Thursday, July 4, 2013

L. L. Grabbe on R. Furuli:

A case
of religiously motivated
peer criticism /

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FURULI, ROLF, Persian Chronology and the Length of the Babylonian Exile of the Jews Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian and Persian Chronology Compared with the Chronology of the Bible, 1 (Oslo: R. Furuli A/S [furuli@online.no], 2003), pp. 251.
n.p. ISBN 82-994633-3-5.


Once again we have an amateur who wants to rewrite scholarship.
F.’s expertise is admittedly in Semitic languages, and his PhD (in progress) is on the Hebrew verbal system. He notes, ‘My disadvantage is that I am neither a professional archaeoastronomer nor a historian’. This has not deterred him from making some radical re-interpretations of Achaemenid-period chronology and putting it forward boldly as an ‘Oslo chronology’. Part of his redating is fairly modest: he accepts the beginning and end of Achaemenid rule according to the standard dating, and puts the beginning of Darius I’s reign only one year later than is conventional. He argues, however, that the first 11 years of Xerxes’ reign overlap with the last 11 of Darius, and that Artaxerxes I came to the throne in 475 BCE and ruled 51 years. (F. has indeed found the interesting fact that a couple of tablets have the years ‘50’ and ‘51’ for Artaxerxes, but he admits that overwhelmingly tablets make 41 his last year and none is found between 41 and 50, suggesting the obvious: a scribal error.) Gifted amateurs have sometimes revolutionized scholarship, notably M. Ventris and Linear B. But Ventris was willing to work with specialists such as J. Chadwick whereas F. shows little evidence of having put his theories to the test with specialists in Mesopotamian astronomy and Persian history. Perhaps the most telling point is his rather naive argument that the 70 years of Judaean captivity must be a literal 70 years of desolation of the land because some biblical passages make such a statement. A second volume is promised; we shall see if it is any more convincing.

L.L. GRABBE *

* Book review in:
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
28:5 [2004],
pp./σσ. 42, 43.


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