Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Gmirkin, Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible

RELIGION NEWS SERVICES: New book claims the Old Testament drew extensively on Plato’s writings and other texts from the Great Library of Alexandria in 270 BC.
NEW YORK–LONDON — Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible, from academic publisher Routledge Press, proposes a provocative new theory regarding when, where and why the Old Testament was written. According to the author, Russell Gmirkin, the idea for the earliest Bible came out of Plato’s Laws, which proposed a new form of government with divinely inspired laws and a carefully approved ethical national literature. Plato said that if the ruling class of priests and educators could persuade the populace that their new laws and literature were both ancient and inspired, the new nation could last forever. Gmirkin’s book proposes that the Jewish nation and its Bible were the first and only implementation of Plato’s Laws in antiquity.

This sounds pretty wild to me, but I haven't read the book, so I won't comment further. My own view about Plato, though, is that it is likely that his ideas that led to his Theory of Forms were at least indirectly influenced by ancient Near Eastern ideas about the earthly temple of the god (pick your god) being a microcosmic representation of the macrocosmic temple of the universe. But that is just my impression. I'm not prepared to argue it as a theory.

I noted the book as forthcoming here. A review (in the Journal of Hebrew Studies) of Russell Gmirkin's earlier book on a similar theme is here.