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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

British Museum

The sheffield History, Archaeology and Historiography seminar went on its British Museum trip last weekend. The main reason was to see the Persian exhibition and it is something else when you have a few experts in your party able to explain all sorts of things. there are a few small pictures here. There was also the very interesting seige of Lachish from the palace of Sennacherib. It was mentioned that the Judeans were not wearing tzitzit and that this may have some significance concerning the dating of the Pentateuch. Any Hebrew Bible people like to comment on that one?

And the rest of the day was pretty impressive too with a great meal, a strangely good pub for London, and one memorable train journey (and in the UK that is really saying something). But that's all you'll hear on that.


Blogger Ken said...

When we do we get our first reliefs or portraits of Jews wearing tzitzit? Do we know how this commandment was fulfilled, if it was, in pre-Hellenistic Judean society? Did they wear the tzitzit as an undergarment or as a shawl or in some other fashion? Would soldiers or captives have been depicted with tzitzit? Not having researched this, I can only pose the questions that would need to be addressed.

In any case and more to the point, Sennacherib's invasion is very early in the compositional history of the Pentateuch by any critical scholar's reckoning. The relief predates Josiah and the finding of the book of the Law that some have identified as Deuteronomy (and more contentiously others as the Pentateuch) and it quite obviously predates the exile and the subsequent Persian period when most scholars generally date the near-to-final composition of the Torah. It is also unclear to what extent an orthodoxy existed in Hezekiah's time according to which we'd expect the tzitzit to be worn as a distinctive characteristic of Judahites, especially those of another major center like Lachish that may have had its own cultic pecularities.

In short, James, while it's an interesting angle, I don't think it really bears on the problem of the composition of the Pentateuch. It's too ambiguous a marker, especially for such a presumably early moment in the compositional history of the Pentateuch nor does it provides any indication whatsoever that the Pentateuch is a Hellenistic document as Jim suggests. There's 400 years between Sennacherib's invasion and the beginning of the Hellenistic period.

December 13, 2005

Blogger James Crossley said...

Thanks, I was just tying to provoke something on this as it was a comment made and it is not my era/area and I agree a proper study would have to ask the questions you raised. But you do seem to suggest that it would be unlikely Judeans would wear tzitzit because the Pentateuch was not close to being finalised, right? This is more out of interest for me as I agree this is an interesting issue.

December 14, 2005


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