Thursday, January 18, 2007

Documentary Hypothesis Fails - 1

Summarized arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis of the Pentateuch as detailed in The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch by Umberto Cassuto.

1 - Divine names


Variations in the use of divine names shows that Torah was composed of(by) different texts(authors) which can be identified by the use of their particular names (Elohim for source E; Yahweh for source J, etc). Each new author/text represents stages in the development of the religious community, from a primitive stage which thought of god in more human terms to a classical stage that thought of god in more abstract terms, eventually culminating in a corrupt stage which lost god in ritual and law keeping. The different sources were later pieced together by a Redactor, who picked and chose from one source here and one source there to form a disparate mosaic. This accounts, therefore, for the haphazard divine name usage throughout.


A. Misunderstanding of ancient narrative and grammar

Different divine names (a generic appellative and a proper name) were chosen for specific purposes. Elohim for philosophical, wisdom, pagan, and transcendent relation; Yahweh for personal interaction, moral association, poetic, nationalistic/ethnic identification. One can go through all five books of Moses and beyond and encounter this purpose for every use of a divine name. This rule is also definitive of ancient near eastern literature whether Egyptian, Babylonian, or something else.

B. Refuted by other texts

This rule is followed in all Hebrew literature in all times. It is seen in every occurrence in scripture. Therefore such use of a particular divine name cannot be called characteristic or identifiable of a particular author or source text.

C. Inconsistent

Selection of different divine names for purpose and content of text occurs in other ancient works that are universally attributed to only one author (example: Temple Scroll). In certain sections of text which are believed to belong to E or J, the wrong name appears and is thus either erased or assumed to be an error introduced by the Redactor. The wrong name is then changed and replaced with the one desired by the presupposition.

D. Based on philosophy/methodology of the time

Wellhausen was friends with others who thought in Romanticism's idea of stages of cultural development and different texts being assembled into one mosaic. Mimicked the exact same ideas occurring in other areas like Homeric studies. While those theories were eventually rejected, the Documentary Hypothesis was not. His theory originating in a Protestant antinomian bias of the time which saw the “spirit” as good but the “law” debased/bad.


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