Friday, January 19, 2007

Documentary Hypothesis Fails - 2

Summarized arguments against the Documentary Hypothesis of the Pentateuch as detailed in The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch by Umberto Cassuto. (See also argument 1)

2 - Language and Style

1. Language


There are characteristic linguistic differences in the Pentateuch. Because an author rarely changes linguistic usage from chapter to chapter in the same composition, different uses of vocabulary and grammatical construction point to different authors. Example: “To bring up from Egypt” and “to bring forth from Egypt” both convey the same idea, but use different words to do so. The change in word usage evidences change in author.


A. Mechanical instead of Literary Investigation

Many of the linguistic differences arise because one is dealing with the text superficially, divorcing words from their context. Looking deeper, one sees meaning and purpose in the change of usage. “To bring up from Egypt” expresses something different than “to bring forth from Egypt.” The first speaks of a future goal—entry into the Promised Land, while the second speaks of liberation from past and present bondage.

B. Ignoring linguistic rules

Grammatical changes associated with a specific author are the result of rules of the Hebrew language which apply to all authors at all times. In some cases, it is impossible to construct vocabulary differently than how they exist. Thus, the differences are due to the exigencies of a language and not restricted to a particular person's expression.

C. Circular reasoning

Because it is supposed a certain author only said a certain word, it is assumed that when a certain word is used, it is indicative of that author. It is not always shown why a certain author used the word supposedly characteristic of him. Sometimes this is explained because a particular divine name occurs nearby. But when we wonder why the one who said a certain word should also be the one who used a certain divine name, we are usually only left with the premise which has yet to be established—that said author who uses that specific divine name usually says that word.

2. Style


Differences in style which point to different authors. P is cold and dry, extremely detailed, and constantly repeating the same things, whereas others like J and E are passionate, poetic, and full of life.


Things that are characteristically applied to P are limited in narrative and composed of that which is hard to infuse life and warmth into (like genealogical lists). In the few places where a genealogical list is assigned to J, we find the same frigid and passionless manner of writing. And in those few narrative portions ascribed to P, there is more vitality and freedom of expression. Stylistic differences occur, therefore, not because of the existence of specific documents by different authors, but because of the form of language being employed.


Post a Comment

<< Home