In his startling book, Gary Greenberg exposes the reality behind the greatest story ever told. Learn about the Egyptian myths and ancient folklore that survive in one of history's most sacred texts, and discover how:
From these collections of Egyptian myths and traditions, which Israel not only learned in Egypt, but which were current, influential, and well-known throughout Canaan after Israel established itself there, Hebrews produced a new theology. Because Israel was monotheistic and the Egyptian myths were polytheistic, the Hebrew scribes had to rework the stories to reflect their own religious viewpoint, and it is in the results that we see some of the great genius of the Hebrew authors.
Ancient scribal culture had two faces. After arduous and largely impractical training, scribes were admitted to an elite circle and became custodians of a cultural tradition. But scribal teachers were also credited with opening the eyes of their students and 'forming humanity' in them. Scribal writers created and challenged tradition. Both faces are still evident in modern 'scribal culture'. Nietzsche, who occupies an ambiguous position in this regard, is used to illuminate aspects of tension between the two 'faces', which, given the world situation, seems relevant to the future of the academic enterprise. Finally, it is suggested that ancient wisdom still has something to tell us about these matters. The article is dedicated to Hendrik Bosman in view of his abiding interest in scribal culture, wisdom literature and יראת יהוה.
If the desire for precision and brevity does not explain the scribal addiction to jargon, what does Certainly not a desire for stylistic elegance. Once mere literacy was not a secure barrier, ancient Mesopotamian scribes resorted to secrecy to keep their craft confined to insiders. Unable to copy them, modern scribes had to invent a new literacy, 'academic literacy', over which they could exercise control. As the Marxist critic Kananagh (in Girard 1989:15)15 puts it: \"A given theory becomes most adequate to its own consolidation and propagation when the resolutely arduous and paradoxical nature of its discourse serves to prolong and extend the progressively more self-enclosed and self-sustaining dialogue of master and disciple as an arcane science accessible only through diligent apprenticeship.\" That is, scribes protect their turf.
This seems far removed from Nietzsche's ideal of \"the individual who freely shapes his own character and destiny\" (Golomb 2017). When Chaim Perelman (1979:131) argues that any call for change which is not backed by good reasons is arbitrary and (potentially) unjust, the status quo seems to get the inner lane. But an uncritical call for change is arbitrary; a critical one assumes that the other side has been given a hearing. Walter (2017) warns against the \"absurd dream of contemporary culture that we - anyone at all - just by 'being ourselves' can surpass the ancient creativity of entire peoples\". Over many centuries a few ancient scribes produced a few creative masterpieces. Today we demand of every ' scribe' to produce novelties on demand and at regular intervals. 59ce067264