Re: higher criticism

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Sun Oct 13 2002 - 22:39:24 EDT

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        As you may know, Gordon Wenham reviews the development and current state
    of the Documentary Hypothesis in the introduction to his commentary on
    Genesis (Word), as it applies to Genesis. Like you he considers the E
    hypothesis questionable. I'm intrigued by his suggest that P may not be an
    exilic source but rather antedate J and reflect 2nd millenium material. And
    that P and J may be each based on a diversity of sources. He states, "In
    short, if the J material goes back to a variety of fragmentary sources, and
    the material conventionally called P also derives from a diversity of
    sources, may it not be possible to see Genesis as basically the work of J
    who used a number of relatively short sources to compose his volume?"
    Hypothesizing J as the most significant editor of the book, he goes on to
    say: "Whether the sources used by J were written or oral is moot. Genesis
    is a written work but one designed for oral recitation. How far its oral
    qualities are the work of J's genius, or how far it reflects the material he
    used, is again difficult to say."

         Do you have any thoughts or opinions about Wenham's views on this
    matter? As a teacher of ancient literature, I agree with him that Genesis
    was designed for oral recitation, just as were the Homeric epics, the
    "Aeneid" and the gospels. As an admirer of J's story-telling genius, I am
    struck by the notion that he might have been the final editor; however, I
    should like to see more evidence and argument in order to be persuaded that
    P is as early as Wenham and other scholars might think.

    Bob Schneider

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    Sent: Friday, October 11, 2002 2:54 AM
    Subject: Re: higher criticism

    > George wrote,
    > << It's easy to satirize "higher criticism," JEPD, &c. Critical
    > attempts to
    > assign individual sentences & words to different sources have sometimes
    > overdone. But anyone who who has been alerted to the bare
    > possibility that there are
    > different sources behind the Pentateuch & who reads it open eyes &
    > mind will see places
    > where different traditions have been combined. >>
    > i agree. Most OT scholars today are well aware that the documentary theory
    > was taken to an extreme in the past. But, this does not mean it does not
    > some validity. When I worked my way through each verse in Deuteronomy it
    > became quite clear that laws in Leviticus and Numbers had been changed in
    > significant ways, and anyone can see this even in translation if they
    > carefully look at the parallel passages. There is validity to the presence
    > D. P seems quite obvious as well. The P style is quite contrastive to that
    > J. I only find E ephemeral.
    > Before supposing that OT scholars all live on a cloud, one should
    > work through the short book by Alexander Rofe, Introduction to the
    > Composition of the Pentateuch (Sheffield Academic Press, 1999) or The
    > Pentateuch by Joseph Blenkinsopp (Doubleday, 1992). One may still end up
    > rejecting the theory, but it should first be given serious consideration.
    > Paul

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