[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Thu Jan 10 16:56:38 EST 2008


On Jan 10, 2008 12:43 AM, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Jan 9, 2008 11:27 PM, K Randolph wrote:
> …  Don't take what he
> says out of context.

Two complete pages is "taking out of context"? Especially where he gives
examples to illustrate what he meant? Don't be silly.

> > By 1889 there was already more than 80 years of teacher-student process,
> > affecting even in the U.S. At that time, many Americans got their
> training
> > in Europe, especially their graduate school training. Furthermore, who
> did
> > that American professor count as "Old Testament scholars"? Did he have a
> > broad, or restricted view, and if restricted, how restricted?
> Wellhausen published his Geschichte Israels) in 1878.  While the theory
> had
> developed and based upon concepts developed earlier -- its roots can be
> traced
> back to the Talmudic discussions on the authorship of the last verses of
> the
> Torah -- his formulation, integrated with a historical account of the
> development
> of ancient Israel, led to its widespread acceptance.…

It was widely taught in European universities as early as 1820. The earliest
book I have seen quoted from was published in 1807. Wellhausen was a
johnny-come-lately whose genius was to clean up and codify the theory as it
existed at that time.

> …  As far as I am aware, the
> formulation as indicated in the article I posted of Prof. Moore includes
> concepts based on Wellhausen's formulation.  If the theory had won
> widespread
> acceptance beforehand, then Wellhausen's formulation would be just one
> possible way of viewing the generally accepted Documentary Hypothesis, of
> which the earlier widespread formulation was accepted.  Just because
> Wellhausen refined a previously developed idea does not mean that everyone
> now accepts his refinement.  As for the use of the term "Old Testament
> scholars," why should it be restricted?  Prof. (Rev. Dr.) Charles M. Mead
> is
> named as one of these scholars.  Perhaps instead of asking questions that
> cast doubt but have no basis, you should provide evidence for your
> assertions.

He made a claim, I'm asking upon what basis does his claim stand? Who does
he count as "scholars"? If he restricts it to public secular universities,
then he might be correct. But if he includes all schools of higher
education, there is good reason to say that what he said was a falsehood, as
most private schools that had Old Testament scholars were church schools,
and at 1889 almost none of those accepted DH.

> Also, in your response to Bill, you continue to claim that the Documentary
> Hypothesis along with advances of Biblical literary analysis is based on
> an
> ideology.  What ideology was behind Ibn Ezra's suggestion that the book of
> Isaiah was written by two different authors?…

> What about ibn Ezra? Did his work lead directly to the modern theory? Or
was his work largely unknown to those who formulated the modern hypothesis?
If the latter, then your mentioning of him is mere noise that needs to be
filtered out of the discussion, a red herring logical fallacy.

> …  Instead of continuing to voice
> your assertions, perhaps you should respond to the evidence which has
> already been elaborated against your claims.

What evidence? So far you have not given me anything that I can count as
valid evidence.

> In any case, the appropriate way to view a theory is not to try to analyze
> the
> ideology behind the methodology first, and definitely not based on some
> external source, but first to read it yourself, in a modern statement that
> takes
> into accounts changes and refinements as ideological and methodological
> flaws have been answered and sifted out, and then, having read the theory,
> to try to read reviews and counter-arguments by others who have read the
> same book.  Afterwards, even if there are flaws, ask yourself -- can I
> restate
> the theory in such a way that the ideological flaws are removed to my
> satisfaction?  One such book would be Friedman's "Who wrote the Bible?"
> My guess is that you haven't read it, but I guess I must ask anyway: Have
> you read it?  Have you read any modern statement of the Documentary
> Hypothesis?  Have you ever tried yourself to test the Documentary
> Hypothesis objectively?

> I did.…

I doubt very much that you did.

Of course I did not try to test the DH objectively. Even to consider that is
an oxymoron. By the time one is trained enough even to be introduced to DH,
he is no longer a tabula rasa (if he ever was), he already has an
ideological framework which he uses to organize his thoughts. He also uses
that ideological framework to evaluate ideas that are new to him. That is,
if he thinks logically and consistently.

I had already rejected the ideology upon which DH is based, because of its
internal inconsistencies. Therefore when I was introduced to DH, I evaluated
it critically and found it lacking.

…  I had only read criticisms of the DH by religious authorities when it
> occurred to me to test the DH.  Using a concept that I read in a different
> connection (Zoroastrianism), I looked at the frequency of the use of the
> word "iron" in the Bible, and compared its frequency in the Pentateuch
> to other books.  One of the original considerations was that the Iron Age
> is pretty much only considered to have begun at 1250 BCE, which is
> widely accepted by conservatives as the date of the Exodus.…

Which "conservatives"?

Iron was known, mined and used long before the start of the "iron age". It
was known that it took hotter temperatures to smelt, cast and work iron than
bronze. Its disadvantages vis-à-vis bronze were that it rusted and it was
both softer (wrought iron) and more brittle (cast iron) than bronze,
therefore not suitable for weapons. That also made it inferior for use as

However, the Philistines knew the art of tempering an alloy of iron and
carbon to make steel. Steel both holds an edge better than bronze, being a
much harder substance, and less brittle, making for superior tools and
weapons. The ancients did not make a linguistic differentiation between iron
and steel. The Philistines recognized that their military might relied on
their superior weaponry, so they made tempering of steel a state secret, a
secret they managed to keep a few hundred years.

> …  Of course,
> more conservative datings, such as yours, have more devastating results.
> The book of Deuteronomy cannot be differentiated from other books of
> the Deuteronomistic History in its frequency of the use of the word
> "iron,"
> although the other books of the Pentateuch have much lower frequencies.
> (There are also definitely late books with low frequencies, such as
> Esther).
> Because of its use in other portions of the Bible, I could not ascribe
> such
> differences to genre.  Moreover, ascribing the two portions (Deuteronomy
> and the rest) to different schools was more convincing.  The most
> reasonable conclusion was and remains that the Pentateuch is a composite
> work.  While it didn't prove the DH itself, it showed that the basic
> assumption
> of the DH had some force to it.

This is evidence for DH?????  ?? I'm dumbfounded!

> You don't have to look for the word "iron," although I think you would be
> surprised at the results when you compare with other ancient documents
> of the time to which you date the Exodus.  But did you ever try to test
> the
> idea that the Pentateuch is a composite work?…

Other than Genesis, why should I? When the historical references indicate
that one person wrote it, and there are no obvious counter-indications, why
should I doubt the historical record? As for Genesis, I have already covered

> …  Is there any test that you
> could construct that would convince you that the Pentateuch is not
> a unified work?…

Yes. Either finding an ancient historical record mentioning the date of
composition and who composed it, giving other details including on how
others reacted to the preparation of these new documents, or finding one or
more source documents where there is no question on where we can trace which
sections were later quoted in the Pentateuch, yet there is no question that
this/these document(s) predate(s) Pentateuch. Preferably both. None of these
documents may be later than Qumran, preferably long before. So far, I know
of none.

> …  Yes, we may not have the original documents that made
> it up -- but that doesn't change the fact that the final work may be a
> result
> of composition.  So how would you determine if the final work is or is not
> the result of composition including, among others, sources much later
> than Moses, allowing for the possibility that in the second case, the
> original independent source documents did not survive?

Unless you have the original documents, you don't have a case (unless they
are cited as in Kings and other books dealing with history). You can't cite
differences in style, as these books were written over a span of years and
nobody maintains the same style unchanged over a long time. Also some books
were written as written records, while Deuteronomy in particular was an oral
speech that was recorded. We have written records that imply or better
single authorship, you need something better to nullify what we have.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Looking at the history of DH, it started with the presupposition that Bible
was written later than the historical records indicated, and that the books
that make up Bible were compilations of earlier documents. The effort then
was to try to give other indications that their presuppositions were
correct. They developed a methodology that works with no other document. Why
should I trust it?

Karl W. Randolph.

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