Methods in biblical scholarship

Niels Peter Lemche npl at
Fri Dec 24 04:23:18 EST 1999

Trying to get the 'subject' right.

> From:	peter_kirk at [SMTP:peter_kirk at]

> To oversimplify, there are three main hypotheses around for the 
> composition of the bulk of the Hebrew Bible as we know it:
> 1) The Copenhagen approach, if I may correctly so call it, that most 
> was written in the 2nd century BCE, or not long before;
> 2) The traditional scholarly approach of dating books over a range 
> from roughly the 8th to the 4th century;
> 3) The evangelical approach, attributing the Pentateuch to Moses and 
> dating other books as more-or-less contemporary records.
> Approach 2) has been rightly criticised as lacking real evidence. 
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	Just the case that proposal cover more than 500 years (as a matter
of fact from 10th century BCE to 4th or 3rd centirues BCE) tells us that
there is no hard evidence available. The tendency has been also outside of
my circle to downdate to the exilic post-exilic periods. This may because of
lack of hard data change tomorrow, as it has done before.
> The 
> problem to me is that I have not seen any real evidence for approach 
> 1) (but then I have not read your books, I am afraid). 
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	The hard data is first of all the age of the oldest manuscript, the
discovery (not really new) that the text tradition was not finally settled
in the 1st century BCE (DSS evidence). More recently we have started asking
questions about what I call the profile of the authors of biblical
literature: What did they know, what stuff did they use, and does this say
anything about their education or place of living?

> I know that 
> approach 3) cannot be proved, but at least it has the possible 
> evidence of the self-attribution of the books and of ancient 
> tradition, and also some support from the archaeological record 
> (although that is of course also dubious). So I see no good reason to 
> abandon approach 3), though I have to admit that one reason for 
> preferring it is the presuppositions of my personal faith.
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  
	Right, there is no other defense of such a view than personal

> Peter Kirk
	[Niels Peter Lemche]  And a merry Christmas to you people


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