JEDP "refutation(s)" or USEFULNESS...

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Dec 13 22:40:35 EST 1999

At 20.33 13/12/99 -0500, you wrote:
>I wonder if "refutation" is needed for the JEDP approach. 

Of course not. It would be like writing a refutation of Aristotle's logic
as being basically outdated and too restrictive, while ignoring the vast
range of thought that has arisen because of Aristotle's ground-breaking
analyses. There are many more things to consider than what were available
to Wellhausen et al., but turn your back on the importance of the line of
thought means to take giant steps into darkness.

>Since this 
>hypothesis is well over 100 years old and is largely dependant at the 
>foundational level on a discredited model of the history of religions, 
>I think the onus is on those who continue to assume JEDP to prove 
>their case. So I would be more interested in seeing a thorough modern 
>exposition of this theory, based on up-to-date arguments including 
>linguistic analysis rather than appeal to 19th century authorities. 

Some of those people who are working in the field and get the bad press are
the ones that should be read.

>Maybe Vince's work will lead him in this direction, or maybe towards a 
>refutation - best of all, I would hope, a balanced reevaluation of the 

This might seem strange to many, but this stuff is under consistent
reevaluation, taking into consideration literature, language and
archaeology. The last time it was JEPD was about *forty years ago*. The
world has moved on since then. But Wellhausen's was breakthrough analysis.
There is no going back to the seamless Mosaic text theories, just as there
is no going back to pre-Freudian mental times, turning one's back on

We know now however that hacking the texts up along a priori grounds like
JEPD is like performing brain surgery with a knife and fork. Just as the
tracks were formed by the developing brain in neuronal linkages based on
external stimuli, the fabric of the texts shows signs of ongoing
developments -- which no JEPD theory, working on the idea of a number of
discrete documentary inputs at different times with a little editorial
glue, can really ever deal with. 

An understanding of the documents will never be reached until their
relationships with other documents, both in the Jewish and larger context,
has been ascertained. What is the relationship between Genesis and
Jubilees, as well as with the Genesis Apocryphon, or even the Josephus
Genesis type narrative? The relationships are in no way simple. No one
document comes out as a clear source. It is only through tradition that one
specific understanding has dominated for centuries -- the assumption that
Genesis has priority. And what about Deuteronomy, which people assume is
later than the other books of the pentateuch because everyone assumes that
those other books were written before the time of Josiah and that
Deuteronomy was the book found by Hilkiah. How many assumptions are there
in order to make this thing work?

The documentary hypothesis liberated us from these necessary though
ultimately unsupportable received hypotheses and gave us the possibility of
new analyses. Have a look at Garbini, "History and Ideology in Ancient
Israel". Van Seters has done a lot of work on the Pentateuchal books. A few
of the more recent books from those naughty people from the cold north of

The current analyses of the archaeological evidence points to no evidence
whatsoever of a conquest, but more, there is a continuation of style of
artifacts with the reflowering of urban life of local populations in the
late bronze. This coupled with the conflict between the conquest
information and the archaeological information and the complete lack of
knowledge of the arrival of the various Sea Peoples in the early 12th
century, tells us that there aren't even *distant memories* from the period
covered by the pentateuchal books. We are dealing with literature written
long after the period. Yet we do find developments in the texts, especially
dealing with institutions. Deuteronomy is written without the context of an
Aaronid priesthood, though Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers is strongly
Aaronid. Aaron hardly appears in Deuteronomy. The sabbath only appears in
the ten commandments passage in Deuteronomy. The day of atonement doesn't
even appear in Deuteronomy. Movement usually goes from lack of something to
its presence: we know the Aaronid ascendency existed at the start of the
second century BCE. Was Deuteronomy written after the rise of the Aaronid

And what is the context for Deut28:68? What about 12:3 when considered with
Josh27:26b?! Don't these sorts of passages suggest their own late writing?
We have books that openly claim to cover a few hundred years (Isaiah for
example, from before Hezekiah's time down to Cyrus's time. Phrases like "to
this day" suggest that "this day" is long after the context of the
narrative. Names of God, as Wellhausen knew, tend to go in stripes through
texts: it is unlikely that the different stripes were written by the same
groups (it doesn't mean that stripes using the same name were written by
the same group though).

There is nothing to suggest in the texts that there were early compilations
of traditions as hypothesized by Wellhausen. His datings were all totally
arbitrary. But these things are old hat and only of interest for people who
are still struggling with the out-dated analyses as though these things
were evil novelties.



(Other matters to be dealt with when I've got time!)

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