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Thread: On JEDP

  1. #1
    maklelan
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    My purpose with this thread is to show that the JEDP theory (best known as contained in the Documentary Hypothesis, but not exclusive to that theory) did not develop out of minimalist polemic or humanistic campaigns against the Bible’s miracles, but out of thoughtful and objective consideration of numerous sections of the Pentateuch that largely have nothing to do with miracles or the intervention of the divine, and really don’t have good solutions. Often objections to the notion that the Pentateuch was written in the first millennium BCE by numerous authors are restricted to fallacious claims of bias and lack of context, but this is simply not true. This thread aims to clarify the theory. This treatise is derived from a number of source, plus my own research. My primary helps are Van Seters, “The Pentateuch,” in The Hebrew Bible Today: An Introduction to Critical Issues (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 3–52; Sparks, God’s Word in Human Words (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2008); Whybray, Introduction to the Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1995); and Levin, “The Yahwist: The Earliest Editor in the Pentateuch,” Journal of Biblical Literature 126.2 (2007): 209–30.

    The first issue to arise in the study of the composition of the Pentateuch is the author. Traditionally, the work is attributed to Moses, but numerous elements of the text render this problematic. To begin with, there is no change in the literary style of the text between the narrative of Moses’ life and that of his death. The text flows without interruption. Next, there are numerous comments that just don’t seem like something a second millennium BCE personality would write in his own narrative, like, “the man Moses was very meek, more so than all the men on the face of the earth” (Num 12:3), or, “one day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked upon their burdens; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people” (Exod 2:11). These just don’t fit into the autobiographical conventions from this time period. We can make numerous ***umptions about what is taking place behind the text if we really need Moses to be the author, but a straightforward reading would conclude Moses is not the author. Other considerations considered below will show that there are actually several authors responsible for the text.

    Other comments are anachronistic to the second millennium BCE, and only make sense in the ninth to seventh centuries BCE. In Gen 36:31, a list of Edomite kings is provided which is followed by the comment that they lived “before any king reigned over the sons of Israel.” This makes sense only if written by someone who lived in or after an Israel ruled over by kings (after 1000 BCE). The readership is understood to be situated in a post-monarchical time period. In Gen 12:6 we are told that there were Canaanites in the land in Abraham’s day. There is no reason to make this comment unless there were no Canaanites in the land when the text was composed. This would place the text after 900 or 800 BCE. In Gen 10 we have the table of nations, which give eponymous names to account for the origins of the nations of the earth. Several of the nations, however, are known not to have existed until the first millennium BCE. Arameans, for instance, moved into the area around 1000 BCE (see Gen 10:22). Nineveh and Calah were not relevant cities in ***yria until first millennium. Gen 10:7 mentions Sabteca, a Cu****e (Ethiopian). Sabteca is a well-known Ethipian king of Egypt’s 25th dynasty, though, and lived in the seventh century BCE. Gomer, from Gen 10:3 is an eponymous name for the Gimirru, attested in ***yrian inscriptions from the late eighth century. In Deuteronomy 34:6 Moses is said to have died and been buried in the land of Moab, and his grave is said to be unknown “to this day.” This makes no sense unless a significant period of time separates the composition of the text from the events it narrates. The first verse of that chapter says God showed Moses the land, “from Gilead to Dan.” The city of Dan didn’t exist until well after Moses’ death, though. Numerous literary elements point unambiguously to a provenance in the first millennium BCE, and none point to the second millennium BCE.

    Scholars then began to take notice of chronological issues within the Pentateuch. For instance, in Gen 11:32, Terah is said to have died in Haran at the age of 205. Abraham is then directed to travel to Canaan. Gen 11:26 says Terah was 70 when Abraham was born, and Gen 12:4 says Abraham was 75 when he left for Canaan. This would make Terah 145 when he supposedly died and Abraham left. Where did the last 60 years of his life go? In Exod 12:40 we are told the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years. In Gen 15:13–16, however, God tells Abraham that they will live in Egypt for 400 years and leave during the fourth generation. The Septuagint fixes this problem, however, by deciding that 430 years is their combined sojourn in both Canaan and Egypt. This is the chronology used by Paul in Gal 3:15–17. When one looks at the various traditions and their account of the ages of the patriarchs, a more subtle problem comes to light. The three main m****cript traditions which record the text of the Old Testament (Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint) have different numbers for the ages of the patriarchs and for the years in which they died. Textual criticism has shown that the differences between these numbers point to the same archetypes, which were manipulated in each textual tradition. Why were they manipulated? Well, the archetypes show that some of the patriarchs actually lived several years into the flood. Methuselah’s age in the Samaritan Pentateuch, for instance, is dropped down to 720, putting his death at 1307, which is the year the flood begins in that text. In the archetype to the flood story, the flood comes in the year 1342, which is 214 years before Methuselah died in the same tradition. Jared and Lamech also live well into the flood in the archetype tradition. In the Septuagint, Methuselah lives 14 years into the flood, which occurs in 2242. By the time of the MT, the years had been reconciled with the flood.

    In other places, however, the chronology hasn’t been fixed. For instance, when Hagar goes into the wilderness to abandon her son Ishmael he is depicted as an infant. She carries him into the wilderness and casts him under a bush to let him die, which causes him to cry. According to the chronology, however (Gen 16:16; 17:1; 21:5, 8), he would have been at the very least 16 years old. Not only would she not have been able to carry him, but she wouldn’t have been able to cast him under a bush, and he would have been able to fend for himself. The only logical explanation for this disparity is that we have two different sources being woven together within this narrative.

    The flood story provides another example. Noah is said both to bring seven pairs of animals and to bring only two pairs of animals. Noah is said to enter the ark seven days before the flood and on the same day as the flood. Two different promises are found at the end of the story. In one, God say he will never destroy all living creatures again. In the other, he only promises never to send another flood. If we separate the narratives according to these differences we find two separate, yet complete, accounts of the flood. In one, Noah brings seven pairs of animals and enters the ark seven days prior to the flood. At the end he leaves and offers sacrifices to Yhwh and is promised that all life will never again be destroyed. In the other, Noah only brings two pairs of animals, enters the day the flood begins, and there is no mention of sacrifice upon leaving. God’s promise is also qualified: all living will never again be wiped out by a flood.

    Other stories are also repeated in different ways. For instance, in the creation account of Genesis 1 the creation takes six days and the order goes: (1) light, (2) waters above and below, (3) land and water, (4) luminaries, (5) birds and fish, (6) animals and humans. If you look closely, you’ll see that day one provides the environment to sustain the creation of day four. Day two provides the environments to sustain the creation of day five. Day three provides the environments to sustain the creation of day six. It’s a very developed and carefully structured creation. God is presented as creating by divine fiat, and he begins with the creation of the earth itself. At Gen 2:4b, however, the story is repeated, but this time very differently. First, it seems to all happen in one day (“in the day that Yhwh God made the heavens and the earth”). Second, there is no description of the creation of the earth. It is just there. God also does not create by divine fiat, he simply brings water to the earth which creates the necessary environment for life. In this story, Adam is created first. Then he creates Eden and vegetation. At this point Adam is working in the garden with no other animals on the earth. God creates all the animals and, finally, creates Eve. This story is not quite as developed, and is not literarily sophisticated. God is also much less transcendent and omniscient. Adam and Eve here the sound of God walking in the garden, and God asks Adam what he did.

  2. #2
    maklelan
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    These two stories are different from the flood narrative in that they remained separate rather than being s***ched together. An interesting phenomenon arises from comparing the two sets of stories, though. In both sets, one version primarily calls God “Yhwh” (the first flood account and the second creation account – Elohim is a generic word for “God” and is occasionally used) and the other exclusively calls God “Elohim” (the second flood account and first creation account – Yhwh is never used). A close look at these accounts shows that the curse placed on the ground after Adam’s transgression in the Yahwistic creation account is actually removed by Yhwh in the Yahwistic portion of the flood narrative. The two Yahwistic stories are interconnected. God’s command to Noah in Gen 9:1 (from the second flood account) also matches up with God’s command to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply from Gen 1:28 (the first creation account). The two non-Yahwistic (Priestly) stories are interconnected. Looking at Genesis 4 and 5 we find two parallel genealogies, with the first only referring to God as “Yhwh,” and the second only referring to God as “Elohim.” Thus, we have parallel creation accounts, genealogies, and flood accounts. One set calls God Yhwh, and the other calls him Elohim. They differ in numerous details, in literary style, and in ideology. An interesting detail emerges when these phenomena are used to separate parallel accounts elsewhere in the Pentateuch. According to the Yahwistic source in Gen 4:26, humanity began to call on the name of Yhwh very early in human history (with Adam’s grandson). In the Preistly (non-Yahwistic) source at Exod 6:3, however, God tells Moses that he was not known as Yhwh, and that he is first revealing the name to Moses. This leads to the conclusion that the original Priestly source leading up to Exodus never referred to God as Yhwh.

    These discoveries led to more thorough investigation of the sources of the rest of the Pentateuch, and scholars found that there were numerous places where these two sources were identifiable. Other sources were also promoted. Primary among them is D, or the Deuteronomistic History. In 2 Kgs 22–23 we find the story of Josiah’s discovery of the book of the Law in the temple. Upon discovering the book, Josiah ins***uted wide-sweeping religious reforms intended to bring Israel back into line with these requirements. Since Jerome in the fifth century CE (Against Jovini**** 1.5), scholars have recognized that the book of Deuteronomy is the exclusive source of these reforms. A close reading of Jeremiah will show all his quotations of “the Law of Yahweh” are also exclusive to Deuteronomy. Prophets prior to Jeremiah and Josiah appear not to have been aware of these specific requirements. Samuel, for instance, in violation of Deuteronomy’s injunction against places of worship other than the Jerusalem temple, frequents temples at Shiloh, Bethek, Gibeah, Gilgal, and elsewhere (1 Sam 9–11). It is hard to imagine how the book of Deuteronomy could have been lost before the temple was built in Jerusalem (according to Kings, it was lost in the days of the judges) and yet turn up inside that temple three centuries later. Other considerations contribute to the likelihood that Deuteronomy was not found by Josiah’s people, but written by them. For instance, . Phraseology found in Deuteronomy and not in other books of the Pentateuch are also found frequently in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, the books known as the Deuteronomistic History. The phrase “to this day,” which was discussed earlier, is found in high frequencies in Deuteronomy through Kings, but rarely in the rest of the Pentateuch. The only other place it occurs regularly is in Jeremiah, a contemporary of the Deuteronomistic historian. Epigraphic texts from Arad and Lachish show linguistic affinities with Deuteronomy which make a late pre-exilic composition most likely.

    These considerations all point to a single author or group of authors for Deuteronomy through Kings working under the same paradigm in the late pre-exile or in the exile. This is the D source. Of course, there was a lot of redaction taking place through the exile and especially after, but J, P, and D are still recognizable. Single and multiple redactor sources are posited by many scholars where they believe the redactor’s hand is manifest. The info on E is not very clear and is highly debated, so I won’t bother with it here, but this ought to be enough to show that there are very legitimate concerns at the root of the JEDP theories, and they can’t at all be dismissed with a simple accusation of weak evidence or anti-supernatural bias.

  3. #3
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    yawn

    ...a lot of distinctions without any meaningful differences.

    Why did Jesus or his inspired apostles not correct Moses and the other Old Testament authors? For example, why did neither nor his apostles inform us that the OT is wrong in its strict monotheism and that there are really MANY, even COUNTLESS true, actual deities and that we are all "gods in embryo"?

    -BH

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    "Convince us of our errors of doctrine if we have any, by reason, by logical argument, or by the word of God and we will be ever grateful for the information and you will ever have the the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God in redeeming your fellow beings from the darnkess which you may see enveloping their minds" - The Seer, Orsen Pratt, Mormon “Apostle”

  4. #4
    alanmolstad
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    Long ago I learned not to put too much stock in the numbers we find in our Old Test.
    The reason is that it seems clear to me that there are several means of counting used by the different writers though history, and that what seems to have happened later is that different ways of counting were unknown to later generations of translators.

    Its sorta like a measurement given in Metric and also given in standard American measurement....the distance does not change but the way you describe that same distance is very different.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianH View Post
    yawn

    ...a lot of distinctions without any meaningful differences.

    Why did Jesus or his inspired apostles not correct Moses and the other Old Testament authors? For example, why did neither nor his apostles inform us that the OT is wrong in its strict monotheism and that there are really MANY, even COUNTLESS true, actual deities and that we are all "gods in embryo"?

    -BH

    .
    This has been my point for awhile now. In fact Jesus stated in John 5 that if you do not believe Moses how will you believe his words? Jesus made it very clear that Moses was correct.

  6. #6
    alanmolstad
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    Good point

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