JEPD Evidence

Jonathan Bailey jonathan.bailey at
Sat Dec 18 11:21:55 EST 1999

---------- Original Message ----------

>POINT 1: So are you saying that Moses (or whoever) was such a careless 
>editor that he just didn't notice that he had left doublets in his 
>text, even when they were as close together as Genesis 6:2 and 4? And 
>despite that he managed to produce such a brilliant literary work? 
>Talk about schizophrenic authors! OK, I admit that the rather odd 
>structure of this passage needs explaining, but I expect there are 
>other ways to do that e.g. by interpreting 'ASHER in 6:4 to mean 
>something like "as a result of".

No, I am saying Moses (or whoever) did indeed notice that his finished text had 
doublets, and liked his text that way, as it best preserved his sources. Now we also 
have to look at the possibility of sources that are also compilations. Perhaps Moses 
was just putting together toldot accounts, but this particular toldot account was itself 
a conflation of sources. Then, if Moses was redacting conservatively, he would not 
dare mess with the content of the text to make it prettier or more logical. At any rate, 
the text as it stands is quite beautiful, and the repititions of God's declaration of 
Judgment (and its cause) are each different in style, and tell a much fuller story when 
read next to its partner, even giving the story a sort of rhythm, and so if Moses 
inherited a conflated text, then the initial conflator knew what he was doing, and if 
Moses himself did the deed, then he produced a great text in so doing. Neither 
redaction scenario demands that Moses or his predecessors be blind or 

And we may find ways to explain away doublets in scripture, but it will take hundreds 
of explanations to get them all. Now I understand that explaining them all as 
multiplicity in sources is ludicrous, and this has been my charge against JEPD for the 
longest. But to allow this huge variety of explanations for the great number of doublets 
in scripture, ranging from "they aren't really doublets", "God does things in twos", 
"there are hidden spiritual pearls in there", "it is a literary device", etc. but not to allow 
the fairly innocuous possibility of "various sources were involved" seems to me to be 
biased thinking. It is highly probable that at least a small fraction of the doublets in 
scripture are a result of source material.

>POINT 2: As for the divisions by the "toldot" formula, is it evidence 
>of the multiple authorship of this E-mail (before the "Reply 
>Separator"!) that there is a repeated formulaic heading "POINT n"?

It is evidence that can be interpreted as a thematic division or as a redactionary 
division. My interpretation is that it signals a source, but it must not be interpret this 
way. My interpretation rests on the fact that separate thematic units are not always 
signalled by toldots. There is not a toldot between the account of the creation of the 
garden and the temptation of Eve. There are many changes of style and theme where 
there are no toldots.

My statement about topologically complete toldot accounts does not mean that I 
believe that each one is restricted to one topic. All I am saying is that each account 
CAN be read as a separate piece of literature, albiet some are merely geneologies.

>POINT 3 (relevant to some other recent postings): Is it evidence that 
>a different Peter Kirk wrote this E-mail that I am adopting a 
>tongue-in-cheek combative style for this one rather than the more 
>academic style of some of my other recent postings?

I made no statement about changes in style being evidence of redaction, and I am not 
sure if you are rebutting me or someone else. Anyway, I merely spoke of toldots and 
doublets. I agree that authors can change styles, and do so both voluntarily for literary 
effect, and involuntarily as they write their compositions over long periods of time or in 
varied circumstances. I even dare to believe that Mark 16:9-20 is original.

Now I do have one more piece of evidence to add. As the others, it is not meant to be 
some sort of absolute proof, but rather be a fact that lends itself to being interpreted 
as evidence that sources were involved. The evidence is this: If one is not prepared to 
believe that Genesis was in fact revealed by God on Sinai in a cloud of smoke and fire, 
then to assume that one man, even from an advanced middle eastern civilization, 
could write a history of the entire world which has even some degree of accuracy, and 
has not to this day been proven untrue or mythical by modern science, without the aid 
of any sort of source material from people who were close to the actual event is 
absolutely ludicrous. The fact that Genesis is the literary work that it is is evidence 
that it was either handed down by God, or that Moses (or whoever) was inhumanly 
brilliant, or that there was source material involved. For those who don't buy the Sinai 
theory, this is pretty convincing evidence for sources. Now, I have mentioned before 
that I DO subscribe to some version of the Sinai story, but even those who do join me 
in that endeavor are then faced with the fact that God either left mankind in the dark 
until the moment of Sinai, or He had provided mankind from the very beginning with 
accounts about where he came from and where he was going, either through inspiring 
the men of old to write and redact them, or through previous acts of miraculous 

So from either world view (secular or fundamentalist), the existence of previous 
sources is almost mandated, and in the former, their use is almost certain, while in 
the latter, their use is a logical conclusion, particularly if one assumes that God and 
Moses wanted to maintain continuity with previous stages of revelation.

Now please understand, I do not aim to do anything other than convince people that 
Genesis came from Moses on Sinai under God's direction. I am just saying that there 
was some redaction and compiling of pre-existing sources up on that mountain top.

Jonathan Bailey
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien

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