sbfnet at netvision.net.il
Wed Dec 22 03:40:25 EST 1999
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.
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