The Section on Berossus in WT Oct. 1, 2011 "When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?"

by AnnOMaly 20 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • AnnOMaly

    I can't see any for August, BS. But it's certainly that subject's turn again in the Reasoning book in October and November. The WT articles are nicely timed - wouldn't you say? - for those who'll be assigned those talks.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    Aug. 29 Bible reading: Psalms 110-118 Theocratic Ministry School Review

  • AnnOMaly

    Oh OK, got ya - the Bible highlights guy might bring something out.

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Wow! Spiritual food at the proper time!
    No need to look on Satan's scary INTERNET for research!

    "Why Do Jehovah's Witnesses Say That the Last Days Began in 1914?" - talk 2,11/28/2011 TMS

    So, the new article(s): coincidence or not?

    These are some crafty buggers!

  • designs

    Just tell a JW that 1919 proves the Bible Students are the real chosen religion, that always gets the Look

  • AnnOMaly

    WT Oct. 1, 2011 - Table on p. 29

    This table is confusing and misleading. Why? Because practically all roads lead back to Berossus as the primary source for classical historians relating to this period.

    Polyhistor got his data from Berossus. Polyhistor's works are also lost. To get Polyhistor's figures, you have to consult Eusebius.

    Eusebius in Chronicon, bk. 1.9 cites Polyhistor, whose source was Berossus, who gives 20 years for Nabopolassar and 12 years for Evil-Merodach.

    Eusebius in Praeparatio Evangelica, bk. 9, ch. XL (and in Chronicon) cites Josephus, whose source was Berossus, who gives 21 years for Nabopolassar and 2 years for Evil-Merodach.

    It's interesting that Insight Vol. I, p. 453 provides ... well ... a possible insight into why some of Polyhistor's figures (as given by Eusebius) are different:

    Of his [Berossus'] writings Professor Olmstead remarks: " . . . only the merest fragments, abstracts or traces have come down to us. And the most important of these fragments have come down through a tradition almost without parallel. Today we must consult a modern Latin translation of an Armenian translation of the lost Greek original of the Chronicle of Eusebius, who borrowed in part from Alexander Polyhistor who borrowed from Berossus direct, and in part from Abydenus who apparently borrowed from Juba who borrowed from Alexander Polyhistor and so from Berossus. To make a worse confusion, Eusebius has in some cases not recognized the fact that Abydenus is only a feeble echo of Polyhistor, and has quoted the accounts of each side by side!" He continues: "And this is not the worst. Although his Polyhistor account is in general to be preferred, Eusebius seems to have used a poor manuscript of that author."(Assyrian Historiography, pages 62, 63) [emphasis added]

    Could the different figures attributed to Polyhistor be corruptions in the text?

    The full quote by Olmstead is available at To punch home the point about all roads leading back to Berossus, Olmstead adds in his following paragraph, "Summing up, practically all the authentic knowledge that the classical world has of the Assyrians and Babylonians came from Berossus."

    As regards the Josephus column in the table, it's telling that only the figures from Antiquities, X.11 are given, as if these are solely the ones Josephus uses. Nabopolassar's regnal years are omitted in the table presumably because in the midst of that section, Josephus quotes Berossus who assigns 21 years to him. Naturally, Josephus' later book, Against Apion, has regnal years identical to the first Berossus column in the table - indeed, to get these Berossus figures, one has to consult Josephus!

    The Ptolemy column matches the Berossus column anyway - with the exception of Labashi-Marduk who reigned less than a year and didn't need counting.

    Here is a table that doesn't compare Berossus with a row of historians whose source was Berossus (other than, perhaps, Ptolemy):

    From: Berossos and Manetho, Introduced and Translated: Native Traditions in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt - Gerald Verbrugghe, John Wickersham, John Moore Wickersham (University of Michigan Press, 2001).

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    ^^^^^just got this book from the library as well as a book on just Manetho. Interesting stuff.

  • Londo111


  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    Wow. Just perusing this stuff again. . .

  • Leolaia

    Josephus like all ancient historiographers was prone to error, particularly when he was not following his sources directly. In Contra Apionem he had Babylonian sources directly in front of him and thus represented the Neo-Babylonian period accurately. In Antiquitates he was clearly paraphrasing from memory and erred quite often: (1) he gives the name of Nebuchadnezzar's father as also Nebuchadnezzar (10.220) rather than Nabopolassar (as in Apionem 1.135, where he quotes Berossus), (2) he gives Amel-Marduk a reign of 18 years (10.231) rather than 2 (as in Apionem 1.147, again quoting his Babylonian source), (3) he refers to Neriglissar (as Eglisar....he didn't remember the name quite right) as the son of Amel-Marduk (10.231) rather than his brother-in-law (as in Apionem 1.147, again in his quoting of Berossus), (4) the reign is given as 40 years (10.231) rather than 4 (as in Apionem 1.148, within the same quote of Berossus), (5) he regards Nabonidus and Belshazzar as the same person (10.231) rather than father and son, etc. Josephus' use of Berossus is far less reliable in Antiquitates, and I see no reason to prefer his error-ridden account in Antiquitates over that in Contra Apionem, particularly since the figures in Antiquitates have no support from the extensive monumental and administrative records from the Neo-Babylonian period itself. And as it may be recalled, it is in Antiquitates where reference is made to a seventy years desolation, while Contra Apionem mentions only 50 years.

    The two mistakes in reign lengths that the Watchtower table gives (40 for Neriglissar's 4 and 18 for Amel-Marduk's 2) are thus part of a larger pattern of faulty recall while paraphrasing. (If the numbers were written with letters they could also have become corrupted in MS transmission) It is misleading that the Society here prefers Antiquitates over Apionem; they also do not give full credit to the fact that Josephus was dependent on Berossus by listing him alongside the latter with equal standing.

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