SV: abraham and jacob

Thomas L. Thompson tlt at
Thu Jun 17 09:52:36 EDT 1999

> 	It is a commonplace of biblical studies that cranks crank out books
> every year. Newspapers help sell them and the gullible buy them. This
> entire industry is a plague on our field. In Denmark, we are just
> beginning to suffer the publication of a five volume work which dates
> Moses' birth to Feb 8, 1534 bce. A "great" newspaper -- Berlinske Tidende
> -- gives it a full page very positive spread and semitic philologists
> remind us of the roots of this discipline by talking about such a silly
> book as "establishing new standards" for the field and of the publication
> as a whole as "epoch making".  I fear that it will take me the rest of the
> summer to try to forget this cold dose of reality. 
> 	As such fanfare is an every day occurrence in our field, I have
> great sympathy for impatient colleagues who use language unbecoming an
> academic. Nevertheless, let civility prevail and let us continue to search
> for more tolerant ways of scolding effectively.
> 	By the way: Abe's 175 years is old hat and to be read within a
> chronological scheme of significance for the reception of the text. Read
> your Wellhausen (Prolegomena, p. 308). Or if some of your libraries don't
> reach back so far, see my Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives
> (1974), pp. 13-15.
> 	Thomas
> 	Thomas L. Thompson
> 	Professor, University of Copenhagen
> 		----------
> 		Fra: 	Jim West[SMTP:jwest at]
> 		Svar til: 	Jim West
> 		Sendt: 	17. juni 1999 00:26
> 		Til: 	Biblical Hebrew
> 		Cc: 	b-hebrew at
> 		Emne: 	Re: abraham and jacob
> 		At 02:23 PM 6/16/99 -0700, you wrote:
> 		>I wouldn't be so hasty to dismiss it, though-- yes, of
> course, 175 is
> 		>5x35 as well as 5x5x7.  It is also 25x7.  That's one of the
> things
> 		>that makes this kind of study frustrating-- which set of
> numbers
> 		>should you use?  Were there rules, for example, that only
> prime
> 		>factors should be used, as here?  And are such devices
> purely
> 		>mnemonic, or do they fit into some larger pattern?  And
> where would we
> 		>look for the key to those patterns?  Again, are there
> rules?  
> 		All of these questions are legitimate.  Still, the purpose
> and goal of
> 		biblical studies is to answer questions raised by the text
> itself- or so at
> 		least that is how I practice the art/science.  I also
> presuppose that a
> 		theory or method that raises more questions than it answers
> is not useful as
> 		a method.  That is, in essence, the problem I have with the
> whole number
> 		thing as you have so eloquently described it.  It solves
> nothing and raises
> 		issues that cannot be solved.  For that reason it seems to
> me that it
> 		excludes itself as a viable method.
> 		Am I missing something?
> 		thanks,
> 		Jim
> 		+++++++++++++++++++++++++
> 		Jim West, ThD
> 		email- jwest at
> 		web page-
> 		---
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