THE REAL MESSIAH BLOG: Dating Marqe from Samaritan List of High Priests

Dating Marqe from Samaritan List of High Priests

copyright 2008 Stephan Huller

From Dr. Rory Boid (personal correspondence)

All of the existing mss. of the Tulida have serious omissions of names of High Priests in the centuries between the wars of the Jews against the Romans and the coming of Muhammad. Look at the list in Abul-Fataḥ. His list is complete. Try adding up the length of years of each High Priest in the Tulida and this becomes obvious. If you add all the High Priests from the death of Alexander in 323 BC (just before the death of the High Priest Azqayya) till the surrender of Palestine to the Islamic forces in 625 AD the number of years listed in the Tulida is not enough.

If you add the years from the Jewish wars against Rome up to Muhammad, you see that is where names have been lost. Adding the years up from Alexander or Hadrian gives a date of about 450 AD for Muhammad! Someone has seen this, so they have counted backwards from Muhammad. This puts the start of the period of Baba Rabba in about 320 AD. If you keep counting backwards you see it puts Jesus in about 200 AD!

This confusion must have occurred very early. Although Abul-Fataḥ has a complete list of names, he still had to put events into two (sometimes three) sets of narrative. Dositheos appears twice [Actually thrice. Look carefully at the long section on Dositheos and notice how he is first mentioned as some unknown person fleeing from Judaea, then he is suddenly the son of the High Priest].

After Dositheos three times there are the categories of Dositheans, but with Jesus and Philo in between. So he goes forward from the sects of the Dositheans then Jesus, Philo of Alexandria etc. to Commodus and then briefly mentions Dositheos A FOURTH TIME and then the notable deed of Garmon. Then he stops his narrative and gives a list of High Priests up to that point. Then he goes back in time and starts again with Jesus etc. then various events up to Muhammad.

Approximate correct dates are these: (a) End of the time of Baba Rabba (or more exactly the start of his captivity) 180 AD. This was when the policies of Commodus took effect in Syria-Palestine. Adding years puts Garmon (Germanos) in about 202 AD. This must have been the same Germanos that was at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

There is no direct historical evidence for the date of Marqe. Tulida 9a, p. 90 in Florentin’s edition. “and the Priest with him was ‘Amram ban Sârad. This ‘Amram was T.ut.e the father of Marqe the originator [or creator] of wisdom, may his spirit be at rest, Amen”. The note in the Tulida is correct but in the wrong place. If Marqe and his son Ninna had lived in the time of Baba Rabba, then there would have been a lot of information about them. The fact is that all knowledge on this subject has been lost. My personal opinion is that the note is correct in saying T.ut.e was called ‘Amram. I think this is in fact ‘Amram Dare. [The reason for saying this is that the name Marqe is a substitute for Mushi. ‘ Amram for his father is conventional. Amram is Moses’s father. It is like the name of the author of the book on inheritance Abu Ish.âq Ibrahim. The epithet Dare would then mean elder in relation to Marqe]. But I see no evidence for putting them in the time of Baba Rabba. As said, the lists of High Priests in the Tulida is incomplete. Also, the Aramaic used by Marqe is very early. This is aside from the mistake of putting Baba 170 years too late. A date of Marqe in about 320 AD is just impossible. The Durran might perhaps be from the time of Baba. I say this because several of the hymns speak of repentance for the errors of the very recent past. [See H. G. Kippenberg, article Ein Gebetbuch für den samaritanischen Synagogengottesdienst aus dem 2. Jh. N. Chr.]. If Marqe and ‘Amram and Ninna are before this, then the latest possible date must be before 140 AD. An earlier date is possible.

I agree that Baba Rabba was held in custody by the Romans, but it was not in Constantinople. I know Constantinople is mentioned, but that is an adjustment of the name of the place to its later name. If I say the grave of Joseph is near Nablus (instead of Shechem), I don’t mean Joseph lived after the coming of Islam! As for the stupid stupid stupid stories about the tricks played by Baba on the forces of Constantinople, how he tricked them into thinking the dead were fighting for him, and all the rest, I agree with Abul-Fataḥ, who said he only mentioned them so no-one would think he did not know about them.

The dates in the Arabic book the Comprehensive History At-Târîkh ash-Shâmil by Finaas ban Yeṣaaq or Khaḍir bin Isḥâq are not tradition. They are modern new calculations. This book by Finaas is wonderful. It is indispensable. I use it constantly. BUT the author and his associates tried to do what could not be done with the information available at the time. As an eample, his list of names and periods of the Kings of the Time of Favour is mostly taken from the Jewish Book of Judges. His date for the birth of Samson (Shamshom) is a guess. In the same way, his list of High Priests follows the Tulida, without noticing that the text is incomplete. Thus his chronology is wrong. [Chronicle Adler, which is a short Hebrew version of the book by Finaas, has the same mistake]. Notice that Samaritans stopped using his chronology in about 1950.

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