[b-hebrew] Wellhausen JEPD Theory re Patriarchal Narratives

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Dec 24 13:42:43 EST 2007

On Dec 24, 2007 6:39 PM,  Jim Stinehart wrote:
> Yitzhak Sapir:
> 1.  Mr. Wellhausen himself knew nothing about the secular history of the
> mid-14th century BCE.  Mr. Wellhausen thought that the Hittites were fictitious.
> Mr. Wellhausen knew little or nothing about the Hurrians, the Amarna Letters,
> the Decapitation of the Shechem Offensive in the mid-14th century BCE, or the
> iniquity of the Amorites in the mid-14th century BCE, when the Amorites
> iniquitously sold out northern Lebanon and the west coast of Syria to the dreaded
> Hittites.  Mr. Wellhausen did not know that in the mid-14th century BCE, there
> actually was a princeling ruler named Abimilki (similar to "Abimelech"), who
> lived at Sur (with Sur arguably being referenced at Genesis 20: 1), who had
> interminable struggles for access to valuable water wells, similar to such
> struggles referenced in chapters 21 and 26 of Genesis.

Prof. Wellhausen lived well into the discovery of the Amarna archives.
 He even lived
to know of the decipherment of Hittite.  Your reading of Sur is not
"controversial."  It
is just plain wrong!

> Thus if the questions are whether the Patriarchal Age was the mid-14th
> century BCE, and if the Patriarchal narratives were composed in the mid-14th century
> BCE by the first historical Hebrew, how then could we look to Mr. Wellhausen,
> who knew absolutely nothing about the secular history of the mid-14th century
> BCE?

While Prof. Wellhausen did know about Akhenaten, the Amarna archive,
Hittites, and the
history of the 14th century BCE, you don't!

> 3.  We are trying to figure out the basis for your insistence that only a "
> fundamentalist" could deny the Wellhausen JEPD theory that the Patriarchal
> narratives are fiction ginned up by four Hebrew authors in the mid-1st millennium
> BCE.

I am trying to figure out your insistence on misquoting me after I
explicitly explained
to you that you misquoted me.

> 5.  It just does not seem plausible that four ghostwriters in the mid-1st
> millennium BCE could create a long line of memorable stories, and that every
> single one of such stories just "happens", by pure coincidence, to reflect the
> important events in a tiny time period in the mid-14th century BCE.  Certainly
> some of the stories in the Patriarchal narratives must be manifestly out of
> place in a mid-14th century BCE time period, if the Wellhausen theory of the case
> is correct.

Not one of the stories just "happens" to reflect the events of the
14th century BCE
by pure coincidence.  It takes a lot of work of distortion of both the
Biblical narrative
and the history of the 14th century BCE to arrive at this purported

> 6.  I have mentioned many stories in the Patriarchal narratives that seem
> manifestly out of place in a 1st millennium BCE timeframe.  In the first half of
> chapter 50 of Genesis, for example, Pharaoh sends all of his top officials all
> the way to Canaan for the super-magnificent funeral of Jacob/"Israel".  That
> over-the-top pro-Egypt viewpoint never surfaces anywhere else in the Bible,
> outside of the Patriarchal narratives.  Egypt killed Hebrew King Josiah in the
> 7th century BCE, and Egypt did not do enough to prevent  Israel and Judah from
> being destroyed by Assyria and Babylonia in the 8th – 6th centuries BCE.  So
> where is this pro-Egypt viewpoint in the Patriarchal narratives coming from?

Viewpoints as to Egypt could change quickly, even according to the Bible:
Jeroboam I initially fled to Egypt from Solomon in 1 Kings 11 even though Egypt
burnt Gezer in 1 Kings 9 and  the Shoshenq expedition described in 1
Kings 14 is
described in detail in an inscription by Shoshenq (the same king to whom
Jeroboam fled) as having conquered most of Israel.  Compare also the warm
relations with Babylon in 2 Kings 20, which only a century later had
turned hostile.
Furthermore, Gen 50, cannot be read distinct from the Exodus, so
saying that Gen
50 shows a positive attitude towards Egypt is only looking at one half
of the picture.
That positive attitude could well be intended to further stress the
negative attitude
of Egypt later on.  The Bible itself is problematic as a "history,"
not only because
it distorts historical events, but also because it does not mention
others, or may
even describe situations that never took place historically.  It's not
possible to
argue, therefore, that since no historical event in the Biblical
history shows a
positive viewpoint towards Egypt during the Iron Age II, a positive
attitude towards
Egypt never existed in either Israel or Judah during this time.  If
necessary, though,
one can point to this little escape episode of Jeroboam (from the
house of Joseph!)
as an example of the dependency of Samaria even during the 1st millennium BCE.

> We have also recently noted that Jacob/"Israel" tells YHWH that Jacob will
> honor YHWH if YHWH makes sure that Jacob's trip out to Harran is successful.
> That is not the way 1st millennium BCE Hebrews talked to YHWH, or thought about
> YHWH.  Yet it makes sense in a mid-14th century BCE context, when Judaism was
> just beginning, and there still was some bona fide question at that very
> early point whether the Hebrews would and should devote themselves eternally to

How do you know how 1st millennium BCE Judaeans or Samarians talked to god?
How do you know how 2nd millennium BCE Hebrews talked to god?
Your entire argument is based on what you think is "likely."  I doubt
most people
are convinced by what you consider likely.

> We have also mentioned that nothing about the character Levi in the
> Patriarchal narratives foreshadows any knowledge that in the 1st millennium BCE, there
> would be a line of beloved Levite Hebrew priests.  Levi misuses the sacred
> sacrament of circumcision at Shechem so that the weakened men of Shechem can be
> ruthlessly killed in a surprise attack.  Of course, that story makes perfect
> sense in a mid-14th century BCE context, as it is but a variant of the
> historical Decapitation of the Shechem Offensive.

It makes no sense in a mid-14th century BCE context.  It requires a
lot of distortion to
make it seem similar, and even then it doesn't make sense.  The story
of Levi and
Shimon, however, does not portray them as misusing "a sacred
sacrament" but rather
upholding the sanctity of the Israelite daughters.

Yitzhak Sapir

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