[b-hebrew] Wellhausen: Computer Analysis
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Mon Jan 7 17:58:41 EST 2008
1. Radday: One Author of Genesis
Radday’s computer analysis says the entire book of Genesis was composed by
But the style and content of the Patriarchal narratives (the last 40 chapters
of Genesis) are markedly different than the first 10 chapters of Genesis.
How could a computer have us believe that one author composed all 50 chapters of
2. Houk: 11 Authors of Genesis
Comments on Houk’s analysis by Richard A. O’Keefe, Critical Remarks on Houk’
s ‘Statistical Analysis of Genesis Sources,’ JSOT 29.4 (2005) 409-437.
“This essay critiques the methodology of Cornelius B. Houk’s article which
appeared in JSOT in 2002. Houk argues on the basis of statistical analysis of
syllable-word frequency that eleven distinct authors contributed to the
composition of Genesis.
“One critique of Houk’s methodology that O’Keefe gives is the process of
determining the sections of the text of Genesis that are compared to one another.
“There is a circularity here. The article begins with a partitioning of the
text according to ‘the judgments of source criticism.’ The questions put to
the data do not seek alternative groupings; the test results correlate with
source criticism because of the way the tests are constructed, not because the
data have nothing surprising to tell us…If we are given a group of students
and separate them into tall ones and short ones, it comes as no surprise if the
tall ones turn out to be significantly heavier than the short ones (412).
…O’Keefe also warns us against circular reasoning as we construct research
methodologies and opinions. He brings a sharp critique of Houk because Houk
set out to prove multiple authorship of Genesis. As Houk segmented the text of
Genesis, he did so according to the conventional thought of source criticism,
which itself asserts multiple authorship of Genesis. You prove multiple
authorship of Genesis by assuming multiple authorship of Genesis and working that
assumption into your research structure. This circular reasoning resides not
only with Houk but with many other researchers and even possibly within entire
disciplines of thought such as source criticism itself.”
If the computer cannot distinguish the first 10 chapters of Genesis from the
Patriarchal narratives in the last 40 chapters of Genesis, or if the computer
finds 11 different authors of Genesis, who on earth would trust the computer?
What is needed is a human being who is generally familiar with the
well-documented secular history of the mid-14th century BCE, and who is brave enough to
compare that secular history, no holds barred, to the received text of the
Patriarchal narratives. Until and unless that happens, the computer won’t help.
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