[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Dec 24 14:21:21 EST 2007


On Dec 24, 2007 9:33 AM, Michael Abernathy <michaelabernat9001 at sbcglobal.net>

> It has been a long time since I have actually indulged in a serious
> discussion of Wellhausen's theories. So, I am probably too dated to
> contribute to this discussion. However, I would like to ask a question.
> How verifiable is this theory?  I have only read one study which
> attempted to prove the existence of distinct sources based on a computer
> analysis of stylistic differences in Genesis. That study was at best
> inconclusive. I can't say that I am surprised. I should think such a
> study might reveal the most blatant plagiarism but any storyteller
> adapting material from other sources would probably use the style he was
> most comfortable with rather than retaining the style of the original
> sources.

Like you, I have not made a systematic study of the theory. My interests
were elsewhere. Over the years I have heard of many studies evaluating the
methodology used in the Documentary Hypothesis, to which my response has
always been, "That's interesting" and then I'd go on without making note of
those studies.

But one thing that has always interested me is ideas, the why some succeed
in the market place, and others have trouble going beyond a small group.
The precursors to DH came out at a time when the intellectual elites at
least wanted to embrace their autonomy and claim that they were the best so
far in time, so they adopted the ancient belief in evolution, applied it
also to societies and worked to undermine ideas that opposed their beliefs.
Their main target was Christianity as defined in the Bible, anti-Semitism
came along as part of the baggage.

> I guess I do have one additional question. Can anyone tell me if any
> modern studies have been done to prove the viability of identifying
> different source materials used to produce a story?

The subject of the stories mentioned above was invariably that the methods
used in DH were applied to the works of a known author such as Shakespeare
and Tolstoi, and concluded that multiple authors were behind those works.
But as I wrote above, I never followed up to get the details of those tests,
wouldn't be surprised if some of them turn out to be urban legends and can
say no more than what I wrote here.

> Thank you,
> Michael Abernathy

Now I have been guilty here of mentioning generalized, anonymous sources
with the hope that maybe someone could fill in the specifics. As far as the
history of DH, I have at least one documented source, and that is a
peer-reviewed PhD dissertation in which the professor included extensive
quotes of those writings, starting with one from 1807 and onward.

Karl W. Randolph.

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