Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dating Tanach

In the book of Ecclesiastes (Kohelet) there are used two very interesting words. "Pardes" in 2:5 and "Pitgam" in 8:11. "Pardes" is also seen in the book of Song Of Songs (Shir HaShirim) 4:13. Why are these words interesting? Because they are words borrowed from the Persian language.

Here is the etymology of the word "pardes": it is derived from the Old Persian "pairidaeza" which can be broken down in Farsi into pairi (around) and daeza (wall). It describes an enclosed garden. The word has even been found in the ancient scripture Avesta of the Zoroastrian faith. It is the source of the English word "paradise."

How could Solomon have known of and used Persian words if Persia had never come in contact with Israel during the proposed time of Solomon's lifetime? The use of these foreign words in these books necessarily pushes the writing of the texts several centuries after Solomon's death until at least when Israel comes under Persian rule.

So did Solomon write these books? It seems doubtful.

7 comments:

ADDeRabbi said...

What terrible Kfirah!!

BTW, the word 'aperion' which appears in Shir Ha-Shirim is of Greek origin.

Another interesting Greek word is 'pseudoepigrapha' which means 'falsely-attributed writings'. It was common for later writers to lend credibility to their writings by attributing them to an ancient source.

2 other bits:
The triple canonization of Torah, Neviim, and Ketuvim was chronological. WO/ going into it, the Navi was 'canonized' by the beginning of the Hellenistic era, whereas the Ketuvim weren't canonized until after the destruction of the 2nd Temple (see the Mishnayot in Yadayim about which books are 'metamei'. Notice only Ketuvim are in there.

Also, the Rabbonim may have had a very strong interest in dating the last of the books of TNK at the beginning of 2nd Temple - it creates a gulf of about 500 years between the last book of TNK and the time when the Nazarene lived. They would have wanted to be clear about the lack of Biblical continuity between the end of TNK and the place where the Xtian bible picks up. The Xtian bible contains apocryphal works that are blatantly mid- and late second temple. Chazal didn't include them in TNK, and the ones they did, they attributed to much earlier.

It worked. I'm free to talk about the canonicity of TNK wo/ having to feel threatened by Xtianity.

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