Sunday, April 26, 2015

Who Wrote the Primary History?

The real answer is that we likely will never know.

The literary criticism that informs theories such as the Documentary Hypothesis and the Deuteronomistic History cannot support the conclusions of those theories regarding who wrote what when.  At best, literary criticism can identify different sources, i.e., literary criticism can be used as a form of linguistic forensics to detect forgery, redactions and interpolations.

Neither can literary criticism provide any support for my conclusions regarding the authorship of the Primary History.

But the anachronisms that I have discovered in the Primary History do clearly determine when the stories of Saul, David and Solomon must have been written originally: after the death of Ptolemy II Philadelphus and before the marriage of Ptolemy V to Cleopatra I.  That is, between 246 BCE and 194 BCE.

Further, the parallels between the lives of Alexander, Ptolemy I and Ptolemy II, on the one hand, and Saul, David and Solomon, on the other indicates a hostility towards the Ptolemies and even implies some salacious details regarding their history that are no longer available to us (the parallels are a mirror, albeit one distorted by polemic; still there likely was an Absalom among Ptolemy I's sons, for example).

Still, I cannot say for certain who first wrote the Primary History.  Was it indigenous Judeans?  Or was it ruling Hellenes?  For a variety of reasons, I select the latter, but unless we find new evidence, my conclusion likely will never be confirmed.


  1. So the primary history was written significantly later than is commonly thought. And if the current version we have demonstrates hostility towards the Ptolemies, it would follow that the current version we have was written/modified for the purpose of tarnishing the Prolemies' legacy and furthering that of their political opponent, an opponent like... ...the Seleucids! The original text could have been modified by the Seleucids, from what was most likely a pro-Ptolemaic work, and therefore possibly/likely written by the Ptolemies, to an anti-Ptolemaic and pro-Seleucid work.

  2. The text evolved over time. I argue that the original versions of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Joshua (with Moses in the title role) were sponsored by the Ptolemies. I further argue that the original version of the Primary History, including revisions to the Ptolemaic text, was sponsored by the Seleucids. The Primary History was subsequently amended by the Hasmoneans to incorporate certain pro-Davidic themes, including Isaiah's prophecy of the return of the House of David's rule.

    The original Ptolemaic books likely were not overtly pro-Ptolemaic, and they certainly were not anti-Seleucid, but they would have been pro-Egyptian in the sense that Judea was portrayed as an Egyptian colony (see the description of Moses' founding of Jerusalem allegedly from Hecataeus of Abdera).