[b-hebrew] Documentary Hypothesis
kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jan 28 10:04:17 EST 2009
On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 11:19 PM, George Athas <George.Athas at moore.edu.au>wrote:
> Hi Rolf!
> I am in agreement with you about Systemzwang. The Hebrew verbal system is
> one of the most obvious cases, as you yourself note.
> With regards to the Torah, Isaiah, and Daniel - I beg to differ.
> While many today might simply rest on the conclusions of a previous
> generation without reconsidering the assumptions, etc., not all scholars do
> this. I came to critical study of the Bible from a particular faith
> perspective, and had all my assumptions challenged in the process. The
> ensuing learning and research which this engendered was invaluable, and I
> think I can safely say that I didn't fall into the Systemzwang trap you
> mention. Indeed, one of the ways I teach my own students now is not to feed
> them my own conclusions (or anyone else's), but rather to raise issues and
> possibilities. I grade their work on their ability to interact critically
> with arguments rather than their ability to duplicate past views.
> In the case of Torah, Isaiah, and Daniel, I think the arguments for Mosaic
> authorship (Torah), 8th century BC (Isaiah), and 6th century BC (Daniel) are
> highly problematic. There are historical issues, literary issues, as well as
> theological issues which, in my mind, militate against these dates. This
> does not mean it is impossible to argue for these dates. But, as I've said
> many a time, there is a big difference between possibility and probability.
In other words, what you did was to step outside of the ideology taught by
the Bible, then judged the Bible based on a different ideology. Then you
said that the Biblical record is improbable based on the presuppositions
inherent in this other religious faith that you now embrace. That's how I
read the above paragraphs. Correct me if you think I am wrong.
(In practice, "ideology" and "religious faith" are synonyms, though in form
they appear different. I follow practice.)
Personally I think this type of criticism is invalid, the use of one
religion to critique another religion. This is like saying "Hinduism is
wrong, because it doesn't follow the Bible" or more commonly in the U.S.
"Evolution is wrong, because it contradicts Genesis." (Evolution is wrong,
based on its own internal inconsistencies. It just happens to disagree with
Genesis as well.) A religion needs to be evaluated on its own merits, not in
comparison to another religion.
For example, the arguments that the historical difficulties and ambiguities
> in Dan 1-6 can be overcome such that a 6th century BC date can be maintained
> is like a house of cards - possible to erect, but quite flimsy. To me, the
> argument sounds a bit like saying, "Well, if there is a left-handed albino
> midget from Tanzania who plays ukulele on Tuesdays in Buenos Aires, then
> yes, Daniel is a 6th century BC work."
And to those of us who do not ascribe to your religion, your house of cards
looks equally improbable.
Furthermore, while there is not a body of literature against which we can
compare the literary development of Hebrew over time, that body of
literature does exist for Aramaic. Comparing the Aramaic portion of Daniel
against that body of literature, Rolf mentioned that the Aramaic language
use in Daniel is consistent with a sixth century BC composition, arguing
against a later date for authorship.
> Nonetheless, the way to overcome Systemzwang is not to propose traditional
> dates of authorship,
Are you saying that the dates mentioned in the texts are not to be
mentioned? If so, is that not imposing your own Systemzwang?
> but to acknowledge probability and to have the epistemic humility to
> acknowledge that there is always at least a modicum of doubt to our
> conclusions, meaning they are always provisional. That includes your
> conclusions and mine.
> "Always provisional", why? That, too, is a religious faith statement. What
is accurate is that there is not overwhelming proof for either argument,
outside of religious convictions. According to Biblical ideology, there is
no "provisional", so to promote that, is that not imposing a Systemzwang on
> GEORGE ATHAS
> Moore Theological College (Sydney, Australia)
What puzzles me is that those who don't believe the Bible spend so much time
and effort attacking it. Why? Why not just say that it is not to be
believed, then drop it? Yet whole careers are made to attack it. (Shake my
head.) I don't understand it.
Karl W. Randolph.
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