[b-hebrew] Wellhausen (was Cladistics)

belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr
Sun Jan 6 21:04:09 EST 2008

> Edward wrote:-
>> Remaining personally uncommitted to Wellhausen's linguistic program
>> (the cladistics of his ideological appeal I have already discribed the
>> other day on this list),
> I read the earlier posts on Wellhausen's ideology, which I do not
> doubt. However, ultimately the DH stands or falls on evidence.
> While Wellhausen appears to have had an ulterior motive, nevertheless
> the basic hypothesis and its refinements have stood the test of time
> and is accepted by scholars and others from all over the religious
> spectrum. Many who accept it and/or have made refinements to the DH
> can not be accused of having ulterior motives. Its an idea which now stands
> independently of its origins. If you are holding back because of
> Wellhausen's private ideology, that's not a valid reason.
> Bill Rea, ICT Services, University of Canterbury \_

Dear Bill,

You are raising a valid point and, to my taste, you are doing it in a  
morally sensitive and scientifically balanced way, for which I am  
sincerely grateful to you.

Since I am working at present on the article touching on this topic,  
too, let me answer you in the most scientific, parsimonious,  
minimalist way which has emerged from the minimalist tradition having  
something to do with Wellhausen's contempt for the Bible as a valid  
source of an immensely rich, broad, and otherwise unavailable  
inspiration, historical and factual including.

(1) A young German mathematician, Paul Julius Oswald Teichmueller  
(1913 - 1943), became an active member of the Nazi party and played a  
major role in getting the students at Goettingen to dismiss the most  
prominent Jew there, Professor Edmund Landau, the world star in Number  

This story has greatly impressed me, a young scientist as I was, but  
did not prevent me from studying Teichmueller's mathematical papers  
and even translating a book which deals with the generalizations of  
his work.

(2) Yes, I do understand that Wellhausen's DH theory is well respected  
by many scientists today, and this fact does not provoke my indignation.

(3) And I am not committed to this theory for reasons of absolutely  
scientific nature, which have nothing to do with Wellhausen?s  
ideological cladistics.

(4) On a more personal note, my experience as a scientist has taught  
me that scientific theories appear, disappear or settle on something  
much more modest than their creators expected, even after an  
enthusiastic lull of a century -- as it happened for example with  
Laplace's universal mechanical philosophy.

Thank you for this occasion to made the above points without  
infringing on somebody's convictions.

Edward G. Belaga
Institut de Recherche en Mathématique Avancée
Universite Louis Pasteur
7, rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
tel.: 333 90 24 02 35, FAX: 333 90 24 03 28
e-mail : edward.belaga at math.u-strasbg.fr

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