[b-hebrew] Supernatural faith and scientific faith

Bryant J. Williams III bjwvmw at com-pair.net
Tue Jul 21 10:43:51 EDT 2009


Dear List,

Below are articles from Kevin Edgecombe's blog which detail the problem in
"Higher Criticism," "Nationalism," "naturalism (evolution)" and Anti-Semitism in
Germany prevalent in many of the leading proponents of the DH Theory based upon
"supposedly scientific" research.

Bryant

de Wette, Devolution, and Deuteronomy
Wilhelm Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849) is generally considered the
founding father of modern critical Biblical Studies. Specifically, he was the
first to develop and apply a philosophically-based method to the Biblical texts,
rather than relying upon religiously-influenced or -established commonplaces or
traditions. This does not, however, mean that his own method was devoid of
religious influence or even connections to political and social issues of his
day. In fact, his method is entirely rooted in the worldview of the late
eighteenth and early nineteenth century German intellectual environment.

The German intellectual scene of de Wette’s time was in lively ferment. Much
discussion was taking place regarding the unification of the various German
principalities and territories into a single German national state, particularly
after the end of the Holy Roman Empire (so-called) and the disturbances caused
by Napoleon. To have a single, democratic, liberal, Protestant Christian German
state was the thinking (German) person’s ideal. There was, however, a problem
with this: the Jews. Living amongst the various German Christians was this group
that held to its own culture, its own religion, and was effectively a nation
amongst nations. The coming German state, however, was envisioned to be a single
cultural entity, a German one at that. There would be no room in the plan for
any Jewish “particularists” who will reject the German “universalist” position
of the unification supporters by not completely assimilating.

Enter de Wette. Drawing especially on the works of Johann Gottfried Herder
(1744-1802) and Jacob Friedrich Fries (1773-1843), and strongly influenced by a
Romanticism that led him to view religion as a matter of aesthetics and feeling,
de Wette systematized various intellectual strands into a dialectic of the
development of true religion (liberal German Protestantism, of course) out of
false religion (post-exilic Judaism, of course). It is this dialectic that he
applied to the Holy Scriptures; this was his “method.”

The development proceeds as follows. First there was Hebraismus, the religion of
the patriarchs and of Israel in pre-exilic times, which went through several
stages:
1.) pre-Mosaic polytheistic Hebraismus
2.) Mosaic Hebraismus
3.) degenerated polytheistic-Mosaic Hebraismus
4.) the ideal Hebraismus of the Prophets and Poets
In this series, 1 and 3 are bad, while 2 and 4 are good. Then comes the Exile,
and de Wette makes this the end of Hebraismus (overall a better thing than not)
and the beginning of Judaism (an entirely degraded form of Hebraismus, of no
value):


[W]e must consider the nation after the Exile as another, with a different
thinking and religion. We call them in this period Jews, before that Hebrews; we
call what pertains to the postexilic cultural formation Judaism, and what
pertains to the pre-exilic cultural formation Hebraismus. de Wette, Biblische
Dogmatik, 48; quoted in Gerdmar, Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism, 81.

The Jews acquired “Oriental philosophy” (a bad thing) during the Exile through
association with Zoroastrians especially, becoming tainted with such ideas as
demonology, messianism, resurrection, and so on. Religious expression turns away
from faith and life to study and introspection, a thing completely unacceptable
to a Romantic like de Wette. Jesus is seen as the great Romantic, reviving the
spirit of Moses:


The way Jesus presented things was pure of anything didactic, methodical and
systematic; it was not teaching but merely reviving, directed at common sense
and unspoilt feeling. de Wette, Biblische Dogmatik, 213; Gerdmar, 84.

Within this same idealistic Romanticism, de Wette claims Jesus to present no
dogma and rejecting a faith based on authority. The Pharisees, standins for
rabbinic/contemporary Jews in de Wette’s views, represent the opposite of Jesus
and the spirit of Hebraismus: holding to mythological tales, their outward
obedience to dead laws, their expectation of a political messiah and world
domination, and their religious particularism that is exclusive rather than
universalistic. It is this mindset that drives de Wette’s distinctions in dating
the documents of the Old Testament.

de Wette was the first to suggest that Deuteronomy was the “Book of the Law”
that was discovered in the Temple in the time of King Josiah of Judah, as
depicted in 2 Kings 22. de Wette ties this “discovery”, which he actually posits
as a composition of the text at this time, with the imposition of a degraded
Hebraismus on the people: the beginnings of Judaism. Thus, it is not any
elaborate philological argument, nor any source critical discovery, nor any kind
of argument based upon any logic at all that drives de Wette’s determination of
the date of Deuteronomy as late. It is his liberal German Protestantant Romantic
nationalist dialectic regarding how degraded Judaism was which determines it.
This is in no way objective or acceptable argumentation. Indeed, there is no
argumentation. There is only assertion of Romantic ideals, liberal Protestant
ideals, and radical German nationalist ideals, while drawing upon other earlier
anti-Jewish writings. His theological fulminations on Jewish degradation led,
contrary to his short-sighted will, to an anti-emancipation movement that was
disastrous for Jews, one which finally found full expression in the Holocaust.

de Wette’s is not rational thought. I reject de Wette’s ideas, every foundation
of them, and everything that has proceeded to be built upon his misguided,
corrupt, and bigoted mentality.

What things might we discover in leaving such bitter and childish thoughts as
those of de Wette and his ilk behind? It’ll be interesting to find out.

Pasto, Who Owns the Jewish Past?
The basic argument of this work is straightforward: Jewish history, as
represented in western Biblical scholarship, is a Christian invention. Or
rather, it is what I will call a Christian sacralizing history. I will explain
what I mean by the term “Christian” below. By “sacralizing history” I mean any
representation of the past that serves as the foundational narrative for
identity in the present. By Christian sacralizing history I mean a history that
serves as the foundational narrative for Christians in the present. Thus, I
argue that what is taught as Jewish history in most western university courses,
is in fact a Christian past that serves the needs of a Christian present. I
presume of course, and I will argue throughout this work, that Christians
possess the power to represent the Jewish past as Christian sacralizing history.
This Christian sacralizing history has a number of distinctive features, among
which is the assertion of a rupture that separates and contrasts, respectively,
an Abrahamic covenant with a Mosaic Law, Hebrews with Jews, and ancient Israel
with later Judaism. The point of rupture is variously postulated as the
Babylonian Exile, the Hellenistic period, or the time of Jesus, depending on the
views of the particular writer. In each case, however, the rupture is the point
at which the Abrahamic-Hebraic-Israel ends, and the Mosaic-Jewish-Judaism
begins.

Integral to this narrative of rupture is the representation of the Mosaic,
Jewish “Judaism” as a religion or society of “contradictory combinations,” the
most characteristic of which are universalism versus particularism, prophecy
versus law, and freedom versus constraint. Moreover, these contradictory
combinations are set within a broader typology where the Abrahamic-Hebraic
Israel — along with Hellenism and Christianity — stands to Judaism as the
universal, prophetic, and free to the particular, legal and constraining. This
in turn is placed within a scheme of progress where the contradictory elements
in Judaism grow in intensity until they are resolved through, and in, Jesus and
early Christianity. The now separate universal, prophetic and free elements
serve as the foundational essence of Christianity, while the particularistic,
legalistic constraining elements become the foundational essence of the
post-Jesus Judaism. This schema, which many might recognize as characteristic
only of 19th century scholarship, is alive and well in current scholarship.

James Pasto. Who Owns the Jewish Past? Judaism, Judaisms, and the Writing of
Jewish History. PhD Dissertation, Cornell University, 1999. Page 1, first two
paragraphs of the Introduction.

I saw this dissertation mentioned in several of the footnotes of Anders Gerdmar,
Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism: German Biblical Interpretation and the Jews,
from Herder and Semler to Kittel and Bultmann, and the notes were intriguing
enough that I purchased it from UMI. I am not disappointed, in reading the
Introduction. It dovetails perfectly with the Gerdmar work. One of the benefits
of Pasto (two volumes totally almost 700 pages) is a full chapter on Wellhausen,
which will undoubtedly be fascinating. In fact, Gerdmar recommends Pasto’s
coverage of Wellhausen:


Other scholars could have been included, such as Julius Wellhausen and Emil
Schürer, but for the sake of limiting what is already a large book, for
Wellhausen I refer [the reader] to James Pasto’s substantial study from 1999, in
which Wellhausen is closely related to de Wette. (p. 14)

Pasto’s chapter on Wellhausen comprises 110 pages, much more coverage than
Gerdmar could’ve included, and undoubtedly in delicious detail (I refuse to
cheat and take a peek, because I know that I’ll end up reading the whole chapter
then and there). I look forward to reading it.

In this dissertation by Pasto, the Gerdmar Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism
book, Carla Sulzbach’s 1996 dissertation David Zvi Hoffmann’s Die Wichtigsten
Instanzen gegen die Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese (”The main arguments against
the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis”) (available here), and several articles, for
example those by James McNutt ["Adolf Schlatter and the Jews," German Studies
Review 26.2 (May 2003), 353-370] and Maurice Casey ["Some Anti-Semitic
Assumptions in the 'Theological Dictionary of the New Testament," Novum
Testamentum 41.3 (Jul 1999), 280-291], all combine to paint a particular picture
of the generally tendentious nature of the approch of modern Biblical criticism
toward the Hebrew Bible (even/especially in its Christian incarnation as the Old
Testament) and the history of Israel. It’s going to be an interesting summer for
me, reading-wise. I’ll be sure to keep posting on the subject.

More of de Wette’s charm
Because my last post on de Wette was so interesting to some, I thought I’d post
some more of his ideas and comment upon them. The point here is to demonstrate
that, if anything, de Wette’s proposals were not critical in the true sense,
that is, demonstrative of rational discernment, but are rather the result of
deep-seated prejudices which are reflected in all his work, root and branch.

de Wette proposes that Hebraismus, his label for the religion of the Patriarchs
and Moses as a discrete entity separate from later manifestations of Israelite
religion except for the Prophetic strain, becomes the intellectual source of
life


from which Christianity, and after the killing of it in Catholicism, true
Christian Protestantism has come forth, and with Christianity and Protestantism,
the scholarly spirit of the new European culture. (Gerdmar, Roots of Theological
Anti-Semitism, 80; quoting de Wette, Biblische Dogmatik, 59-60)

So, we see de Wette equating here “original religion,” Hebraismus, the best of
Israelite religion, with earliest Christianity, with Protestantism (the German
strain, of course), and European scholarship (again, German, of course). He does
not neglect to declare Catholicism “dead,” in the same way that he declares
Judaism dead. He describes Judaism elsewhere as “degenerated, petrified
Hebraismus” (Gerdmar, 81; quoting de Wette, Biblische Dogmatik, 114).
Presumably, Catholicism is thus conceived by de Wette as a degenerate, petrified
Christianity. In this sense, he sets up the equation of Judaism (Hebraismus’
degenerate successor) with Catholicism (Christianity’s degenerate successor),
and Christianity (Hebraismus’ revival) with Protestantism (Christianity’s
revival). Just as dead Judaism was followed by living Christianity, so dead
Catholicism is followed by living Protestantism, which finds the flower of its
expression in scholarship, namely, de Wette’s own!

We find here not only blatant apologetics, but the classical early Enlightenment
attachment to historical cyclicism, a long discarded practice in historiography.
There is likewise here a heavy-handed admixture of pure Romanticism: the
contrast of the spontaneous, vivacious, ruleless Hebraism, Christianity, and
Protestantism (liberal German Protestantism, mind you, not that conservative
stuff) in opposition to rote, dead, rule-laden, Judaism and Catholicism. This
“freedom is life” and “restriction is death” motif is a core concept of
Romanticism, if not the core concept.

This entire dialectic of de Wette’s is, of course, arrant nonsense. The equation
of liberal German Protestantism with early Christianity is unbelievably stupid,
in addition to being purely offensive. If anything, as we all well know
nowadays, and as is described in the writings of the New Testament itself, we
should without question equate early Christianity with Judaism. The first
generation of Christians were considered Jews by outsiders, whatever
distinctions may have been made in Christian and Jewish circles, as seen in
Claudius’ expulsion of all Jews from Rome for arguing over Chrestus/Christus
(arguments dissociating this from Christian-Jewish controversy are
unconvincing). A clear distinction is, however, recognized by late AD 64, with
Nero’s specific targeting of Christians and not Jews as culpable for the great
fire that had just swept through the city (conveniently clearing a nice swath
for the construction for Nero’s Golden House and its grounds). Labelling both
Judaism snd Catholicism as dead is both thoroughly offensive and entirely
stupid, displaying only a colossal ignorance of the spiritual life of these two
traditions.

But, after all, de Wette is quite obviously not after truth, but “truthiness.”
All this work of his was politically motivated to provide a
religio-philosophical justification for republican plans to unite the
German-speaking lands into one nation-state, with liberal German Protestantism
as the state religion, and liberal German Protestant scholarship as its
intellect.

Utilizing the very same early Christian and Jewish sources that de Wette used,
we nowadays come to radically different conclusions regarding early Christianity
’s makeup. It is likewise obvious to all observers that neither Judaism nor
Catholicism is lifeless and moribund. Seeing his success in this aspect of early
Christian history, one can summon no confidence in de Wette’s treatment of
Israelite history. The only truly rational expectation is to find him treating
the evidence selectively in order to establish his point, constructing a case so
that the ultimate goal of his dialectic (which is the supremacy of liberal
German Protestantism) is established. This requires that he posit the devolution
of true religion, Hebraism, into Judaism, false religion. His view of history as
cyclical will permit nothing else, for it must match his understanding that the
living, true religion of Christianity devolved into the false, dead religion of
Catholicism. Then, just as Protestantism revived true religion, so Christianity
must have done so. This is exactly what de Wette has done, completing the cycle,
and proving, by his extension of this historical dialectic, that liberal German
Protestantism is the ultimate of all religious expressions.

And it is this dialectic, this so-called critical ordering of history, that de
Wette describes as “historical-critical.” The name has stuck. So it is used and
adapted by Wellhausen and later authors. But its origin lies as the label for de
Wette’s forcing history into his own mold. It is neither historical, nor
critical.

Next up in our tour of liberal Protestant German anti-Jewish scholarship: Julius
Wellhausen.

Higher Criticism—Higher Anti-Semitism
Below is the full text of Solomon Schechter’s address, “Higher Criticism—Higher
Anti-Semitism”, delivered at the Judaean Banquet, given in honor of Dr. Kaufman
Kohler, March 26, 1903. The text is from Seminary Address and Other Papers
(Cincinnati: Ark Publishing, 1915), 35-39.

My acquaintance with Dr. Kohler dates from the year 1901, when he did me the
honor of paying me a visit at Cambridge, England. There is no scarcity in that
ancient seat of learning, “full of sages and scribes,” of learned conversation.
But the day with Dr. Kohler was one of the most delightful I have ever
experienced in that place. The day was spent in roaming over the contents of the
Genizah and in conversation. Our thoughts were turned to Judaism and the
subjects which occupied our minds were all of a theological or historical
nature. We probably differed in a good many points, and please God we shall
differ in many more—but this did not prevent our short acquaintance from
ripening at once into what might approach friendship. I felt that I was in the
presence of a scholar and a seeker after truth. His is an intellect devoted
entirely to what he considers the truth, and his is a heart deeply affected by
every spiritual sensation which is in the air. He also delights to engage in
what he considers the “Battles fo the Lord,” and Judaism has need for men of
valor.

To speak more clearly: Since the so-called emancipation, the Jews of the
civilized world have been lulled int a fancied security which events have not
justified. It is true that through the revelation in the Dreyfus case,
anti-Semitism of the vulgar sort has become odious, and no lady or gentleman
dares not to use the old weapons of the times of Drumont and Stoecker. But the
arch-enemy has entered upon a new phase, which Boerne might have called “the
philosophic ‘Hep-Hep.’ ” And this is the more dangerous phase because it is of a
spiritual kind, and thus means the “excision of the soul,” leaving us no hope
for immortality. I remember when I used to come home from the Cheder, bleeding
and crying from the wounds inflicted upon me by the Christian boys, my father
used to say, “My child, we are in Galuth (exile), and we mut submit to God’s
will.” And he made me understand that this is only a passing stage in history,
as we Jews belong to eternity, when God will comfort His people. Thus the pain
was only physical, but my real suffering began later in life, when I emigrated
from Roumania to so-called civilized countries and found there what I might call
the Higher anti-Semitism, which burns the soul though it leaves the body unhurt.
The genesis of this Higher anti-Semitism is partly, though not entirely—for a
man like Kuenen belongs to an entirely different class—contemporaneous with the
genesis of the so-called Higher criticism of the Bible. Wellhausen’s Prolegomena
and History are teeming with aperçes full of venom against Judaism, and you
cannot wonder that he was rewarded by one of the highest orders which the
Prussian Government had to bestow. Afterwards Harnack entered the arena with his
“Wesen des Christenthums,” in which he showed not so much his hatred as his
ignorance of Judaism. But this Higher anti-Semitism has now reached its climax
when every discovery of recent years is called to bear witness against us and to
accuse us of spiritual larceny.


Some time ago I saw in one of the numerous sheets of this country a reference to
the Hammurabi Code, concluding with the words, “this means a blow to Orthodoxy.”
I hold no brief for Orthodoxy in this country or elsewhere. But, may I ask: Is
there any wing in Judaism which is prepared to confirm the reproach of Carlyle,
who, in one of his anti-Semitic fits, exclaimed, “The Jews are always dealing in
old clothes; spiritual or material.” We are here between ourselves, so we may
frankly make the confession that we did not invent the art of printing; we did
not discover America, in spite of Kayserling; we did not inaugurate the French
Revolution, in spite of some one else; we were not the first to utilize the
power of steam or electricity, in spite of any future Kayserling. Our great
claim to the gratitude of mankind is that we gave to the world the word of God,
the Bible. We have stormed heaven to snatch down this heavenly gift, as the
Paitanic expression is; we threw ourselves into the breach and covered it with
our bodies against every attack; we allowed ourselves to be slain by hundreds
and thousands rather than become unfaithful to it; and we bore witness to its
truth and watched over its purity in the face of a hostile world. The Bible is
our sole raison d’être, and it is just this which the Higher anti-Semitism is
seeking to destroy, denying all our claims for the past, and leaving us without
hope for the future.

Can any section among us afford to concede to this professorial and imperial
anti-Semitism and confess “for a truth we and our ancestors have sinned’” we
have lived on false pretenses and were the worst shams in the world? Forget not
that we live in an historical age in which everybody must show his credentials
from the past. The Bible is our patent of nobility granted to us by the Almighty
God, and if we disown the Bible, leaving it to the tender mercies of a
Wellhausen, Stade and Duhm, and other beautiful souls working away at
diminishing the “nimbus of the Chosen Peope,” the world will disown us. There is
no room in it for spiritual parvenus. But this intellectual persecution can only
be fought by intellectual weapons and unless we make an effort to recover our
Bible and to think out our theology for ourselves, we are irrevocably lost from
both worlds. A mere protest in the pulpit or a vigorous editorial in a paper, or
an amateur essay in a monthly, or even a special monograph will not help us. We
have to create a really living, great literature, and do the same for the
subjects of theology and the Bible that Europe has done for Jewish history and
philology. It is in view of this fact that I hail Dr. Kohler’s election to the
Presidency of the Hebrew Union College as a happy event in the annals of
American Jewry; for under his guidance I am sure Cincinnate will, in good time,
contribute its share to this great “battle of duty.” Some amiable persons
predict jealousy and strife between the two colleges, and are already preparing
to enjoy the fight as disinterested spectators. I am certain that they will
prove false prophets, for the old dictum that the students of the Torah increase
peace in the world, holds good also in our day. But let me say to you that this
yearning after peace, on my part, is not to be taken as a sign of my
entertaining any doubt as to the soundness of my theological position, or fear
of a strenuous life. I am, as a rule, not given to mental squinting, nor have I
ever shunned a fight. But I honor and admire Dr. Kohler too much to take up the
position of an antagonist. Besides, you have probably heard the story of that
Methodist parson who rebuked one of his parishioners who occasionally indulged
in wife-beating, with the words: “How can you spend your time in fighting your
wife, when you both should be fighting the devil?” In fact, I feel that we are
standing now before a crisis which would stigmatize the indulgence in such a
fight as treason to the cause of Judaism; we must gather our forces and fight
the enemy; and Dr. Kohler, by his wide learning, contagious enthusiasm and noble
character, is the right man in the right place to marshal a part of these
forces, which may, by the blessing of God, help us to victory.

Schechter’s “philosophic Hep-Hep” refers to the Hep-Hep Riots of 1819 beginning
in Würzburg and spreading to other areas. It was the most widespread Western
European pogrom in modern times until the Holocaust, and was instigated by those
opposing emancipation (i.e., an equality of civil rights) for the Jews.

de Wette, Vatke, and Wellhausen
Key to the formation of the modern academic field of Biblical Studies are the
machinations of nineteenth century liberal German Protestants (as I’ve recently
touched on in these posts: Roots of Theological Anti-Semitism, Roots of
Theological Anti-Semitism: Semler, Pasto, Who Owns the Jewish Past?, De Wette,
Devolution, and Deuteronomy, and More of de Wette’s Charm), all of whom were
anti-Jewish to a greater or lesser degree, though not full-blown anti-Semites.
The latter requires belief in racial theory, which was yet to be developed, in
part with support from the various “critical” anti-Jewish writings of these
singularly driven men. And they were certainly driven: driven to support their
own scholarship and liberal German Protestantism as the highest form of religion
the world had yet seen. The respect granted to German scholarship in the
nineteenth century by all Europeans was of the highest order, as it embodied the
ideals of the Enlightenment, a recent even at that time. This permitted them a
greater platform than they would enjoy in the twentieth century. Particularly
skillful as a propogandaistic coup was the exclusive appropriation to their work
as “criticism” and “critical” — a situation that pertains to this day. The
historical-critical method (the term originally invented to describe de Wette’s
dialectic of the devolution of Hebraism into Judaism, superseded by
Christianity, a revival of Hebraism, and so on, as I described here), a
newly-minted approach to the Scriptures, became equated with criticism itself in
the 1850s. This meant that other approaches were not referred to as critical,
thereby severing the terminology’s usage from its roots in antiquity,
particularly the Aristotelian usage, which had prevailed to that time. No longer
was critcism the right application of a well-formed mind to decision-making, but
something that the academy decided. The distinction is crucial. For it is
certainly not the case that the historical-critical method of de Wette can be
described as the conclusion of a well-formed mind. It is instead an entirely
self-serving, societally and aetically contingent invention, an appropriation of
the history of another race for purposes of his (and sympathizers’) own and only
of useful application at that moment in time: for the unification of the German
lands into a single rebuplican state, a state which would exclude all who would
not convert to the above-mentioned highest expression of “the world spirit”:
liberal German Protestantism as defined by theology professors (I will not sully
“Theologian” with such an association) such as de Wette! This meant that it was
preferred that there were no more Jews, and no more Catholics in the new Reich.
In what was perceived as a noble gesture, they were welcomed to convert,
otherwise they could leave—a familiar scenario for the Jews.

But here I want to focus on something else, which I find perfectly demonstrative
of the irrationality lying behind the “criticism” of the day. This is the issue
of dating the books of the Pentateuch, and how de Wette and Vatke could come up
with such diametrically opposed opinions on the subject, all relying on exactly
the same data.

Firstly, de Wette changed his mind on the dating of Deuteronomy. He at first
considered it to be a product of the reign of Josiah, the “Book of the Law”
described in 2 Kings 22. Later, however, he considered it to be even later, an
exilic or post-exilic document written during a time when “Judaism” was in full
swing, a time of rigid centralization and conformity to written strictures. This
only means that he places the composition further along the course of the
devolution of Hebraism into Judaism, in his terminology, which had already begun
in pre-exilic times. de Wette leaves the authoring of the first four books of
the Pentateuch to an earlier age than that of Deuteronomy, for they reveal
(through narrative) a freer society and religion, one not encumbered by rules
and regulations, when religion and its expression were rooted in personal piety,
not in an external supernaturalism and legislation—the classic Romantic
position.

Contrast Vatke. He, reading the very same Deuteronomy, posits it as representing
a religion of the heart, not one of the dead letter, and therefore it must
precede the legal materials found in the first four books of the Pentateuch. So,
Vatke places Deuteronomy first (curiously maintaining a roughly Josianic date, a
legacy of de Wettes’ reputation more than critical thought) and all the other
legal materials later. It was Vatke’s solution which was generally received, and
which was canonized in Wellhausen.

The two are diametrically opposed in their readings. This is not critical
thinking. We needn’t go into the issue of assertion in the lack of contextual
evidence, or at least not just yet. When de Wette and Vatke were writing, the
great archaeological discoveries of writings from the ancient Near East were yet
to occur. The languages were yet to be deciphered. Once they were however, and
the great Library of Ashurbanipal discovered in 1850 by Austen Henry Layard,
there was no excuse for Wellhausen and others to have ignored (as they did) the
full panoply of literary texts and their implications. But there is also the
question as to whether it would have entered their mind at all to equate such
writings of great empires with the writings of a small client kingdom,
particularly in light of their view of Jews and Judaism. They either wilfully
ignored the contextual evidence, or they considered the Jews to have been
incapable of being part of such a widespread literacy themselves. I think it was
a little of both. In addition, Wellhausen had an agenda: to establish the
liberal German Protestant scholarly trend as the solely acceptable one, in the
face of challenges from conservatives. In this, he was successful, subjecting
the Bible to a still-ruling hegemony of criticism. But this was and is to the
detriment of gaining a true understanding of the writings of the Bible, Old and
New Testaments.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "K Randolph" <kwrandolph at gmail.com>
To: "B-Hebrew" <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Monday, July 20, 2009 5:10 PM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Supernatural faith and scientific faith


> Rolf:
>
> On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 12:53 AM, Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> wrote:
>
> > Dear Yigal,
> >
> > I agree with you that we should not belittle people who have a faith
> > different from ours. You mentioned "faith, laws of nature, and
> > scientific method," and I think it would be fine to say something
> > regarding the relationship between them (I changed the subject from
> > "Genesis 41: 1: "Two Years of Days"").  I think this discussion is
> > relevant for b-hebrew, because it deals with methodological issues
> > related to the study of the Tanakh.
> >
> > I suppose that all list members want to use scientific methods when
> > they work with the Tanakh. But in connection with this, there is one
> > disturbing situation. In order to follow scientific methods, we must
> > leave out anything that is metaphysical. God and supernatural acts
> > supposed to have been done by him are per definition metaphysical and
> > must be rejected. We therefore are led into the position that we
> > study a text (the Tanakh) where all the authors to a great extent
> > ascribe particular acts to God, and ascribe their own texts to God,
> > but God must a priori be excluded as an explanatory factor on the
> > basis of scientific principles.
> >
> > …. But we should not be
> > too hasty to reject information found in the Tanakh because it
> > appears not to conform with modern scientific theories - because we
> > may not be in a situation of faith versus knowledge but rather of
> > supernatural faith versus scientific faith. ….
> >
> > Best regards,
> >
> > Rolf Furuli
> > University of Oslo
> >
> > I do not buy the belief that there is a difference between “supernatural
> faith versus scientific faith”, rather both are types of religious faith—one
> supernaturalistic faith, and the other naturalistic faith (only physical
> nature exists). The adherents of both can utilize the scientific
>
method<http://www.wikinfo.org/index.php/Scientific_Method_from_science_textbooks
>
> .
>
> As for science, its roots are found in the
> Bible<http://www.wikinfo.org/index.php/Biblical_roots_of_science>.
>  therefore this claim that science can give only naturalistic answers is a
> corruption of science. In fact it is adding a religious element (naturalism)
> to the scientific
>
method<http://www.wikinfo.org/index.php/Scientific_Method_from_science_textbooks
>
> that
> is absent from the methodology itself.
>
> In the application of the above to Biblical Hebrew—we have to question just
> what is a scientific approach to Biblical studies and to the history of the
> Hebrew language? Is the Documentary Hypothesis scientific? Or even the
> question of proto-Semitic language?
>
> In the history of the Documentary Hypothesis, we find that it is based on an
> à priori belief of evolution, i.e. the religion of naturalism. In the eyes
> of those who say that science = naturalism, that is enough to say that the
> Documentary Hypothesis is scientific. For naturalists, that trumps even the
> fact that there are no observable data to back up the claims. But in
> reality, that there are no observations to back up its claims makes it mere
> religious/philosophical speculation. The lack of observations excludes it as
> a scientific study. That the Documentary Hypothesis is taught as a fact is
> the de facto imposition of a religious faith on students.
>
> What about proto-Semitic? Again it is a theorized language based on certain
> presuppositions that may or may not be correct, there are no observations to
> back it up. Therefore, it too is a non-scientific belief.
>
> What about the history of the Hebrew language? We have certain documents
> that claim to be historical, be we can neither accept those claims nor
> reject them based on science, because of the lack of observations.
>
> What can science study? The language itself as preserved in surviving texts,
> variant readings based on found texts, vocabulary, sentence structure,
> syntax, context, etc. We have had plenty of scientific discussions on this
> list dealing with these subjects.
>
> Note: the scientific method has nothing to say about God or non-existence of
> same, whether or not evolution occurred, or was it a creation instead,
> that’s why I did not discuss these issues in this posting.
>
> Karl W. Randolph.
> _______________________________________________
> b-hebrew mailing list
> b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> http://lists.ibiblio.org/mailman/listinfo/b-hebrew
>


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