[b-hebrew] Graf-Wellhausen discredited

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Fri Dec 21 07:32:14 EST 2007

On Dec 21, 2007 4:25 AM, Uri Hurwitz wrote:
> "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."
>        This is a long  and ailing sentence which suffers from syntactical
>   problems, and more seriously, from thematic ones.
>        Anyone with the slightests familiarity with archaeology  understands
>   that it can not be  "compatible' or "incompatibale" with a literary text. A
>   literary text does not require any "proof". Much was written about the
>   subject, but it is not within the scope of this list.
>       And moreover, the well known dictum: "Absence of Evidence, is
>   not Evidence of Absence" should always give one pause about
>   matters which did, or did not happen over three thousand years ago.
>       It was pointed out already, the historicity of Moses and matters of
>   faith are also outside the scope of this list.

Hello Uri,

I agree that the above sentence is problematic.  There should be an "is"
before "with our modern knowledge".  I probably would have rephrased the
entire sentence if I noticed it.  I note that your post has its problems too,
including misspelling one word in a quote of me that I spelled correctly.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but it is not evidence at
all.  Scientific conclusions, historical and otherwise, must be based
on evidence
alone.  This can take many forms -- including educated reconstructions --
but some evidence must form the basis for our conclusions.  I expect Karl
might dislike this concept, but he has a unique interpretation of evidence
that is not shared by anyone in the scientific community, and here I am
talking about scientific conclusions, not Karl's point of view.

In any case, a literary text cannot be proven or not proven, as you say.
However, I did not claim that a literary text is unproven -- I claimed
that Mosaic
authorship is incompatible with various evidence.  Mosaic authorship is not a
literary text but a claim about a literary text.  Any claim about a
literary text
ought to be supported by evidence, regardless of whether it is or is not in the
scope of the list.  Mosaic authorship involves additional claims such as the
historicity of Moses and the Exodus, on which see the recent publication,
"The Quest for the Historical Israel," by Mazar and Finkelstein.

Yitzhak Sapir

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