The Shapira Affair.

Yesterday in this comment Y linked to two sources about a Biblical forgery scandal I’d never heard of, the Shapira affair. Jennifer Schuessler’s NY Times story is a lively account that begins:

In 1883, a Jerusalem antiquities dealer named Moses Wilhelm Shapira announced the discovery of a remarkable artifact: 15 manuscript fragments, supposedly discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea. Blackened with a pitchlike substance, their paleo-Hebrew script nearly illegible, they contained what Shapira claimed was the “original” Book of Deuteronomy, perhaps even Moses’ own copy. The discovery drew newspaper headlines around the world, and Shapira offered the treasure to the British Museum for a million pounds. While the museum’s expert evaluated it, two fragments were put on display, attracting throngs of visitors, including Prime Minister William Gladstone.

Then disaster struck. Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau, a swashbuckling French archaeologist and longtime nemesis of Shapira’s, had been granted a few minutes with several of the fragments, after promising to hold his judgment until the museum issued its report. But the next morning, he went to the press and denounced them as forgeries. The museum’s expert agreed, and a distraught Shapira fled London. Six months later, he committed suicide in a hotel room in the Netherlands. The manuscript was auctioned for a pittance in 1885, and soon disappeared altogether.

Since then, the Shapira affair has haunted the edges of respectable biblical scholarship, as a rollicking caper wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a cautionary tale. But now, a young scholar is staking his own credibility by asking, what if this notorious fake was real? In a just-published scholarly article and companion book, Idan Dershowitz, a 38-year-old Israeli-American scholar at the University of Potsdam in Germany, marshals a range of archival, linguistic and literary evidence to argue that the manuscript was an authentic ancient artifact.

But Dershowitz makes an even more dramatic claim. The text, which he has reconstructed from 19th-century transcriptions and drawings, is not a reworking of Deuteronomy, he argues, but a precursor to it, dating to the period of the First Temple, before the Babylonian Exile. That would make it the oldest known biblical manuscript by far, and an unprecedented window into the origins and evolution of the Bible and biblical religion.

It’s a very nice web presentation, with maps and images. The other link Y provided is the Academia.edu pdf of Dershowitz’s book, with his detailed arguments and an Annotated Critical Edition, English Translation, and Paleo-Hebrew Reconstruction of the text he calls V. It’s quite a story, even if we’ll probably never be sure of the truth. Y said “Maybe Hat would want to make a whole posting out of it,” and here it is.

Comments

  1. The evidence that the fragments were forgeries is extremely strong. None of the experts who saw them at the time thought they were real, and since the physical pieces of leather were (probably) destroyed in a fire, it is very easy to throw out unfalsifiable proposals regarding the actual origins of the fragments. I read the first couple chapters of Dershowitz’s book yesterday, and he hangs a lot on his highly dubious conclusion that Shapira himself thought the fragments were genuine. He bases this conclusion largely on the finding of an apparent transcription/translation that Shapira probably made himself. However, Shapira was a known purveyor of fake Jewish antiquities (the best that can be said about him in this regard is that there is no proof that he was not himself a dupe in those cases), and he also clearly aspired to be known as an significant contributor to the study of Masorah and provided some hesitant transcriptions to some of the experts he presented the fragments to. So Dershowitz’s argument in Shapira’s genuineness appear pretty unconvincing.

    A good treatment of modern thinking about the situation was given in this collection of articles from 1997. One of the shorter, more technical articles points out a number of reasons to think that the source of the physical parchment can even be identified—that it was cut from the bottom of a medieval Megillah, possible from Yemen.

  2. From the Times story:

    In “The Lost Book of Moses,” a 2016 book about the Shapira affair, the journalist Chanan Tigay claimed to have found “the smoking gun”: a medieval Yemenite Torah scroll once owned by Shapira.

    There was a strip sliced from the bottom — proof, Tigay argued, that Shapira had created his fake using parchment from an old Torah scroll, just as Clermont-Ganneau had speculated.

    But Dershowitz noted that one 19th-century observer who handled the fragments had described them as thicker than a Torah scroll. And when he traveled to the Sutro Library in San Francisco to see the scroll, he also noticed something else: It had clearly suffered serious water damage. To him, this suggested that the bottom had more likely been cut off to prevent further rot, and not to provide material for a forgery.

    There are knowledgeable people on both sides of this; it’s not just Dershowitz’s crackpot theory.

  3. David Marjanović says

    that it was cut from the bottom of a medieval Megillah, possible from Yemen.

    That’s addressed in the book.

    None of the experts who saw them at the time thought they were real

    Their arguments are known, and also addressed in the book: nothing preserved in the same way was known at the time, so that cast suspicion on it. The Qumran scrolls are preserved in the exact same way, but they were only found over half a century later.

    Similarly, not much research on how Deuteronomy was put together had yet been done. One of the pieces reconstructed in the last 20 or 30 years matches “V” (the “Valediction of Moses”) pretty precisely. What it does not match is any known opinion from the 19th century that could have been the base for a scholarly forgery.

    Further, it’s clear from his copious notes that Shapira tried hard to read and understand the text and was unsure (and occasionally wrong) about less legible passages. That would have been an awful effort to fake, and is likewise described in the book at some length.

    And I’m only on p. 57 yet…

  4. Obviously, this isn’t my field, but the textual history of the Tanakh and other Biblical writings is something I’ve followed for a long time. There only appears to be one significant person who actually believes Dershowitz’s theory is right, and that’s his dissertation advisor, Shimon Gesundheit, whose own theories (especially about the development of the Iron Age Hebrew calendar) are, while not crackpot, fairly well outside the mainstream. The remainder of his support seems to be extremely lukewarm. There are a number of experts (quoted in the New York Times article, for example) whose attitude seems to be that it would be fascinating if it were true, but there is no way to verify that without access to the physical fragments.

    And frankly, while Dershowitz’s theories about the Shapira texts may not be total crackpottery, his earlier work—stating that the attitude of Leviticus was originally one of toleration toward men who have sex with men—really is crackpot stuff.

    (There is also a purely statistical reason to believe the fragments were forged. The vast majority of such relics are forgeries, and when we have them physically in hand to be studied, this can frequently be verified—for example, by carbon-14 testing for organic materials like skin. It just so happens that Shapira’s texts have not survived, which means that we cannot subject them to modern scientific tests that could easily prove or disprove their age and provenance. The fact that the samples did not survive to be tested should not be counted as an effective point in favor of their genuineness. In fact, a big part of the reason that the texts did not survive is that they were considered such obvious forgeries in the nineteenth century, that there was very little interest in preserving them!)

  5. Why exactly? Is it so impossible/unthinkable that the prohibition was added later?

  6. As for the loss of the original, the same argument was used to attack The Lay of the Host of Igor as a forgery, but it was proved to be genuine by linguistic arguments; Dershowitz is using the same sort of arguments here. Obviously I’m not competent to judge them, but if they hold up, then that’s a strong argument for genuineness.

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    I am in no way an expert in these matters, but FWIW I found Dershowitz more convincing in his arguments that Shapira did not himself forge this document than his attempts to establish a very early date for it; the latter seem to involve a great deal of outright speculation, and indeed special pleading.

    I’ll be very interested in what our local Hattic experts think about that aspect in particular.

  8. Expert opinions: Na’ama Pat-El wrote or co-wrote the linguistic analysis section in the book; that counts as an endorsement. The “maybe”s quoted in the NYT don’t explain why they’re only maybes. Perhaps because they did not feel qualified to pass judgment on the textual criticism part?

    Dershowitz addresses the paleographic objections well: almost all of them were based on unreliable copies. The one partial copy, made by an artist ignorant of, and thus unbiased by the forms of Paleo-Hebrew writing, recorded an odd form of the yod, unknown at the time but later observed on Samaritan ostraca.
    I do have two issues. Dershowitz has argued well that the text is old, but he keeps calling this “the oldest biblical manuscript”. I haven’t seen any argument as to why it couldn’t be a late copy, as old as Qumran or such. Secondly, it’s recorded that the manuscript darkened considerably during the time Shapira was showing it around Europe. I’d like to see some expert opinion as to whether that is consistent with leather taken out of a dry Transjordan desert cave and brought to damp Europe, or consistent with some known of antiquing leather by forgers, or both.

    Dershowitz’s paper on homosexuality prohibition is not crackpottery. He argues that the text in Deuteronomy, with close parallels elsewhere, is primarily against incestuous sex, heterosexual or homosexual, and that by giving them equal footing, it presents sex between males as unremarkable and therefore presumably not prohibited per se. This has been written about before, too. He is careful to delineate well what is possible and what is certain.

    Likewise, his paper about Noah, where he suggests that the flood story was grafted onto an earlier story about a drought, rests on suggestive but even thinner evidence. He does not seek to upend current views, just call attention to an intriguing alternative, and it’s a worthwhile paper.

  9. January First-of-May says

    his dissertation advisor, Shimon Gesundheit

    Apparently a real person. I wonder how he ended up with that kind of name, and/or whether he had to deal with jokes about it all the time.

  10. Nah, all European Jews have funny names. We accept it and create MAD magazine, or we change our funny names to other funny names.

  11. David Marjanović says

    There only appears to be one significant person who actually believes Dershowitz’s theory is right, and that’s his dissertation advisor, Shimon Gesundheit, whose own theories (especially about the development of the Iron Age Hebrew calendar) are, while not crackpot, fairly well outside the mainstream. The remainder of his support seems to be extremely lukewarm.

    Me, I find it amazing that there’s already this much reaction to a book that came out this year.

  12. Yes, most powerful arguments of Dershowitz is about things that Shapira wouldn’t know he had to forge. The most interesting point is that the grammar of the fragment is different from Biblical Hebrew in Masoretic text. An early critic suggested that the forger didn’t quite learn Hebrew grammar, but surprisingly, the grammar of “V” is more complicated. I don’t know what to make out of it.

    As for homosexuality, everyone including Dershowitz knows that it is unambiguously prohibited in Leviticus, but the idea that it was not in the earliest version doesn’t mean it was allowed or tolerated

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    I’m not sure I’m following the earlier Shapira theory, but what’s generally taken to be the only reference to homosexual matters in Deuteronomy is usually interpreted as specifically limited to the context of prostitution (possibly “cultic” prostitution) where the homosexual kind is condemned in parallel with the heterosexual kind, no more and no less. No explicit position is taken in Deut on homosexual acts in a non-prostitution context although such a position is taken elsewhere in the Pentateuch. FWIW, the LXX is οὐκ ἔσται πόρνη ἀπὸ θυγατέρων Ισραηλ καὶ οὐκ ἔσται πορνεύων ἀπὸ υἱῶν Ισραηλ, and Brenton translated that w/o any hint of homosexuality as “There shall not be a harlot of the daughters of Israel, and there shall not be a fornicator of the sons of Israel.” The one NT occurrence of πορνεύων (in First Corinthians) is usually taken to refer to the heterosexual sort of misconduct. I don’t know whether it’s plausible that the LXX translator was looking at a different Hebrew word than the one the Masoretes handed on, or used a vaguer Greek word for a more specific Hebrew word, or whether the Masoretic word itself (קָדֵ֖שׁ) is itself much vaguer than “male (cultic) prostitute for male customers” but has usually been taken to mean that in the specific context.

  14. It’s not just that the early critic “suggested that the forger didn’t quite learn Hebrew grammar”:

    Neubauer described V’s constituent passages as “most illogical,” “blunders,” and “an ignorant amalgamation […] as incorrect as only school-boys can make it.” Neubauer concluded: “Let us hope […] that there will soon be an end of the publication of these forged texts and their useless commentaries, unless they are intended as exercises for beginners in Hebrew, for whom practice in the correction of bad grammar may be desirable” (Adolf Neubauer, “The Shapira Mss. of Deuteronomy,” The Academy 590 [August 25, 1883], 130).

    (Pat-El, in Dershowitz, p. 96, n. 3)

    As Pat-El shows, the supposed grammatical blunders have parallels elsewhere in the Bible. That is a matter of knowledge which was available in Shapira’s time. It’s another illustration of a running theme, the passionate bias against accepting the manuscript that existed then, and as Dershowitz seems to hint, still persists. (Sayce’s comment about the “humid climate” of Palestine is another such comment. Of course, that bias says nothing about the authenticity of the material, but it makes one distrust the mere opinions of experts on the matter, unless they supply good reasons for their arguments.

    The rest of Pat-El’s analysis shows that by all indication the language is pre-exilic, and in that she relies on quite recent research (including her own). In some ways the language of the MS agrees more with current knowledge of the Hebrew of that time than with what was thought of it back then.

  15. @J.W. Brewer: Dershowitz’s dissertation claiming there was tolerance for homosexuality was talking about early redactions of Leviticus (a book which is much more obsessed with bodily and spiritual purity and condemns homosexual behavior in a couple places). I think Y just mistakenly typed “Deuteronomy,” because that was the book the Shapira fragments were allegedly from.

  16. J.W. Brewer says

    I would be at least as interested in reactions to Dershowitz’s other new work The Dismembered Bible, summarized by its publisher thusly: “It is often presumed that biblical redaction was invariably done using scribal methods, meaning that when editors sought to modify or compile existing texts, they would do so in the process of rewriting them upon new scrolls. There is, however, substantial evidence pointing to an alternative scenario: Various sections of the Hebrew Bible appear to have been created through a process of material redaction. In some cases, ancient editors simply appended new sheets to existing scrolls. Other times, they literally cut and pasted their sources, carving out patches of text from multiple manuscripts and then gluing them together like a collage. Idan Dershowitz shows how this surprising technique left behind telltale traces in the biblical text – especially when the editors made mistakes.”

  17. Brett: thanks for catching it.

  18. marie-lucie says

    “Biblical homosexuality”

    From time to time Academia.edu sends me texts it thinks I would be interested in, usually about historical linguistics, classification, Nostratic, etc. Most recently I was surprised to receive an article about male homosexuality in the Bible. It is rare that I read anything about Hebrew, so I am not familiar with the relevant scholars, but the author’s name was not Dershowitz. After numerous quotes from the Bible and from various exegetes over the centuries, the conclusion was that the earliest texts considered the practice in the context of “incest”, prohibition of sexual activity between kin, whether “by” or “on” males or females, and the more general prohibitions were added much later, sometimes with textual additions which commenters have long struggled to interpret. I am not competent to comment on Biblical Hebrew, but the article was certainly not “crackpotty”.

  19. Here’s the comment I sent on March 14 to [Christopher] rollstonepigraphy.com (where there are other comments):

    People more familiar with Devarim than I will decide whether the Shapira ms will ever be accepted as ancient or not. A few observations.
    “It would surely be unusual for a forger to labor to understand a text that he himself had devised or inscribed.” (ZAW 19). In my opinion “Secret Mark” is a fake text, and Morton Smith in a learned, detailed book may be an example of such labor, including changed opinion about the liturgical setting.
    The article (1) names him Wilhelm Moses Shapira, though he went by Moses Wilhelm.
    The book bibliography has an article by Fred N. Reiner in in BAR, but not his “C. D. Ginsburg and the Shapira Affair…,” British Museum Journal 1995 109-27.
    Also missing: Truly Fake: Moses Wilhelm Shapira, Master Forger, the Israel Museum catalog from 2000.
    The purple ink pages (book ch. 2) are quite welcome. But are they transcription attempt or draft composition?
    Shapira’s letter to “Dear Dr. Ginzberg [sic]” said he was not yet convinced the ms is a forgery “unless M. Ganneau did it!” Not proof, but odd.
    The writing surface has been characterized as “thick” (7) and “stout” (8) and, though I can’t be sure, apparently more tanned than one might expect for writing. If one turns to try to compare the Shapira ms to Qumran mss, the closest matches appear to be to the claimed ones sold mostly after 2002—the thick hide, fake ones.

  20. As noted in comments at Christopher Rollston’s site, another very recent book also argues for authenticity: Ross K. Nichols, The Moses Scroll (Feb, 24, 2021). I haven’t read it (beyond ch. 1), but apparently it usefully includes texts and translations of several 1880s evaluations.
    I mentioned that I think “The Secret Gospel of Mark” is not ancient, neither the Mark verses part nor the Clement of Alexandria letter part. But at a U. Texas Austin zoom conference (maybe recorded online) a book was announced, which will claim that, while not written by Clement, because they [rightly, imo] conclude it was written after Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History, it dates before Morton Smith:: Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau, The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Rogue Scholar, A Controversial Gospel of Jesus, and the Fierce Debate Over Its Authenticity. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press (forthcoming 2021).

  21. From the cited NY Times article:
    “Qumran was a massive shift,” Na’ama Pat-El, an expert in classical Semitic languages at the University of Texas in Austin, said, referring to the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. “What Idan is offering is something that’s at least equivalent, if not more. It’s pretty incredible if he’s right.” [….]
    Pat-El, the University of Texas linguist, said she went into the seminar “pretty neutral” on the question of authenticity, but left thinking the case for forgery was “weak.” Since then, she has collaborated with Dershowitz on an analysis of the lexicon and syntax, included in his book.
    The language, she said, is “standard biblical Hebrew, similar to 7th-6th century B.C.E. texts.” There are few of the anomalous features that are common in the Dead Sea Scrolls and other texts from later in antiquity, to say nothing of the howlers in many modern forgeries.

    Maybe compare the statement reported also in the New York Times (May 5, 2014) from Roger Bagnall, surely one of the greatest living papyrologists, on the soon-after debunked “Gospel of Jesus Wife”:
    But Dr. Bagnall said, ”I don’t know of a single verifiable case of somebody producing a text that purports to be an ancient text that isn’t. There’s always the first.”

    SG: The Coptic of “Jesus’ Wife” seemed familiar—though anachronistically handwritten with a brush (?) not reed pen–as it was largely lifted from the Gospel of Thomas (online, with a typo).
    Maybe Valediction seemed familiar by largely lifting from Devarim?

  22. Speaking of potential forgeries, Elijah Hixson has proposed that NT papyrus 50, now at Yale, was forged by a Prof. at Harvard.
    Possible markers of inauthenticity in a New Greek Testament Papyrus: Genuinely Bad or a Very Good Fake?
    U. Birmingham conference, Jan. 2021
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOD_dmp … e=youtu.be

    Speaking of a *for-sure* forger:
    Malcolm CHOAT (Macquarie University, Sydney)
    A Forger, his models, methods, and motives: The papyri of Constantine Simonides

    Abstract. From the so-called “Gospel of Jesus Wife” to the post-2002 Dead Sea Scroll-like fragments, fake ancient manuscripts have been risen to renewed prominence in the past decade. Yet while there is a plentiful supply of fakes to deauthenticate, examples of known papyrus forgers are more rare, as most such figures are anonymous. By far the largest corpus of fake papyri which survive is that produced by Constantine Simonides in Liverpool in the early 1860s. In this case, not only do over 30 fake papyri survive in the World Museum Liverpool, but archival and published material allows a much clearer view of Simonides than is possible with most forgers. By assessing the Simonidean papyri, reflecting on their possible models, the methods Simondies used to forge them, and his motivations in doing so, this paper aims not only to better identify Simonides’ techniques and motivations, but contribute to better understanding the sociology of forgery.

    Video:
    https://ucloud.univie.ac.at/index.php/s/pGdZkYPLrX5ggn9

  23. David Eddyshaw says

    I was particularly interested to read Pat-El’s remarks on orthography, especially about matres lectionis. As she says in the MT, yod and vav are not written when the vowels are “long by position”, but only when the vowels actually derive from older diphthongs (although she does not say so, this is in fact more characteristic of earlier than later parts even of the Tanach itself.)

    Now the document in question seems to omit yod and vav word-medially even in cases where the vowels do arise from older diphthongs; I believe this is seen in Phoenician but not in older epigraphic Hebrew. There is an interesting discussion of the omission of yod in -yw representing the 3rd masculine sg possessive suffix after a plural noun (where it is consisently written in the Masoretic text, but not pronounced in the Tiberian reading tradition.)

    I wonder if a simpler explanation might be that the composer of the document (not Shapira), intending to adopt an archaising spelling consistent with the choice of Palaeo-Hebrew script, having noticed that in many cases where later Hebrew orthography writes yod and vav as matres lectionis they are absent in the older parts of the Tanach, in fact simply hypercorrected and omitted them across the board? (This would, of course, imply that the composer of the document was in fact accustomed to the later orthography, which used yod and vav comparatively freely to mark long vowels.)

    As I say, I am in no sense an expert in these matters, and this may well be nonsense.
    Pat-El herself attributes all this to dialect mixture; while there is no dispute but that Hebrew had dialects, I’m always slightly dubious when the all-too-easy explanation “dialect mixture” is invoked to explain odd forms. Sometimes, of course, it is unquestionably the right answer, but it’s nice to have some corroborative evidence about why the supposed dialect form might have been expected to appear in that particular context.

  24. I’ve now read Prof. Rollston’s rejoinder to Dershowitz and found it unconvincing (he promisses full treatment in the forthcoming article). Basically, the argument consists of two parts: 1) there were and are a lot of forgeries around and 2) most authoritative people at the time thought it was a forgery. There is no engagement with any particular arguments of Dershowitz. Maybe it’s an ok approach to a situation where there are no available artifacts, but at least it would be an interesting intellectual game. The comments to Rollston’s post are good, including by main protagonists themselves, but I didn’t have time to look at them closely. My fool’s golden mean tells me that without the strips themselves there is no way to authenticate the text (there would be a roundabout way if a lot of genuine texts with similar features were ever found) and that the compelling arguments for forgery do not look very compelling. In other words, maybe.

  25. Sounds about right. The argument about “authoritative people at the time” is silly; authoritative people thought all sorts of crap at the time.

  26. Brett

    > the physical pieces of leather were (probably) destroyed in a fire

    This was an academic hypothesis from the ’90s now known to be false. They were bought by P. B. Mason and displayed for a public lecture he gave in 1889. Mason died in 1903, I think, and it is thought that his wife later auctioned off this and other material. He was not generally a collector of antiquities of the Levant, but of natural historical and some British historical items.

    > his earlier work—stating that the attitude of Leviticus was originally one of toleration toward men who have sex with men—really is crackpot stuff.

    There is no reason to characterize the view as ‘the original attitude of Leviticus’. The thesis is more that some earlier codification affected what comes to us as Leviticus — and that the earlier assemblage was interested in the degrees within which sexual combination was forbidden. It explicitly excluded specific male-male combinations. What follows is that this assemblage of prohibitions would not itself have prohibited remote male male combinations, or not in the same way. This might not tell us much about the ambient society in which the earlier assemblage arose – which might e.g. have contained other forms of ‘prohibition’ that were not codified in that text.

    In most times and places one takes a great interest in some form of remoteness requisite for sexual combination. The un-remote combinations are always abhorred strongly (by cultivating the clear and measurable natural disgust that impedes sexual attraction to those one lived with as a child). Whole ‘primitive’ social orders are organized around this and they can take very surprising routes to getting the requisite effect. (The hidden rationale is of course genetic and was not generally known by humanity.)

    By contrast, what men might be up to while hunting in the forest doesn’t rise to the surface of discussion and one doesn’t speak of anything as forbidden or permitted; if one does speak of it, it is likely to attract the all-important remoteness criteria, which are also likely to affect the men anyway.

  27. David Marjanović says

    The purple ink pages (book ch. 2) are quite welcome. But are they transcription attempt or draft composition?

    If they’re draft composition, why are they neither already in Paleo-Hebrew, for him to copy, nor in modern Hebrew handwriting? We’re shown a sample of Shapira’s Hebrew handwriting in a margin; it’s not like print letters are the best he could manage. And yet the purported transcription attempt is in print letters. It looks like he wrote those letters down one at a time, slowly, as he tried to see the dark brown letters on the slightly less dark brown leather.

    If one turns to try to compare the Shapira ms to Qumran mss, the closest matches appear to be to the claimed ones sold mostly after 2002—the thick hide, fake ones.

    The thicker the hide, the less like parchment it is, so the lower the quality of production, right? That could obviously indicate a fake, or it could just mean that the ancient scribe couldn’t afford the good stuff.

    it was largely lifted from the Gospel of Thomas (online, with a typo).

    That’s awesome.

    Maybe Valediction seemed familiar by largely lifting from Devarim?

    I haven’t yet reached the part of Dershowitz’s book about the language. I’m still in the part about which parts of the text are shared with Deuteronomy and which aren’t. Exactly those verses and half-verses that have been identified as post-Priestly redactions (i.e. in P language but presupposing P parts of the Pentateuch) in the last few years are missing in V, and there’s just no way any forger could have gotten that right almost 150 years ago.

    I wonder if a simpler explanation might be that the composer of the document (not Shapira), intending to adopt an archaising spelling consistent with the choice of Palaeo-Hebrew script, having noticed that in many cases where later Hebrew orthography writes yod and vav as matres lectionis they are absent in the older parts of the Tanach, in fact simply hypercorrected and omitted them across the board? (This would, of course, imply that the composer of the document was in fact accustomed to the later orthography, which used yod and vav comparatively freely to mark long vowels.)

    Sure, but the obvious alternative is that the document dates from a time when the diphthongs had already become long monophthongs but the later orthography was not yet established, so long vowels were not written no matter their etymological source. After all that must be what happened in Phoenician, right?

    authoritative people thought all sorts of crap at the time.

    I mean, their assessment was pretty reasonable given what was known at the time: the Qumran-like preservation of the fragments had never been seen before, the existence of dry caves was apparently unknown in England, for various language features see above, and the text didn’t fit any idea about how Deuteronomy came to be. It was a bit much all at once.

  28. J.W. Brewer says

    So if the physical pieces of leather may still be out there but their whereabouts are unknown after they were auctioned off by Mason’s widow a century or so ago, we have the interesting problem that if someone claims to have found them and they show signs of being a modern forgery we won’t know for sure if they are the “original” 19th century forgery or a more-recent-than-that forgery pretending to be, but not actually being, the items once in Shapira’s possession. (At least if we assume a competent 21st century forger can readily avoid using materials that can be proven not to have existed before 1883.)

  29. I mean, their assessment was pretty reasonable given what was known at the time

    Yes, of course; I’m not saying they were silly, I’m saying it’s silly to treat their judgment as definitive. You might as well judge continental drift theory by the reactions to it of scientists when it was first proposed. At least they didn’t drive Wegener to suicide.

  30. I think the idea of forging a forgery is a very productive one. And underexplored by fiction writers. In Dina Rubina’s “The white dove of Cordova” two art students fake a painting by some old master (Northern Renaissance, maybe) and then have an art expert to authenticate it. Which he does confidently stayting that it is a 19c. fake. And then they pawn it for that, a very good 19c century fake. I might have shifted some details, but the basic idea is there.

  31. David Eddyshaw says

    Sure, but the obvious alternative is that the document dates from a time when the diphthongs had already become long monophthongs but the later orthography was not yet established, so long vowels were not written no matter their etymological source. After all that must be what happened in Phoenician, right?

    I don’t think that is viable: how could the writers of the later time represented in the Masoretic text (prior to the still later period where all /e:/ /o:/, regardless of origin, could be written with matres lectionis) have known which long vowels should be written like diphthongs if they had all in fact become monophthongs at that point? The writing convention must surely antedate the monophthongisation.

    Phoenician is different: in that language the diphthongs were monophthongised early, and there never was a phase where original-diphthong long vowels were written differently from others. IIRC, the same was probably true of northern Hebrew (which would be what underlies Pat-El’s invocation of dialect; that is not a bad idea, but it would be nice to have an independent reason for supposing that the text was of northern provenance, apart from the orthography itself.)

  32. One point in the Rollston discussion D.O. linked to: the scrolls were supposedly found in a cave on the east side of the Jordan valley, in Moabite territory; that’s a strange place for them to be.

  33. Anthon Transcript is a real meta-forgery, a forged analysis of a lost forgery.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthon_Transcript

  34. “Rumpole and the Genuine Article” has a painter trying to pass off a genuine work by a better artist as a fake he produced himself.

  35. I read an old Japanese folktale once: a nobleman writes a seditious haiku in the guestbook of a temple. When he gets word that it was discovered, he hurries there, gets the book, scrapes out the offending word and then rewrites it as it was. When he is brought to trial, he says he wrote another word: when the book is shown to him, he points out that the original had been scratched out and written over. The emperor, who is presiding over the trial, figures out what he had done, but can’t prove it. He rewards the nobleman for his cleverness by exiling him instead of executing him.

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Undermining my own argument (always a worthwhile exercise):

    Firstly:

    I think you could make a case that the use of yod and vav as matres lectionis in the period underlying the Biblical consonantal text was not triggered by vowel length but by closeness (which happens to correlate quite well with length because of the historical development of the Hebrew vowel system.)

    Right up until Origen’s Hexapla, the reflexes of Proto-Semitic short *i *u in Hebrew were /ɛ/ /ɔ/, whereas the corresponding long vowels remained close /i:/ /u:/. It’s not clear at what stage exactly /ɛ/ became “long by position” in open syllables preceding stress and in singly-closed final syllables of nouns*, but regardless, it seems reasonable to suppose that this lengthening would initiallyhave created /ɛ:/, which ex hypothesi would not be written with yod. On the other hand, if *ay monophthongised to /e:/, this would then be written with yod.

    The story with /ɔ:/ and /o:/ is a bit different: /ɔ:/ is almost always the outcome of Proto-Semitic *a:, and the /ɔ/ representing Proto-Semitic *u is not subject to lengthening “by position” at all (except in pausa) the following consonant is geminated instead. (The Hexapla and other Greek transcriptions show that in cases like segolate nouns the vowel was in fact short, not “long by position.”) But once again, if *aw monophthongised to /o:/, not /ɔ:/, this would explain the writing with vav.

    The path is then clear to assume monophthongisation prior to the development of the Biblical consonantal orthography, as DM suggests: and the creators of that orthography would have “known” which cases of long e,o to write with yod or vav without needing to know anything about preceding sound changes or monophthongisation, because the sounds were still distinct in their day. The creators of the orthography would have innovated only in that they introduced yod and vav for the writing of /e:/ /o:/ alongside the existing cases of /i:/ /u:/.

    Secondly:

    I don’t think there are actually a huge number of unequivocal test-case words, given that there are not a huge number of Hebrew inscriptions from the pre-exilic period. No cases with vav are likely to help (for the reason I noted above), so I suspect that one is talking largely about cases like the construct *bayt of “house.” There may well be other explanations for whether such words are written with yod or not, and it might not be wise to draw sweeping conclusions from them one way or the other. Moreover, Pat-El doesn’t actually claim that there is a regular patter, really: only that yod, vav are sometimes absent where the Bible text regularly has them.

    *There are a few other cases, for example in ayin-vav verb participles, but the same principles apply: one just needs to assume that the vowel was /ɛ:/ and not /e:/. To me (at any rate) it’s not clear what the underlying form of a word like /mɛ:t/ “dead” would have been (*miwt?) but at any rate it can scarcely have been *mayt.

  37. David Eddyshaw says

    It occurs to me that I may have confused the issue above in talking about Hebrew /ɔ:/.

    I meant long kholam, which I am hypothesising was open at the time the consonantal orthography of the Bible was stabilised, and derives from Proto-Semitic long *a:.

    I did not mean qamatz (which of course ends up as /ɔ/ in Ashkenazi pronunciation), which represents the /a:/ resulting from lengthening “by position” of Proto-Semitic short *a, and also the short /ɔ/ which derives from Proto-Semitic *u.

    For some reason (boredom?) Akismet swallowed my preceding post without giving me a chance to edit it.

  38. David Marjanović says

    That makes perfect sense, then: /i:/ was always written with yod, /ɛ:/ never was, and for /e:/ the situation might even be inconsistent in pre-Masoretic texts, especially between different scribes. Testable hypothesis right there!

  39. A comment (at ac.ed.) by Harvard biblical scholar Maria Metzler, contra Rollston’s critique. She basically says that Rollston ignores Dershowitz’s arguments, and raises ones which D. has already addressed. Yep.

    This and other links come from a post on the Paleojudaica blog.

    More: D.O.’s question about Dershowitz’s The Dismembered Bible is briefly discussed in this tweet. You have to have a special kind of mind to do what he does, which I don’t. You need to hold the Old Testament in your mind well enough to reverse putative ancient cut-and-pastes in your head. It’s like W.C. Fields doing block juggling.

    Benjamin Suchard’s Twitter account (he’s another rising star of early Hebrew philology) is full of interesting nuggets and is fun to read.

  40. David Eddyshaw says

    To complicate matters further (why not?), I wonder if I can extend the idea of /ɛ:/ versus /e:/ to account for another mystery of Biblical Hebrew morphology …

    A handy rule (invented by David Qimḥi, no less) is that vowels written with matres lectionis are unchangeable in flexion, whereas those without matres, which typically go back to Proto-Semitic short vowels, are prone to change to schwa in unstressed open syllables.

    The Tiberian vowel point tzere thus usually marks an e-vowel which is “long by position”, i.e. prone to change to schwa in unstressed open syllables, unless it falls on the mater lectionis yod, in which case it is “long by nature” and invariant in flexion; here it represents Proto-Semitic *ay.

    However, the long-by-nature vowel is not written with yod in two cases: ayin-vav participles like met “dead”, and in the first syllable of the imperfective of Pe Vav verbs, like yered “he goes down.” This would make sense if these forms go back to mɛ:t, yɛ:rɛd from earlier mɛwt, yɛwrɛd, and the /ɛ:/ fell together with /e:/ after the period when the consonantal orthography of the Bible was settled (Greek transcriptions already represent them all with η.)

    Qimḥi’s rule is an odd one, inasmuch as although it makes perfect sense in terms of Proto-Semitic forms, the Masoretes actually apply it with remarkable accuracy, despite the fact that the consensus seems to be that they didn’t actually have emic vowel length in their own pronunciation of Hebrew*, and that even LXX shows η for the “long by position” outcome of Proto-Semitic *i, so that this implies a preservation of the correct flexion of the great majority of words for a millennium without any phonological cues to distinguish “by position” from “by nature” length in vowels. Even though the Masoretes were undoubtedly very good at what they did, that seems remarkable even for them.

    I think you could probably make most of the rules work with quality differences alone, if you undo some of the changes that had taken place between the Hexapla and the setting up of the Tiberian system, such as the change of short /ɛ/ /ɔ/ to short (sic) /e/ /o/ in stressed syllables. It would be interesting to see if there are significant patterns in the cases where the Masoretes didn’t get it right.

    *I have some doubts about this, myself: the rules for stress sandhi in the Tiberian system seem to suggest very strongly that length was still contrastive in stressed syllables; perhaps it had only recently ceased to be contrastive.

  41. I think it a good point (from Y. and likely others) that the Shapira (or Valediction) ms is suspect because it was (said to be) found in Moab. If so old, what Hebrew writer was available there then (or why would it be sent there?)? Later on, Hebrew writers were in Peraea, to the north, and Zoar, to the south.

    Other mss that in my opinion are forgeries said to be from that general area–besides those sold by Shapira–are the more recent (in both senses, announced and claimed) “Angel Scroll” and the “Gabriel Vision.”

    I haven’t yet seen, maybe or maybe not indirectly (paleographically?) relevant, Ran Zadok, “On a Recently Found Moabite Inscription,” Z. f. d. alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 132.3 (2020) 469-70.

    William H. Morton (1915-1988) dug at Diban and reportedly found some (very brief?) Moabite writing, reportedly not yet completely published. I think a scholar has probably recently asked Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminaries, where he last taught, and had donated a teaching collection of artifacts, if they know more or have his papers.

    Matthew Hamilton of Australia was the one who found out about the Shapira strips display at Burton on Trent and has done further research, not yet (to my knowledge) published.

  42. The protagonist of William Gaddis’s The Recognitions is a young art forger (Northern Renaissance, in fact) who’s devastated when he’s told that a Bosch painting he forged at the beginning of his career was itself a forgery. A major plot turn occurs when he learns that it was the original after all.

  43. Stephen G.: I was referring to a comment by Michael Nosonovsky, at the end of Rollston’s discussion. That wasn’t my insight. In any case, that’s a minus, not a fatal flaw. Some dealer could have wanted to gild the lily, or to keep other explorers off the trail if the scroll had come from Judea Desert.

  44. David Marjanović says

    D.O.’s question about Dershowitz’s The Dismembered Bible is briefly discussed in this tweet.

    Read the whole thread!

    Benjamin Suchard’s Twitter account (he’s another rising star of early Hebrew philology) is full of interesting nuggets and is fun to read.

    And just one click away is…

    Christopher W. Jones
    @cwjones89

    Great grad student, strong grad student, grad student of the Four Corners, grad student of Assyria. Favored by Anu & Enlil. PhD @Columbia; 2020-21 Quinn Fellow.

  45. 1-Another Semitic scholar on Twitter worth reading (in this non-semiticist’s opinion) is Ola Wikander: here is a recent thread of his on various (older) Semitic words for “horse”, long suspected of having an Indo-European origin, and his theory as to what the exact form of the word which first entered Semitic must have been (Yes, drawn from an actual attested language -I won’t write which one, I would not want to spoil your reading pleasure!). I think most Hatters will find it an interesting read (I certainly did).

    https://twitter.com/OlaWikander/status/1372219934466576386

    2-It seems to me that on balance, the Shapira manuscript is probably authentic. Our knowledge of the history of Hebrew (and indeed of Semitic languages more generally) has improved so much since 1883 that I find it well-nigh impossible to believe that a forgery made back then would not, today, be instantly recognizable as such on purely linguistic grounds. If, as seems to be the case, there is nothing in the text which directly contradicts anything which we know today about the history of Hebrew, we are forced to assume either that the text is authentic or that the original forger somehow anticipated several future scholarly generations’ work on the history of Hebrew. The former supposition strikes me as likelier.

  46. I find it well-nigh impossible to believe that a forgery made back then would not, today, be instantly recognizable as such on purely linguistic grounds.

    That’s how I feel as well.

  47. I will qualify this by saying, “impossible to believe that a forgery made back then would not, today, be instantly recognizable as such on purely linguistic grounds by careful scholars.” Despite all the knowledge that exists now, outrageous claims are still being made (often by otherwise good academics). Dershowitz and Pat-El have impressed me as being cautious and methodical. I’m sure there are other good scholars who can and will pick at their arguments, but they can’t be dismissed offhand.

  48. David Eddyshaw says

    The question of forgery is (logically, at least) separate from the question of just how old the text actually is; although Dershowitz seems to be deploying arguments about the supposed age of the text chiefly in service of his thesis that the text is not a forgery, one could accept that the text is genuine without necessarily accepting that part of his argument in support of the proposition.

    It’s possible that it’s not a forgery, but a sort of pseudoepigraphic work. If the latter, it would not be surprising that there is no linguistic smoking gun to show that the document is a nineteenth-century forgery, because it isn’t. It would be a lot more challenging to show that it “really” belonged to the third century BCE (say) rather than the sixth, especially as dialect mixture seems to be an issue, and also bearing in mind that (as Stephen Goranson speculated) the text might conceivably be partly drawn from Deuteronomy (or some precursor thereof.)

    Even a watertight demonstration that Shapira did not forge the text would not of itself demonstrate that the text is genuinely pre-exilic (though the reverse implication is obviously true.)

    In point of fact, the question of it being pre-exilic is actually much more exciting than the question of whether it’s forged, once you’ve decided it’s genuine. If you follow me …

  49. January First-of-May says

    or that the original forger somehow anticipated several future scholarly generations’ work on the history of Hebrew

    Probably not as much “anticipated” as “by sheer coincidence, and a lot of latitude on the behalf of scholars studying the text, avoided any outright contradictions with”. But yes, if there’s enough coincidence involved, then authenticity is less implausible than forgery (cf. the Tale of Igor’s Campaign case).

  50. Sure, and maybe even that is a 7th century BCE revised and/or corrupted form of an earlier document. The Song of Deborah has for a long time been thought to be from a particular early stratum of the language, but a recent analysis by Frolov has dated it as late pre-exilic or later (with further refinement by Mihăilă). So let this text be subjected to the endless analysis that other biblical texts enjoy.

  51. Trond Engen says

    I find the philological arguments especially persuasive. As he states, there’s no way that a 19th century forger could have come up with a purported precursor that so closely matches the conclusions of later scholarship. The same argument speaks very much — maybe even more — against the text being derived from the canonical Deuteronomy. What I don’t think is clear is that the text is pre-exilic. The similarites in letter forms with the Samaria ostraca could be a hint that it belongs to a tradition that conserved pre-exilic beliefs.

    (All this with the caveat that I can’t validate the philological arguments myself. I have to trust that some of the scholars involved would have pointed out by now if the examples were cherry-picked to support the conclusion. Or I could make the broader caveat that I have no idea what I’m talking about.)

  52. David Marjanović says

    It’s possible that it’s not a forgery, but a sort of pseudoepigraphic work. If the latter, it would not be surprising that there is no linguistic smoking gun to show that the document is a nineteenth-century forgery, because it isn’t. It would be a lot more challenging to show that it “really” belonged to the third century BCE (say) rather than the sixth, especially as dialect mixture seems to be an issue, and also bearing in mind that (as Stephen Goranson speculated) the text might conceivably be partly drawn from Deuteronomy (or some precursor thereof.)

    The book addresses both of these options; after all, up to now, the few experts who thought the fragments were genuinely old thought they were abridgements of Deuteronomy. But no:
    – Where the text parallels Deuteronomy closely enough that you can tell which half-verses are the same and which are different, it’s exactly the post-Priestly layer identified in the last 20 years that is absent. Neither a 19th-century forger nor a “Hellenistic” abbreviator could have done that “with surgical precision”.
    – Several passages in several books of the OT are “Decalogue intertexts” closely related to the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy. All of them are considerably closer matches to the version in V than to the canonical version.
    – The Valediction of Moses subtly disagrees with Deuteronomy on where the mountains Gerizim and Ebal are. Eusebius agreed with V despite not knowing it, pointing out that the location given in D is impossible given the context of the story (people shouting from one to the other; the ones given in D are too far apart). Guess what else agrees with V? Qumran fragment 4QJoshᵃ. Apparently the Samaritans live on the wrong Gerizim.
    – There’s a list of the 12 tribes. Joseph and Levi are not among them, Ephraim and Manasseh are, and the Levites are mentioned separately (as halevim, not as Levi). That makes sense of the list in Num 13, where Levi is again absent, Ephraim is present, and “from the tribe of Manasseh” is, awkwardly, immediately preceded by “from the tribe of Joseph”. It also makes sense of Judg 17:7, where someone is claimed to be from the family of Judah and then immediately to be a Levite, puzzling commentators at least since Rashi. And so on.
    – The language is inconsistent with a Hellenistic work, though I’m only beginning that part of the book (chapter 6) now.

    Chapter 5 is short enough (pp. 94, 95) to reproduce here:

    5. Conclusion

    For the past 140 years, one of the greatest manuscript discoveries in history has been misjudged. The Shapira manuscripts are not forgeries, and the tragedy – human and intellectual – of their hasty dismissal can hardly be overstated. Shapira was disgraced and driven to suicide, and his manuscripts were palmed off as mere curios. The arguments for the manuscripts’ forgery are unconvincing. The story Shapira told of the manuscripts’ discovery – which had been seen as ludicrous by his contemporaries – was so uncannily similar to the subsequent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that some scholars concluded that the latter too must be a hoax. There is no longer any question that the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the mid-twentieth century are authentic. The logical inference must, therefore, be reversed: The remarkable parallels between the discovery accounts support the antiquity of Shapira’s manuscripts, not the fraudulence of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Furthermore, we have seen that the more recent paleographic case for forgery is without merit. Indeed, the little reliable paleographic data we have points to the manuscripts’ exceptional antiquity. The widespread belief that Shapira forged the manuscripts, whether alone or with accomplices, is further undercut by his annotated transcription, of which scholars were previously unaware. These papers paint the picture of a man trying to make sense of unfamiliar documents, not a forger planning or admiring his handiwork. Neither are there any plausible alternative culprits; a fraudster working unbeknownst to Shapira would have stood to gain neither fortune nor fame from the production of these manuscripts [Shapira claimed to have paid very little for them]. The fact that the Valediction of Moses lacks the post-Priestly and nomistic Deuteronomic supplements that recent scholars have identified in Deuteronomy challenges both the notion of forgery and the idea that it is an abridgment of Deuteronomy. For a nineteenth-century forger to have constructed a text on the basis of insights that were first recorded by scholars generations later beggars belief. The same is true of a hypothetical Hellenistic writer working with the canonical Pentateuch. With what tools could an ancient editor have surgically removed post-Priestly insertions from Deuteronomy to create V? Shapira’s singular manuscripts thus have little in common with the so-called “rewritten scripture” of the Qumran corpus. Having determined that V is a proto-Deuteronomic text, it is almost certain that V was composed in the First Temple period. That the Valediction of Moses has intertexts distributed throughout the Bible suggests that this text, or associated literature, was familiar to several biblical authors. Many passages that were believed to be Decalogical or Deuteronomic intertexts are, in fact, Valedictoric ones. Needless to say, this has far-reaching ramifications. I have focused primarily on matters of authenticity and literary phylogenetics. In an excursus (chapter 6) co-authored by Na’ama Pat-El, we discuss the linguistic profile of V, finding it to be consistent with pre-exilic epigraphic Hebrew. The critical edition (chapter 7) includes notes that help situate V from a textual standpoint, while the English translation (chapter 8) reflects my current understanding of the text. I have only touched upon V’s vast importance for our reconstruction of the Pentateuch’s composition history. This text is a treasure trove not only for Deuteronomy scholars, but for students of Numbers and Joshua – and the Pentateuch/Hexateuch more broadly – as well. In future publications I will explore the provenance of V, as well as its implications for textual criticism, geography, and the history of religion. It is my hope that this extraordinary text will soon be appreciated by all, and that scholars of all stripes will work to unlock its mysteries for years to come.

  53. Trond Engen says

    Also: David Eddyshaw needs to write that treatise on the historical phonology of Hebrew.

  54. DM: The Gerizim-Ebal location heterodoxy comes up in Eusebius, and before that in the Yerushalmi Talmud. The Qumran MS only strengthens this.

    A thought: since everyone — Shapira’s fans (including Dershowitz) and detractors — wantr to make a morality play out of this, I’ll add my version: Shapira spent his life selling forgeries, knowingly or not, and getting away with it. The one time he had something actually good, it got wrongly rejected.

    Another thought: Suppose the text is right, and the manuscript is fake. Suppose Shapira was shown an original papyrus, whose owner wouldn’t sell it. Shapira’s notes would be his transcript of the original, which he later used in Europe to produce his fake scrolls.

  55. DE: You’ve read more on Hebrew historical phonology than I have, which gives me an impetus to go and read up and catch up with what you’ve written. It’s a good question how you get from *mawt to mēt. My problem is that I learned Hebrew morphology by example, and didn’t need to think about its rules. I’ll note though that yrd is a Pe-Yod root, not Pe-Vav.

  56. David Marjanović says

    Also: David Eddyshaw needs to write that treatise on the historical phonology of Hebrew.

    Yup.

    Another thought: Suppose the text is right, and the manuscript is fake. Suppose Shapira was shown an original papyrus, whose owner wouldn’t sell it. Shapira’s notes would be his transcript of the original, which he later used in Europe to produce his fake scrolls.

    The only problem with this is that the mode of preservation is the same as for the Qumran scrolls.

    It’s a good question how you get from *mawt to mēt.

    Perhaps by unrounding it first, like in Upper Saxon or indeed Welsh (to [aɨ] or thereabouts as a first step).

  57. The uninflected form, מָוֶת māwet ‘death’ is unproblematic. It’s מֵת mēt ‘dead’ that is the problem. You usually can’t explain Semitic inflection and derivation patterns by just one sound change.

  58. David Eddyshaw says

    I’ll note though that yrd is a Pe-Yod root, not Pe-Vav.

    That’s because of the Canaanite initial w -> y thing. Compare e.g. the Akkadian warādum.
    Pe yod and pe vav roots are still distinguishable in other binyanim than Qal, though there’s been some remodelling.

    It’s a good question how you get from *mawt to mēt

    I don’t think you do: I think the underlying form was *miwt, and probably became mɛ:t by way of mɛwt. While this is not an obvious sound change, there is (as it were) a gap in the phonological system for it, and the yered type original-Pe-Vav imperfect can be roped in as a further instance. The regularisation of the first-syllable vowel in imperfectives is a late phenomenon. It wasn’t always a in Proto-Semitic, and the vowel choice was also affected by the vowel of the second syllable, which was not predictable (though it correlates a bit with meaning, what with dynamic verbs tending to go with u and stative with a.)

  59. David Eddyshaw says

    Lameen has an interesting post on how verbs like these behave in Arabic:

    https://lughat.blogspot.com/2020/03/w-deletion-in-arabic.html

    (You’ll notice that I’ve changed my view on this since I commented on that post: DM’s remarks above about older Hebrew orthography got me thinking about these things a bit more.)

    Part of the problem with getting a handle on these verbs is that they often seem to have been originally biliteral roots, and they get fitted into the default Semitic triliteral template by adding y or w at different positions in different languages (or even as variants in the same language); Arabic, being Arabic, also sometimes preserves biliteral forms as such (as does Ethiopic, a bit.)

  60. David Eddyshaw says

    Incidentally, מָוֶת māwet ‘death’ should actually be mɔwɛt (at least while vowel length still remained contrastive.) Greek transcriptions show that the root vowel of segolates was short. Tzere and kholam in segolates in the Tiberian pointing are the result of the rule that short /ɛ/ /ɔ/ became short /e/ /o/ under stress (a process also seen in the final syllable of verb forms like yiktob); the /ɔ/ in mɔwɛt has been rounded from /a/ on account of the following /w/, and the qamatz here does not represent /a:/.

    (I must own up to the fact that I am here projecting vowel length as seen in e.g. the Hexapla into the Tiberian system, which is not the orthodox view; no less an authority than Geoffrey Khan is pretty categorical that the Tiberian system did not involve length distinctions. The reason I have difficulty with this is that the rule for stress dissimilation in the MT, which is, as is typical of those amazing Masoretes, carried out with great regularity, treats tzere and kholam exactly like patach in precisely those cases where they correspond to ε and ο in the Greek transcriptions, but never when they correspond to η ω. While I wouldn’t put it beyond the Masoretes to accurately carry out rules corresponding to distinctions entirely absent in their own pronunciation of Hebrew, it seems rather more likely that they actually did make these distinctions. This issue may well have been addressed somewhere, but I’ve yet to find a discussion of it. It seems to me that the evidence of the elaborate and beautifully consistent suprasegmental notation of the Masoretes hasn’t been given nearly enough of its due weight.)

  61. Suchard’s dissertation, The development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowels, says, “Classical Arabic māta, Biblical Hebrew met̠, Gǝ‘ǝz mota ‘he died’, all < *mawita. The reasoning comes from a paper published afterwards, which I haven’t read.

    …and indeed about the orthography.

  62. David Eddyshaw says

    The perfective Qal of hollow verbs is very odd. It’s also the one source (apart from cases where a consonant has lost gemination after /a/, and some isolated irregularities) of “long-by-nature” /a:/, which must (obviously) have developed after the Canaanite *a: -> o: shift.

    The tzere in the perfective Qal met is also “long by nature” (but not written with yod), so on reflection /ɛ:/ both in this case and in the participle could come from *awi; that would be exactly parallel to kabed “(be) heavy”, Qal perfective/participle.

    Yes, I like that a lot better: *mawit(u) “dead”, not *miwt(u). Either way, it’s a non-obvious phonological development*, but I can’t think of any counterexamples: all putative *awi end up as /ɛ:/, i.e. long-by-position tzere not written with yod.

    Must try to get hold of that paper. My access to JSTOR is … patchy currently.

    *Though it’s easy enough to make up intermediate steps to make it look natural after the event.

  63. Suchard’s chapter on triphthongs explains that they contract to a single vowel. That is why r‘b > רָעֵב rā‘ēb ‘hungry’ but mwt > מֵת mēt and not *מָוֵת *māwēt.

    (And he uses å for the qamats.)

  64. David Eddyshaw says

    Makes sense; the only thing to add in the context of the current discussion is that *awi did not contract to the same long-by-nature vowel as *ay, because they are written differently in the Bible; by the time of the Greek transcriptions, however, they had fallen together (or perhaps Greek speakers couldn’t hear – or perhaps could hear, but couldn’t write – the difference.)

  65. If the lithograph is a close copy, the letters are thin, looking as if pen-made rather than brush made—an anomaly if V were as old as Dershowitz claims? We have more evidence in Egypt, where pen and inkwell came much later than brush and pallette.
    If so early–*pre*-Deuteronomy– would it have been on papyrus rather than skin? There are more recent publications that I don’t have at hand at the moment, but Menahem Haran, Books-Scrolls at the Beginning of the Second Temple Period: The Transition from Papyrus to Skins, HUCA 1983.
    Bitumen was used in some Qumran caves to seal a cap atop a jar containing scrolls wrapped in linen—not used to coat linen covering folded skins. Who wants bitumen close to writings? Bitumen—“if the only tool you have is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail?
    “So uncannily similar” to Qumran? Sidnie White Crawford, an editor of 4QDeut (and before that a 1988 Harvard dissertation on seven Deut. mss), reportedly, was not convinced V is genuinely ancient. The onus of proof is on those who find it ancient.
    I had not seen the Nosonovsky comment at Rollston until Y. mentioned it, as I thought comments were closed. But Shapira *insisted* it was from Moab, not known for Hebrew writing at the proposed time. And no such later finds turned from there, despite several looking. For Jordan archaeological sites, JADIS Jordan Antiquities Database & Information System 1994, updated in
    http://www.megajordan.org

  66. Trond Engen says

    Etienne: 1-Another Semitic scholar on Twitter worth reading (in this non-semiticist’s opinion) is Ola Wikander: here is a recent thread of his on various (older) Semitic words for “horse”, long suspected of having an Indo-European origin, and his theory as to what the exact form of the word which first entered Semitic must have been (Yes, drawn from an actual attested language -I won’t write which one, I would not want to spoil your reading pleasure!). I think most Hatters will find it an interesting read (I certainly did).

    Interestng it is. I noted this comment in passing:

    The earliest attestation of the word may, in fact, be already in Ur III, in the spelling ANŠE.ZI.ZI.

    Ur III is the decades around 2000 BCE.

    Here’s me in another thread:

    Kura-Araxes was overtaken by the Trialeti culture. From a start in Georgia or Armenia around 3000 BCE, it spread across much of the former Kura-Araxes land, peaked at around 2000 BCE, and continued into the Middle Bronze Age. It’s hard to get a grasp on — it’s a continuation of Kura-Araxes, but its also new. It seems to have been an elite layer with new foreign customs like rich kurgan burials with carts. It’s also associated with the introduction of the horse to Anatolia. Since the oldest finds are in the north, it looks as though it could have come through the Caucasus.

  67. Trond Engen says

    Benjamin Suchard retweets Simcha Gross on the Shapira scrolls. Gross has read the memories of Abraham Shalom Yahuda, who tells of a meeting with a dragoman named Selim in Jerusalem in 1902:

    He continues by telling Yahuda that he coached Shapira in… the preparation of the leather strips cut from old Torah scrolls which were then “inscribed with portions of Deuteronomy; and how he taught Shapira to soak these strips in an oil lotion to make them appear much older.”

    Another time, Salim described at length how “the very eagerness of European scholars & tourists to get antiques encouraged him & many dealers to engage in this nefarious work,” & describes his own activities forging Phoenician, Samaritan, Nabatean, & even Himyarite artifacts!

    Lastly, he tells Yahuda that there are still many more forgeries hidden in caves in “Transjordania.”

    They would take “antique dealers or European tourists & sell them his “finds” at high prices.”

    He even said that “Some Moabite & Hebrew antiques are still hidden in caves…

    He continues:
    “One day they will be discovered and again controversies will rise among European savants about them.

    Those poor fellows will not know that it was Salim who caused them all this headache.”

    He sighed, and said “May Allah forgive Salim for his sins.”

  68. January First-of-May says

    If so early–*pre*-Deuteronomy– would it have been on papyrus rather than skin?

    …the fanciful version that Shapira saw someone else’s old papyrus, copied that, and then made his own fakes on leather from the result, is looking less and less outrageous.

  69. Yes, that makes sense. And as someone who cares a lot more about words than papyrus and leather, I care only about whether the text is genuine.

  70. Shapira seems to be (or pretended to be) confused by words that started on one line and continued onto the other. It seems strange that he would reproduce this feature in a new medium. I didn’t see any comments (not that I’ve read all of them) about writing on leather strips. Is this something known in paleography?

    The possibility that I haven’t seen advanced (maybe because it is stupid) is that Shapira strips (if they are not a recent forgery) might be a copy of a pre-Deuteronomy text by a later scribe. It doesn’t follow (at least logically) that after Deut was composed around 600 BCE the older texts on which it was based simply disappeared. It is not beyond reason that some people wanted to preserve the earlier texts and copied them maybe onto something that in modern times would be scraps of paper.

  71. If the scrolls (or a source Shapira had copied them from) were found in the Judean Desert, chances are his dealer would want to steer him as far away from it as possible. The antiquities pirates were probably realizing even then that it was fertile ground. So chances are he would tell Shapiro they were from a desert cave (to explain their preservation), but place it as far away from the Judean Desert as is plausible, hence Moab.

  72. David Marjanović says

    would it have been on papyrus rather than skin?

    If papyrus had to be imported from Egypt, perhaps not everyone could afford it.

    Bitumen was used in some Qumran caves to seal a cap atop a jar containing scrolls wrapped in linen—not used to coat linen covering folded skins. Who wants bitumen close to writings?

    A decay product of leather also looks like bitumen. That’s on the first few pages of Dershowitz’s book.

    Gross has read the memories of Abraham Shalom Yahuda, who tells of a meeting with a dragoman named Selim in Jerusalem in 1902:

    That Selim guy is a walking, talking stereotype. That’s exactly how Arabs, merchants in particular, were described in European literature of the time. He’s right out of Karl May or worse.

    But what’s not merely suspicious but wrong is this part:

    the leather strips cut from old Torah scrolls which were then “inscribed with portions of Deuteronomy

    The portions of Deuteronomy found on the fragments are so far from random it’s not even funny. As I quoted yesterday in this thread, there’s no way an expert, let alone a rando, could have known in the 1870s which half-verses to include and which to omit as post-Priestly insertions that were identified in the 2000s and 2010s, among other things.

    And never mind the orthographic and linguistic aspects.

  73. There is no consensus about the nature of those allegedly post-Priestly insertions, whether they are really an additional level or redaction or not.

    There is, unfortunately, a lot of motivated reasoning in studies of the Tanakh. This is not surprising, since there is a tradition running thousands of years of trying to apply theological, linguistic, and historical arguments to get a better understanding of the documents, and a lot of people are interested in the topic and want to contribute to it. But when a document is studied primarily because it is historically and culturally significant, rather than because it really presents important puzzles, there is a natural tendency for scholars to start identifying spurious new features, just because they still want there to be something new to study and discover about the document. The Tanakh is certainly not fully understood, linguistically or otherwise, but an awful lot of the main questions about its structure, composition, and history have been answered, at least schematically. For each new generation of scholars, there are few gaps in the understanding of the ancient scriptures, but the new generation still expects to produce important new works of scholarship. So people fix on smaller and smaller anomalies and try to explain them away with new theories on thinner and thinner evidence.

    The motivated reasoning also arises in another context—as a manifestation of a cultural phenomenon that I see all the time here in South Carolina, and which I utterly detest. Most people do not want to have to think about or grapple with the fact that their ancestors might have been vile individuals who supported vile causes. Of major wars in modern times, the American Civil War is probably second only the Second World War in having a clear moral difference between the two sides; the North may have been fighting to preserve the Union, whatever the cost, but the South was fighting to protect the institution of slavery. In Southern (and reconciliationist) historiography, the absolutely central role of slavery has consistently been downplayed, typically with claims that the main cause of the war was a philosophical dispute over “states rights.” In more recent generations, traitorous Confederate leaders have been revered as somehow great patriots; things have been named after them, and they were honored with monuments and holidays. Only in the last decade has there been a real push to eliminate such public commemorations of participants in the great treason in defense of slavery. Yet a lot of descendants (literal and cultural) bridle at making these changes; they don’t want to see their antecedents as villains, and that motivates them to accept all sorts of alternative readings of the historical facts.

    I see the same thing in the American Jewish community. (I suspect that the same thing can probably be observed in the other Jewish metropole, in Israel. However, I have sometimes been surprised by how culturally different Israelis are from Jews in America. I have met cosmopolitan Jews from Tel Aviv, who have visited America multiple times, and yet who totally misunderstand important aspects of American culture and politics. So I am always cognizant that my impressions of Israeli Jewish culture may be equally misinformed.) Today’s American Jews, after millennia of persecution, are, as group, pretty strong supporters of social justice. The community is rightfully proud of this, but this leads naturally to a tendency to think of progressive social values as an intrinsically Hebraic trait, and a lot of American Jews do not like to think about how our Iron Age ancestors were a socially repressive, violent, xenophobic bunch. (As an example of this, recall that the when later pro-Davidic writers needed to come up with a theological justification for why the House of Saul lost the mandate of heaven, they decided to accuse Saul of having been insufficiently genocidal and of not destroying all the goods and chattels of the Canaanite peoples he defeated. That was evidently considered an extremely compelling argument, by the Jewish audience of the time, that Saul had been a bad man.) I have observed, on several occasions, that many American Jews will latch onto alternate depictions of the Iron Age Hebrews, if that makes their ancestors look more progressive and less vicious. I take seriously my responsibility to maintain a set of consistent, utilitarian ethics; and so, just as I detest revisionist pleading by the descendants of Confederate officers, I detest it in my own tribe. So many theories that cast the ancient Hebrews (a people who were by any standards extraordinarily severe and harsh in their obsession with purity—especially physical purity) in a a better light—like Dershowitz’s proposal that there may have been a degree of acceptance of male homosexual behavior; or the older proposal that, since it wasn’t explicitly mentioned in the Tanakh, female homosexual behavior was tolerated at the time; or various theories that the Jews of the first millennium B.C.E. actually had a rather sexually egalitarian society—are not just historically risible, but they are put to morally objectionable purposes.

  74. January First-of-May says

    they decided to accuse Saul of having been insufficiently genocidal and of not destroying all the goods and chattels of the Canaanite peoples he defeated

    …an uncomfortable parallel (going back to your ACW comparison) with the surprisingly (to me) common modern opinion that the Reconstruction didn’t go anywhere near far enough.

  75. the surprisingly (to me) common modern opinion that the Reconstruction didn’t go anywhere near far enough.

    Huh? Of course it didn’t; it ended with black people being shoved back into an inferior status by violence and chicanery, and forward progress wasn’t resumed for a century. I’m not even sure what you might be thinking of.

  76. like Dershowitz’s proposal that there may have been a degree of acceptance of male homosexual behavior

    If we are talking about very ancient patriarchal, nomadic, and cattle-raising people, with wealthy cattle owners having multiple wifes and many younger men waiting their turn, I wouldn’t be surprised that a degree of male homosexuality and even bestiality was tolerated. The Bible might be interesting as an attempt to clamp down on this practices. This has nothing to do with modern libertine attitudes toward sex. That said, I don’t know about anyone actually finding a degree of acceptance or toleration of such practices in the Bible.

  77. David Eddyshaw says

    wealthy … having multiple wifes and many younger men waiting their turn

    I once eavesdropped on a conversation between three of my staff in Ghana, who were discussing polygamy, the norm in traditional Kusaasi society. Of the three, the sole woman was objecting to polygamy, not so much on any particular ideological or Western-style feminist basis but on the hard-headed grounds of economic justice: a wife should be entitled to all of her husband’s financial support. Her two male colleagues evidently found this a difficult argument to counter, but eventually came up with the clincher that if monogamy became the norm all the surplus women would lose out. Interestingly, all parties simply took it for granted that women substantially outnumber men in the population, and my female colleague had to admit that this made monogamy impractical, however desirable in principle.

  78. Brett, I find it surprising just how many relatively big discoveries are being made in biblical studies these days. I suppose it’s a matter of scale. Sometimes really surprising things have been sitting in plain sight. One example are the recent studies by Labuschagne and Knohl of word-count numerical patterns (with groups of 7 and 11 words being most common), which went unnoticed by scholars and mystics for millennia.

  79. Trond Engen says

    David M.: As I quoted yesterday in this thread, there’s no way an expert, let alone a rando, could have known in the 1870s which half-verses to include and which to omit as post-Priestly insertions that were identified in the 2000s and 2010s, among other things.

    As I said, the philological arguments are convincing, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to the complete story, or to its setting. It’s a real possibility that the text is genuine but the artefacts forgeries.

    Brett: There is no consensus about the nature of those allegedly post-Priestly insertions, whether they are really an additional level or redaction or not.

    Sure, but the fact that a text discovered in the late 19th century lines up so well with later scholarship is remarkable. If the text is not genuine, it would speak to the range of ideas that were floating about on the fringes of the local scholarly communities and to the traditions of textual criticism they must have been derived from. Of course, everyone following biblical scholarship at the time would have been aware of the importance of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and of internal evidence for amalgamation of older traditions, and have understood that ancestral texts would be invaluable, but it’s still an achievement to pull something like this off,

  80. J.W. Brewer says

    A non-Confederate parallel to Brett’s point might be that as best as I can tell from a distance most folks in Western societies trying to escape what they consider the uptight repressiveness of Judeo-Christian whatnot by getting involved in conjectural revivals of the pre-Semitic pagan/Druidic/Odinic/whathaveyou religion(s) of their ancestors seem to have convinced themselves that the sexual mores of pre-Christian Iron Age Europe were remarkably similar to the sexual mores of the most bohemian and secular subcultures of modern Europe and North America, whereas scholars working on the topic without personally participating in such revivalist groups do not necessarily take that view.

  81. David Eddyshaw says

    The Druid thing seems to be Iolo Morganwg’s fault, mostly.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iolo_Morganwg

    As our forebears in Britannia had to borrow a Latin word to express the concept “children”*, I don’t think they can have been too much into the free love thing. Then, as now, the weather in these islands would have been too bad for such Mediterranean/Californian practices.

    Nevertheless, human sacrifice has a lot to be said for it. I’ve got a little list …

    *See, I can do Wörter und Sachen!

  82. David Marjanović says

    Most people do not want to have to think about or grapple with the fact that their ancestors might have been vile individuals who supported vile causes.

    Yeah, yeah, sure – but:

    1) Getting over this mindset can be done. In Germany and Austria it didn’t suddenly happen in 1945, it was a drawn-out process from about 1968 well into the 1980s, but in the 90s I was already taught in a public school that the claim that Austria had been “the first victim of National Socialism” (which I hadn’t actually encountered) was not even technically true and that instead Austrians had even been overrepresented in such jobs as concentration-camp guard. The post-Confederate slogan of “heritage, not hate” is unthinkable over here: the only people proud of that “heritage” are the very ones who openly and loudly want the hate back, and the industrial mass murder, too. There are no popular myths of Nazi generals as figures of grand tragedy either. It goes so far that the only person who still believes fighting bravely in war is praiseworthy no matter what you fight for is Alexander Gauland.

    2) The paper on attitudes to homosexuality in a reconstructed earlier version of Leviticus has nothing to do with the book on the Shapira fragments, an earlier version of Deuteronomy. I’m still in the linguistic chapter of the book, but so far I haven’t seen any hint of a claim that the Valediction of Moses would have any different attitude on hot topics of morality than the canonical book of Deuteronomy. 😐 I think Dershowitz simply had two wholly unrelated ideas.

    While we’re at it… I haven’t read the paper on attitudes to homosexuality yet. But I must say it would not at all surprise me if certain acts of what we would today classify as male homosexuality were tolerated, at least in certain circumstances, for reasons that would not even occur to me (TV Tropes: “blue and orange morality”). For example, the cultural definition of “man” may well have been so different that a 1 : 1 translation would sometimes fail. On his blog, Nick Nicholas had a series of posts about the gay cryptolect of early- and mid-20th century Greece, complete with explanations of the social background. My tentative conclusion from my headache was that the two genders in that society were not “man” and “woman”, but “top” and “bottom”, and the people who used that cryptolect could not be well described in context as “gay men”, but as “trans bottoms” in a society that was transphobic but rather less so than your average Republican.

    Even with “the West”, outside the Roman-to-Ottoman cultural sphere, recent attitudes to such things differ. The society, and the subculture of schoolchildren, I grew up in in the early 90s probably wasn’t any less homophobic than the contemporary US, but that manifested in some very different ways, and some of those were caused by definition issues about who counts as “male”. Football was different, bullying was different, violence was different. Tell me if you want to know what I’m talking about.

    Finally, the question of why female homosexuality is barely mentioned in the Bible may have a very simple answer: if your culture is just the right kind of patriarchal, in particular Victorian, the question doesn’t occur to you. A few years ago I read a blog comment by a woman in the US who had gone to her youth pastor or whatever a few decades earlier (maybe just one, I don’t remember) and asked what she should do because she was having all those sinful thoughts about boys. The good man was just perplexed, because his whole life he had simply taken for granted that all women are, in modern terms, asexual. In that mindset, women only ever have sex to have children, to please their husbands, or for nefarious purposes like distracting men to separate them from their money.

    eventually came up with the clincher that if monogamy became the norm all the surplus women would lose out. Interestingly, all parties simply took it for granted that women substantially outnumber men in the population, and my female colleague had to admit that this made monogamy impractical, however desirable in principle.

    Now that blows my mind.

    …There wasn’t any recently lost tradition of young men engaging in very-high-risk behaviours in large numbers, was there? War? Hunting lions for ritual purposes, with a toothpick? Car races on that cursed street in Berlin?

  83. David Marjanović says

    whereas scholars working on the topic without personally participating in such revivalist groups do not necessarily take that view.

    …and Tacitus flat-out said the Germanic punishment for cowards and fornicators was to be sunk in a bog. Of course he had his own motives for saying that, and I have no idea what conduct specifically he had in mind…

    Californian practices

    “First of May, First of May, outdoor fucking starts today!” Not in these latitudes, I’m afraid, for another decade or even two.

  84. David Eddyshaw says

    women substantially outnumber men

    I remember reading that this is quite a common belief in Africa, but unfortunately I can’t cite chapter and verse.

    I suppose that there might be a scintilla of truth in it, inasmuch as child mortality in the first five years of life remains very high, and I suspect that boy children are less robust than girls when it comes to disease. And there is no tradition of female infanticide in those parts: this is bride-price country, not dowry country, and farmer women pay their own way in the household. And then, confirmation bias …

    There may also be a tendency to overlook the very existence of no-goodnik males, of the kind Damon Runyon describes in “Pick the Winner”:

    .. some people say that Miss Cutie Singleton is pretty smart, although I never can see how this can be, as I figure a smart doll will never have any truck with a guy like Hot Horse Herbie, for Herbie is by no means a provider.

  85. David Marjanović says

    I suspect that boy children are less robust than girls when it comes to disease

    That seems to be the case, but by such a small margin that it barely overcompensates for boys being a bit more common at birth. I don’t know how to look up the statistics at this time of the night.

  86. January First-of-May says

    But I must say it would not at all surprise me if certain acts of what we would today classify as male homosexuality were tolerated, at least in certain circumstances, for reasons that would not even occur to me (TV Tropes: “blue and orange morality”).

    IIRC, scientists are still not quite sure what exactly were Crimon and the son of Bathycles up to in 7th century BC Santorini, and/or what was the relevance of the Delphic Apollo in the whole thing.

    (TIL that Crimon, whoever he was, apparently also recorded his encounters with several other men.)

  87. Well, bride-price would certainly diminish the number of eligible males. Also, if there is a large age disparity in marrige that also can be a contributor to the not-enough-bridegrooms phenomenon.

  88. @David Marjanović: Germany and Austria have handled their recent history better than the United States has dealt with its nineteenth-century history. However, they have by no means been free of special pleading for some perpetrators of Second World War atrocities. There is no widespread denial that the Nazi crimes occurred, just as there is no denial that there was slave-holding in the American South. In the Germanic states, there is almost universal condemnation of the Nazi leadership, the Schutzstaffel, and its organs. However, there is also the longstanding myth of the “clean Wehrmacht.” (Marlene Dietrich gave a very strong performance as a motived proponent of the clean Wehrmacht myth—which she certainly did not believe in herself—in Judgement at Nuremburg in 1961.) This clean Wehrmacht excuse may be losing traction over time, but there are definitely still grandchildren and great-grandchildren of German World War II veterans who cling to it.

    I am also well aware that Dershowitz has (at least) two separate theories under discussion there—one concerning the Shapira fragments, which are supposed to be from a version of Deuteronomy; the other regarding the attitude toward male homosexuality in some proposed redactions of Leviticus. I actually brought the latter up, back in one of the early comments, to point out that—just as Shapira had a history of dealing in forgeries—Dershowitz already has a history of outre ideas about the Torah.

    Almost certainly, the reason that there is no discussion of sapphism in the Mosaic Law is that in the patriarchal society of Iron Age Canaan, women were essentially chattels. There was little interest from the male power structure in promulgating regulations governing how females could behave purely amongst themselves—whether or not they were perceived as sexual beings. Moreover, codifying rules governing matters in which no man was directly harmed could easily be seen as usurping the authority of a family patriarch over his womenfolk. It two women were caught in forbidden relations, it was generally the power and responsibility of their fathers or brothers or husbands—whichever males had authority over them—to mete out punishment as they saw fit.

  89. Getting over this mindset can be done. In Germany and Austria it didn’t suddenly happen in 1945, it was a drawn-out process from about 1968 well into the 1980s

    This is because Nazism was comprehensively and lastingly defeated. This did not happen in the US; the South was technically defeated and had to suffer a few years of actual democracy, but the white men of both sides soon shook hands and agreed to forget their late differences in the name of mutual prosperity and keeping the black man down.

  90. The Cold War also made what happened after the Second World War a lot different from what happened after the Civil War. Reconstruction (as the period of post-Civil-War history—lasting until 1877—in which real reforms were attempted is known) ​was naturally wildly unpopular with the old Southern power structure. It was also expensive, with the army occupying most of the former Confederacy, and this (as well as a lot of racism) also cost it support in the North. A lot of white people just wanted things to get back, as much as was feasible, to the seemingly stable way things had been before. A key way in which this situation differed from the one after the Second World War was that there was no remaining military threat to the Union in 1865. In contrast, in 1945 (or at least by 1948), it would have been unthinkable to abandon central Europe, militarily, politically, and economically, to the Soviets. So the victorious Americans stuck around and invested an enormous sum of money in rebuilding the defeated Germany. The Soviets spent a lot less money on rebuilding in the Zone, but in other ways, they obviously remained an even stronger presence than the western Allies did in the Federal Republic. The communist government’s influences also naturally included a total repudiation of the defeated Nazi regime’s principles.

  91. Brett, I think you are wrong on several levels. First, I don’t want to present myself as any sort of expert on Hebrew Iron Age, but the stories of patriarchs do not read like the wives treated as chattel. You are also wrong that purely female sexuality was of no interest. Lev. 20:16 is pretty adamant against female bestiality. I guess the correct answer is that the biblical view of sexual act necessarily involves penetration. No penetration, no sex. I am not sure whether the Bible expresses any views on dildos. Also, sexual transgressions, as well as a host of others (no need to recite), are crimes against god, they are not family matters.

  92. @Brett:
    the oddest thing, to me, is the idea that a text from two thousand years ago would correspond at all with any contemporary social phenomena – especially ones like categorization of people by the gender of their sexual partners (which you take for granted as biblical but is certainly not what’s going on in vayikra/leviticus, regardless of dershowitz*).

    the idea that the distant past shares the last-generation-but-one’s prevailing prejudices is amazingly common (and has remained so as the relevant prejudices have changed over time), and is the quintessence of motivated reasoning – whether that motivation is to endorse one’s grandparents or to write off the distant past. either way, it gets in the way of understanding how structurally different other times and places are.

    (except, of course, in their condemnation of shady copper merchants, which is the one human universal)

    * who i find reasonably persuasive, in large part because although he talks as if “male same-sex intercourse” is a meaningful category for any of the texts he discusses, his actual analysis doesn’t depend on that (ostentatiously false on the most basic reading of those texts) assumption.

  93. The homosexuality issue is more complex than what Dershowitz presents, and I wish he’d presented more of a literature survey. The central issue he’s dealing with is the euphemism “uncover the pudenda”. He uses the fact that “uncovering someone’s pudenda” is an asymmetric act, and from this jumps to conclude that it refers to penetration, another asymmetric act. That is not much of an argument, and is unconvincing. In Genesis, Noah is passed out drunk in his tent, and his son Ham comes in and exposes him. That is without a doubt not a euphemism: Noah’s other two sons walk in, backwards so as not to see their father exposed, and re-cover him. When Noah awakes, he figures out what happened (btw, how?), and curses Ham’s descendants. A bit harsh for getting pantsed, but obviously exposing someone else was considered an act of profound sexual violation and misconduct. By the time of Leviticus a similar expression is used, but seems to imply not violation (because then the specific cases would not need to be enumerated), only misconduct. The euphemistic meaning had evolved so much by this time, that I don’t see how you can try to reliably understand it using the semantics of the original literal meaning.

  94. In context, I find it easier to explain the “male” verse a different way. I use ‘shame’ to translate ‘erwā. Lev. 18:14 says, “Do not expose your father’s brother’s shame, do not come close to his wife, she is your aunt”. 18:16 says, “Do not expose your brother’s wife’s shame, it is your brother’s shame”. In other words, having sex with a male relative’s wife disgraces or pollutes him as well as her. In 18:14 the indirect disgrace is presented before the direct one; in 18:16 it’s the reverse.

  95. Y, Dershowitz actualy deals with explanation of “uncovering nakedness” of a woman as bringing shame on her husband and repeatedly quotes Lev. 18:10 “The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter you shall not uncover [their nakedness]; for it is your nakedness” which doesn’t make sense under this interpretation. IMHO, it’s a big jump from this observation to the idea that explanations for “you shall not uncover” clauses in Lev. 18:7-16 is a confused explanations of a later editor (as a funny example Dershowitz writes that he knows of a shop named “Wine and cheese cask” and hypothesis that future semanticians would be puzzeled when they discover its sign).

    The drunken Noah and his sons story makes even less sense. In this case I am prepared to concede that a later editor tried to make sense out of the “nakedness” euphemism and completely bungled the story. For example, a late editor decided that whatever was in Noah’s story originally falls under “uncover nakedness” prohibition from Leviticus and changed the phraseology accordingly. Let’s say, Ham had sex with his father’s wife while Noah was in a drunken sleep and, in accordance with Lev. 18:8b “uncovered the nakedness” of his father. Then, as a good brother he wanted to share (I am sorry for my glibness), but they refused and a later editor decided to demonstrate it as “covering while not looking” gag.

  96. David Eddyshaw says

    Leviticus 20:13 looks pretty unequivocal. How does Dershowitz get round that? (I presume he does get round it, as he certainly won’t have overlooked it.)

  97. the white men of both sides soon shook hands and agreed to forget their late differences in the name of mutual prosperity and keeping the black man down

    Are you thinking of Nast’s cartoon?

    https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/media/gallery_images/Reconstruction-7-gallery_08_5.036_loc_nast_kkk.jpg

  98. No, I’m describing the history of the time. The cartoon focuses on lowlifes, and I’m talking about the respectable gentlemen who let bygones be bygones.

  99. How does Dershowitz get round that?

    He doesn’t discuss it, but obviously thinks it is a later revision. And notice, there is no fooling around with “uncover nakedness” business.

  100. Andrej Bjelaković says

    “The society, and the subculture of schoolchildren, I grew up in in the early 90s probably wasn’t any less homophobic than the contemporary US, but that manifested in some very different ways, and some of those were caused by definition issues about who counts as “male”. Football was different, bullying was different, violence was different. Tell me if you want to know what I’m talking about.”

    I’d be fascinated to know, David!

  101. D.O.: I thought about it some more. This is interesting, thanks.

    The Noah story does not need to be discarded as corruption. What we can add, which makes the story more logical, is that Ham, after uncovering his drunk father, buggered him [Note: This is Not Normal. But then, needing a specific prohibition against sex with one’s mother isn’t either]; that was proposed in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 70,1), with another suggestion, that Ham castrated Noah (I don’t see how they came up with that, except that somehow they’d read Freud). But the uncovering and the re-covering were literal. If sexual violation happened, that explains how Noah figured it out and why he was angry enough to curse Ham’s son’s descendants.

    Back to Leviticus 18. As you say, Dershowitz does talk about this. I think he gets close, but misses (pp. 12–), and so do the other people he quotes. I think that “uncovering nakedness” or “uncovering shame” refers to bringing disgrace through sexual impropriety, direct or indirect, without getting more specific. And by the way, the concept of indirect shaming exists in the modern verb “to cuckold”, which indicates indirect shaming: the perpetrator and the victim of cuckolding need not ever have met; the verb makes no reference to the more direct participant, the woman. And so verse 10 says, if you disgrace your granddaughter (by illicit incestual sex), you disgrace yourself as well (perhaps by lowering the status of a member of your extended family?)

    There is some logic to the order of forbidden relationships. It starts with blood relatives (שְׁאֵר šǝ’ēr): Father and mother, stepmother (hence father), sister and half-sister, granddaughter, step-sister, aunt (paternal and maternal), uncle (through aunt by marriage), daughter-in-law, sister-in-law (hence brother); and then prohibitions against taking sisters or a mother and her daughter as co-wives. The verses, uncharacteristically, don’t follow a strictly consistent formula. That is why it stands out when the indirectly-disgraced males are mentioned first.

    Nowhere in the Bible is “uncovering nakedness” used as a euphemism for permissible sex; there are plenty others for that. As to “penetration”, etc., I don’t think Dershowitz can make an argument one way or the other, considering that the audience of these prohibitions (and of all other biblical laws) are males, evident from the verbal gender used.

    It looks like a lot of this discussion, unsurprisingly, already exists in the writing of medieval commentators. I like Nachmanides in particular: he surveys a lot of older interpretations, picks and chooses between them, and is clear and easy to read.

  102. Trond Engen says

    I think we must keep the real-world consequence in mind. The legitimation of the enslavement of the Canaanites, a closely related people, is the purpose of the story The curse of Canaan and all his descendants makes most sense if Canaan was the product of the illicit act. Ham took advantage of his father’s drunkenness and had sex (raped, coerced, seduced, or was seduced — I don’t think the distinction was relevant to the compliers of the story) with his father’s young wife, and she got pregnant and had a son, a cuckoo in Noah’s nest. Thus, Canaan was raised as a son of Noah, but one shouldn’t be fooled. he is really the son of Ham, a son of Ham who by his father’s stealth was given something that didn’t belong to him, namely the ancestral land, and life itself. The land shall be taken by the rightful inheritants. and Ham’s descendants shall spend the life they had no right to in service as a replacement for those whose right to life they stole.

    This telling of the story would have made even more sense with Shem in Noah’s place, but that would have disgraced Shem almost as much as Ham himself, Japheth’s role, and his reward as a special houseguest everafter, reflects the alliance with northern powers against Egypt.

    If this reading holds, “uncovering someone’s nakedness” is something like “disgracing someone in public by violating their sexual honour”. The transfer of the term from dishonour by generic breach of sexual moral to the specific and more serious crime of close-kin sex (probably by euphemism) would be parallelled by the word incest itself.

  103. That’s an elegant explanation for the Noah story, but doesn’t explain his sons re-covering him with averted eyes.

  104. Trond Engen says

    I meant to say something about that. Walking in on the scene, Shem and Japhet are first hand witnesses to the crime, fully aware of Canaan’s unrightful conception and inheritance. Unlike himself, probably. Their choice not to tell, and hence let Canaan live — cover it up, as it were — is a selfless act of saving their father’s honour in his own eyes. When the truth comes out, it’s not because Shem or Japheth is telling Noah the secret, but Noah discovering it himself. The two brothers have been completely honourable all the way, even to the point of letting Canaan inherit the land, but when their father in righteous anger commands them to take the land back and enslave Canaan’s sons, what choice do they have?

  105. But why would Ham “uncover” Noah in order to have his way with Noah’s wife?

  106. David Marjanović says

    Sometimes really surprising things have been sitting in plain sight. One example are the recent studies by Labuschagne and Knohl of word-count numerical patterns (with groups of 7 and 11 words being most common), which went unnoticed by scholars and mystics for millennia.

    I wonder if that means the texts in question have “always” been chanted.

    However, there is also the longstanding myth of the “clean Wehrmacht.”

    Yes, but my impression is that that died with the first of the two exhibitions titled Verbrechen der Wehrmacht in the late 90s (English Wikipedia article here). I should have mentioned it.

    I’d be fascinated to know, David!

    Later today. 🙂

  107. However, there is also the longstanding myth of the “clean Wehrmacht.”

    Yes, but my impression is that that died with the first of the two exhibitions titled Verbrechen der Wehrmacht in the late 90s (English Wikipedia article here). I should have mentioned it.
    Another important contributing factor is that those invested in the “clean Wehrmacht” myth, the ones who were its members, have by now mostly died. The following generations have either accepted that Nazi Germany was evil wholesale, without being interested in special pleading whether this or that organisation was or was not involved in the crimes, or (a minority) try to downplay the crimes and their significance as a whole – denying the holocaust totally or its extent, claiming that it wasn’t worse than other nations’ crimes, talking about it’s being time to “close that chapter”, calling it a “fly speck in history” (the already mentioned Mr. Gauland) etc.

  108. Trond Engen says

    Y: But why would Ham “uncover” Noah in order to have his way with Noah’s wife?

    I don’t think he would. I think he “made an embarassment” of his father.

    I should say that I don’t mean to claim that there’s been no editing or change in interpretation since the first conception of the story, only that one should keep an eye on the purpose of the story elements while trying to disentangle the strands.

  109. David Marjanović says

    I’ve finished reading the book. Another noteworthy fact, hidden in the footnotes to the critical edition (chapter 7), is that the fragments sometimes agree with the Septuagint against the Masoretic Text, sometimes with known pre-Masoretic or almost-Masoretic manuscripts (e.g. the Nash papyrus or various Qumran fragments) against the Masoretic text (the LXX can be on both sides of that).

    Also noteworthy is that the Ten Commandments aren’t merely claimed to be ten and the counting left to the reader (ask a Jew, a Protestant and a Catholic what the FIrst Commandment is, and you’ll probably get four different answers). No, each one is followed by “I am Elohim, your god”, and that happens ten times. Thus:

    1. monotheism, including no graven images
    2. Sabbath
    3. honor parents
    4. no slaying your brother’s soul, which apparently means no vendetta*
    5. no adultery with a married woman
    6. no stealing
    7. no false swearing in Elohim’s name**
    8. no false judgment
    9. no desiring people’s wives, slaves, anything
    10. no hating your brother in your heart

    * Later in the text, the 10 commandments are repeated as 10 blessed and then as 10 cursed men, and this one goes with: “Blessed is the man who does not avenge or exact retribution for the soul of his brother.” Interesting, huh? Downright modern or Hittite.
    ** That’s the only one that comes with a threat: he’ll take revenge for the next (!) three generations.

    I’d be fascinated to know, David!

    In some ways, American homophobia is not all that far from the Roman-through-Ottoman model. Specifically, manhood isn’t absolute: you can make a man your bitch, and if you, uh, act that out, that’s not gay, or not really gay, or not quite gay, or only temporarily gay. The bitch, on the other hand, will be despised at least as much as any other bitch, because having manhood and then failing to defend it (e.g. by getting fucked like a woman) is most horrible. And so, “prison sex” is considered normal to the extent that prison rape is widely expected and accepted – it’s considered part of the punishment as if written into the law. Pretty far into what counts as the left in the US, people look forward to the moment when their enemies finally go to prison and find themselves in a cell with a huge guy named Bubba who has tattoos and is a top.

    For what that’s worth, this fits the etymology of fag(got), although an English boarding school isn’t exactly America: a younger boy who is supposed to serve an older boy, among other things bringing him firewood (literal faggots) and doing him sexual favors. There’s no slur based on the older boy.

    Over here, masculinity is absolute and inalienable, and so is teh ghey. Yes, the main slur for gay men is grammatically feminine, as is the main slur for male transvestites and (in a case of really missing the point) the one for trans women, and people who are despised may be referred to as “it”; but none of that can help Bubba. As soon as Bubba gives the slightest hint of his intentions, he has committed a gay act and is gay forever. He’ll be despised, feared & loathed as much as any other gay man, he gets nothing, he loses, good day, sir.

    As in the US, you’re supposed (well, you were 30 years ago) to live in constant fear of being thought gay, but that has nothing to do with defending your manhood if it’s questioned. It means you’re not supposed to show anything that might be interpreted as sexual or romantic interest in anyone male – and by “interpreted” I mean by a maximally insecure 12-year-old boy who just last month came out of the mindset that love in general is inherently ridiculous and must be mocked. And being male, again, is inalienable.

    This is why American Football is still only American. Big, hunky, sweaty guys throwing themselves on a pile? Gay, the lot of them. Further, those tight, tight pants, and the jock straps that most people over here don’t even know about, would look more or less sexy on a woman. A remnant of Victorian-style patriarchy is in effect in that the female gaze isn’t considered; therefore, if you wear something that would look sexy on a woman, you must be doing it for the male gaze, so it’s proof you’re gay.

    (Yes, soccer players get slightly suspicious when they celebrate their goals by hugging and taking their shirts off.)

    (I think this mindset is also behind the olympic uniforms for beach volleyball. The women have to wear unusually small bikinis, supposedly so they can’t grab each other and pull each other out of the way. The men have to wear sack-like tops and huge wide “shorts” that hang below their knees.)

    It also means bullying is different. A popular tactic in the US is the wedgie: the bully pulls your underpants up, exerting painful pressure on various nether regions. Over here that’s unthinkable. Touching another boy’s underpants? Let alone while he’s wearing them? Gay. The bully’s friends would turn on him immediately, and he could never live it down his whole life (…or until he lost contact with…).

    (Kicking people in the balls is not gay, and happens. It’s basically a war crime, though, and correspondingly rare.)

    The taboos used to be so strong that in my 12 years of school I not only never heard of any schoolmate who came out as gay, I didn’t even hear of anyone who was considered gay by common knowledge. For the last 7 of those years I had 500 schoolmates at a time, so statistically it’s not possible that everyone really was in the lower Kinsey numbers. Of course it happened that people were called gay as a random insult while they were being bullied, but the charge didn’t stick to anyone.

  110. David Marjanović says

    The following generations have either accepted that Nazi Germany was evil wholesale, without being interested in special pleading whether this or that organisation was or was not involved in the crimes

    Yes. It’s actually interesting how much people have abandoned identifying with their ancestors, whether mythical heroes of distant pasts or the ones they’ve actually known personally.

    The short answer is probably “the 60s”, but that seems circular.

  111. two questions for the folks who’ve read deeply and/or widely in what i’ll just call biblical philology til someone gives me a good reason not to (i have read at best shallowly & patchily):

    is there a textual argument for taking “uncover nakedness” literally rather than as a fossilized metaphor / idiom (regardless of the question of what it’d be an idiom / metaphor for)?

    what’s the current state of play (not including the shapira scroll) on the relative age of the noah/cave/booze text and the “uncovering nakedness” prohibitions passage? (through textually-based hypotheses, i should say, not people’s fantasies about civilizational stages as expressed by Story versus Law as genres and such)

  112. The textual argument for a literal meaning in the Noah story is the detail of Shem and Japheth walking backwards while covering Noah, being careful not to see him naked (at least his Parts). In the Leviticus passage, it has to be metaphorical.

    I was wondering about the relative ages of the stories, too. From what I read there’s still a lot of disagreement about absolute dating of anything that early, but it seems that most would agree that the Noah story predates Leviticus by, idk, a century at least, maybe several: Leviticus having written during the Persian period (6th century BCE), the Noah story, apparently from the Yahwist source (if you believe in it), which is probably late pre-exilic.

    The verb used is different: in the Noah story it is וַיַרְא, the hiph’il causative of ראה r’h ‘to see’. In Leviticus it is גלה glh ‘uncover’. I don’t know if that’s helpful with the dating.

  113. @rozele: I don’t think there are any other instances, except the one with Noah, in which uncovering nakedness seems to demand a literal reading. (The rape of Lot by his daughters in Genesis 19 does not use a similar formula, for example.) It is possible that a more metaphorical sense was originally intended in the Genesis 9 passage as well, but was misunderstood by a later redactor, who interpolated the bit about Shem and Japheth backing into the tent and re-covering their father. That bit of the story does not actually have a really firm documentary source; parts of the flood narrative are clearly P, but that passage is not among them, and the whole curse episode may be a mishmosh (particularly since the actual crime is clearly Ham’s, but the curse is only seemingly applied to Canaan, suggesting a merger of multiple narratives).

  114. There’s an essay by Goldenberg, “What did Ham do to Noah”, partly readable here, which I don’t have time to summarize right now.

  115. interesting how much people have abandoned identifying with their ancestors

    Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

    Personally I am very glad for the sorry state of German Bundeswehr, because what I hear from German politicians (especially from the Greens) about Russia makes me think they would gladly repeat Barbarossa if they only could.

    Perhaps if they had a few talks with their great grandpa on how that adventure turned out they would be a bit more cautious.

  116. Back in the day, my local college radio station had a show called “Those who remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” It was an all-cover show.

  117. Goldenberg makes the case that in other Middle Eastern cultures exposing a man involuntarily was indeed a severe crime.

    Another way to read it is that more followed the exposing, that isn’t mentioned; it’s like romantic novels where the couple are in bed, and one of them puts out the candle, and there the chapter ends.

  118. In addition to Lev. 18, “uncover nakedness” is repeatedly used in Ezekiel 16, an allegoric text (if it were a blog, we would have said “rant”) about history of Jerusalem. There it is a metaphor for shame and obviously (as far as I can tell) not a sexual act itself. Surprisingly (at least to me), it also has sacrificing children in fire to Moloch, which is a strange prohibition from Lev. 18:21 where it is completely out of place. I do not understand Ezekiel sufficiently to say what is or is not out of place in there.

  119. I hadn’t read this chapter in Ezekiel in a long time. I keep having to tell myself that it’s supposed to be God speaking, not some angry psycho. The Hebrew is beautiful, of course.

  120. Personally I am very glad for the sorry state of German Bundeswehr, because what I hear from German politicians (especially from the Greens) about Russia makes me think they would gladly repeat Barbarossa if they only could.
    The Green party is about the least militaristic of the mainstream political parties, so don’t be afraid. (The Left party is even less militaristic, but they’re anyway pro-Russian – or rather anti-anti-Russian – for historical reasons.)
    The Green party and its core voters have strong links with Human Rights activism and with LGBTQ activism, and tend to be sceptical towards corporate Germany (which generally favours good economic relationships with Russia), so their position on Russia is hardly surprising.

  121. David Marjanović says

    Personally I am very glad for the sorry state of German Bundeswehr, because what I hear from German politicians (especially from the Greens) about Russia makes me think they would gladly repeat Barbarossa if they only could.

    That’s an amazing multilayered misunderstanding on your part. 🙂

    Yes, much of public opinion fears & loathes Putin so much that they’d put unprecedented economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia if they could (I mean, well beyond the existing ones *coughNordStream2cough*).

    But very few think there’s an actual military threat to Germany now or even in the foreseeable future. Without that, you’re never going to convince post-1945 Germans, let alone post-1968 Germans, to wish for a war and join the army.

    Consider Afghanistan. The Bundeswehr used to be there, and perhaps still is. That looks like it should be easy to justify, right? After all, the enemy there is really easy to demonize, right? No matter. Almost twenty years ago a minister had to try to justify it, and his attempt – “defending Germany begins at the Hindukush” – is still being mocked today, because it’s seen as inherently ridiculous.

    The only people who could be made to believe that entire countries or peoples are so dangerous that a war is necessary are on the extreme right. Well, the AfD is strongly pro-Putin.

  122. After all, the enemy there is really easy to demonize, right?

    Well, the enemy there attacked first.

    The other thing is that the people who organized 9/11 could have done so provoke a response. Not my idea, it was some scholar or religious conflicts (maybe not even about 9/11 specifically): he based it on his understanding of their mentality, namely that having a powerful enemy (representing “evil” in the cosmic struggle) notice you is a desirable outcome.

    Right or not, the fact is that Iraq war, destabilization of the Middle East and huge influx of revolutionaries from all over the world is indeed a highly desirable outcome. And if Taliban fell, I am not sure these guys worried about Taliban or Afghanistan specifically. They are not Taliban.

  123. nothing preserved in the same way was known at the time, so that cast suspicion on it. The Qumran scrolls are preserved in the exact same way, but they were only found over half a century later.

    Yes.
    A priori, if Dershowitz indeed revisited it in a way it hasn’t been revisited, it is worth it. False positives happened to 19th century experts. Instead of proving a forgery they would just offer ‘expert’ opinion. Altamira was an obvious forgery too.


    Basically because of this I find “science” side in science – pseudo-science debate a way more dangerous.

  124. David Marjanović says

    Indeed Dershowitz cites an expert who attacked the Qumran scrolls as obvious forgeries in 1949 and 1953.

    Basically because of this I find “science” side in science – pseudo-science debate a way more dangerous.

    Not at all. The trick is just that to evaluate a scientific argument, you have to do some science yourself (i.e. take a look at what the data and the reasoning are that led to the conclusion). You can’t just blindly believe expert opinion just because it’s expert opinion; that isn’t scientific.

  125. David Marjanović says

    Likewise, his paper about Noah, where he suggests that the flood story was grafted onto an earlier story about a drought, rests on suggestive but even thinner evidence. He does not seek to upend current views, just call attention to an intriguing alternative, and it’s a worthwhile paper.

    That’s another double paper, here and here. I recommend reading them in this order. The first seems to be more or less meant as an abridgment and popularization of the second, but that didn’t always quite work, and both contain evidence missing from the other. In the absence of an actual document like V, the evidence is naturally thinner, but it’s very suggestive, tying up a number of loose ends that have puzzled commentators since the at least 3rd century in some cases.

  126. Germans hated and loathed Russians, because they are Slavic subhumans, then they hated and loathed Russians, because they are Communists, now they hate and loath Russians because of Putin.

    I am sure they will find perfectly good new reasons to hate Russians tomorrow.

    Anyway, while Germany alone is no military threat to Russia anymore, NATO is and threat of war remains very high today.

    Perhaps even higher than in early 1980s. At least the politicians back then still remembered what real war looks like and really didn’t want a repeat.

    But now, all we see is one Gleiwitz incident after another.

    Surely one of them will end in global war.

  127. @SFReader: I don’t know what your sources are on which you build your assessment of the situation, but it looks almost comical from the German side.
    1) Germans don’t hate Russians. Even during Nazi times, the belief that Russians are subhumans was a minority view, just unfortunately one that was the official belief of the ruling party. Ordinary Germans back then participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union because their superiors ordered them to, and a substantial group also did it to fight Bolshevism, but not due to hatred of Russians. Depending on your temperament, you may find that readiness to follow atrocious and disastrous orders even more terrifying than aggression born of hate, but that’s what it is.
    2) During the Cold War, Germans again didn’t hate Russians, they were afraid of Communism. I grew up during the final phase of the Cold War, and all debates in Germany were about whether additional nuclear arming would increase or decrease the risk of a Soviet attack and of nuclear war, and there were sizable portions of the political spectrum that advocated to not resist in the case of such an attack, in order to avoid nuclear war. Even the biggest hawks didn’t advocate attacking the Warsaw pact; the most that actually happened back then were proxy wars fought in the third world.
    3) After WW II, militarism declined very much in Germany (lesson learned). Many on the left don’t want an army at all and to leave NATO – the Greens only stopped advocating these things at the end of the 90s, in order to become acceptable as partner in the federal government. There is no-one of any significant influence in Germany who argues for military action against Russia; the most you will find is people advocating an increase of the defense capabilities of Germany and of its allies.
    4) Broad parts of the German public, and especially Big Business, don’t care what Putin does, and, to the contrary, want good economic ties. That’s why the current government continues to support Nord Stream, despite pressure from America and from parts of the political spectrum to nix the project.
    5) There are anti-Putin parts of the political spectrum – Atlanticists who share American worries about his de-stabilising actions in Ukraine, the Caucasus, or the Baltics (important in the traditional governing parties like CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP, but there they are in conflict with more pro-engagement politicians close to business interests); people who care about Human Rights and LGBTQ rights (especially the Greens, but also in other parties). But again, these people argue for a stronger defence effort and for sanctions, not for war.
    5) The party with the biggest concentration of nationalists and Nazi sympathisers, the AfD, actually likes Putin, because he supports them financially, his system is a model for the kind of authoritarian rule at least some of them would like to establish in Germany, and he propagates the kind of traditional “family values” they support.
    I am sure they will find perfectly good new reasons to hate Russians tomorrow.
    In short, there is no significant hatred for Russia and Russians in Germany. You might as well ask yourself why subsequent Russian regimes find it necessary to define themselves against the West in a way that creates antagonism – my answer would be that it’s in order to create a constant sense of crisis and danger that allows them to paint all internal criticism as playing into the hands of the enemy, to denounce demands for Human Rights and democracy as foreign plots, and to go on to enjoy the fruits of their cleptocratic rule. As long as Putin can convince enough people that those who criticise him and his rule are enemies of Russia, he and his buddies are safe.

  128. David Marjanović says

    Yeah, all of that.

    The Cold War really ended the concept of a winnable war over here.

    Until 1992, every new residential building in Austria was legally required to have an underground shelter where people could (supposedly) survive the nuclear winter. That law was actually followed. And Austria is specified as neutral in its constitution (it’s not allowed to join any military alliance), so neither of the two sides would have attacked it as an enemy.

  129. J.W. Brewer says

    David M.: So you’re saying Austria had just as much reliable protection against invasion as officially-perpetually-neutral Belgium had possessed in 1914? Or was that historical parallel not taught in Austrian schools?

  130. David Marjanović says

    That parallel was taught. The neutrality was just a precondition for the Soviet army to leave northeastern Austria and a large part of Vienna in 1955 – but it became extremely popular in later years. There was a bit of discussion in the late 90s about whether Austria should abandon that and join NATO*; that went nowhere and is long forgotten.

    Had the Cold War heated up, Austria could have been attacked as collateral damage**, but not as an actual dangerous enemy, so it wasn’t as likely to have been nuked.

    * The xenophobes were for it. Now they’re for Putin and take money from him.
    ** Contemporary joke about the Bundesheer: “How long do the Russians need to overcome the Alps?” – “A quarter of an hour. Ten minutes for laughing and five minutes for climbing.”

  131. Trond Engen says

    It was generally assumed that Austria was just a phone call away from NATO membership. Not quite on the level of integration with NATO as Sweden, but not as far away as Finland. These days of course, the non-membership of some EU countries in the defence treaty is a mere technicality. But one might argue that NATO is no longer a defence treaty, and that the defence treaty operates informally outside of it.

  132. “Contemporary ”
    Does that mean that Russians are seen as what is called “the probable opponent” here?

    The one you are ready to nuke in a matter of minutes?

  133. @drasvi: I think he means “from that period”, i.e. the Cold War. I’m not sure whether contemporary can be used that way, but German zeitgenössisch, for which “contemporary” is the default translation, can both mean “current” and “pertaining to the period under discussion”.

  134. Same in English. It’s very confusing.

  135. Trond Engen says

    At least up here, nuclear war (or conventional bombing) is seen as a non-existant threat to the point that not only was the requirement for shelters dropped, but old shelters are being downgraded and disused or repurposed as fast as you can say maintenance costs. There is some mumbling about what if Russia’s turn away from the path to democracy leads to a return to full-blown totalitarian militarism, even by mainstream politicians, but so far it has had no impact on policy.

  136. Well, tank battles around Donetsk were impssible to imagine. It is boring, partly depressed, Soviet hinterland (and a part pf the heartland). There was a war there in 1940s – like everywhere. And then it was a boring, and there was no latent hostility. The war was created out of nothing and that was done with ease. It can be not totally obvious, but it was exactly as plausible as tank battles in the middle of your country.

    Whether you were pro-confrontation and pushed towards that, or an outraged observer, it still makes peace look extremely fragile because yes, it turned out to be so.

  137. @Hans, thank you. Yes, contemporary can be used this way. I have one more stupid question then. What are the “destabilizing actions in the Baltics”? I practice social distancing from media: I simply do not know what is meant, no subtext here:/

  138. David Marjanović says

    It was generally assumed that Austria was just a phone call away from NATO membership.

    Surprises me. I mean, for a long time the governing coalition actually had a 2/3 majority in parliament and was therefore able to make “minor” changes to the constitution all by itself, and given that perpetual neutrality was introduced without holding a referendum, it ought to count as a “minor” change… but still.

    (I’d also be surprised if the Austrian military was ever up to NATO standards.)

    “pertaining to the period under discussion”

    Yes, that.

    There is some mumbling about what if Russia’s turn away from the path to democracy leads to a return to full-blown totalitarian militarism, even by mainstream politicians, but so far it has had no impact on policy.

    Surprises me a bit, because Sweden fairly recently brought the draft back for that very reason. Is the loss of Finland really still a national trauma there…?

  139. Trond Engen says

    I’ll admit to overstating the case. But Austria’s position between Germany and Italy meant that in the case of a conventional war in Europe, NATO would have had to keep most of it free from Warszaw Pact forces, and it would have been better to start that defence upon request by the Austrian government before an actual invasion. The Austrian government would have known that too. As would the Soviets.

    Being up to NATO standards was never a prerequisite for membership.

  140. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    The one you are ready to nuke in a matter of minutes?

    East of Paris and west of Jerusalem, that’s actually “the one who’s ready to nuke you in a matter of minutes.” At most, for aggressive Atlanticists, it might be the one you hope Uncle Sam nukes first …

  141. The neighboring thread is about Russian jokes and I decided to recite two oldie-goldies

    There will be no war, but the struggle for peace will leave no stone upon a stone.

    In the civil defence class: “When you hear nuclear missile alert, cover yourself with a white sheet and slowly crawl down to the cemetery.”

  142. David Eddyshaw says

    Q. Could an atomic bomb destroy our beloved town, Yerevan, with its splendid buildings and beautiful gardens?

    A. In principle, yes. But Moscow is by far a more beautiful city.

  143. A year ago, NATO forces in Europe began this.

    Test mobilization to the east (II)
    The Bundeswehr and US armed forces are preparing for major maneuvers against Russia in early 2020
    BERLIN / WASHINGTON (own report) – In the coming year, the US armed forces will make extensive use of the civil infrastructure of the Federal Republic for their largest maneuver in Europe for 25 years. The war exercise (“Defender Europe 20”) rehearses the transfer of division of US troops from the United States to Russian borders. Not only are numerous Bundeswehr locations involved in war logistics, but also ports (Bremerhaven, Duisburg), airports (Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main) as well as rails and roads. In the run-up to the maneuver, Deutsche Bahn purchased additional heavy-duty wagons. This means that the Federal Republic’s support services go far beyond the three “Convoy Support Centers” previously known to the public in Garlstedt, Burg and Upper Lusatia and the large filling station in Bergen. The routes on which US military personnel are to be relocated to potential theaters of war in the east are now roughly known. In US military circles there is talk of a “battlefield network”, “which is useful for all NATO allies in the event of a conflict”.

    It didn’t went well due to start of Covid-19 epidemic.

    But a week ago another test mobilization termed Defender Europe 21 was launched and once again a division-sized force of US armor is going to land in Europe and move towards Russian borders. Airborne operations will be held in Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.

    This is the reality you don’t want to see.

    The pandemic probably slowed the march towards war, but certainly didn’t stop it.

  144. NATO has an obligation to defend Latvia,* and Russia under Putin has demonstrated a willingness to interfere militarily with its neighbors. It would be irresponsible for NATO not to have plans tested and in place to deal with Russian aggression in the Baltics. Moreover, a show of a clear military commitment to support Latvia* is designed to reduce the probability of an actualshooting war, since the likeliest way to start such a conflict would be for Russia to blunder into it by not understanding the West sincere commitment to defend out allies.

    * There are obviously other members in Eastern Europe as well, for which the obligation is the same. However, Latvia is the likeliest NATO member to be assaulted by the Russians.

  145. I can foresee only one scenario when Russian military attacks Latvia.

    When war with NATO starts, Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave will be surrounded by NATO on all sides and will fall to the enemy within months* if not relieved by the rest of the Russian army.

    The shortest route from Pskov to Kaliningrad goes through Daugavpils, Latvia and Kaunas, Lithuania, so naturally in order to relieve our troops in the Kaliningrad pocket we first have to defeat NATO forces in Latvia and Lithuania (Estonia is less of a concern, they could sit this out unless they do something extremely stupid – like shelling St.Petersburg with long range artillery.)

    *I don’t believe direct NATO attack on Kaliningrad enclave could succeed – Russian forces there are not numerous, but they are extremely well armed (including plenty of tactical nukes).

  146. @SFReader: What Brett said. These manoeuvres and deployment plans are meant to protect NATO allies against a potential Russian attack. The stunts in the Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine have made it very clear that Putin is ready to use military force in Europe, although with plausible deniability. I don’t think NATO strategists think he is looking for all-out war with NATO, but they prepare for surprise attacks on some border territories, followed by “if you don’t want a nuclear war, you let me keep them”. In order to forestall this, it’s important to have troops on the ground which can respond before Russian control is established.
    If the West was as eager for war as you assume, it would have been possible to start one after Russia interfered in Georgia, after the annexation of Crimea, after the operations in Eastern Ukraine. But Putin knows exactly that the West is very reluctant to start a war, and that’s why he is using that pinprick strategy. The danger is that at one point, he’ll miscalculate, and will do something NATO will have to react to. Attacking NATO members would be one of these things, so manoeuvres and deployments are a signal that this is a red line.
    And yes, this can all go wrong. But the point is that the West does not want war with Russia. It can easily be avoided if Putin stops sending little green men to his neighbours.
    @drasvi: the destabilising actions in the Baltics – nothing on the scale of Ukraine, but over the years there have been concentrated hacker attacks on digital infrastructure, especially in Estonia, that are generally assumed to have originated in Russia.

  147. Germans hated and loathed Russians

    Just to chime in, I agree with Hans. In a broader historical context this is ridiculous. Germans have generally been more Russophilic than any other nation in Europe. Certainly more than Great Britain or France (or Poland, needless to say). My impression is that this is still broadly true today, although the latest wave of Russian immigrants to Germany has managed to reinforce some unfortunate stereotypes about Russians being reactionaries and “nekulturny”. At least in my personal experience I find a surprising number of Germans and Austrians are broadly sympathetic to Russia’s claims on Crimea and granting Russia influence over its “near abroad.” Americans tend to favor Ukraine and the Baltics, to the extent they know anything about the issue.

  148. PlasticPaddy says

    @hans, sfr, brett
    There are two things here:
    1. The stated objectives of a military policy are not always the real objectives:
    a. When the British declared war on Nazi Germany, the stated objective was to free Poland from foreign domination.
    b. NATO reverts to a “chain of command” mode in the case of employment of troops or weapons. As far as I understand, NATO highest command is vested in a U.S. general whose supreme commander is the US president.
    2. When you have a large and slightly wacko neighbour, it is common sense to develop a relationship of trust and openness with that neighbour. Ireland has cooperated with the UK to the extent that there was always free travel, residence and work rights, and Irish government policy has a level of independence consistent with what used to be called “Finlandisation”. I believe, but am willing to be corrected, that most countries in the Russian “sphere of influence” (not, of course Finland) regard ties with the EU and NATO as a way of “thumbing their noses” at Russia.

  149. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    This is the reality you don’t want to see.

    And also the reality you fail to see yourself …

    Of course, NATO was created explicitly to fight the Cold War and stop further Soviet expansion in Europe. I agree it still retains that original vibe, though I’m unconvinced you identify correctly its motivations. My understanding of the Pentagon’s thinking is as good as yours, but I very much doubt they have any desire to invade Russia. I even doubt they have a serious plan for how to do it, though they undoubtedly have a toy one they may like to play with occasionally. On the other hand, there’s probably some genuine concern that Putin might try to meddle with the Baltic republics, say as a protector of their Russian population; and that this might end up badly, perhaps even as badly as in the Ukraine. And there’s the primary bureaucratic motive: US bases in Europe and NATO more broadly need justification and the laziest is that they defend Europe from Russia, like they always did.

    Which brings me to the major reality you don’t seem to grasp. NATO was also created, at least implicitly, so that European countries that had screwed up too much for too long would no longer have an independent military policy nor the capability to have one. This still suits perfectly well Italian and I bet German voters, whose only consistent military desire is further cuts to our defense spending (which is basically as low as the US lets us make it). Britain and France have some residual post-imperial ambitions, but I doubt they’ve forgotten they can no longer invade Egypt, and they certainly haven’t forgotten they cannot even bomb Serbia. Let’s not talk about the mighty Austrian and Belgian armies …

    The only countries wielding an army around in Europe are the US, Russia and Turkey. And the latter is funny enough and good for you to think of, because it’s a NATO member but has a ruler more or less as beloved further west as Putin, and a population Europeans seem more likely to be racist towards.

  150. J.W. Brewer says

    The mission of NATO was famously summarized circa 65 years ago by its first Secretary-General (Lord Ismay) as “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” (Subsequent additions included “to provide opportunities for mutual commiseration about how ridiculously the French are behaving.”) One can certainly question why (other than the general tendencies of bureaucracies to be self-perpetuating) it is still around 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet empire. In particular, I feel like somewhere along the way the concern that American withdrawal would lead to Europe being destabilized by a no-longer-constrained revanchist Germany gave way to a concern that American withdrawal would lead to a destabilizing vacuum no one would fill because both Germany and the other European powers were too feckless, decadent, and pfennig-pinching to competently manage their own common defense (against, inter alia, the traditional threat of barbarous invaders from the steppes to the East) without American supervision and subsidy. And somehow it is thought easier to continue the status quo than to force the Europeans to take responsibility for their own destiny. (Not that there aren’t some advantages to the US from the status quo, but it’s not clear that the U.S. e.g. guaranteeing the integrity of the present border between Belarus and Lithuania is a price that’s worth it to secure those advantages.)

    I wonder if some of our Russian interlocutors here are suspicious of present NATO intentions because they find it difficult to believe that Germany, in particular, really is as feckless and decadent in these matters as is widely assumed in the West.

  151. It’s entirely understandable why Russians in general are suspicious of NATO intentions; they have historically had nothing but trouble from the West (I imagine many of them haven’t forgotten how they helped the Austrians in the 1848 crisis and got the back of the Habsburg hand for it, just as the Chinese haven’t forgotten the opium wars), and NATO was, after all, set up explicitly to confront them. That doesn’t make the idea that Germany and other Western powers are itching to invade any less ridiculous, but the ideas Westerners have (and have always had) about Russia are just as ridiculous, so nobody’s in a position to point fingers. (Except the Welsh, of course, who have total liberty to point fingers at all and sundry. No imperialists they.)

  152. SFReader, offering Russian army to bat’ka was unnecessary as well.
    It was not like Lithuania was going to blunder into invading Belarus by not understanding our sincere commitment to defend our allies.

    guaranteeing the integrity of the present border between Belarus and Lithuania is a price that’s worth it to secure those advantages.)

    What a coincidence.

  153. Dubravka Stojanović has a superb essay in the TLS (Sept. 13, 2019) that happily has been posted here (with slightly different wording) for all to read; I’ll excerpt this bit and urge everyone to read the whole thing:

    During and after the break-up of Yugoslavia, we had, as historians, a unique opportunity to observe this experiment in vivo, which is not a methodology inherent to our profession. Changes in the interpretation of history began several years before the war because hostility needed to be created. A new interpretation of the past was offered as a revelation, final realization, and liberation from earlier platitudes imposed on us by “enemies”. Historians suddenly became superstars, appearing on prime-time TV shows and revealing to millions of viewers the injustices we had suffered, how we have always been on the right side of history, while our enemies stabbed us in the back at the crucial moment. They explained that it was “us” who were the real victims of all historical events: misunderstood, used, pushed aside, subjugated. These were explosive combinations of historical consciousness, a mixture of self-victimization and self-heroization. Self-victimization homogenizes the nation, closes its ranks, creating a sense of vulnerability, discomfort, fear. This collective feeling is the best psychological groundwork for aggression presented as self-defense. The victim receives an indulgence for all future actions, being freed from moral responsibility. A victim cannot be a perpetrator. Heroization in all this is just the final touch, a cherry on top. Teaching about victories and forgetting defeats encourages the nation and creates the impression that this time we will win.

  154. David Marjanović says

    What Hans and Giacomo said, except…

    1. The stated objectives of a military policy are not always the real objectives:

    Specifically, foreign policy can be a means of interior policy. NATO maneuvers with the stated objective to dissuade Putin from attack can have as their real objective to calm down fears in, say, Poland. Whether anyone else actually believes Putin would or could attack (and if so, specifically Poland in this example rather than Latvia*) is beside the point.

    * That’s by far the NATO (and EU) country with the largest Russian population, which could in principle serve as an excuse (as in Crimea and eastern Ukraine) if Putin felt he needed to distract his voters with imperial achievements again. I don’t think that’s likely to happen, though, because I can’t find an additional economic motive like the ones that were so transparent in the Ukrainian cases.

    I find a surprising number of Germans and Austrians are broadly sympathetic to Russia’s claims on Crimea

    I don’t find that surprising, because the media all fairly reported the fact that Crimea has an ethnic Russian majority and that giving the place to Ukraine was basically a whim by Khrushchev. But speaking of Austria, the referendum that was held after the little green men had landed reminds me quite uncomfortably of the one that was held after the Nazi army had installed itself in Austria. 99.73% for Germany! Yaaaaay.

    And somehow it is thought easier to continue the status quo than to force the Europeans to take responsibility for their own destiny.

    Trump tried and largely failed. American-style gigantic military budgets would never pass over here.

    Finally, I don’t really understand why NATO wasn’t dissolved when the Cold War was over. Its existence obviously contributes to Russian fears which probably contributed to Putin’s rise.

  155. David Marjanović says

    SFReader, offering Russian army to bat’ka was unnecessary as well.

    Oh, it was urgently necessary in order to keep the good man in power and thereby stop the steady encroachment of democracy onto Putin himself…

  156. I imagine many of [the Russians] haven’t forgotten how they helped the Austrians in the 1848 crisis and got the back of the Habsburg hand for it

    I do not wish to waddle into deeper waters, but on this particular point I am 95% sure that the vast majority of Russians, including educated, white-collar, were-good-in-school Russians, have no idea that something of note happened in 1848 Austria.

  157. Second that about the nonexistent memories of 1848. Much of Russia’s military history in the South, in the Archipelago and the Balkans, in the Crimean war eventually – may be taught as a tale of Western distrust making waste of the heroic Russian blood, but I don’t think that this narrative is familiar to most Russians today, or plays any role in the government-procured patriotism and phobia of the West.

    Although eventually, the shock waves from the Balkans and Crimea sunk the imperial regime, something which the current regime fears as well. But the immediate danger isn’t a new defeat in a new Crimean war of some sort. It’s, now like then, a wave of internal dissent, aligned with or encouraged by the “Western enemies” but largely coming from the Russian government’s own hamfisted policies.

    Back then, IMVHO, it was the Crimean defeat -> modernization drive which bogged down in the resistance of the reactionary circles -> the insurgencies (probably starting from the British-sponsored Polish national resistance and Herzen’s “The Bell” but then on and on?)

    The victim receives an indulgence for all future actions, being freed from moral responsibility. A victim cannot be a perpetrator. Heroization in all this is just the final touch, a cherry on top. Teaching about victories and forgetting defeats encourages the nation and creates the impression that this time we will win.

    “He who controls the past makes the future less predictable”? Of course the post-Communist fear-mongering was primarily to replace the lost ideological footing & to ensure the survival of the domestic political elites? For the internal political reasons, essentially, rather to actually win wars? But a war may be an inexpected consequence of war-mongering…

  158. I am 95% sure that the vast majority of Russians, including educated, white-collar, were-good-in-school Russians, have no idea that something of note happened in 1848 Austria.

    OK, I guess later outrages have washed away the memory of this one, but it was extremely well known before the Revolution.

    But a war may be an inexpected consequence of war-mongering…

    Yup, that’s what happens. Nobody wanted WWI, but they kept mongering and mongering…

  159. John Emerson says

    The Austrian Habsburgs were famous for ingratitude. The Hungarians got enormous concession via intimidation and threats, but none of the other peoples got anything by loyalty.

  160. 1. The stated objectives of a military policy are not always the real objectives
    Granted. But it’s hard to uphold a secret agenda when dozens of allies and hundreds of decision makers are involved, who can leak things to mass media very eager to expose scandal, as is the case with NATO.
    a. When the British declared war on Nazi Germany, the stated objective was to free Poland from foreign domination.
    Do you mean that this wasn’t at least one of the goals, in 1939? I don’t think that the British government had it planned back then to hand Poland to the Soviets, who after all, at that time were allies of Nazi Germany. That this goal was dropped when it became practically unobtainable is another matter.
    b. NATO reverts to a “chain of command” mode in the case of employment of troops or weapons. As far as I understand, NATO highest command is vested in a U.S. general whose supreme commander is the US president.
    True, and whether there will be a war with Russia depends much more on American decisions than on what Germany or any other NATO ally wants. But I am also quite certain that no one of significance in the American military and political decision making circles wants to invade Russia.
    2. When you have a large and slightly wacko neighbour, it is common sense to develop a relationship of trust and openness with that neighbour. …
    I believe, but am willing to be corrected, that most countries in the Russian “sphere of influence” (not, of course Finland) regard ties with the EU and NATO as a way of “thumbing their noses” at Russia.

    “Thumbing their noses” is how the Russian establishment views it. Those countries see it as a necessary insurance policy against a neighbour who they suspect would like to bring them back under its hegemony at first opportunity. One can surely discuss whether Baltic, Ukrainian or Georgian nationalists overstepped the mark on this or that occasion in the past and needlessly provoked Russia, but it’s also the case that Russia doesn’t have much to offer to those countries, except for a version of its own kleptocracy. It’s much easier for Ireland to have a reasonable relationship with the UK, which at least plays by the same rules (democratic, open society).
    It’s instructive to look at the different relationship the former Central Asian republics have with Russia. They have similar authoritarian-oligarchic structures, and their regional alternative is China, so several of them have decided that good relations with Russia are the best available option.

  161. extremely well known before the Revolution.

    Yes. I do not remember how these events were presented in Soviet history. Somehow they were not central.

    But I do know that they were well known before that:)

  162. Well, the Hapsburgs had passed on to the dustbin of history, so there was no point stoking animosity towards them. The Brits were another matter…

  163. David Eddyshaw says

    We’re working on the dustbin angle. Give us a few more years …

  164. David Marjanović says

    Nobody wanted WWI, but they kept mongering and mongering…

    Pretty much. In several (likely all, but I don’t know) of the countries that ended up involved, the education system was so militaristic that millions of people ended up itching to have a war as soon as possible. Even the Austrian emperor had an obsession with the military that you’d only expect from Prussia.

  165. “so there was no point stoking animosity towards them.”

    Let us also remember that “suppressing revolutions” would not be presented as a noble deed in USSR.

  166. the education system was so militaristic that millions of people ended up itching to have a war as soon as possible

    Well, in most of those countries the people were neither here nor there, they had no influence on decisions about war and peace. But the chattering classes kept chattering about how peace is debilitating and only war can develop and exhibit masculine virtue and a good healthy war will expand the glory of our glorious nation and the generals got excited and took the bit in their teeth and the civilians (emperors and bureaucrats alike) were afraid to contradict them and look cowardly and boom, the guns of August.

  167. I think you are to charitable to the masses, at least according to what I know about Germany (and I have read at least some accounts for other countries that make the situation there look similar). There was actual mass enthusiasm for the war, due to militaristic indoctrination and also because the last big war anyone remembered was the successful German-French war of 1870/71. That’s in marked difference to the situation at the start of WW II, when the horrors of WW I were still fresh in everyone’s memory. Even Hitler noted the lack of war enthusiasm among the German population, of course with disapproval. The situation as you describe it seems to fit more for Italy*) or Russia, with the caveat that the enthusiastic chattering classes included a lot of the middle class, but where there also were lots of drafted peasants who had no idea why they had to go to the front and fight.
    *) There indeed did the chattering classes, under the leadership of d’Annunzio, create a public pressure for Italy to join the war under which the more cautious civilians in the government simply gave up.

  168. @Hans: Indeed, Erich Maria Remarque said that the flashback scenes in Im Westen nichts Neues—with the teenage pupils, prodded by their teacher, being extremely gung-ho about enlisting back at the beginning of the war—were, if anything, toned down from the real war enthusiasm he had seen in school in 1914.

  169. I think you are to charitable to the masses, at least according to what I know about Germany (and I have read at least some accounts for other countries that make the situation there look similar).

    You seem to be assuming I was claiming the masses were antiwar, dragged against their will into the bloody vortex created by their masters. I said no such thing, nor do I believe it. I said “the people were neither here nor there, they had no influence on decisions about war and peace”; whether they were for or against it was irrelevant. I’m not that familiar with popular feeling in the Western European countries, but in the US and Russia the masses were not pro-war — and yet when the klaxons sounded and the diktats came down from on high, they shouldered their rifles and marched off to fight the Enemy. (Note that there had been no substantial anti-German feeling in America as far as I’m aware — any more than against any other immigrant group, that is, and considerably less than against the Irish and the Eastern European Jews, let alone the Chinese — but that didn’t stop them from attacking people with German-sounding names and smashing the windows of shops that had been there for decades once Germany became the Enemy.) The masses, sadly, are easily led against their own interests, which is one of the problems with democracy.

  170. Note also the well-worn but still striking fact that all the Western European socialists who had been fervently opposed to war immediately voted for military budgets as soon as war was declared. Humans are a wretched lot under the right (wrong) circumstances.

  171. David Marjanović says

    all the Western European socialists

    They were still patriots back in those days – and, as it turned out, patriots first.

    That’s how deep the indoctrination had gone.

  172. They were still patriots back in those days

    So you say, and so it turns out in retrospect, but that’s not what they said or believed — they were quite convinced they were internationalists and would never fight their fellow workers who happened to be across the borderlines drawn by vile oppressors of the people.

  173. David Marjanović says

    In Germany they were quite open about it. Was that different elsewhere?

  174. From Wikipedia:

    The socialist movements had declared before the war their opposition to a war which they said could only mean workers killing each other in the interests of their bosses. Once the war was declared, most socialist and most of the trade union decided to back the government of their country and support the war. For example, on July 25, 1914 the executive of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) issued an appeal to its membership to demonstrate against the coming war, only to vote on August 4 for the war credits the German government wanted.

    This is pretty famous; where did you get the idea they thought otherwise?

  175. all the Western European socialists who had been fervently opposed to war immediately voted for military budgets as soon as war was declared.

    Not true in Italy. Mussolini was basically expelled from the Socialists in 1914 because he was fervidly pro Italian intervention. Most Italian Socialists were never enthusiastic about joining the war.

  176. Thanks, I guess I don’t automatically think of Italy as Western European — mea culpa!

  177. You seem to be assuming I was claiming the masses were antiwar, dragged against their will into the bloody vortex created by their masters. I said no such thing, nor do I believe it. I said “the people were neither here nor there, they had no influence on decisions about war and peace”; whether they were for or against it was irrelevant.
    Ok, sorry for the misunderstanding!

    I’m not that familiar with popular feeling in the Western European countries, but in the US and Russia the masses were not pro-war — and yet when the klaxons sounded and the diktats came down from on high, they shouldered their rifles and marched off to fight the Enemy.
    And that’s my point about the difference between WW I and WW II in Germany – in both cases the soldiers shouldered their rifles and marched into war, and in both cases the decision was taken at the top without public consultation, but at the start of WW I, there was common public enthusiasm – if there would have been a referendum on the war, a huge majority would have voted for it. That was not the case with WW II – people fought because they thought it was their duty and a certain number because they believed that everything the Führer ordered was right, but if there had been a secret ballot before the declaration of war, there would have been a majority for peace. From what I read, there was palpable relief in the German public when war was avoided at the Munich conference, and, as I already mentioned, even Hitler noted and complained about the lack of enthusiasm.

  178. SFReader, offering Russian army to bat’ka was unnecessary as well.

    Losing Belarus to the enemy would be repeat of Barbarossa all over again.

    With NATO entrenched in the Baltics, Belarus and Ukraine, we’ll be back to the front line of 1942-1943.

    Absolutely unacceptable.

    If NATO made any attempt to intervene militarily in Belarus last August, we’d certainly would have been at war already.

  179. Then I congratulate you and NATO with having joint pre-emptive maneuvers to secure the very same border and deter an obvious threat, and please warn people before you proceed to necessary pre-emptive strikes, all right?

  180. SFReader, is “the enemy” the citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltics who choose (when they are allowed to) to not be Russian satellites?

  181. Re: defense of Russian population in the Baltics

    Russia has very little desire to do anything since Baltic Russians are apparently perfectly happy to be treated as second-rate citizens* as long as they have their EU resident papers.

    There is so far no danger of genocide, so there will be no Russian invasion. If it comes, it will be due to purely military concerns like relieving the Kaliningrad garrison after the war with NATO already started.

    * Did you know that little fascist regimes of Estonia and Latvia have a literal language police which can fine a kindergarten teacher for speaking in Russian to a Russian child?

    ** After stripping it’s Russian minority of Latvian citizenship in 1991, Latvia gave them status of non-citizens, in Russian ‘negrazhdane’ which inevitably was shortened to “negr” (Negro). And thus Russians in Latvia became Latvian Negroes.

    Toleration by Europeans of this kind of treatment of ethnic minorities in Europe if the minority in question happens to speak Russian is one of the things which makes me believe that Germans (and other Europeans) still regard Russians as subhumans.

  182. the citizens of Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltics who choose (when they are allowed to) to not be Russian satellites?

    On January 17 2010, Eastern Ukrainian opposition leader Victor Yanukovich (formerly governor of Donetsk province and briefly a Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2002-2005) won the first round of Ukrainian presidential elections defeating incumbent President Yuschenko. He then won the second round on February 7, 2010 defeating incumbent Prime Minister Yiliang Timoshenko receiving 12,481,266 votes (48.95%).

    He was overthrown on February 21, 2014 in a coup organized and supported by the US and EU.

    Democratically elected President Yanukovich then fled to Russia fearing for his life (his car was shot at by the armed opposition).

    That’s all you need to know about respect for elections and democracy

    As for Baltics, it’s kind of hard to take their elections seriously after they disenfranchised 40% of population immediately after independence.

  183. Prime Minister Yiliang Timoshenko

    She is Yulia, of course, the damn autocorrect on my Chinese smartphone changed it to Yiliang for some reason (though in retrospect it’s kind of logical that they would have such bias).

  184. It’s inarguable that all these countries have a large number of citizens who want NATO-friendly governments. You compared them to Nazi occupiers.

  185. Trond Engen says

    If NATO made any attempt to intervene militarily in Belarus last August, we’d certainly would have been at war already

    Which is why it was and is an unthinkable scenario. It may well have been presented as preparation for intervention in some parts of the Russian media, but that doesn’t make it so. An attack on e.g. Belarus would have had to be started unilaterally by some failing nationalist government desperately trying to rally support, and in that case the rest of Europe would do everything in their power to stop it, or ultimately say “You’re on your own”. Europe really, really doesn’t want another war. It wouldn’t escalate unless Belarus and Russia wanted it to by attacking another NATO or EU country.

    The only thing that may bring Europeans to war is attempted genocide on their doorstep, and even then only after long and fruitless diplomacy. Europe was saved from a genocidal regime of its own making by foreign intervention. One thing that came out of that was a deep-rooted “feckless and decadent” non-militarism. Another was a sense of moral obligation to prevent genocides, even if the means aren’t always there. There are lines that Europe for historical reasons can’t accept being crossed, which the pacifists know that even the most war-fearing of the non-pacifists can’t accept being crossed, and for each step Russia takes towards illiberalism, or support for illiberal regimes in Europe, the chance increases for a genocide or a massive military attack on civilians that can’t be overlooked. But we are still quite far from that point. For one thing, we are having this discussion.

    This brings me back to Germany’s Greens. Harsh words against Putin’s regime by otherwise pacifist politicians should be understood as offensive and preemptive pacifism, as clear messages by those who fear war more than anything. “We all want peace here. Please stop acting like a schoolyard bully before someone does something stupid.” It’s the very same politicians who are most loudly opposed to American militarism and support for illiberal regimes. This is of course well understood by Russian politicians. But it’s not necessarily understood by those European politicians how it’s spun in Russian media.

  186. offensive and preemptive pacifism

    That’s a new one.

    I wonder if offensive and preemptive pacifism stretches to offensive and preemptive first nuclear strike.

  187. Trond Engen: The only thing that may bring Europeans to war is attempted genocide on their doorstep, and even then only after long and fruitless diplomacy. Europe was saved from a genocidal regime of its own making by foreign intervention. One thing that came out of that was a deep-rooted “feckless and decadent” non-militarism. Another was a sense of moral obligation to prevent genocides, even if the means aren’t always there.

    When push came to shove, the non-militarism won out over the moral obligation, unfortunately. It was the Europeans (the British and Germans, especially), who were primarily responsible for delaying NATO intervention in the Yugoslav wars, which probably cost tens of thousands of lives. A lot of the twenty-first-century distrust of the European allies in the American diplomatic community goes back to this

  188. “This is of course well understood by Russian politicians.”

    I do not think so.

    @Y, acutally, mixing these up is strange.

    They do not “chose” to be Russian or NATO satellites any more than Luxembourg is chosing between France, Germany and Belgium. And we are tearing them (Ukraine and Belarus) apart.

    Is not it safe to assume that when a country has economic and cultural ties to many countries around,
    – different citizens have different preferences.
    – mostly they want independence and prosperiety
    ?

    Then when crocodiles around form two hostile blocks, it is already bad. Do you want Belarus to lose Russian gas (93% of local electricity) and connection to their families on the Russian side of the border? Or do you want them to lose cultural and economic ties to Europe?

    Such a country won’t have independence and prosperity either way.

  189. It may well have been presented as preparation for intervention in some parts of the Russian media, but that doesn’t make it so.

    Standard NATO modus operandi these days is to fund the opposition in the country whose government you wish to overthrow, train and arm them and when they succeed in overthrowing the government, get them to invite NATO and defend the new regime from Russian retribution.

    Voila – new country conquered without a drop of blood.

    The problem is two sides can play this game.

  190. drasvi, I was just objecting to SFReader’s line “Losing Belarus to the enemy would be repeat of Barbarossa all over again.” Let the citizens of Belarus figure out what they want. But if they somehow get to have free elections, and a majority opts for a pro-NATO government, does that make 50%+ of Belarussian citizens “the enemy”, comparable to the nazis?

  191. Let’s take a brief look at the electroral history of a neighboring Ukraine.

    Pro-Russian candidate Kravchuk won the first Ukrainian presidential elections of 1991 defeating pro-Western candidate Chornovil.

    Pro-Russian opposition candidate Kuchma won the second Ukrainian presidential elections of 1994 defeating the incumbent president Kravchuk who was now seen as more pro-Western.

    Pro-Russian president Kuchma won the third Ukrainian presidential elections of 1999 defeating even more pro-Russian opposition candidate Simonenko (head of the Communist party).

    Pro-Russian candidate Yanukovich won the fourth Ukrainian presidential elections of 2004 defeating the pro-Western candidate Yuschenko.

    But then the United States of America intervened, declared the election to be fraudulent and forced candidate Yanukovch to concede defeat in what was described as “Orange revolution”.

    Pro-Russian opposition candidate Yanukovich won the fifth Ukrainian presidential elections of 2010 defeating pro-Western incumbents Yuschenko and Timoshenko, but was overthrown in a coup organized by the United States of America in February 2014.

    All Ukrainian elections since then were neither free nor fair and obviously no real pro-Russian candidates were allowed to participate.

    Somehow it seems that the people of Ukraine (when they were actually allowed to vote) always voted for pro-Russian candidates.

    It was always the other side which resorted to force and pressure when they disliked the will of the Ukrainian people.

  192. You might wonder what happened to that pro-Russian electorate.

    Well, the pro-Russian voters of Crimea who voted for pro-Russian candidates in 1991, 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2010, voted to join Russia in referendum on March 16, 2014. And now they vote for Vladimir Putin.

    Pro-Russian electorate of Donetsk and Lugansk rose in armed revolt against the usurpers in Kiev who overthrew their president (Yanukovich received 90.44% of vote in Donetsk region in 2010 presidential election). They remain de-facto independent ever since.

    Pro-Russian electorate in the rest of Ukraine lives in fear of their lives since all pro-Russian political activities are prohibited by legislation enacted by the current authorities.

  193. @Y, of course no.

    I am just speaking about polarization. We tore Korea in two halves. One of them sucks. The other sucked too at first.

    A crude model:

    Assume, you have a country. Its people have strong cultural, family and economic connections with the East and West. If, for each person we somehow compare the strength of these links and aspirations , we are going to have fugures like 51% E, 49% W (“I have family in Moscow and job in Lithuania”). It does not occur to a person to think that family in Moscow and job in Lithuania are incompatible. It does not occur to her that her sister (49-51) is anyhow different.
    It is not polarization, it is just distibution. Yet a half of people are 51% or more linked to the East.

    Now. assume, the East and West are two crocodiles.

    They apply voltage and polarize them. Make people form two parties. Make those fight against each other.

    One of them wins elections and you say: “the country” (that is your half of it: some assortion of people who >51% something) “has chosen” your crocodile.

    You offer military bases (to defend people’s freedom from the ‘evil’ crocodile) and economic arrangements that hopefully will perpetuate your freedom-loving party’s stay in power. You piss off the other crocodile (who does not think that these military bases are exactly peaceful military bases), who complicates country’s life. And then a few years later people in the country see that alignment with your block has not brought any “prosperity”. The other crocodile’s party wins and begins to reorient the country, urgently.

    And now you are pissed.

  194. What I mean is that both crocodiles are lying and that when 51%< of citizens of a country vote for something it does not exactly means "the country chose it".

    Particularly when this decision is:

    – likely to annoy the other half of the country, lead to troubles and be reverted in the next election
    – is meant as a long-term change of course to 'secure' one party's victory
    – induced from outside (and the “parties” are also motivated by someone else’s conflict) and the mere fact of "choosing" is harmful for the country.

    Because I do have family in Belarus. Two branches. And many of my freinds have family there. And as I said, 93% of their electricity is our gas. Belarus absolutely needs good relations with Russia. It also needs good relations with the West.

  195. Actually, what I said is not exaclty my opinion or concern. When protests just began, Belorusian pro-opposition “analysts” (whoever they are) in their interviews to international media kept emphasizing:

    “it is not anti-Russian. It is not pro-Europe. It is totally about Lukashenko”

    Maybe these words were motivated by a fear that Russia will interpret it as “pro-Europe” movemement, but I think not only, and I think it was accurate.

  196. I like your analysis.

  197. Trond Engen says

    Me too. I was going to write something about how the idea of the European project has been to diffuse conflicts by making national borders irrelevant on the local and individual level. That really ought to be the ruling idea in the eastern regions too, and more so because of the close ties between the countries, economically as well as culturally.

    There are too many lose ends to follow up on upthread. I’ll just add that I do think the west has been too willing to overlook the unsavoury elements of the independence movements slash pro-Europe coalisions of e,g, Ukraine and Croatia, and that this at least accelerated the conflicts.

    @Brett: I take your point about Yugoslavia, but it goes to show how little appetite there is and was for another armed conflict in Europe. At the time, Western European politicians really wanted to believe that we had seen the last war on the European continent and would do anything to solve the conflict by other means than invasion. When the situation in Bosnia had come to a point where direct involvement in the conflict was inevitable, there was a real concern about the mandate of the UN forces. The Dutch contingent that might have stopped the massacre at Srebrenica, may have had a mandate to prevent violence, but it did not have a clear mandate (nor training) to take military actions that might escalate the conflict How the Serbian regime would respond was not clear, and the decision to risk open war wasn’t necessarily the general’s to take. So, Europe needed a force outside the UN, and for that they needed the US. The US was, to its credit, about as reluctant to get involved as Europe, but when the strike came, it came decisively. The atrocities in Bosnia came to an end (though the peace arrangements were far for from ideal), and the government of Yugoslavia and the Serbian Republic in Bosnia were left in place.

    Fast forward a couple of years and repeat in Kosovo, another conflict where western response was slow and reluctant — and now is highlighting another repeat mistake: Arming a party in a domestic conflict creates a situation of militia rule that may never ever be reverted.

    SFReader: Standard NATO modus operandi these days is to fund the opposition in the country whose government you wish to overthrow, train and arm them and when they succeed in overthrowing the government, get them to invite NATO and defend the new regime from Russian retribution.

    I can’t think of a single example that fits the description. The only ex-Soviet republics that have joined NATO, or where NATO have been engaged, are the Baltic republics. We may discuss if it was wise, but that’s how it is. Georgia came close, but in the end the European unwillingness to risk direct confrontation won out. I understand Russia’s strategic concern with a potential enemy stronghold east of the Baltic, but since the right to self-determination is also inalienable, this is a matter that can’t be solved by military means. The potential for conflict, the need for armed presence, needs to be scaled down. I agree that keeping allied bases and training operations at some distance from the border, would be wise. But anything can be spun as a threat if you need one, and how does one build trust with a regime that takes even the words of pacifists and spins them as a call for nuclear attack? Or thinks it has the right to “Russian retribution” against self-determination?

  198. Dmitry Pruss says

    I can’t think of a single example that fits the description

    I think of it is “connecting the dots” rather than describing any situation beginning-to-end. The “color revolutions” vividly displayed the role the Western opposition support may play, Russia obsesses over it (but while it moved nations far away from Russia’s orbit, it didn’t enlarge NATO; the most pronounced effect it had on Russia is by helping the government marginalize its NGOs as suspected conduits of the foreign influences).
    The Baltics joined the NATO, but neither required massive opposition financing from the West, nor brought any massive Western armed formations to the new border.
    The forward movement of the Nato war machinery affected Poland in a much greater extent, but Poland wasn’t a Soviet region formally or informally, and never had an internal political force or a large population segment which would be happy about closer integration with Russia in the first place.
    Yet, while Poland is a lot closer to the image of a former ally but now a political, ethnic and military adversary, it’s still culturally conservative in the ways which resemble Russia, and not at all a hotbed of the LGBT / women’s / minority rights which scare the living lights out of Putin’s Russia.

    But a pastiche of Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, and “Gayrope” is useful for the Russian government to paint even the tamest opposition to its absolute power as the beginning of a slippery slope which leads to the NATO occupation and the destruction of “Russia’s traditional values” …

    To be scared of a slippery slope, one doesn’t really have to watch someone slide down all the way, right? And when the life is hard, the governments absolutely need to positions themselves as the last line of defense against an existential danger, and therefore must connect all the dots available. One doesn’t need to go to Russia to see it. There are plenty of examples in the Western politics. If the danger turns out to be real, then we’d call a foresight, and if not, then fearmongering…

  199. J.W. Brewer says

    Presumably from a Western POV the actions of individual governments of certain NATO members in supporting “color revolutions” and/or emboldening political actors in Georgia etc don’t get classified mentally as acts or projects of NATO as such. Others may employ a different classification scheme.

    For a taste of the comical aspect of the conceptually-drifting post-Cold-War NATO, let me recommend this press release in which bureaucrats were required to praise to the heavens the invaluable contributions of Montenegro to the alliance. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_155113.htm

  200. J.W. Brewer says

    Note, btw that the political concept of systematically promoting and coordinating anti-Muscovite feeling among the erstwhile captive nations of Muscovy is one that substantially predates NATO. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheism

  201. David Marjanović says

    I had no idea of prometheism, but if Putin did (and he probably did), that explains a lot – he’s simply fighting the previous war!

    This is pretty famous; where did you get the idea they thought otherwise?

    Ah, I must have mixed up the timeline.

    Losing Belarus to the enemy would be repeat of Barbarossa all over again.

    So democracy is the enemy now?

    Yes, I’m going there.

    If NATO made any attempt to intervene militarily in Belarus last August

    Do you really believe anybody would have been that stupid?

    Really?

    There is so far no danger of genocide, so there will be no Russian invasion.

    But there was such a danger in Ukraine…???

    After stripping it’s Russian minority of Latvian citizenship in 1991, Latvia gave them status of non-citizens

    …I’m not going to defend this bizarre decision, but do keep in mind that this so-called “non-citizen” status is not the same as statelessness. It has its own Wikipedia article. Also, Children born in independent Latvia to parents who are both “non-citizens” are entitled to citizenship upon the mere request of a parent, and all children born in Latvia since January 1, 2020, are automatically citizens of Latvia, so this issue is going to disappear in any case.

    Also, check out Russians in Latvia § Political representation, and if you don’t believe Wikipedia that 3 of the 8 MEPs from Latvia are ethnic Russians, take it from the horse’s mouth.

    Did you know that little fascist regimes of Estonia and Latvia have a literal language police which can fine a kindergarten teacher for speaking in Russian to a Russian child?

    Personally, I want Russian to be made the EU’s 22nd official language (if India can have 22, so can we…!), and Latvia’s policy on language use in education is quite a bit too paranoid for me. But it’s far from as bad as you make it sound.

    I think you’ll understand I’m too lazy to check if your statement about Estonia is similarly distorted.

    Toleration by Europeans of this kind of treatment of ethnic minorities in Europe if the minority in question happens to speak Russian is one of the things which makes me believe that Germans (and other Europeans) still regard Russians as subhumans.

    Dude, seriously, you way overestimate the percentage of Germans (let alone anyone west or south of them) who can find Latvia on a map, let alone have any idea of what’s going on there.

    (Many people will find “the Baltic countries” on a map, and over half of those will probably be able to name all three. But telling which is which is a rare feat even among university graduates.)

    On January 17 2010, Eastern Ukrainian opposition leader Victor Yanukovich (formerly governor of Donetsk province and briefly a Prime Minister of Ukraine in 2002-2005) won the first round of Ukrainian presidential elections defeating incumbent President Yuschenko. He then won the second round on February 7, 2010 defeating incumbent Prime Minister Yiliang [I love it] Timoshenko receiving 12,481,266 votes (48.95%).

    He was overthrown on February 21, 2014 in a coup organized and supported by the US and EU.

    Democratically elected President Yanukovich then fled to Russia fearing for his life (his car was shot at by the armed opposition).

    That’s all you need to know about respect for elections and democracy

    The Orange Revolution that brought Yuschenko and Tymoshenko (a sleazy figure, BTW) to power in the first place was definitely materially supported by the US, and I would not at all be surprised if the EU added a million € here or there, too.

    Then Yanukovich won the next election anyway, and… obviously I don’t know what the governments and the intelligence agencies were thinking, but the media just quietly accepted his victory and made no attempt to paint him as illegitimate.

    Then the popular uprising showed he was a kleptocrat no different from Mobutu (…or, as it turned out recently, Putin). Have you seen the photos from his palace? Deeply impressive. Not as big as Putin’s, but easily comparable to Erdoğan’s.

    Corruption on that scale is illegal even in Ukraine.

    I wonder if offensive and preemptive pacifism stretches to offensive and preemptive first nuclear strike.

    I can only repeat myself: nobody is that stupid. Nobody in the Russian government, nobody in any NATO-member government, nobody in the North Fucking Korean government, nobody in any currently existing government unless maybe if you count Boko Haram as one.

    Maybe these words were motivated by a fear that Russia will interpret it as “pro-Europe” movemement, but I think not only, and I think it was accurate.

    I agree, and the US/EU/NATO have learned their lesson, done the right thing and stayed out of it (other than the usual symbolic condemnations that Lukashenko doesn’t need to care about).

    I’ll just add that I do think the west has been too willing to overlook the unsavoury elements of the independence movements slash pro-Europe coalisions of e,g, Ukraine and Croatia, and that this at least accelerated the conflicts.

    Oh yes. The amount (let alone influence) of Nazis on the “pro-Western” side of Ukraine has at times been exaggerated, but there are actual Nazis there, and they should definitely not be normalized – which is a likely outcome of ignoring them.

  202. David Marjanović says

    If a nuclear weapon is used in the foreseeable future, it’ll happen the way it already almost did several times in the last few decades: by a stupid accident. I’m for nuclear disarmament because nukes aren’t idiot-proof.

  203. I agree, and the US/EU/NATO have learned their lesson, done the right thing and stayed out of it (other than the usual symbolic condemnations that Lukashenko doesn’t need to care about).

    @David, the problem is, specifically NATO.

    Russia sees it AND any military bases close to her borders AND anti-missile defence in East Europe as a threat.

    The original context were Y’s words that people have a right to join NATO. Before 2014 the Baltic countries, of course wanted NATO for protection, because they were conquered in 1930s. It is irritating, but understandble.
    But no one could imagine that Russia will invade anyone, and it is why we could take Crimea. You too can take Berlin – they do not expect you.

    Apart of Georgia, who wanted foreign military support for conquests (is Georgia vs. Ossetia any different from Serbia vs. Kosovo?), others would want it not to “defend themselves”, but becasue there is this general scheme, that makes one party align with Russia and the other with the West.

    For Russia, in turn, military bases around her borders are a threat.

    “Wrong government in Ukraine” does not simply mean “democracy”. We know that Iceland has democracy, it does not threaten Putin. Ukrainian democracy is going to be funny, any political system here or in Ukraine will be funny. Want to laugh at our democracies – look at Ukraine, want to laugh at our authoritarian rulers – look at Turkmenbashi.

    But a wrong governement also means “enemy in Crimea”, and economic reorientation too. And it is literally “enemy”: a part of Russian society in 1990 believed that the Cold War is over and we are partners now.

    In 1999 this exact part of Russia society changed their understanding of the situation. NATO is not a “partner”, it is an anti-Soviet organization that beleives that its job (defeating USSR) is not finished yet.

  204. It is not how I personally see the West and NATO.

    I just mean, it is how pro-democracy people in Russia see it. This is also why anti-Western propaganda was so successful here. When even human rights activists are highly suspicious about the West, it is convenient to unite the country around this suspicion (and then tell tales about how human rights activists are all rich people having huge grants from the West).

    And it is what actually motivates much of Russian foreign policies: absolutely military considerations.

  205. David Marjanović says

    I forgot to mention one important thing. In the early 00s I read a book about the Cold War. I think it was from the mid-90s, so after the archives had opened. The book was about the psychological aspect, from the propaganda of all sides to such things as how the armies were trained.

    The Warsaw Pact armies were trained to hate the enemy. The NATO armies were not – “it’s war, they’re shooting at you” was considered enough motivation to shoot back; no need to let it get personal.

    But no one could imagine that Russia will invade anyone, and it is why we could take Crimea.

    It’s not just the element of surprise, though. Had this sort of thing happened a hundred years earlier, it would absolutely have led to a huge war after the fact. The fact that even this is not considered worth starting a war over anymore is a big piece of evidence for Pinker-style optimism.

  206. Dmitry Pruss says

    In the 1960s, when I was a preschooler, in the war games the bad guys were always the Germans, you had to yell “Hande hoch” and “Schnell” and “Zuruck” at them. Just like in the Cowboys and Injuns games, the Cowboys were the bad guys (but they didn’t need any English – the only English word I knew in the kindergarten times was “Chevingum”. The Americans slowly moved to displace the children’s-game Germans. I don’t think the original place of the Germans was largely due to indoctrination. More like a genuine, organic popular-culture thing IMVHO. We never had cartoons maligning the Westerners, the way of America’s Boris and Natasha. Never had a nuclear-attack drills in the elementary school.

    I don’t remember any hatred-of-the-West indoctrination in my military classes in grade school or college either. Sure, we studied tactics and armaments of the “probable adversary” which was the US and a little bit Germany. But it was technical, not ideological.

    Fear and hatred of the Chinese were a lot stronger.

  207. @David Marjanović: A few days ago, perhaps inspired by some of the earlier discussions in this thread, I had an idea for an alternate history novel (or maybe a short story collection), although it might already have been done by somebody else. I remember when the KGB archives were opened to outside researchers in the 1990s, there was a lot of interest in what they might uncover. However, it seemed that most of the really interesting questions turned out not to have exciting answers: Raoul Wallenberg had been executed in 1947, as the Soviets had long claimed (at least once they admitted that they had arrested him in 1945); the KGB thought that Lee Harvey Oswalt was an out-of-control nut and wanted nothing to do with him; nor were they apparently involved in Mehmet Ali Acga’s attack on the pope; and they really did have no idea what had happened to the Gestapo head Heinrich Müller. Even the cases where there was new information, it just tended to confirm what was already pretty well established. For example, I once happened, by coincidence, to see two British documentaries in the course of a single week that both devoted time to the 1978 assassination of the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov in London. However, although one documentary was from the 1980s and the other from the 1990s, they weren’t actually that different! When the KGB archives were opened, they revealed that the killing had proceeded exactly as had already been inferred at the time it happened; the one really novel titbit was that the KGB had actually discontinued all assassinations in foreign countries by 1978, and that the Bulgarians had had to beg and beg to get the KGB to relent and agree to kill Markov.

    So the alternate history is one in which all those question turned out instead to have had really interesting answers. There could be separate stories about the various individuals and cases, or one intertwined narrative covering many of them—although I’m not sure whether I could write something like though, or even whether I would want to try. I shared this idea with a friend, and he suggest that each story could be in a different genre, like Iain M. Banks’s Culture series.

  208. Trond Engen says

    The Germans were sometimes the crooks up here, but somehow the real war was too serious even for us six-year-olds. Kobboj og indianer had just more room for play. And, yes, the Indians were the heroes — unless you had a real shining sheriff star.

    “Trained to hate the enemy” sounds like propaganda from the cold war, the type that was popularized by Hollywood rather than in schools and military training. Usually, that is. In basic military training for my conscription year, during a class on the Geneva Convention, we were told that our side would follow the convention, but we shouldn’t except the opposite side to do so. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the manuscript for the course, but rather the personal opinion of a 20-year old conscripted sergeant with combat experience from feature films.

  209. By the 1980s in America, when we played cowboys and Indians, it wasn’t a matter of good guys versus bad guys (although the Indians were certainly seen as more exotic). Some people definitely did prefer playing the cowboys, but there were probably an equal number who wanted to be Indians. If we wanted a similar game, but with clearly demarcated heroes and villains, we played cops and robbers instead.

  210. On preparedness during the Cold War – I remember watching an interview with a former NVA (former GDR army) officer who served in the Bundeswehr after unification. He said one of the biggest surprises for him was when he found out that most of the Bundeswehr went home for the weekends and had done so for a long time, while he and his men in the NVA had to stay in the barracks because NATO might attack.
    (I assume the Eastern high commands knew about the decreased readiness of the Western armies and kept their men in the barracks in order to be able to attack on a weekend if necessary. Reminds me of “Asterix in Britain”, where Caesar was able to conquer Britain because he attacked during weekends and tea time.)

  211. John Cowan says

    I’m not going to defend this bizarre decision, but do keep in mind that this so-called “non-citizen” status is not the same as statelessness

    Not all that bizarre, as the citizens of the occupying power who have settled in an occupied country are generally not granted citizenship when the occupation ends, nor their descendants either. Even the constitutionally ius-soli U.S. has this restriction, although occupations of U.S. soil (if you exclude the Philippines) were brief and by only a few soldiers, without settlers. The WP article you linked mentions the case of Alsace-Lorraine, where Germans were denied French citizenship (otherwise ius soli) after 1918.

    Lithuania did not choose to enforce this rule, as there were relatively few ethnic non-Lithuanians in the country when the occupation ended, unlike the situation in Latvia and Estonia.

  212. David Marjanović says

    Cowboys und Indianer was still known in my time, but not played anywhere near often enough to have established heroes. The friends I had mostly played Ninja Turtles.

  213. Trond Engen says

    “The Indians were the heroes” isn’t exactly right. The two sides were equal within the game. But our sympathy was with the Indians. And the sheriff.

  214. Indians have bows and arrows, as Tolkien noted.

  215. PlasticPaddy says

    @jc
    You would have to check if “occupying power” explains the origin of (a majority of speakers of) the “intrusive” language. This area was disputed over centuries between Teutonic Knights, Sweden, Poland-Lithuania (effectively Poland), Prussia and Russia. So speech communities increased or shrunk due to prestige, as well as internal migration. The Swedes identified with and assimilated to the Baltic Germans. A lot of Lithuanians identified with Poland (but sometimes ethnic Poles identified with Lithuania). Ruthenians threw in their lot with Russians or Poles.

  216. @Paddy: For the Baltics, the origin of monolingual Russian speakers is well documented; the overwhelming majority of them migrated to the region after the annexation by the Soviet Union. It’s not like the situation in e.g. Kazakhstan or Ukraine, where there are large groups of ethnic Kazakhs or Ukrainians who became monolingual Russian speakers during centuries of Russian rule.

  217. PlasticPaddy says

    @hans
    Thanks. I too had that impression but was too lazy to do the homework (or mediate between conflicting sources). Clearly the Russians came late to the “party”. Re Lithuania I looked up the figures for Vilnius. As you indicate, and, starting from a low base, there was a surge in Russians between 1949-59 (twice the growth as for overall population) but then a relative decline over the next thirty years.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_the_Vilnius_region

  218. Lithuanians came late to the party as well: “In 1939, almost no one spoke Lithuanian in Vilnius.”

  219. SFReader says

    Not all that bizarre, as the citizens of the occupying power who have settled in an occupied country are generally not granted citizenship when the occupation ends, nor their descendants either.

    Traditionally they are given right of optation (right to choose which citizenship they want).

    Anyway, what is particularly glaring in Latvian case is that the Popular Front of Latvia won parliamentary elections of 1990 only because many Russians and other non-Latvians voted for them (Popular Front received 68% of vote even though ethnic Latvians were only 52% of population).

    And then they went to strip their Russian voters of Latvian citizenship.

  220. Andrej Bjelaković says

    Relevant to what’s been discussed here:

    https://twitter.com/AlexKokcharov/status/1378361206851911684

    Looks like some saber rattling by Russia.

  221. David Marjanović says

    Russian government sources say that’s in response to NATO troop movements that… nobody in NATO, or anywhere outside Russia, knows anything about.

    Meanwhile, here’s Wesley Clark, “a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander” better known for briefly trying to become POTUS, describing the general global geopolitical situation (as of a few days ago) at considerable length. He frames everything in terms of US interests, and some things are oversimplified (“nationalist sentiments in […] Austria” is close, but still hilarious), but still I find it notable that he talks much more about China than about Russia, and that, among the many, many proposals he makes for what should be done, the closest he gets to a threat is this:

    “Allies can reinforce America’s voice in international institutions, resist the blandishments of strategically significant Chinese and Russian investments, work against money laundering and state-sponsored corruption, and embargo the release or transfer of sensitive technologies to China and Russia. We can help encourage Xi and Putin to modify their aims and fold their countries peacefully into extant international institutions and the rules-based international order.”

    He’s not even asking them to bring democracy to their own countries.

  222. better known for

    Incident_at_Pristina_airport

  223. SFReader says

    Russian government sources say that’s in response to NATO troop movements

    Not exactly.

    Ukraine is preparing for offensive in Donbass and has been moving troops to the front for several weeks now. This is particularly stupid idea since Russian intervention is pretty much guaranteed in that case and Russian troops are already moving towards the border.

    I don’t know what NATO troops are going to do when the Russo-Ukrainian war starts for real.

    But this is not going to end well.

  224. David Marjanović says

    Incident_at_Pristina_airport

    Interesting. Sounds like Clark learned a lot from that.

    Ukraine is preparing for offensive in Donbass and has been moving troops to the front for several weeks now.

    Ah, so there’s already been a misunderstanding. Great.

    I don’t know what NATO troops are going to do when the Russo-Ukrainian war starts for real.

    Ukraine is not a NATO member, so nobody will feel an obligation to defend it – they didn’t in 2014 either. I expect some very interesting diplomatic negotiations (probably already ongoing) and, failing that, some rather extreme sanctions.

  225. @David Marjanović: I don’t think it’s a misunderstanding, really, but a deliberate obfuscation by Putin’s Ministry of Truth. Actions being prepared by pro-Western Ukraine are attributed, in Russian media for Russian audiences, as actions by the “NATO” bogeyman.

  226. Brett, at this level our propaganda is not any different from yours.

    it is an obfuscation. “It” refers to “Russian government sources say that‘s…" "That" refers to a video of an air-defence complex travelling to the east.


    P.S. I mean, yes, our media is horrible, that is why I avoid our media. But I don’t understand how our media became a part of this conversation. I am complaining, because I tried to read the aforementioned media in hope to figure out what people are speakign about here, and the media is also vague.

  227. In early 2000s I actively participated in a Russian language forums populated mostly with Russian emigrants.
    There was an epic fight there about Iraq war. One side was speaking about imperialism and sovereignity, the other was speaking about how Saddam’s people rape relatives of dissidents. The third side was EU-based. What was crazy is how neatly people – most of whom are PhDs – divided into camps based precisely on which country each one of them lived in. And what they were telling I could to the same effect read elsewhere: they were simply quoting their respective media. That was crazy.

    There was also a fight in 2008.
    Our media bakc then was speaking about Georgians killing our peace-keepers and shelling Tskhinval(i). There was a fight again: one side was speaking about shelling of Tskhinvali, the other – the same people who supported Iraq war – spoke about paperwork. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out what has happened to Ossetian ethnic Georgians. It was not in media, but finally I managed to find some human rights groups that has people there, so what happened is that Russian soldiers came and told them to leave within hours. Strangely, the people who were concerned with human rights before, were not interested in locals at all, any locals, Ossetian, Georgian, any.
    Only paperwork.

  228. David Marjanović says

    Interesting indeed. What paperwork?

  229. “Paperwork” in the sense documents.

    They qualified Russian actions as unlawful. Which implies: someone wrote a paper that qualifies it as such (and now is referring to her paper).

  230. David Marjanović says

    It’s odd enough that anyone would say the invasion of Iraq was lawful, but to then turn around and say the invasion of Georgia was unlawful nevertheless? That’s… flexible.

  231. The invasion in Iraq was not “lawful”. It was because Saddam is an asshole and his people rape relatives of dissidents (which is quite likely to be true:-(). Lawful was irrelevant.

    And Russian intervention was unlawful, while the actual events in Ossetia were of little interest because Russian invasion is unlawful.

    What caused my frustration were not specific positions. It is people with very similar backgrounds (roughly: Russian scientific community: physicsts, biologists, atc, and some software engineers), some of them quite smart I suppose. When such similar people settle in several differnt countries and start telling several different stories (without a slightest trace of their individualities, unaffected by actual event on the groud and wholly predictable from local media), that makes you nervous.

    I do not support Russian actions in Ossetia but from a very different position. I think we set them up. We were there as peace keepers. If Russia did exactly that, it would be great. I suspect (but do not know) that before that Russia used Ossetia against the “hostile” regime in Georgia and contributed into escalation. I may be wrong. But then, when Georgia began planning the invasion, I think one phone call would be enough to prevent an attempt to retake it. And then, sending reinforcements to there would do it for sure.

    Such an option as “Georgia trying to conquer a hostile population” should not be on the table at all.

  232. J.W. Brewer says

    It is sometimes claimed that “international law” is one of those oxymorons, like “military intelligence.” Which suggests that lawful-vel-non may not be a useful question to ask. The practical problem is that a) every government in the world except the Kremlin and a few of its stooges believed or at least publicly claimed to believe that South Ossetia was within the internationally-recognized boundaries of sovereign Georgia (if only because it had been within the arguably arbitrary Soviet-era boundaries of the regrettably non-sovereign Georgian S.S.R.); b) as a practical matter the post-Soviet Georgian regime had never consistently exercised de facto sovereignty over South Ossetia, which was controlled de facto by an unrecognized separatist regime that got on well with, and/or was a stooge of, the Kremlin regime, during the Yeltsin years as well as the Putin years; c) the Russian “peacekeepers” were, from a consensus de jure perspective, foreign military forces on Georgian territory who had never been invited there by the Georgian government and were thus not not really “peacekeepers” but what might be more properly called “invaders” or “occupiers” if one did not feel constrained to use euphemisms; yet nonetheless d) prior to things flaring up in 2008 the “peacekeepers” had in actual fact been mostly maintaining a sort of peace by inter alia deterring the Georgian regime from trying to change the de facto situation on the ground in South Ossetia by the application of military force in pursuit of its theoretical and internationally-recognized de jure rights. How that de facto stability ended up becoming unstable in 2008, and which side did the first gratuitously destabilizing thing and which side was merely reasonably responding to prior provocation are a whole other set of issues where it may be harder to reach a reasonable consensus view.

    I tend to assume that having a Ph.D. in a STEM field from a Soviet university is statistically likely to impede the cognitive ability to recognize that all four of these points about the pre-2008 status quo are simultaneously true and must all be taken into account in any realistic analysis of the situation. But maybe that’s just my cynicism about STEM Ph.D.’s.

  233. Well, now engineering and such like Ph.D. holders in America have harder time to just agree with their country of residence prevailing media position given that there is no political agreement on any question what so ever. For a time I thought that anti-China hysteria will unite us (I mean, Americans, not PhDs) again, but after shooting in Atlanta it might not happen after all.

    I tend to assume that having a Ph.D. in a STEM field from a Soviet university is statistically likely to impede the cognitive ability to recognize…

    They are just as likely to engage in motivated reasoning as anyone else.

  234. SFReader says

    the Russian “peacekeepers” were, from a consensus de jure perspective, foreign military forces on Georgian territory who had never been invited there by the Georgian government and were thus not not really “peacekeepers” but what might be more properly called “invaders” or “occupiers”

    I assume your reliable Western media never told you about the Sochi agreement signed on June 24, 1992 by Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze. That was the agreement which created peacekeeping forces in South Ossetia and put them under Russian command.

  235. The practical problem is that

    What people who live there have can be called a “practical” problem.

    What you just said is “paperwork”:-/

  236. January First-of-May says

    Some apparently-new data on the Shapira affair, on the “probably fake” side…

    https://twitter.com/bnuyaminim/status/1381881681712414720

  237. I don’t know enough to judge whether Suchard’s arguments are the deal-breaker he says, but they’re certainly interesting; thanks for that. Here’s a direct link to his five-page paper.

  238. I don’t know enough to make an independent judgement either, but this is pretty ironic if the forger could create convincing phrases in Biblical Hebrew while not understanding the basic use of vav-imperfect. It’s like the first grammatical feature (maybe second to VSO) that jumps right at you from the text.

  239. David Marjanović says

    Another such feature is the extremely rare form אבם for “fathers”, mentioned in the new paper, which should be impossible for a forger to come up with precisely because it would be such an elementary error… unless the forger were a troll, but Shapira wanted cold hard cash for the fragments, not lulz. ⋮FHE⋮FHAKED⋮ wasn’t trolling either.

    Anyway, the paper explains that there are these two aspects (vaguely perfective vs. vaguely imperfective or irreal) that suddenly and completely switch meanings when they’re preceded by “and”. Wherever the Valediction has a parallel in the MT, the switch is duly observed, but where it’s not, it’s usually ignored, therefore:

    The use of consecutive and non-consecutive tenses thus shows that V is dependent on a text close to our MT, if not identical to it. Chronologically, this almost certainly places it after the Babylonian Exile (perhaps long after). But such a late date clearly contradicts V’s pre-exilic script and orthography. Despite the compelling literary arguments Dershowitz puts forward for V’s authenticity,^8 I see only one way to reconcile these facts: the Valediction of Moses is the work of a modern forger with an uncanny literary sense, a decent epigraphical skillset, but whose Classical Hebrew syntax was not always up to snuff.

    8 Dershowitz, Valediction, 41–71.

    But…

    Biblical Hebrew has two main verbal tenses, which are referred to by various names in the scholarly literature and whose exact meaning is perennially debated.

    That’s not encouraging, is it.

    One obvious option for this opacity is that the meanings of these aspects changed over time. Dershowitz & Pat-El illustrate this for later times. Why not for earlier times, too? Is it understood how old this absolutely bizarre switch after “and” is? How did it develop?

    As long as that isn’t cleared up, I, for one, can’t see why it should outweigh such things as the stunning precision with which the post-Priestly insertions identified in the last few years (see above) are missing.

  240. David Eddyshaw says

    @DM:

    There’s a huge literature on this. The sense of the aspects without preceding vav is really not too mysterious: the labels are more variable than the actual interpretation. My own feeling is that confusion (such as it is) has mostly resulted from equating the Biblical Hebrew aspects with those of Russian, which don’t align all that well; the system is actually more like that familiar in umpteen West African languages. In particular, “perfective” is the unmarked aspect, and is compatible with a present-tense interpretation.

    The usual opinion on the vav+imperfective narrative form is that it preserves the old prefixing preterite we know and love from Akkadian. There are morphological features in weak verbs which support this analysis. The vav+perfective is harder to explain, and was maybe created by analogy. Ugaritic has yqtl preterites in poetry but not in prose.

    Again, distinctive “narrative” tense/aspect forms are very familiar in African languages (and beyond); Hausa, for example, uses a special perfective form which in other contexts is confined to relative clauses. Kusaal and Fulfulde likewise have distinctive narrative forms (as does the English-lexifier creole Pichi.) I suspect great mystifications were made about all this in the nineteenth century largely because the range of languages known to most Biblical scholars was so limited.

    Like DO, I was a bit taken aback by the idea that Shapira might have been unfamiliar with the usage (it is indeed one of the basics in modern learning of Biblical Hebrew.) Mediaeval Jewish Hebrew grammars note the phenomenon, though they interpreted it in tense rather than aspect terms, and thought of the vav as “converting” past into future and vice versa. The term “consecutive” and associated understanding of the phenomenon seems to go back to the 1890s.

    I don’t know how plausible it is that a nineteenth-century forger would have been unclear about how vav-consecutive worked in detail in genuine Biblical texts (though perhaps it’s more plausible than it might appear to those of use who learnt Biblical Hebrew in the twentieth century.)

  241. David Marjanović says

    The usual opinion on the vav+imperfective narrative form is that it preserves the old prefixing preterite we know and love from Akkadian. There are morphological features in weak verbs which support this analysis. The vav+perfective is harder to explain, and was maybe created by analogy.

    That makes perfect sense, and predicts that the vav+perfective was innovated at some point while the vav+imperfective has “always” been there.

  242. David Eddyshaw says

    The meaning of the Hebrew prefix vs suffix conjugation forms did indeed change over time, but the major change was the post-exilic shift from aspect to tense: in later Hebrew, the qtl “perfective” is past, the yqtl “imperfective” is future, and the participle is used to express the present (this is why the mediaeval grammarians themselves interpreted the system in tense rather than aspect terms.) Much earlier than this was the loss of the yqtl preterite when not preceded by vav; even older Biblical Hebrew only has remnants of that yet older form in poetry.

    In a way though, this is irrelevant to Suchard’s argument: if the very passages which deviate from the usual older Biblical Hebrew tense/aspect system are those which do not closely parallel Deuteronomy, one has to ask how this could possibly have come about. If one supposes that they actually reflect archaisms, why are these archaisms missing precisely in those passages which match Deuteronomy, given that the authentic eighth-century author would have had no way of predicting in advance which passages the composers of Deuteronomy were going to plagiarise/adopt? How would she have known to use archaisms only in the non-Deuteronomy bits?

    If the parts that weren’t coopted into Deuteronomy were consistently different in some other respect (for example, in consisting mostly of descriptive passages rather than narrative) that might do the trick; though the suggestion from Suchard’s article is that this is not so. Again, if the total numbers were small, the variation might be pure chance, but again, the paper seems to suggest otherwise.

  243. Another feature that DE haven’t mentioned is that “unmarked tensed verb” [speaking veeery carefully] tends to be not only “perfect”, but also one time, non-consecutive action. The oft paraded example is from Exodus 19:19, “As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him”(NIV). The second half (after comma) goes like this משה ידבר והאלהים יעננו בקול (Moses speak [imper] and-the-God answer-him [imper] with-voice <or “in thunder”> ). Which supposed to mean that it was an extended dialog and therefore no unmarked perfect. Maybe narrative “tense” was felt by Hebrews as a continuous kind of thing.

  244. David Eddyshaw says

    In Kusaal:

    Moses da pian’ad ka Wina’am lɛbisid o ka nidib la wʋm.
    Moses TENSE speak:IPFV and God reply:IPFV 3AN and person:PL ART hear:IPFV.

    [It just so happens that the perfective and imperfective of wʋm “hear” are identical formally in this context, though not in others.]
    Then the next verse begins

    Ka Zugsɔb sig Sinai zuor la zug na
    And Lord descend Sinai hill:SG ART head hither …
    [Hebrew Vayyered YHVH al-har Sinai …]

    … where sig “descend” is perfective (unmarked both morphologically and semantically in Kusaal) and the VP has no tense marker, because we’re back in the narrative sequence after the extended period of tense-marked imperfective-aspect dialoguing. In formal texts, like the Bible translation, this construction almost always has an introductory ka “and” (though, as with Hebrew vav, the idiomatic English equivalent here is really zero, or perhaps “then.”)

    The Kusaal imperfective, like the Biblical Hebrew, can be continuous/progressive, or habitual, or express several events each of which individually might be expressed by a perfective. It differs from the Kusaal most strikingly in being the usual form for the future too (Kusaal does that with mood rather than aspect.)

  245. I haven’t chewed on the details of the actual texts. As far as the logic goes, how about there were two old sources, V1 and V2. V1 used the “non-classical” verbal morphology, V2 mostly did not. V1 and V2 were the sources for V (Valediction/Shapira), but only V2 ended up as a source for the Masoretic text. That would explain why most of the non-classical verbs are in V but not in MT.

    I agree with David M that it’s very incongruent to have a forger who is so sophisticated in other aspects of Hebrew grammar, but who would make such an elementary error in the verbal morphology. In particular, the sections containing these would-be inexpertly constructed verbs are otherwise well-constructed (they contain other unusual/archaic features, see §§6.2.3, 6.3.2 in Dershowitz).

  246. DE, do you know why the waw-consecutive (וַו הַהִפּוּך ‘waw of inversion’) is wa- when forming the perfect and wǝ- when forming the future?

  247. In this exegesis (warning, pdf) from Bill Mounce grammar (look at the end of the file) it is explained that similarity of the two vav conversions is probably an illusion. Vayyiqtol and yiqtol (whose bright idea it was to practice grammar on the word kill, anyway?) are transformations of some pre-Biblical Hebrew forms and vav-patah-dagesh doesn’t actually convert anything, vayyiqtol is just as much a basic form as yiqtol. Veqatal, on the other hand, is a newcommer and there “conversion” did probably happen. Otherwise, I am waiting for David.

  248. David Eddyshaw says

    The “inversion” name goes back to traditional mediaeval grammar, and reflects an understanding of the system as exchanging tense values, which apart from anything else is a misconception of the older Biblical Hebrew aspect system through the tense categories appropriate to the most recent parts of the Bible and to post-Biblical Hebrew, where the system has been remodelled on the basis of Aramaic categories.

    The recognition that the vayyiqtol form is a preservation rather than a “conversion” of anything is comparatively recent (Driver, from about 1890), depending as it does on both information from Akkadian and Ugaritic and the recognition that the system was originally aspectual rather than temporal.

    I don’t know why there is a dagesh forte in the vayyiqtol form, and don’t recall having come across any very good explanation; the vowel quality is of course original (cf Arabic wa-.) I imagine it is connected with the stress difference from the ordinary yiqtol which is preserved in lamed-he verbs etc. It would make sense that the veqatal form lacks this oddity if veqatal is a secondary formation created within Hebrew by analogy with vayyiqtol.

  249. David Eddyshaw says

    how about there were two old sources, V1 and V2. V1 used the “non-classical” verbal morphology, V2 mostly did not. V1 and V2 were the sources for V (Valediction/Shapira), but only V2 ended up as a source for the Masoretic text.

    That surely still implies that Shapira’s text cannot in itself be a source for Deuteronomy, but is a composite work partly based on such sources and partly on something from a quite different era or (conceivably) place. Moreover, it would imply the exact composite nature of the Shapira text which Dershowitz is at such pains to deny: his whole shtick as far as its literary character goes is that the Deuteronomy compilers interrupted the natural flow if the original with their priestly intrusions.

  250. David Eddyshaw says

    whose bright idea it was to practice grammar on the word kill, anyway?

    Originally it was based on “do”, not “kill”, of course, as in the original Arabic grammatical tradition the mediaeval Hebrew grammars drew on. But pa’al is too irregular in Hebrew, unlike Arabic.

    I recall an impassioned article in either IJAL or Language not long ago objecting to the widespread use of “kill” as the paradigmatic transitive verb in descriptions of small exotic languages on the grounds that this created a the impression that the relevant societies were all very violent and that it fed into horrid stereotypes and all. Seemed to me the author might have been better employed doing some actual, like, fieldwork.

    It is true that “kill” is disproportionately popular, though. Once it had been pointed out, I even noticed this in my own work …

  251. Maybe it doesn’t fit what Dershowitz envisioned, but it’s not such a bad scenario.

    As to the geminate in wayyiqtol, surely it’s because it follows a short vowel, the pataḥ in wa-.

  252. David Eddyshaw says

    Well, yes: but you’d have expected vowel lengthening rather than gemination after underlying /a/ in the syllable before stress (or reduction to shwa in the syllable before that one.)

    Such gemination of the following consonant is regular with the underlying short /o/ vowel, which has no “long by position” prestress form, unlike /a/ and /e/.

  253. PlasticPaddy says

    @Y, de
    Another objection to the V1, V2 theory is how to distinguish it from the case where there are two forgers, say Dr. Rabbiner and Mr. Shmoe. Shmoe is the frontman who deals with the client and Rabbiner is the painstaking expert who has to get everything right. When Rabbiner fails to meet a deadline, Shmoe makes the final edits/corrections himself.

  254. …widespread use of “kill” as the paradigmatic transitive verb in descriptions of small exotic languages..

    Aha, thanks. Makes sense if this is the usual linguistic cudgel. My education, of course, was mostly about the root šmr, which has the most frequent billing as a strong qal root. qtl is [checking frequency list…, nothing…, checking Strong…, looking in BDB] rare, late borrowing, and mostly happens in Aramaic parts of Daniel. Ok, so it’s as good as non-existent for the word that exists.

  255. J.W. Brewer says

    Hmm. Sort of the opposite of “amare” being the traditional first Latin verb one is taught to conjugate.

  256. David Eddyshaw says

    Amare, non Qatol, as we Flower Children say.

  257. ə de vivre says

    “Kill,” unfortunately seems hard to beat as a cross-linguistically applicable example of a transitive verbs. It’s about as semantically transitive as you can get: telic, no inherent duration, binary in terms of whether the object is affected or not, doesn’t run into the potential idiosyncrasies that perception (see) or emotional (love/hate) verbs do.

  258. Some ancient Greek grammars used tuptein, “to beat” as the standard example (despite it not being that regular), which suggests a fairly disciplinary (though non-fatal) classroom experience. This seems to have been copied by Arabic grammarians including Sibawayhi who used daraba. Amare seems like a distinct improvement…
    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZqOODwAAQBAJ&pg=PA42&lpg=PA42&dq=tuptein+verb+paradigms&source=bl&ots=0i6AJRNoZ8&sig=ACfU3U21dBw6tPHOPy3wlQEyk3mDkvstaA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjsvY_fnP7vAhWSgv0HHWW7CWEQ6AEwDnoECAQQAw#v=onepage&q=tuptein%20verb%20paradigms&f=false
    Standard examples of nouns and verbs do often raise some questions; I was brought up to decline mensa as the standard Latin 1st declension noun, despite the ridiculous idea of saying “O table”. Why this became dominant in the British tradition, when Donatus himself in the Ars Minor used the more plausible Musa – which can be freely used in the vocative as long as you have your poetic licence – is a mystery to me.

  259. On the use of קטל, p. 34f here:

    https://www.academia.edu/2603536/The_Paradigm_Root_in_Hebrew

    Short comment I cannot type because of an injury.

  260. ə de vivre says

    Incidentally, neither ‘to love,’ ‘to beat,’ or ‘to see’ are syntactically transitive in Sumerian. In ki aŋ, ‘to love,’ the loved argument is in the dative case. Literally, it means ‘to measure ground for someone’; it’s unclear if the combined meaning comes from some kind of culturally specific connotation or if it’s an opaque compound that’s been reanalyzed. ‘To beat,’ raḫ, is transitive in later texts, but in older ones, the thing being beaten is in the locative case and the thing used to beat is the direct object. ‘To see,’ igi du, like most verbs of perception, has a body part as its direct object and the thing seen in an oblique case. It literally means either ‘to eye-open at something’ or ‘to eye-do at something,’ depending on how the verb root is interpreted.

  261. On the use of קטל, p. 34f here:

    Very interesting, thanks!

  262. David Eddyshaw says

    Yes indeed. Very illuminating.

    The widespread use of qtl as the default Hebrew paradigm-verb seems to be largely Gesenius’ fault, effectively. Blame the Germans!

    My own vote goes to ktb.
    Much more civilised. Moreover, the pen is mightier …

    It’s a valid point that “kill” is good choice once you get into comparative studies, alas. Kusaal sɔb “write” is an etymon confined to Western Oti-Volta, whereas “kill” and its cognate kpi “die” go right back to Proto-Volta-Congo.
    (Swahili fa “die” has the exact same root as kpi; gotta love those unobvious but regular historical sound changes. Yay, Neogrammarians!)

  263. I was brought up to decline mensa as the standard Latin 1st declension noun, despite the ridiculous idea of saying “O table”.

    It doesn’t have to be ridiculous… For instance, this address to Mary, mother of Jesus (after around 18:40 in the YouTube clip):

    Χαῖρε, τράπεζα βαστάζουσα εὐθηνίαν ἱλασμῶν
    “Rejoice, table bearing an abundance of propitiations!”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsv2PlU0hRc&t=1121s&ab_channel=VApAp

  264. More idiomatically Χαῖρε τράπεζα “Hail, table…”.
    Sorry about that. I am writing this with voice recognition and one finger because of an injury.

  265. qtl is ‘cleaner’ than ktb because it doesn’t have any bgdkpt letters. The perfect paradigm root does not result in any confounding secondary sound changes.

  266. David Eddyshaw says

    The paper Xerîb linked to rightly points out that the presence of bgadkpat letters should be regarded as a feature rather than a bug (it shows clearly where “vocalic” shwa goes in the pattern, for example.)

  267. David Marjanović says

    Unambiguous agents and transitivity: death and crocodiles.

    Maybe it doesn’t fit what Dershowitz envisioned, but it’s not such a bad scenario.

    Also, Dershowitz didn’t say the text was a historical monolith; he said one well-known insertion (I forgot what if any layer it’s been identified with, except it’s not post-Priestly) is there, and of course the introductory sentence and the concluding sentence talk about YHWH while all the rest, even the Actually Ten Commandments, uses exclusively ‘LHM.

  268. Dershowitz and Pat-El reply to Suchard’s comments.

    Suchard replies to the reply.

  269. Much as I am skeptical of a lot of digital applications in the humanities, this is a pretty spectacular use of data analysis. It uses barely discernible variations in handwriting to identify two separate scribes working on the Great Isaiah Scroll of Qumran. I’m not an expert paleographer but I have a pretty good eye for this kind of thing, and the variations they discovered are truly not something I’d expect anyone to have ever noticed without help from our robot friends.

  270. David Marjanović says

    …but in that case I do wonder if it’s the same scribe under slightly different conditions. Famously, hardly anyone’s signature looks exactly the same way twice (a fact much exploited by American vote suppressors).

  271. David Marjanović says

    Suchard replies to the reply.

    His argument seems unparsimonious. I’m looking forward to the next round…

  272. Signatures can indeed change over the years; mine did. But in the 1QIsaiah-a scroll there is a large sample and likely not a great difference in time or writing. The authors agree that other causes for change are not impossible but they assert less likely. They seem to vacillate whether the switch was from column 27 to 28 or “around column number 27-29,” which may be worth noting.
    Other hand analyses appear to show a single scribe wrote mss deposited in more than one of the 11 nearby Qumran caves. Together with textual affinities (e.g., some mention of a Teacher of Righteousness [Judah?] and a Wicked Priest [Jannaeus?]), this appears to show a collection of a group, some of whom inhabited Khirbet Qumran, owned multiple inkwells, sometimes used ink with water chemically characteristic of the Dead Sea area (e.g., bromine and chlorine levels, according to Ira Rabin), and stored some scrolls in jars that likely were made on site. Some scrolls, of course, are older than the site (Hasmonean and Herodian periods) habitation; so surely some were penned elsewhere and brought there. But not all, and not in a hurry.
    A mostly Hebrew-writing group, known in various Greek spellings (initial E or O; compare e.g., Epiphanius heresies 10 and 19).

  273. Suchard clarified in comments at “academia.edu” (should de facto be dot com?) that he asserts that he has shown that “V” is not proto- or pre- Deut. but that his evidence for a 19th-century forgery is relatively less strong.

    So far, fwiw, though others may know better, I find Suchard’s case the stronger one.

  274. David Marjanović says

    The way I see it, if V is a fake, all of it is fake: the content, the paleography, the orthography, the lexicon, and the grammar. If it’s genuine, some of these things could still be “fake” in the sense of having been updated by later copyists, but if it’s fake, all of it has to be a more or less competently done fake – and it must have been possible to fake all of it before Shapira tried to sell it in 1883.

    The content could only have been faked in the last few years, because it agrees, with amazing precision, with some very recent developments in biblical scholarship. It also agrees with a long list of other developments of the last 140 years. Logically, then, the whole thing is genuine, and we have to find some other explanation for why the grammar is so odd from a Masoretic point of view.

    If only because academia.edu* apparently imposes a bizarre 1600-word limit on otherwise unpublished work**, Suchard has only considered one aspect of the grammar so far.

    And within that argumentation, his original claim that the usage of those two “tenses” agrees with the Masoretic Text whenever a Masoretic parallel for the passage is available was disproved in the reply by Dershowitz & Pat-El; Suchard has now reduced it to a statistical argument, but without supplying any numbers. He also hasn’t addressed why the forger would only make the most elementary errors and no higher-level ones, and why there aren’t any clear Aramaisms or “rabbinic features” in it (there are some possible ones, but all of these forms also occur in pre-exilic epigraphic Hebrew). I await his promised longer work. 😐

    * .edu because it got that domain before .edu was restricted to US universities.
    ** Then put it on ResearchGate or get a blog. This is ridiculous.

  275. David Eddyshaw says

    academia.edu apparently imposes a bizarre 1600-word limit on otherwise unpublished work

    That doesn’t seem to be right: my own solitary document there is over 66000 words. It’s also on Zenodo, but it wasn’t when I first put it up on academia.edu, and no trees have ever been harmed by publishing it in Real Life. (Well, OK, I printed out a couple of pages once …)

  276. It would be really helpful if someone did a service for us, people who haven’t memorize the whole Torah, and made a parellel text of V with Deuteronomy and Numbers and it would be possible to see what passages are in there and out of there. I would expect that Suchard already made it for his purposes.

  277. The 1600 word limit is for a new venture of theirs, Academia Letters, a peer-reviewed electronic journal for short publications. It sounds half-baked to me, but whatevs.

  278. David Eddyshaw says

    Ah. Thanks.

  279. David Marjanović says

    Oh, it’s supposed to be some sort of intermediate between a peer-reviewed journal and a preprint server… Not a good idea. They’ve basically combined the worst of both worlds.

    a parellel text of V with Deuteronomy and Numbers

    For the relevant passages that’s already in Dershowitz’s book.

  280. The word limit is for Academia Letters, which is an actual online journal published by academia.edu. That raises the question of whether that is a respectable place to publish; it’s hard to see how they could keep up meaningful standards with an online-only general knowledge journal.

    The idea of a “letters” journal was created by Physical Review to deal with a problem they had encountered. In order to stake claims of priority for their discoveries, researchers would write letters to the editor, announcing their accomplishment. This raised problems, since there was no way to assess the validity of a letter’s claims. The editors found themselves trying to apply an ad hoc form of peer review to these three or four paragraph letters, which was not logistically viable or scientifically reliable. So they created a new journal, Physical Review Letters, for longer versions of such letters that could be subject to conventional refereeing. Some of the early papers published in PRL were quite short, but in relatively short order, they expanded so that most were close to the original four-page length limit.

    A number of years later, when the regular Physical Review journals were split up by topic, some (but not all) of the new journals created “rapid communication” sections, for important work that was not suitable for PRL. The traditional page limit for rapid communications was five pages, so that papers rejected by PRL could be expanded a bit if necessary and published as rapid communications. (The standards for PRL publication are not purely a matter of article quality. The letters were supposed to be of “general interest” among physicists although about fifteen years ago, that was relaxed to “broad interest.” The editors are explicit and consistent that this can mean publishing a few papers of lesser importance but with significant esthetic appeal, something I once benefitted from. It also means explicitly embracing the fact that it is easier to get papers into PRL if they are on trendy topics.) My first PRL paper was close to the four-page limit, but one if the referees wanted something explained further, and the editor was concerned that might not be possible in the allotted length, which would mean I would have to transfer the submission to Physical Review D as a rapid communication; fortunately for my career, I managed to explain what was going on in only three sentences.

    At the same time, other “letters” journals proliferated. Some, like PRL, published only letters, often restricted to particular sub-fields. Physics Letters A is general, atomic, optical, etc., while Physics Letters B covers nuclear and particule physics; Nanotechnology Letters is an important journal for solid state physics, chemistry, and electrical engineering. Other journals, like the Astrophysical Journal had separate letters sections at the front of each issue, with separate pagination.

  281. I didn’t finish my last comment, but I started encountering glitchy behavior in the comment box. This has happened to me a number of times in the past month or so, if I spend too long working on a single comment. There starts to be a loss of synchronization between what appears in the box and what I am typing. Most typically, if I try to delete a character the beginning of a line, the character does not disappear, and the cursor location changes in an unpredictable fashion. When I see this happening (and it has happened to me on three different devices, using three different operating systems, although all using Chrome to access the site), I usually just copy the existing text and reload the page. So it’s not a big problem, but I figured that since it was happening repeatedly, I might as well mention it.

    Anyway, to finish what I was saying above (and to bring my rambling about letters journals back around to a linguistic point): Within the last year, Physical Review announced that they were doing away with the rapid communications category. Having created the concept of scientific letters publication, Physical Review found that that terminology had apparently become so ubiquitous that it was doing a disservice to Physical Review authors to keep using the “rapid communications” name.

    Based on broad community feedback we now publish short research articles intended for accelerated publication of important new results as Letters. Letters are an excellent way to convey significant new findings clearly and concisely to the specific readership of each journal, just as Physical Review Letters does for the physics community as a whole. With this change, we aim to maximize value and recognition for our authors by ensuring that researchers as well as funding agencies clearly understand the impact and significance of the Letters published in the Physical Review journals.

  282. The academia.edu discussion of “Valediction of Moses” has not been easy for me to follow completely. The number of “participants” (apparently readers and commenters) was 159 recently, many listed by name, then “and 58 more” noted. That’s no biggie by itself, as the comments are of more interest to me, but those are given, in part, then a message of “and x more [comments]”—despite the prior invitation to “read all comments.” The bell icon at the top lists notifications of recent comments, but I may have missed some, and I don’t see a way to order by date. Am I missing something—besides not taking/paying “upgrade to premium,” (and would that fix this?)?

  283. David Marjanović says

    So Letters are “least publishable units”?

    Nature recently abolished its Letters category (3-page papers) in favor of Articles (4-page papers plus a purely online methods section and copious supplementary information)…

  284. Whatever may or may not have been hypothetically possible in pre-exilic Hebrew, when dealing with antiquities, genuine and faked, Moses W. Shapira could be called an unreliable narrator, when not a mere liar. The genuine Yemeni mss he obtained, he reportedly got unethically. Forgers often feign not fully to understand the item they present to an expert, to let the expert “discover” its importance; the purple pages could have been a sales prop. The “Moabite” pottery was not only fake but excessively numerous. If having a paleo “Moses scroll” might be striking–why not two copies? Shapira stated he bought the strips for a pittance. Why rely on that claim to suppose there was no forgery by the seller? Shapira invented. He could have, by himself or with an accomplice, paid nothing for the strips which, he as salesman pointed out, had high quality ink.

  285. David Marjanović says

    Forgers often feign not fully to understand the item they present to an expert, to let the expert “discover” its importance; the purple pages could have been a sales prop.

    …except he didn’t publish them. They were discovered after his death.

    Shapira stated he bought the strips for a pittance. Why rely on that claim to suppose there was no forgery by the seller?

    Who does that?

  286. David Marjanović,

    I did not claim that Shapira published the purple ink sheets. I suggest he may have shown them (cf. “present to an expert”) at an attempted point of sale. Apparently, neither H. Strack nor M. Steinschneider changed his mind about authenticity after seeing the sheets.

    Who? If you read or have read anyone who takes as reliable Shapira’s claim that he bought them for a pittance as part of an argument for authenticy—that one.

    Reflection on ink. Reportedly, Shapira wrote to Strack, “The ink is nearly undestroyable, neither by rubbing, nor by washing with water or spirits,” to which he added that such was an unusual “thing in oriental manuscripts.” (R.K. Nichols, Moses Scroll, 35.) Who in First Temple Period in Moab or elsewhere had such ink? Perhaps of interest: Ira Rabin, “Material Studies of Historic Inks: Transition from Carbon to Iron-Gall Inks,” in Traces of Ink (2021) 70-78.

  287. David Marjanović says

    Who in First Temple Period in Moab or elsewhere had such ink?

    What happened to the ink, chemically, when it spent 2600 years in decaying leather?

  288. Who in First Temple Period in Moab or elsewhere had such ink?

    What happened to the ink, chemically, when it spent 2600 years in decaying leather?

    If you are suggesting that decaying leather make the ink more indelible, the 1QGenesis Apocyrphon might be a caution. William S. Ginell, “Report on Dead Sea Scroll Studies” (Getty Conservation Institute, 1993)

  289. David Marjanović says

    If you read or have read anyone who takes as reliable Shapira’s claim that he bought them for a pittance as part of an argument for authenticy—that one.

    The closest I’ve seen to such an argument is this paragraph from pp. 39–40 of Dershowitz’s book:

    Had Shapira known the manuscripts to be forgeries, then his tales of discovery and purchase would certainly have been lies. However, considering that Shapira apparently believed the manuscripts to be genuine, it is difficult to explain his account or, indeed, to construct a coherent narrative regarding the supposed forgery. As mentioned above, Shapira said that he purchased the manuscripts from Bedouins who found them in a cave near the Dead Sea, wrapped in linen bundles and covered in a bitumen-like substance. If the discovery story was a ruse to dupe Shapira, what then motivated the mastermind? Are we to believe that a forger invested tremendous time, effort, and funds to create two fraudulent manuscripts (and part of a third), only to sell them to Bedouins who then passed them on to Shapira for a pittance?^8 Moreover, an anonymous forger would not have earned a penny from the fortunes that Shapira stood to gain from a successful sale of the manuscripts to the British Museum. Such a forger would also have had no obvious opportunity to gain fame as anything other than a fraud.

    Here, Shapira’s letter where he said he paid very little is not used as evidence that the mss are genuine, but specifically as evidence that Shapira couldn’t have been the victim of someone else’s forgery.

    Of course this doesn’t rule out a forger with a non-monetary motive, but that is addressed in the next paragraph:

    Lastly, as noted below, the text of V corresponds to no scholarly opinion or theory that existed at the time, ruling out vindication of a particular scholar as a plausible motive. As the author of a Daily News article from 1883 observed: “One considerable argument in favour of the genuineness of the manuscripts results from the fact that it agrees with no school of theological or critical opinion.”^9

    The arguments that Shapira himself can’t have forged the mss either are made elsewhere in the book.

    I did not claim that Shapira published the purple ink sheets. I suggest he may have shown them (cf. “present to an expert”) at an attempted point of sale.

    And yet, none of those experts ever talked about them. Also, if he had meant them for presentation, wouldn’t he have rendered the whole thing a bit prettier? His comments (in English, around the transcription) are hard to read.

  290. David Marjanović says

    might be a caution

    Sorry, currently my only way to find that book would be in Google Scholar, which only finds citations of it. Can you summarize what it says?

  291. It’s also possible that Shapira beleived the manuscripts to be genuine, but made up their provenance nonetheless. To obscure the identity of a true seller, for example.

  292. D.M., on caution.

    In the case of the Qumran Cave One Genesis Apocryphon, the ink and the skin did not coexist in peace; corrosion ensued.

  293. David Marjanović says

    but made up their provenance nonetheless. To obscure the identity of a true seller, for example.

    Yes, or the seller could have made it up to retain his monopoly, as previously suggested in this thread here.

    In the case of the Qumran Cave One Genesis Apocryphon, the ink and the skin did not coexist in peace; corrosion ensued.

    Thank you. I would expect that from an acidic iron-gall ink, not from a soot-based ink. Admittedly, a soot-based ink would hardly react with leather in any other way either.

  294. Suchard posted a preprint of a full criticism of the authenticity of the scrolls.

  295. What you link to is a “Response to Benjamin Suchard.”

  296. B. Suchard presents a very good case, imo. In addition:

    After the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered (c. 1947-1956) the Shapira strips were reconsidered, given that mss were demonstrated to have survived from ancient times. But, in addition to problems with the writing surface and ink (mentioned by Haran 1983 and Rabin 2021 in articles noted above; also on palaeography at RollstonEpigraphy blog), the Qumran scrolls might actually tell against Dershowitz’ proposal that the Shapira mss dated to the First Temple Period. The Qumranites (imo, some Essenes) assiduously collected and preserved texts, especially Torah and especially Devarim, in favorable conditions (wrapped in linen, placed in jars with caps, in dry caves).

    But the oldest surviving Qumran mss are from third century BCE. If Qumranites were able to collect First Temple Period copies of Torah, surely they would have revered them. But they were not able to obtain such—*even back then,* many centuries before Shapira.

  297. David Marjanović says

    B. Suchard presents a very good case

    Yes. Specifically, he shows that the omissions (compared to the Masoretic Text) are considerably less congruent with recently identified post-Priestly insertions than appeared to Dershowitz. Also, various oddities in the language line up perfectly with 19th-century Hebrew, including that of a newspaper article about the Shapira affair.

    BTW, Suchard’s main page on academia.edu contains much of Hattic interest, for instance a whole thesis titled “The development of the Biblical Hebrew vowels”, other works on Biblical Hebrew vowels, works on the Biblical Aramaic consonantal text and the Biblical Aramaic reading tradition being from different dialects (and the dialect of the reading tradition being close to the otherwise mysterious one of the Targum Onqelos), reconstructions of verb forms of the last common ancestor of Semitic and Berber, and more.

  298. Suchard has done a lot of wonderful work. Even though I don’t agree with some of his arguments in this case, I’m fascinated to see excellent scholars like him and Dershowitz (plus Pat-El) picking over this difficult case.

    I have not yet read this last paper of his. I am becoming aware of a very hot ongoing controversy closely related to that case, that is, the question of whether different parts of the Old Testament can be dated linguistically, and whether so-called Early and Late Biblical Hebrews are indeed temporally distinct or whether they reflect different registers or styles. The literature on the subject is mostly recent but already large, and I haven’t yet tackled it.

  299. David Marjanović says

    I don’t agree with some of his arguments in this case

    Oh, me neither. In particular, some of the cases where V is simpler, more logical or more repetitive than the lectiones difficiliores of the MT could have been cases where the style was deliberately improved in the separate history of the MT, similar to the Gospel of Matthew containing many attempts to improve the style of the Gospel of Mark, and the Gospel of Luke containing many successful attempts to improve the style of the Gospel of Matthew.

    Anyway, Dershowitz has not yet replied (on his Academia page at least), but I don’t think there’s much he can say anymore.

  300. I’m fascinated to see excellent scholars like him and Dershowitz (plus Pat-El) picking over this difficult case.

    Yes, it’s great seeing smart, knowledgeable people arguing — thank goodness I don’t have to wager anything on it!

  301. The thing that caught my attention is how textual scholars judge which reading is more difficult and which one is easier. For example, why “hornet” in Deut 7:20 is more problematic than “plague” in a parallel passage in V.? Is it obvious? Another place is Shma, which in MT uses the tetragrammaton: יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד and is perfectly logical and understandable “YHWH is your God, YHWH is one [or alone]”. There are no other gods, not for you and (maybe) not for anyone else either, though the last part is not quite clear. In V, both instances of the tetragrammaton are replaced with Elohim: אלהם אלהנו אלהם אחד, which makes much less sense to me. I am not saying that it is dispositive. There are 10 or more examples advanced by Suchard. I just wonder how such judgements are made. Intuition?

  302. David Marjanović says

    Intuition?

    Yes. Just like how historical linguists “judge” which semantic changes are convincing and which are unlikely. 😐

    In this very case, Suchard interprets אלהם אלהנו אלהם אחד as “Elohim, our god, is one god”, which he finds to make much more sense than the “famously difficult” (or whatever the wording was) MT version. He also finds “leprosy” much more likely than “hornet”, because leprosy is a whole theme in the Bible, while hornets have no particular significance there.

  303. Molly M. Zahn recently discussed “What is ‘Torah” in Second Temple Texts?”*
    At Qumran they collected Deuteronomy texts with variants and regarded the 11QTemple Scroll and other texts as Torah. If they had found a copy of “Valediction,” they probably would have saved it.

    Before he tried to sell “V” to the British Museum. Shapira had tried to sell to the Palestine Exploration Fund “Samson’s coffin.” Freedman’s Journal [Dublin] Aug. 23, 1883, 6/1.

    https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://www.thetorah.com/article/what-is-torah-in-second-temple-texts__;!!OToaGQ!8SFeRJ-M1_72XRTsJmQiut-JwsbJKOrpK2J0QiUoIH9tUcqDMDpB_r2ewGqmZDvX$

  304. David Eddyshaw says

    Proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Albrecht_Bengel

  305. Suchard actually gives justifications for some of his easier/harder readings decisions. On a more general point, the “more difficult reading” principle is reasonable when what is compared are several copies of the same text, which we assume were copied with a specific goal of exact transmission. It is less obvious it should work for situations in which even the existence of a single original text is in doubt and where some of the possible goals were to advance the redactor’s views on the matter (in case V. is a 19c forgery, the material views). I can totally see the forger trying to distinguish the forged text from Deut. by replacing some of the words with others taken from elsewhere in the Bible (and from the contemporary newspapers, Shapira can never live down being a Jew from Podolia, even if the Moabite Pottery Affair is forgotten), but likewise replacing them with rarer variants and made up hapaxes.

  306. I do not find Suchard’s arguments based on the difficulty of the readings to be the most compelling part of his reasoning. However, I think he makes a compelling case overall. The lack of alignment between the omissions in Shapira’s document and interpolations that were identified later seems like the most important part, since it rebuts the strongest piece of Dershowitz’s claim.

    languagehat: Proclivi Scriptioni Praestat Ardua

    (Hello world!)

    I assume that is Beret Guy’s corporate blog.

  307. David Marjanović says

    Proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua.

    He’s a very naughty boy.

    (That’s what his last name means.)

  308. It all fits (?).
    Bad boy Bengel taunted by saying the hard reading is to be preferred, at least by those in the know.
    Bad salesman Shapira taunted by offering a seemingly-bogus trinket, to be preferred only by those, oblivious to multiple red flags, daring to perform the hard mental gymnastics to attempt to redeem it.
    (I have a Dead Sea Scrolls publication, submitted over a year ago, still out for peer review, if I sound cranky.)

  309. David Marjanović says

    Over a year of peer review? That’s bad.

  310. Stephen Carlson says

    Unfortunately, it is not uncommon in Goranson’s field (and mine) to take even nine months or so to get an initial decision. People in the sciences have completely different expectations about how quick peer review can be.

  311. David Marjanović says

    I mean, a paper of mine spent three years in peer review, but that’s because the first of several revisions took a year (after I – not the reviewers – found 50 errors in the dataset and had to repeat all the analyses) and because it literally took the longest-lasting reviewer three years to explain what he actually wanted. (Pretty reasonable things that we actually did and that probably improved the paper.) But that’s very rare, because it can only happen to really huge manuscripts.

    What is much less rare is for an accepted manuscript to lie around for a year or even two before it is finally published. Online-early publication has mostly but not entirely stopped this phenomenon.

    Many journals pride themselves in their fast peer review, which they accomplish by annoying the reviewers. Unfortunately, few pride themselves in fast publication after acceptance.

  312. An archaeological study claims that some core parts of Deuteronomy were added after IV c. BCE, based on the abundance of non-kosher fish bones in the trash of the earlier periods.
    https://phys.org/news/2021-05-ancient-fish-bones-reveal-non-kosher.html

  313. The original article. The conclusion is not that the Deuteronomical prohibitions are late. Rather, they point out many open questions that result from their findings: Do the prohibited fish remains reflect a lack of rules, or a lack of adherence? Why is pork avoidance reflected better in the archeological record than unclean fish avoidance? Did different populations observe the rule more than others? Did the rules in Deuteronomy and Numbers reflect preexisting practices? Finally, they write,

    We conclude our study with a personal request addressed to archaeologists working in the field. If you happen to find yourself excavating at a site located in the Judean heartland, in archaeological levels which that date to the critical Persian or Hellenistic periods, please take into consideration the precious fish remains that are very likely to be missed unless proper steps are taken. When an occupation layer is reached, make sure to regularly dry-sieve a good number of soil samples (using 0.5–1.0 cm mesh). If fish bones are found—switch to more careful wet-sieving (using a finer 1.0 mm mesh). Your efforts stand a good chance of being well-rewarded with critical new fish assemblages that may serve as the basis of important future studies on this fascinating topic.

    Hear, hear.

  314. If interested:
    From Daniel Stoekl
    ==============================

    A scholarly webinar on Idan Dershowitz’ recent reassessment of the
    Shapira documents

    Please register here: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://tinyurl.com/bfdjjn9a__;!!OToaGQ!8EEmNYJrbLVDNbIN_11O4tmtIR3k1t4yDHO-nK7PEUqBIsuMzIvkssiWbUDeRq7D$

    June 10, 2021
    3-8 pm CEST // 9 am – 2 pm EDT
    —————————
    3 pm CEST

    Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (EPHE, PSL), Introduction – 10′
    Idan Dershowitz (U Potsdam) and Naama Pat-El (UT Austin), New
    Observations and Reactions on the Valediction of Moses – 30′
    Rebecca Jefferson (U Florida), Moses Shapira’s Manuscript Sales – 10′
    Benjamin Sass (Tel Aviv U), A Note on the Palaeography – 10′
    Matthieu Richelle (UCLouvain), Paleography- 10′

    Pause 30 min

    4:40 pm CEST
    Robert Holmstedt (U Toronto), Linguistics – 15′
    Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (EPHE, PSL), Dead Sea Scrolls – 10′
    Konrad Schmid (U Zurich), Is V a Literary Precursor to Deuteronomy? – 15′
    Jeffrey Stackert (U Chicago), Hebrew Bible – 10′

    Pause 30 min

    From 6 pm CEST: General Discussion

    Please register here https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://tinyurl.com/bfdjjn9a__;!!OToaGQ!8EEmNYJrbLVDNbIN_11O4tmtIR3k1t4yDHO-nK7PEUqBIsuMzIvkssiWbUDeRq7D$ in order to receive
    the webinar link.

  315. Though the learned Prof. Idan Dershowitz has done a real bold service to reconsider the Shapira Devarim-ish mss, it is not, imo, looking good for his hypothesis.
    He has on occasion bemoaned that scholars go directly to the text rather than to his arguments about it, though I consider such fair game.
    On “academia.edu” recently e.g. articles by Harald Samuel, Matthieu Richelle, Israel Knohl, and Ronald Hendel give criticisms.

  316. Owlmirror says

    tinyurls can be decoded by putting “preview.” before “tinyurl”. So the link can be seen, and it goes to:

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfxnxMX85fsd7OkEtEhEtWpi7pBiD-rBbKQ4Ra4p8UG6pem1Q/viewform

    I’m not sure why that needs the obfuscation of tinyurl and enwrapment by urldefense, which negates the tininess of tinyurl.

    I hope that anyone who attends will report back here.

  317. I attended the webinar. It was recorded; no word yet on possible availability. Who knows how many minds, of the circa 90 attendees there for most of it, were changed, though as one presenter put it, the questions are not all yes/no. E.g., optionally, the Shapira-given text could be older than 19th-century but not as old as Dershowitz claimed.

    The paleographers differed. Was a one-stroke paleo yod unknown (in 19th c) or not? How good are the drawings? No good at all (pay no attention), or actually not so bad when two or more artist drawings match—and show mixed-date forms.

    No one proved that Shapira did it, nor that he did not. A ridiculous statement was mooted: that he could not have had a motive. Money? Fooling rival scholars? My view: Shapira, probably, with or without help, did it. And the claim that it was a source for Deut. is imo out the window. Sometimes I wonder whether Prof. I. D. cares more about his debate skill than his proposal. [He knows Hebrew better than I, and though I’m perhaps not a rookie on various views in biblical criticism, his other book title has an odd ring, Dismembered Bible. Deconstructed Bible, say, would not cause such.]

    What Hebrew that is so far unattested in first temple was yet still possible, so maybe give it the benefit of the doubt? Who has the onus of proof? Was the orthography conservative but the grammar and syntax and verb system too late to match? One presenter did conclude “F for Forgery.”

    The claim that Dead Sea Scrolls helps the authenticity case has been overblown. Not only about the means of survival or preservation differing, and also given the putative distance from the Dead Sea. And the folding—leporello book or concertina form—does not match.

    [Also, though this–or rather an argument for it by M. Haran HUCA 1983 has been disputed by R. Duke SJOT 2007–a pre-Dt., pre-Exile paleoHebrew text would probably have been written on papyrus, not skin.]

    But I may have missed, plus not recorded here, some observations that are more notable.

  318. Interesting, thanks for the report!

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