Cyrus Gordon seems to be something of a quack.
. If scholars were athletes, there would be few today who could carry Cyrus Gordon's jock.
"In a country where people have read about horses but never seen one, donkeys will come to be called 'horses.' And woe betide whoever tries to inform them otherwise.
From an historical perspective, that is certainly the case where scholarship is concerned.
Although people today seem oblivious to it, the goal of a scholarly education in years past was a comprehensive grasp of a field, supported by a sound familiarity with related ones. In other words, the attainment of a perspective point from which the whole picture was in view
(rather than one detail of it), enabling the significance of a given discovery or theory to be accurately assessed. These "big picture" thinkers were men like Gordon in Middle Eastern antiquities, Eliade in Cultural Anthropology, Witthoft and Dragoo in North American archaeology, and Campbell in comparative mythology. They understood
what they were looking at.
This is not to say that their judgements were infallible; only that they were (and are) the points of departure for subsequent investigations. And whenever one of them decided to cut loose the way Robert Graves did in The White Goddess
, or Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces
, they left would-be "critics" speechless.
Today, of course, it suffices to dismiss Gordon as a "crank" because his views were incongruous with prevailing orthodoxy. But whether this conclusion damns Gordon or the one evaluating him remains an open question.
appraisal of the value of his opinion on such enigmas as the Bat Creek Stone and the Brazilian Inscriptions would begin with awareness that he grew up tri-lingual from childhood (English, Hebrew and Aramaic), adding Ancient Greek, Latin, Hittite and Ugaritic as he went along. Also that, having reached the point where he could view the entire Antiquities field from the summit of it, he both saw connections we wasn't supposed to, and pointed them out, whether this annoyed people who were big fish in small ponds or not. E.g.,
"Homer and Bible," 1955, Hebrew Union College Annual 26, pp. 43–108.
The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilizations
, 1962/1965, Norton Library, New York
"Vergil and the Bible World," 1971, The Gratz College Anniversary Volume, Philadelphia: Gratz College.
These are in addition to basics in languages like
, 1940, Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, Rome. and
, 1982, Basic Books, New York (revised and enlarged version, previously published 1968, now containing Gordon's work on Minoan and Eteocretan
If you were aware, as he was, that (for one example) Saul was given the proper Homeric funeral due a fallen leader in wartime, join the Stinky Old Poopy Heads. You're a heretic.