[b-hebrew] Graf-Wellhausen discredited

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 18:37:59 EST 2007

On Dec 19, 2007 5:07 PM, Bryant J. Williams III wrote:

> The main reasons for the lack of scholars for not recognizing the puns in much
> of the Tanakh especially the Torah of Moses is the adherence to the discredited
> JEDP theory of Graf-Wellhausen, anti-Semitism and theology [especially with
> revised Gnosticism and its use of allegorical interpretation,
> anti-intellectualism, anti-Semitism, antinomianism/asceticism (depends on the
> branch of Gnosticism) or amoralism; sounds like post-modernism (?)]. Let's face
> it, most of the time the assumptions of scholars is not even questioned
> especially the assumption that if it the Biblical text is speaking of theology
> then it is NOT historical, scientific, etc.

Truthfully, it is not accurate to say that the Documentary Hypothesis or
"JEDP theory of Graf-Wellhausen" is discredited.  Like all successful theories,
it served as a basis for further refinements.  Today, some scholars
(for example,
Van Seters) have questioned the basics of the documentary hypothesis,
suggesting that Wellhausen dated the authors too early, and that we can't
speak of a redaction process in those times.  Be that as it may, most scholars
still accept in large part Wellhausen's dates, or otherwise the dates of some
theory based on Wellhausen's hypothesis, and also accept the redaction
concept that is the basis of the theory.  They may quibble over details, but
that does not mean, even accepting Van Seters view, that the theory is
discredited -- at least not until such views hold as much a consensus as the
documentary hypothesis holds today, taking into account all its various forms.
In the end, the only way the documentary hypothesis will be "discredited" is
by a better theory with more explanatory power.  This is how it displaced and
discredited the earlier theory of Mosaic authorship even at a time when
scholars did not have the archaeological insights that we have today and
which inform us how totally incompatible the Mosaic authorship theory with
our modern knowledge of archaeology and linguistics.  Together, it all these
convinced everyone but small groups of fundamentalists and religious groups
who could never accept Wellhausen's theory in the first place because it
conflicted with their beliefs.  My impression (for all its worth) is
that even some
of the more critical evangelical scholars realize the inherent contradictions,
problems and inconsistencies that mosaic authorship has from literary,
archaeological and linguistic points of view, and even employ some of the
documentary hypothesis' methods and conclusions.  At best, and I suppose this
does not go for all evangelical scholars, my impression is that they recognize
that their beliefs are inconsistent and maintain their beliefs while
realizing the
contradictions.  It shows how powerful a good explanatory theory can be, and
when a new theory is proposed that will discredit the documentary hypothesis
the way the documentary hypothesis discredited mosaic authorship, then it
can be considered discredited.

Yitzhak Sapir

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