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Did David and Solomon really exist?


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#1    mako

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Posted 21 October 2005 - 04:03 PM

In Jewish Sacred Literature that was later included in the Old Testament of the Christians, we are introduced to King David of the United Kingdoms of Israel and Judah and his successor and son, King Solomon. For millennia these individuals have been accepted as historical figures of great import, yet more and more their actual existence (at least as portrayed) is being questioned.   We can name all of the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt, we have monuments that they had created, documents of their actions, treaties they signed, mention of them by other nations and their tombs (sometimes their corpses too).  We know the names of the Kings of Persia (the King of Kings), as with the Egyptians we have the monuments, documents, etc.  We can repeat this with every ancient state in that area, even small city states such as Ugarit and Tyre, but when it comes to the illustrious King David and his even more venerated son Solomon, not a single shred of evidence.  Not one monument, not one egotistical carving declaring that either King defeated an enemy or dedicated something to YHWH, not one document (Israelite, Babylonian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite or other nation) mentions either King.  Even Hiram of Tyre, supposedly a good buddy of Solomon, never mentions ol’ Sol at all.  When it comes to evidence of either King, as the saying goes, the silence is deafening!  It’s almost as if they never existed!
Christians scurry around attempting to prove the existence of these individuals with such things as the Bytdwd inscription and the Dawat inscription of Egypt.  There are several problems with the authenticity of the Bytdwd inscription, that I will not address here, that tend to be epigraphist and translation problems and then there is the problem that the last letter before a break is continued down the side of the break, indicative of a forgery.  The last I heard on that was that it was being investigated.  The problem with the Dawat inscription is that even creative translation can not make the inscription h(y)dbtdwt read as the heights of David as the Christians would want it to.  Christians love to state that lack of evidence is not evidence of lack, a rather ridiculous saying at best.  Actually lack of evidence is nearly always lack of existence, especially after an exhaustive search for evidence of existence.
The very existence of the United Kingdom now seems to be on very shaky ground also.  All archaeological and contemporary historical evidence shows the state of Israel came into being around the early 9th century BCE followed by the formation of the state of Judah in the mid 8th century BCE.  There is mention anywhere (except in the Bible) of Kingdom of Israel, be it an independent state or part of a United Kingdom, prior to the 9th century BCE.  Many Christians will wildly wave their hands at this and start babbling about the Merneptah Stele.  There are two scholarly debates going on about this stela.  The first concerns whether or not Merneptah actually campaigned in Canaan; the existence of a stela by his predecessor Ramesses II, about the Battle of Qadesh, indicates firm control of the Levant.  This calls into question why Merneptah would have to campaign there.  The second debate surrounds “Israel”. As the stela mentions just one line about Israel it is difficult for scholars to draw any information at all about Israel. The stela does point out that Israel, at this stage, refers to a people since a determinative for "country" is absent regarding Israel (whereas the other areas had a determinative for "country" applied to them).  There is the thought also that at the time of Merneptah, the “Israelites” would still be wandering in the desert, not yet entering the “Promised Land”.  
To summarize, there is a singular lack of evidence, archaeological and historical for David, Solomon or the United Kingdom.  A lack that is highlighted by the myriad of evidence available for kings and nations that were supposedly less famous and the myriad of evidence for the individuals of the “king lists” of Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, Tyre, etc and for the very nations and city states that they ruled.   As with nations today, these various states of the ancient world maintained a diplomatic service that communicated with their counterparts of other nations.  The dry climate of Egypt preserved the archives of the Egyptian diplomatic corps and the use of clay as a medium for inscription (baked afterwards into stone-like consistency) preserved the archives of the other ancient nations.  In none of the archives excavated in all of the ancient sites, not one missive to or from David or Solomon, men that supposedly controlled an empire to rival that of their western, southern, and eastern neighbors, nor was there any addressed to (nor from) any ruler of Israel  until the 9th century BCE.  There is a faint possibility that the OT is glamorizing and enhancing the legend of a “Robber Baron” of a small hill country city state (possibly centered on Jerusalem), just as the Robin Hood legend of the Danelaw glamorized a robber of ancient England.  Solomon seems to actually have been an Assyrian King.  King  Shalmaneser V (the name actually means Solomon) who sacked Samaria and sent the Israelites into captivity.  Shalmaneser V is known as a great warrior and a very wise king.  Evidentially the post-exilic priests of YHWH borrowed this Assyrian king as their model for the biblical Solomon.  Until there is more than mere coincidental evidence of either David, Solomon or the United Kingdom, they must remain denizens of the Jewish post-exilic mythology.   yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#2    GIDEON MAGE

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 12:51 AM

mako-i fear you have a problem that most people here don't care about.  The atheists already know all tis, the xians don't buy it (or say, who cares it ithe o.t.) and I haven't found any Jews here.  Musslims- maybe a halfbreed.  My point?  I don't know.  David and Shlomo are probably eponymous anyway.

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#3    ramster83

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Posted 22 October 2005 - 08:37 AM

Basically David and Soloman very likely existed...Alot of people are ignoring the inscription found that says "House Of David- King Of Israel"- not to mention coins that mention his name. Ive heard of the remains of Solomans temple too...Whats with doubting old testament characters- lots of evidence points to the existance of the many people mentioned in the scriptures- why always sit on step 1? Advance.

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#4    seanph

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 01:33 PM

David and Solomon probably existed--though not in the grandeur as characterized in the scriptures.  As for Moses, Abraham et al ... there's not a shred of evidence that they existed.

The Bible, as History, Flunks New Archaeological Tests

By GUSTAV NIEBUHR


Archaeologists working at excavation sites like Megiddo in  northern Israel, above, say that no evidence has been found  to confirm biblical stories about a united monarchy ruling  over a large area from Jerusalem or about the wanderings of  the Jews in the desert during the Exodus.

The Bible's account of King David is so well known that even people who rarely crack the Good Book probably have an  idea of his greatness.

David, Scripture says, was such a superb military leader that he not only captured Jerusalem but also went on to make  it the seat of an empire, uniting the kingdoms of Judah and  Israel. Thus began a glorious era, later amplified by his  son, King Solomon, whose influence extended from the borders  of Egypt to the Euphrates River. Afterward, decline set in.

Yet what if the Bible's account doesn't fit the evidence  in the ground? What if David's Jerusalem was really a rural  backwater -- and the greatness of Israel and Judah lay far in  the future?

Lately, such assertions are coming from some authorities on Israel's archaeology, who speak from the perspective of  recent finds from excavations into the ancient past.  "The way I understand the finds, there is no evidence  whatsoever for a great, united monarchy which ruled from  Jerusalem over large territories," said Israel  Finkelstein, the director of the Institute of Archaeology at  Tel Aviv University.

King David's Jerusalem, he added, "was no more than a  poor village at the time."

Statements like these have earned Finkelstein -- who is  leading excavations at Megiddo, a vitally important site for  biblical archaeology in northern Israel -- a reputation as a  fascinating but controversial scholar. His reports from  Megiddo that some structures attributed to Solomon were  actually built after his reign have touched off fierce debate  in Israel.

Within a larger context, what he says reflects a striking  shift now under way in how a number of archaeologists  understand Israel's past. Their interpretations challenge  some of the Bible's best-known stories, like Joshua's  conquest of Canaan.

Other finds have turned up new information that  supplements Scripture, like what happened to Jerusalem after  it was captured by the Babylonians 2,600 years ago.

In an interview by e-mail from the Megiddo site,  Finkelstein said that not long ago, "biblical history  dictated the course of research and archaeology was used in  order to 'prove' the biblical narrative." In that way,  he said, archaeology took a back seat as a discipline.

"I think that it is time to put archaeology in the  front line," said Finkelstein, the co-author with Neil  Asher Silberman of "The Bible Unearthed," to be  published in January by The Free Press.

His reference to past practices can be illustrated by a  remark by Yigael Yadin, an Israeli general who turned to  archaeology and who once spoke of going into the field with a  spade in one hand and the Bible in the other.

Many archaeologists, both before and after the founding of  the modern state of Israel, shared a similar approach:  seeking direct evidence for biblical stories. This outlook  was shaped either by their religious convictions or their  Zionist views, said Amy Dockser Marcus, the author of  "The View From Nebo" (Little Brown), a wide-ranging  and engaging book that describes in detail the shift in  archaeology taking place in Israel.

The problem with that outlook, she said, is that "you  can't help but go in and look at material and interpret  material in a certain way." And that, she added,  "led to certain mistakes."

In her book, Marcus -- formerly the Middle East  correspondent for The Wall Street Journal -- notes that Yadin  believed he had unearthed evidence in the ruins of a place  called Hazor that corroborated the biblical account of how  that Canaanite city had been destroyed. The Bible says Hazor  fell to invading Israelites led by Joshua.

But these days, she said, an increasing number of  archaeologists have come to doubt that Joshua's campaign ever  took place.

Instead, they theorize that the ancient Israelites emerged  gradually and peacefully from among the region's general  population -- a demographic evolution, not a military  invasion.

"And that would explain how their pottery is so  similar to the Canaanites', and their architecture, their  script," Marcus said.

Finkelstein makes the same argument: "Archaeology has  shown that early Israel indeed emerged from the local  population of late Bronze Canaan."

In addition, he said, archaeology has turned up no  physical remains to support the Bible's story of the Exodus:  "There is no evidence for the wanderings of the  Israelites in the Sinai desert."

Asked how such conclusions have been received in Israel,  Finkelstein replied that they have been producing a  "quite strong and negative" reaction. But the  anger, he said, was coming not from strictly Orthodox Jews  ("who simply ignore us," he said) but from more  secular Jews who prize the biblical stories for their  symbolic value to modern Israel.

"I think that the young generation -- at least on the  liberal side -- will be more open and willing to  listen," he said.

Still, considerable disagreement exists among  archaeologists on how to interpret many recent finds. And the  new theories about ancient Israel are emerging against the  backdrop of a raging dispute over the biblical  "minimalists," a group of scholars who argue that  biblical accounts of early Israel, including the stories of  David and Solomon, have little, if any, basis in history.

(This debate was recently fought out in a lively issue of  the Biblical Archaeology Review, a bimonthly magazine  published in Washington, in which one of the minimalists, the  British scholar Philip Davies, wrote that biblical accounts  of early Israel were purely theological, not historical. In  response, a major critic of the minimalists, the American  archaeologist William Dever, wrote that ample physical  evidence pointed to early Israelites living in the region's  highlands 3,200 years ago, two centuries before the time of  David and Solomon.)

But if many archaeologists are far less interested in  trying to corroborate the exact biblical accounts than in how  the area's ancient history fits into the larger picture of  the Middle East, that change of perspective, Marcus said,  reflects an intellectual shift among the people doing the  digging.

Many current archaeologists, she said, were born in modern  Israel and don't need a link to the biblical King David to  think of themselves as part of the Israeli nation: "They  see themselves as part of the broader Middle East."

Yet while archaeology is challenging some of the biblical  narrative, it is also adding to it. At Megiddo, Finkelstein  said, he found that the period 2,900 years ago -- the century  following the rule of Solomon -- was a far more interesting  and powerful time for the Kingdom of Israel than the Bible  says.

Another tantalizing discovery, in 1993, turned up a stele  with an inscription referring to the "House of  David," the first real evidence that refers to the  biblical king. Still other recent excavations have provided  compelling new evidence about the lives of the residents of  Jerusalem 2,600 years ago, when they were besieged by the  Babylonian army, and about the nearby people of ancient Judah  who did not go into exile in Babylon.

Marcus said that such discoveries illustrate how  archaeology can restore information "left on the cutting  room floor," as it were, by those who compiled the  biblical narrative. "Archaeology is giving you back all  this history," she said. "So archaeology doesn't  just deconstruct the Bible, but reconstructs it."

[From The New York Times Leisure Section, July 29, 2000. It should be noted that "David" is an old Cannaanite god, which is likely the reason there would be an inscription with his name on it. In 1975 at Ebla, Syria, there were found 20,000 clay tablets, 4500 years old, a thousand years before the biblical David and Solomon supposedly lived. These tablets contain the names of various apparent Canaanite gods, such as "Ab-ra-mu (Abraham), E-sa-um (Esau), Ish-ma-ilu (Ishmael), even Is-ra-ilu (Israel), and from later periods names like Da-'u'dum (David) and Sa-'u-lum (Saul)."]


*David's Jerusalem: Fiction or Reality? (July/August 1998 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review)
http://www.truthbeknown.com/jerusalem.htm

*As Rabbis Face Facts,  Bible Tales Are Wilting (by Michael Massing)
http://eunacom.net/Rabbis_Bible.htm

*Mythological Elements in the Story of Abraham and the Patriarchal Narratives
http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html

*Hebrew Bible & Archaeology Recommended Reading List bh Peter Kirby & Joel Ng (2004)
http://www.eblaforum.org/library/bcah/reference.html

*Introduction to Biblical Archaeology 1: Archaeological History and Method by Joel Ng (2003)
http://www.eblaforum.org/library/bcah/intbibarch01.html
Kindly,

Sean

"Any religion whose prerequisites for individual salvation don’t conduce to the salvation of the whole world is a religion whose time has passed."--Robert Wright, The Evolution of God

#5    mako

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 03:44 PM

Quote

"Alot of people are ignoring the inscription found that says "House Of David- King Of Israel"-

Ramster, I did mention it and give the most current views on it...it is called the ' Bytdwd" inscription.  Here is what I posted:  
"There are several problems with the authenticity of the Bytdwd inscription, that I will not address here, that tend to be epigraphist and translation problems and then there is the problem that the last letter before a break is continued down the side of the break, indicative of a forgery. The last I heard on that was that it was being investigated." yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#6    ramster83

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Posted 23 October 2005 - 04:19 PM

Quote


Ramster, I did mention it and give the most current views on it...it is called the ' Bytdwd" inscription.  Here is what I posted:  
"There are several problems with the authenticity of the Bytdwd inscription, that I will not address here, that tend to be epigraphist and translation problems and then there is the problem that the last letter before a break is continued down the side of the break, indicative of a forgery. The last I heard on that was that it was being investigated." yes.gif


The details of David's life given in this article come from the Hebrew Bible and are not corroborated by, or even mentioned in, other historical documents. However, an ancient inscription called the Tel Dan Stele is controversially considered to refer to a king of the "House of David", providing indirect evidence that someone called David did exist as a historical king (although a minority interpret the vowel-less text as saying the "House of Duad", the "House of Thoth", or various other readings). It has recently been claimed that this inscription is a modern forgery, but this claim is REJECTED  by the majority of researchers.

-Wikipedia.org

Oh and more suprising for you guys is the news that Just over a month ago- - Israeli archaeologists claim to have uncovered what they believe may be the fabled palace of the biblical King David during secret excavations in east Jerusalem. The research was funded by a conservative group seeking to confirm aspects of Biblical history, which has led to the skepticism of some archaeologists of the sensational claim of identification, a common criticism of the Biblical archaeology approach. One possibility suggested by other archaeologists is that the site may be the Jebusite fortress of Zion that was conquered by David. However, the remains so far indicate that this major public building was completed in the Phoenician style. The Biblical account, in Books of Samuel II 5:11 has it that Hiram of Tyre (i.e., in Phoenicia) built the palace. One notable find at the site is the discovery of a seal of the government official Jehucal, son of Shelemiah, son of Shevi, a figure mentioned twice in the Book of Jeremiah, who presumably lived in the late 7th century BC.

Keep on digging...the truth will come out  grin2.gif

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#7    mako

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 12:20 PM

I thought you might try to pull the seal and David's palace ploy.  The problem with both is you are referring to news publications and not excavation reports or peer reviews.  The original building is much older than 10th century (David would have probably been early 9th century) and there is no way to tell, as yet, when it was originally built.  Interestingly, the pottery found on the floor of the building was 12th and 11th century pottery, so the date of the building is still much debated.  The real problem is that the seal that was found was that of an official mentioned in Jeremiah, which is either, way out of place or shows that the true period is post exilic.  Just wait until the excavation is complete and published, and the peer reviews are published.  Until then, it remains the musings of a  ardent Zionist wishing to legitimize the Israeli conquest of Palestine.   yes.gif

Edited by mako, 24 October 2005 - 12:21 PM.

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#8    seanph

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 01:12 PM

Ten bucks says it turns out to be Jebusite.

"Any religion whose prerequisites for individual salvation don’t conduce to the salvation of the whole world is a religion whose time has passed."--Robert Wright, The Evolution of God

#9    mako

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 06:35 PM

Quote

not to mention coins that mention his name.

I just caught that!  Coins weren't invented until the Lydians made the first ones between 643-630 BCE, Just a little after David's time.  Care to give your source on this?  yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#10    saucy

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 08:56 PM

I just watched a show today called Ancient Evidence or something like that and they had many things about David.  They knew he wrote poems and such.  He did indeed write a lot, if not most, of the psalms in the book of Psalms.  If there's no evidence for David, then why are most of the Psalms given credit to him and even begin with David saying he wrote them?  It was also stated by skeptics that David never entered into Jerusalem to capture it by underground water systems and said that it wasn't possible, but recently found the network of underground systems that is mentioned in the bible.  If they didn't know that those systems existed until recently, who made up the story?  Another point was made that perhaps David didn't create this huge and brilliant palace.  When you hear palace, you think of Buckingham Palace or a castle or something.  When David went to Jerusalem, it was a small, poor village.  Perhaps, being humble as he was, his palace wasn't very large and extravagant.  It was a large house...large for that time.  No matter what I or any David supporter says, you're just going to explain away the evidence and say it's a hoax or someone along the line change the documents, without any proof.


#11    ShaunZero

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:01 PM

Quote


I just watched a show today called Ancient Evidence or something like that and they had many things about David.  They knew he wrote poems and such.  He did indeed write a lot, if not most, of the psalms in the book of Psalms.  If there's no evidence for David, then why are most of the Psalms given credit to him and even begin with David saying he wrote them?  It was also stated by skeptics that David never entered into Jerusalem to capture it by underground water systems and said that it wasn't possible, but recently found the network of underground systems that is mentioned in the bible.  If they didn't know that those systems existed until recently, who made up the story?  Another point was made that perhaps David didn't create this huge and brilliant palace.  When you hear palace, you think of Buckingham Palace or a castle or something.  When David went to Jerusalem, it was a small, poor village.  Perhaps, being humble as he was, his palace wasn't very large and extravagant.  It was a large house...large for that time.  No matter what I or any David supporter says, you're just going to explain away the evidence and say it's a hoax or someone along the line change the documents, without any proof.



And again, another great post by Saucy. And yeah, you're right, no matter what you say, a skeptic is still going to try and explain away the evidence.

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#12    mako

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:11 PM

Quote

If there's no evidence for David, then why are most of the Psalms given credit to him and even begin with David saying he wrote them?

Saucy, if you will check the material from the archives of Ugarit (destroyed over a century before the Exodus supposedly took place) you will find many of the "poems" that David (or whoever) claimed to have written.  Looks like David was a liar, huh?

Quote

but recently found the network of underground systems that is mentioned in the bible.

Yeah, and they were only 300-400 years newer than David's time.  Sorry, not even a good try there!
No, I am not explaining it away, I am just keeping the Christians honest.  If we skeptics let them, we would have repeats of all the foolish stories that Christians passed around during the dark ages.  You folk are so desperate to prove anything about your bible that you clutch at every straw you see.  I seriously doubt that any proof of the great and glorious past of the bible will ever surface, but Christians will keep clutching those straws until either the last one dies off or ceases believing.  yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#13    seanph

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:20 PM

I watched "Ancient Evidence:David and Goliath" for the third time last night on Discovery Times.  They said David may have written Psalms, but it is doubtful, speculative at best.  In fact, David probably celebrated the destruction of his rival, Saul.  He was no different than any other ruler of the day--ruthless and cold-blooded (as the scriptures portray him in Samuel, Kings and Chronicles).  The ancient Jebusite water-shaft could not have been used by David for the shaft was way too steep to climb.  As for his palace ... Most likely nothing elaborate.

Psalms

Traditionally all the Psalms were thought to be the work of David, but many modern scholars see them as the product of several authors or groups of authors, many unknown. Most Psalms are prefixed with introductory words (very different in the Masoretic and Septuagint traditions) ascribing them to a particular author or saying something about the circumstances of their composition; only 73 of these introductions claim David as author. Since the Psalms were written down around the 6th century BC, nearly half a millennium after David's reign (about 1000 BC), they doubtless depended on oral tradition for transmission of any Davidic material.

Psalms 39, 62, and 77 are linked with Jeduthun, to be sung after his manner or in his choir. Psalms 50 and 73-83 are associated with Asaph, as the master of his choir, to be sung in the worship of God. The ascriptions of Psalms 42, 44-49, 84, 85, 87, and 88 assert that the "sons of Korah" were entrusted with arranging and singing them; 2 Chronicles 20:19 suggests that this group formed a leading part of the Korathite singers.--Wikipedia

Oxford Companion to the Bible ...

Modern scholarship is skeptical about two aspects of the traditional titles: authorship (hence dating) and setting. There is no hard evidence for Davidic authorship of any of the psalms. David’s reputation as a musician (1 Samuel 16.23; Amos 6.5) makes it reasonable to associate him with the psalms, but it is not possible to prove authorship. As regards the setting, modern scholarship is much more modest in its claims. The ancients were overspecific. Rather, one can only describe the setting in a very generic way: a lament of an individual or community, a song of praise in the Temple, and so on. In other words, literary classification has replaced the historicizing tendency that the titles display.
--ROLAND E. MURPHY, O. CARM

Kindly,

Sean

Edited by seanph, 24 October 2005 - 09:57 PM.

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#14    mako

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Posted 24 October 2005 - 09:21 PM

Quote

And yeah, you're right, no matter what you say, a skeptic is still going to try and explain away the evidence.

Evidence?  What evidence?  All you and Saucy have presented is either under intense debate or innuendo.  In order for something to be accepted, it must have a framework of evidence, so far there is none for David, Solomon, or the United Kingdom.  The "Bytdwd" inscription is being debated because many scholars are translating it as the "Temple to Dwd" and not the house of David and incidentially the "King of Israel" does not refer to David, but to the King that had the inscription done.   yes.gif

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days.  There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end.  Bribery and corruption are common,   Children no longer obey their parents.  Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.
                    Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE

#15    seanph

seanph

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  • "Time has drawn us toward the commonsensical-sounding yet elusive moral truth that people everywhere are people, just like us."--Robert Wright

Posted 24 October 2005 - 10:01 PM

Quote

Our earth is degenerate in these latter days. There are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end. Bribery and corruption are common, Children no longer obey their parents. Every man wants to write a book, and the end of the world evidently is approaching.--Assyrian tablet circa 2800 BCE


This has to be one of my favorite quotes!  Love using this on end-timers! Ha-ha! wink2.gif

"Any religion whose prerequisites for individual salvation don’t conduce to the salvation of the whole world is a religion whose time has passed."--Robert Wright, The Evolution of God




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