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10/25/2009

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Kelpie wrote: "the Hebrews were the first to write a narrative history of their people." But shouldn't Kelpie have written instead -- "the history of the Hebrews is the earliest to have survived in narrative form" or "the narrative history of Hebrews is the earliest such narrative of which we are aware", or something to that effect? After all, we do not know if the biblical narrative is the earliest or not.

Hi Tim,
That's a really good point. I should have said that it was the first to survive. I sort of got at that in the conclusion when I said: "The Hebrews were merely the first to write their story and preserve it for generations... " Interestingly, Leonard Shlain addresses this issue in his book. He argues that even though the alphabet was invented by the Canaanite sea traders known as Phoenicians, they never used it for anything profound - or at least nothing has survived. He quotes from an archeologist who says: "The Phoenicians, so far as we know, did not bring a single fructifying idea into the world... their arts...hardly deserve to be called arts; they were for the most part only traders. Their architecture, sculpture, painting were of the most unimaginative sort."
I guess that's what unbridled trade does to culture!

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