[b-hebrew] Graf-Wellhausen discredited

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Dec 20 22:15:24 EST 2007

Dear Yitzhak, Bryant, et al:
This is getting beyond mere discussions of the issues, to advocacy. This is
not the advocacy of a certain understanding of the Hebrew language, rather
actual proselytism to an ideological position, or in more common terms,
proselytism to a faith or religion.

On Dec 20, 2007 3:37 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.

Bryant, while most of what you say is true, you have the cause and effect
turned around. As was shown in the PhD dissertation by the late Dr. Samuel
R. Külling, Zur Datierung der Genesis "P" Stücke in which he traced the
ideas and timeline of the Documentary Hypothesis from the earliest book he
found published in 1807 to his time of about 1970, the Documentary
Hypothesis was at its beginning to the present based on an a priori belief
in evolution, both biological and social. And with that belief came all the
other things that you mention, one of the results of that belief is the
Documentary Hypothesis.

So when you attack that faith, you have wandered off our agreed to
discussion area to a position of proselytism. And the reactions we are
seeing on this list are a result of people turning away from a discussion of
Hebrew to a defense of their faith.

> Truthfully, it is not accurate to say that the Documentary Hypothesis or
> "JEDP theory of Graf-Wellhausen" is discredited. …

How does one discredit a belief system based on faith?

> … Like all successful theories,
> it served as a basis for further refinements. …

Successful??? The only thing holding it up is an a priori belief in a
religion that denies the supernatural. It is that same religion that
maintains the theory of biological evolution despite its internal
contradictions. Without that religion, could the Documentary Hypothesis

> ..... 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. …

You were doing pretty well, until the last sentence. The Documentary
Hypothesis did not displace and discredit the earlier theory of Mosaic
authorship of the Pentateuch, rather it merely provided an intellectual fig
leaf to those who had already rejected the historical accuracy of the Bible,
both Old and New Testaments.

> … 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.…

If one does not accept the foundational beliefs that underlay the theory,
then the whole theory looks ludicrous. It becomes like a rooster crowing in
the evening, a lot of noise signifying nothing.

> … 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.…

Your impression is worth something, for it is accurate, but misplaced. The
reason it is misplaced is based on the answers to two questions: Who is an
evangelical? What is evangelical theology? At one time that referred to a
specific theology and to the people who held to those beliefs. But not any
more. Already when I was in college, my "evangelical" professors warned us
students against Robert Schuller as a heretic including the theological
reasons why, yet today both he and his student Rick Warren are touted as
"evangelical". The term "evangelical" has become meaningless.

> … 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.…

I see no contradictions between my beliefs and a critical study of
linguistics, history and archeology. Certain interpretations are over-hyped,
which are less convincing when examining original materials.

> … 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.

Nah, the Documentary Hypothesis will never be discredited. This is a
competition between two different fundamentalisms, and like any such
dispute, can never be resolved except by conversion. I provided the above
not to discredit the one

> Yitzhak Sapir
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