[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 12:29:49 EST 2007


On Dec 25, 2007 12:37 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Dec 25, 2007 3:40 PM, 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
> > religious.
> There is no problem with DH applying only to the Pentateuch just like
> there is no problem with the Copernican theory of heliocentrism applying
> only to the solar system.  A theory is scientific even if it applies or is
> developed in order to explain only one phenomenon and leaves other
> phenomena to be explained otherwise.

"Heliocentrism" applies to all "solar systems", i.e. stars with planets
orbiting them. That the terms happen to be named after the sun, one star
among many, is merely a historical artifact in that a planetary system was
first studied for the sun. What is being explained is the effect of gravity
on the movement of all planets, stars, galaxies, etc. It explains the
observed motions of planets in accordance to laws of physics.

Likewise, if DH is valid, it needs to be valid in a study of any piece of
literature, not just Bible.

> > 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.
> As I see it, yes.  In fact, that is how I understand the term "The
> Documentary
> Hypothesis."  I see no reason or problem with it, and I don't understand
> what your problem with this is.  I don't understand your attempted
> counter-
> example.  If J, E, P, D, and the final redactor are all one and the same
> person, that does not change the theory one bit.…

If they are all the same author, then you are back to Mosaic authorship
except under a different name.

> … It makes sense, however,
> in light of the different viewpoints espoused by each of J, E, P, and D,
> that
> each of them was a different person, probably even living elsewhere or in
> a
> different period of time.  The attempt to place the different sources in
> their
> appropriate historical contexts can only come after we have a good idea
> of the division of the separate sources.

In light of the above, it appears that this is a theory that is so plastic
that it is de facto not an explanation of anything.

> > 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.
> Again, a discussion of the DH as regarding Homer can be found in Van
> Seters, as well as in this review of Van Seters:
> http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/5237_5516.pdf
> There is no reason why literary analysis cannot apply to the Iliad.  That
> doesn't mean it will have the same success in explaining the literary
> development of the Iliad, just like most books of the Bible do not lend
> themselves to the same process of analysis.

Interesting, looking at the review, I find, "Consequently, Old Testament
scholars who are still working with the idea of redactors are using a model
that they took over from classics, where it is now outmoded. But even if the
editor-redactor hypothesis does not provide a solution to the Homeric
question, this does not at all mean that it is inadequate for the analysis
of biblical literature, all the more the counterargument against the Wolf
and Wilamowitz-Moellendorff method of the "unitarian" approach of one author
of the Homeric poems. The biblical counterpart would be to reinstall Moses
as the author of all the Pentateuch, which, I suppose, Van Seters would not
subscribe to." In other words, a modern study as applied to Homer does not
give the same result as the DH methodology.

> > 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.
> I do not understand what place the above paragraph has in this
> discussion.…

Here I am in total agreement with Moshe. I have said the same thing several
times in discussions with you. Your failure to understand reflects, please
excuse me for bluntness, ignorance of basic principles of philosophy. These
ideas are covered in a decent first year introduction to philosophy class.

> … Have you concluded that I am atheist, or that you can
> tell a believer or not simply by reference to the DH?  Many "believers"
> as you put it accept the DH.  As this is not about believers vs atheists
> at all, and as I made no comment about your religious views, and as this
> discussion has so far dealt only with apparently scientific objections
> to the DH, my guess would be that your scientific objections are not
> purely objective but are heavily intertwined with personal religious
> objections.

I have mentioned it before, but will emphasize it here, you have a very
sloppy definition of "believer". In fact, it is so sloppy that it is for
all practical purposes undefined.

To give an example, I know a group called "Jews for Jesus", and looking at
Moshe Schulman's web site, one would easily come to the conclusion that both
have widely differing ideologies, to the point that there are almost no
similarities. But they both start with the authorship of Torah by God
through Moses, thereafter the prophets and writers also used by God to
present God's message inerrently to the world. Starting from a common base,
they are very similar, differing mainly in how individual passages are
interpreted. Both reject DH. There are probably more similarities between
Moshe and Jews for Jesus, than either to "Reformed" Judaism and "mainstream"
Christianity, whereas there are more similarities between "Reformed" Judaism
and "mainstream" Christianity than either to either Moshe or Jews for Jesus.

Yet your use of "believer", from previous references as well, appears so
sloppy that it would include any "Christian" or "Practicing Jew" as a
believer, no matter what the true source of his beliefs may be.

Further, your definition of what defines a scientific theory differs from
all science textbooks (physics, chemistry, biology) that I surveyed back
when I was in college (they all agreed on the same basic definition, even
though some were logically inconsistent in their application thereof).
Either the definition of science has changed since I was in college so that
it now includes your personal religious persuasion, or your personal
religious persuasion is not scientific: which is it?

> > 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.
> I will give you one study:
> "An Empirical Basis for the Documentary Hypothesis," by J. H. Tigay
> http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0021-9231(197509)94%3A3%3C329%3AAEBFTD%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D

Read it. It barely mentions Diatessaron and does not integrate it with a
defense of the DH. DH does not take the text at face value: a face value
analysis negates the method used.

> > 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.
> Interesting that you are so certain when the above was explained to you
> in the previous post.

Why shouldn't he be so certain, given your own admission that it applies
only to Bible?


> Yitzhak Sapir

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