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Creating the Hebrew Bible

Jewish Ideas Daily had an interview with Dr. Irving Finkel who is the Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian Inscriptions at the British Museum. In this interview he talks about how the scriptures were created during the Babylonian exile to forge a religious identity. The PBS Documentary Bible’s Buried Secrets had mentioned this thesis before

The exile challenged the Judeans to refine their ideas about their single God. Thinking of God as an elusive abstraction did not serve to maintain cohesion. To complicate matters further, there were local theologians in Babylon who were also arguing for one god: their patron deity was Marduk, and they held that all the other gods were but manifestations of his powers. We have cuneiform records encapsulating this dispute among Babylonian theologians.

As a single god, Marduk contributed to the insecurity of Jewish belief. The great fear was that the Judean flock would succumb to idol worship or to marrying out, or both. If that happened, the population would disappear just like the Northern Israelites in Assyria. This threat engendered the need for the biblical text to be finished, in order to solidify the Judeans’ belief in their superior understanding of monotheism.  What was needed was a theology.

So the “Jews” did something to prevent a replay of the Assyrian outcome. What they did was to produce the Bible, a work that practically screams out that it was written by humans. [But for the Grace of Babylon]

One Response to Creating the Hebrew Bible

  1. kedar March 14, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    “their patron deity was Marduk, and they held that all the other gods were but manifestations of his powers.”

    Who were these babylonian Marduk worshippers whose theology somewhat resembles “ekam sat vipraah bahudhaah vadanti”?

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