Documentary Hypothesis Survey
dwashbur at nyx.net
Wed Mar 15 08:26:38 EST 2000
> I have been reviewing scholarship on the Documentary Hypothesis. Given the
> number of Hebrew scholars here with strong views on such matters, I would
> like to take an informal survey of the members of this list regarding their
> views of the Documentary Hypothesis:
> 1. In general, do you accept the hypothesis?
> 3. If you reject the hypothesis from within the historical/literary
> critical school, with what would you replace it? A "fragmentary" view that
> sees numerous fragments being redacted together rather than three or four
> main documents? A "supplemental" view that sees one main source that was
> supplemented with other material? Other?
> 4. If you reject the historical/literary critical enterprise altogether,
> what is your view of the composition and authorship of the Pentateuch? Is
> it a unified composition? What factors are most important in your
> rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis?
I fall somewhere between these two polar opposites. I don't reject
the historical/literary critical enterprise altogether, but I do think the
DH took it on a massive wrong turn. I have no problem with the
idea of Mosiac authorship of the bulk of the Pentateuch, and overall
I do see it as a unified composition. I see evidence of some later
editing (e.g. "Dan" in Gen 14) but nowhere near as much as some
do. In essence I see the corpus as complete in something
resembling its current form before its rediscovery in the time of
Josiah. To answer the last question, the most important factor is
the failure of the theory itself. My problem is, this isn't my area of
expertise so I don't have much with which to replace it. I have been
told by some major scholars that, since that's the case, I shouldn't
throw out the existing theory. I don't buy this. If the current theory
is defunct, which it is, then I think the best approach is to discard it
and start over without existing-theory preconceptions and biases.
Having only one lifetime to work with, I have chosen to fall back on
the earlier conservative view (with a few modifications) and
concentrate on linguistic matters instead. So in the area of DH
and Pentateuch criticism, I'm more of a dabbler/hobbyist. The bulk
of my efforts go into understanding the nature and structure of the
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
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