The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
semiopen
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by semiopen » Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:20 pm

In connection with Deuteronomy, it might be worth mentioning the Suzerainty Treaty structure.

When we speak of an academic consensus of a 7th century origin, that seems to be mainly a consensus that Israel's relationship to YHWH is modeled on an Assyrian Suzerainty Treaty format as opposed to a Hittite one. God boys generally like the earlier Hittite format - no doubt because it would suggest an earlier dating; but the Assyrian format is considered most likely, and that matches up to the Assyrian destruction of Israel and Hezekiah's close call in the 7th century BCE.

Book_of_Deuteronomy
The core of Deuteronomy is the covenant that binds Yahweh and Israel by oaths of fidelity (Yahweh and Israel each faithful to the other) and obedience (Israel obedient to Yahweh).[24] God will give Israel blessings of the land, fertility, and prosperity so long as Israel is faithful to God's teaching; disobedience will lead to curses and punishment.[25] But, according to the Deuteronomists, Israel's prime sin is lack of faith, apostasy: contrary to the first and fundamental commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me") the people have entered into relations with other gods.[26]

The covenant is based on seventh-century Assyrian suzerain-vassal treaties by which the Great King (the Assyrian suzerain) regulated relationships with lesser rulers; Deuteronomy is thus making the claim that Yahweh, not the Assyrian monarch, is the Great King to whom Israel owes loyalty.[27]
There is also a more detailed discussion in the Talk page of the wiki.

Anyway, I wonder how much of the 7th century BCE consensus is related to opposing the apparently obsolete conservative view of a Hittite model versus actual evidence of an actual production during Josiah's time.

austendw
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by austendw » Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:36 pm

semiopen wrote:
Thu Jun 29, 2017 1:20 pm
Anyway, I wonder how much of the 7th century BCE consensus is related to opposing the apparently obsolete conservative view of a Hittite model versus actual evidence of an actual production during Josiah's time.
Well, I hope people are grown up enough not to champion theories simply to stick it to the older scholarly generation (to Oedipally cut their daddies down to size?) but who knows? Perhaps that's why the 7th Century BCE consensus is now not longer quite the consensus it was. But I hope not.
Call me Ishmael...

neilgodfrey
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by neilgodfrey » Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:05 pm

In the newly released History, politics and the Bible from the Iron Age to the media age there is a chapter, "The Present Crisis in Biblical Scholarship", where John Van Seters discusses in detail scholarship relating to the DH but at no point addresses any viewpoint that denies outright the source (J, E, P..) theory.

austendw
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by austendw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:24 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Fri Jun 30, 2017 6:05 pm
In the newly released History, politics and the Bible from the Iron Age to the media age there is a chapter, "The Present Crisis in Biblical Scholarship", where John Van Seters discusses in detail scholarship relating to the DH but at no point addresses any viewpoint that denies outright the source (J, E, P..) theory.
I may be being pedantic, but Van Seters himself denies the "source theory" as such, as he is a "supplementarian": for him there is no E; earlier stories (eg Jacob narratives) are incorporated into a running narrative by the Yahwist; this is then augmented by a Priestly supplementation to create the tetrateuch; D is an entirely separate entity, dated earlier than J. That's not really a "source" theory at all. But perhaps that's not what you meant.

Not having read his essay, which are the scholars you think Van Seters has unreasonably ignored? Perhaps I'm really asking which scholars do now deny outright any kind of division of the text into sources, or strata, or whatever?
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Ulan
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by Ulan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:28 am

The Documentary Hypothesis is definitely dead in German biblical scholarship. However, "dead" is a strong word in this context, as none of the changes to the DH touches on the basic concept that the Torah is a composite work with several different sources. I think the last staunch defender of the "Jahwist" in German biblical scholarship is Christoph Levin. The aforementioned Konrad Schmid has definitely done away with it, and most of his colleagues agree. They consider the "Jahwist" to be a disparate collection of older stories, a collection that never told a comprehensive tale.

Texts like the "Joseph" story are considered very late (I've seen dates of 400 BC). Reasons are the relatively modern style or the casual use of the concept of "money", which did not exist prior to 650 to 600 BC.
Last edited by Ulan on Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

neilgodfrey
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by neilgodfrey » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:43 am

austendw wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:24 am

Not having read his essay, which are the scholars you think Van Seters has unreasonably ignored? Perhaps I'm really asking which scholars do now deny outright any kind of division of the text into sources, or strata, or whatever?
I didn't expect my comment to be interpreted as suggesting he "unreasonably ignored" anyone. That's certainly not what I meant. His chapter gives no indication that the DH itself is on the way out or under challenge. I do know of a couple of scholars who dispute it so I thought this chapter was interesting from the point of view of how the status of the DH is seen more widely in the field -- which is what I thought the OP was asking.

He doesn't indicate that the status of the DH is threatened by those who deny it.

(Certainly there are variations of DH and John Van Seters strongly opposes some of these, but that's not the same is rejecting the DH itself, no?)

austendw
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by austendw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:27 am

neilgodfrey wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:43 am
I didn't expect my comment to be interpreted as suggesting he "unreasonably ignored" anyone. That's certainly not what I meant. His chapter gives no indication that the DH itself is on the way out or under challenge. I do know of a couple of scholars who dispute it so I thought this chapter was interesting from the point of view of how the status of the DH is seen more widely in the field -- which is what I thought the OP was asking.
Ah, sorry, I wasn't sure whether you were citing Van Seters approvingly or disapprovingly.
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austendw
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by austendw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 4:38 am

Ulan wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:28 am
The aforementioned Konrad Schmid has definitely done away with it, and most of his colleagues agree. They consider the "Jahwist" to be a disparate collection of older stories, a collection that never told a comprehensive tale.
I haven't read any substantial work by Konrad Schmidt. How similar is his approach to Reinhard Kratz, whose "Composition of the Narrative Books of the Old Testament" I am familiar with.

I think that the "Yahwist-is-dead" position is, roughly, that there was absolutely no connected Pentateuchal (or Tetrateuchal) narrative as such before P, making P (inter alia) the literary glue that first stuck all those earlier fragments together. To be honest, I don't buy that, because so much of the material traditionally dated to an earlier pre-P stratum (let's call it, for argument's sake, the Yahwist), is so utterly contrary to P's agenda and surely would not have been included by P at all. Some other editorial process was surely at work. I suspect (it's a while since I read Kratz) that this problem is avoided by, metaphorically, throwing the awkard material over the garden fence and defining it as "post- P". That doesn't convince me either, and I fear that it can becomes a sort of "get-out-of-jail-free" card.

So for me some sort of narrative linkage (perhaps not complete) of earlier material had already happened before P came along... perhaps vaguely analogous to the Documentary Hypothesis "JE Redaction" that preceded P.
Ulan wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:28 am
Texts like the "Joseph" story are considered very late (I've seen dates of 400 BC). Reasons are the relatively modern style or the casual use of the concept of "money", which did not exist prior to 650 to 600 BC.
I'm interested in the issue of money in the Joseph narrative. We know that coinage didn't existing prior to 600BC. But we know that silver, in the form of rings, weights, etc was used for commerce (See below), and the question is, what is meant in the Joseph narrative? Silver or silver coinage?

This question isn't an idle quibble by someone desperate to date these passages as early as possible. The crucial point is that in a number of passages in the Joseph story we read of "silver" being put in, or found in the mouth of the brothers' sacks (Gen 42:27-28; 43:12, 18, 21-22; 41:1). However in Gen 42:34-35, (usually recognized as a variant or doublet of Genesis 42:27-28), the term is different, here we read about every man's "bundle of silver" in his sack. I have often wondered if this different usage doesn't graphically reflect different meanings of the word qesef (silver). When the silver can be placed "in the mouth of" the sacks - and can be found there (ie hasn't managed to work its way down to the bottom of the sack), the writer is thinking of largeish lumps of silver (see below) rather than coins, but in Genesis 41:34-35, when the silver is in "bundles", the writer is now thinking of coins, kept in a little purse within the sacks.

So I am currently toying with the idea that there really is an earlier stratum, pre-coinage, as well as a later "modernisation".

I'm not quite sure how one might put an absolute date on a "relatively modern style"...

For Mesopotamian commerce by means of silver see here:
In the early days of shekels, people carried pieces of metal in bags and amounts were measured out on scales with stones as countermeasures on the other side. Between 2800 B.C. and 2500 B.C., pieces of silver were caste a standard weight, usually in the form of rings or coils called har on tablets. These rings, worth between 1 and 60 shekels, were used primarily by the rich to make big purchases. They came in a number of different forms: large ones with triangular ridges, thin coils.
http://www.ancientmesopotamians.com/anc ... rency.html
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Ulan
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by Ulan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:07 am

Unfortunately, I cannot compare Schmid to Kratz, as I haven't read the book by the latter. Schmid definitely is not one of those people who date extremely late. I don't think that the money argument is very strong, either (this isn't Schmid's btw.). It's more a cumulative argument. For example, the name Potiphar is also late. The story of the false accusation in Gen 39 is definitely old though. It is an Egyptian fairy tale that we know from the time of Sethos II (around 1200 BC), which has been reused here.

The rest of the argument stems from the current view that the Exodus and the patriarchal stories originally had no relation to each other and have completely separate origins. In this sense, the Joseph story was an attempt to somehow marry the Exodus/Moses story to the Abraham/Patriarchs story. The original independence can still be seen in such a late text as 1 Chronicles, where you find a "history" of Joseph and his children that knows no time in Egypt. "Asriel" is probably "Israel", as it's the only name in the genealogical list that is not connected to any location (André Lemaire “Asriel, Sr’1, Israel et l’origine de la confédération israélite”, VT 23, 1973). You can have a glimpse at the probably original Joseph story in the reconstruction by Prof. Harald Schweizer (for an English version see here; scroll down to about half the document). It's probably a piece of wisdom literature from the 5th century.

It was important to find a role for all tribes of Israel in the Torah. The Song of Deborah doesn't know the tribe Judah yet (Judah is probably the name of a location, "land of gorges"). Thomas Roemer revived the old Kenite hypothesis in a somewhat different form to explain the origin of the tribe. Judah is the topic of one of those awkward insertions into the Joseph story proper.

However, be aware that I don't treat anything I just said as gospel. These are just interesting possibilities.

austendw
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Re: The Documentary Hypothesis in the 21st Century

Post by austendw » Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:47 am

Ulan wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:07 am
However, be aware that I don't treat anything I just said as gospel. These are just interesting possibilities.
That's good to hear. It's a rare pleasure to engage in open-ended discussion rather than tussle with defend-to-the-death certainty.

I'm interested in reading Konrad Schmid's view and saw a book of his on Amazon.uk - Genesis and the Moses Story: Israel's Dual Origins in the Hebrew Bible. However as the single used copy available is selling for £1445.48 :eek: I don't imagine I'll be dipping into it any time soon.

Some random thoughts:

I agree entirely that the Patriarchal and Exodus stories originally had no relation to each other - they were two quite different groups of stories that developed independently. The problem is exactly when they were linked (I mean in the first instance from a literary point of view, I'm not talking absolute dates... yet).

I'm not convinced the Joseph story was absolutely needed to marry the Jacob story to the Exodus story, and though it may be difficult to prove, I think I can see traces of a possible pre-Joseph link. Throughout the Joseph story his father is a weak character made weaker, sadder and less effectual by Joseph's disappearance. But out of the blue he perks up and acts more like the classic patriarch at two points: Genesis 42:1 and 46:1-4. Eliminating a couple of phrases which tie it in to the Joseph story, one might easily end up with the following account, a fragment (maybe not so fragmentary) of a story that preceded the Joseph story:
[42:57] And all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain [to Joseph] because (the) famine was severe over all the earth.
[42:1] And Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, [and he said to his sons, "Why do you look at one another?"]
2 And he said, "Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt..."
[lacuna]
[46:1b] …and he came to Beer-sheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father [Isaac].
[2] And God said [to Israel in visions of the night, and said], "Jacob, Jacob."
And he said, "Here am I."
[3a] And he said, "I am El, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt; for [I will there make of you a great nation.]
[4a] I will go down with you to Egypt.[and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes.]"
[5a] So Jacob set out from Beer-sheba...
[7b] ...and he brought all his offspring with him into Egypt.
In this version, there is famine, Jacob realises that there's corn in Egypt, so he takes his entire family down there, with God's blessing. Simple. Note how here at 46:7b it is Jacob who brings his offspring with him, whereas in the main Joseph story he's a decrepit old man brought to Egypt by his children...

I have to confess that I was less than impressed with Schweizer's version of the original Joseph stories, because I think it ignores a number of the anomalies that the older scholars of the Documentary Hypothesis wrestled with. Sometimes he doesn't just ignore the problem, he edits it out, creating a smoother more consistent version. For example, in Gen 37:46 - a line that Schweizer eliminates - it's the Midianites who sell Joseph to the captain of the guard. But (a) if the original version had the Midianites sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites and the Ishmaelites sold him in Egypt why would anyone add a single verse, confusing matters by suggesting that the Midianites themselves went down to Egypt and sold him to the Egyptian captain of the guard? (b) It can't be a coincidence that when Jacob is accused by "Potiphar's wife" he is initally handed over to the "keeper of the prison", but then, lo and behold, he is immediately found in the "house of the captain of the guard" - precisely the person Joseph was sold to in the line Schweizer deletes. This strongly suggests that originally Joseph was sold directly to the captain of the guard, in whose house (not prison) he looked after the royal butler and baker. The entire episode of "Potiphar's wife" has been added, spliced into the narrative, presumably to spice it up and make it more exciting. That's what the old DH scholars, Wellhausen, Gunkel et al, thought, and I entirely agree with them.

Apologies. I've rambled on...
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