[b-hebrew] Wellhausen (K Randolph)

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Jan 28 03:07:09 EST 2008

Dear Bill:

On Jan 27, 2008 2:03 PM, Bill Rea <bsr15 at cantsl.it.canterbury.ac.nz> wrote:

> Karl wrote:-
> >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.
> To not know of the significant of Ibn Ezra is quite a gap in your
> knowledge of this area.

That I did not find him in the history of DH indicates that, at least in the
pre-20th century era of DH (which includes Wellhausen), his work was
irrelevant. In other words, his work was a footnote at best, not a major
player, in the development of DH.

> First I'd like to state as clearly as I can that I
> understand your rejection of the DH (upper case) on religious grounds
> despite the fact you have your own private documentary hypothesis (lower
> case). I don't question your right to such a view. I don't even question
> your right to a double standard in what you regard as evidence.

This is not a double standard.

DH, as stated, works only with one document—Bible. Further, there are no
antecedent documents that could possibly be used as source documents.

According to historians, there was a literary style noticed first in
literature outside of the Bible, where the title and author were mentioned
at the end of the document, not at the beginning as at present. That
literary style went out of use during the first half of the second
millennium BC. Then when looking at Genesis and Genesis only, it appears
that the same literary style is used, indicating that Moses had access to
older documents upon which he based Genesis.

For the one there is no documentary evidence, for the other a pattern used
by other documents (unless the historians lied to me). There is no double
standard here.

> For
> your on private documentary hypothesis no other evidence than tolodoth
> divisions are necessary.

It is not my private hypothesis, I learned it from others, more learned than

> For the DH (upper case) original sources are
> required. Fine. I get it.
> The problem is that you dress up your religious views in the language of
> science. You talk about evidence, reason, and logic but it seems to be all
> a facade for an immovable religious belief. Over a number of years you
> have posted a self-portrait and asked if the portrait is of a scholar.
> The answer is clearly no. A scholar must deal with the existing
> scholarship.

Irrelevant, a red herring argument.

> Ibn Ezra is an important figure in the development of
> the broad idea that the Torah was not written by a single author.
> This has been said a number of times over the years yet even now you
> don't know who he was or what his ideas were.

When I studied DH, my professors and books I read did not mention him.
Wellhausen was mentioned, as a great historical figure. The latest and
greatest when I studied was Bultmann. I rejected the theory then based on
its flaws, and since then have not kept up with the latest developments in
that hypothesis. It is because my professors and books I read never
mentioned ibn Ezra is why I say that unless you can show a connection
between the historical development of DH and ibn Ezra, then ibn Ezra and his
teachings are irrelevant.

> If I wrote a paper
> and submitted it to a journal and the referee(s) said, ``The author
> has omitted a reference to the seminal work of so and so.'' I would
> have to read and digest so and so's work then add something to the
> paper to deal with whatever contribution so and so made before I
> submitted a revised version of the paper. That's how research
> and scholarship work.

Who is denying this?

> Ibn Ezra is an important figure. You question his relevance????? You
> haven't taken the time to study his work. All that shows is your
> unscholarly approach to the subject. It you want to take a religious
> approach to the question of authorship then please don't try to dress up
> your religion in scientific clothing. At least be honest with the
> rest of the list.

Unless you can show that those who developed DH were familiar with the works
of ibn Ezra and quoted him extensively, starting with the early writings
from about 1800 to 1820, and continuing up through when the theory was
largely codified by Wellhausen, then ibn Ezra was irrelevant to the
development of DH. Well, do you have those quotes?

The reason I mention the early writings is that was when the authors of DH
were most open that they tended, in your words, to "dress up your religious
views in the language of science".

> >That people start out with ideological positions that color their
> >acceptance or rejection of certain ideas is well known.
> [snip]
> >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.
> But you fail to deal with Ibn Erza, among others, who clearly did not hold
> these ideological positions you so strongly object to. He couldn't have
> held them because they hadn't been invented at the time he lived.

Here's where you show ignorance. Evolution, as a belief, is an ancient
belief. Aristotle taught natural selection as the engine for evolution, long
before Darwin reintroduced that concept. All Darwin did was to dress up that
ancient belief into the language of Victorian England. How much was ibn Ezra
influenced by the beliefs that were taught when he lived?

> You seem willing to accuse everyone who thinks the balance of evidence
> points to the Torah being the work of multiple authors of being
> motivated by ``a belief in naturalism and evolution ''. That's just
> utter non-sense. You aren't a mind reader. I'm not even sure was
> ``naturalism'' is supposed to be. The only times I've heard that
> word used has been by creationists who what to dismiss some
> evidence they don't like.

Let's start with the "New Oxford American Dictionary" that comes bundled
with Mac OS X.4:

Naturalism is, according to the second entry,

"a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural
properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are
excluded or discounted. [ORIGIN: translating French naturalisme.]
• (in moral philosophy) the theory that ethical statements can be derived
from nonethical ones.
• another term for natural religion . "

Or if you want some web sites:
http://www.infidels.org/ (gives the same definition as the previous link)
Wikipedia articles show that naturalism has its roots in ancient Greece, if
not before.

As for DH, the reason I have emphasized the teaching and not people is
because I wanted to say that the hypothesis' methodology and conclusions are
directly connected to the religion of naturalism, not that all the people
who espouse DH are naturalists. I think some have been fooled by the
practice of DH (as well as other religious teachings) in dressing up its
religious views in the language of science such that they put their
religious views into one box, and their "scientific" views in another box,
and never try to integrate them into a unified whole. However, it is clear
that the hypothesis was founded on naturalism, even to its methodology, and
in my rejecting naturalism, DH gets ejected along with its parent.

Apart from naturalism, the criticism that the method does not work with any
other literature also recommends its rejection.

> Jacob Neuser (there's a scholar you should know about) was once
> a visitor here. In the question time after a lecture one of our
> religious studies academics asked him how he would deal with the
> accusation that he was a fundamentalist. In reference to the Torah
> he said -- you have to beleive this was handed down by God otherwise
> its just information a good half of which is probably wrong. That
> answer baffled the questioner (and me too) but over the years I've
> come to be very impressed with his wisdom in giving that answer.
> You would do well to ponder it.

This sounds like post modernism, where everything is true, and nothing is
true. Or did I misunderstand him?

> P.S. I read the stuff on Deut 22 and it looks to me like you are
> taking my side and providing arguments for the point I was trying
> to make. So I'm out of that one.

I thought that issue had just been improperly framed, and not by you. Though
there was also the linguistic issue that needed to be clarified, but once
that was dealt with it looks as if the other "disagreements" really

> Bill Rea, ICT Services, University of Canterbury \_
> E-Mail bill.rea at canterbury.ac.nz                </   New
> Phone 64-3-364-2331, Fax  64-3-364-2332        /)  Zealand
> Unix Systems Administrator                    (/'

Karl W. Randolph.

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