[b-hebrew] Wellhausen

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Wed Jan 23 11:59:59 EST 2008

Dear Yitzhak:

On 1/19/08, Yitzhak Sapir <yitzhaksapir at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jan 10, 2008 9:56 PM, K Randolph wrote:
> > On Jan 10, 2008 12:43 AM, Yitzhak Sapir 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.
> First, you are now taking what I say out of context (symbolized above by
> the
> ellipsis before the "Don't").  I just warned you not to take it out of
> context, not
> saying that you did.

Sorry, I misunderstood you.

> It was widely taught in European universities as early as 1820.
> What exactly was widely taught in European universities?  Who
> convinced scholars
> in the US?

The theory was
published by many authors in German, French, Dutch and English at several
universities by 1820. If that doesn't indicate wide dissemination of the
idea, what does?

At the same time, in fact through most of the 19th century, it was common
for Americans to go to Europe for their university training. They learned of
the theory in Europe and brought it back to the U.S.

> 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.
> Again, you have provided no evidence for the questions.  Even questions
> need
> evidence.  You can't just cast doubt on anything you wish without
> providing some
> evidence for the doubt.  All things being equal, you should take his
> word for what
> it means.  A scholar means any scholar.  Why would someone think
> otherwise?

The evidence from history, namely that the United States differed from
Europe in that it did not have a state church. Churches were independent,
ran their own schools for the training of their leaders, schools which hired
scholars, including Hebrew language and Old Testament scholars. With rare
exceptions, in the 1880s (true even 50 years later) those schools had
doctrinal positions that they considered more important than the scholarship
of the professors. Yet for the most part, they were able to find scholars to
hire who agreed with their doctrinal positions.

The scholars hired by those independent religious schools outnumbered those
hired by secular universities. Therefore the conclusion is that "most
scholars" in the U.S. in 1889 agreed with DH, while possibly true in Europe,
can very easily be called into question for the situation in the U.S.

> > DH is not only Torah, rather it is connected with the division of Isaiah
> to
> > two or three authors, ...  all parts of the same movement whose roots go
> back
> > more than two centuries, ... to before Gesenius developed his
> lexicography in
> > accordance to the movement, ... Those roots have objections that have
> never
> > been adequately answered, therefore the refinements, that which came
> later,
> > are largely irrelevant.
> and later on in this post to which I now respond you add:
> > 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.
> And here I ask, what roots and presuppositions with which you have
> problems are
> behind Ibn Ezra's suggestion?  Why is the division of Isaiah to two
> authors here
> part of  this "movement"?

When reading about the historical development of DH, I did not find ibn Ezra
even mentioned, which is why I question his relevance in this discussion.
But I did find several references to a belief in evolution, even in the
earliest writings. Therefore, a belief in naturalism and evolution which is
the reason for the division of Isaiah to two or more authors, is relevant
and why it is connected with DH.

> > >  Have you ever tried yourself to test the Documentary
> > > Hypothesis objectively?
> > >
> > > I did.…
> >
> > I doubt very much that you did.
> Since you do not know me, don't doubt me.  Take it as a given.

I gave the reasons for my doubt in the following paragraph.

> > 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.
> You're simply wrong.  That I knew what the Documentary Hypothesis in
> general
> claims does not mean that I organized my thoughts by some ideological
> framework.  I did not.

Oh puh-lease … This is getting outside the realm of a strict adherence to
the guidelines that these discussions deal with the linguistic issues at

That people start out with ideological positions that color their acceptance
or rejection of certain ideas is well known. It is discussed in relation to
anthropology, where the expectations of the researcher are sometimes called
into question as to how he perceives a people he is studying. I freely admit
that I started with a certain ideological position that had already rejected
the ideological basis upon which DH is built, which led me to reject DH as
well. That you refuse to acknowledge that you even have an ideology
(religion) is an indication of ignorance, not of sophistication. Of course
you have a belief system (religion) which is in general logically
consistent. And DH is consistent with those beliefs. Therefore when you were
introduced to DH, you had no problem integrating it with your other beliefs,
while I found it totally incompatible with mine. Hence I have far higher
standards of evidence for it before I can accept it.

> > > …  Is there any test that you
> > > could construct that would convince you that the Pentateuch is not
> > > a unified work?…
> [skipping a part where you deal with cases where we find the originals,
> because
> this was not the question]

This was the question, as this is the standard that I consider as necessary
to convince me.

> > > …  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.
> No.  We have the Diatessaron, and it was believed to be of the apostolic
> age,
> and to have been the original gospel, and yet, this is clearly not the
> case.

The above description of Diatessaron is so far off that I'm surprised you
mention it. The documents that it is based on were written in the first
century AD, three of them before the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus,
that was the apostolic age, while the Diatessaron was written later. It
clearly was not the original.

>   How
> do we know that the Pentateuch, while it may be read and interpreted as
> internally consistent, is not similarly a composite?  The fact that we
> don't have
> the originals does not change the truth about whether it is or is not
> a composite.
> Having the originals would prove it was not a composite.  Not having them
> does
> not prove that it is not!  (Should I say, "absence of evidence...").
> Similarly, the
> fact that we can interpret the Pentateuch to mean that it was written by a
> single author (ie, places where it speaks of "Torah" refer to the whole
> book)
> does not mean that this is the only interpretation.  Therefore,
> neither absence of
> source documents nor an interpretation is sufficient conditions to
> determine that
> the work is not a composite.  They are necessary conditions -- they
> are just not
> sufficient conditions.  So we are still missing a test that would
> supplement these
> necessary but insufficient conditions and would show that the work is not
> a
> composite.  You did not provide one.

You are right that the evidence does not prove individual authorship, just
that it indicates that such was the case. What your paragraph above
indicates is that we merely do not have sufficient evidence to prove either
position. No matter which position we take, whether single authorship or DH,
we must take it on faith. DH is no less a faith statement than single

In accordance with the guidelines of this group, I am not trying to
proselytize for single authorship, I merely put it on the table as a
legitimate position that has support that others are free to accept or
reject. I mention my preference, and the reasons for my preference, but that
remains my preference. DH is also on the table. Those who have faith in it
are free to show their preferences. What I object to is the insistence that
one or the other position is the only intellectual position that is
acceptable, which is clearly not the case. When a person insists that his
position is the only one acceptable (e.g. that one position is the only
scholarly one), he has crossed the line to proselytism.

I have tried to avoid saying that my preferences are the only acceptable
ones, while at the same time trying to indicate that it is the intellectual
equal to DH. But now we are going in circles, rehashing old ideas, so I see
no reason to continue this thread. You may have the final word, but unless
you add materially to the discussion, I see no reason to answer.

> Yitzhak Sapir

Karl W. Randolph.

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