Saturday, August 11, 2012

Comment-Collapse Trauma from BibleInterp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

G.M. Grena

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Cargill Syndrome Infects Tel Aviv Scholar

"These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also!" (Acts 17:6).

As noted in comments by the ever-alert pithom to my previous Wordpress post, the excavators at Azekah/Zakariya found a handle this past week, & Omer Sergi positively identified it as an M4x. Fortunately Robert Cargill (of upside-down Talpiot-ossuary-image fame) made a video recording, which was shared on YouTube, & linked on Tel Azekah's official Facebook & Wordpress sites with these respective descriptions:

"Here's a video Bob Cargill took today, Aug 2, 2012 at Tel Azekah of (very-soon-to-be Dr. -- c'mon Oded, read that dissertation!) Omer Sergei, Supervisor of Tel Azekah Area S-2. Chaim pulled a LMLK jar handle out of the ground, and Omer sight read it and then gave an impromptu lecture to the student volunteers on LMLK seals."

"On our Facebook and Youtube sites you can see a great video Bob Cargill filmed when a lemelekh MMST jar handle came out of a wall and Omer Sergey took the time to explain it."

Yesterday I commemorated the video as an official LMLK Milestone on the LRW. Here's a complete transcript [with bracketed comments by me]:

Text: "Omer Sergi (Tel Aviv Univ.) gives an impromptu lecture on LMLK seals after discovering and sight reading one at Tel Azekah"

[At the end of the video, credit goes to a man named Chaim for discovering it, but Sergi deserves all the credit for the erroneous sight reading.]

Omer Sergi [OS]: "This is, this is a stamp impression, & you can see..."

Unidentified woman [UW]: "Oh! Look! Yeah!"

OS: "...its 2 arms, & 2 more here. This is a scarab. This is... We call it 4-winged LMLK stamp impression..."

UW: "That's a nice impression!"

OS: "...& I can see here the letter Tav, you know ancient Hebrew, & Shin, which means that the name of the place name below the LMLK was Momshot."

Robert Cargill [RC]: "Momsheet? Momshot?"

OS: "Momshit, yeah. The Tav is clear."

[Having blown the orientation & reading of the inscription, he raises the handle to his mouth & literally blows on it!]

Unidentified man [UM]: "What does that mean, the name?"

OS: "The name was... The LMLK stamp... Okay, you know nothing about LMLK stamp impressions, huh?"

[The ideal audience for a university professor to indoctrinate.]

OS: "LMLK stamp impressions mark the, LMLK in Hebrew means 'Belonging to the king'."

UM: "Oh, okay."

OS: "Okay, & it marks commodities, & the culture of commodities that were produced in the royal estates of the king. Each LMLK stamp impression has a symbol, which is polytheistic symbol by the way."

[Not necessarily true, & should not be taught as an objective fact but as a subjective interpretation!]

OS: "It's all a double-winged sun-disk, which is a symbol of gods in many, many ancient Near Eastern cultures, or the scarab. These, these are the symbol. Above the symbol you always have the 'Belonging to the king' LMLK..."

[Except when you don't!]

OS: "Here you can clearly see the Lamed & the Kaf; the Mems, I don't see them..."

[Note that there's only 1 Mem in LMLK, but that's a forgivable offense, especially if English is not your primary language, or you're thinking of 2 Lameds. Here he's pointing to the top-right register, which when oriented correctly would be the lower-left register, which in this instance contains traces of the Kaf & Hey of SUKE. Had he oriented it correctly, he would easily have seen the Mem & 2 Lameds.]

OS: "La-, yeah, Lamed & Kaf are clear above. You can look at it later; I can show you the letters. And below there was the name of the royal estate."

[Except for the fact that it doesn't actually say "Royal Estate"; it just has the word that some scholars subjectively interpret as the name of a royal estate.]

OS: "We have 4--Hebron, Momshit, Sokho, & Zif. Sokho is Sochoh here."

[While other scholars believe it's the Socho southwest of Hebron, but go ahead, continue presenting your subjective opinion as if it's a scientific fact since that's the norm for university professors.]

OS: "So the jars were, we know that, that the jars were..."

[He stuttered due to my Ninja time-traveling thought waves signaling that I was going to challenge him on the S-word location issue!]

OS: "...made in 1 workshop, that probably was a royal workshop, & the officials of the Judahite kings, the kings of the House of David..."

[Whoa!!! Wait a minute!!! Did he just acknowledge the existence of the HOD?!?! No, he probably meant to say "the kings of the mythological House of David."]

OS: "...came to this workshop, each LMLK jar was made, & then it was stamped. Now according to the stamp..."

[Mind you, it was according to the stamp; not according to the objective scholar's subjective interpretation of the meaning of the stamp, but according to the stamp itself!]

OS: " was sent to the royal estate. In the royal estate it was filled with royal agriculture, with probably wine or oil, but I guess wine; & from the royal estate it was distributed to the cities of Judah. Okay?"

[Why would a king send produce from his estates to cities all over his kingdom in marked jars, when many more unmarked jars were sent there too? Beware whenever you hear or read a scholar attempting to explain LMLK seals without attempting to explain Type 484 jars in general.]

OS: "Umm, so this is kind of administrative economic system that was used in the kingdom of Judah, the LMLK system from last 3rd of the 8th century..."

[Fairytale warning!]

OS: "...when Judah became subjugated to the Assyrian empire. This is when this system began to operate..."

[Fairytale complete; continue reading & you'll see he does not acknowledge that this time spanned the Bible & Assyrian sources recording King Hezekiah rebelling against Assyria; otherwise Sergi would have to account for a Judean king sending Assyrian provisions all over Judah. Is there a record of Sennacherib sparing the Assyrians living in all the Judean cities he conquered?]

OS: "...& LMLK continued at least probably till the 2nd, the, somewhere in the first half of the 7th century, & then it was replaced in another system of stamp impressions, but the sys-, the economic system stayed the same; the stamp impression was changed. Okay?"

[The system of the Judean king sending stamped & unstamped empty jars to royal estates for filling, then sending the stamped & unstamped filled jars throughout the kingdom?!?! Uh, no, that's not okay because it doesn't make any sense, nor does it account for Hezekiah's rebellion or Manasseh's policy change, or the 484-483 pottery-style change.]

RC: "Can I get a..."

UM: "Nice video!"

RC: "Yeah, it was good. See if we can get it to do a close-up here."

[As he continues holding it in the same upside-down position as Sergi.]

OS: "Anyway, Chaim gets..."

RC: "Hold that, hold that right there. Just hold it right there for a second."

[ the misleading, upside-down position from which Dr. Cargill is most comfortable working!]

UM: "Very nice job!"

OS: "Nice job, Chaim! I think he's the man of the day now."

In response, pithom (using the name againstjebelallawz) posted this comment on the YouTube page:

"A four-winged MMST? These are pretty rare! A clear photograph is a necessity (to determine whether the seal used to stamp the jar was of Grena's Cursory or Lapidarist phase)."

Then I posted this comment (when the video had only 20 views total):

"I can't say with absolute certainty, but based on the upside-down orientation shown in the final few seconds of the video, I think it comes from the 'Absalom's Tomb' phase."

In response, againstjebelallawz wrote:

"Is that a reference to the Tabor 'fish' fiasco earlier this year?"

After returning home later in the day I continued (not responding to his fish remark since it was obviously rhetorical):

"Most likely a shifted S4L. In all fairness to Dr. Cargill, Omer Sergi was holding it upside-down, & at 0:27 pointed to the '[MM]ST' in the bottom-left register, which would actually be the 'LM' register (top-right in proper orientation). Notice that at 0:38 he emphasizes that 'the Tav is clear.' This is why seasoned scholars like to take time to study objects in detail prior to formal publication. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to Cargill for sharing this first-ever LMLK-excavation video."

If the video is still online, you'll see that they (Sergi &/or Cargill) decided that it's better for the world if these comments didn't exist, so they deleted them.

This is a great example of the state-of-mind of some university-level scholars: Rather than admitting a simple mistake, rather than allowing someone else to present an alternate interpretation, it's better to censor others, & present yourself as the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz (hiding behind a curtain of insecurity).

What makes this a particularly egregious intellectual offense is that these are the same people who accuse the Bible writers of inventing/presenting false history.

Same thing happened over at The Bible & Interpretation this past week. But I'd prefer to cover that in detail in a separate post.

G.M. Grena