[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

Moshe Shulman mshulman at ix.netcom.com
Tue Dec 25 10:40:30 EST 2007

At 07:00 AM 12/25/2007, you wrote:
>On Dec 25, 2007 2:17 AM, Moshe Shulman wrote:

One of the problems I have with the DH you have very aptly affirmed. 
It is a theory that is applicable to only one book: The Bible. And 
excuses are made as to why it can only apply to that as if there is 
some a priori difference in the Bible and any other text, secular or 

> > >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
> > Only if the methodology used to decide if a text has multiple authors
> > it invalid. What makes an ancient text of multiple authorship
> > inherently different from a modern text of multiple authorship? If
> > one has a method to dissect one, then it should work for the other.
> > IF NOT, then one needs to examine the methodology being used to
> > divide a text by authors. Every work I have read on the subject is
> > circular in reasoning and non-reproducible.
>You have it wrong here.  There is no "generic methodology" or algorithm
>to determine if a text has multiple authors.  The theory does not test or
>apply any generic algorithm, because none exists.  The theory claims that

So you admit that the 'theory' has an a priori premise of multiple 
authors? Why could it not be, for example, the work of a Mr X, who 
rewrote various stories he has heard? A similar text would be 
produced without the ability to 'reverse engineer' it.

>certain elements in the Pentateuchal narrative can be best explained by
>assuming multiple sources each of which represents a separate development
>of the same original source, and all of which were combined in a specific
>method.  Not all texts with multiple sources were necessarily combined in

Were it not for our ability to verify it as error, the best 
explanation for astronomy is that the sun goes around the earth. 
Ptolomaic astronomy is a good example of a 'best explanation' which 
required some very absurd contortions to make it work.

>this way, but the theory suggests that the Pentateuchal narrative was
>combined in this way.  On the basis of this combination method, there is
>a methodology to determine sources.  But the method won't work for all
>compositions of combined sources.  It probably won't even work for all
>compositions which were combined of conflated sources.  It requires the
>duplications to exist in order to be able to determine stylistic differences
>that allows us to extrapolate further the division of the sources.

I would make a suggestion. Please list all the assumptions necessary 
for a text to have the possibility of having this method applied to 
it. Then explain to me why it cannot be applied to for example: Homer.

Religion and Religious texts are a very touchy subject. It is not 
just the believers who are biased and unwilling to see that their 
biases create a priori 'facts' that may, in fact, not be provable, or 
true. For example the 'best' explanation of the Bible for an atheist 
is not going to agree with a believer, even if both approach it in a 
logical manner. It is their a prioris that get in the way.

> > > >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
> > The only type of editing that would allow for the DH is if there were
> > multiple sources and  the editor did a cut and paste job. I don't
> > think any serious person would contend that this was the way people
> > edited at any time in the past.
>Many serious people do.  Even Van Seters apparently claims this is
>how people edited in the recent past (after the printing press) and that
>recognition of this process is what led to extrapolate the same editorial
>process in the distant past.

Again that assumes that the 'final editor' received multiple texts 
when making his text and edited that. Everything is based on your 
assumptions. As to why I disagree with this view I will give one 
name: Diatessaron.

> > Let me give a counter theory which
> > indicates your problem. Let's say a Mr X at some time (choose whoever
> > you want and when) takes some stories he heard orally, and some
> > written texts he has seen, and with his own additions moulds them
> > into one book. Unless you had a copy of the originals which he used,
> > you could never know what came from where, and what was original to
> > Mr X. But this is what DH proposes. BTW The Silmarillian was in fact
> > made this way by Tolkein's son and without outside material you will
> > never know who wrote what.
>First, Tolkien is problematic because Tolkien both lived after Biblical
>Criticism was well developed, and also because in many ways the Bible
>provided inspiration for him in writing his work.  Having said that, does the
>Silmarillion contain a conflation of two or more sources each being a
>separate development of the same original source?

There were multiple versions of chapters. These were put together by 
his son. I am certain that the DH method could never work for that, 
but we do have all the material that the son used in putting this 
together. It might be a lot of work, but someone could theoretically 
go from the sources to the final product.

Actually his inspiration came from Germanic legends and mythology (of 
which he was quite familiar) and not the Bible.

My final question here is:

Name me one text that by using this method of reconstruction the 
results yield the known sources the text was made from.  (How about 
the Diatessaron. It would be a great candidate.)

I am certain that you can not do this. The DH is useful. It does 
point out many interesting things in the text. But almost all of 
these are already discussed in classical commentaries without the 
needs to assume multiple sources as the DH does.

Moshe Shulman   outreach at judaismsanswer.com 718-436-7705
Judaism's Answer:  http://www.judaismsanswer.com/

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