[b-hebrew] logograms--an ode to Hebrew

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Thu Dec 23 11:20:58 EST 2004

On 12/22/04 9:47 PM, "Karl Randolph" <kwrandolph at email.com> wrote:
> I have heard twice, in lectures, not written, that Genesis
> preserves indications that it is a collection of older writings,
> including sources that were ante-diluvian. Assuming that this
> assertion is correct (even if just to play the devil's advocate),

I would like to hear the _evidence_ for these assertions, especially the
"antediluvian" part. Of course the entire classical source-critical
enterprise is founded on the concept that Genesis is indeed a collection of
older writings, but not by any stretch antediluvian. If anything, the
presence of anachronisms in the text (e.g., place-names not otherwise
demonstrably in use until the Iron Age, references to kings of Edom and
Israel, etc.) indicates that the book of Genesis is much _younger_ than its
contents and even than Moses.

> the question is, did Moses translate these documents into the
> Hebrew of his time, or did he merely collect and edit the documents
> to make Genesis? If the latter, then Genesis indicates that Hebrew
> is the oldest language on earth. If the former, then we can't tell
> which was the original language. (A third option, one which is
> unhistorical and equally philosophical, says that Genesis was
> written far later than its claimed authorship.)

The idea that Genesis was written rather later than Moses' day is based on
_internal evidence_, that is, data drawn directly from the text itself.
Also, comparing the Gezer calendar with the text of Samuel-Kings with the
text of Ezra-Nehemiah with the DSS with the Mishnah demonstrates
incontrovertibly that Hebrew changed over time like all living languages. If
Moses "collected" older documents to create Genesis, they were amazingly
written in Hebrew as written in Iron II. If Moses "updated" older documents
to "the Hebrew of his day," he overshot the mark and "updated" them to Iron
II Hebrew. Is it really plausible to believe that Hebrew changed _less_ from
Moses' day to Josiah's than from Josiah's to Nehemiah's?

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Armstrong Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University

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