[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Dec 24 18:45:42 EST 2007

On Dec 24, 2007 8:26 PM, Moshe Shulman wrote:

> Yigal until it is reproducible it is just a fantasy and not even a
> scientific theory. Anyone coming from a Scientific/Mathematical
> background as I do, will tell you that. To be reproducible the same
> theory needs to be applied to other works of literature where we KNOW
> that there are multiple authors and single authors with multiple
> styles and work. It does not. (Try doing it with Tolkein and you see
> the failure of it. LOTR is by a single author and Silmirilian was
> edited and has additions from his son. It cannot be done.) While DH
> does give some interesting insights into the text, if it were true
> that it is a revised, combined text, there is no way of knowing how
> many hands were involved in it.

I come from a scientific/mathematical background.  Let me begin by
pointing out that Yigal Levin, an archaeologist, is also from a
"scientific" background.  Science is not just the hard sciences.
Reproducibility is not a main trait of a scientific theory.  This is
especially the case in historical reconstructions.  We cannot
reproduce the beginning of the universe, but that doesn't mean
that the Big Bang is not a theory.  It is a theory, and it makes
predictions, and those predictions can be tested, and we can
attempt to falsify them.  Picking a modern text and trying to
analyze it -- then concluding that we cannot determine editing
work is poor methodology.  Just because one type of editing
does not allow us to reconstruct two editors, does not mean
that it is the only type of editing processes that could have
been taken.  In fact, Van Seters apparently claimed at a
conference that the editorial process known from the printing
press was utilized first for classical and then Biblical studies:
http://www.heardworld.com/higgaion/?p=149 (see the next to
the last paragraph).  For a lengthier critique of his thesis,
see this review: http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/5237_5516.pdf
Incidentally, I have a study (in preparation, currently on hold)
of a Biblical book where I show that a group of verses of the
book was most likely conflated from several sources, each
representing the same original section.  Besides some very
convincing insights that this provides into some oddities in
those verses, the theory is also supported by the fact that
one of the translations of the book contains only three of
the five sources.  The ending of the first source was previously
conjectured to be the original ending of the entire book on
different grounds (it is where the plot seems to end).  I have
not read Van Seters books, but it seems to me (based on what
I understand so far) that this study would provide strong
evidence against his theory.

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list