JEPD Evidence

Alviero Niccacci sbfnet at
Wed Dec 22 03:40:25 EST 1999

Dear list-members,

A long and learned discussion is going on concerning the Documentary 
Hypothesis and the literary status of some Biblical narratives. I 
would again point out the importance of a correct reading of the 
texts from a grammatical and syntactical perspective.
Despite the fact that strong disagreemnt reigns among us about the BH 
verbal system, I will try to make my point as clear as possible.

1) As was repeatedly mentioned by different contributors, doublets 
are one the main arguments of the DocHyp. Another are presumed 
disruptions in the flow of the narrative, harshness, if not errors, 
in grammar and syntax, and so on. The problem is of course how much 
we understand BH and the way ancient narrative style proceedes.

	I have tested my understanding of the BH verb system in the 
analysis of the Flood narrative (Gen 6:9-8:22), which is a corner 
stone of the DocHyp. The essay was published in the annual of my 
Institution _Liber Annuus_  44 (1994)  9-46 (in Italian; in English 
its title reads: *Flood, Syntax and Method*; an English abstract is 
found at the end of the volume).

	Specifically, I have tried to show that in Gen 7:6-8:5, which 
is the most repetitious and controverted passage of the whole 
narrative, we find an alternation of verbal sentences (with narrative 
wayyiqtol) and nonverbal sentences (among which I include x-qatal in 
historical narrative). The verbal sentences push forward the mainline 
of the narrative while the nonverbal sentences convey different 
specifications to the historical information conveyed by narrative 
	At the beginning of a text, the nonverbal sentences convey 
antecedent information, or setting of the story, while in the course 
of the narrative they convey background specifications related to a 
previous narrative wayyiqtol.
	If we designate with SE the setting sentences, with NA the 
narrative wayyiqtol and with SPE the background spefifications (with 
non-wayyiqtol sentences), we get the following picture (for a 
complete description see pages 36 ff. of _Liber Annuus_ 1994):

	SE Gen 7:6; NA 7:7; SPE 7:8-9; NA 7:10; SPE 7:11; NA 7:12; 
SPE 7:13-14; NA 7:15; SPE 7:16a; NA 7:16b-18; SPE 7:19-20; NA 7:21; 
SPE 7:22; NA 7: 23a; SPE 7:23b; NA 7:23c-8:4; SPE 8:5; NA 8:6, etc.

	It seems that alternating between NA and SPE is a 
characteritic of that narrative throughout.
	A question then arises, Are these repetitions, or doublets in 
the literary-critic sense? Indeed they are repetitions; however these 
repetitions are conveyed with a different verbform (and also with 
variant expressions that need to be interpreted).  If , as I believe, 
the different verforms play different functions in the narrative, the 
answer to the above question is no. They are not real repetitions, or 

	From this fact one should not draw a quick refusal of the 
DocHyp. We should rather keep the literary texture of the narrative 
distinct from possible, older sources (or traditions) that may have 
been used by the author of the final text. Indeed, I believe that we 
are entitled to speak of an AUTHOR who wrote a coherent and meningful 
narrative. If this is correct, the DocHyp needs refine its criteria 
and try to better evaluate the text as a coherent unit, and used 
these findings as a controlling factor.

	BTW, the presumed chronological inconsistencies of the text 
have been interpreted by traditional Jewish exegetes both ancient and 
modern (see, e.g. U. Cassuto) in the framework of a complete solar 
year (i.e. a lunar year plus 11 additional days). Also a few modern 
authors warn from a quick dismissal of the chronological indications 
of the text.

2) I also have treated another major text scrutinized by the DocHyp, 
i.e. Exod 19-24, along similar lines. A complete analysis of these 
chapters is found in Ellen van Wolde (ed.), _Narrative Syntax & the 
Hebrew Bible, etc._ Brill  1997, 203-228 (in English).

Peace and all good.

Alviero Niccacci

Studium Biblicum Franciscanum      Tel. +972 - 2 - 6282 936
POB 19424 - 91193 - Jerusalem      Fax  +972 - 2 - 6264 519
Home Page:
Email  mailto:sbfnet at

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list