The Instigator
A341
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points
The Contender
Solus_Christus
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Moses Was a Composite Character

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
A341
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/22/2014 Category: Religion
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 895 times Debate No: 62097
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

A341

Pro

Definitions:

Moses: "The prophet depicted in the Pentateuch as the leader of the Jews who lead the israelites out of Egypt"

Composite character: "A character that is compiled from two or more earlier characters"

First round is for acceptance only.

I am restarting this debate because the last person to accept was kicked from debate.org.
Solus_Christus

Con

I accept your debate and challenge.

I will be arguing that Moses was not a composite character.

This is my first time participating in a debate on this website, and I hope it is fruitful. I am looking forward to this!

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
A341

Pro

Moses appears to have been compiled from a number of different characters all of which were written about hundreds or thousands of years before Moses was ever conceived of. The character Moses was probably first conceived by the Yahwist's (J source) sometime between 750 BCE and 500 BCE [1]. I will now proceed to list the mythical figures (there are many mythical figure which I will touch on later in this debate but I will not mention them now) and once living people (often somewhat embellished) who probably are the sources that inspired the Moses character.

Hammurabi King of Babylon

Hammurabi (king of Babylon from 1792 " 1750 BC ) is said to have received the divine law known as the code of Hammurabi from a Babylonian deity called Shamash. It has many similarities to Mosaic law for instance:

Code of Hammurabi: "If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money." [2].

Mosaic Law: "If a man's bull injures the bull of another and it dies, they are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and the dead animal will be his." [3].

Code of Hammurabi: "If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out." [4] "If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken." [5]

Mosaic Law: "eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot" [6]

Pharo Sneferu

Pharo Sneferu is recorded in one (fairly obviously mythical) account as flipping over a lake to reveal its underside in order to rescue an amulet for a slave girl. To me this seems similar to the story of separating the red sea [7].

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad was an Akkadian ruler in the 24th century BC in an account of his childhood he records:

"My mother, a high priestess, conceived me, in secret she bore me. She placed me in a reed basket, with bitumen she caulked my hatch. She abandoned me to the river from which I could not escape. The river carried me along: to Aqqi, the water drawer, it brought me. Aqqi, the water drawer, when immersing his bucket lifted me up." [8]

This appears eerily similar to the account in Exodus of the early life of Moses

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile." [9]

To me this seems like too many similarities to ignore a link between Moses and these ancient kings.

[1] http://www.britannica.com...

[2] Law 251 code of Hammurabi

[3] Exodus 21:28-36

[4] Law 196 code of Hammurabi

[5] Law 197 code of Hammurabi

[6] Exodus 21:24

[7] Westcar Papyrus

[8] The Sargon Legend (American Schools of Oriental Research, 1978)

[9] Exodus 2:3
Solus_Christus

Con

Thank you pro for your opening remarks.

On the onset, pro is making some underlying assumptions by stating "Moses was a composite character." He is saying:

1) Moses was not a historical person (for if he was he could not be composite).
2) The story of Moses from Exodus is not completely original and all or parts of the narrative were essentially copied from previous stories (I find calling him a "composite character" to be a sort of euphemism if that is the case).

It is the second assumption which will come up throughout the entirety of the debate.

For this round I will not focus too much on targeting any of his specific claims, but rather the foundation on which all his opening claims stand.

For his opening argument, pro has given us a list of several characters exposing how different details of the Exodus narrative concerning Moses seem to match up well with their stories. These three stories ranged from 2600 BC up to 1750 BC, a span of 850 years. Writing was first developed in Mesopotamia around 3400-3200 BCE , and since that time countless stories, histories, and mythologies have been written. [1] I'd assume that pro is going to list as many stories from the invention of writing up until the J source (generally dated anywhere from 10th century to 6th century BCE) [2].

This would be the equivalent of me looking at two random movies (which have only been around since roughly 1890) and finding similarities between them, then claiming that the later movie was obviously copied from the earlier one. From this standard I could say that Harry Potter was copied from Luke Skywalker because they are both orphans and have magical powers. This is just between two movies that were released 24 years apart, while pro is applying this principle across a span (according to his dating of the J source) of 2700 years. We should expect any writing to haves great similarities to several other writings, just due to the sheer amount of writing done in that extremely long time period. This isn't also to mention that writings from a similar region are naturally going to be more similar to one another than those that are distant.

Here are some brief responses to his specific claims:

Code of Hammurabi

It should be no surprise that the Code of Hammurabi is similar to the Mosaic law because geographical regions tend to have similar moral laws. The fact that both the code and the law contain a form of "lex talionis" [3] should not lend any credibility to pro's claims, considering the geographical proximity in which both were written.

Pharo Sneferu

There is nothing strikingly similar to the Exodus account to really comment on.

Sargon of Akkad

The similarity here between the Exodus account and Sargon's account is his mother sending him down the river in a basket. While I think the above argument against pro's claims is enough to defend the similarities, there is also more to keep in mind. One of the assumptions is that this tale predates the J source. The earliest surviving copies of the Sargon text date from Neo Assyrian or later. [4] This suggests that the tale may have been recorded for, or by, the late eighth century Assyrian king, Sargon II, who identified himself with the monarch of Sargon I. [2] The J source is usually dated to the tenth century (950 BCE according to pro's source number 1), which would predate the reign of Sargon II. Also, the verse containing the central elements of the Moses birth narrative similar to Sargon's account, Exodus 2:3 [5], contains at least six words of Egyptian origin. The large concentration of Egyptian terms is strongly against the idea of a Mesopotamian connection.

I do not think that looking at similar details within different writings is strong enough evidence to assume one was borrowed from another, nor do I think pro's examples were strikingly convincing.

Thank you for your opening remarks and I look forward to the next round.

[1] http://archive.archaeology.org...
[2] Israel in Egypt, James K. Hoeffmeier
[3] http://www.britannica.com...
[4] http://www.britishmuseum.org...
[5] http://biblehub.com...
Debate Round No. 2
A341

Pro

Underlying Assumptions

"Moses was not a historical person (for if he was he could not be composite)."

Not necessarily, one of the characters that the Moses in the bible was based on may well have been called Moses and performed some of the actions in Exodus. He may have been a historical person in a sense. I am claiming that the Moses in the bible has been either blended with multiple other characters or created from scratch from many different ones.

"The story of Moses from Exodus is not completely original and all or parts of the narrative were essentially copied from previous stories (I find calling him a "composite character" to be a sort of euphemism if that is the case)."

Correct, some may (I would claim is) original but yes I am claiming that the entire account from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy is not original.

Star Wars Harry Potter Film Argument

While this made up little of your argument I felt it was worth mentioning in my rebuttal. You claim that you saying that: "Harry Potter was copied from Luke Skywalker because they are both orphans and have magical powers. This is just between two movies that were released 24 years apart".

In reality of course things are not that clear cut. When a film becomes popular it seeps into the culture a little and the memes used in that film become more used in others so in a sense you could say that some aspects of the character of Harry Potter may have been inspired by the character of Luke Skywalker. While this is probably not the case I'm sure you understand that a writer can be inspired or influenced by previous work.

But this whole film parallel doesn't work so well for oral tradition. Remember that the Tanakh (and thereby the Christian old testament was) based off of a once oral tradition which was passed down through many generations [1] and in this sate myths will blend and mix and what comes out will not be what when it. Think of it as a thousand year long game of Chinese whispers (that's what we call it in the UK). And so when you see to different but similar legends from around the same place with a few hundred years between them you should start thinking.

Code of Hammurabi

The reason that con dismisses my argument here is that law comes from morality which apparently doesn't change over nearly two millenia. Ask yourself this question: "Has morality changed since the second century B.C. when it was considered fine to own slaves, when genocide wasn't a dirty word, when women weren't considered equal?" No morality changes and so for the same laws to be repeated in two different places at two different times you should start to search for a connection.

Sargon of Akkad

I should point out that the account that you deride is accepted as accurate (or at least dating to the time of Sargon of Akkad) by modern scholars [2].

[1] http://www.hebrew4christians.com...

[2] Roux, Georges (1982) "Ancient Iraq" (Penguin, Harmondsworth)
Solus_Christus

Con

Solus_Christus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
A341

Pro

We can skip this round.
Solus_Christus

Con

Solus_Christus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
A341

Pro

I'm quite sad you forfeited, I thought this would be a good debate.
Solus_Christus

Con

Solus_Christus forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Mr.Chorlton 2 years ago
Mr.Chorlton
It's a shame that con has forfeited a round. Did well in the second round.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
A341Solus_ChristusTied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by dragonfire1414 2 years ago
dragonfire1414
A341Solus_ChristusTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: It is unfortunate that CON forfeit.