Source of Bible Covenant with God discovered?
April 13, 4:20 PMFreethought ExaminerD.M. Murdock
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god calling abraham to his covenant image
Archaeologists working in Turkey have unearthed an Assyrian tablet dating to around 670 BCE that "could have served as a model for the biblical description of God's covenant with the Israelites." What this fascinating discovery suggests, of course, is that the Bible tale of a divine pact does not represent "history" or a "factual" event, but is instead a fictional rewrite, borrowing or plagiarism of this older Assyrian treaty.
Over the centuries, many Bible critics, minimalists and mythicists have asserted that much of the Old Testament constitutes not factual history but a rehash of ancient myths and traditions dating to before the founding of the Jewish kingdom. This new find apparently adds more evidence to that theory, and it is quite refreshing that both the scholars and the media are spelling out clearly this possible "borrowing," without prejudice in favor of bibliolatry or upholding unprovable matters of faith.
Ancient treaty resembles part of the Bible
Canadian archeologists in Turkey have unearthed an ancient treaty that could have served as a model for the biblical description of God's covenant with the Israelites.
The tablet, dating to about 670 BC, is a treaty between the powerful Assyrian king and his weaker vassal states, written in a highly formulaic language very similar in form and style to the story of Abraham's covenant with God in the Hebrew Bible, says University of Toronto archeologist Timothy Harrison.
Although biblical scholarship differs, it is widely accepted that the Hebrew Bible was being assembled around the same time as this treaty, the seventh century BC.
"Those documents...seem to reflect very closely the formulaic structure of these treaty documents," he told about 50 guests at the Ottawa residence of the Turkish ambassador, Rafet Akgunay.
He was not necessarily saying the Hebrews copied the Assyrian text, substituting their own story about how God liberated them from slavery in Egypt on the condition that they worship only Him and follow His commandments.
But it will be interesting for scholars to have this parallel document.
"The language in the [Assyrian] texts is [very similar] and now we have a treaty document just a few miles up the road from Jerusalem."...
Notable is the fact "it is widely accepted that the Hebrew Bible was being assembled around the same time as this treaty," i.e., during the 7th century BCE. The case for this "late" dating of the Old Testament's compilation - with a significant part of it also written later, after the Jews' "Babylonian Exile" (597-538 BCE) - has been made by Israeli archaeologists, including and especially Israel Finkelstein in The Bible Unearthed.
Although the article states that the archaeologist Timothy Harrison "was not necessarily saying the Hebrews copied the Assyrian text, substituting their own story about how God liberated them from slavery in Egypt," it is nonetheless raising that very issue in a manner which breaks with the centuries-old tradition of bending all finds in the "Holy Land" and other places of biblical interest to fit the Bible, in attempts to prove the "Good Book" as "history." It is obvious that this sort of bibliolatry appeasement from the more scientific segment of society is losing ground precisely because of such discoveries - and the implication of this one is a doozy.
No historical covenant with God?
It needs to be emphasized that this intriguing development concerns not just any biblical event but the very covenant between God and the Israelites - here indicated as not something supernatural that actually occurred but, rather, as mere human propaganda based on older texts from other cultures. This discovery, therefore, would essentially negate the basic premise of the Old Testament: To wit, that the Hebrews, Israelites and Jews are the "chosen people" of the Lord of the universe.
Needless to say, for those of us who have been stating as much for many years - and getting pilloried for our efforts - this archaeological find is very exciting, as it adds to the growing body of hard, scientific evidence that the Bible is not "God's Word" but a manmade cultural artifact designed for propagandistic purposes.
Furthermore, as the Old Testament is thus apparently in significant part a rehash and rewriting of the traditions and myths of other cultures, so does the New Testament story of Jesus Christ represent a remake of the mythical motifs of pre-Christian cultures, combined with OT scriptures serving as "blueprints" for the gospel tale's creation.
D.M. Murdock is the author of controversial books and articles on comparative religion and mythology that can be found at TruthBeKnown.com, Stellar House Publishing and Freethought Nation. For more articles from the Freethought Examiner, be sure to subscribe!