[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Tue Jan 8 14:54:39 EST 2008

On Jan 8, 2008 2:41 PM, K Randolph wrote:
> Yitzhak:
> On Jan 7, 2008 10:09 AM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> > …
> > I found it amazing how an article from over a century ago, is still so
> > timely.
> > It is as if all the critics against the Documentary Hypothesis are simply
> > repeating, for a century now, the same arguments, with no care to the fact
> > that long ago, responses have been published to those same questions.
> But have you considered that the reason the same arguments keep being
> repeated is because the responses have been considered less than convincing
> to skeptics? In other words, the arguments sound great when preaching to the
> choir, but to the skeptic leaves something to be desired?

That's not a reason.  In order to maintain dialogue, and to proceed in dialogue,
there must be a response to the arguments.  One cannot repeat the same
arguments over and over.  One cannot stand on the side and say, "Nah, ah, it
doesn't work."  The reasoning why the argument fails must be explained clearly,
logically, and in writing.  If the original argument was published in
a journal, the
response must be published likewise.  This allows someone who comes later on
to reference those arguments.  For example, it may seem that in the archaeology
of Israel, there are two different points of view that don't budge -
the conventional
view and that represented by Finkelstein.  But in fact, because of
dialogue, Mazar
has modified the conventional view, and this view, now called
"Modified Conventional
Chronology" is winning acceptance.  In this way, dialogue moved from one
position to another.  Furthermore, even without modification, the conventional
chronology is being supported now on totally different grounds and with a much
different view of the evidence than a few decades ago.  This is all a
natural part of
scholarly dialogue.  But if one does not relate to the arguments, if
one imagines
that they were never voiced, and continues repeating the same
arguments over and
over, then no argument is made.  Furthermore, if the majority of
scholars have been
convinced, as evidently had already happened by 1890 for the Documentary
Hypothesis, then the burden of proof lies with those who remain
"skeptical," as you
call them (a really odd term in this situation).

Curiously, the Documentary Hypothesis is not like any other theory in
that the people
who study astronomy are already culturally acquainted with
heliocentrism -- so much
so that you fail to understand the fact that when it was proposed,
"other planetary
systems" was a concept so foreign that it was not thought of, but students who
approach Biblical studies are not always acquainted with the DH, even
if they come
from liberal backgrounds and the arguments must win them over again
and again, each
generation over again.  Far from being preached to the choir, the DH
must substantiate
all the time anew.

> If we did not have the source documents to the Diatessaron of Tatian, would
> we be able to recognize its source documents? Prof. George F. Moore admitted
> that even with the source documents it is sometimes difficult to recognize
> the source of each section of text. In fact, it is only the extra markings
> in many copies of the text that tell which is which that often allow modern
> scholars accurately to assign each portion of text to its source document.
> How much more difficult would it be without the source documents?

But even if we couldn't place correctly which part goes to which
source document,
we could clearly tell the composite nature of the final work.  If you
would like to
argue that the Pentateuch is a composite, and that for some sources -- say JE
we cannot determine the exact division, for P we can have a fairly good amount
of material but we remain unclear on some of the rest, and for D we can tell the
division pretty clearly, and yet, there would always be some questions on the
exact original composition of the sources, even if the composite nature of the
Pentateuch in its final form is recognized, then that would place you with most
scholars today.  It would also be the only reasonable analogy to the issue you
bring up with the Diatessaron.

> DH is not only Torah,

Yes it is.

> rather it is connected with the division of Isaiah to
> two or three authors, the late dating of Daniel, the search for "Q" for the
> New Testament, and so forth.

All those are not connected directly to the Documentary Hypothesis.  Together,
they are connected with a modern literary analysis of Biblical as of

> Those are all parts of the same movement whose
> roots go back more than two centuries, long before the term DH was coined,
> before the followers of the movement codified their method in the work of
> Wellhausen, to before Gesenius developed his lexicography in accordance to
> the movement, to the earliest records I have seen of the movement.

How was Ibn Ezra part of this "movement"?

> Those
> roots have objections that have never been adequately answered, therefore
> the refinements, that which came later, are largely irrelevant.

If they have convinced most scholars, they have been adequately answered,
and remain relevant.  Those who continue to suggest positions while ignoring
the current research render their own positions irrelevant.  One gets only a
limited benefit from a study of astronomy whose authors consider heliocentrism
to remain "unproven," and the same goes for all other sciences.  The authors
are not expected to be ahead of their time, but they are expected to be to some
degree current in their research and to relate to all current opposing views.

> Those
> objections show an ideology that predesposes certain results, without which
> ideology people don't even consider DH as a valid theory. In other words,
> without the ideology, the evidence for DH is far less than convincing.

The only ideology behind the DH in its modern statement is a search for the
truth of the authorship of the Pentateuch.

> You, Yitzhak, have admitted that DH applies only to Bible,

No, I said it was an hypothesis that hypothesizes something specific regarding
the Pentateuch.  If you refuse to accept my position one paragraph above,
why do you quote me on this position here?

> which is only one
> more evidence that DH is an ideologically driven idea, making it
> unconvincing to skeptics. For a method to be valid, it must give accurate
> results to all literature. So far all the evidence I have seen is that it is
> not accurate for other literature.

No, this has already been explained to you.

Yitzhak Sapir

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