[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 20:14:54 EST 2007

On Dec 26, 2007 5:29 PM, K Randolph wrote:

> "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.

No.  Heliocentrism applies only to the sun.  There were no Newton's laws
of physics, and no Newton's Universal theory of gravitation when
Copernicus developed his theory, because Newton wasn't born yet.  There
was also not a well-developed theory of astronomy at that time that allowed
for the understanding of galaxies, clusters, and other systems.  All that
came later, and the first step was the development of heliocentrism as a
sound concept based on astronomical observations and calculations.
When it was developed, it was applicable only to the solar system, and
that didn't make it any less scientific.  In fact, it was the first scientific
thing in a very long time.  To take another example, the Laryngeal
Hypothesis applies to Indo-European, and the fact that it only sets out
to explain some particular feature of Indo-European doesn't make it any
less scientific.

> > 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.

I must have missed "the author is Moses" step in your logic.  (In other words,
the above is faulty logic.)

> > … 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.

That only shows you do not understand the steps needed to make a sound
argument.  One has first to argue the existence and content of sources,
and then based on that content, to show who is dependent on whom, and
who dates when.  That these are the necessary steps does not make it
"plastic" or "de facto not an explanation of anything."  Any other method you
can think of is "plastic" and "de facto not an explanation of anything."

> > 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

> 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.

He then goes on (in the very next paragraph) to show how this school of
thought (regarding Homer/Iliad) lost much of its credibility.  What is your

> > > Religion and Religious texts are a very touchy subject. ...
> > 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.

I do not excuse you for your bluntness.  If you have the bluntness to call me
ignorant of such basic principles, then please point me to the
appropriate issue,
an appropriate introductory textbook where I can read these issues.
Be specific
because right now, it's an allegation without any substantiation, and
an ad hominem
as it stands.  (I'm always happy to learn I'm ignorant of something
relevant to the
discussion, however, if there is a place where I can read up on that subject).

Let me also point out, that I tried not to be too harsh in my response to Moshe
here, because what he said was in my opinion out of line.

> 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.

There are all kinds of beliefs.  That someone accepts the Documentary Hypothesis
does not mean he does not accept monotheism, that he does not accept the oral
law as binding, that he does not view the Torah as being God-given.
There is a long
distance between someone who accepts even one of these and an atheist, and even
assuming he used "atheist" "sloppily" to mean "non-believer in some
belief," there is
still a long distance between someone who accepts one of these and a

> 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.

I suggest you leave your conclusions on Judaism out of this discussion because
it shows a basic misunderstanding of Judaism, and would likely offend most Jews.

> 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?

The definition of science has not changed.  The definition of science has just
been clarified to you, whereas in college you misunderstood what you read and
formed an incorrect idea of what science really is.  Please don't discuss my own
"religious persuasion" because you have no idea what it is, and I don't discuss
my beliefs on discussion lists.  It also has no business in this or
any discussion
on this list.

> > 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.

You read it all?  I'm impressed.  I didn't know you had access to JSTOR.
In any case, I haven't read it all.  I just saw it, and just the first page is
useful for the point at hand, as it shows Moshe's claim has been studied
already a century ago.  I actually found it by looking for discussions of
Homer, so Homer must figure later on in the study.

I do intend to read it though -- this weekend.  But I am sending the reply
now so as not to hold back anything more.  (I'm already holding up a
reply on Kitchen until I finish reading a 50+ page essay of his on the

> > > 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?

While my own theory which I hold comparable relates to another Biblical
book, his claim was "Name me one text that by using this method of
reconstruction the results yield the known sources the text was made from."
There is no word on Bible vs. non-Bible here.  There is also no particular
problem concentrating on the Bible.

Yitzhak Sapir

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