[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Dec 26 20:35:51 EST 2007


On Dec 26, 2007 3:22 PM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Dec 26, 2007 8:48 PM, Michael Abernathy wrote:
> > Yitzhak,
> > Thank you for responding. You answered in part,
> > "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."
> >
> > That answer sounds quite reasonable in theory but I specifically asked
> > for an objective test for a reason. It appears to me that the decision
> that
> > any passage belongs to a specific source is subjective, open to the
> > interpretation of the reader.  In my mind the response from  some of the
> > others on this list confirms the subjective nature of such
> determinations.
> I just gave one example -- but there are all kinds of ways to try to
> prove the DH wrong.  The way to prove it wrong is by attacking the
> very structural concepts which it presents.  However, you should
> realize that it may not be possible to do this, because the DH may
> be right.

Ways to disprove DH:

1) Observation: get ahold of the original documents. However, the earliest
copies we have date from centuries after they were written, therefore they
are copies, some many generations removed from the originals. Therefore,
because we do not have the original documents, we can neither prove, nor
disprove, DH through observation.

2) Deal with the philosophic issues that underlie the theory: are there a
priori issues that lead to a predetermined result? In other words, are we
dealing with circular logic? This is the point that both Moshe Schulman and
I have presented. Because of its use of subjective, circular logic, we find
it invalid.

> > I am certain that this approach seems quite sensible to those who have
> been
> > trained in it. From my limited background DH seems to be more a matter
> > of faith than science, being impossible to prove and nearly impossible
> to disprove.
> I don't know who gave you this background, but it's wrong.  Most of the
> objections on this list seem to derive from people whose familiarity with
> the
> theory comes from negative publications by religiously-motivated
> individuals
> and groups.…

And its support comes from other religiously-motivated individuals and

> … There seems to be an idea that there is a case of either-or:
> either DH or the Mosaic Authorship.  But this is wrong.…

Simple, basic logic. You cannot contradict yourself. This is such a basic
tenet of logic that self-contradiction is often not listed among logical
fallacies. Either Mosaic authorship before 1400 BC, or multiple sources
"…anywhere from the 7th to the 4th centuries BC…", but not both.

> … Even if DH is proved
> wrong, and some theory displaces it, it won't be Mosaic Authorship.
>  Mosaic
> Authorship is a position that is incompatible with modern knowledge of
> linguistics, archaeology, and other facets of ancient Israelite and
> Judahite
> society.…

If one realizes how little is preserved for later archeological discovery,
this position is tenuous at best. What we have is an ideologically promoted
theory that contradicts recorded works that claim to be history. We lack
observation to prove either side. Because science is based on observation,
the lack of observability banishes DH from being a scientific theory.

As for linguistics, that too is based on unobservable presuppositions.

As for "knowledge of facets of ancient Israelite and Judahite, society", how
much of that is accurate history, how much myths promoted by ideology

> … There is also no "theory" of Mosaic Authorship.  Mosaic Authorship
> was a position held before scientific theories were applied to the
> literary
> structure of the Bible.…

Mosaic authorship is a historical claim. Either that historical claim is
accurate, or false. Taking the documents at face value gives us Mosaic
Authorship. Denying their historicity opens the door to DH.

> … Thus, for example, there are various several datings
> of the different sources of the DH -- but these are relatively few, and
> the
> differences are at times restricted to a length of time of some 300 years
> --
> thus, P may be anywhere from the 7th to the 4th centuries BCE.  But you
> do not have this for the Mosaic Authorship.  If one particular dating of
> Moses is proved wrong, then the proponents of Mosaic Authorship will
> just shrug and say, "OK, so maybe he lived in some other period."…

This statement is an absolute falsehood, as evidenced also by statements

> … As it
> turns out, a dating of the Biblical texts to before the 1st millennium BCE
> is accepted on various grounds, even without the DH, and the proponents
> of Mosaic Authorship don't care.  "Maybe some theory which seems crazy
> will come up in the future."  "Maybe there will be new data that
> surfaces."
> No theory will come up.  No data will be discovered.  There is data that
> is at conflict.  It takes quite a stretch of "silence of evidence" to read
> this
> as non-existent data, but proponents of Mosaic Authorship do just that.
> If the DH will be replaced, it won't be by a theory of Mosaic Authorship.
> It will be something else, better than both DH and the earlier position of
> Mosaic Authorship that it replaced.

This paragraph is so full of inaccuracies that it does not deserve a
detailed rebuttal.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Michael, I hope you don't mind me answering you through critiquing Yitzhak's
post. This way you are presented with both sides, one from a true believer
in DH listing why he is a believer, and one from a skeptic and why those
reasons are not convincing. Consider both sides, and make an informed

The strongest reason for me is that when a document presents itself as a
history, with datable events (as opposed to mythology such as the Gilgamesh
Epic or the Greek myths of their gods, which have no set dates), that that
trumps modern theory. I do not accept the claim that the present is the key
to the past. A document that presents datable events and portrays its
subjects in an accurate way, both their successes and failures, is more
trustworthy than one that is propaganda listing only successes (with even
failures listed as successes) such as the Egyptian records where even their
dates are suspect. History over theory.

Karl W. Randolph.

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