Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies (PhD)
Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
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Sara is a great supervisor for so many reasons! She is equally as supportive of my academic and non-academic opportunities, her feedback is actionable and aimed to help me improve, and she gives me advice on teaching, research, and giving presentations. She is present in my journey as a grad student and always takes the time to introduce me to her colleagues. I am very grateful for her positive, kind, and thoughtful presence, and I'm so lucky to have her as my supervisor!
Whether the biblical texts can or cannot be dated has a significant impact on the reliability,or usefulness in using them to reconstruct Israelite history. In addition, knowing when a textwas written impacts our ability to understand what its meaning was for its readers. Somebiblical texts can be dated to the post-exilic period with relative confidence based onconvergences between content and historically dated extra-biblical material and/or literarysources. This corpus, for most scholars, would include Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah andChronicles. Beyond these, however, there is much debate about whether it is possible to evenprovide relative dates to any other texts. Numerous scholars, past and present, confidentlyassert that linguistic features can date biblical texts, on the basis of typology, to at least oneof three periods: pre-monarchic, pre-exilic or post-exilic. In contrast, especially since theearly 1990s, numerous linguists, Hebraists, and Hebrew Bible scholars have challenged thatthesis. In large part, they reject the idea that typology indicates chronology and argue ratherthat it is indicative of authorial/editorial style and of genre. The purpose of this paper is, first,to summarize and explain each side in this debate. This will be followed by a linguisticanalysis of Judges 5 in order to demonstrate the principle that linguistic features alone areinsufficient for textual dating. This conclusion will be supported through a critique of someof the essential assumptions on each side of the debate. Finally, I will offer a path throughthe current impasse and towards continued study and respectful discussion that will add toour knowledge and deepen our understanding of the role of linguistic features in the dating ofbiblical texts.