- File Size: 378 KB
- Print Length: 133 pages
- Publisher: Tellectual Press (September 14, 2015)
- Publication Date: September 14, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B015EXEA6M
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
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Moses and Minimalism: Form Criticism vs. Fiction in the Pentateuch Kindle Edition
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The book is divided into five chapters and a conclusion with two commentaries on the book by Philip R. Davies and Thomas L. Thompson. The first chapter covers the myths of Moses early life and call to rescue the Hebrews from Egypt. Chapter two focuses on the myths associated with the wandering in the dessert. Chapter three presents the myths of laws and rituals. In chapter four Price covers the myths involved with challenges to Moses’ rule. Finally, chapter five focuses on the myths that are attached to Israel’s relationships with its neighbors. The conclusion discusses the myths of the end of Moses’ life with attention to the similarities with other mythical people: Jesus, other biblical characters, and pagan characters.
Philips supposes that book is for the general reader because most of biblical scholars already except a mythical Moses; he says that the breakdown of various authors (JEDP) posited to have written this part of the Bible “is probably now a minority view ”; he relates an “update” maybe necessary in light of the criticism that Israel and Judah “were [not] separated entities”; and other comments that try to give light about the mythical Moses. Thompson’s comments are super critical in my opinion, but I am at a loss to see why, but again I am not a biblical scholar. I have read Thompson’s "The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology And The Myth Of Israel", which skewered the notion that there is anything but a very small number of reliable historic information in the Jewish Bible. Maybe he is saying Price accepts too much history for the biblical texts, but I do not see this.
Some of the comments on my notes are (pagination is for Kindle locations):
 After wondering about why the Pharaoh did not realize that the Hebrews’ mothers did not need midwives, he says: “This would have been like sending in a butcher to serve a vegetarian community.” I was not aware that Price had such a good sense of humor from the books of his I have already read.
 Another bit of humor is when he is describing Moses’ encounter with god at the burning bush: “The idea is that profane footgear would ritually defile the holiness of the place. (Good thing his robe wasn’t trailing on the ground, or he’d have had to stand there naked!)”
 I find some of his comments to be pure conjecture, like a bit of text inserted in the Gospel of John, saying: “It was a free-floating Jesus story, and this scribe didn’t want it to be lost, so he pinned it in what seemed to him a good juncture.” Can you really ascribe someone’s intention from the fact that the text is an interpolation.
 In discussing the numbers of the supposed Hebrews leaving Egypt, he writes: “. . . crunch the numbers and see if they really add up. . . . The logistical problems attaching to the exodus from Egypt easily rival those of the Noah’s ark myth.” This made me think that mathematics is even useful in refuting Biblical stories
 Here is a bit of surmised history. Basically, he says “that Judah essentially began as a Persian province populated by deportees from unknown parts of whom the Persians resettled. . . . To make the new arrivals feel at home there, scribes in the employ of the Persians would have fabricated a sacred history of the resettled colonists’ . . . which made it sound like the settlers were returning to an ancient homeland . . .” I had never heard this before.
 Here is a bit more humor, “. . . the priests Nadab and Abihu (soon doomed to flaming death for getting the incense recipe wrong . . .)”
 Quoting a Moses story, he presents: “And Yahweh said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a standard: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he seeth it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and set it upon the standard: and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he looked unto the serpent of brass, he lived.” My first thought was this was a major contradiction against making any graven image. I also thought were any women bitten, and if so, did they live upon looking at the serpent of brass. My hunch is no, but it is just a story.
 One last bit of humor. After describing a story where “Dathan and Abiram” are swallowed up by the earth, he says: “(as if Enoch or Elijah had stepped into the elevator and mistakenly hit the ‘down’ button!)”
One thing I can say of the book is that Price’s biblical quotes were too long. The book certainly had a lot of material in the various explanatory categories Price outlined at the beginning that I had not been exposed to. I also wonder what kind of “non-specialist” Davies might be referring to. The book had enough scholarly material that while Price might have written for this kind of reader, it was not in my opinion a popular book that most general readers would read. I read it exactly because of Price’s scholarship. It was well cited with primary sources. I feel that Price met his aim. Moses is in all likelihood is all myth. I enjoyed the book, and my only other complaint is that it was too short.
I could recommend this for a reader interested in delving into the reasons most biblical scholars believe Moses was a mythical character. The reader needs to be aware of the length of the biblical quotations and be prepared for a dissection of the texts. Other than that the interested reader should do well.