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1 Destro  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 12:59:11pm

Also, related:

Was David and Goliath plagiarized from Homer’s Iliad?

Something interesting I discovered today was the link between the David and Goliath story and Homer’s Iliad. I’ve already come to understand how much of the Old Testament (especially the flood story, but there are others) were lifted from Sumerian stories (Abraham was raised in, and left behind, a highly developed Sumerian culture before founding his new religious movement).

But I hadn’t considered the extent to which Old Testament scribes borrowed from successful Greek Literature such as the Iliad.

In 2004 Azzan Yadin suggested that the armor described in 1 Samuel 17 is typical of Greek armor of the sixth century BC rather than of Philistines armor of the tenth century, and that narrative formulae such as the settlement of battle by single combat between champions is characteristic of the Homeric epics (the Iliad) but not of the ancient Near East. Yadin also suggested that the designation of Goliath as a איש הביניים, “man of the in-between” (a longstanding difficulty in translating 1 Samuel 17) appears to be a borrowing from Greek “man of the metaikhmion (μεταίχμιον)”, i.e. the space between two opposite army camps where champion combat would take place.[16]

Martin Litchfield West has pointed out that a story very similar to that of David and Goliath appears in the Iliad, where the young Nestor fights and conquers the giant Ereuthalion.

[Link: www.holyblasphemy.net...]

The flip side is the Hebrews identified with the Asian Nestor in the David role as their archetype as did the Romans who adopted Troy into their origin mythology.

2 Sophia77  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 3:21:28pm

Interesting theory - but - as for the Jews plagiarizing the Greeks, ahem, maybe it was the other way around? There was a great deal of cross cultural influence even then. And, powerful nations like Egypt, Babylon and Persia, the Hittites, the Phoenicians were highly significant as well.

"Western civilization" has given the Greeks a great deal of credit and often doesn't even look at the other nations who were actually much older than Greece, and in the case of several, far more powerful.

3 Sophia77  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 3:26:22pm

PS: the Greeks were a favorite of the Romantics and also, the British Empire, which of course attacked and destroyed the Ottomans.

Subsequently, they inspired the Greeks to attack the Turks, which resulted, predictably, in The Great Catastrophe and the total ethnic cleansing of Greek speaking people from Turkey and vice versa, except for the island of Cypress which is divided and still disputed territory.

Anyway, I grew up loving Greek mythology but historically, there are so many other peoples we don't study sufficiently in the English speaking world and I'd be very wary of accusing the Hebrews, who were highly literate and (obviously) great story-tellers, of ripping off the Greeks, without a great deal of evidence.

PS this includes the art of other nations. We're all familiar with classical Greek art - how many people are aware of the powerful visual arts of the major civilizations we don't study? And, we're always telling stories from the Greek point of view, which brings me back to point A: Greeks good, Persians bad, etc.

4 Destro  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 3:44:52pm

re: #2 Sophia77

Interesting theory - but - as for the Jews plagiarizing the Greeks, ahem, maybe it was the other way around? There was a great deal of cross cultural influence even then. And, powerful nations like Egypt, Babylon and Persia, the Hittites, the Phoenicians were highly significant as well.

"Western civilization" has given the Greeks a great deal of credit and often doesn't even look at the other nations who were actually much older than Greece, and in the case of several, far more powerful.

Homer predates the part of the Bible dealing with David.

The book of Samuel was parobably composed as part of the Deuteronomistic history the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. Further editing was apparently done even after that - the silver quarter-shekel which Saul's servant offers to Samuel in 1 Samuel 9 almost certainly fixes the date of this story in the Persian or Hellenistic periods.

5 SanFranciscoZionist  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 8:54:24pm

Sounds like a great walking tour. 'Joppa' is not universally accepted as the location of the Andromeda story. Some versions say Ethiopia. But the Yafo location has plenty of antiquity to back it up. Creative guy, this guide.

6 SanFranciscoZionist  Wed, Aug 22, 2012 9:07:58pm

re: #4 Destro

Homer predates the part of the Bible dealing with David.

The book of Samuel was parobably composed as part of the Deuteronomistic history the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings.

Well, Homer's about seventh or eighth century BCE, according to most, which would place him a few hundred years before the Deuteronomist, whoever he or she might have been. The question of course is whether there is any reason to think stories might have traveled between the texts, whether both are based on earlier stories that might have been common across the Mediterranean region, or whether the theme of 'imposing champion is brought low by the Good Guys' Challenger' is roughly universal. Single combat before armies was a common literary motif at the time, and much later. Are the details similar? I don't know the Nestor story offhand, and have been looking around, but he seems to be an established warrior at the time the combat takes place, and the motif of the sling doesn't seem to mentioned.

7 Destro  Thu, Aug 23, 2012 5:56:37am

re: #6 SanFranciscoZionist

Well, Homer's about seventh or eighth century BCE, according to most, which would place him a few hundred years before the Deuteronomist, whoever he or she might have been. The question of course is whether there is any reason to think stories might have traveled between the texts, whether both are based on earlier stories that might have been common across the Mediterranean region, or whether the theme of 'imposing champion is brought low by the Good Guys' Challenger' is roughly universal. Single combat before armies was a common literary motif at the time, and much later. Are the details similar? I don't know the Nestor story offhand, and have been looking around, but he seems to be an established warrior at the time the combat takes place, and the motif of the sling doesn't seem to mentioned.

"Single combat before armies was a common literary motif at the time" for Greek heroic tales.

Here is Prof. Azzan Yadin's paper "“Goliath’s Armor and Israelite Collective Memory,” [Link: mss3.libraries.rutgers.edu...]

Two interpretive paradigms have been applied to the battle of David and Goliath. One school interprets the battle as historically accurate, and mines it for information on 11th century reality; another views it as a work of fiction or royal propaganda. This article argues for a third view: the battle narrative retrojects the historical real- ity of 6th century Palestine (when DtrH is redacted), at which time the residents of biblical Philistia are culturally Greek, onto the early tradition of the battle. The char- acterization of the battle, including Goliath’s armor, undermines the Greek epic tra- dition and, indeed, may be seen as a polemic intertextual engagement of the Iliad.

On other words, it was written to show Hebrews of that era that the Greeks with their bronze armor could be beaten by people who did not have this tradition by inverting Homeric heroic battle tropes. Look at Americans now freaked out about arriving Mexicans - imagine how freaked out the Hebrew leaders must have been when their people began forgetting to speak their own language and traditions opting for this new "Greek" way of speaking and looking at the world. So a tale was made. It's what mythology does.

And not to get too far out:

That's why I kind of am fascinated by the tales from America's heartland of cattle mutilations and black helicopters and UFO abductions. Those are stories invented by the collective psyche by a people that are under stress (financial, cultural) to deal with or explain what is happening that they can't explain readily. A new mythology is born.


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