[b-hebrew] Documentary Hypothesis - The Real Deal

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at beitberl.ac.il
Sat Jun 5 15:00:08 EDT 2004

There have been several studies in which plausible alternatives were
presented for the Documentary Hypothesis in analyzing various sections of
the Pentateuch.

For example, Donald B. Redford, in his 1970 study of the Joseph Narrative
(SVT 20), concluded that the narrative was composed of two editions, not
sources, and had been added in its entirety to Genesis by the redactor to
provide an account of the descent to Egypt. To this original narrative,
which had no connection with the Patriarchal Narratives and even
contradicted them somewhat, the redactor added various sections which suited
his editorial plan of Genesis, such as Gen. 38, the Story of Judah and
Tamar, which describes how two more families were added to the tribe of
Judah, or the revelation of God to Jacob at Beer-Sheba on his way to Egypt
(Gen. 46), a section which is written in the style of Gen. 12-36 and not of
Gen. 37-50 - revelation of God in a dream, instead of the Joseph Narrative's
God who acts behind the scenes.. These redactorial additions, according to
Redford, had nothing to do with any of the accepted Documents.
In his literary analysis of the Joseph Narrative, Redford was following in
the footsteps of Gunkel's Introduction to Genesis and
von Rad's study of the Narrative, only he went one step further and did away
with the Sources.

Another such study is Alexander Rofe's 1978 The Book of Balaam [Hebrew], in
which he claims that the Balaam Narrative was originally a unified narrative
to which various additions have been made.
Following Rofe, I published an article (VT 1988) in which I demonstrated
that the Tale of Balaam's Ass (Num. 22:22-35), which is a later
interpolation into the Balaam Narrative, is a "reflection story" of the
Akedah, the Bindng of Isaac.

Baruch Levine, in his recent commentary to Numbers (Anchor Bible), claims
that my argument is "not convincing".
Trouble is, he neglected to point out exactly why my argument is "not
I must therefore conclude that his rejection of my cargument is "not convinc

In any case, such studies lead me to the conclusion that the Documentary
Hypothesis in its classical Wellhausenian form is outdated and must be
Jonathan D. Safren, Editor
Mo'ed - Annual for Jewish Studies
Center for Jewish Culture
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office
44905 Israel
Tel. 972-9-7476396
Fax 972-9-7475397
e-mail: moed at beitberl.ac.il

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <david.kimbrough at charter.net>
To: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>;
<b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Saturday, June 05, 2004 7:12 PM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Documentary Hypothesis - The Real Deal

> Hello,
> As I stated several times, it is not my intent to either attack or defend
the DH.  I was concerned that the content of the DH was being caricatured.
If one wishes to dismiss the DH, go for it.  However what I saw in the
thread was a gross simplification of the DH based on one book whose subject
was not the DH per se.  It is easy to disprove a straw man version of the
DH.  The DH is a theory (no has every found a J or E document) but one that
is both very sophisticated and complex and based on the actual text of the
Pentateuch.  Of course, being sophisticated, complex, or textually based
does not make it true but it does mean that it cannot be blithely dismissed
with a wave of the hand (or a tap on the keyboard).  If someone wants to
attack the DH, attack the actual DH, not a caricature of it.
> >
> > From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
> > Date: 2004/06/05 Sat PM 04:21:08 GMT
> > To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Documentary Hypothesis - Just a Bit More
> >
> > Dear Karl,
> >
> > >The problem with DH is: unless one already
> > >possesses the sources, any attempt to
> > >reconstruct hypothesized sources from a
> > >"daughter" document cannot help but be
> > >artificial with a high probability of being
> > >wrong. The division along postulated differences
> > >in theology or style is no less artificial than
> > >according to how God is addressed.
> > >
> > >For example, years ago when I read a splitting
> > >apart of the story of the flood into J and E
> > >sources, I was struck by how strange and
> > >disjointed the stories were (to use your words).
> > >But as a whole, it fits together perfectly,
> > >albeit with a certain amount of redundancy not
> > >uncommon in other narratives.
> > >
> > >In closing, until a copy of one of these sources
> > >in Hebrew is found, it seems best to limit our
> > >discussion to the documents that we have.
> >
> > HH: One argument presented to us in seminary was
> > a listing of DH schemes for dividing the biblical
> > text that have arisen over the years. I believe
> > the number was over thirty in the grouping we
> > considered, and none of them agreed. The
> > Documentary Hypothesis is just something else
> > that diverts one's attention from what the Bible
> > is saying when it is read correctly in the form
> > in which it was intended to be read.
> >
> > Yours,
> > Harold Holmyard
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > b-hebrew mailing list
> > b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> > http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
> >
> David Kimbrough
> San Gabriel
> _______________________________________________
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