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

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Dec 24 11:17:10 EST 2004

On 24/12/2004 15:39, Heard, Christopher wrote:

> ...
>Peter (et al.), at most such claims are claims to authorship of substantial
>source material for the canonical books. To cite but three examples:
>(1) Jeremiah 36 describes Jeremiah dictating to Baruch a scroll recording
>Jeremiah's preaching from the days of Josiah until the fourth year of
>Jehoiakim. This could constitute a claim to Jeremianic authorship of
>something like a "first edition" of the book of Jeremiah (probably best to
>think in terms of a "rolling corpus," but this might be what "gets the ball
>rolling") with Jeremiah as its author and Baruch as his amanuensis. However,
>this claim of Jeremianic authorship for that early scroll, and its expanded
>replacement at the end of the chapter, does not constitute a claim of
>Jeremianic authorship for the entire canonical book of Jeremiah, nor even
>for chapter 36 itself, where the story of the scroll is told.

OK. Remember that I always said that there was significant redaction 
after the initial composition. The concept of authorship, in the modern 
sense, doesn't really apply to books which are largely compilations of 
the written and spoken words of others. Indeed it doesn't in the modern 
sense, because the compiler of such a collection of miscellaneous 
writings and speeches in modern times would be called an editor rather 
than an author, and the original writer or speaker would often be 
credited as the author.

>(2) Like the book of Jeremiah, the book of Isaiah includes first-person
>prophetic narratives reasonably considered Isaianic in authorship, but by
>the same token includes third-person narratives more naturally assigned to a
>different author (perhaps a follower/student/disciple or admirer of some
>kind). Thus, "In the year that King Uzziah died, _I_ saw the LORD ..." (Isa
>6), but "In the days of Ahaz ... the LORD said _to Isaiah_ ..." (Isa 7:1,
>3), but "Then the LORD said to me, take a tablet ..." (Isa 8:1), and so
>forth. To claim that Isaiah 6 and 8 were written by Isaiah, or at least
>heavily based on some sort of Isaiah memoir, is reasonable, but the claim
>does not so reasonably transfer to Isaiah 7, or to the entire canonical

I never said that this applied to any whole canonical book, only to 
substantial parts of books. Many of the prophetic books contain 
substantial segments of third person narrative, e.g. Isaiah 7, for which 
there is no clear authorship claim. Each of them except Jonah also 
contains substantial segments which are speeches, letters etc attributed 
to the named prophet. That is an authorship claim for those segments of 
the book. These were presumably sources later incorporated into the book 
as we have it by a usually anonymous editor or editors.

>(3) The Torah narrates some writing activity on Moses' part, for example,
>"carving" the Ten Words into stone (I'm talking about the _second_
>decalogue, of course, see Exod 34:28), or a brief oracle against Amalek
>(Exod 17:14). But the claim that Moses wrote (down) the (second) decalogue
>or the Amalek oracle does not immediately transfer into a claim that Moses
>wrote down the stories about him writing the decalogue or the Amalek oracle.

I did not say that Moses wrote anything down. Authorship does not depend 
on writing something down. Many authors through the ages have dictated 
their material to others. Many books which are attributed to authors 
were in fact originally spoken material transcribed by others - for 
example, many popular theological works based on sermon series. It is in 
this sense that I suggested that much of Deuteronomy claims to be 
authored by Moses.

>My point is simply that attributions of writing activity within a biblical
>book to its "title character" or major character often constitute claims to
>that person's authorship of _some_ of the books contents or sources, but
>_not_ to authorship (or redaction or whatever you want to call it) of the
>biblical book itself.
I was explicitly distinguishing authorship from redaction. But the whole 
issue is of course a complex one.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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