[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

Bill Rea bsr15 at cantsl.it.canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Jan 6 15:53:25 EST 2008

Karl wrote:-

>You mentioned cladistic analysis, but you mentioned neither for nor
>against if it could be used for DH.

I thought my statement that it didn't deal with authorship was clear
enough. But I guess not.

>DH's parsimony? I thought the opposition was for the opposite reason.

Yes, parsimony. I expect your confusion is because you have your own
private meaning for the word which does not agree with standard usage
much in the same way you have unique, highly idiosyncratic definitions
for words like ``science'', ``observation'' and ``evidence''.

Parimony is about getting maximum explantory power from a minimum number
number of variables. It requires *balancing* explantory power against
number of variables. In many situations parsimony can be measured
with information criteria and an optimal number of explantory variables
chosen. In the DH vs single-author hypothesis, there are a large number
of problems with a single author hypothesis for which the supporters
engage in all sorts of special pleading. For a number of these problems
you don't even have to be able to read Hebrew, they can be seen in most
English translations. Ultimately it becomes simpler, i.e. more
parsimonious, to believe that the text was composed by combining several
earlier closely related traditions. Whether those traditions were
oral or written or a bit of both is not hugely important.

The fact is that if people examine the evidence most people are convinced
the that DH is on the right track. I'm not a professional Hebrew scholar
but when I was learning Hebrew and doing some related Biblical study I
came into contact with the DH. The evidence was persuasive and so I
switched away from believing in a single author who composed the whole
five books of Moses from scratch. Most people do.

>One of the main reasons I heard over the years for opposing the
>methodology of DH is that it can be applied to only one document, that it
>cannot accurately describe any other document. If it cannot be applied to
>any other document, why should we trust it when applied to Bible? It
>doesn't matter if the method has been computerized, if it can't
>accurately describe other documents where the authorship is known, then
>it is useless in supporting DH as well.

This is a red-herring. There is no problem developing unique methods to
deal with unique problems. However, I believe other list members have
addressed this issue, so I will leave it.

Bill Rea, ICT Services, University of Canterbury \_
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