[b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics

david.kimbrough at charter.net david.kimbrough at charter.net
Thu Jun 3 19:38:41 EDT 2004

Just a few notes on the Documentary Hypothesis (DH).

1) Is it really so hard to change the Subject Line?  This thread stopped discussing exodus some time ago.

2) The DH does not hinge on the "Book of the Law" found during Josiah's reign being Deuteronomy and visa versa.  

3) I do not believe anyone claims that they have "proven" that Josiah's book is Deuteronomy, only that the reforms of Josiah bare a striking resemblence to the practices advocated in Deutronomy, such as the destruction of the "High Places".  The scholars who advocate this position may be wrong, (I was not presonnaly present when the "Book of the Law" found so I certainly don't know),  but they made detailed arguments as to why.

4) Wellshausen did not originate the DH, the first writer on the subject advanced a "two book" hypothesis over 100 years before Wellshausen was active.  There was long tradition of scholarly work preceeding Wellshausen's work and of course, long after.  Wellshausen brought together the work many previous scholars and presented in a systematic fashion.

5) A way to "test" the DH is quite simple. Take the story of Noah.  Take the portions that use the name Elohim, pull them out, and line them up.  Take the remaining portions, which will only have the name Yahweh in them, pull them out, and line them up. What you will get is two entirely complete but different versions of the same story.  How many other stories in world literature can you do something like that?  

6) The DH may well be wrong.  The Pentateuch may well have been writen or dictated by one individual (the DH only applies to the Pentateuch).  However, the writers who developed and advanced this hypothesis over the last 250 years were not fools either.  Friedman's book can serve as an introduction to the topic but the DH is not the focus of the book per se, he was more concerned with who J, E, D, and P were than making the case for the DH (although the issues are obviously linked).  The long and extensive work of these scholars cannot assessed and dismissed after reading just one book.

> From: Brian Roberts <formoria at carolina.rr.com>
> Date: 2004/06/03 Thu PM 08:51:05 GMT
> To: Karl Randolph <kwrandolph at Email.com>
> CC: Hebrew <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] exodus, dating of linguistics
> Karl,
> Your position seems intellectually fair and honest to me.
> There are several points last Fall during my read of Richard Eliott 
> Friedman's "Who Wrote the Bible?" where I was overcome with incredulity. 
> It was my first in-depth introduction to the DH (beyond Tullock's "The 
> Old Testament Story" back in college), and I'm certain that there are 
> many more explanations available than he was able to fit in those pages. 
> Yet, as highly regarded a scholar as he is, I imagine that his summaries 
> are accurate. Reading Friedman's history of the DH, I was struck by a 
> sense of artificial convenience. Identifying the "Book of the Law" with 
> Deuteronomy feels like an artifice. So does the idea of separating the 
> texts into YHWH and Elohim threads. Further splitting those threads into 
> Priestly and Redactor sub-threads (as Friedman did) seems impossibly 
> hypothetical and impossible to verify.
> A convenient artifice upon which to refute any theory which purports to 
> take the Hebrew Bible at more or less face value.
> Best Salaams,
> Brian Roberts
> On Thursday, June 3, 2004, at 04:24  PM, Karl Randolph wrote:
> > Brian:
> >
> > 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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David Kimbrough
San Gabriel

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