Interaction with a visitor

Good questions on JEDP


Glenn

One point you made that struck me as rather strange and intriguing was the one about the Pentateuch as being essentially in the current form by the end of Solomon's reign. All the serious criticisms of the Bible I've read have noted the J, E, P & D sources for the Pentateuch, with a final date of the version we have as originating sometime after the Exile.

Yes, the sorta commonly accepted consensus is still around the old 'documentary hypothesis'...in spite of its general failure to square with the archeological data that has been discovered since its inception, nothing 'better' has come along to displace it...the various approaches of form criticism, redaction criticism, structuralism, etc. have yielded important insights but do NOT furnish a broad enough theory to supplant the now aged JEDP+ theories...

I am more familiar with the problems in the view than with the remaining strengths...the material that gives me the archeological data (and compares it with the JEDP predictions) are RK Harrison, Introduction to the Old Test. (Eerdmans, 1969), 1325pp.; K.A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament (IVP, 1966), and Vol 1 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary (Zondervan)...

The almost stubborn reluctance of the majority scholarship view seems quite strange to me. The Jewish ANE scholar Cyrus Gordon (awesome scholar!) relates an amusing anecdote in Christianity Today (Nov 23, 1959)...

"When I speak of 'commitment' to JEDP, I mean it in the deepest sense of the word. I have heard professors of Old Testament refer to the integrity of JEDP as their 'conviction.' They are willing to countenance modifications in detail. They permit you to subdivide (D1, D2, D3, and so forth) or combine (JE) or add a new document designated by another capital letter but they will not tolerate any questioning of the basic JEDP structure.

"I am a loss to explain this kind of 'conviction' on any grounds other than intellectual laziness or inability to reappraise.

"A professor of Bible in a leading university once asked me to give him the facts on JEDP. I told him essentially what I have written above. He replied: 'I am convinced by what you say but I shall go on teaching the old systems.'

"When I asked him why, he answered: 'Because what you have told me means I should have to unlearn as well as study afresh and rethink. It is easier to go on with the accepted system of higher criticism for which we have standard textbooks."

Now...i personally do NOT know how representative this experience is, but I am somewhat familiar with the results of biblical archaeology over the past 50 years or so...

In 2 Sam 13:13, Tamar exclaims to Amnon to "speak to the king; for he will not withhold you from me." I realize this pre-dates Solomon, but not by a lot. This passage seems to indicate a different relationship to half-sister marriage than that which "Mosaic" Law dictates.

There are a couple of considerations about this passage that, for me, indicate that it bears little evidence for the existence of a pent.text type ONE WAY OR ANOTHER...

  1. we know that royal/leader families did not practice the same laws of the common folk--they seems to be exempt from the general ethos against polygamy, for example, and even Abraham married his half-sister without God's censure.

  2. the text refers to the incipient rape by amnon as a 'wicked thing'--hearkening back to Mosaic language in the prohibitions against sexual violence and crimes (could be made into a witness FOR the availability of the text at that point, I suppose).

  3. we cannot tell from the passage whether Tamar believed what she said anyway...that it might have been an expedient to try for escape...studies in the dialogue show word/sentence patterns that indicate high emotional content and broken linguistic patterns, predictable in such an encounter...

  4. we ALWAYS have the possibility of degeneration in obedience to the law...the fact that David committed adultery and murder in the preceding two chapters DOESN'T indicate that the mosaic prescriptions weren't around, but rather that they weren't being obeyed! This could easily be the case here as well...
all in all, i am not sure the passage tells us ANYTHING about available texts...]

The slow, gradual elimination of male temple prostitutes in Judah, also seems to harken back to an earlier time when such behavior might not have had the same damning judgment that the Mosaic law requires (Judges 19:22, 1 Kings 22:46).

This is a great example of the issues. WHY WOULD WE BELIEVE that they male prost.s were around IN THE BEGINNING and were 'slowly' elim'd? We certainly are not told that...the passage in I Kgs is MUCH MORE EASILY understood as an apostasy FROM Moses as opposed to a manifestation of a recent document...the whole story of the kings/chronicles is one of degeneration--not improvement...

And the passage in Judges 19.22 (you might want to check that ref--I couldn't find anything about temple prostitutes in it), shows the degenerative effects of association with the Canaanites--the 'wicked men'...that this was NOT standard practice, but a degeneration, was obvious from the statements in .30 "such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt"...

And, the response of Israel to that...involved significant items of the mosaic and levitical cultus, so 20.26ff:

Judg. 20:26 Then the Israelites, all the people, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the LORD. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the LORD. And the Israelites inquired of the LORD. (In those days the ark of the covenant of God was there, with Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, ministering before it.)
The refs to fasting, burnt offerings, fellowship offering betray a serious familiarity with the levitical corpus to say the least...Not to mention the presence of Phineas (present at the cutting of the Hittite treaty form and subsequent deposit of the treaty document into the ARK), who would have probably still had the originals there. (For information on the fact that the Hittite treaties REQUIRED the treaty to be written down, and a legal copy deposited in a sacred site, you can see my summary in the "Global Sunday School" or the detailed descriptions in Kitchen, cited above.)]

I liked the point you made about Jeroboam's establishment of a "rival" religion, or at least a different form of Hebrew worship that did not include the Mount Zion. It's a compelling point.

Judean evangelism into Israel after the fall of the Northern Kingdom might explain some "Pentateuchal" influences on Samaria from the south. Influences from the North (the "E" source, e.g.) might also have occurred during the periods of alliance between the North and South (I Kings 22).

The main issue i see there is that the evangelism would have had to occur at the priestly level, for it to influence the documents themselves...in other words, common folk didn't keep copies of mss (that we know of)-- they were kept by the prophets and priests, and in the Northern Kingdom, these were under the EXPRESS control of the anti-south king...the possibility of influence to the point of textual modifications is minimal at best...

The periods of military alignment might be a different case, but it is interesting that the case you mention shows military agreement BUT NO PRIESTLY agreement! The sharp disagreement between the prophet of the south (Micaiah) and the prophets of the North would probably not been very conducive to document exchange! (I.e. he called them all lying prophets!--not your best ecumenical move!)...;>) ]

The point you made about Hittite forms is significant, but perhaps relates more to the very ancient "J" sources.

Well, in the first statement of the Hittite form (Exodus 20-31), the E-word occurs 25+ times and the J-word occurs 65 times...the literary structure is a unit, as per the form, so the 'names' criteria fails here again (It is an interesting story about how the 'names' criteria was applied to the Koran, a document with a highly controlled and well-documented unitary history, and this theory produced multiple sources for it also(!)--based on the two major words for God in Arabic...)

Many scholars feel that Hilkiah found the book of Deuteronomy noted in 2 Kings 22.

The data is somewhat divided...Most of the details of the passage occur in Deut but also occur in Ex/Lv (e.g. Passover, spiritists, 'all his heart and soul'), but the reference in 23.3 to the 'book of the Covenant' is a reference to something OLDER THAN deut...that phrase only occurs in Exodus 24.7--referring apparently to the Hittite Covenant documents...this would argue that what was found was the Book of the Law, containing more than just the later Deut...

I'm no Biblical scholar, but the points you made in your response to my Septuagint question interest me. Why do you suppose Oxford, et alia, don't adhere to the more ancient date for the completion of editorial modification of the Pentateuch?

These kinds of questions are outside of my reach...like I said, I am not aware of any better theory of the composition and transmission history of the OT texts...it is almost impossible to say nothing, so maybe that's it...beats me...

I look forward to your response. I'd like to submit this dialogue to the Episcopal WWW site for further discussion, and to get more viewpoints on this issue.

One more question -- from what version of the Bible is your excellent 1 Thes 5:22 quote "Critically examine everything. Hold on to the good!" ? I've been looking through the NIV, NRSV, RSV, REB, & NEB to no avail. What an interesting and spirited translation. Me gusta mucho.

GHV - glenn's heretical version!--just a freer paraphrase based on my 7 years of greek...it fits the context and meaning of the word...and it fit the data of the Christian position of 'cordial skepticism'...

Thanks again for taking so much time with your detailed response. May the peace of God which passes all understanding abide with you.

Thanks for your blessing, interest, and encouragement...

in the bonds of His love...glenn miller



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