[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Thu Jun 3 16:24:07 EDT 2004


By the time Wellhausen or whomever made the claim that the book of the law that was found in the temple was Deuteronomy, he was working on seven decades (assuming this was the 1870s) of development on what became known as the JEPD theory.

I don’t see how it is defendable that it was the book of Deuteronomy. Why not another book? Why a book at all, having the story of the book of the law being found a later gloss to authenticate a recent composition as ancient by the same authors who penned Deuteronomy in the fifth century BC? When one has taken the à priori decision that Tanakh as a historical document is less trustworthy than the admittedly untrustworthy Egyptian records, then anything goes.

I am one of those who reject the JEPD theory. I view it as hopelessly compromised by its theological presuppositions. I get an impression of more than a whiff of anti-Semitism in its treating of ancient Jewish credulity in believing the accuracy of Tanakh’s historical claims, and in their simplicity of calling God by one term only until fairly late in their history when disparate elements were fused together to make what we have today.

By the time of Wellhausen and his collegues, the rather open admission of evolutionary presuppositions of the early 1800s had been replaced by supposed lines of cultural and linguistic development (Gesenius was a major figure here), though still based on the same presuppositions.

Who doubts the historicity of Thucidites record of the Peloponesian Wars? There is no archeological evidence to back his record up. It is the only record of those wars that we have. He did not write it as a history, rather as an analysis of what went on in their heads as the various parties fought the war. Or how about Xenephon’s Anabasis? That was published as a rollicking good tale.

So, unless there is good evidence that the records are untrustworthy (such as the ancient Egyptian practice of rewriting history to aggrandize the present ruling pharaoh, internal inconsistancies and/or conflicting reports from other sources), I tend within reason to assume that ancient records are basically trustworthy. That includes Tanakh. Philosophical presuppositions are not a valid reason to reject the historicity of the documents.

Furthermore, I percieve a pattern of linguistic development consistent with the claimed dates.

Karl W. Randolph. 

----- Original Message -----
From: Brian Roberts <formoria at carolina.rr.com>

> Absolutely not all agree with the Documentary Hypothesis.
> I've always been puzzled by the identification by JEDP backers of the 
> book of Deuteronomy as the "book of the law" found in the temple 
> disrepair. It hinges such a tremendously significant portion of an 
> already extremely hypothetical theory on an offhand remark in the 
> account of Josiah's reforms. And it does so without providing any real 
> reason to make that leap. It's as though someone (Wellshausen or 
> whomever) saw the verse and theorized that this "book of the law" could 
> be the very book I'm reading. Well, yes it could, but let's see how he 
> got from hypothesis to conclusion without anything in between.
> Can anyone offer any insight?
> Best Salaams,
> Brian Roberts
> On Wednesday, June 2, 2004, at 08:46  PM, George F. Somsel wrote:
> > Harold,
> >
> > At the risk of opening a can of worms, I think Peter and Uri were
> > referring to JEDP and the Documentary Hypothesis.  According to this
> > Deuteronomy was "found" in the temple and was the impetus for the
> > Josianic reforms.  It was, shall I say, an "occassional piece", i.e.
> > written for the occassion.  The histories were then written upon the
> > program of Deuteronomy with the centralized sanctuary, etc.
> >
> > What some say may not have been so that Uri referenced is that not all
> > agree to the Documentary Hypothesis.
> >
> > As regards your "the Bible tells me so" approach --
> >
> > "Things are not always as they seem.
> > Skim milk oft masquerades as cream."
> >
> > gfsomsel
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