The most significant argument against dating the origin of the Old Testament writings in pre-Roman times:

Gerizim, ancient sacrificial rock
Gerizim, ancient sacrificial rock

the Old Testament text genres are Greek inventions that did not exist in pre-Hellenistic times in Palestine.

The Greeks invented the epic, tragedy, philosophical dialogue and novel: all new literary forms that did not previously exist in literary history.

The Greek love of narrative, the art of rhetorical expression and literary forms were completely innovative. They were widespread in Hellenistic times and copied by the Romans in particular, but also by the Jews. Romans and Jews each used their own languages: the Romans wrote in Latin, the Jews in the revived language of Hebrew.

The Old Testament should be read as a roman à clef about the time of Herod.


None of the conditions for the origin of the Old Testament existed in pre-Roman times. There was insufficient material prosperity;

Gerizim, ancient Samaritan temple
Gerizim, ancient Samaritan temple

there was no audience trained in literary reading; there was no freedom of opinion or atmosphere of constructive debate; the references to the history of Herod’s time would be inexplicable; the intertextual references to Greek and Roman literature would be incomprehensible; Judaism was not yet unified.


II. Previous history

Literature: Baumgarten, Roland: Heiliges Wort und Heilige Schrift bei den Griechen. Hieroi Logoi und verwandte Erscheinungen, Tubingen 1998 – Rostovtzeff, M.: Caravan Cities, Oxford 1932 – Ziegler, Karl-Heinz: Die Beziehungen zwischen Rom und dem Partherreich. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Völkerrechts, Wiesbaden 1964

II  1 Pastoralists and Merchants

The traditional master narrative about the Jews in pre-Roman times states: after the destruction of the small states of Israel and Judea,

Ur, ziggurat, reconstruction
Ur, ziggurat, reconstruction

the Babylonian exile, the return of the Jews under the Persian king Cyrus and the Maccabean revolt, the Jews were ruled by the Hasmonean kings until Palestine was conquered by the Romans. They preserved the Old Testament writings, their Yahweh-based monotheism and their traditional religious culture with service in the temple and animal sacrifices. They maintained contact with the Jewish diasporas in Babylon and Egypt.

My thesis about the Jews in pre-Roman times states that Old Testament Judaism with the law, prophets and Yahweh-based monotheism did not exist in pre-Roman times.