Sunday, December 18, 2011
Abraham: Historicity and Origins
It is generally recognised by scholars that there is nothing in the Genesis stories that can be related to the history of Canaan of the early 2nd millennium: none of the kings mentioned is known, Abimelech could not be a Philistine (they did not arrive till centuries later), Ur could not become known as "Ur of the Chaldeans" until the early 1st millennium, and Laban could not have been an Aramean, as the Arameans did not become an identifiable political entity until the 12th century. Joseph Blenkinsopp, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Notre Dame, notes that the past four or five decades have seen a growing consensus that the Genesis narrative of Abraham originated from literary circles of the 6th and 5th centuries BCE as a mirror of the situation facing the Jewish community under the Babylonian and early Persian empires. Blenkinsopp describes two conclusions about Abraham that are widely held in biblical scholarship: the first is that, except in the triad "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," he is not clearly and unambiguously attested in the Bible earlier than the Babylonian exile ; the second is that he became, in the Persian period, a model for those who would return from Babylon to Judah. Beyond this the Abraham story (and those of Isaac and Jacob/Israel) served a theological purpose following the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple and the Davidic kingship: despite the loss of these things, Yahweh's dealings with the ancestors provided a historical foundation on which hope for the future could be built. There is basic agreement that his connection with Haran, Shechem and Bethel is secondary and originated when he became identified as the father of Jacob and ancestor of the northern tribes; his association with Mamre and Hebron, on the other hand (in the south, in the territory of Jerusalem and Judah), suggest that this region was the original home of his cult.
Editor's Note: The positional credibility of white Jews, black Hebrews, Christians, and Muslims is tragically faulty when the historical origins of the patriarch Abraham are examined in light of objective scholastic evidence.
This is the alleged Tomb of Abraham on the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Is this really credible from an archaeological vantage point, or sentimental religious exhibitionism, at its finest?