

Contained apocalypses in other traditions include Exodus 32
(discussed in Chapter 10), and several briefer instances in Numbers 11, 14,
16, and 25.

Three of the Odyssey’s divine councils are the same specific subtype
as that between Ishtar and Anu (Gilgamesh VI.iii–iv, Dalley 1991: 80–1;
VI.81–114 in George [2003]). Zeus, the sky father, similarly mediates and
adjudicates the complaints of three different wrathful gods, talking each
one down from a threat of greater destruction to a contained apocalypse.

Each such scene concludes the respective sequence of the narrative pattern
(Aiaian, Scherian, Ithakan) in which it occurs (discussion in Louden 1999:
69–72, 96–103).

In Book 12 Helios, angered because Odysseus’ crew have
plundered his sacred cattle (discussion in Chapter 10), threatens to descend
to the underworld and upset the basic cycle of human life, much as Ishtar:

If then they will not requite me with just recompense for my cattle,
I will go down into Hades and shine among the dead.10
Odyssey 12.382–3

Like Ishtar’s threat to descend and release the dead, Helios’ shining in the
underworld would similarly invert the order of the cosmos, and, by withholding
his beams from the earth’s surface, threaten all mortals’ existence.

Demeter’s threat to stop all crops from growing, until Zeus intervenes
and mediates (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 310–13), is another instance of
the same level of threatened destruction.

Zeus, much as Anu with Ishtar,
carefully talks Helios down from his threat of full-scale apocalypse, to
the destruction of only the crew, those who actually violated the sacred,
interdicted, cattle:

Helios, truly shine for the immortals
and for mortals on the grain-giving earth.
But I will cleave their ship with a silver lightning bolt.
Odyssey 12.385–8

Zeus mediates the wrathful god’s destruction from a full apocalypse to the
crew members of one ship, a contained apocalypse.

In Book 13, a wrathful Poseidon, angered that the Phaiakians have given
Odysseus safe passage back to Ithaka, threatens to destroy not only the
crew who ferried him home, but the entire Phaiakian city:

Now, in return, I wish to smite the very beautiful ship
of the Phaiakians, as it returns from its escort
on the misty sea, that they cease, and halt their conveyance
of mortals, and I would obliterate their city with a great mountain.
Odyssey 13.149–52

As with Helios, Zeus, acting quickly to prevent the larger level of destruction
Poseidon threatens – in this case the middle degree of apocalypse,
destruction of a whole city – guides him to the lesser level, a contained

Oh good brother, this is what seems best to me,
when everyone from the city beholds the ship
driving by near the land, turn her into a stone
like a ship so all the people marvel;
but don’t obliterate the city with a mountain.
Odyssey 13.154–8

This council features the usual underlying reason for the angry god’s divine
wrath, a perceived lack of respect by mortals.
As the council opens Poseidon

Zeus Father, no longer will I have any honor among
the immortal gods, when mortals honor me not at all.
Odyssey 13.128–9

His complaint resembles Ishtar’s first words to Anu:

Father, Gilgamesh has shamed me again and again!
Gilgamesh spelt out to me my dishonor,
My dishonor and my disgrace.
Gilgamesh VI.iii 15–17

Both wrathful gods are angry at a perceived lack of respect (cf. Poseidon’s
complaint at Il. 7.446–53). Zeus ensures that both Helios and Poseidon
receive honor and respect, convincing each to contain his wrath and lessen
his destruction (Od. 12.385–8, 13.140–5).

{My thought on this "lack of respect" is that it includes a denial of existence and lack of care in observing reality and interacting with it as it is. Other ideas, anyone?}

The Odyssey’s final divine council (Od. 24.472–86) also belongs to this
same subtype, if somewhat modified. As is clear from her remarks at Od.
13.393–6 and much earlier (Od. 1.227–9), Athena is the wrathful god in
the Ithakan sequence, her wrath directed at the suitors, not at Odysseus,
as Helios’ against the crew, and, after Zeus’ mediation, Poseidon’s at the
Phaiakian crew.11

Though Poseidon is thematically wrathful at Odysseus
through the first twelve-and-a-half books, his wrath is redirected against
the Phaiakian crew after they ferry Odysseus home.

Each of the Odyssey’s three sequences (Ithakan: Books 1–4, Book 13.188 through to end of Book
24; Scherian: Books 6–8, 9–12, 11.333–84, 13.1–187; and Aiaian: Books 9–12)
leads up to and concludes with a contained apocalypse, though each one
does so by employing a different genre of myth
(discussed in Chapters 2,
6, 10, and 13).

In Book 24 Athena asks Zeus if he will provoke further violence, or put
an end to the fighting (Od. 24.473–6). Since Athena’s wrath only pertained
to the suitors, she has no desire for further destruction. Therefore, there
is little need for Zeus to mediate here since the destruction she desires
has already occurred, the contained apocalypse that is Athena’s direction
of Odysseus slaying the 108 suitors and their henchmen
. Zeus, having
sanctioned the destruction that has already taken place, directs her to
prevent additional violence. Though the details differ somewhat from the
other scenes discussed above, the divine council validates the lower degree
of destruction,
as do the other instances. It is thus this lowest degree
of divine destruction, contained apocalypse, with which the Odyssey is
concerned, in the slaying of the suitors, and the two parallel episodes, the
destruction of Odysseus’ crew off Thrinakia, and the destruction of the
Phaiakian crew off Scheria.

The Iliad, by contrast, works toward the middle
degree of apocalypse, the destruction of an entire city, which, in Homeric
epic, only Zeus can validate, not a wrathful god such as Poseidon, Helios,
or Athena.12

The Iliad nonetheless has one instance of the same subtype of divine
council, especially like that at Odyssey 13.127–58, with Zeus again mediating
a wrathful Poseidon, again angry over a perceived lack of respect (Il. 7.443–
63). Noting that the Greeks did not sacrifice to the gods when they built
the wall to defend the ships, Poseidon complains that mortals will forget
how he and Apollo built the walls of Troy. Reassuring him of his respect
among the gods, Zeus bids him to obliterate the wall, but to wait until after
the war is concluded to do so (Il. 7.459–63). In so doing, Zeus prevents
destruction on a larger scale, which would have included extensive loss of
life. This divine council also concludes the first of the Iliad’s three sequences
(Books 1–7), as do each of the three parallel instances in the Odyssey under
consideration (Od. 12.376–88, 13.127–58, 24.472–86).13

Ugaritic myth, the Iliad, and OT myth also have instances of divine
councils between the sky father and a wrathful god that do not lead to
apocalyptic destruction, but to the death of a single mortal.

In both the Aqhat and the Baal Cycle, the war goddess, Anat (see Louden 2006: 240–85
on her parallels with Athena), angrily confronts her father, Anu, in divine
councils. In the Aqhat, Anat covets a bow that the god Kothar (Hephaistos’
counterpart) has made for the title character. In exchange for the bow she
offers Aqhat eternal life, the companionship of the gods, but he refuses
her offer, insulting her in a scene reminiscent of Gilgamesh’s rejection
of Ishtar (VI.i–iii) and Diomedes’ criticism of Aphrodite (Il. 5.348–51).14
Incensed, Anat goes to El, and asks for and receives his permission to
cause Aqhat’s death

The Iliad has a close parallel
in Athena’s divine council with Zeus (Il. 22.166–86) in which she obtains
permission to cause Hektor’s death

In the Iliad Athena serves as mentor
god for Akhilleus,
but as wrathful god for Hektor.15 In both myths the final
comments by El and Zeus are quite close:

Lay hold of what you desire, carry out what you wish,
The one who gets in your way may be struck down.
CTA 18.i.18–19

Act as your purpose would have you do, and hold back no longer.
Iliad 22.18616

It is not often realized that OT myth contains many divine councils,
a natural consequence of the Israelites’ earlier centuries of polytheism
before they converted to monotheism.17 Many OT myths thus employ
genres and motifs common to polytheistic mythic traditions, showing parallels
with other West Semitic traditions, such as Ugaritic, as well as with
Mesopotamian, and Egyptian. Consequently divine councils are not infrequent,
especially in Genesis, Psalms, and the prophetic books.18 Those
in Genesis are clear, if abbreviated: the expulsion from Eden (Gen. 3:22),

“The man has become like one of us,” and the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:7),19

“Come, let us go down there and confuse their language.”

Though no one dies, god’s deliberate confusion of mortals resembles a contained apocalypse.

Athena similarly incapacitates the suitors in Odyssey Book 2, and
the angels strike the mob with temporary blindness in Genesis 19 (both
discussed in Chapter 2), episodes connected with subsequent apocalyptic

But those most like Homeric divine councils are in Job and 1

1 Kings 22:19–22 features a divine council quite close to Agamemnon’s
dream at Iliad 2.5–34.21 While two episodes at the beginning of Job
share features with that at Odyssey 1.27–95, as well as with those just noted
between El and Anat (Aqhat CTA–18. i.19), and Zeus and Athena
(Il. 22.17–86).

As at Odyssey. 1.27–95, though many immortals are described as being
present, only two speak in the first divine council in Job:

The day came when the members of the court of heaven took their places in the
presence of the Lord, and the Adversary, Satan, was among them. The Lord asked
him where he had been. “Ranging over the earth,” said the Adversary, “from end
to end.” The Lord asked him, “Have you considered my servant Job? You will
find no one like him on earth, a man of blameless and upright life, who fears God
and sets his face against wrongdoing.”(Job 1:6–8)

OT myth’s emerging monotheism forces alterations on the traditional epic
While Satan clearly occupies the function of the wrathful god,22
Yahweh’s position suggests a combination of both the sky father and the
mentor god

Like the Odyssey’s first divine council, this serves to focus the
narrative on the myth’s mortal protagonist, but it is Yahweh himself who
does so, whereas at Odyssey 1.480, it is Athena who first raises the topic of
Odysseus, suggesting Yahweh’s attitude toward Job is that of the mentor
god. But Yahweh’s concluding comment is essentially the same tag line El
says to Anat, and Zeus to Athena
(Il. 22.186), as he gives Satan free rein to
do almost anything he wants to Job, “Very well,” said the Lord, “All that
he has is in your power, but you must not touch him”
(Job 1:12), the sky
father’s presiding role.

Much as the Odyssey presents a second divine council very like the first
(Od. 5.3–43), the Book of Job has a second divine council very like its first
(Job 2:1–7).
Again, the only speakers are Yahweh, who voices his support
for Job, suggesting the traditional functions of both a mentor god and the
sky father, while Satan presses Yahweh to let him oppress Job in stronger
fashion (Job 2:4–5). Again the council concludes with a variation of the
same tag line we have seen three earlier times (Aqhat CTA 18.i.18–19,
Il. 22.186, Job 1:12), “The Lord said to the Adversary, ‘So be it. He is in
your power, only spare his life’”
(Job 2:6).

There is a further unexpected link between Job and the Aqhat. Aqhat’s father is Danel, who is himself
mentioned in OT myth as an example of the righteous man. Twice in
Ezekiel Danel and Job are paralleled, along with Noah, as key instances
of this type,
Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were there,
they would by their righteousness save none but themselves”
(Ezek. 14:14,
14:20, cf. Ezek. 28:3).23

This same specific subtype, a divine council between the sky father and
a wrathful god who plans sufferings for a single mortal, occurs again in
the Iliad in Agamemnon’s narrative about the goddess Ate. The king of
Mycenae describes a divine council between Zeus and Hera (Il. 19.100–13),
in which she thwarts his designs for Herakles, causing a life of struggles
and agony for Zeus’ special son.
Though the scene omits the usual tag line,
the overall dynamic is clearly the same. Zeus has given permission for the
wrathful god to cause sufferings for the protagonist of the myth (Herakles).
But in a key variation Zeus is unaware that he gives Hera license to cause
horrible sufferings for Herakles (as Anat did for Aqhat, Satan for Job, and
Athena for Hektor), a replay of Hera’s deception of him in Book 14 of the
Iliad (Chapter 6 notes parallels with Rebecca’s deception of Isaac). The
closest to this subtype in the Odyssey is not a divine council, but Poseidon’s
soliloquy when he sees Odysseus crossing the sea by raft (Od. 5.286–90,
377–9), the epic’s only divine monologue. The sea god announces his intent
to harass Odysseus just short of killing him
(Od. 5.286–90), which, as he
is fully aware, he is not permitted to do. The upshot is thus quite close
to Satan harassing Job. Neither Poseidon nor Satan is allowed to kill their
hated mortal, as do Anat and Athena
(Il. 22.186).

OT myth also features divine councils that lead to apocalyptic destruction,
but with a radical innovation.

In Exodus 32 and in Genesis 18, OT myth has two beings debating the severity of imminent apocalyptic destruction.
But instead of two gods, the “divine councils” are between Yahweh
and Moses (Exod. 32), and Yahweh and Abraham (Gen. 18).

In Exodus 32, when the Israelites rebel during Moses’ absence, and turn to other gods,
Yahweh wants to destroy them all:

The Lord said to Moses, “I have considered this people, and I see their stubbornness.
Now, let me alone to pour out my anger on them, so that I may
put an end to them and make a great nation spring from you.” Moses set himself
to placate the Lord his God: “Lord,” he said, “why pour out your anger
on your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a strong
hand? . . . Turn from your anger, and think betterof the evil you intend against your
people.” . . . So the Lord thought betterof the evil with which he had threatened his
people. (Exod. 32:9–14)

Moses, in talking Yahweh out of enacting a large-scale apocalypse against
the Israelites, replays the same dynamic we have seen three times in the
Odyssey (Od. 12.376–88, 13.127–58, 24.472–87), in Gilgamesh (Gilg. VI.iii–
iv), and in the Iliad (Il. 7.443–63), the specific subtype of divine council in
which Zeus talks a wrathful god down from full apocalyptic destruction
(Helios), or from destruction of a whole city (Poseidon), to a lesser degree
of violence, a contained apocalypse.

The dialogue between Moses and Yahweh is clearly a modified divine
council, in which a mortal, a patriarch and prophet, serves in place of
a god.

Having Moses act in a role traditionally assigned to a god is
thus a radical innovation. But in an even more surprising innovation, it
is Yahweh who serves the traditional function of the angry lesser god,
while Moses serves the function elsewhere given the sky father, to mediate
and adjudicate the concerns of the wrathful, lesser god.
We return
to this episode and compare it to events on Thrinakia in Chapters 10
and 13.

A similar episode concludes Genesis 18. Here, in a dialogue with Abraham,
Yahweh threatens to destroy the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Abraham proceeds in much the same way as Moses in Exodus 32, getting
Yahweh to agree to spare the cities if he can find first fifty, but eventually
ten, righteous men
(Gen. 18:23–32).

The dynamic is the same. Their dialogue
is clearly adapted from traditional divine councils,
the same subtype
we have observed in the Odyssey (Od. 12.376–88, 13.127–58, 24.472–87) and
Gilgamesh (Gilg. VI.iii–iv).

The dialogue features the same radical innovation
seen in Exodus 32: it is Abraham who attempts to mediate, the
usual role of the sky father, while the wrathful Yahweh is in the traditional
role of the lesser god.

The outcome is different, however. Yahweh goes
ahead with the destruction of the entire cities, the usual, middle level of
apocalypse, not the contained apocalypse noted in all five other instances.
We reconsider the episode from additional perspectives in Chapters 2
and 13.

The Odyssey’s opening divine council also, if indirectly, points to a
contained apocalypse. Zeus specifically convenes the council to air his
complaint about humans:

For shame, how mortals blame the gods!
For they say evils come from us, when they themselves,
through their own recklessness, suffer pains beyond their share.
Odyssey. 1.32–4

Though he makes the complaint, Zeus neither expresses any animus, nor
recommends that the gods initiate events against mortals, but merely comments
on a general human failing.

The Atrahasis offers a loose parallel. Six
hundred years after their creation mortals have become so numerous, and
their noise so great, that the god Ellil complains at a divine council, which
he has apparently convened:

He addressed the great gods,
“The noise of mankind has become too much,
I am losing sleep over their racket.
Give the order that suruppu-disease shall break out.”

Atrahasis I.vii (Dalley translation)

Unlike Zeus, Enlil immediately initiates a plan to act on his complaint, and
destroy mortals in doing so.

Athena, the only other speaker at the divine council, responds to Zeus’
complaint about mortals’ irresponsibility, strongly concurring:

Our father, son of Kronos, highest of the lords,
to be sure, he, at least, lies in fitting destruction.
So let any other perish who would accomplish such acts!
Odyssey 1.45–7

Athena’s “such things” refers to Aigisthos’ exploits, that he
slew Agamemnon and “wooed” Klytaimnestra, though Hermes had earlier
warned him not to
(Od. 1.37–9).

Divine interdictions, a god commanding a
mortal not to do something, are often pivotal occasions in myth.
25 Mortals
are typically unable to uphold them, as is the case with Aigisthos. Zeus uses
Aigisthos for a specific instance of behavior to illustrate a larger pattern of
mortals’ conduct; Athena applies his consequent death to a larger body of
mortals, “So let any other perish who would accomplish such acts!” She
affirms Zeus’ complaint, and clearly predicts the death of the suitors by
so doing.26 They will execute both categories of Aigisthos’ wrongdoing:
they are wooing a married woman; they will attempt to kill Telemachos,
and then Odysseus. The destruction of all 108 suitors and their retinue
constitutes another contained apocalypse.

For the rest of the divine council Athena plays her usual role as Odysseus’
advocate and mentor. Though she agrees with Zeus’ paradigm of human
, Odysseus clearly does not fit it, and she briefly lashes out
at Zeus, “Why then do you hate him so much, Zeus?” (Od. 1.62).

In the Aqhat, Baal, who serves as the mentor god for Danel (and Aqhat), has a
similar scene with El (CTA 17.i.16–34), and makes a similar complaint,

“Art thou indifferent to Dan’el, the Rapian?”

Like Athena’s scene with Zeus, this divine council occurs close to the beginning of its narrative,
and establishes the sky father’s supportive relationship with the designated
characters, Danel and Odysseus.

The Odyssey’s first divine council also has additional parallels with one
in the Aqhat (CTA 17.i.16–27) and one in the Kirta (CTA 15.ii.11–28).
All three belong to the same subtype, the sky father in dialogue with the
mentor god; all three focus on the hero’s son. After disabusing Athena of
the notion that he hates Odysseus, Zeus reveals that Poseidon’s wrath is
responsible for Odysseus’ failure to return home, but that now he will have
to yield to the other Olympians, who all support Odysseus’ return
1.63–79). Athena will go to see Telemachos, to give him confidence, that he
may earn fame (Od. 1.88–95).

The Aqhat opens with Danel praying for a
son, while the Kirta begins with the title character yearning for an heir.

In the Odyssey, Telemachos is a young man, but was an infant when his father
last saw him, twenty years before.

The Aqhat quickly switches its focus
from Danel to his son, Aqhat, who remains the poem’s mortal protagonist.

Like the Aqhat the Odyssey quickly turns its focus to the hero’s son, by way
of the divine council (Od. 1.88–95). The parallel focus on the hero’s son in
the Aqhat and Kirta suggests that the Telemachy, sometimes thought a later
addition to the Odyssey, may be more traditional, part of the epic longer
than thought.

To sum up our discussion, epics such as Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Aqhat,
the Kirta, and the Odyssey, tend to have two main subtypes of divine
councils. No matter how many other immortals are said to be in attendance,
the sky father figure is in dialogue either with the mentor god (Athena in
Odyssey 1 and 5, Shamash in Gilgamesh, Baal in the Aqhat), or the wrathful
god (Helios in Book 12 of the Odyssey, Poseidon in Book 13, Athena in
Book 24).

Divine councils between the sky father and the mentor god
tend to begin large actions, and occur, fittingly near the beginning of an
(Od. 1.32–95, Aqhat CTA 17.i.16–27, cf. Aen. 1.223–97).

The opposite type, divine councils between the sky father and the wrathful god, tend
to conclude large actions, even whole sequences of an epic
(as is the case
at Od. 12.377–88, 13.128–58, 24.472–86; Il. 7.446–63; cf. Aen. 12. 791–842),
often resulting in apocalyptic destruction.

Given Athena’s importance in divine councils with Zeus in the Odyssey
(Od. 1.32–95, 5.3–42, 24.472–86; cf. Il. 8.5–40, 22.166–85), it is worth noting
that Gilgamesh, the Aqhat, the Baal Cycle, the Iliad, and the Odyssey (and the
Aeneid ) all have father-daughter divine councils
(Gilgamesh: Anu, Ishtar;
the Aqhat: El, Anat; Baal Cycle: El, Anat; Iliad: Zeus, Athena; Odyssey:
Zeus, Athena), which may be more than mere coincidence.27 In many
ways Athena’s relationship with Zeus resembles Anat’s relationship with
El. In particular Athena often gets her way with Zeus in divine councils,
as Anat does with El.28
Theoxeny is the next vital concept to understand the relations between our reality and hyperdimensional realities. This seems to me to be directly tied into the concepts of STS vs STO. While we may live in an STS dominated world, apparently STO - understood correctly as the myth attempts to explain to us - is apparently the one thing that can remove us from the depredations of 4D STS beings. As we already suspect, the STO stance is not necessarily what we, from our limited human perspective, think of as being "good". So, again, the text is from Louden's "Homer's Odyssey and the Near East".


Odyssey 1, 3, 13–22, and Genesis 18–19

Hospitality myth in general, and theoxeny in particular, is one of the two
main types of myth that provide the Odyssey’s larger overarching structures.1

While romance forms the Odyssey’s outermost frame, and provides its
ending (the recognition scenes with Penelope and Laertes, Books 23–4),
theoxeny forms the frame directly within, providing the epic with its other
climax, the destruction of the suitors in Book 22.

I define hospitality myth simply as a mortal host entertaining or receiving a guest (usually a stranger of
unknown identity) into his dwelling.

Most of Books 1, 3–4, 9–10, 14–15, and
17–22 (with shorter treatments in Books 7–8), are detailed presentations of
hospitality myth. The anthropologist Pitt-Rivers is one of many to assert
the centrality of hospitality in the Odyssey (1977: 94), “Indeed the whole
work may be viewed as a study in the law of hospitality.”

Hospitality is sacred. Both the Odyssey (Od. 9.270–1; 14.283–4, 14.389,
17.155; cf. 3.346) and the Iliad (13.624–5) declare Zeus its special guardian.
As Bolin notes (2004: 39–40, 48), hospitality resembles sacrifice in being
similarly grounded in reciprocity, as in the formula, ... “I give, that
you may give.”

{Here we see glimmerings of the ancient meals together that exemplified true humans as opposed to "animal humans" as well as the washing of the feet, "do unto others" etc. We also see that in our present world, the greed of the power elite has made true hospitality - caring for others - impossible. In other words, our present civilization is an entirely inhospitable one and thus, according to the laws set out in the Odyssey, is due for destruction!}

Though written about Genesis 18–19, Bolin’s comments
about the dynamics of hospitality in ancient cultures are equally applicable
to Homeric episodes, and worth noting at length (2004: 45):

Hospitality was the creation of a temporary patronage relationship with the host
as patron and the guest as client. The motivation behind offering hospitality to a
stranger lay in the increased honor one had in assimilating a potential threat into
the community by asserting one’s superiority over the newcomer. Guests played
their role in this arrangement by acceptance of the offered hospitality. The practical
benefit of this arrangement was that it defused a confrontational moment with
the potential for violence. Reciprocity was essential to the arrangement’s success.

Hosts honored guests by extending favor and protection in order to increase their
own honor. Guests accepted the honor of the host and, in doing so, added to the
host’s honor as patron. For either party to be denied its due in the relationship
created the situation of injustice.

{This is obviously a pathological description of hospitality though it certainly may describe the motivations for it after "The Fall" and particularly in certain cultures where pathology had already begun to dominate. But I think we can see deeper into the concept, that it is an exact depiction of the STO principles.}

In hospitality myths the gods monitor these relationships to redress wrongs
committed against either party, guest or host.

Why does the Odyssey employ hospitality myth so frequently? Several
different factors encourage this mythic type. Polyphemos’ curse specifies
that Odysseus will return home late, with difficulty, in someone else’s ship
(Od. 9.534–5; cf. Teiresias’ and Kirke’s prophecies, Od. 11.114–15, 12.141).
The curse (chronologically earlier than the rest of the poem, except for brief
retrospective accounts such as Od. 19.393–466) thus dictates that Odysseus
will be destitute, a wanderer.

As a wanderer, Odysseus is thrust into a
dependent role, relying on the hospitality of those to whose shores he
now comes.

Odysseus’ own violation of hospitality in his encounter with
Polyphemos (Od. 9.216–32)2 helps bring about his transformation into a

Since much of the Telemachy thematically parallels Odysseus’
own wanderings,3 the prominence of hospitality scenes with the father
prompts related episodes featuring the son. Wandering also looms large as
a theme in romance, where, typically, the protagonist undergoes a drastic
reversal of fortune or status into a state of dependence (explored in Chapter

Episodes of hospitality also provide a means for demonstrating Zeus’
thesis on mortals’ irresponsibility in the opening divine council.

The suitors, in their continual violation of hospitality, will conform to the pattern
Zeus figures in Aigisthos, mortals who ignore warnings from the gods, and
ignore the consequences of their own actions.4

{Here is where we see that the principles of STO include saying "no" to predation. Guests who come with a manipulative agenda, or who intend only to take or cause harm, are destroyed - they bring on their own destruction - though we will also see that it is often the role of the epic hero to act FOR the gods by effecting the destruction. This suggests, once again, that 4D realities are projected into 3D and we are often just actors on the stage for our higher selves.}

Theoxeny is the specific subset of hospitality myth in which, unknown
to the host, his guest (xenos) is a god (theos) in disguise. The Odyssey has an
unnamed suitor define the mythic type when Antino¨os strikes the disguised

Antinoos, it is not well that you struck the unfortunate wanderer; you are accursed
if somehow he is one of the heavenly gods, since the gods do go about the cities,
seeming like strangers from other parts, taking on all sorts of forms, witnessing
both the arrogance and good behavior of men. (Odyssey 17.483–7

The passage not only defines what theoxeny is, but evokes the term, since
the unnamed suitor here juxtaposes the words for gods and guests, theoi xeinoisin (Od. 17.485).

Though the Odyssey initiates its first theoxeny when Athena appears as Mentes (Od. 1.105), it saves its
explicit definition of the type for Antinoos’ shocking act, behavior even
other suitors find offensive.

Theoxeny as a genre of myth explains why hospitality is sacred: any guest could be a god in disguise.

The Odyssey uses both kinds of myth, hospitality and theoxeny, to gauge its characters, as
indices of their morality.5 Hospitable characters are moral and pious; those
who violate hospitality not only act incorrectly, but offend the gods.

Theoxenies come in two opposite subtypes. When a disguised god comes
among mortals to test their hospitality, they either pass the test, or they fail
it. The situation allows no gray area, no middle ground.

I use positive theoxeny to denote a community correctly observing hospitality, and negative
theoxeny for a community that violates hospitality.

In both kinds of theoxeny the host is hospitable. It is the response of his surrounding community
that radically differs.

Instances of negative theoxeny are more dramatic,
prompting more intense narratives, usually segueing directly to an apocalypse

(Ovid, Metamorphoses 8.611–724, Genesis 19, Nonnus, Dionysiaca

The Odyssey initiates a negative theoxeny as soon as Athena appears
among the suitors as Mentes (Od. 1.105). Athena’s wrath against the suitors
for violating hospitality in her presence takes up roughly one third of
the epic (Books 1, 13.376–96, 17–22). As often for Homeric epic,6 Old
Testament myth, in Genesis 18–19, offers the closest non-Greek parallels
for the Odyssey’s use of theoxeny.

Both the Odyssey and Genesis nuance their presentations of theoxeny
by also presenting positive theoxenies. When Telemachos visits Nestor in
Book 3, Athena accompanies him in the form of Mentor (Od. 3.31–384),
making the episode a theoxeny. Nestor and all his people observe correct

Genesis 18, when Abraham and Sara receive the disguised angels
as guests, is also a fully developed theoxeny in which all the mortals behave
as they should.

By giving examples of positive and negative theoxenies in
close proximity, the Odyssey and Genesis demonstrate to their audiences
how theoxeny works, allowing the stark difference in outcomes between
the two types to emerge with greater clarity.

Positive theoxeny demonstrates
how hospitality is supposed to function, the rewards in store for those who
correctly uphold it. Ovid also has narratives of each type: positive, the
myth of Hyrieus (Fasti 5.493–544); and negative, the myth of Baucis and
Philemon (Metamorphoses 8.611–724).

We will consider negative theoxeny
first, since it comes first in the Odyssey and has far greater impact on its
plot than positive theoxeny.

Negative Theoxeny: Odyssey 1, 13, 17–22, and Genesis 19

As noted in Chapter 1, the suitors’ death is implied in Athena’s remark
about Aigisthos’ death in the opening divine council, “So may any other
perish who would accomplish such acts!”
(Od. 1.45–7). Neither Athena
nor Zeus mentions the suitors’ violation of hospitality. Athena’s stated
purpose for coming to Ithaka is to prompt Telemachos to become a hero
(Od. 1.88–95). However, as soon as she appears in Ithaka in the guise of
Mentes, the Odyssey initiates its first theoxeny. As at Odyssey 17.485, Athena,
a theos, appearing as a xenos, not only starts the mythic genre, but
evokes its name as well.

Xenos (Homeric xeinos) has a variety of meanings: a stranger (not from around here), a guest, and a

Mentes is a stranger, unknown in Ithaka. She will claim that her
father was Odysseus’ host on an earlier occasion (Od. 1.187–8, 257–64),
invoking the other meanings latent in xenos. Upset that a guest would
have to stand, waiting to be seated (Od. 1.118–20), Telemachos is first to
notice her. Greeting her, he takes her by the hand, and seats her, while
attendants bring water for washing, food, and drink (Od. 1.121–43). He
has already passed the test, implicit in any theoxeny, offering commendable
hospitality to the disguised god.
But since the host demonstrates his
hospitality in both subtypes of theoxeny, this episode could still go either

What tilts this episode into a negative theoxeny is the suitors’ behavior,
Athena’s reaction to it, and the implied violence in her anecdote about
Odysseus’ visit to her father’s house.

Before his guest says anything, Telemachos
raises the suitors as a topic of concern several times. When he seats
her, he selects a secluded spot, lest his guest be disturbed by their uproar
(Od. 1.133), since they are overbearing, implying violence and insolence Telemachos complains that
they feast on his goods without recompense (Od. 1.159–65). Even his initial
frustration that a guest would have to stand and wait (Od. 1.119–20) indirectly
suggests concern over the suitors’ behavior while a guest is present
(S. West 1988: 97).

The disguised Athena asserts that she and Odysseus were
“paternal guest-friends” (Od. 1.187), later specifying
that he visited her father seeking a poison to put on his arrows
(Od. 1.257–64). When he failed to obtain the poison from another man,
Athena/Mentes claims her father, fond of Odysseus, gave him the poison
he sought. Commentators have focused too much on whether or not
Athena invents this unusual story,8 and too little on its thematic function
in the Odyssey’s plot. While the unusual detail helps validate her claim
about Odysseus’ visit by conjuring up specific circumstances, it also evokes
a violent undercurrent. What would Odysseus’ purpose be in applying
poison to his arrows?

Sandwiched between the two brief accounts of Odysseus’ visit to her
father’s house is Athena’s reaction to the suitors, the most important detail
in the episode. Noting their continual feasting, she wonders what occasion
prompts it:

How reckless they seem to me, feasting in their arrogance throughout
the palace! Should a righteous man come among them he’d be outraged, seeing
their many disgraceful acts! (Odyssey 1.227–9)

While her assessment helps strengthen her bond with Telemachos, establishing
her as a father figure (as his own reaction implies: Od. 1.307–8), the
audience recognizes a far more serious consequence. Central to the workings
of theoxeny, either positive or negative, is the irony that results from
the host being unaware of his guest’s divine identity, which the audience
fully perceives.9 “Mentes’” remarks are thus not merely the sympathetic
observations of a family friend, but the judgment, even the doom (in that
word’s older sense) of a god in whose presence the suitors have violated a
sacred institution. Athena now has a divine wrath directed against them,
until their destruction is accomplished.

Only after her judgment on the suitors does “Mentes” give Telemachos
the provocative details about Odysseus seeking poison for his arrows (Od.
1.257–64). She prefaces mention of the poison with a wish to see Odysseus
now as he was then, fully armed, with helmet, shield, and two spears
(Od. 1.256). Just before seeing Mentes, Telemachos was fantasizing about
his father returning, scattering the suitors (Od. 1.115–17). The juxtaposition
of his mental picture with Mentes’ arrival suggests that Telemachos
will associate Mentes’ visit with his father. When Athena suggests a violent
potential in Odysseus, armed with two spears, seeking poison for his
arrows, she points, if indirectly, to his slaying of the suitors,10 the contained
apocalypse that this negative theoxeny, the suitors’ violation of hospitality,
now moves toward. Odysseus will be armed with two spears when he goes
against the suitors (Od. 22.101, 125, though this is standard equipment
for the Homeric warrior). While in Book 1 the violence is only implied,
when Odysseus first returns to Ithaka, Athena demands such destruction,
declaring she expects “his immense floor to be splattered with the suitors’
blood and brains”
(Od. 13.395).

{Now, this may sound pretty negative, but I think we need to consider many things the Cs have said about STO vs STS, on one occasion saying "give the lie what it ASKS for: the truth." Ra noted that what manipulation to give up one's free will demands a negative response. The Cs remark about the human experiential cycle also comes in here: human experience what they bring on themselves. The only positive thing about these apocalyptic events is the thread running throughout the text of the survival of the "one good man" or "one good group". Again we notice that Odysseus is the INSTRUMENT of the goddess' wrath.}

This prefigured violence, the eventual result of Athena’s wrath against
the suitors, is suggested even earlier in the description of her spear as she
prepares to descend from Olympos,11

She took up her stout spear, furnished with a sharp bronze point,
heavy, great, and strong, with which she subdues the ranks
of heroes, those at whom she of the mighty father is angered.
Odyssey 1.99–101

As Walsh shows the verb used here of Athena’s anger, denotes long-term anger,
especially the kind of divine wrath that figures in an apocalypse.

Nowhere in the Odyssey or Iliad does Athena actually wield her spear against mortals (though she does
wound Ares with it: Il. 21.406). But in each epic she is angry at a group
of heroes, the Trojans, collectively, in the Iliad, and, as a result of their
own actions in Book 1, the suitors in the Odyssey. In each epic, at the
same respective point, she aids the protagonist as he uses his spear against
each poem’s primary antagonists, Akhilleus against Hektor (Il. 22.325–7),
and Odysseus against the suitors (Od. 22.262 and ff.).

This is another aspect of Athena’s function as mentor to the hero: she aids him in his
greatest battles, as Shamash aids Gilgamesh against Humbaba (Gilg. V.i–ii;
V.137–47 in George [2003]). Accordingly, both Homeric epics employ the
tableau-like description of Athena taking up her spear,12 to figure, in a kind
of shorthand, the outcome of each narrative, the protagonists defeating
their antagonists, aided by an eager Athena.13

Negative Theoxeny in Genesis 19

Since, as Book 1 prefigures, Odysseus will carry out the destruction of the
suitors, the Odyssey puts full development of its negative theoxeny on hold
until he returns to Ithaka.

Before considering how the Odyssey resumes this
thread, we first explore negative theoxeny in OT myth, the destruction of
Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 19, in its close parallels, provides a context
for interpreting the Odyssey.The myth begins, as does the negative theoxeny
in Odyssey 1, by depicting the immortals’ arrival to the city that is to be

There are two immortals in Genesis 19,14 both unnamed angels.

As Telemachos sits apart from the suitors in Book 1, Lot initially sits by the city
gate, apart from the other inhabitants. Lot, like Telemachos, is first to see the
strangers, and rises to greet them. Offering hospitality, he persuades them
to come to his house, bathe their feet, and spend the night. After he serves
them a meal, and has clearly passed the implicit test imposed on the host, a
mob of men of all ages gathers around his house.

This is essentially the point at which the Odyssey has interrupted the progress of its negative theoxeny.

There are clear parallels in the roles played by Athena and the two angels,
by Telemachos and Lot, and especially close, by the suitors and the mob.

Since Genesis is not using its negative theoxeny as part of a heroic epic
whose protagonist is far from home, it has no need to delay or interrupt
its conclusion, as does the Odyssey. It seems likely, then, that the Odyssey
is innovating, both in interrupting its theoxeny, and pausing for such a
great length before concluding it.

{On the other hand, perhaps it is not the Odyssey that is innovating since the delay of the conclusion of the theoxeny is part of the ring structure which is a solid piece of evidence for the antiquity of the story and the means by which it encodes its meaning.}

In this respect the Odyssey’s complex
manipulation and placement of the genres of myth is more reminiscent of
Ovid’s techniques for interweaving myths in the Metamorphoses than what
we might expect of an epic rooted in oral tradition.

{This remark actually contradicts Louden's theses about the complex ring structure of the Odyssey. This area of research is certainly problematical, politically speaking, and scholars must beware the wrath of Zionists. I suspect that this is just such an obfuscation.}

Following the Odyssey’s model, we interrupt our consideration of Genesis 19’s negative theoxeny,
to resume it, as does the Odyssey, after first exploring the opposite type, positive theoxeny.

Positive Theoxeny: Odyssey 3 and Genesis 18:1–15

In Book 1, Athena instructs Telemachos to go to Pylos to see if Nestor
knows of Odysseus’ whereabouts (Od. 1.284). Athena, now in the guise
of Mentor, provides a ship (Od. 2.287) and crew, and accompanies him,
thereby turning a hospitality scene into a theoxeny, though not often
noted as such.
15 When they arrive Nestor is leading 500 of his people
in a lavish offering to Poseidon, the largest-scale sacrifice in the poem.
Though busy with this enterprise, the Pylians graciously receive the two
unexpected guests. Nestor’s son Peisistratos is first to see them, taking
them to seats next to Nestor himself to partake of the feast (Od. 3.34–9).
Peisistratos continues exemplary hospitality by asking “Mentor,” that is
Athena, to make the prayer accompanying the sacrifice, telling her, “all
men need the gods” (Od. 3.48), the epic’s simplest statement of piety.
Such sentiments typify the episode, and positive theoxenies.

A pleased Athena goes on to make the prayer,
with irony typical of theoxeny, “so she prayed but she herself was bringing
everything to completion”
(Od. 3.62).

Peisistratos’ piety is also implicit acknowledgment that Nestor raised
him and his brothers to be so. Nestor’s piety and exemplary hospitality
establish him as a highly moral man.
16 Commentators rightly emphasize
how Nestor’s own family members perform tasks for the guests that are
elsewhere performed by servants.

It is more typical of theoxeny than of hospitality myth that family members perform the main duties.18
The pious Nestor reasons that since Athena used to aid Odysseus at Troy she might now do the same for Telemachos:

If only gray-eyed Athena might wish to love you
as she then deeply cared for renowned Odysseus
in the land of the Trojans, where we Achaians suffered pains.
For never have I seen the gods openly display their love
as when Pallas Athena then openly stood by him.
Odyssey 3.218–24

In irony more typical of the Odyssey’s later books (14–21), where characters
think about and discuss, but cannot recognize the disguised Odysseus
before them, Nestor correctly reasons that Athena could help Telemachos,
though unaware she is actually doing so.19

Nestor honors the gods in exactly the ways that myths portray the gods as expecting mortals to act.

Irony of a more comic sort appears in Telemachos’ reaction to Nestor’s
observation. In one of the Odyssey’s most humorous scenes, with the disguised
Athena looking on, Telemachos (with the audience well aware of
her extensive aid to him), refutes Nestor, denying the goddess would help
him. “Mentor” firmly corrects him:

Telemachos, what sort of word has escaped the fence of your teeth?
Easily a god, should he wish, can save a man, even from a distance.
Odyssey 3.230–1

Athena playfully underscores her point with word play on his name, Telemachos,
“Fighter from a distance.’ ” The first component, tˆele-, “distant,” is
the same as the antepenultimate word of the next line, tˆelothen, “from a

“Even from a distance a god can save a man, oh ‘Fighter from a

As comparison with Genesis 18 will show, positive theoxenies
include humorous interaction once the host has demonstrated his piety.

Genesis features a positive theoxeny in Abraham’s hospitable reception
of the angels (Gen. 18:1–15), a close parallel to Nestor and Athena in Odyssey
3. As at Pylos, each detail of Abraham’s reception of his disguised divine
guests is a generic, traditional, motif, extant in other narratives. Yahweh
and two angels, in the form of unnamed men, appear to Abraham as he
sits outside his tent (Gen. 18:1–2).21 As soon as he sees them Abraham
approaches22 (cf. Peisistratos in Odyssey 3, and Telemachos in Book 1), and
extends hospitality.23 Offering water to wash their feet, cakes, a (sacrificed)
calf, curds and milk, Abraham himself waits on them while they eat (Sara
prepares the cakes)

Having easily passed the hospitality test, Abraham receives a blessing
and prophecy. Yahweh, or an angel, says he will come back in a year and
Sara will have given birth to a son, an instance of Reece’s motif XIV. Visitor
pronounces a blessing on the host. The blessing functions similarly to Athena
saying the prayer in the sacrifice to Poseidon, after having first blessed
Nestor and his sons (Od. 3.57). In doing so, she enacts two of Reece’s
elements, XV. Visitor shares in a libation or sacrifice, and XIV. Visitor pronounces
a blessing on the host.

But Sara, eavesdropping, laughs at the seeming
absurdity of her giving birth at such an advanced age (Gen. 18:12). Yahweh
subsequently corrects her, “Is anything impossible for the Lord?” (Gen.
18:14). His doing so is the same motif as Athena correcting Telemachos
(“Even from a distance a god can save a man,”
Od. 3.230–1).

Both Telemachos, in refusing to believe that Athena would help him, and Sara, by not
believing the guest’s claim that she will bear a son, imply limits on the
gods’ powers. Each god is quick to disabuse the doubter, without becoming
What each character refuses to believe (that Athena would
help Telemachos, that Sara would bear a son) is something the god gives
because the hosts have earlier earned a boon by their exemplary hospitality.

Both positive theoxenies employ wordplays on proper names at this
Sara’s laughing is an apparent allusion to a folk etymology associating
the name Isaac with a verb of laughing and smiling, as Speiser notes on
Genesis 17:17 (1962: 123: “Heb. yishaq, play on ‘Isaac’”).25 In each case
the wordplay is connected with the character being corrected,
Sara and

Sara’s laughter at the divine prediction is mentioned four
times (Gen. 18:12, 13, and twice in 15). In both instances the wordplay is on
the name of the son of the hero (Isaac, son of Abraham, Telemachos, son
of Odysseus)
, and is thematic, occurring in several passages.26

The parallels in their receptions of the divine guests reveal additional
links between the hosts, Nestor and Abraham. Abraham is the first of a
series of patriarchs in Genesis, including Jacob and Joseph. Just before the
positive theoxeny, Yahweh defines Abraham as such a figure:

I shall make you father of many nations. I shall make you exceedingly fruitful; I
shall make nations out of you, and kings shall spring from you. (Genesis 17:5–6)27

Genesis 18 initiates Abraham as patriarch by highlighting the dramatic
birth of his first son. Until Abraham has legitimate male offspring he
cannot be the patriarch Yahweh has declared. Indeed, there would be
no Old Testament without the birth of this son. The OT authors thus
dramatically highlighted the story of Isaac’s birth by setting it within a
positive theoxeny, a genre of myth that underscores Abraham’s respect for
god, showing he deserves to be the patriarch he will now become.

Nestor, too, is such a figure, if on a slightly smaller scale. He leads a highly
moral community, having reached an age and fathered offspring to a degree
that establish him as a patriarch, the same mythic type as Abraham in OT
myth.28 Both men are preternaturally old. Telemachos refers to Nestor
having ruled over three generations of men (Od. 3.245; cf. Il. 1.250–2), and
describes his appearance as like an immortal (Od. 3.246, literally, like one
who is “deathless,). Two of Nestor’s most frequent epithets in
Homer are “old,” and “old man.”

Abraham is ninety-nine years old shortly before the episode (Gen. 17:1). Both men are leaders of
peoples or clans (cf. Nestor’s epithet “shepherd of the people” [Od. 3.469,
15.151, 17.109; Il. 2.85, 10.73, 23.411, cf. 9.81]).29

The numerous parallels between the two episodes reveal that Greek
and OT myth each adapted the same specific subgenre of myth, positive
theoxeny with a number of highly specific shared elements.

The host in both narratives is a patriarch, who has or will have many sons, and holds
sway over whole peoples. Both narratives employ thematic wordplays on the
name of the protagonist’s son. The key difference is Peisistratos’ prominence
in Odyssey 3, and Sara’s in Genesis 18. With no son yet born, Sara is the only
other family member who could figure in the narrative, and consequently
functions much like Peisistratos in Odyssey 3.

It is worth briefly noting Ovid’s positive theoxeny (Fasti 5.493–544).
Three immortals, Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, come to Hyrieus, who
owns a small farm, greets them, and offers them hospitality (Fasti 5.494–
502). While he heats two pots of food, he serves them wine. But after
Hyrieus has served the disguised Neptune, the sea god declares that the
next cup will go to Jupiter. After the meal, when Jupiter asks what he
desires, Hyrieus responds “a son,” though he is not married (Fasti 5.523–
30). Jupiter and the other two gods then take the hide of the sacrificed
ox and . . . Ovid doesn’t say. Claiming he is ashamed to, he continues that
the gods buried the reeking hide in the earth, and ten months later, a son
was born. Gantz (1993: 273) assumes that “they cover it with their semen.”
Others think the gods urinate on it, with which the son’s name, Orion,
has been associated as a folk etymology. In spite of the bizarre method of
conception, the tale parallels much of Abraham’s in Genesis 18. In both
positive theoxenies the host wishes for a son (cf. the Ugaritic myths Aqhat
and Kirta). In each case a miraculous conception occurs as reward for the
host’s correct hospitality. An apparent wordplay on the son’s name may
occur, as in both other positive theoxenies.

The Odyssey’s innovation on Theoxeny

Theoxeny is not typically a heroic genre of myth. Lot, Hyrieus, and Baucis
and Philemon30 are not heroic characters: good, moral people, yes.

The Odyssey innovates considerably in increasing theoxeny’s potential for
heroic action, making it more suitable for epic.

The suitors’ destruction, inevitable once Athena witnesses their desecration of hospitality, is postponed
until Odysseus’ return to Ithaka.

In Genesis 19, by contrast, Sodom andGomorrah are destroyed the night they violate hospitality (cf. Metamorphoses

But in the second half of the Odyssey, Odysseus himself
plays the role normally played by the outraged immortal. Substituting
for a god, Odysseus will act as the instrument of Athena’s divine wrath
against the suitors.31 The suitors’ destruction will be a heroic act or labor,
not rained down from heaven, as in Genesis 19 and Baucis and Philemon

(Metamorphoses 8.689–97).

When Odysseus returns to Ithaka, after his recognition scene with
Athena (Od. 13.221–86),32 the goddess and the hero plot strategy against
the suitors. Though their meeting is portrayed as a joint deliberation
(Od. 13.373, 376, 439), it is Athena who declares what his course of action
will be, and how he is to proceed.

He is to keep everyone in the dark (Od. 13.308–9), implicitly even Penelope and Laertes.

In essence Athena initiates another genre of myth, The king returns, unrecognized and abused
in his own kingdom
(Od. 13.309–10, analyzed in Chapter 12), in her general
statement that “he must endure many pains in silence, accepting violence
from men”. Her declaration resembles prophecies of Christ treated with
abuse in the gospels (e.g., Matt. 16:21; Luke 18:32). She
specifies that he is to make trial of his wife (Od. 13.336), but relays this
in a way making it difficult to tell if she means such
is Odysseus’ manner, or that this is her plan. He will have an impenetrable
disguise (literally “disfigured” Od. 13.402), and implicitly be
a xeinos, stranger/guest, used of the disguised Odysseus a few lines later
(Od. 14.56). His first move will be to stay with the swineherd, and test him
(Od. 13.411).

Duals, the grammatical number between singular and plural, help
emphasize how the Odyssey transforms theoxeny into a more heroic genre
of myth than is usual. The close teamwork of hero and god is expressed
grammatically: they are yoked in several words in the dual number. ...

In a further index of this heroic modality,Odysseus asks Athena to stand
by him in ways similar to the beginning of an aristeia (Od. 13.387). The
Iliad initiates an aristeia by having a god, most frequently Athena, put
menos, “battle might” (or a close equivalent, tharsos and kratos), in the best
of the Achaians (Il. 5.1–2, 19.47–54, cf. 19.37).33 Odysseus, conforming to
the Iliad’s convention, asks Athena to put menos in him and to stand beside him.

OT myth has a parallel conception of Yahweh infusing “spirit” in a hero before
his great battle (Josh. 1:5, 5:13–14; Judg. 3:10, 6:12–14, 6:34, 11:29, 13:25,
14:6, 14:19, 15:14). Shamash’s relationship with Gilgamesh is perhaps the
earliest such depiction of this special relationship between the hero and his
mentor god.34 Athena affirms that she will stand by him (Od. 13.393–4), as
she earlier defined their relationship (Od. 13.300–1).

Taken together, the two passages suggest a
core conception of god and hero working as partners.

What emerges from the scene in Book 13, then, is a striking interweaving
of the roles of Athena and Odysseus for the remainder of the poem. The
goddess defines Odysseus as her own counterpart
(Od. 13.296–9), each
as master of disguise and deception. Her subsequent agenda calling for
Odysseus to be in disguise turns much of the second half of the Odyssey
into a virtual theoxeny, in which Odysseus now serves as the god in disguise,
testing the hospitality of the Ithakans.

But perhaps the most striking element in Athena’s plans for the suitors is
her declaration that she expects Odysseus’ “immense floor to be spattered
with the suitors’ blood and brains” (Od. 13.395). Her graphic, violent
intent resembles the traditions of Anat, a West Semitic virgin war goddess,
worshipped by Phoenicians, and Egyptians under the Ramesside Pharaohs.

The Homeric Athena has much in common with Anat.35 OT myth’s
conception of a wrathful Yahweh has similarly graphic passages (e.g., Jer.
46:10; Isa. 34:2–4, 6), none more so than this exchange between Isaiah and

Why are your clothes all red,
like the garments of one treading grapes in the winepress?
. . . I trod the nations in my anger,
I trampled them in my fury,
and their blood bespattered my garments
and all my clothing was stained . . .
I stamped on peoples in my anger,
I shattered them in my fury
and spilled their blood over the ground.
(Isaiah 63:2–3, 6)

Athena’s vivid declaration that she expects the floor to be “spattered with
the suitors’ blood and brains,” sounds some of the same notes as Isaiah’s
wrathful Yahweh. Her final words include a prophecy of the suitors’
destruction (Od. 13.427–8).

Resumption of the Odyssey’s Negative Theoxeny

When the disguised Odysseus stays with Eumaios, as Athena directs, the
Odyssey initiates not only a hospitality myth, but a virtual theoxeny, as
noted above.

Eumaios is the good host within the impious community.

He has the same low economic means as Baucis and Philemon, and prefigures
Christianity’s concern with similar types
. A herdsman, Eumaios, is
in charge of Odysseus’ swine herds, the males of which currently total 360
(Od. 14.20). The number suggests thematic parallels with the cattle of
Helios on Thrinakia, which are 350 in number (Od. 12.129–30). Both
numbers figure the days in a year, and may reflect Indo-European material.
In the Rig Veda cows are likened to rays of the sun or dawn.36 On Thrinakia,
Helios’ herds are an extension of himself, an embodiment of
the sun with its roughly 360 days (further discussion in Chapter 13). The
corresponding numbers imply parallels between the suitors’ violation of
Odysseus’ herds and the crew’s of Helios’.

The suitors plundering the flocks Eumaios oversees instantiates the Odyssey’s thematic concern with
improper consumption, the medium through which its characters display
their lack of self-control.
37 As the crew perished, destroyed by the gods for
consuming Helios’ herd, so will the suitors, who command the sacrifice of
another of Eumaios’ herd (Od. 14.26–8).

Approaching the enclosure around Eumaios’ quarter, the disguised
Odysseus is threatened by two hounds. Within the virtual theoxeny, a
level of violence is threatened against the disguised guest similar to that
directed against the angels in Genesis 19. Intervening to call off his hounds,
Eumaios passes the initial hospitality test,
calls Odysseus xeinos (Od. 14.56–
7), as Telemachos did Athena (Od. 1.123), and ushers him in, offering a full
meal, which he himself prepares
. In these particulars, the episode suggests
not only a hospitality scene, but a theoxeny.

The rest of Books 14–16 employ other genres of myth and are less concerned with theoxeny.
Telemachos’ reception of the fugitive prophet Theoklymenos (Od. 15.223–86) has much
in common with the cycle of myths associated with the prophets Elijah
and Elisha (1 Kgs. 17–19, 21; 2 Kgs. 1–8). Odysseus’ recognition scene with
Telemachos (Od. 16.156–320) will be considered in Chapter 3 as romance.
But in Book 17 the Odyssey offers its most overt treatment of theoxeny.

Book 17, the Odyssey’s key presentation of “Virtual” Negative Theoxeny

Though Melanthios’ assault (Od. 17.204–54) does not technically fall under
the rubric of theoxeny, since the outdoor setting allows for neither host
nor guest, the episode uses several motifs that recur when Antinoos hurls
his stool at Odysseus, serving as transition into the Odyssey’s crucial virtual
negative theoxeny.

Telemachos having gone ahead to meet with Theoklymenos
and Penelope, Eumaios leads the disguised Odysseus to the palace.
Before they reach it, they arrive at a fountain where Ithakans draw their
water, with an altar of the nymphs, so wayfarers can sacrifice (Od. 17.210–1).

Into this sacred site, comes the goatherd Melanthios, driving his goats to
provide dinner for the suitors. Unprovoked, he insults and verbally abuses
(Od. 17.217–32), claiming Odysseus will spoil the suitors’ feasts.

Not content with verbal abuse, he strikes Odysseus, kicking him in the hip
(Od. 17.233–34).

Eumaios here resembles Lot, who passed the hospitality
test, but is unable to shield his divine guest from the mob’s violence. In
response Eumaios calls on the nymphs of the fountain to make Odysseus
return, a god leading him, to scatter Melanthios’ arrogant glories.
In wishing a god would lead Odysseus home, Eumaios
adapts Melanthios’ earlier remark (Od. 17.243) that the gods see to it that “like leads

In irony very like that in Nestor’s positive theoxeny, who correctly
intuits that Athena could aid Telemachos, Eumaios wishes for precisely what
is happening, though he cannot perceive that it is.

When Odysseus enters the palace unaccompanied (after Eumaios has
gone in), Telemachos has a meal set out for him (as he did for Athena in
Book 1). But then Athena has him go among the suitors to test which are
reasonable and which are lawless
(Od. 17.360–3). In doing so she defines
theoxeny, or, with Odysseus substituting for a god, what we are calling
virtual theoxeny

She specifies that a negative theoxeny is underway, “but
even so, she was not going to save any of them from destruction”

Russo notes the apparent discrepancy (1992: 38), “we may wonder
why she encourages Odysseus to search for the distinction in the first
place.” But this misses the point. Athena has earlier witnessed their violations
of hospitality in Book 1, abuses that, within a theoxeny, merit their

In the other negative theoxenies, Genesis 19, and Baucis and
Philemon, there are no survivors except the hosts (and their families).

In allowing the suitors another chance, though they will again fail, Athena
repeats her method from Book 2.39 She directs Telemachos to hold an assembly
even though it will be unsuccessful, the suitors easily thwarting his

But it is important that the assembly is held, that Telemachos
publicly airs his complaints. It is equally important that the door remain
open for the suitors to leave in Books 17–22, even if none does so. Both
Telemachos’ assembly in Book 2 and Odysseus’ testing in Books 17–21 help
legitimize the suitors’ destruction, in addition to the divine justice with
which a theoxeny is overtly concerned.

Following Athena’s directive, Odysseus begs from the suitors, initially
meeting with success from several (Od. 17.365–8, 411–13), until Melanthios
tells Antinoos about Eumaios bringing him to the palace. Antinoos,
much asMelanthios just before, then berates the swineherd, and
calls Odysseus a spoiler of feasts (Od. 17.377 = 17.220).

The audience knows he and the suitors are the spoilers of feasts,
as Athena earlier observed (Od. 1.227–9).

Ironically furthering this unintended
point, Antinoos now hurls a footstool at Odysseus. The Odyssey
teasingly extends this key moment by having Odysseus approach Antinoos
and speak with him after he first hints at his intentions with the footstool
(Od. 17.409–10), but before he throws it (Od. 17. 462–3). Though the
tale Odysseus tells him resembles that which he earlier told Eumaios,40
the different context gives it another purpose and meaning. Intended to
provoke sympathy when told to Eumaios, the tale now serves as a warning,
an exemplum for Antinoos, that Zeus can suddenly snatch wealth and
power away (especially Od. 17.424–6, 437–9). Refusing to give the beggar
anything, Antinoos hurls his footstool, striking Odysseus in the shoulder.
As with Melanthios in the sacred grove, Odysseus withstands Antinoos’
blow without flinching.

It is at this point, Antinoos striking the disguised Odysseus, that the
Odyssey defines theoxeny in the shocked reaction of an unnamed suitor:

Antinoos, it is not well that you struck the unfortunate wanderer;
you are accursed if somehow he is one of the heavenly gods,
since the gods do go about the cities, seeming like strangers
from other parts, taking on all sorts of forms,
witnessing both the arrogance and good behavior of men.
Odyssey 17.483–7

The remark also confirms that the episode is a virtual theoxeny, with
Odysseus as a stand-in for a god.

Antinoos’ outrages do not stop here. After striking Odysseus, he threatens
to torture or mutilate him
(Od. 17.479–80). The threat resembles
Laomedon’s threats to disfigure Apollo and Poseidon (Il. 21.455). Though
the Iliad’s elliptic references to this myth do not allow us to be certain,
in Apollodorus’ account it is clear that Apollo and Poseidon had assumed
human form in order to test Laomedon’s arrogance
(II.5.9).42 Antinoos
aligns himself not only with Laomedon, but with some of the worst offenders
in Hades, those eternally punished for committing offences against the
gods. His violence, and threats of worse physical abuse of a xeinos, reveal
that the crisis is even more advanced, has reached a more critical stage than
the threats of the mob in Genesis 19. Here, the mob, in the form of the
suitors, has already taken over the palace, has committed violence against
“the disguised god,” and, though reminded of the consequences of such
acts, threatens to commit further atrocities.

{The connection of negative theoxeny to torture and violence against strangers is sobering. The Cs said that those that accept torture have taken "the Mark of the Beast". The description of the suitors - the violent, manipulative, ungoverned, rapacious, consumption-oriented, suitors having already taken over is another grim reminder of the conditions of our world as well as the likely outcome: apocalypse.}

Athena Against the Suitors, the Angels Against Lot’s Mob

In Genesis 19 the angels strike the mob with blindness to prevent them from
harming Lot’s guests or family (Gen. 19:11). Since the actual destruction
of the mob will come later, this earlier episode serves as an anticipatory
echo of the mob’s eventual destruction. The angels prevent the mob from
acting against the host and his guests by disabling them with blindness.

Westerman (1994: 302) assumes a temporary incapacity is intended, rather
than a permanent loss of sight, adducing the parallel when Elisha asks
Yahweh to immobilize the armed forces of Aram (2 Kgs. 6:18), “Strike this
host, I pray, with blindness,”
yet their sight is restored shortly afterward.43

Twice in the Odyssey Athena acts against the suitors in a similar manner,
temporarily disabling them, anticipations of their eventual destruction, the
requisite climax of a negative theoxeny.

In Book 2, his crew and ship ready to visit Nestor and Menelaus,
Athena helps Telemachos leave in secret by
incapacitating the suitors:

She went on her way, into the house of godlike Odysseus
and there she drifted a sweet slumber over the suitors,
and struck them as they drank, and knocked the goblets from
their hands.
Odyssey 2.394–6

This is equivalent to what the angels do to the mob: both acts provide for
the safety of the respective hosts, Lot and Telemachos, by disabling the
respective mobs. The Odyssey uses the verb plazo “strike, drive,”
of the gods acting against mortals in much the way that the angels do
against Lot’s mob. The verb is used several times of the wrathful Poseidon
driving Odysseus on the high seas (Od. 1.74–5, 5.388–9, and, by implication,
1.2), expressing his wrath against Odysseus.44 The Odyssey also uses plazo
to depict Athena as the god wrathful against the suitors.

Athena incapacitates the suitors a second time, again articulated by the
verb plazo. Like the angels against the mob, this is Athena’s penultimate
move against the suitors, both episodes occurring just before the apocalyptic
destruction that concludes each negative theoxeny:

In the suitors Pallas Athena
stirred up uncontrollable laughter, and addled their thinking,
Now they laughed with jaws that were no longer their own.
The meat they ate was splattered with blood; their eyes were
bursting full of tears, and their laughter sounded like lamentation.45
Odyssey 20.345–9

Sexual Relations: Lot’s Mob and the Suitors

Having established specific parallels between some of Athena’s interactions
with the suitors and the angels’ with the mob, we now consider other
parallels between the two myths as a corrective to a prominent misreading of
Genesis 19.

Though popular culture assumes Genesis 19 is a condemnation
of homosexuality, responsible reading of the text and understanding of
theoxenic myth reveal that the story is not about sexual preference, nor
is the offence that brings on their destruction even a sexual act. The
wrongdoing for which the two cities are destroyed is attempted violence
against guests, the same reason for which Athena directs the destruction of
the suitors.

After Lot receives his guests hospitably, and all prepare for sleep, a mob
of men, young and old, surround the house, and demand to have sex with
Lot’s guests. Since Athena departs after she has finished speaking with
Telemachos, such a scene could not occur in the Odyssey. But as soon as
she has left, Antinoos presses Telemachos for details about his unknown

But I wish to ask you, best of men, about the stranger,
where is this man from, of what land does he claim
to be, where is his race and fatherland. . . ?
How quickly he departed, dashing off, and he did not wait
for us to know him. Truly he was not mean to look at.
Odyssey 1.405–11

Antinoos’ remarks are especially intriguing if juxtaposed with Genesis 19.

In claiming he was interested in getting to know the guest (Od. 1. 411),46
his inquiry suggests, if in smaller degree, the mob’s interest in Lot’s guests.

“To get to know” the guests is what the mob desires at Genesis 19:5.47
Antinoos’ word for “know,” can also mean “know carnally,”48
though the only recorded uses are later than Homer (Menander, the
Septuagint, Matthew, etc.).49

Responsible interpretation of Genesis 19 requires consideration of the
mob’s demand and Lot’s response. Since the myth allows no possibility
that the angels would consent to have sex with the mob, the narrative
clearly presents an instance of attempted rape, not an act of sex. When
the mob demands that he surrender his guests, Lot counters by offering
his daughters, “Look, I have two daughters, virgins both of them; let
me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them”

(Gen. 19:8).

Lot clearly assumes the mob will rape his daughters, as his
emphasis on their virginity seems calculated to increase their appeal to the
mob, while redirecting aggression away from his guests.50

But why does Lot offer up his daughters to be raped?

Of the three negative theoxenies we have, only in Genesis 19 do
the guests attempt to spend the night, and only here does the host have daughters.

By the implicit conduct illustrated in these myths, as well as the severe form of patriarchy upheld
in OT myth (in which, for instance, neither Lot’s wife nor daughters are
given names), Lot is seen as acting correctly in valuing his guests, who
are protected by the sacred tenets of hospitality, over his daughters.

It is thus hospitality, not sexuality, with which the myth is concerned. Since it
presents the potential for both homosexual and heterosexual rape, the myth
can hardly be seen as supporting a position on sexual preference.52 Rather
it presents a condemnation of violence attempted against guests.

But the angels intervene, in the manner we have already explored, disclosing their
identities in the process (Gen. 19:10 and ff.), preventing the rape of the
daughters, and violence against Lot.54

{Some footnotes to the immediately preceding paragraphs:

50 Cf. also the closely parallel episode at Judges 19:25 where a host offers up a woman to a similar mob,
which had earlier sought his male guest, and they rape her.

51 Cf. Speiser (1962: 143): “But true to the unwritten code, Lot will stop at nothing in his effort to
protect his guests”; Irvin (1978: 22): “Lot twice shows hospitality to his visitors; first, in inviting
them to spend the night at his house and in feeding them, and second in offering to sacrifice his
daughters to the men of Sodom in order to protect his guests.”

52 Cf. Noort (2004: 4): “When Genesis 19 speaks of rape and the violation of the duty of hospitality,
both homosexual and heterosexual relations are viewed as being perverted, the latter evident from
Lot’s offering of his two daughters to the mob.”

53 Cf. Irvin (1978: 22). Ovid’s negative theoxeny of Baucis and Philemon (Metamorphoses 8. 611–724)
offers indirect confirmation of such a view since sexuality plays no role whatsoever in this myth.

54 A related, if less dramatic, moment occurs in the myth of Baucis and Philemon. When the latter
prepares to sacrifice his gander, as the climax of the hospitality he can offer, Jupiter and Mercury
stop him, revealing their divine identities in the process (Metamorphoses 8.684–8). In both contexts,
when the host has demonstrated his hospitality, his divine guests prevent an act of violence and
reveal their identities at the same time.}

While the suitors do not attempt to have sex with Telemachos’ guest,
their sexual relations with the palace’s serving women offer parallels with
the mob’s violations of hospitality in Genesis 19.
Several passages depict
some of the serving women, Melantho in particular, willingly having sex
with the suitors (Od. 18.325, 19.87–8, 20.6–16, 22.445; cf. 17.319). The night
before the suitors’ destruction, the disguised Odysseus observes the maids as
they leave to have sex (Od. 20.6–13). A few other passages, however, depict
the serving women as harassed by the suitors (Od. 16.108–9 = 20.318–19).55

The Odyssey thus presents a more complex, more variegated portrait of the
suitors than the comparably monolithic depiction of the mob in Genesis
19. Even by the double standards of ancient patriarchy, however, the suitors
who have sex with the serving women, whether willingly or not, are acting
Since their principal reason for being in the palace is to seek
marriage with Penelope, it does not follow that having sex with her female
servants could be in any way seen as a proper part of that process. All
mention of their doing so should be taken as critical commentary against
them. Like the mob in Genesis 19, they have imposed their sexual intent
upon the host’s house.

Violence Directed Against the Host

Though Athena is not threatened, as are the angels, by other indices the
situation in Ithaka is more critical, is at a fuller stage of development. The
suitors will attempt violence not against the guest, but against the host
in attempting to slay Telemachos
(Od. 4.670–2, 16.364–406).

Genesis 19 briefly implies that the mob would attack Lot as well. When he denies
their demand for his guests, they threaten him, “‘We will treat you worse
than them.’ They crowded in on Lot and pressed close to break down the
(Gen. 19:9).56

The suitors adopt a subtler route. When they learn
that Telemachos has secretly gone, Antinoos proposes they lie in wait,
and murder him on his return (Od. 4.670–2). His suggestion is not only
adopted immediately (Od. 4.673), but soon the suitors, while in the palace,
make cavalier comments about their plan:

Truly now, our much-wooed queen prepares a
marriage, not at all aware that the murder of her son is ready.

Odyssey 4.770–1

Perhaps here the suitors most closely approach the wanton, dissolute atmosphere
of the mob in Genesis 19.

In Books 17–21 Odysseus is not only the god in disguise in the virtual
theoxeny, but he is also the actual host.
Telemachos is now role-playing
as host, just as he is in his relations with “the beggar.” When Antinoos
strikes Odysseus in Book 17, he not only parallels the mob’s attempted
violence against the disguised angels, but against the host, Lot. In this
respect the Odyssey ratchets up the stakes by giving this disguised tester
a less than pleasant appearance. Unlike the guise Athena assumes in the
first part of the negative theoxeny, an aristocratic man of the world, who
leaves a positive impression, Odysseus as a beggar presents a stranger less
likely to be warmly accepted. The Odyssey emphasizes how unpleasant are
his clothes (Od. 13.434–5, 14.342–3) and knapsack (Od. 13.437–8). That he
is now bald further lessens his stature, in terms of visual impressions, and
opens the door for additional abuse (Od. 18.354–5) of a sort that would
not have been directed against the disguised Athena. In such ways the
Odyssey anticipates some of the meaning and modality of Christian myth,

as discussed in Chapter 12.

The Suitors/Lot’s sons-in law ignore warning of the apocalypse

In both myths the host attempts to warn others that the gods are preparing
destruction. But in each case they are ignored.
Lot, after the angels have
told him of the coming destruction of the city, warns his sons-in-law:

So Lot went out and urged his sons-in-law to get out of the place at once. “The
Lord is about to destroy the city,” he said. But they did not take him seriously.
(Genesis 19:14)

Alter (2004) renders the end of 19:14 as “And he seemed to his sons-in-law
to be joking.”
Little else is said about the sons-in-law.

{I would like to note that the appearance of sons-in-law is puzzling considering that Lot's daughters have just been described as virgins.}

In the Odyssey the disguised Odysseus approaches Amphinomos, earlier
singled out as the least offensive member of the suitors (Od. 16.397–8),
to warn him what awaits them if they continue their outrageous behavior

(Od. 18.125–50). Odysseus elaborates at some length on the topic of how
precarious is a mortal’s existence, how dependent upon the gods’ will.
Claiming to have once been on his way to becoming a prosperous man, he
implies that the gods reduced him to his present state of poverty because he
committed reckless acts. As commentators have noted,57 the termOdysseus
uses for reckless acts, atasthala, serves in the Odyssey as a marked term,
an index of characters who commit acts the gods find offensive.

After implying that his own dire circumstances
result from the gods having punished him for such acts, he describes the
suitors with the same term, as having committed atasthala (Od. 18.143).

But instead of continuing, as we might expect him, with the warning of
divine punishment, the beggar instead asserts that Odysseus will return
soon, and punish the suitors. His formulation thus continues the Odyssey’s
presentation of virtual theoxeny, with Odysseus playing the role of the
god in disguise.
His trenchant remark near the beginning of the speech,
“the earth breeds nothing worth less regard than man” (Od. 18.130), also
suggests a divine perspective. In the Iliad Zeus makes a very similar remark
when Hektor dons Patroklos’ armor (Il. 17.446–7),58 an act of reckless
behavior offensive to the gods. Zeus and Odysseus both use their parallel
observations to describe a mortal who, because he has committed an offence
against the gods, is shortly to meet his doom.

Like Lot, Odysseus presents his addressee opportunity to heed his warning
and escape the coming destruction.
But the narrator describes Amphinomos
as unable to leave, though aware of the coming destruction, because
Athena bound him to be killed by Telemachos (Od. 18.154–6).

Yahweh’s treatment of Pharaoh in Exodus offers a relevant parallel to Athena’s procedure.

Moses performs miraculous act after miraculous act, each of which
shows Pharaoh he is favored by god, as he claims. But each time Yahweh
himself prevents Pharaoh from acquiescing, “But the Lord made Pharaoh
(Exod. 9:12). Both contexts should be understood as instances
of Dodds’ (1960) overdetermination, in which a mortal and an immortal
share responsibility for causing an act. Since Lot has to leave his home to
speak with his sons-in-law, some commentators conjecture that they may
have been part of the mob in the earlier scene, which, if correct, strengthens
their parallels with Amphinomos.

Negative theoxenies conclude in an apocalypse, in the Odyssey, Genesis
19, and in Ovid’s myth of Baucis and Philemon.
I postpone discussion of
the destruction of the suitors and the mob outside Lot’s house until the
final chapter.

Virtual Theoxeny in OT myth

OT myth also has narratives that may be considered virtual theoxenies.
The Elijah cycle of myths as a group offers the most parallels to Homeric
epic of any one connected group of OT myths. He parallels the Iliad’s
Kalkhas in his quarrel with a king (Louden 2006: 158–9); he shares a heroic
motif with Akhilleus (ibid., 168–70); he participates in a comic theomachy
that offers parallels with the Iliad (ibid., 221–2). In a general way, Elijah’s
status as a fugitive prophet (1 Kgs. 17) offers parallels with the Odyssey’s
Theoklymenos (Od. 15.223–78). Because of the drought that serves as its
general background, the Elijah cycle begins with a hospitality myth when
Yahweh sends him to stay with a woman in the Sidonian (that is Phoenician)
village of Zarephath (1 Kgs. 17:8–24). Reaching her house, Elijah asks her
for water and bread. When she replies that she has no food, except a handful
of flour and a little oil, Elijah tells her to bake him a cake, for her oil and
flour will not run out until Yahweh ends the drought.

Though the episode lacks some of the usual motifs (Yahweh has told
the woman that he is coming), it features several details typically found
in theoxenies. Yahweh specifically directs Elijah to the woman’s house
(1 Kgs. 17:8–9), as Athena instructs Odysseus to go first to Eumaios’ hut
(Od. 13.404–11), where he initiates his virtual theoxeny. The woman bakes a
cake for Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:15), as Sara does for Abraham’s divine guests (Gen.
18:6–7). Her stock of oil and flour becomes miraculously self-replenishing,
just as the wine bowl in the myth of Baucis and Philemon (Metamorphoses
8.679–80). Elijah predicts the miracle of the self-replenishing stock of oil
and flour (1 Kgs. 17:14) as the disguised angels predict the miracle of Sara’s
conception (Gen. 18:10).

The basic underlying structure of a theoxeny
remains clear: the host demonstrates hospitality and receives a miraculous

Elijah, like Odysseus in Odyssey 14–22, functions both as a god’s
agent and as a mortal who performs the role theoxeny normally assigns
to an immortal.60 When the woman’s son becomes ill, she blames Elijah,
“You came here to bring my sins to light and cause my son’s death” (1 Kgs.
17:18), ironically an accurate description of the function of the disguised
immortal in a negative theoxeny. Taking him up to the roof-chamber where
he has been staying, Elijah revives him, prompting the woman to declare
she now knows him to be a man of God, much as the host in a theoxeny
typically realizes the work of the immortal guest after the fact.

Elijah’s successor, Elisha, whose myths often suggest thematic parallels
with those of his predecessor, appears in a few virtually identical episodes.

Again, the tradition places a hospitality episode near the beginning of his
cycle of stories
in the account of the well-to-do woman of Shunem who
repeatedly gives Elisha extensive hospitality (2 Kgs. 4:8–17). Afterward
Elisha prophesies that she will give birth to a son (2 Kgs. 4:16), as do
divine guests in two theoxenies, the angel to Sara (Gen. 18:10), and in
Ovid’s myth of Hyrieus (Fasti 5.493–544). Immediately before this episode
Elisha performs the miracle of the oil flask that keeps replenishing itself
(2 Kgs. 4:1–6), just as Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:16),61 again reminiscent of the
self-replenishing wine bowl in Ovid’s negative theoxeny (Metamorphoses
8.679–80). Later the Shunammite woman’s son dies, and Elisha revives
him (2 Kgs. 4:18–35), as Elijah revives the widow’s son.

To sum up, not only do both Homeric and OT myth employ theoxeny,
but the parallels extend even to the three specific subtypes, positive,
negative, and virtual.

Both traditions employ theoxeny as moral indices
illustrating positive characters’ proximity to their deities, and negative
characters’ distance, and as illustrations of the miraculous powers of their
gods for rewarding or punishing the behaviors depicted therein. In spite
of significant differences between the two traditions (e.g., the monotheism
or monolatry of OT myth, and its thematic polemics to support Yahwist
, the constituent elements of theoxeny remain remarkably stable.62

Theoxeny in New Testament myth

Theoxeny survives as a mythic type into Christian myth, though with less
developed narratives than those in Genesis 18–19. Much as the Odyssey,
NT myth uses hospitality episodes as indices of characters’ morality. The
admonition in Hebrews is a typical instance, “Do not neglect to show
hospitality; by doing this, some have entertained angels unawares”
13:2), which could serve as a tag line for Genesis 18 or 19. Most important,
andmost unexpected, however, is the central position theoxeny occupies in
Jesus’ prophecy of the Second Coming or Day of Judgment in the Gospel
of Matthew.

When the Son of Man comes he will separate mortals into two groups,
as a shepherd separates the goats from the sheep. A key criterion for his
doing so is how they earlier treated him:

For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when thirsty, you gave me drink; when
I was a stranger, you took me into your home.
(Matthew 25:35)

The mortals who will be judged favorably are those who extended hospitality
to him. For those mortals who will not receive favorable judgment,
the criteria are the same:

For when I was hungry, you gave me nothing to eat; when thirsty, nothing to
drink; when I was a stranger, you did not welcome me.
(Matthew 25:42–3)

The passage functions as a shorthand version of theoxeny, positive and
negative. Christ, a god, cast in the role of a guest (xenos) in need of hospitality
here instantiates full theoxeny, simultaneously positive and negative.

A host’s reception of his guest remains an index of his morality, but now
the difference in outcomes, between moral and immoral behavior, is even
greater than it is in the two opposite types of theoxeny in Genesis 18–19
and the Odyssey. In a considerable expansion of a traditional motif, as is
characteristic of Christianity, the outcomes of both types of theoxeny are
extended into eternity. Those who were hospitable, a positive theoxeny,
will receive not merely a miraculous reward, but eternal life. While those
who failed to be hospitable, a negative theoxeny, will not only be destroyed,
in an apocalypse, but will receive eternal punishment
(Matt. 25:46).

In an additional expansion of the mythic genre, Christ declares that anyone who
acted this way toward one of his followers will be so judged
(Matt. 25:45).

In so doing, he figures all of them in a virtual theoxeny, mortals playing
the role of the disguised immortal to test a host’s hospitality and morality.

Jesus’ first miracle, or sign, in the Gospel of John also suggests connections
with theoxeny. Since Jesus, his mother, and his disciples are guests at
the wedding at Cana-in-Galilee, the episode is a hospitality myth.
Mary tells him that the wine has run out, Jesus has servants fill six huge
stone jars with water. They then take the jars to the master, who, tasting,
proclaims that the groom saved his best wine for the last (John 2:1–10).Only
the servants know of the miraculous transformation of water into wine.

The miracle, amid the hospitality setting, suggests the traditional motif
of the self-replenishing vessel found in three theoxenies: the wine bowl in
Ovid’s negative theoxeny (Metamorphoses 8.679–80), and the oil jars in the
virtual theoxenies with Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:16) and Elisha (2 Kgs. 4:1–6).63

However, considerable differences between this narrative and those suggest
that the Gospel of John is adapting the traditional motifs of theoxeny,
putting them to a different purpose.
The ties with hospitality are here less
crucial: Jesus has no direct contact with either host or groom. Only the
servants, and presumably the disciples and Mary, are in on the miracle,
which remains secret from everyone else. The real focus is not, then, on
the morality of the host, as in a theoxeny, but on Christ in performing the
miracle and thereby earning the belief of his disciples (John 2:11).64

The intriguing tale in Acts 14:8–20 should also be considered an adaptation
of theoxeny. In the Roman colony of Lystra, Paul, accompanied by
Barnabas, heals a lame man while speaking to a public assembly. The crowd
proclaims that they must be Zeus and Hermes in human form (Acts 14:11–
12). But when the priest of Zeus is about to lead the crowd in a sacrifice of
oxen to them as gods, Paul and Barnabas prevent them from doing so and
proclaim their own faith. Though this myth lacks any overt connection
with hospitality, with neither guest nor host, it is nonetheless suggestive of
Ovid’s theoxeny of Baucis and Philemon in a number of specifics. In Zeus
and Hermes it features the same two gods assuming human form. In both
narratives the two “gods” prevent the others from sacrificing an animal
and offering it to them. But even more than John 2, Acts 14 employs these
traditional motifs to further a very different agenda, serving as a polemical
corrective to, perhaps even constituting a parody, of such myths.

We conclude this chapter by adducing Jesus’ allusions to Sodom and
Gomorrah in Matthew and Luke. Both gospels present versions of the
same basic episode, Jesus instructing his disciples how to approach a city to
spread his gospel. They are to take no money with them, but to depend on
the welcome the inhabitants offer (Matt. 10:9–13; Luke 10:4–9; cf. Mark
6:8–13). It is when he considers the towns that will not receive
his disciples that Jesus thinks of Sodom and Gomorrah, “on the day of
judgment it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah
than for that town” (Matt. 10:15; cf. Luke 10:12). Making no reference to
sexuality of any kind in his mention of Genesis 19, he focuses entirely on
hospitality, whether a community receives his disciples or does not.
word he uses for receive, dekhomai, is one of the standard Homeric
verbs for “receive hospitably.”66 He thus not only affirms our reading of
Genesis 19, but his own references to Sodom and Gomorrah (Matt. 10:9–15
and Luke 10:4–12) also function as virtual theoxenies, very like his shaping
the Day of Judgment around the issue of hospitable reception
in Matthew
25. Those cities that fail to receive his followers, who come in his name,
will receive apocalyptic destruction, just as the inhabitants of Sodom and
Gomorrah did. In a significant change, however, Jesus implies that hosts
will be among those who fail to receive, and thereby demonstrate their
failings, whereas in the earlier negative theoxenies the hosts pass the tests,
but the surrounding communities (suitors, mob) are those who violate.
Some background information of compelling interest is found in Trevor Bryce's book on the Hittites, "Life and Society in the Hittite World", (Oxford, 2002). There are 2 chapters that discuss the possible links between the Hittites and the Greek world so I'll just give them to ya'll whole. They are both pretty short.

While reading, keep in mind cosmic catastrophe, a giant comet (god) in the solar system making the rounds, terrifying people, breaking up and showering destruction (fighting gods) at periodic intervals, the effects on climate, the emergence of psychopathy, and so on.

First, some background on the Hittites.

Most people only know about the Hittites because of a few references to them in the Bible, as though they were just some other tribe. Uriah the Hittite was the cuckolded husband of Bathsheba and Ephron, who sold his field to Abraham, was a Hittite. Abraham has even been conjectured to have been a Hittite (I favor this view myself).

Up to the end of the 19th century, the ONLY things known about the Hittites were from the Bible. In 1876, Archibald Sayce gave a lecture to the Society of Biblical Archaeology explaining what 40 years of research had revealed: that far from being an insignificant Canaanite tribe, the Hittites had been masters of an extensive empire.

In the early years of the 20th century, a whole slew of tablets were found in Turkey in the Akkadian language. There was an Akkadian version of a treaty between pharaoh Ramesses II and the Hittite king, Hattusili. The site was later determined to be the Hittite capital, Hattusa and most of the tablets there were in the Hittite language which were not deciphered until later. It proved to be an Indo-European language.

The "Biblical Hittites" apparently had about nothing to do with the real ones. What a surprise. They occupied Central Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age (which, came crashing down when Thera blew in 1628 BC or thereabouts) and were, apparently, of mixed ethnic origins - Indo-European, native Hattian, Hurrian, Luwian.

It is said that the Hittite capital Hattusa was destroyed early in the 12th century BC, but I'm still thinking that the dating is all off because they haven't pegged it to Thera. Anyway, that was the end of the kingdom though elements of the civilization persisted in southern Anatolia and Syria, at Carchemish and Aleppo. In these regions, collateral branches of the royal dynasty survived the upheavals which marked the end of the Bronze Age and held some influence for a few more centuries. There is marked Hittite influence in Syria with Hittite-type monuments and sculptures and "Hittite" hieroblyphics at Carchemish and elsewhere. The traditions of Hittite civilization sort of blended with those of Syria and this gave rise to the Neo-Hittite or Syro-Hittite kingdoms.

We aren't concerned with these latter-day Hittites, but with those whose kingdom spanned a period of some 500 years or so prior to (my date) 1628 BC. The "accepted" dates (based on Biblical chronology, not any secure anchor such as Thera) are 17th to 12th centuries BC.

The Hittites were, apparently, warlike - or that may just be because a lot of annals are concerned with war and peaceful things didn't get recorded. Military annals list the peoples taken from subject territories in the aftermath of conquest and resettled in the Hittite homeland Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of man, women and children were uprooted from their homes and forced to walk hundreds of kilometers to become slaves and workers in Hittite land.

The Hittites appear to be rather eclectic, borrowing freely from previous and contemporary civilizations around them. Similarities can be found between Hittite and Greek traditions and customs as we will soon see - and ritual practices as well, including methods of "communicating" with the gods. It is thought that perhaps some things "Greek" came to them by way of the Hittite world but it is also just as likely that what the Hittites and Greeks had in common was adopted by each of them independently from some other source.

Enough of that, on to the chapters:



The god Telipinu has flown into a rage. He puts on his shoes and departs the land. Crops wither and die, sheep and cattle reject their young and become barren, men and gods starve. In great alarm the Storm God, father of Telipinu, dispatches an eagle to search for his wayward son. The search is in vain. The Storm God himself attempts to seek him out. Again to no avail. No god, great or small, can determine his whereabouts. In desperation the Storm God sends a bee to look for him. The bee searches on high mountains, in deep valleys, in the blue deep. Finally, in a meadow, it discovers Telipinu. It stings his hands and feet, bringing him smartly upright, and then soothes the pain of his stings by smearing wax on the affected parts. But the god's anger remains unabated. Indeed his fury is increased by his rude and painful awakening. In an orgy of destruction, he unleashes thunder and lightning and great floods, knocking down houses and wreaking havoc on human beings, livestock, and crops. Then Kamrusepa, goddess of magic, is sent to pacify him and bring him back. She conducts a ritual for this purpose. By the process of ritual analogy Telipinu's body is cleansed of its anger. The god's way home is made smooth by spreading oil and honey upon it. Telipinu returns and once more cares for his land. All is restored to normal. The land once more becomes fruitful.

The story of the Vanishing God is part of a small body of native Anatolian mythological tradition which has come down to us via the Hittite archives,1 Remnants of a number of versions of the story have survived, featuring different gods (including the great Storm God himself), though it is generally the god Telipinu who has the starring role. Even his story appears in several different versions. We have parts of at least three of these, and although none are complete we can piece together from their fragments a number of elements which are probably common to all of them. Telipinu was a Hattic god in origin who retained some prominence throughout the period of the Hittite kingdom. Sired by the Storm God, he too sometimes displayed formidable Storm God characteristics, as illustrated by the destructive elemental forces unleashed by him in the Vanishing God tradition. The tradition almost certainly dates back to the early Old Kingdom, or even earlier to pre-Hittite times, though it survives only in Middle and Late Hittite texts (that is, texts of the New Kingdom).

A story recited, a tale told. This in essence is what a myth is. The notion of something spoken is in fact inherent in the word. 'Myth' is derived from Greek mythos whose prime meaning 'utterance, a thing said*, was extended to refer to anything spoken or recited, particularly a story. The Vanishing God myth has all the elements of a story recited. But not merely this. In its written form it provides a script for a full-scale dramatic performance. There is a cast of characters who deliver short speeches linked by narrative:

NARRATOR: The pastures and the springs dried up, so that famine broke out in the land. Humans and gods were dying of hunger. The Great Sun God made a feast and invited the Thousand Gods. They ate but could not get enough. They drank but could not quench their thirst. The Storm God remembered his son Telipinu:

STORM GOD: My son Telipinu is not there. He became enraged and removed everything good.

NARRATOR; The great and small gods began to search for Telipinu. The Sun God sent the swift eagle:

SUN GOD: Go search the high mountains! Search the deep valleys! Search the Blue Deep!

NARRATOR: The eagle went, but did not find him. He reported back to the Sun God:

EAGLE: I could not find Telipinu, the noble god.

STORM GOD (to Hannahanna): How shall we act? We are going to die of hunger!

HANNAHANNA2: DO something, Storm God. Go search for Telipinu yourself!3

Stage directions are inserted in the script, as much for the guidance of the actors as for their audience:

NARRATOR: Telipinu came in anger.

STAGE DIRECTION: He thunders together with lightning. Below he strikes the Dark Earth.

NARRATOR: Kamrusepa saw him and moved for herself [with(?)] the eagle's wing. She stopped it, namely anger. She stopped it, the wrath. She stopped sin. She stopped sullenness.

Props to be used in the performance are also indicated by stage directions:

Before Telipinu there stands an eyan-tree (or pole?).4 From the eyan is suspended a hunting bag made from the skin of a sheep.

The lines spoken by narrator and actors provide but one element of a performance in which sight and sound are blended in dramatic presentation. The performance is visually enhanced by the actions and costumes of the actors, garbed as animals or gods, decked out with all their appropriate insignia and symbols, moving rhythmically in ever- changing patterns and tableaus as they mime the actions conveyed by the narrator's words, as they react and respond through gesture, facial expression, and bodily movement to each stage of the unfolding drama. There is music throughout the performance. The actors accompany their movements with singing and chanting, sometimes in unison, sometimes individually. There is also instrumental music—the rumble of drums and the clash of cymbals in the more violent scenes as the angry, wayward god vents his wrath by unleashing thunder and lightning; the soothing tones of the lute in the quieter, more solemn scenes as the god's anger is drained from him and he is finally enticed home.

At least in theory, the performance was not intended primarily for the entertainment of an assembled audience. If the audience were in fact entertained, that was a perfectly acceptable by-product; no god could take exception to that. But the myth itself merely provided the context for the performance's essential purpose—a ritual designed to induce a delinquent god through analogic magic to abandon his wrath and return to his responsibilities. The ritual passages, in their phraseology and content, and particularly in their application of analogic magic, recall many of the purificatory rituals of the Hittite land. And the leading ritual practitioner in the myth, Kamrusepa, goddess of magic, served as the divine counterpart of the Old Women', speaking and acting very much as they did:

Kamrusepa says to the gods:.. Telipinu is angry. His soul and essence were stifled like burning brushwood. Just as they burned these sticks of brushwood, may the anger, wrath, sin and sullenness of Telipinu likewise burn up. And just as malt is ineffective, so that they don't carry it to the field and use it as seed, as they don't make it into bread and deposit it in the Seal House, so may the anger, wrath, sin and sullenness of Telipinu likewise become ineffective....'

The Myth-Ritual Nexus

The fact that myth and ritual have so frequently been associated through the ages has led to a widespread and long-held assumption that the two are invariably linked. This assumption goes too far, and exceptions to it can readily be found. Nevertheless, there are clearly many instances in many civilizations where a close nexus between myth and ritual does exist, as in the case of our Vanishing God. Which raises a further question. Does myth give rise to ritual, or ritual to myth? Arguably, it is possible to find examples of both. But in cases like the Vanishing God, myth almost certainly preceded ritual.

The Hittite land fell frequent victim to a range of natural disasters—devastating storms, drought, plague, famine—occurring at unpredictable intervals and attributable to malevolent supernatural powers. While humankind had no practical means of controlling these powers, it could seek to influence them through other means. But in order to do so, one needed first to understand how they operated, how they behaved, how they thought. This in effect meant reducing them to human terms, and putting them into the context of human behaviour and experience. A superhuman power with human desires, failings, and vulnerabilities can more readily be dealt with than vague impersonal forces which lie beyond human conceptualization.

{Notice here no mention of cosmic, cometary events... it really is frustrating to read such things and realize that the scholars are so totally clueless about the most important factor that would open their whole field up to understanding!}

The land is afflicted by a prolonged drought. There is some being responsible for this. It must be a being who has power over life-sustaining elements, fertility of soil and livestock, growth- inducing rain. Why has it withheld these elements? Reasons are given in terms of human emotions—and the rudiments of a myth are created. How can things be set right? By seeking to drive from the being the negative human emotions which have led to its malevolence, in this case its wrath and sullenness, as one would seek to drive out the wrath from a feuding household. How does one do this? Through the process of analogic magic. If a human being can thus be purified, so too can a god—if a god is but a human on a superhuman scale.

At first sight the Vanishing God tradition appears similar in concept to traditions from other civilizations which concern the disappearance of fertility deities and the consequent withering of life on earth. Thus in Mesopotamian tradition the abduction of the shepherd-god Dumuzi to the Underworld. In Greek tradition Persephone's abduction to the same region has similar consequences, because of the grief of her mother, the earth goddess Demeter. The Mesopotamian and Greek myths serve to explain the regularly recurring cycle of seasons, with growth and new life heralding Dumuzi's and Persephone's return to the upper world for six months in every twelve. But the Vanishing God tradition is of a different order. There is no sense here of a predictable recurrent pattern. Rather the emphasis is on the god's whimsical behaviour. Without warning, it seems, he abandons the land in a fit of pique—for reasons which the fragmentary texts have not preserved and which in any case are probably quite incidental—and his disappearance and prolonged absence are quite beyond the normal order of things, causing as much concern to his fellow gods as to his mortal worshippers.

The myth and the ritual which it incorporates have very much a reactive character. There is no sense of looking forward to the future. Rather the impression is of a response to a crisis which has already happened, is still current, and falls outside the natural cycle of the seasons. It is possible that the myth was routinely acted out at the annual purulli festival at the beginning of spring (as an anticipatory or precautionary measure?). But in addition, if not alternatively, it may have been performed at other times as well, in response to a critical situation, and particularly at times of imminent serious shortfalls in the land's food production, whether due to drought, or crop- destroying storms, or a decline in soil and livestock fertility. Such crises may have become ever more frequent during the kingdom's last decades.

{Oh, if only this guy had a clue! He should read Clube and Napier!}

The Illuyanka Myth

This is the text of the Purulli Festival....

When they speak thus: 'Let the land prosper and thrive, and let the land be protected'—and when it prospers and thrives, they perform the Purulli Festival.

So begins the earlier of two versions of the myth of Illuyanka,5 a serpent (that is what his name means) who crawls from the bowels of the earth to engage in mortal combat with the Storm God. The myth tells of the combat, which ends with the triumph of the Storm God and the death of Illuyanka. But victory does not come easily. Initially the serpent gains the upper hand, inflicting a resounding defeat on the god, who is forced to call in outside assistance, both divine (in the earlier version) and human (in both versions). Only then, and even then only through trickery, does he succeed in overcoming his adversary and killing him.

This much do the two versions of the myth have in common. Both versions were written on a single tablet by a scribe at the dictation of a priest called Kella, Like the myths which belong to the Vanishing God tradition, the story of Illuyanka comes from native Hattic tradition. Indeed the place-names mentioned in the story, Ziggaratta and Nerik, place it firmly in the once predominantly Hattic region of central Anatolia, lying north of Hattusa and extending towards the Pontic coast. Like the Vanishing God tradition, it was probably first committed to writing during the Old Hittite period," though all surviving copies date to the New Kingdom.

As the official cult-myth of the purulli festival, the story of Illuyanka was no doubt acted out on one or more occasions during the course of the festival—almost certainly at Nerik, where the celebrations reached their climax, and perhaps at other venues on the festival route as well. Its purpose must have been to strengthen through ritual enactment the process of regeneration of life at the year's beginning, symbolized by the Storm God's triumph over Illuyanka, who represents the forces of darkness and evil. Yet though he is vanquished and slaughtered Illuyanka will rise again to do battle, his life renewed as a snake renews itself by sloughing its skin. Like the Babylonian Marduk, who vanquishes and dismembers Tiamat but must do battle afresh with her every year, the Hittite Storm God will forever have to renew his combat with his adversary. That is in the nature of things. The struggle is a constant one; Illuyanka is never completely overthrown and the Storm God's battle with him must be fought year after year. It is appropriate that the ritual enacted to represent this is performed at the most crucial time of the year, to reactivate through sympathetic magic the powers that hold in check the destructive elemental forces hostile to civilized existence. Constant vigilance and effort are needed, by man and god alike, for whenever the dark forces represented by Illuyanka gain the upper hand, the crops will not grow, the rain will not fall.

The theme of a hero, human or divine, pitted in a fight to the death against a monster (often a serpent or dragon, or with reptilian body- parts) representing the forces of evil is typical of the mythology of many civilizations. The myths of the ancient Greeks abound in examples—Zeus and Typhon, Apollo and Python, Bellerophon and Chimaera. Perseus and Medusa, Herakles and the Hydra—with derivatives like St George and the Dragon in more recent times. Sometimes even when the hero is a god, and despite all the weapons in his armoury, his success can only be achieved with the assistance of a mortal, in Greek tradition it was only through the services of a mortal, Herakles, that Zeus and his fellow gods finally triumphed over the Giants, the monstrous sons of the Earth sprung from the blood of the mutilated Ouranos (see below). So too in both versions of the Illuyanka myth, which differ quite markedly in many of their details, a mortal is pressed into service to help rescue the god from total and irreversible defeat. In the first version his name is Hupasiya. The Storm God's daughter seeks him out and asks him to join forces with her. He agrees to do so on condition that she sleeps with him. Which she does. The plan is put into effect:

Inara led Hupasiya away and hid him. She dressed herself up and called the serpent up from its hole, (saying:) 'I'm preparing a feast. Come eat and drink.' So up came the serpent and his children, and they ate and drank. They drained every vessel and became drunk. Now they do not want to go back down into their hole again. Hupasiya came and bound the serpent with a rope. Then the Storm God came and slew the serpent, and the gods that were with him.7

In the second version of the myth, we are at the point where the serpent has defeated the Storm God and taken his heart and eyes. Again subterfuge is called for. The Storm God sires a son by a poor mortal woman, and on reaching manhood the son marries Illuyanka's daughter and becomes a member of his father-in-law's household. This is in accordance with the Storm God's plan, who now instructs his son: 'When you go and live in your wife's house, demand from them my heart and eyes (as a brideprice).' The son's new family voluntarily hands over to him the requested items, without suspecting, apparently, who the real author of the request is. The plan has worked. With his bodily parts all back in place, the Storm God once more does battle with his adversary, and this time kills him.

The tradition has a number of curious features which set it quite apart from most other monster-slaying myths. In the first place the hero can hardly be said to cover himself in glory. In both versions of the tale he is ignominiously defeated by his opponent. In the first version his ultimate success comes only after his daughter has taken the initiative and rendered the serpent utterly helpless with the aid of her mortal assistant. In both versions deception and trickery are used where the god's physical prowess has failed.

Not that deception and trickery were necessarily bad things in themselves if the end warranted such means (as exemplified also in the Homeric code of heroic conduct).

But the Storm God's behaviour raises other moral questions. In the first version the slaughter of the serpent and his sons grossly violates the obligations of hospitality which codes of social behaviour in almost all civilizations, ancient and modern, insist on being scrupulously observed.

If, as Professor Hoffner notes, a man gives shelter and food to another, he is bound by the time-honoured obligations of a host to ensure that his guest is protected from all harm.8 Illuyanka and his sons have been guests at the table of the Storm God's daughter and are still under her protection, according to the laws of hospitality, when they meet their deaths at the hands of her father. In the second version the Storm God's victory depends on another deliberately engineered act of betrayal. The god has produced a son for the purpose of marrying into the serpent's household, in effect becoming a member of his family. It reflects a situation familiar enough in Hittite society, where matrilocal marriages were apparently not uncommon (see Chapter 7). In such a situation the husband's first loyalty was clearly due to his new family. Yet the marriage of the Storm God's son is a perversion of this. It is to be used as a means of bringing about his father-in-law's destruction.

The involvement of a mortal in both versions of the myth has been seen as a kind of statement of the need for joint effort between god and man in ensuring that the cosmos functions properly and that evil destructive forces are kept at bay; each has his own contribution to make to the process. Given the actual role played by man and god in the myth, that interpretation is not easy to sustain.

In both versions the mortals end up as the victims of their actions. In the first, Hupayasa finds himself a prisoner of the goddess to whose service he has given himself, forever denied the right of returning to his wife and children for whom he passionately longs. A punishment for his hubris, his arrogance, in demanding that the goddess sleep with him as a reward for his services? That is often assumed, but is certainly not evident from the text itself. Nor do we know his ultimate fate, for the text is broken at the point where it was apparently narrated. In the second version there is no doubt about the mortal's fate. The moral dilemma he faces is an understandable one; his loyalties to his natural father are in conflict with those he owes to his new family. It is the latter whom he ultimately betrays. Wracked with guilt at this betrayal and because of his part in his father-in-law's death, he begs the Storm God to kill him too. Whether as an act of mercy, an act of wrath at his son's remorse, or as an act of sheer indifference now that his son has served his purpose, the Storm God promptly obliges.

The myth may lack the sophistication of the more developed literary products of Hurrian culture. Yet the issues which it raises seem to go well beyond a simple, clear-cut conflict between the forces of good and evil. Why is the Storm God portrayed in such a negative, lacklustre way, especially in a text which was acted out in a festival in which he played a starring role? The contrast with the portrayal of Marduk in the Babylonian creation myth, to take but one example for comparison purposes, is striking. There is of course a risk of our reading more into the tale, in both its versions, than was originally intended or was apparent to those who recorded, read, or heard it, or participated in its performance. And for all we know the apparent complexities of the tale may have simply been due to its being cobbled together from several early and originally independent folk tales now lost to us. On the other hand it is difficult to believe that in a society which was closely attuned to a range of social and moral issues there were not some who pondered on the tale's moral implications. Or was the only important thing that the Storm God eventually triumphed, regardless of how his victory was achieved or who fell victim in the process? Even if this were the case, those who saw the performance must have had some sensitivity to the pathos of the mortal's plight in both versions. 'It is not too much to claim', comments Professor Hoffner, 'that the author intended the audience to feel the tragedy. Such a plot may not be "literary" in the strict sense, but it is surely evidence for good story-telling technique!'9

Other Anatolian Myths

The Vanishing God group of myths and the two versions of the Illuyanka myth are the most prominent examples of the small corpus of Anatolian myths and folk tales surviving in the Hattusa archives. They owe their survival in large measure to the fact that many were incorporated into rituals which were collected throughout the kingdom by royal scribes. But they can be no more than a tiny sample of what was probably a rich body of native mythological tradition, typical of pre-literate societies, extending well back before the Hittite period. Much may never have been recorded in written form. Much else may initially have been recorded during the Old Hittite period, but unlike the Vanishing God and Illuyanka tales failed to survive in the texts beyond that period. Some tales that do survive are frustratingly incomplete, like the Hattic myth which recounts how the moon (Hattic Kasku) fell from the sky, was pursued by the Storm God and other deities and finally, we may conclude (though the text is broken at this point), restored to his original place. A ritual text, also very fragmentary, accompanies the myth, thus providing the reason for its preservation in written form. Unfortunately not enough remains of either myth or ritual to indicate their full significance.

Native themes occasionally find echoes in Classical Greek tradition. The Sun God's lust for a beautiful cow whom he impregnates after turning himself into a handsome youth recalls that group of Greek tales which present variations on the theme of human-bovine couplings, Zeus and Europa, Zeus and fo, Pasiphae and the bull. (One is tempted to remark that in the Hittite context, it is somewhat surprising to find that a sexual act which is strictly forbidden in Hittite law is committed by the supreme god of justice.) In the sequel to the Hittite story the cow is horrified at the two-legged offspring, a human male child, which results from her coupling, and is only prevented from eating the child by his sire's intervention. What follows is obscured by the text's very fragmentary state at this point, and the complete loss of a passage about seventeen lines in length. When the text resumes, there is a fragmentary reference to great rivers, and apparently to some measures taken by the god for the protection of the child. Finally the god leads a fisherman, himself childless, to where the child, an apparent foundling, lies. Gathering him up, the fisherman takes him home to his wife and persuades her to feign labour pains. She does so, deluding the villagers into believing that she is delivered of a child of her own. The story ends abruptly here, but we know that it continued on another tablet now lost to us.10

Incomplete though it is, enough of the story survives to suggest that it may be an early example of a well known and widespread narrative tradition: A child is born in secret; its father is often (though not invariably) a god. The mother cannot rear it as her own, either because of the disgrace associated with its birth, or because reports of its birth would put it in great danger. The child is therefore entrusted to destiny by being set adrift on a river or in the sea until it is discovered, safe and sound, and reared, generally by a childless couple of humble circumstances. This in essence is the story of the origins of the Akkadian king Sargon, of the Hebrew Moses, of the Persian king Darius, of the Greek hero Perseus, of Romulus, founder of Rome,"

In each of these cases the foundling grows to manhood and achieves great things, generally as a leader of his people and often at the expense of a king from whom his birth has been kept secret—a king forewarned that just such a person would one day overthrow him, or liberate his people from him. In the Hittite story, the role of the fisherman and references to 'great rivers' raise the possibility that in this case too the rejected infant had been set adrift on water until, under his real father's guidance, he was found and reared by his adoptive parents. If so, perhaps like his counterparts in similar stories, he grew to manhood and became a great leader of his people. Perhaps this was narrated in the final missing tablet of the story. That would make it one of the earliest surviving examples of a tradition which was to resurface constantly in a number of civilizations over at least the next thousand years.

The motif of exposing babies by setting them adrift on a river occurs again in a Hittite context in the so-called legend of Zalpa.12 The queen of Kanesh, so the story goes, gave birth to thirty sons in a single year. Horrified by this enormous brood she placed them in reed baskets caulked with mud and set them on a river (the Hittite Marassantiya, Classical Halys, and now the Kizil Irmak), which carried them to Zalpa on the Black Sea. After growing to manhood the sons returned to Kanesh/Nesa, where their mother had subsequently given birth to thirty daughters. Unaware of the family relationship, the brothers were on the point of marrying their sisters when the youngest brother suddenly found out the truth. Realizing that they were all about to commit incest, he urgently called upon his brothers to halt proceedings. At this point the text becomes unclear and we cannot be sure whether or not his advice was taken, though the story does serve to provide a further instance of the Hittites' abhorrence of incest. With the resumption of the text, the story takes on more of a historical cast, with an account of hostilities between Hattus E and Za Ipa in the reign of King Hattusili I, ending in Zalpa's destruction.

The events narrated in the first part of the tale serve to explain and justify the historical events with which the tale ends, just as the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid, the Dido-Aeneas love story, provides an explanation for the eventual historical conflict between Rome and Carthage which ends in the letter's destruction. The Zalpa story's hybrid character, beginning as myth or legend, ending as genuine history, makes it virtually unique in Hittite literature. But even in the legendary-mythical episode, some scholars have seen a kernel of historical truth, with the journey of the brothers from Zalpa on the Black Sea to Kanesh being a supposed reminiscence of an actual historical immigration from the north.13 Although the earliest surviving text of the story dates to no earlier than the sixteenth or fifteenth century, it is possible that the story itself originated long before this, perhaps dating to the arrival of Indo-European elements in eastern Anatolia towards the end of the third millennium. The connection which some have sought to make between the Zalpa tradition, with its exposure of male and retention of female babies, and the Amazon tradition of Greek mythology is rather more fanciful.

Another Hittite tale which may have faint echoes elsewhere concerns the two sons of the wealthy and hitherto childless Appu. The sons are called 'Evil' and 'Just' by their father, and they live up to their names. 'Evil' attempts to cheat his brother in the division of their father's estate, just as the wastrel Perses sought to cheat his brother Hesiod of his share of their father's patrimony.14 In both biblical and Egyptian literature we find instances of pairs of good and evil brothers, with the latter attempting to swindle the former, and as often as not receiving their come-uppance from a just god.

{In the case of the OT, the scheming brother always seems to win and the just brother to lose. Interesting.}

The Kumarbi Epic Cycle

We have noted that much of what is left of native Anatolian mythological tradition has survived because of its incorporation in rituals preserved as integral components of religious festivals. Myths of foreign origin, on the other hand, were of a somewhat different nature, and owe their preservation in Hittite texts to rather different reasons. In their written form they were introduced into the Hittite world from the culturally more sophisticated civilizations lying to their south-east, notably from Babylon and the Hurrian cultural sphere. They entered the Hittite land through the agency of professional scribes, and their preservation was in large measure due to the use made of them within the milieu of the scribal schools. Scribes learnt the skills of their profession partly by copying and recopying the 'classics' of cuneiform literature; and foreign scribes who were imported into the Hittite world brought with them and passed on not only their literacy skills but also a knowledge of the major literary traditions of their own and neighbouring lands.

These traditions are called 'literary' in the sense that they appear to have been composed and recorded primarily for their own sake, not as mere adjuncts to rituals. They obviously had entertainment value, and in the context of the extensive religious reform programme of the thirteenth century may have had a broader educative purpose which went well beyond their use as scribal school exercises.

{Note this "religious reform programme" in the thirteenth century... just prior to the destruction of the Bronze Age civilizations (according to standard chronology which I would adjust backward a couple/three hundred years or so.) This suggests that during this time something very unsettling was happening and could be cross-referenced with the turmoil occurring in Egypt, including the Amarna Age.}

They have been described as 'rich in theological instruction needed for the Hittites to better comprehend the personalities of the gods and the organization of a pantheon that was growing increasingly complex'.15 Yet in their earlier stages they may not have been as completely divorced from the world of ritual and analogic magic as they later appeared to be. Their world too is one of forces in conflict, of gods doing battle with and finally prevailing over monsters. And although in the form in which we find them in the Hittite texts they may lend themselves less readily to dramatic re-enactment, this would not have been impossible with effective use of symbols and conventions. It is not inconceivable that in their original form they did have ritualistic functions and were acted out accordingly. In terms of complexity of plot and structure and range of characters they may be considered more sophisticated than the homegrown Anatolian products. Yet as we have seen, the latter are not without their complexities, in terms of the questions which they raise and the issues with which they deal, even if this is sometimes belied by the relative naivety of their expression.

The most substantial and most important body of imported mythological tradition is the Hurrian cycle of myths featuring Kumarbi. 'father of the gods'."1 The cycle consists of a series of 'songs', episodes in verse form, of which two are particularly prominent, the Song of Kingship in Heaven and the Song of Ullikummi.17 The first relates the struggle between successive generations of gods for sovereignty in heaven: Alalu is overcome by Anu, Anu by Alalu's son Kumarbi, who bites off and swallows Anu's genitals and thereby becomes impregnated with three deities—the Storm God Teshub, the Tigris River, and Tasmisu (Hittite Suwaliyat). The precise details of what followed these events remain uncertain because of the fragmentary state of the text. But presumably the song went on to tell of the birth of Teshub (by one means or another), an ensuing struggle with his surrogate parent Kumarbi. and his eventual triumph.

The song of divine conflict is sometimes referred to as the Theogony, 'the Birth of the Gods', because of its similarities to the Greek poet Hesiod's poem of that name. The title is rather more apt in the latter ease since like the Babylonian Myth of Creation it does deal with the procreation of gods as well as with their subsequent conflicts, whereas what we have of the Hurrian-derived composition launches almost immediately into the generation conflicts and confines its account of procreational matters to the peculiar pre-natal history of Teshub and his two siblings: 'Stop rejoicing within yourself!', the emasculated Anu tells his conqueror. I have placed inside you a burden. First I have impregnated you with the noble Storm God. Second I have impregnated you with the irresistible Tigris River. Third I have impregnated you with the noble Tasmisu. Three terrible gods I have placed inside you as burdens. In the future you will end up striking the boulders of Mount Tassa with your head!'18

It is this bizarre detail that provides one of several points of comparison with the Hesiodic composition. The gods of three successive generations in the Kumarbi myth—Anu (heaven), Kumarbi (father of the gods), and Teshub—correspond precisely to Ouranos (heaven), Kronos (Phoenician El), and Zeus in Hesiod's poem. Just as Kumarbi emasculates Anu, so too does Kronos mutilate his father Ouranos. In both cases, the dismembered genitals produce further offspring—in the Kumarbi tradition three deities who rise up against the mutilator, in the Hesiodic a race of Furies and monstrous giants who are produced when the blood of the severed parts seeps into the earth; the latter rise up against all the gods but are defeated and imprisoned in the earth. Kumarbi and Kronos are both forewarned of the threats they face—-Kumarbi from the offspring, now growing within him, of his mutilated predecessor, and Kronos from one of his own conventionally produced offspring. In spite of measures taken by Kronos and presumably also by Kumarbi to forestall this (the relevant passage of the Hittite text is lost), the prophecy comes to pass. Kumarbi is overthrown and replaced by Teshub, Kronos by Teshub's Greek counterpart Zeus. In each case this marks the beginning of a new era, the Teshub-led pantheon of the Hurrian-Hittite world, the Zeus-led Olympian pantheon of the Greek world.

One difference between the Near Eastern and Greek traditions is that the former begins one generation earlier, at least as far as the male gods are concerned. Alalu has no counterpart in Hesiod's Theogony, which begins with Ouranos, the counterpart to Alalu's successor Anu.19 There is a further difference. In Hesiod's version, the successive generations of gods all belong to the one family: Gaea is the mother and wife of Ouranos, who sires all her children including Kronos, later to become the father of Zeus. In the Near Eastern tradition on the other hand, the warring gods come from two separate families and appear in alternate generations: Alalu and Kumarbi represent one family line, Anu and Teshub the other.20 Professor Hoffner remarks that these opposing families are from opposite spheres: 'Kumarbi is a netherworld god, whereas Teshub is a celestial god ... Kumarbi's father Alalu is driven from the throne by Anu and takes refuge from Anu in the netherworld. Later, when Anu flees from Kumarbi, he heads for the sky. When one assembles a list of the deities in these myths who give allegiance to one side or the other, the opposition of netherworld and sky is confirmed.'21

Does this provide an indication of the myth's original purpose? In its earliest form it might have been associated with a ritual depicting a contest between forces of netherworld and upper world, and the ultimate triumph of the latter. However, with the myth's progressive development and elaboration in literary form, its links with its original ritual context became increasingly tenuous, though even by the time it reached the Hittite world these links were still detectable in the conflicts between gods from opposing families representing opposing forces or spheres of nature.

When the tradition surfaced in the Greek world, it retained the account of struggles between successive generations of gods. But a key element was now missing. No longer was the battle arena occupied by members of opposing families representing opposing forces of nature. The contestants all belonged to a single family line. That reflects a major shift in the tradition, and a major narrowing of its limits, from a cosmogonically to a generationally based conflict.

{Is that necessarily true? If Clube is right, all the "gods" were born from a single giant comet... So perhaps claiming two families is the corruption?}

It was the end of any last vestige of the tradition's ritual origins. Hesiod's poem has nothing to do with ritual. It tells a story, and in the process establishes a genealogical framework for the early generations of gods and provides a context for the emergence and triumph of the Olympians. The poet himself, Herodotos tells us, was largely responsible for the arrangement of his material, and presumably also for its selection. He may well have been aware that there were two competing divine genealogies in the original tradition on which he drew. But once the tradition had been cut adrift from its ritual origins, this became an extraneous detail. There was no longer any point in cluttering the genealogical scheme of things with two separate family lines.

A common feature of many theomachias is that no matter how thoroughly and comprehensively the losers are defeated, sometimes to the point of total dismemberment, they re-emerge to fight the victor another day, or else find or create a formidable monster to do this for them. From the rest of the songs in the Kumarbi cycle, fragmentary though they are, it is clear that the Storm God's ascendancy after his triumph over Kumarbi is far from secure. He may even have been replaced for a time by another god, LAMMA,22 but he was in any case subject to further challenges from Kumarbi. These come to a head in the second major text of the song cycle, the so-called 'Song of Ullikummi', Seeking to create a champion to act on his behalf for a final showdown with Teshub, Kumarbi mates with a mountain peak. A diorite monster results from the union. 'Henceforth let Ullikummi be his name,' says Kumarbi. 'Let him go up to heaven to kingship. Let him suppress the fine city of Kummiya (the Storm God's city). Let him strike Teshub. Let him chop him up fine like chaff. Let him grind him under foot like an ant. Let him snap off Tasmisu like a brittle reed. Let him scatter all the gods down from the sky like flour. Let him smash them like empty pottery bowls.'23

At Kumarbi's bidding, his son is secretly conveyed to the netherworld after his birth by the Irsirra deities and placed on the right shoulder of Ubelluri, whose feet are in the netherworld but who supports heaven and earth like the Greek Atlas. 'Let him grow higher each month, each day,' Kumarbi orders. And so it comes to pass. When he has grown so large that the sea comes only to his middle, the Sun God sees him and is greatly alarmed. He reports the news to Teshub, who resolves to do battle with the monster. But when he sees him he is filled with dismay: 'Teshub sat down on the ground and his tears flowed like streams. Tearfully Teshub said, "Who can any longer behold the struggle of such a one? Who go on fighting? Who can behold the terrors of such a one any longer?"'

Teshub is powerless against such an opponent. His sister Shaushka volunteers to approach Ullikummi and attempt to win him over by her songs and her charms.To no avail. 'For whose benefit are you singing?' a great sea-wave asks of her. 'For whose benefit are you filling your mouth with wind? Ullikummi is deaf; he cannot hear. He is blind in his eyes; he cannot see. He has no compassion. So go away, Shaushka, and find your brother before Ullikummi becomes really valiant, before the skull of his head becomes really terrifying.'

Teshub engages, unsuccessfully, in a first battle with Ullikummi. The monster continues to grow until it reaches the very gates of Teshub's city Kummiya. In desperation, and at the suggestion of his brother Tasmisu, Teshub makes a final appeal to Ea, the Mesopotamian god of wisdom, formerly a supporter of Kumarbi. Ea resolves to bring the conflict to an end. He calls for the cutting tool originally used to sever heaven from earth and uses it to cut Ullikummi from Ubelluri's shoulder. The monster's power is destroyed, and Ea urges the gods to do battle with him. They respond with alacrity,'bellowing like cattle at Ullikummi'. Teshub mounts his war-wagon and charges to the sea. Though the end of the story is lost, Teshub must have confronted Ullikummi and perhaps also Kumarbi in a final showdown, and defeated them. Once more his sovereignty is secure.

Again, a number of parallels to the song can be found in Greek, more specifically Hesiodic, mythological tradition, in which the serpent monster Typhoeus rises up against Zeus after the letter's defeat of the Titans and tries to seize his throne from him. Closer still is the parallel between Ullikummi and Typhoeus/Typhon preserved in a later Greek tradition in which Typhon like Ullikummi grows to such a towering height that he reaches the heavens.24 And most significantly the Teshub Ullikummi and Zeus Typhon conflicts are fought out in the same location, Mt Hazzi/Kasios on the coast of northern Syria.

Though clearly Hurrian in origin we cannot, in the absence of the original Hurrian text, determine how closely the Hittite version of the Kumarbi song cycle followed the original. The possibilities range from an actual translation to an essentially new composition based on an imported Hurrian tradition. The Hurrian tradition itself had clearly drawn on earlier Mesopotamian traditions, as evidenced by the Babylonian names of the deities Alalu, Anu, Enlil, Ea, and also by the very notion of gods from successive generations competing for divine sovereignty, and of vanquished gods rising up to do battle once more with their victors. In the original Mesopotamian context myth and ritual were in all probability closely integrated.

This gives rise to an obvious question. Once the myth was cut adrift from a ritual context, why was it preserved, firstly in a Hurrian milieu, then in a Hittite? Hardly because it was seen as providing a repository of spiritual or moral guidance like the canonical scriptures of a number of other religions. With the best will in the world it is very difficult to see anything at all spiritually or morally uplifting in the Kumarbi tradition. Perhaps it served to celebrate Teshub's ultimate triumph, although like his Storm God counterpart in the Illuyanka myth Teshub's own role in achieving this triumph was quite a secondary and none too glorious one; he gives way to despondency and tears on first seeing the monster, progress towards the monster's defeat is made only through the initiative of other deities, and his final victory comes only after Ea has virtually handed it to him on a plate, so to speak. None the less the song cycle had clearly become an integral part of Hurrian cultural tradition and it was this no doubt which ensured its preservation in a Hittite milieu within the context of the progressive Hurrianization of Hittite culture. Professor Lebrun comments on the educative value of the Hurrian myths:
'[TheyJ offered the Hittites a basic religious framework and defined the function as well as the kinship of certain gods; at the same time they gave explanatory shape for the hierarchy among the gods.'25

All this implies that the myths were not simply put on tablets and then buried away in palace archives. Rather they must often have been dusted off and recited before appropriate company. This may well have been a regular feature of the court activities of Hattusili 111 and probably also that of his son and successor Tudhaliya IV. The common factor in both cases was the Hurrian- originating queen Puduhepa, wife of one king, mother of the other, and a leading figure in the religious reform programme. Recitations of works like the Kumarbi song cycle may well have played a significant part in this programme, very likely with mandatory attendance at the performances by appropriate officials in the palace and temple bureaucracy. This was probably no great burden. After all the songs were not tedious litanies of repetitive formulaic phrases but exciting stories worth hearing over and over again. They had considerable entertainment value with their parade of monsters, battles, and other violent deeds, and their bizarre sexual unions, described in explicit detail—features which probably also ensured that tales from the cycle had wide currency on a popular level throughout the kingdom. Reciters of such tales were no doubt as common in the village communities of the Hittite world as they have been in non-literate communities of all ages.
Again, from Trevor Bryce's "Life and Society in the Hittite World". Keep in mind that he is operating on the assumption that Troy was a Mediterranean thing...


Links across the Wine-Dark Sea

Greeks and Trojans confront each other on the plains of Troy. In the space in between, two warriors meet—Diomedes, son of Tydeus, from Argos in Greece, and Glaukos, son of Hippolochos, from Lycia in the remote south-western corner of Anatolia. As they prepare to do battle, Diomedes calls upon Glaukos to identify himself, to state his lineage and place of origin. He learns that Glaukos too has ancestral origins in Argos, that there have been close bonds between their families, bonds extending back several generations. Enmity between the two is set aside. They exchange weapons and armour, and pledge to renew their families' traditional links.'

From the Bronze Age onwards, there have been many meetings, many links between the peoples of the ancient Greek and Near Eastern worlds—all contributing in greater or lesser measure to the ongoing process of cultural transmission and cultural exchange between east and west. The process involved two-way traffic, sometimes predominantly in one direction, sometimes predominantly in the other. During the middle centuries of the first millennium BC, the Greek world had a profound influence on a number of its Near Eastern neighbours; the remains of the Hellenized cities of the Anatolian littoral are amongst the tangible witnesses of this. In the early centuries of the millennium and in the preceding millennium, the Greeks in their turn derived much from their contacts with their neighbours across the wine-dark sea.

{Major assumption here!}

Mainland and island Greece lay towards the western end of a cultural continuum which began with the earliest historical societies of Mesopotamia. Customs, traditions, and institutions which first appeared in these societies passed ever westwards, from one generation to another, from one civilization to another, and from one region to another over a period of several thousand years, sometimes undergoing substantial changes and modifications along the way.

{Is that so?}

The Hittites were participants in the process, as they absorbed within the fabric of their own civilization cultural elements drawn from the wide range of civilizations with which they came into contact, either directly or through cultural intermediaries. In their turn they may well have played an important role in the transmission of elements of Near Eastern culture further westwards to the Greek world.

In recent years scholars have been giving renewed attention to the nature and extent of the role played by the Near East in shaping Greek culture in its early developmental stages. With this has come an increasing conviction that Near Eastern poetic and mythological traditions exercised a direct and pervasive influence on early Greek literature, most notably the poems of Homer and Hesiod. We have already noted the parallels between the Kumarbi epic cycle, preserved in a fragmentary Hittite version in the archives of Hattusa, and the works of Hesiod. We shall now turn to some of the parallels and possible links between Near Eastern traditions, particularly those that surface in the Land of Hatti, and the traditions used by Hesiod's near contemporary Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey.

Parallels abound between the cultures of the Near Eastern and Greek worlds and have already been dealt with in a range of publications.2 But no matter how striking some of these parallels may appear to be, they are not in themselves demonstrative of actual east-west contacts. If we are to argue that they are more than mere coincidences, that there are actual links between them, we need first to demonstrate in historical or archaeological terms at least the likelihood of cultural transmission between the different regions where they made their appearance. Some steps have already been taken in this direction, by Professor Martin West and others. And some of the mechanisms of cultural interaction between the Near Eastern and early Greek worlds are already becoming clear. What is still to be determined is whether this interaction was primarily a feature of early Iron Age contacts, or whether it was already in play at least several centuries before, in the Bronze Age.

There is no doubt that in the Late Bronze Age commercial and cultural links were well established between the Mycenaean world and western Anatolia and the Syro-Palestine region, and indirectly extended further east into Mesopotamia. The Ulu Burun shipwreck (see Chapter 5) provides some indication of how these links were maintained. The ship's cargo of copper and tin ingots and luxury items is indicative of the commercial contacts between Egypt, the eastern Mediterranean lands, and Greece in the fourteenth to thirteenth centuries, and the nature of the trade between these regions. But there may have been other cargo as well, not identifiable in the archaeological record—what has been referred to as 'human talent'.

Westward Population Movements

In recent years a number of scholars have postulated a westward diaspora of Levantine craftsmen and merchants in the Late Bronze Age, including entrepreneurs in search of new resources and markets, and travelling along the established trade routes. From our Hittite sources we know that by the middle of the thirteenth century a substantial number of western Anatolians were living in Mycenaean Greece, called Ahhiyawa in Hittite texts. In a letter to one of the kings of Ahhiyawa Hattusili III complains of the resettlement of some 7,000 of his western Anatolian subjects from the Lukka Lands in Ahhiyawan territory.3 Complementing this information, the Mycenaean Linear B tablets indicate that western Anatolia was one of the regions from which labour was obtained for the Mycenaean palace's workforces, for textile-making and the like. The same region may also have served as a recruiting ground, through raids and other means, for supplementing the substantial workforces required for building the massive fortifications at sites like Mycenae and Tiryns. This would fit neatly with an admittedly late attested tradition recorded by the first-century Greek writer Strabo, crediting the building of the walls of Tiryns to the Cyclopes, giants from Lycia.' The Lycians, as the Greeks and Romans called them, were first-millennium descendants of the Late Bronze Age Lukka people, who lived in parts of southern and western Anatolia. Many of these people were resettled in the Mycenaean world around the middle of the thirteenth century, in the period when the Mycenaean citadels were being extensively refortified.5

The new arrivals in Greece, whether from western Anatolia or regions further east, no doubt included many who were skilled in manual crafts, as well as healers, seers, and singers or poets—indeed, just as they are listed by Odysseus' swineherd Eumaeus amongst the categories of demioergoi, craftsmen who can always be assured of a welcome wherever they travel: 'No man of his own accord goes out to bring in a stranger from elsewhere, unless that stranger be master of some craft, a prophet or one who cures diseases, a worker in wood, or again an inspired bard, delighting men with his song. The wide world over, men such as these are welcome guests.'6 Through the resettlement of foreign demioergoi and their fellow immigrants from the Near East, customs and traditions of the societies to which they had originally belonged would have become known in the Greek world. Indeed these foreign settlers were very likely the most important agents of east-west cultural transmission.

The thousands of Anatolian settlers in Mycenaean Greece very likely included some who had been trained as scribes, and continued to serve as scribes and interpreters in the Mycenaean courts. Their services would presumably have been called upon for communications between their new overlord and his subjects or agents in western Anatolia. They could also have served as channels of communication between the Ahhiyawan king and their former overlord, the king of Hatti. And they may well have brought to their new land something else in addition to their scribal skills. We have earlier remarked that scribes educated in the Near Eastern scribal school tradition would in the process of their education have learnt the 'classics' of Mesopotamia, notably literary compositions emanating from the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Hurrian peoples which found their way into the Hittite world—compositions like the Gilgamesh epic and the Kumarbi Song Cycle. Further to the west, in another world that was clearly receptive to stories of heroes and great achievements from the past as well as the present, it is very probable that narrative traditions from the Near East also became known in Mycenaean court circles—at least partly through the agency of Anatolian scribes who had become familiar with them in the course of their scribal training.

Yet there must have been others too who conveyed stories originating in a Near Eastern context westwards to the Greek world. Episodes from the Gilgamesh epic were probably in wide circulation, especially among travellers. The epic is by and large a traveller's tale. And as we have already remarked, the tales of the Kumarbi cycle with their themes of sex and violence would almost certainly have had widespread appeal at all levels of society. Immigrant craftsmen and artists, itinerant merchants, sailors from vessels which plied their trade throughout the ports of the Mediterranean, indeed any traveller capable of spinning a good yarn, may all-have been agents in the process of east-west cultural transmission, in the course of which episodes from the Mesopotamian and Hurrian epics made their first appearance in the Greek world. If so, they may well have exercised, already in the Late Bronze Age, a significant influence on the development and shaping of the traditions which provided the genesis of Homeric epic as well as basic material for the poems of Hesiod.

Gilgamesh and the Homeric Epics

We can readily identify a number of features which the Gilgamesh epic has in common with the Iliad and the Odyssey.
The introductory passage of the Gilgamesh epic which depicts Gilgamesh as a restless hero—the far-journeying wanderer who endures many hardships and gathers much wisdom—reminds us of Odysseus in the opening lines of the Odyssey. The very notion of a long journey in which the hero is beset by many obstacles and temptations is as fundamental to the Gilgamesh epic as it is to the Odyssey. The alewife-temptress Siduri in the former calls to mind Calypso and Circe in the latter. The divine intervention motif is constantly in evidence in both the Gilgamesh and the Homeric compositions—there are those deities who support and assist the hero, and those who are implacably hostile to him and seek his downfall—for an insult he has committed against them, for an injury done to them or to other members of their family.

The Mesopotamian and Greek epics all have a greater or lesser preoccupation with death and the Underworld, and there is much in common between Mesopotamian and Greek concepts of the afterlife
.7 Achilles' meeting with Patroklos' ghost in Book 23 of the Iliad recalls Gilgamesh's meeting with Enkidu's ghost in the twelfth tablet of the Gilgamesh epic. Gilgamesh's summoning-up of the spirit of Enkidu has its counterpart in Odysseus' summoning-up of the ghost ofTeiresias in the Odyssey. This is of course a common literary topos—in which the living seek advice from the dead, as we see also in Aeneas' consultation with the ghost of his father Anchises, or in a biblical context Saul's consultation with the ghost of the prophet Samuel.*

What do such parallels really signify? Direct influence of one tradition upon the other? Mere coincidence? Or was there an original common source from which common elements have been independently retained in two divergent cultures?

The most sceptical view would have it that the broad similarity in themes observable in the Gilgamesh and the Homeric compositions indicate similar but quite unrelated responses, encapsulated in literary form, to similar problems, questions, hopes, aspirations, and fears raised by the different environments in which human societies evolved and developed. Things like the preoccupation with the theme of death and what lies beyond, and a yearning for some form of immortality which will transcend death; or the tension or conflict between the ephemeral, hedonistic delights of this world, and a desire for nobler, more lasting achievement, whatever hardships and dangers that may entail. Are the themes of the epics essentially independent reflections of what is inherent in human nature?

This view would become less tenable if we had conclusive proof that Near Eastern literary or mythological traditions, like those reflected in the Akkadian epics, were already known in thirteenth- century Greece. Such proof has yet to be found. We can, however, be sure that many people from the regions where the epics were read, copied, recited, and performed in the Late Bronze Age either resettled in the Greek world, or visited it in the course of trading enterprises. If they carried their traditions and folk tales with them, and if at this time the poetic and historical traditions on which Homer drew were already taking shape, it would be perverse to argue that they did so in complete isolation from Near Eastern traditions with which they shared a number of similar features and which were then known in the Greek world.

There are, furthermore, a number of specific points of comparison between Homeric and Near Eastern tradition which seem to go beyond mere superficial or commonplace parallels. In Book 5 of the Iliad Diomedes maltreats the goddess Aphrodite, and the goddess complains of this to her parents Zeus and Dione. But her father is not at all sympathetic, and in fact gently rebukes her for making the complaint. We are reminded of Gilgamesh's maltreatment of the goddess Ishtar (Aphrodite's Near Eastern equivalent). Just as Aphrodite had done, Ishtar complains to her parents Anu and Antu of Gilgamesh's behaviour. For doing so she too is rebuked by her father. Professor Burkert comments that the two episodes parallel each other in structure, narrative form, and ethos to a remarkable degree.1'

In Book 4 of the Odyssey, Penelope learns of her son Telemachos' journey to find news of Odysseus, and the suitors' plot to kill him on his return. In great anxiety, she prays to Athene to keep him safe. In the Gilgamesh epic, the goddess Ninsun learns of her son's dangerous journey to fight the giant Humbaba, and she too prays for his safety. Of course there is nothing surprising about a mother praying for a son, especially when she perceives him to be in great danger. But a comparison of the two episodes takes us beyond this mere commonplace. After lamenting her son's plight, Penelope bathes and puts on clean linen, then filling a basket with sacred barley, she goes to the upper storey of the palace, and makes supplication to Athene to keep her son safe. When Gilgamesh goes off to fight Humbaba, his mother Ninsun enters her chamber, she puts on a garment and other adornments, then taking a special herb, she goes upstairs to the roof of the palace, and makes supplication to the Sun God Shamash for her son's safety.10 Burkert remarks that what elevates this comparison from the commonplace is the fact that here narrative content, structure, and sequence are virtually identical.

We might also take a little further the comparison between Homer's Circe and Siduri of the Gilgamesh epic. Each attempts to persuade the hero to abandon his mission—in Gilgamesh's case the quest for Utnapishtim, in Odysseus' the completion of his journey home—and neither succeeds. Yet there are dual, apparently contrasting aspects of the roles which the temptresses play. Gilgamesh prevails on Siduri, who lives on the edge of the sea and knows its ways, to give him directions which will lead him across the waters to Utnapishtim. Odysseus too entreats Circe to provide directions for his homeward journey; she advises him that to reach his final destination he must first visit the house of Persephone and Hades, and there seek counsel from the spirit of the seer Teiresias, In both cases the dangers of the journey ahead are highlighted. Gilgamesh is warned thus: 'There has never been a ferry of any kind, Gilgamesh, and nobody from time immemorial has crossed the sea (to the realm of Utnapishtim).'" Odysseus has similar apprehensions: 'O Circe, who will be the guide for this journey? Never yet has anyone reached by black ship the realm of Hades.'12 But Circe reassures him. Like Siduri, she is knowledgeable in the ways of the sea. In both cases, the temptresses are not merely obstacles put in the hero's way. They play essential roles in the forward movement of the journey. For the directions they give are critical to the attainment of the hero's goal. In this case too Mesopotamian and Homeric tradition closely parallel each other in concept, structure, and detail.

Cultural Transmission

Near Eastern influence on Homer was by no means confined to the sphere of literary tradition. On a broader level, elements of Hittite and other Near Eastern ritual practices occasionally surface in the Homeric epics. We have already referred to the close parallel between the procedures followed by Odysseus in summoning up the dead at the beginning of Book 11 of the Odyssey and the Hittite chthonic ritual in which the deities of the netherworld were summoned from their infernal abode (Chapter 10). One further example may suffice. In Book 23 of the Iliad (233-61), Homer describes the funeral rites of the Greek hero Patroklos. His body is disposed of by cremation. This has occasioned some surprise, since inhumation was the regular Greek practice in the Bronze Age, the period in which the Trojan War is set.13 What Patroklos' burial rites do recall are the procedures laid down for the disposal of the remains of Hittite kings, as described in Chapter 10. In both cases the deceased's body is consumed upon a funeral pyre; the pyre's smouldering embers are quenched with wine before sifting through them for the bones of the deceased; the bones are immersed in a vessel of oil and then wrapped in fine linen. To be sure, there are also differences between the Hittite and Homeric burial procedures. But the features which they share strongly suggest that they are in some way connected.14 The nature of this connection, and how it came about, remains a matter for speculation. We can but note how remarkable it is that a peculiarly Hittite royal burial practice which as far as we know did not outlive the Bronze Age and was unlikely to have been otherwise preserved in a Greek context should strike such a familiar chord in Homeric epic centuries after its last attestation in the Hittite texts.

Scholars like Walter Burkert and Martin West present at considerable length the case for strong Near Eastern influence on Greek culture. But they tend to focus on a later period of cultural transmission, during the so-called orientalizing period (mid-eighth to mid- seventh century) when itinerant craftsmen and artists from the Near East may once again have brought to the Greek world a range of manual and intellectual skills, including the Semitic art of writing, and a range of literary and religious traditions. On the other hand West concedes that the orientalizing period seems to fall too late to be connected with any major reshaping of Homeric epic. It may well be that much of what Homeric tradition may have owed to Near Eastern influence was already known and was being used in the Mycenaean period when the traditions incorporated in Homeric epic were beginning to evolve. So too elements of the Kumarbi epic cycle may already have been known in the Greek world some centuries before their reappearance in Hesiod, though a number of scholars have long seen their transmission to the Greek world as a later phenomenon, perhaps due to Phoenician contact with this world.15

This is not to deny that later Near Eastern influences also contributed significantly to the final version of the Homeric poems. There are many features or elements of the poems which are clearly of Iron Age origin. And in many respects they reflect the world of the late eighth or early seventh century, as is clear from archaeological material and from numerous allusions contained within them. Above all the introduction of the alphabet into the Greek world must not merely have brought with it the technology of writing. It also drew the Greeks into the whole world of contemporary Near Eastern written culture. Within this culture the Gilgamesh tradition was still very much alive and being freshly recorded in Assyria, in much the same period as the composition of the Iliad and the Odyssey. In any case, the Homeric poems are now being seen much less as a product of an essentially monocultural environment and much more as the result of complex interactions of a number of factors, many of non-Greek origin.

To what extent, then, are we able to identify the actual building- blocks of the Homeric poems? What can we say is distinctively Greek about them? What is distinctively non-Greek? And where are Greek and non-Greek elements so tightly interwoven that they simply cannot be disentangled? These questions open up very large areas of investigation which we can do no more than touch upon here. And we should do so with some degree of caution.

With regard to the Homeric pantheon Martin West, one of the most vigorous proponents of extensive Near Eastern influence on Greek culture, writes thus; 'It is hardly going too far to say that the whole picture of the gods in the Iliad is oriental.' He argues that 'The Homeric and Hesiodic picture of the gods' organization, and of the past struggles by which they achieved it, has so much in common with the picture presented in Babylonian and Ugaritic poetry that it must have been formed under eastern influence. The gods are conceived as a corporation that regularly assembles on Mt Olvmpos, feasts and discusses human affairs. They have a chief Zeus to whom they make representations, and he makes decisions and gives permissions, sends messengers, and tries to control events. But the other gods are often wilful; they argue vigorously with one another, and Zeus on occasion has to threaten or exert physical violence in order to subdue them. This lively poetic scenario does not correspond with actual Greek beliefs about the gods, who were worshipped and invoked at appropriate places and times; two gods might be associated in a cult, but there was no sense of their being members of a larger assembly, nor of gods squabbling and jostling among themselves.'16

There is no doubt that Homer's gods, if not substantially derived from a Near Eastern context, would at least have been fully at home in a Near Eastern environment. But the assumption that they were actually taken over holus-bolus from the Near East may be going too far. In general, we should be cautious about using a line of reasoning which reduced to its simplest proportions seems to work along these lines: Here we have elements which were apparently alien to later Greek society. These elements were a feature of Near Eastern Bronze Age and early Iron Age societies. Therefore their appearance in Homer must be due to Near Eastern influence. To maintain this, we would first have to demonstrate that they were not also some sort of residual feature of pre-Homeric Greek society which survived in Homeric tradition but otherwise disappeared. Homer's divine society may well be a reflection of a widespread set of concepts about how the gods behaved and interacted, as much a part of early Greek and more generally Indo-European tradition as it was of Mesopotamian tradition.

In general terms closer attention to Near Eastern-Homeric text parallels may well give us a good deal more insight than we presently have into the actual processes involved in the composition of the Homeric poems, and a greater understanding of how the poet's compositional skills operated. We could take the view that an eighth- century epic poet was merely the last in a succession of 'Homers' extending back over a number of generations, each of whom contributed to the culling,shaping, and refining of the material, with the last in the series adding the final touches, or bringing the compositions to what West calls their astonishing acme in the eighth and seventh centuries. And Burkert and others may well be right in their claim that this was a period of much more intensive east-west connections and cultural transmission than was the case in the Bronze Age. But this is in no way incompatible with the notion of an earlier stratum of cultural transmission as well.

In any case, the epics drew on a wide range of sources and reflect a wide range of influences over a period extending back well before they reached their final form. The tradition of a Trojan War very possibly has a basis in historical fact. But if so it almost certainly represents a conflation of events, beginning perhaps a century or more before the alleged dates of the war in Greek literature and continuing beyond the end of the Bronze Age. Throughout this period, there was regular commercial and political contact between the Greek and Near Eastern worlds (allowing perhaps for a hiatus of 100 years or so in the eleventh century BC), and undoubtedly a considerable degree of cultural interaction between these worlds.

It has been suggested above that primarily through the agency of large groups of immigrants and traders in Bronze Age Greece, Near Eastern intellectual and cultural traditions became known in this world. It would be remarkable if Near Eastern contacts with and a significant Near Eastern presence in the early Greek world, as attested by both archaeological and written evidence, failed to make any major or lasting impression on Greek civilization. Given that the development of the Homeric epics was a long evolutionary process which incorporated a wide range of historical, social, and cultural elements, we can hardly accept that it could have developed in isolation of social and cultural forces from the East which were impacting on the Greek world during the developmental period of Homeric tradition. Speaking in relation to the impact of the Near East on the development of Greek mythological tradition,Professor Kirk comments thus: 'That Greek myths were infected by Near Eastern themes is of very great importance. Not only because it casts a faint glimmer of light on the development of Greek culture and ideas in their formative stage, but also because it makes it easier to isolate the specifically Hellenic contribution, the particular intellectual and imaginative ingredients that made Greek civilization such a very different phenomenon from those of western Asia and Egypt.'17

As yet we are only imperfectly aware of the specific ways in which social and cultural forces helped shape Homeric tradition. But greater attention to the links across the wine-dark sea may well contribute significantly to Homeric scholarship in the future—as we see increasingly how the poet adapted, moulded, and transformed a vast range of disparate material into a coherent, compelling narrative, giving it a character and status which led to its position as one of the great masterpieces of Greek artistic achievement.
Getting back to the Bible proper, Gmirkin discusses the Documentary Hypothesis in more detail in "Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus:



An important insight of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century "Higher Criticism"
was the identification of distinct sources in the Pentateuch. The easiest to identify
and separate was the Deuteronomist (D), roughly equivalent to the book of
Deuteronomy. Another source was the Priestly Code (P), concerned primarily
with legal and priestly matters and only secondarily with history. The remainder
of the Pentateuch was mostly assigned to the Yahwist (J), which was a historical
narrative largely unconcerned with legislation. Additional material was assigned
to a fourth source, the Elohist (E), which (like P) typically referred to God as
Elohim rather than Yahweh. This book does not take issue with the Higher
Criticism's identification of different sources in the Pentateuch, each with its
own consistent vocabulary, interests and theological outlook.

The next step toward the development of the Documentary Hypothesis was
the determination of the relative chronology of the four sources J, E, D and P.
The stories in E were grafted onto those of J, while D used JE for its historical
framework. This argued for a relative sequence J, E, D. The relative position of
P was a matter of much debate. It was originally held that the Priestly Code
(which some attributed to Moses) was the earliest source document, but with the
arguments of De Graf, Vater and Wellhausen, there prevailed the viewpoint that
P was the last of the four sources.1

In its final form, the Documentary Hypothesis explained the four Pentateuchal
sources as representing distinct stages in the development of the Jewish religion
during successive periods in Jewish history. The J story, it was held, reflected
the most primitive phase of Jewish religion, before worship was fully centralized
at Jerusalem. Developmentally, this pointed to the Patriarchal or Judges
periods, when cult sites could be found throughout the Promised Land. Yet J
also displayed knowledge of a later period when kings ruled the Jews (and
neighboring Edomites).2 J was assigned a date ca. 850-800 BCE,3 when (it was
presumed) Solomon's temple was one among many locations at which sacrifices
to Yahweh were accepted. J contained virtually no legal content other than the
Decalogue and references to the Tablets of Moses and the Book of the Covenant.
4 It was therefore proposed that in the period represented by J, the Jewish
laws had not yet taken written form. Instead, an "Oral Torah" of traditional
regulations was entrusted to the priests, who rendered authoritative decisions on
religious practices and other matters. This Oral Torah, or Torah of the Priests as
Wellhausen also calls it, was not based on written regulations but on the special
knowledge and authority of the priests of Yahweh.5

The shadowy E source, showing little new theological development, is
thought to date to the eighth century BCE. Some have suggested that E was not a
distinct source, but consisted of minor additions to J.

Deuteronomy is thought to have been the first definitive and authoritative
Written Torah. The D source was dated to 621 BCE, in the eighteenth year of
Josiah king of Judah, when Jerusalem priests "discovered" the book of the Torah
in the temple.6 This discovery (it was argued) primarily benefited the Jerusalem
priests, since a public reading of the scroll prompted King Josiah to order the
destruction of all cult sites outside of Jerusalem. Additionally, 2 Kgs 22:14; 23:2
claimed that certain of the prophets endorsed the newly discovered scroll. To
Wellhausen and others, this raised the suspicion that the scroll was actually
written by the Jerusalem priests and prophets themselves.7 Of all the four Pentateuchal
sources, Deuteronomy alone insisted on a single legitimate place of worship
and sacrifice (presumably Jerusalem). Hence the Documentary Hypothesis
proposed that the scroll discovered (written) in 621 BCE was the book of Deu
teronomy.8 Deuteronomy's composition in 621 BCE was perhaps the most widely
accepted date in the chronological framework of the Documentary Hypothesis.
The date of P, however, was nearly as precise. The P source was held to represent
the final stage in the development of the Pentateuch, reflecting the priestly
legal code of the Babylonian exiles.9 "Ezra the priest" was said to have brought
the books containing the laws of Moses with him from Babylon in 458 BCE.
These Mosaic writings from Babylon were identified with P. Mysteriously, Ezra
did not immediately introduce his law,10 but waited until 444 BCE (at the earliest)
to produce the scroll and read it to the Jews returned from exile at a public
assembly ordered by the recently arrived Persian governor Nehemiah. The
Documentary Hypothesis therefore assigned the date of P to ca. 444 BCE. A final
stage in the composition of the Pentateuch took place when J, E and P were
combined and interwoven, the work of the Redactor (R), who is sometimes
identified with Ezra.11

The Documentary Hypothesis was in many respects a brilliant scholarly
construct, correlating biblical history, the evolution of the Jewish religion, and
the multiplicity of sources behind the Pentateuch. One hardly needs comment on
the extraordinary support the Documentary Hypothesis has enjoyed in the last
hundred years as the regnant theory on the development of the Pentateuch.
Nevertheless, in recent years it has become increasingly recognized that the
Documentary Hypothesis has serious, even fatal defects, especially in its
approach to Jewish history, which was based on an often pre-critical view of the
historiographical documents of the Hebrew Bible.12

12. The Documentary Hypothesis was both a literary theory (regarding identification and dating of Pentateuchal sources) and a historical theory (regarding the evolution of Jewish religion). The authors of the Documentary Hypothesis based its history of the Jewish religion directly on the biblical account, accepting that the cultic practices successively described in Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings reflected sequential historical periods in Jewish history. During the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, when biblical historiography was considered essentially historical, biblical scholarship shared the underlying premises of the Documentary Hypothesis and the Documentary Hypothesis enjoyed unrivaled acceptance. But starting with the sixties and seventies, a number of scholars successively called into question the historicity of the patriarchal period, the conquest, the judges period and (currently under debate) the United Monarchy. It is now increasingly accepted that even 1 and 2 Kings and Ezra-Nehemiah were not authored by historians in the modern sense of the word, and should be viewed as historiography (historywriting) rather than history per se. These books told stories set in the past that purport to present
history. In the case of Kings these stories presumably drew in part on royal archives, king-lists or other documentary sources and in some instances referred to personalities and events known from ancient Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions. Nevertheless, a story set in the past, even dealing with figures known or believed to have been historical, is not the same as a history, and the literary and theological elements of even 1 and 2 Kings and Ezra-Nehemiah caution us that these works cannot be assumed to be historically accurate throughout. See, generally, R. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study (JSOTSup 53; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 20-131, on the history of post-Wellhausian criticisms of the Documentary Hypothesis and alternative theories of the development of the Pentateuch.

1. Historical Premises of the Documentary Hypothesis

The historical framework of the Documentary Hypothesis rests above all on an
acceptance of the biblical reports of events under Josiah (2 Kgs 22-23) and later
under Ezra and Nehemiah (Neh 8-10):

As we are accustomed to infer the date of the composition of Deuteronomy from its
publication and introduction by Josiah, so we must infer the date of the composition of
the Priestly Code from its publication and introduction by Ezra and Nehemiah... The
origin of the canon thus lies, thanks to the two narratives 2 Kings xxii., xxiii., Neh.
viii.-x., in the full light of history.13

The Documentary Hypothesis made curious use of the reported events under
Josiah and Ezra. The accounts in 2 Kgs 22-23 and Neh 8-10 were uncritically
accepted as historically accurate: that a manuscript appeared under Josiah and
resulted in extensive cultic reforms, and that another text was introduced under
Ezra, was never questioned.14 It was only the interpretation of these manuscript
finds that came under the scrutiny of the Documentary Hypothesis. According
to this historical construct, an ancient copy of the law was not discovered during
the course of temple repairs, as reported by 2 Kgs 22-23, but rather, Deuteronomy
was newly composed by Jerusalem priests and prophets in order to
support the reforms of 621 BCE under Josiah.15 Similarly, the Priestly Code
reportedly brought from Babylon by Ezra in 458 BCE was not the ancient and
authentic writings of Moses, but a recent composition by Babylonian priests.16
Under the Documentary Hypothesis, then, it was accepted as historical fact that
texts of the Torah surfaced under Josiah and Ezra, but these were subjectively
and arbitrarily interpreted as new editions of the Torah. The Documentary
Hypothesis thus both required the acceptance of 2 Kgs 22-23 and Neh 8-10 as
containing a kernel of historicity, yet also required a rejection of the actual
content of these two stories, namely the discovery of old, authentic texts of the
laws of Moses.

The presumed historical content of 2 Kings and Ezra-Nehemiah was to some
extent predicated on an assumption of relative antiquity of these books. The
book of 2 Kings ended with events of 562 BCE, and throughout most of the
twentieth century it was believed that 1 and 2 Kings were written very shortly
after that date. Ezra-Nehemiah contained a list of high priests down to ca. 400
BCE, and it was believed that Ezra-Nehemiah was written very shortly after that
date. The reforms of Josiah were thus thought to have occurred within the living
memory of the author of 1 and 2 Kings; Ezra's reading of the law was thought to
have been recorded by one present at that event. Both datings are extremely
dubious. In each case, the earliest possible date was subjectively interpreted to
be the actual date of composition.

Yet no external evidence exists to establish an early date for either Kings or
Ezra—Nehemiah. The first externally datable reference to material from Kings
occurs in the book On the Kings ofJudea+by Demetrius the Chronographer (ca.
221-204 BCE).17 The books of 1 and 2 Kings could conceivably have been written
any time in the period 562-221 BCE. The assertion that Kings was written ca.
550 BCE, within living memory of Josiah's reforms of 621 BCE, is little more
than an assumption.18 Similarly, no external evidence exists that Ezra-Nehemiah
was composed in the Persian period. The first external reference to Nehemiah
occurs in the writings of Sirach (ca. 180 BCE); to Ezra even later. Given the lack
of objective external evidence for the antiquity of either Kings or Ezra-Nehemiah,
the heavy reliance on these books in constructing the history of the
development of the Pentateuch appears methodologically unsound.
Doubts about the historicity of Josiah's reforms as reported in 2 Kgs 22-23
were eloquently expressed by P. R. Davies in 1992:

According to 2 Kings 22-23 a "book of the covenant" was discovered in the Temple,
leading to royal reforms. The details of the reform suggest that the king was following
the requirements of the book of Deuteronomy or some form of it. The reform has long
been a linchpin of Biblical history, for upon it much of the scholarly reconstruction of
the history of "Israelite" literature depends. Let us first remind ourselves that the only
evidence for such a reform is the Biblical story itself. Let us then recall where the story
occurs, namely in a book whose ideology seems to be influenced by, or at least lie very
close to, that of the book of Deuteronomy. The argument of this book (2 Kings) is that
if the principles of Deuteronomy (for so they are) had been observed by "Israel" then
the kingdom of Judah would not, like its counterpart over a century earlier, have come
to an end. Thus, a piece of writing which is ideologically, and in some places linguistically,
close to the book of Deuteronomy claims that a law book, which it describes in a
way which makes it look very much like Deuteronomy, was once upon a time discovered
by a king and implemented (although the king was conveniently killed and the
reform overturned). Here we have before us an unverified attempt to give Deuteronomy
some antique authority and to argue that its contents are appropriate for implementation
in a political body. How much credence shall we Biblical critics give to such a story?...
Hardly reliable testimony; at least it needs some support before we can base any conclusions
upon it. But scarcely a Biblical scholar has ever entertained the thought (at
least in print) that this story might just be a convenient legend, that maybe no such
reform took place.19

Similar doubts could be raised with respect to the story of Ezra's purported
transporting of the books of Moses from Babylon to Judea in 458 BCE. Did
this story consist of historical events reliably recounted by eyewitnesses to
Ezra's reading of the law, or was it late legend whose purpose was to provide a
hoary antiquity to the books of Moses? It is significant that 2 Mace 3:12 gave
Nehemiah the credit for searching out and collecting together the Jewish scrolls
of antiquity (obviously including the books of Moses). 2 Maccabees, written in
the early first century BCE,20 knew nothing of Ezra's return of the books of the
Law from Babylon in 458 BCE or indeed of the figure of Ezra. Given the Ezra
tradition's possible late date and limited acceptance, its reliability as a witness
to the history of the Pentateuch in recent years has come increasingly under

The historical framework of the Documentary Hypothesis was based on the
untested premise that literary accounts of 2 Kgs 22-23 and Neh 8-10 represented
actual and accurate historical data. At the time the Documentary Hypothesis
was formulated, scholars neither saw the need to test the historicity of biblical
historiography nor had the means to do so. Today archaeological evidence and
inscriptional and other ancient textual finds play an increasingly dominant role
in reconstructing history and in testing the accuracy of literary sources. The
remainder of this chapter explores how the historical premises underlying the
Documentary Hypothesis stand up in light of modern archaeological and textual

Recent research has shown that the account of the Josiah reforms in 2 Kgs 22-
23 was of an essentially literary nature, assembled from phrases borrowed from
Deuteronomy describing what a reform should have looked like.21 This hardly
encourages confidence that the Josiah reforms reflected actual memories of a
historical event. The literary character of the described reforms raises the question
of whether these reforms ever took place in history. Current archaeological
evidence suggests that they did not. Efforts to find archaeological evidence for
the reforms of Josiah (or Hezekiah) in the form of destruction of cult sites have
not met with success:22

For many years archaeologists have been trying to find evidence for the reforms
mentioned in the Books of Kings. The assumption has been that destroying cult places
(bamot), demolishing altars and smashing sacred pillars—as the reforms are described
in the Bible—would leave traces which archaeologists would easily be able to identify
in the excavated sites. So far, however, these efforts have had no success. Neither at the
late eighth cen. BCE strata nor at those of the late seventh cen. BCE are there signs of a
drastic change in the cult. Nor is there archaeological evidence for iconoclasm of the
kind described in the histories of Hezekiah and Josiah.23

It thus appears that the Josiah reforms were of a literary, not historical character,
and lack supporting evidence from archaeology. If the Josiah reforms did not
take place, then D obviously was not introduced to support these reforms, and
one of the major historical and chronological premises of the Documentary
Hypothesis is invalidated.

If archaeology does not generally support the historicity of the Josiah reforms,
textual discoveries from the time of Josiah have an even more direct bearing on
the Documentary Hypothesis. Two silver amulets dating to the late seventh or
early sixth century BCE discovered at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem by G. Barkay
in 1980 contain a priestly benediction, three lines of which read: "May YHVH
bless and protect you; may YHVH look favorably upon you and grant you well
being" (translation by Yardeni). This has close parallels with Num 6:24-26,
although the latter contains an additional line.24 There has been considerable
debate whether the amulets from Ketef Hinnom record an oral form of benediction
or quote an earlier written (biblical) text. Several points argue against the
amulets quoting from an already-existing Pentateuchal written source. First,
Num 6:24-26 contains additional text and may be considered an expansion of a
simpler, earlier benediction such as that in the amulets of ca. 600 BCE.25 Second,
in both amulets, text before and after the three lines in question do not appear to
quote from the Pentateuch and bear no relation to the immediate context of Num
6:24-26. Third, Num 6:24-26 comes from P, which is usually regarded as postexilic
under the Documentary Hypothesis and would thus postdate the amulets
from Ketef Hinnom. However, some have used these amulets as evidence of a
pre-exilic date for P. But it has long been recognized that the benedictions in
Num 6:24-26 derive from an earlier oral source. Indeed, in Num 6:22-24 "we
actually find five different expressions referring to oral speech."26 It is thus
likely that the priestly benediction in the Ketef Hinnom amulets was not copied
from any existing written text, but drew on a priestly oral tradition of the precise
character that Wellhausen described as the Oral Torah.27 A passage in the second
amulet containing a parallel to Deut 7:9 may also have drawn on a common
oral formula. Yardeni summarized the implications of the amulets from Ketef
Hinnom as follows:

As the verses on the plaques appear outside a Biblical context they cannot prove that
the blessing was already incorporated into the Pentateuch in the early 6th century
B.C.E. They also cannot prove the existence of a written Pentateuch in the pre-exilic
period. Only a discovery of Biblical scrolls or even a fragment of a Biblical scroll could
serve as such a proof. The plaques can prove only that the priestly blessing was already
crystallized at that time and probably in current use.28

In summary, archaeological evidence argues against D having been introduced
under Josiah and instead supports a model whereby the worship of Yahweh,
even at Jerusalem, was still governed by Oral Torah, that is, by unwritten traditions
passed down among priests serving at Yahweh's temple(s).
Continuing from Gmirkin:

3. The Elephantine Papyri

The chronological framework of the Documentary Hypothesis therefore rests
entirely on the dubious testimony of 2 Kgs 22-23 and Neh 8-10, whose dates of
authorship and basic credibility are subject to debate. That the Documentary
Hypothesis relied exclusively on such quasi-historical documents as Kings and
Ezra-Nehemiah points to a fundamental difficulty in the theory, namely, the
lack of independent evidence for the sources and the stages of textual development
that the theory postulated.29 The earliest surviving biblical texts are those
of Qumran, dating to no earlier than the late third century BCE.
The earliest
externally dated edition of the Pentateuch of which we possess later copies is the
Greek Septuagint version, translated from the Hebrew under Ptolemy II Philadelphus
(282-246 BCE). There are no surviving biblical manuscripts of earlier
date that might serve to demonstrate the state of the Pentateuchal text in 900,
600 or even 400 BCE.
There is thus no potential for positive confirmation of the
Documentary Hypothesis by objective external means, short of some dramatic
fortuitous archaeological discovery. Arguments for the Documentary Hypothesis
have therefore tended to assume the absence of relevant external sources is
complete and that it is therefore permissible to ignore the question of corroboration
by external evidence as necessarily irrelevant to the discussion. Yet there
exist at least two relevant external sources of great evidentiary value to the
question of Pentateuchal origins and development which have previously been
overlooked in discussions of the Documentary Hypothesis. One is the Ketef
Hinnom amulets, discussed above. The second is the Elephantine Papyri, bearing
witness to the state of the biblical text at the close of the fifth century BCE
when, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, the final stages of Pentateuchal
composition and redaction was complete and the new Torah of Ezra was
promulgated as authoritative.

The Elephantine Papyri consist of approximately 80 papyri in Aramaic
discovered at Aswan in Egypt and originating from the Jewish military colony at
Yeb (Elephantine), at the second cataract of the Nile, guarding the Egyptian-
Ethiopian border. Many of the Elephantine Papyri were dated in terms of the
regnal years of the Persian kings who then ruled Egypt. The collection as a
whole came from the period 494-ca. 400 BCE. Most of these were letters, legal
documents, supply accounts and the like, but one (no. 21) contained an order
from Darius II in 419 BCE to the Jews at Elephantine enjoining them to observe
the Days of Unleavened Bread, while a second series (nos. 27, 30-34) documented
the Egyptian destruction of a Jewish temple at Yeb in 411 BCE and the
fruitless efforts of the colonists during the years 410-407 BCE to secure permis
sion to have it rebuilt.

The Elephantine Papyri confirm the Jewish worship of the god Ya'u (alongside
' Anath, Bethel, Ishum and Herem30); the Jewish observation of the Days of
Unleavened Bread and (probably) Passover (related ostraca referred to both
Passover and sabbath31); and the religious authority of the Jewish high priest at
Jerusalem from whom the Elephantine colonists sought support for the rebuilding
of the Jewish temple at Elephantine. Yet when the Elephantine Papyri are
scoured for evidence of the existence of the Pentateuch or any portion thereof,
the results are emphatically negative. There is no evidence that the priests at Yeb
were of Aaronide descent. Indeed, there is no mention of Aaron or Levites in the
papyri.32 Of over 160 Jews at Elephantine mentioned in the papyri, not one name
comes from the Pentateuch. Nor is there any reference in the papyri to the
Exodus or any other biblical event. Reference to laws of Moses or other authoritative
writings is entirely absent. This is perplexing since the priests supervising
the Jewish temple at Elephantine should have possessed and enforced the Jewish
Torah, which, according to the Documentary Hypothesis, was complete and
promulgated as authoritative during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. A. Cowley
commented succinctly on the complete lack of evidence for use or knowledge of
the Pentateuch at Elephantine:

What precisely constituted a kahen [priest] at Elephantine does not appear. One of their
prerogatives, we might suppose, would be to possess the Law of Moses and to administer
it. Yet there is no hint of its existence. We should expect that in 30.25 they would
say "offer sacrifice according to our law," and that in other places they would make
some allusion to it. But there is none. So far as we leam from these texts Moses might
never have existed, there might have been no bondage in Egypt, no exodus, no monarchy,
no prophets. There is no mention of other tribes and no claim to any heritage in the
land of Judah. Among the numerous names of colonists, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph,
Moses, Samuel, David, so common in later times, never occur (nor in Nehemiah), nor
any other name derived from their past history as recorded in the Pentateuch and early
literature. It is almost incredible, but it is true.33

The extraordinary absence of any reference to the contents of the Pentateuch in
the Elephantine Papyri is ail the more remarkable given the friendly contacts
between the Jews of Elephantine and the priests of the temple of Jerusalem.
Letter no. 21, for instance, contained a directive in 419 BCE from King Darius II
to Arsames, governor of Egypt, to instruct (or perhaps permit) the Jewish garrison
at Elephantine to observe the Days of Unleavened Bread.34 Accompanying
this edict were additional instructions from an important Jewish official named
Hananiah35 whose visit to Egypt was also mentioned at 38.7. The extra information
provided by Hananiah regarded the date of the Days of Unleavened Bread
(from Nisan 14 to 22) and the regulations regarding its observance (abstinence
from work, fermented beer or leavened bread). The edict as a whole rested on the
authority of Darius and Arsames, and more informally on the authority of
Hananiah himself, rather than appealing to a written Torah.36 The Days of
Unleavened Bread (and Passover?37) were mentioned without any reference to
the Exodus. The recipients of the letter were not told to read a Torah in their
possession, nor were the instructions for the festival said to be in accordance
with a written Jewish law code. Rather, this letter shows that religious practices
were governed by direct decree from the Jerusalem temple hierarchy rather than
by reference to authoritative religious documents. Such religious ordinances as
existed in ca. 420 BCE were promulgated under the personal authority of the
Jerusalem priests rather than a hypothetical Pentateuch.

The existence of the Pentateuch as early as the late fifth century BCE is ren
dered even more questionable by the appeal of the Elephantine Jews to "Johanan
the high priest and his colleagues the priests who are in Jerusalem"38 in 408 BCE
for help in securing permission to rebuild the temple at Elephantine. This temple,
founded before the Persian conquest of Egypt under Cambyses in 525 BCE,39
had been looted and burned by Egyptians (possibly upset at Jewish sacrifices of
animals sacred to the Egyptians) in a local uprising in 411 BCE.40 The Jewish
temple at Yeb possessed altars for both incense offerings and animal sacrifices,
and was surrounded by an impressive enclosure wall with five gates. Such a
temple clearly violated Deuteronomic law.41 And yet the priests of Elephantine
maintained friendly contact with the priests of the Jerusalem temple and even
appealed to them for assistance in restoring their own temple at Elephantine.
That the Elephantine Jews made such an appeal seems highly inconsistent with
the existence of an authoritative Pentateuchal tradition banning all altars or local
sacrifices outside of Jerusalem:

There is no hint of any suspicion that the [Elephantine] temple could be considered
heretical, and they would surely not have appealed to the High Priest at Jerusalem if
they had felt any doubt about it. On the contrary they give the impression of being
proud of having a temple of their own, and as pious devotees of Ya'u (no other god is
mentioned in the petition) seriously distressed at the loss of religious opportunities
caused by its destruction.42

Efforts to reconcile the existence of an authoritative Pentateuchal text promulgated
by Ezra with the existence of a local Jewish temple at Elephantine—clearly
heterodox by Pentateuchal standards—usually characterize the Elephantine cult
as an isolated holdover from Jewish religious practices of the sixth century BCE
before the reforms of Ezra, or even the seventh century BCE before the reforms
of Josiah.43 This explanation founders on the continued contact between the
priests of Jerusalem and the colonists at Elephantine as documented in letters
21, 27 and 30-34. The letter regarding the Days of Unleavened Bread demonstrates
that the Elephantine colonists followed religious practices emanating
from Judea. The letters regarding the restoration of the temple at Yeb also show
that the Elephantine colonists recognized the superior authority of the high priest
and his associates at Jerusalem's temple. All available evidence indicates the
Elephantine Jews maintained contact with Jerusalem, recognized the supremacy
and authority of the Jerusalem priesthood, followed their directives in religious
matters and in all ways remained loyal and subservient to the Jerusalem temple
and its high priest. The antiquity of the Elephantine military colony and temple
clearly did not isolate them from the Jerusalem cult and does not adequately
explain their (allegedly) heterodox practices in the Persian period. Rather, the
Elephantine Papyri appear to demonstrate that local cult centers dedicated to
Yahweh could operate freely and even with an expectation of support from
Jerusalem as late as 407 BCE.

FOOTNOTE 43: Attempts to reconcile the Elephantine Papyri with the Documentary Hypothesis postulate coexisting Judaisms, one centralized and monotheistic, having its center at Ezra's Jerusalem, and the other decentralized and polytheistic, aberrant holdovers from an earlier age, exampled at Elephantine. Ignoring the fact that the Elephantine Papyri argue against the presence of a strict monotheistic Judaism in fifth-century BCE Jerusalem, and granting for the sake of argument that the polytheistic Jewish colony and temple at Yeb represents some sort of aberration, this alleged coexistence of Judaisms still undermines the very premise of the Documentary Hypothesis. For if centralized monotheism and decentralized polytheism coexisted in 407 BCE, on what basis can one then argue that the decentralized, polytheistic J and E sources chronologically precede the
monotheistic centralized Judaism of D and P? Even under this tortured interpretation of the Elephantine data, the staged evolution of Jewish religion envisioned by the Documentary Hypothesis is entirely falsified and discredited. But it is methodologically improper to interpret contemporary papyrological documents in the light of an unsubstantiated literary hypothesis. It is preferable to take the evidence of the Elephantine Papyri at face value as documenting a continued acceptance of polytheism and a decentralized temple cult in late fifth century BCE Judaism.

In summary, external evidence relevant to the Documentary Hypothesis does
exist in the form of the Elephantine Papyri. The most important of these date to
the last quarter of the fifth century BCE,44 after the formal promulgation of an
authoritative, completed Pentateuch according to the chronological framework
of the Documentary Hypothesis
. These papyri show no reference to a written
Torah, no trace of Pentateuchal traditions or even knowledge of the names of
figures appearing in the Pentateuch. There was definite knowledge of a Jerusalem
priesthood authoritative in religious matters, but this priesthood made no
detectable use of a written Torah in its contacts with the Elephantine colony and
indeed appears to have accommodated a temple and (non-Aaronide?) priesthood
at Elephantine in direct conflict with Pentateuchal regulations.
Available evidence
thus reasonably implies that the Torah at Jerusalem of the fifth century
BCE had not yet attained the authority, written form or even legal content of the
Pentateuch of the third century BCE and thereafter. The Elephantine Papyri at
best document an "Oral Torah" of priestly regulations emanating from the Jerusalem
45 One is not yet even justified in referring to a "Law of Moses,"
for there is not yet evidence that Jewish priestly regulations had been attached to
the figure of Moses at this early date.

Given the negative evidence of the Elephantine Papyri, the historical construct
proposed under the Documentary Hypothesis cannot be accepted. It is not
merely that the Documentary Hypothesis is argued in absence of relevant
archaeological evidence, but actually in opposition to relevant archaeological
evidence. Ironically, the evidence of the Elephantine Papyri has not been
brought to bear on the question of the Documentary Hypothesis by either adherents
or opponents of that theory. Had the Elephantine Papyri been discovered
before the development of the Documentary Hypothesis, it is doubtful that the
latter would have enjoyed acceptance in the face of such obviously contradictory
external evidence. But at the time of the discovery of the Elephantine Papyri, the
Documentary Hypothesis was already an entrenched tenet of biblical scholarship;
even Cowley, who noted the great discrepancies between the theory of the
development of the Pentateuch and the actual evidence at Elephantine, was a
staunch adherent of the Documentary Hypothesis.46 His publication and discussion
of the Elephantine Papyri therefore attempted as best as possible to accommodate
the Documentary Hypothesis to the new discoveries, leading to the
common perception that the two could coexist. In recent decades, when serious
doubts have been raised about the Documentary Hypothesis, the relevance of the
Elephantine Papyri to the discussion has therefore been entirely overlooked.
This thread has been an amazing journey for me. It has also helped me so a lot of errors in my own thinking and way of communicating. As always I am amazed at how sharp everybody on this forum is.

Laura, thank you for all the quotes and information paralleling the OT and other classical works. There is so much for me to work through here and I will get to it soon as I find the time.
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