[b-hebrew] Wellhausesn

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 15:04:38 EST 2007

On Dec 26, 2007 5:14 PM, Michael Abernathy wrote:
> Yitzhak,
> Correct me if I am misstating your position. I believe you are saying
> that there is currently no way to prove the validity of Wellhausen's
> documentary hypothesis which is both objective and can be proven to work
> by applying it to a known text.
> This leads me to ask one further question. Assuming the hypothesis is
> wrong, what objective tests should disprove it?

You wrote the shortest response :)
Therefore, you get the first response :)

But what you say is wrong.  No theory can ever be proved valid beyond all
doubt.  A single test has the power to prove a theory invalid, but it
would take
an infinite number of tests to prove it valid.  Can we prove it valid in certain
cases?  Can we bring comparisons?  Yes, we can.  I am prevented here from
discussing my own theory of this Biblical book that I mentioned because of
a self-imposed restriction that I don't discuss the details of unpublished
theories.  I believe my results are sound, however, and they are also
spectacular.  But there are ways to prove it wrong.  One can find a section
that is indisputably to be attributed to Source 1 (S1) and show that it is
dependent on a section that is indisputably to be attributed to a second
source Source 2 (S2), and then show this the other way around, that is,
that a section indisputably related to S2 is dependent on S1.  At this point,
it is still possible to suggest a third source C1 which served as a basis
for both S1 and S2 and therefore is the source of their mutual dependency.
But if, for example, there would have to be internal contradictions in this
source, we would be forced to conclude it is not a homogeneous source.
There are four basic sources in the Documentary Hypothesis, so there are
C(4,3) = 6 possible such combinations.  If one shows that in each or even
most of these combinations, there are several such contradictions apparent
in the common source, I think that would be a strong argument against the
DH specifically.  Even if you have a problem accepting the idea of such
"contradictions," it is apparent that there are at least apparent if not real
contradictions in the Pentateuch that the DH sets out to solve.  If breaking
up the sources and finding the common sources C1-Cn are at odds with one
another at least as much as the basic documentary sources S1-S4 (JEPD)
are at odds with one another (hence the supposed contradictions in the
Pentateuch), that would still be a good way to deal with it.  There are
probably many ways of dealing with the theory and trying to find problems.
In the end, it depends how strong a case you have against the theory.  Just
like the theory can be criticized, so can your attempt at finding fault.  As I
mentioned before, the best way to prove it wrong, is to find a better theory --
a theory that in a simple way deals with the problems of the DH efficiently.

Yitzhak Sapir

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