I think I’ll go out on a limb and label this journalistic paleobabble. The press release breathlessly proclaims:
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.
Wow. An Assyrian tablet from the 7th century BC that could have served as a structural model for the biblical law covenant? Really? Ooh, I’m getting goosebumps.
Folks, there’s already been a pile of comparative literary-critical work done in this area with many other ancient Near Eastern covenants recovered from cuneiform tablets (Akkadian, Hittite). Here’s a sample. There are whole books written on this subject.
The fact is that biblical covenants follow known covenant patterns precisely because the biblical writers weren’t morons. Think of this sort of genre criticism/comparison this way. If you hired a lawyer who wrote up a legal brief, presented it to the court, and then the judge said, after reading it, “Is your lawyer a doofus? Doesn’t he know how these things are written?” you’d probably better fire him/her. In other words, there was a *proper* way in literary terms to write a covenant. Trained scribes know that sort of thing. And that doesn’t speak to time of origin, either. It is well known that earlier documents of the Hebrew Bible were edited and put into final form during the Babylonian exile. That means that trained scribes fashioned the final form with literary skill. Larry, Moe, and Curly weren’t the ones doing it. They weren’t numbskulls who asked “hey, now that we decided to write a covenant, what should we put in it? I sure wish we had an Assyrian tablet to copy from.” They were trained in proper form, knew what they wanted to write about their covenant with their god, and did so.
It wasn’t rocket science, and this discovery covers old ground. Just more sensationalistic paleobabble from where I sit.
thanks for the work you put in to the site. I’ve bookmarked it as a future resource. I’m finishing my bachelor in Bible this semester and have also begun seminary at WRS.edu.
I like your reasoning on this point. In addition and biblically speaking, Yahweh would not give a law that would contradict his creation. Mosaic Law and other laws have great similarities because mankind is created in the image of God. Although marred in every area, mankind (whether Jew or Gentile) retains vestige of righteousness and holiness. Yahweh did not create and give the Hebrews something new to the universe nor did he create something specifically for the nature of the Hebrews, but codified what was already his law in the lives of every person. To my understanding, giving the Law to Moses to give to the Children of Israel is something that carries over from Old Testament to New: God’s people are to be peculiar, not like the rest of the nations, for the purpose of being a light in a dark world. In relation to Israel, it was more than just a rule book, but they were not able to keep it fully if they were meant to be just robots. The Mosaic Law, as well as all other codes, show the need for the grace of God. A person can never fully live up to the law of God, nor to the law that he creates in his own life or country.
how can a tablet written AFTER the tablets referred to by Moses, be “pre” anything of the 10 commandment tablets? Obviously a hoax.
You’d think God would give them laws in a way they might understand…