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A little more on the Documentary Hypothesis

 
Andrew
 
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13 December 2009 14:44
 

There is a lot of evidence that the Torah is a combination of traditions from various sources that were intentionally woven together.
There’s linguistic evidence, for one.  The Torah shows an evolution of the Hebrew language through several distinct periods, so it couldn’t have been written by one person at one time in history.  But one person (or a small group of people) could have combined traditions and myths from previous periods and retained the language peculiarities.

There’s terminology.  Certain words and phrases occur consistently in a particular source, but never, or seldom, in another.  For instance, the phrase “be fruitful and multiply” occurs twelve times—-all in P.  The phrase “the place where Yahweh sets His name” or “the place where Yahweh tents His name” is found ten times in D, but never once in J, E or P.  The word cubit appears 59 times in the Torah, 56 are in P.
That sort of thing.  There are hundreds of examples.

Content is another bit of evidence.  The Tabernacle is mentioned only in P.  More than 200 times.  The ark of the covenant plays a significant role in J, but is never mentioned in EP describes the Urim and Thummim—an early method of casting lots that were kept by the High Priest—the Urim and Thummim get no ink in J, E, or D

Narrative continuity is evident.  I’ve already shown how the flood story is an obvious conflation of two traditions, but there are other examples of the same thing—if the sources are separated, the different texts offer a continuous, rational narrative on their own.

There’s a bunch more, but it’s nuanced and requires some background.  The big thing is the convergence of the evidence. 
When we separate the sources, the doublets make seeming contradictions disappear, the name of God and terminology divide consistently, the linguistic evolution is obvious and woven-together narratives-once separated by source-can stand on their own.

The best argument for the Documentary Hypothesis is that it accounts for the convergence of the evidence.

 
 
EN
 
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13 December 2009 20:05
 

It doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, but my back yard neighbor, who is a professor of OT at the local university (and not a fundamentalist), tells me that the DH is not as highly accepted among scholars as it used to be.  You seem to be highly enamored with it. Obviously the OT was edited.  Is there something in particular that you think the DH is telling us beyond that? Or is it just interesting to you?

 
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13 December 2009 21:23
 
Bruce Burleson - 13 December 2009 07:05 PM

...my back yard neighbor, who is a professor of OT at the local university (and not a fundamentalist), tells me that the DH is not as highly accepted among scholars as it used to be.

(Andrew):  I find that difficult to believe.  Not that your neighbor has told you such a thing, but that the Documentary Hypothesis is falling out of scholarly favor.  It’s sort of like your neighbor saying that the theory of evolution is not as highly accepted among scholars as it used to be.  Could you ask him what’s replacing it (the DH)?  And ask him what he teaches his students—the Documentary Hypothesis, or Mosaic authorship?  Or something else?

Bruce Burleson - 13 December 2009 07:05 PM

You seem to be highly enamored with it.

(Andrew):  Well…it fits all the evidence.

Bruce Burleson - 13 December 2009 07:05 PM

Obviously the OT was edited.

(Andrew):  Exactly.

Bruce Burleson - 13 December 2009 07:05 PM

Is there something in particular that you think the DH is telling us beyond that?

(Andrew):  It tells us what was edited, how it was edited, and, I think, by whom.

Bruce Burleson - 13 December 2009 07:05 PM

Or is it just interesting to you?

(Andrew):  That, too.

 
 
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14 December 2009 09:34
 
Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

Could you elaborate on this evolution, for example, how it varies from each of the alleged writers?

(Andrew):  I’m not fluent in Hebrew, so must rely on the word of those who are when they tell me that the Torah reflects a development of the language through successive periods.  And that when the texts are separated by their various sources, they reflect that development.  Through successive periods.

Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

How is it determined who wrote what?

(Andrew):  As I’ve posted, there are various indicators:  the language used, the terminology, the content, the continuity of narrative flow and the convergence of the evidence.

Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

In the example of the flood you gave in the other thread you simply split it up in parts…

(Andrew):  If you read it again, you’ll see that it’s a little more than “simply splitting it up into parts”.  Using established indicators as to the source of of the narratives (isolating indicators of P from those of J),  you can see that when you separate the two, each story (one from P, and one from J) can stand on it’s own as a continuous, rational narrative.  That shows intent by someone.  And cleverness.

Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

My question here is how many variations must be observed before one or another author is thought to have written it?

(Andrew):  There are passages where the evidence for a particular source is weaker than in others.  Scholars can disagree on whether or not the use of the word “chieftan” (nasi), for instance, indicates P.  Using the convergence principle—-the accumulation of other evidence—-they’ve established that of the sixty-nine times that the word appears in the Torah, sixty-seven are definitely from P...the other occurances could be from J or E
To cut down on confusion, perhaps it would help if you’d think in terms of “source” or “tradition” rather than “author”.  The Documentary Hypothesis doesn’t say that the J source, for instance, was written by a single person, but rather is a collection of traditions from the Southern tribes (Judah).

Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

I wasn’t impressed with your previous effort, could you give another?

(Andrew):  Sure, although it would help if your pulled your fingers from your ears and stopped hollering “Neener!  Neener!”  I’ll try and work up a post about the story of “snow-white Miriam”.

Daystar - 13 December 2009 11:14 PM

could you give an example of a contradiction being resolved as a result of this hypothesis?

(Andrew):  I’ve already done so.  Reread my post on doublets.  The contradictions in Genesis 1 & 2 are easily reconciled when you realize that they’re creation myths from two different sources. 
Who saved Joseph from death?  Reuben…or Judah?  That’s a contradiction, but when you learn that the E stories center on the tribes of Israel—led by Reuben as the eldest—and that the J stories involve the tribes of Judah…and that the editor sought to be inclusive so as not offend one group of tribes or the other—it all makes sense.

[snip preoccupation with Wellhousen and complete ignorance of recent scholarship]

[ Edited: 14 December 2009 09:43 by Andrew]
 
 
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14 December 2009 12:27
 

I was going to start a new thread, but decided that would just clutter things up.  This one will do. 
And I was going to do Numbers 12, but ran across this example first, and it’s much shorter.  These ain’t no cuts-n-pastes, ya know…and all this copying is hard work for an old guy with weak eyes. 
(Well, the Noah thing is a cut-n-paste from a post I did on the Sam Harris forum some time ago.  But I copied it for that.)
Recall when Sarah went preggers (Genesis 21:1-7):

And YHWH had taken account of Sarah as He had said, and YHWH did to Sarah as He had spoken.  And Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age at the appointed time that God had spoken.  And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, to whom Sarah had given birth for him:  Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised Isaac, his son, at eight days old. as God had commanded him.  And Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac, his son, was born to him.
And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me.  Everyone who hears will laugh for me.”  And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah has nursed children’?  Yet I’ve given birth to a son in his old age.”

In this example, normal text is the J source, bold is the Priestly source, and italics is from E.
Broken down:

And YHWH had taken account of Sarah as He had said, and Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age.  And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah has nursed children’?  Yet I’ve given birth to a son in his old age.”

These lines, in addition to making rational sense when separated from the verse, using the J word for God, and repeating the phrase “in his old age” (it appears nowhere else in the Bible) seem to put emphasis on Sarah, who is buried in Hebron, in the territory of Judah, the source of the J traditions.

And YHWH did to Sarah as He had spoken at the appointed time that God had spoken.  And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, to whom Sarah had given birth for him:  Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised Isaac, his son, at eight days old as God had commanded him.  And Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac, his son, was born to him.

This also is a continuous, rational narrative, even when the J source is taken away.  The attention here devoted to the priestly concerns of circumcision according to the law and Abraham’s age when Isaac was born—that are absent in J and E—and no mention of Sarah—is a strong indicator that it’s from the P source.

And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me.  Everyone who hears will laugh for me.”

The anthropomophic nature of the diety here—which would never appear in P—as well as the name (”Elohim”), indicate that this line comes from E.

There are perhaps other indicators that I don’t see that would be apparent to someone with more experience and knowledge.  I’m not sure about the second phrase of the first verse, for instance:  Some of what I’ve read attribute that to J because of the name YHWH, some to P, blaming the redactor (there’s no disagreement that it was an edit, however). 
It’s rare when things are cut so close—usually the sources jump out at you.

 
 
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15 December 2009 03:37
 
Daystar - 15 December 2009 12:48 AM

I just have to ask anyone here who is paying attention to this thread. Does any of this seem even remotely possible? Am I the only one who sees absolutely no merit to it at all? I’m sorry, Andrew; I don’t mind a challenge, in fact I quite enjoy it, but I just don’t see anything to this at all.

I think the DH is overdone, at least Andrew’s presentation of it.  However, it seems abundantly clear to me that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are from different sources.  Genesis 1 is all “God” (Elohim) and Genesis 2 is “Lord God” (Yahweh), and they give two different accounts of the creation that really do not fit together.  And it seems abundantly clear to me that editing has occurred in the Torah. Moses obviously didn’t write about his own death at the end of Deuteronomy. So there are different sources, and JEPD probably explains some of that.  But I don’t think that every time it just says “God” that that is “E” and when it says “Lord GOD” that is “J.”

 
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15 December 2009 09:00
 
Bruce Burleson - 15 December 2009 02:37 AM

I think the DH is overdone, at least Andrew’s presentation of it.

(Andrew):  Pbbbt!

Bruce Burleson - 15 December 2009 02:37 AM

However, it seems abundantly clear to me that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are from different sources.

(Andrew):  How about the breakdown of the flood narrative?  Doesn’t it seem abundantly clear that it’s the combination of two sources?  The doublets I’ve listed?

Bruce Burleson - 15 December 2009 02:37 AM

But I don’t think that every time it just says “God” that that is “E” and when it says “Lord GOD” that is “J.”

(Andrew):  If that’s all there were I’d agree and there’d probably be no Documentary Hypothesis for us to ague about, but it’s the accumulation and convergence of other indicators that seals the deal, so to speak.  The E source, for instance, is not identified by only the use of Elohim for god, but also by it’s consideration of Him in anthropomorphic terms, by it’s use of older language than P or D, repetitive phrases and words not found in other sources and it’s preoccupation with the goings-on and traditions of the southern tribes of Israel.

[ Edited: 15 December 2009 16:49 by Andrew]
 
 
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15 December 2009 09:06
 

Daystar—
I’ll respond to your posts this afternoon.

 
 
GAD
 
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15 December 2009 15:46
 
Andrew - 15 December 2009 08:06 AM

Daystar—
I’ll respond to your posts this afternoon.

You are a glutton for punishment, are you sure you are not christian smile

 
 
eudemonia
 
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15 December 2009 16:14
 

Isn’t it shocking that Daystar compares the DH to Bible Codes and Bruce thinks it is ‘overdone’?

Well of course.

 
 
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15 December 2009 16:37
 
eudemonia - 15 December 2009 03:14 PM

Isn’t it shocking that Daystar compares the DH to Bible Codes and Bruce thinks it is ‘overdone’?

Well of course.

Not really, god has destroyed Daystar’s mind (assuming he had one of course) and Bruce has reduced the bible to a handful of NT “ideas” that make him personally happy.

 
 
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15 December 2009 16:47
 
Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

Okay, could you give me some information from them, in your own words, briefly, how that might have played out or could be demonstrated.

(Andrew):  I’m assuming that you don’t dispute the evolution of Hebrew, so I’m not real sure what you’re fishing for.  If you’re wanting examples of words or phrases that appear in later sources but not in earlier ones, I suppose I can supply some. One I remember is the word for “congregation” (‘edah).  It didn’t appear in Hebrew until after the traditions of J and E were recorded, so every time it occurs (more than 100 times) it must be attributed to another, later source.  In this case, the convergence of the other evidence in the context of the appearance of ‘edah indicate that it is from P.  When all the other times the ‘edah are examined, we find other strong evidence for P and little or none for J or E.  But now you’ll just ask me how they can tell. Won’t you?  So I really don’t see the point of the exercise.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

One thing that I can say is that it is generally thought that the Hebrew language began to wane at about the time of the Babylonian exile. They began to speak Aramaic. I thought that you said the sources wrote the books attributed to Moses post exilic.

(Andrew):  The standard position—and mine—is that the Torah was produced during, or very shortly after the Exile.  Of course it was recorded in Hebrew…priests and scribes didn’t do Aramaic.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

I also realize that some scholars acknowledge that some portions were written earlier than that which begs the question of who is credited with those writings, according to this hypothesis?

(Andrew):  I really think you’d benefit more from reading a book or two on the subject rather than ask questions that are based on your ignorance about it and then fighting me over the answers I give you.  And I mean that only in the very best possible way.
The theory is that J and E were produced during the time that the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah existed.  The J traditions are associated with Judah and E with Israel.  As you’d expect to find in a geographically diverse group of tribes with a common background and history, the traditions were quite similar, but with subtle differences.  P came along later—after there was a priesthood to be interested in things like laws and geneologies and ages and what-not.  The fourth source is “D”—-and makes up the book of Deuteronomy.
At some point during the exile, or shortly after—says the theory—the sources were combined (woven together) by a priest or a group of priests in order to record, for identity and posterity, the various Hebrew traditions.  The goal was to be inclusive, as much as possible, so that all the children of Israel would feel a part of the Jewish saga and recognize their own traditions.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

I’m not sure if I have seen all of your recent posts on this. You mentioned a doublet thread that I haven’t had time to read.

(Andrew):  It’s not long.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

...the terminology I have already pointed out in the Noah thread is lame at best.

(Andrew):  Well, no.  You did little more in the Noah thread than waste bandwidth with an irrlevent timeline and then claim you’d proven something by it.  I just did a search of the thread and you didn’t use the word “terminology” or refer to it.  Saying something is “lame” is not the same as rebutting it.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

If I wrote a book on President Barrack Obama and referred to him as variously; Barrack Obama, The President, and the Commander In Chief that wouldn’t constitute various authorship.

(Andrew):  No, but if there were other indications that the book was written by several people—indications which all came together in a predictable manner, then I think you’d be on to something.  Especially if you could take various parts of the book and separate them into two or more coherent narratives.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

The Hebrew bara (created) at Genesis 1:1 is claimed to be exclusive to P but the same word appears at 6:8 which is attributed to J.
The “land of Canaan” excusive to P (Genesis 12:5; 13:12; 16:3; 17:8) but also appears in texts attributed to J and E. (Genesis chapters 42, 44, 47 and 50)

(Andrew):  Where are you getting this (bolded) information?  That “the land of Canaan” is “exclusive” to P for instance?

(Andrew-previously):  If you read it again, you’ll see that it’s a little more than “simply splitting it up into parts”.  Using established indicators as to the source of of the narratives (isolating indicators of P from those of J),  you can see that when you separate the two, each story (one from P, and one from J) can stand on it’s own as a continuous, rational narrative.  That shows intent by someone.  And cleverness.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

But that means absolutely nothing. In ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts and carvings which would never be questioned in such a manner, for example.

(Andrew):  I’m not sure what you mean here.  The second sentence is incomplete for one thing.
If you mean that there are ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts which can be separated into two (or more) coherent parts that can stand on their own as independent narratives, I’m afraid that I’ll have to ask you to provide an example or two.  If that’s not what you’re saying, could you try again?

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

That’s why I earlier quoted Egyptologist K. A. Kitchen, who calls the DH absurd.

(Andrew):  Without saying why.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

These observations do nothing to negate the authorship of Moses.

(Andrew):  Right.  Moses could have ladened his book with passages in which he intentionally combined two or more traditions into one.  Moses could have intentionally created doublets and triplets.  But…why would he do that?

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

But in cleverness you perhaps bring up a good point. Why would these various sources not be credited or at least acknowledged?

(Andrew):  They are.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

Do you honestly think that the nuances in language would have been overlooked until now?

(Andrew):  They haven’t been.  You’re not reading my posts.

(Andrew—previously):  There are passages where the evidence for a particular source is weaker than in others.  Scholars can disagree on whether or not the use of the word “chieftan” (nasi), for instance, indicates P.  Using the convergence principle—-the accumulation of other evidence—-they’ve established that of the sixty-nine times that the word appears in the Torah, sixty-seven are definitely from P...the other occurances could be from J or E
To cut down on confusion, perhaps it would help if you’d think in terms of “source” or “tradition” rather than “author”.  The Documentary Hypothesis doesn’t say that the J source, for instance, was written by a single person, but rather is a collection of traditions from the Southern tribes (Judah).

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

I don’t think so. There would be no need to attribute them traditionally or otherwise to Moses in that case.

(Andrew):  You’re not thinking.  Moses is the law-giver—there is no more august figure in Hebrew mythology.  No bigger authority can be claimed to have authored “The Law” (Torah).

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

...it creates the need to explain why they wouldn’t have seen the obvious contradiction if they were, in fact, trying to be clever and dupe everyone.

(Andrew):  “Duping” everyone was not the agenda.  See above.

Daystar - 14 December 2009 11:40 PM

Genesis 37:18-20 hardly seems a contradiction. First Reuben then Judah intervened.

(Andrew):  If Reuben had already talked his brothers out of killing Joseph, what was the point of Judah’s input being included in the story?  The Documentary Hypothesis speculates that it was part of the J tradition which, naturally, tends to show the namesake of the tribes of Judah in a postive light.

I think I may need to post something on eponyms.

 
 
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15 December 2009 16:48
 
Daystar - 15 December 2009 12:48 AM

I just have to ask anyone here who is paying attention to this thread. Does any of this seem even remotely possible?

(Andrew):  Now, there’s a vigorous rebuttal!

 
 
eudemonia
 
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15 December 2009 17:23
 

‘Not really, god has destroyed Daystar’s mind (assuming he had one of course) and Bruce has reduced the bible to a handful of NT “ideas” that make him personally happy.’

LOL Pretty good analysis GAD. You’re a funny fucker sometimes! I’ll have to put you in the same comic category as Andrew, just not quite as old.

 
 
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16 December 2009 01:00
 
Andrew - 15 December 2009 08:00 AM
Bruce Burleson - 15 December 2009 02:37 AM

But I don’t think that every time it just says “God” that that is “E” and when it says “Lord GOD” that is “J.”

(Andrew):  If that’s all there were I’d agree and there’d probably be no Documentary Hypothesis for us to ague about, but it’s the accumulation and convergence of other indicators that seals the deal, so to speak.  The E source, for instance, is not identified by only the use of Elohim for god, but also by it’s consideration of Him in anthropomorphic terms, by it’s use of older language than P or D, repetitive phrases and words not found in other sources and it’s preoccupation with the goings-on and traditions of the southern tribes of Israel.

But if you look at the creation narratives of Genesis, the most anthropomorphic presentation of the deity is in the J passages of chapter 2-3, not in the E passages of chapter 1.  The E deity is more heavenly and remote, while the J deity plants a garden, walks in the garden, talks directly to Adam, watches Adam to see what he will name the animals, etc. He’s like a human father.  In fact, this is one of the most anthropomorphic presentations of God in the Bible.

And you can’t get much more anthropomorphic that the Lord in the J passage of Genesis 18, where the Lord is in human form and allows Abraham to “Jew” him down on the issue of Sodom.

[ Edited: 16 December 2009 01:02 by EN]
 
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16 December 2009 08:57
 
Bruce Burleson - 16 December 2009 12:00 AM

...if you look at the creation narratives of Genesis, the most anthropomorphic presentation of the deity is in the J passages of chapter 2-3, not in the E passages of chapter 1.

(Andrew):  The first chapter of Genesis and the first three verses of chapter two are from P, not E.

Bruce Burleson - 16 December 2009 12:00 AM

And you can’t get much more anthropomorphic that the Lord in the J passage of Genesis 18, where the Lord is in human form and allows Abraham to “Jew” him down on the issue of Sodom.

(Andrew):  That is a good example.  Both J and E often anthropomorphize (?) the diety.  It reflects an earlier, less sophisticated stage in the development of the religion.

[ Edited: 16 December 2009 09:44 by Andrew]
 
 
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