JEPD Evidence

Jonathan Bailey jonathan.bailey at
Sat Dec 18 18:05:44 EST 1999

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

>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.

Naturally it depends on what sort of stone (or clay) he was carrying.

>Peter Kirk

>______________________________ Reply Separator 
>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 

They are not without evidence. We have doublets, we have toldots, we have a text 
that would be hard to think up, and plausible scenarios for redaction as opposed to 
free composition, such as conservatism in transmission of scripture. So what I am 
saying is the text is a little wierd, and it is easy to imagine why it would be redacted 
instead of totally made anew. Now I realize all of this falls pitifully short of proof, but I 
think proof is something we are never likely to get in this business. Anyway, I am not 
saying redaction is a definite, but it is certainly not skating on Occam's razor. A 
conservatively redacted text can turn out to be beautiful, particularly (let me throw a 
little religion in here) if it is guided by the Holy Spirit.

After all, since we are talking about the word of God here, we might want to allow for 
the possibility that it actually is the word of God, which would merit it a little 
uniqueness in terms of its history.

And while we're at it, I suggest to those who find the mentioning of religious world 
views an intolerable component of their research choose not to devote their lives to 
the study of THE HOLY BIBLE. Anyway, I can't figure out what's more religious: 
religion or religionsgeschichte.

>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?

Well, there are enough to presume that sources is a worthy explanation for some of 

>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.

Well, you have a point. I gave you my evidences in about a great amount of detail as 
possible without sounding like Ian. That you are unconvinced doesn't suprise me. I, for 
that matter, have not been disuaded from believing that Moses brougt the thing down 
from Mt Sinai depite a hundred years of Wellhausen. It just goes to show you what we 
are dealing with here. But the thing may well have been authored as opposed to being 
redacted. I looked into the idea of redaction because the idea of opening up my Biblia 
Hebraica and reading the only slightly altered (or translated) words of ADAM, or NOAH 
can be a real boost to one's faith, as well as help fight off the secular world's notion 
that the truth of the bible is just some poor clone of earlier pagan concepts.

So getting excited about the idea, I look and see toldots that build independant 
compositions, notice that redaction can account for odd textual structures, find that 
redactions were known to occur in ancient texts, and so find that a redactional 
composition of Genesis is plausible, if not a good probability. But I would not for a 
moment entertain the idea that this would convince anyone who was not already 
friendly to the idea. I think you will find that when it comes to the generation of the 
biblical texts, it is suprisingly easy to remain convinced of just about anything you 
want. If you are setting your hopes on being convinced that one author for Genesis is 
not a possibility, then you will probably have a tough time. That position was the 
dominant one for several thousand years, and still enjoys great popularity, if not 
among modern western bible scholars.

Jonathan Bailey
Hochschule für Jüdische Studien

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