Conversation with a Biblical scholar - Richard Dawkins
Is there an explanation for Judah's existence that completely sidesteps Solomon and David? How about that Temple attributed supposedly to the clan?
There's a fair bit of theory to explain the archaeological evidence without needing biblical David. Lot of stuff published in 80s and early 90s comes from that angle. A King Arthur type figure for later scribes, or you could even do the links to Horsa and Hengist who similarly stand on that boundary between being plausibly based on historical figures and full on mythological founding fathers. I can't think of anything current which totally dismisses the bible stories, especially not with the House of David evidence now. Something seems to have happened in the hills which could plausibly be explained by a centralised power arising. 'If not the biblical David, another man of the same name' kind of thing.
With the temple, the evidence is for numerous smaller 'shrines' around Israel even until, say, Josiah's time. eg references to Yahweh of X (not Jerusalem) have been found which kind of hints towards a less centralised religion than the picture painted by the bible stories So I would wonder about how far a single 'temple' even in Jerusalem really was the main focus for Israelite worship and how much is actually later creative interpretation of history by writers. Against that, if there were a new centralised state arising in the hills then an attempt to centralise a religion/cult would also make sense as something which would happen around the same time. Or at least an attempt to have a major new cult site act as a focus. Herding cats one suspects.
Okay keep it really simple:
1. The professor says:
"In some cases the name is not even at the top of the gospel. In some cases it's written at the side of a manuscript."
This is flat out wrong. I know of know gospel from any period that lacks a title and has a name in the margin instead. He is talking pure rubbish. If I'm wrong then show me a manuscript lacking a title with a name in the margin instead as he claims. Should be simple enough if what he said is true.
2. Dawkins asked: "when were the names Matthew, Mark, Luke and John grafted onto those four gospels?"
The professor answers: "the bulk of gospels, in terms of the manuscript tradition, you have to go all the way into the fourth century, before you really, yeah, roughly the middle of the fourth century. There are some fragments of different gospels, there is one very small piece of a fragment of the gospel of John that could be second century."
There are a number of problems with that answer:
The names were applied to the gospels in the second century. That's the straight forward answer to the question Dawkins asked. It's not in dispute. We know this from Irenaeus, other writers, and the early manuscripts. No scholars argue the gospels were in any sense unnamed until the fourth century. None.
The other problem is that there are no manuscripts lacking titles. None. Not in the fourth century, not in the second. There is no example of a manuscript from any period that lacks a title where there should be one. Again, show me one if you think that is wrong.
Many scholars have argued that the original documents probably lacked titles, and may have done so into the second century, before the earliest manuscripts survive. That's wildly different than what this professor claims.
The rest of your post states facts I don't disagree with and don't relate to the factual problems in the video.
Thanks for the note. As a follow up here as well, I looked into the Temple of Solomon on the Wikipedia:
Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted since Charles Warren's expedition of 1867–70. There is no archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple, and the building is not mentioned in surviving extra-biblical accounts [ Save Josephus - Kepler]. ]Yet there is no scholarly school of thought that doubts the existence of the First Temple.
There are some other inconsistencies in the article such as the presumed date of construction based on other Jewish sources. One in the 9th century. But the basic problem appears to be a matter of lack of access to the archeological site. It's not so much a matter of Solomon being proved non-existent as an inability to proceed with the tests. So I would still contend that Huddleston's counter's to Dawkins were extremely lethargic for a Biblical scholar.
Yeah, the evidence for a temple of Solomon is limited to the tradition rather than the archaeology. There have been some recent excavations at a site outside the original walls from the city which may correspond with a description of a royal palace being in a place which fits the biblical account, and that would then help further buttress the location of the temple. Mazar was the archaeologist, was billed as 'David's Palace', but it's worth reading Finkelstein's rebuttal too - he holds a very 'minimalist' position and I always find him a useful guide on how far things can be interpreted without reference to the bible. Mazar in particular has had a couple of digs where the dating seems shoehorned to fit the bible.
General point though is that even, say, Finkelstein accept that something was happening in the hills. His suggestion remains that the 40 years of David/Solomon isn't actual time so we're very much in the stuff of legends. Even if they could dig on temple mount, I suspect the remains of any pre-exilic temple would be at best some re-used masonry. If that. Don't think there's any reason to fully doubt the existence of a cult sanctuary (of some type) there though?