JEPD Evidence

peter_kirk at sil.org peter_kirk at sil.org
Sun Dec 19 01:00:05 EST 1999


Thank you, Jonathan, for your detailed answer. I could ask, how many 
stone tablets of existing sources was Moses able to carry up to the 
mountain top? But I think this deserves a less tongue in cheek answer 
this time. So see some comments below.

Peter Kirk


______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[2]: JEPD Evidence
Author:  <jonathan.bailey at gmx.de> at Internet
Date:    18/12/1999 17:21


---------- 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 M
oses
was just putting together toldot accounts, but this particular toldot account wa
s itself
a conflation of sources. Then, if Moses was redacting conservatively, he would n
ot
dare mess with the content of the text to make it prettier or more logical. At a
ny rate,
the text as it stands is quite beautiful, and the repititions of God's declarati
on of
Judgment (and its cause) are each different in style, and tell a much fuller sto
ry when
read next to its partner, even giving the story a sort of rhythm, and so if Mose
s
inherited a conflated text, then the initial conflator knew what he was doing, a
nd 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 
schizzophrenic.

PK: If the text as it stands is beautiful, surely it is more likely 
that this beauty a deliberate composition rather than an accident from 
the composition of sources which "Moses" did not dare to alter? Now a 
brilliant author could make beauty out of a patchwork of lesser 
beauty, but such arguments without evidence are at risk from Occam's 
Razor.

And we may find ways to explain away doublets in scripture, but it will take hun
dreds
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 f
or 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 tw
os",
"there are hidden spiritual pearls in there", "it is a literary device", etc. bu
t 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 dou
blets in
scripture are a result of source material.

PK: I have never wanted to disallow various sources as one possibility 
amongst others. But really, are there so many hundreds of doublets 
that they require hundreds of explanations?

<snip - no further comment re toldot formulae>

>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...

PK: Sorry, I should have made it clearer that this point was intended 
as a rebuttal of others e.g. Noel.

<snip>

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 int
erpreted
as evidence that sources were involved. The evidence is this: If one is not prep
ared to
believe that Genesis was in fact revealed by God on Sinai in a cloud of smoke an
d 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 th
e 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 e
vidence
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 t
he Sinai
theory, this is pretty convincing evidence for sources. Now, I have mentioned be
fore
that I DO subscribe to some version of the Sinai story, but even those who do jo
in me
in that endeavor are then faced with the fact that God either left mankind in th
e dark
until the moment of Sinai, or He had provided mankind from the very beginning wi
th
accounts about where he came from and where he was going, either through inspiri
ng
the men of old to write and redact them, or through previous acts of miraculous

intervention.

PK: You are trying to shoot down a straw man. I never suggested that 
the author was working without sources in terms of historical 
traditions. I am rather countering the view that the Pentateuch is a 
patchwork compilation of pre-existing written documents. No doubt 
Moses or whoever drew on whatever historical traditions, even written 
documents, he had in his possession (there is even a named source in 
Numbers 21:14). But I am yet to be convinced that the words which we 
have now are not those of a single author.

<snip>




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list