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The Documentary Hypothesis Delusion


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It isn't much recognized that the Documentary Hypothesis was an essentially apologetic enterprise. The goal was to "save" the Bible from passing into pure mythology by positing lost, ancient "historical sources" that were only "redacted" (not written) in the sixth and fifth century. Only highly trained theologians like Julius Wellhausen had the ability, they thought, to divine these sources within the body of the text, by inventing their own criteria for what constitutes those sources. This was a delusion. 

 

The apologetic nature of this "hypothesis" isn't recognized in the USA because here, where the influence of fundamentalism is much stronger than it was in Europe in the 19th-20th centuries, it appears to in fact be a fatal blow to apologetics. Wellhausen scrubbed any explanation of "divine inspiration" from the J,E,P,D source materials and left us with purely man-made "traditions." But "traditions" don't necessarily rule out the hand of the divine if you have "faith," and so the non-fundamentalist preachers have been, for the most part, quite content to accommodate the DH in their own theology. The main thing it accomplishes is that it retains the ancient, historical respectability to the Bible, and prevents anyone from even thinking of making the comparison between the Bible and supposedly "later" Greek sources like Herodotus. Because if the people ever did that, the Bible's historical credibility would be destroyed. 

 

 

 

"The majority of the divergent conclusions of most biblical scholars are that the original sources of the Bible have long been lost, and that only they, the scholars, can find them within the Biblical text. The initials of the sources (J, E, Dtr 1, etc.) sound vaguely scientific, and the amateur will respect this seemingly solid theory when reading an annotated Bible. These notes discourage one from understanding the biblical narrative as being perfectly coherent, a fine piece of literature. This is quite a paradox, as these theories claim to be 'theological,' yet they undermine the beauty of the text by claiming it to be full of blatant contradictions ...

 

"As the alleged J, E, D, and P sources can never be discovered ... biblical scholars used older sources from the Ancient Near East ... to try to prove how old the Bible was. So, for example, the Enuma Elish became the indirect source for the creation narrative in Genesis, the Epic of Gilgamesh became the indirect source for the deluge, and the Code of Hammurabi the prototype for biblical laws. Consequently, even though we already knew about similar stories and laws in the Greek tradition, they are disregarded as being more recent than the Bible, not worthy of comparison ... Assyriological findings are employed to draw the Bible back to a remote past, in order to make it essentially 'Semitic.' Any possible Western influence is rejected, and in this particular case we see the 'Orient' is a scholarly invention, as Said stated. The Bible must remain Semitic, oriental, old, and genuine for believers."

 

Philippe Wajdenbaum, Argonauts of the Desert (2011), page 30-31. 

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What Greek parallels would fit? If not Gilgamesh for the flood, then what?

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

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Gilgamesh is Babylonian. (maybe even farther back as an oral tale - Sumer)

 

So is most of Genesis. The parallels to the Enuma Elish are unmistakable.

 

Sargon(1) of Akkad (Founder of the Akkadian Empire) is featured as well;

Sargon survives as a legendary figure into the Neo-Assyrian literature of the Early Iron Age. Tablets with fragments of a Sargon Birth Legend were found in the Library of Ashurbanipal from the 7th century BC.[17] According to this legend, Sargon was the illegitimate son of a priestess (older translations describe his mother as lowly). She brought him forth in secret and placed him in a basket of reeds on the river. He was found by Akki the irrigator who raised him as his own son.

 

Which is the source of the Moses story, obviously.

 

Genesis, at least, predates the classical Greek era, hailing from Mesopotamia in parts. Now if we had the Library at Alexandria we might know more.

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My hypothesis is that Abraham (or more likely a group of people - either a large family or a village) left Ur (Mesopotamia) for some reason or another (looking for land, exile, who knows?) ending up in the Levant bringing their legends and myths with them…probably around 2700 - 2500 BCE… these tales changed over time and were assigned to a new God, El of the Canaanites… splitting again from the Canaanites into the Hebrew tribes to become the ones that made it into the Torah.

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Genesis, at least, predates the classical Greek era, hailing from Mesopotamia in parts. Now if we had the Library at Alexandria we might know more.

 

It's more accurate to say that the legends of Genesis predate the classical Greek era. When "The Book of Genesis" was actually written in the form we now have it is quite a different matter, just as the legends of Rome predate the writing of the Aeneid by hundreds of years. 

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No.. the actual stories are told elsewhere.. such as the Sargon birth story..from the Sumerian Kings list (incomplete) 2000 years before the classical Greek era..(5th to third centuries bce) and the creation story in the Enuma Elish….(dated about 1100bce - late version) the Epic of Gilgamesh is dated about 2100bce for the earliest versions.

 

They FAR predate the Greeks. These are actual texts… not hints of sources.

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No.. the actual stories are told elsewhere.. such as the Sargon birth story..from the Sumerian Kings list (incomplete) 2000 years before the classical Greek era..(5th to third centuries bce) and the creation story in the Enuma Elish….(dated about 1100bce - late version) the Epic of Gilgamesh is dated about 2100bce for the earliest versions.

 

They FAR predate the Greeks. These are actual texts… not hints of sources.

But these stories being adapted into their Hebrew forms may actually be Greek-era. 

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No.. the actual stories are told elsewhere.. such as the Sargon birth story..from the Sumerian Kings list (incomplete) 2000 years before the classical Greek era..(5th to third centuries bce) and the creation story in the Enuma Elish….(dated about 1100bce - late version) the Epic of Gilgamesh is dated about 2100bce for the earliest versions.

 

They FAR predate the Greeks. These are actual texts… not hints of sources.

 

Yes, I realize that the Sumerian literature pre-dates the Greeks. I'm not that stupid. But the Sumerian literature isn't the Bible. 

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Since Abraham was from Sumeria, doesn't it make more sense that the Sumerians are the source for the OT?

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Since Abraham was from Sumeria, doesn't it make more sense that the Sumerians are the source for the OT?

Do you really think Abraham existed? I am overwhelmingly convinced that he did not.

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Since Abraham was from Sumeria, doesn't it make more sense that the Sumerians are the source for the OT?

Do you really think Abraham existed? I am overwhelmingly convinced that he did not.

 

I think that oral tradition usually does record actual peoples, and mythologizes them.

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These stories made it into the Torah, supposedly just around the time of the Babylonian captivity, starting in 597 BCE - they began to return to Judah about and after 539 BCE, which is somewhat concurrent with the Classical Greek age, maybe slightly before.

 

The thing is that the OT is not remotely Greek (Hellenic) in thought, the NT however is.

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

 

Smug condescension duly noted. And how, pray tell, do linguistics support the DH? 

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These stories made it into the Torah, supposedly just around the time of the Babylonian captivity, starting in 597 BCE - they began to return to Judah about and after 539 BCE, which is somewhat concurrent with the Classical Greek age, maybe slightly before.

 

The thing is that the OT is not remotely Greek (Hellenic) in thought, the NT however is.

 

So you're positing a 1000+ year span of oral history before the Torah reached its current stage? I'm trying to figure out how the Sumerians figure into this. 

 

Philippe Wajdenbaum in his book Argonauts of the Desert points out that the Bible actually is Hellenic in thought, with concepts like the "heavenly Tabernacle" mirroring similar concepts in Plato's Timaeus, and the 12 tribes confederacy mirrored in the Republic, right down to the same "laws" appearing in the same order between Deuteronomy and Plato's Laws, and many other examples. This is over and beyond the reliance on the literary style of Herodotus, which the Primary History clearly is modeled on, such an approach having absolutely no parallel or precedent in any Sumerian, Akkadian, Canaanite, Persian, etc. text you wish to name. 

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

 

Smug condescension duly noted. And how, pray tell, do linguistics support the DH? 

 

There are linguistic tools that can be used to establish the likelihood that two texts are written by the same person. This quite obviously falls in the purview of linguistics, as it's clearly linguistic phenomena that are investigated.

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It is a fact that several of the most important stories in the Torah.. are copies, borrowings from much much earlier. The story of the creation, the Flood, Moses…. the Law code was first established by Hammurabi.. and that comes down from the Sumerians - who were the first to write, have cities and what we would call 'civilization', have codified laws, etc.. (Sargon of Akkad conquered the Sumer civilization - Sargon is the root of the Moses story ["Moses" is an Egyptian word.. meaning 'son of'], The flood story comes from HERE:)

 

The Mesopotamian flood stories concern the epics of ZiusudraGilgamesh, and Atrahasis. In the Sumerian King List, it relies on the flood motif to divide its history into preflood and postflood periods. The preflood kings had enormous lifespans, whereas postflood lifespans were much reduced. The Sumerian flood myth found in the Deluge tablet was the epic of Ziusudra, who heard the Divine Counsel to destroy humanity, in which he constructed a vessel that delivered him from great waters.[2] In the Atrahasis version, the flood is a river flood.[3]

Assyriologist George Smith translated the Babylonian account of the Great Flood in the 19th century. Further discoveries produced several versions of the Mesopotamian flood myth, with the account closest to that in Genesis 6–9 found in a 700 BCE Babylonian copy of the Epic of Gilgamesh. In this work, the hero, Gilgamesh, meets the immortal man Utnapishtim, and the latter describes how the god Ea instructed him to build a huge vessel in anticipation of a deity-created flood that would destroy the world. The vessel would save Utnapishtim, his family, his friends, and the animals.

 

The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered the oldest story in the world.

 

EA is a SUMERIAN GOD. (EA = EN.KI)  Ea was his Akkadian and Babylonian name.. originally the patron god of Eridu, a Sumerian city.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flood_myth

 

The Persians, the Akkadians, the Chaldeans, the Hittites, the Egyptians, etc… they were all there BEFORE the Greeks… by a fair bit. So were the Canaanites and Phoenicians, and from the texts from the Ugartic it is OBVIOUS that the Hebrews stem from there… there is much similarity between the Ugartic texts (and religious thought) and the early writings/archeaology too) of the Hebrews.. including the language.. it's nearly identical.  Before the Greeks were Greeks, so to say, but a collection of several peoples.. the Mycenaeans had a civilization there first…(which is somewhat concurrent with Babylonia). This preceded the dark age then the Syrians (Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world) Ionians, and others began the settlements in the early archaic period, they were from outside of Greece, bringing that influence… especially from Phoenicia and other sea-faring peoples like the Minoans.

 

The archaeology places the Hebrews as slightly before the Greek archaic age, before the classical. Their relationship to the Canaanites is unmistakable…they are an offshoot of them - like the gypsy's (Roma) are offshoots of the Romanians. The linguistics are unmistakable, the art and architecture and pottery is nearly identical.. the syncretism of their theology, and it's evolution is obviously rooted in Canaanite pantheism, influenced by Mesopotamian, Egyptian (monotheism - a la Ahkenaten) and Persian thought… only later by Hellenistic thought.

 

Yahwehism, by the time of the captivity, is a war god cult…mainly by the Judeans - as the rest of Israel had been conquered and scattered... and they were shedding their polytheism (aka Asherah et al [elohim]) (see: Kuntillet 'Arjud, Israel - 800BCE) and strongly influenced by Zoroastrianism (dualism - not originally a Hebrew concept). The demigod concept (Jesus) now THAT is a pagan and Hellenistic concept. Much later though.

 

During rewritings later did some Greek influence happen, probably….(midrash seems rather Greek to me).  But it's NOT the source. The major rewriting of the Torah happened during the captivity in Babylon. We have over 3500 years of history/theology in the mideast.. where the Greeks only cover about 700 to 800 of those years before the common era.

 

Another thought… the major civilizations of the area, Mesopotamia/Persia in the north and Egypt in the south were constantly fighting over the area in the middle (Israel, Syria, Canaan, Jordan, etc..) in ploys for territory..back and forth, back and forth… for most of that 3500 years. Long before the Greeks or Romans even existed. The Merneptah Stele places the Hebrews(Israel) in Palestine in 1200 BCE… 500 years before the Archaic Greeks.

 

So… we see very ancient stories that have come from these other civilizations pop up in the Torah, in their various forms… and we are supposed to believe it was from the Greek? no. Do I believe the Torah is an historical document? no.. do I believe it is a collection of legend, oral tradition, myth and rewriting of theological thought from the Judeans written down during their captivity (588 BCE) and strongly influenced by the cultures around them and evolved over time? I also believe it was partly a political move by the Yahwists. Yes - for the most part I think this is the case.

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During rewritings later did some Greek influence happen, probably….(midrash seems rather Greek to me).  But it's NOT the source. The major rewriting of the Torah happened during the captivity in Babylon. We have over 3500 years of history/theology in the mideast.. where the Greeks only cover about 700 to 800 of those years before the common era.

 

Another thought… the major civilizations of the area, Mesopotamia/Persia in the north and Egypt in the south were constantly fighting over the area in the middle (Israel, Syria, Canaan, Jordan, etc..) in ploys for territory..back and forth, back and forth… for most of that 3500 years. Long before the Greeks or Romans even existed. The Merneptah Stele places the Hebrews(Israel) in Palestine in 1200 BCE… 500 years before the Archaic Greeks.

Ravenstar, I'm a little confused by what you say above about the Greeks. Is it thought that Greeks in the Mycenaean period may have had contact with the inhabitants of Palestine? I've seen inscriptions in Cyprus that were pegged as Mycenaean (I think at Palaia Paphos). From there it's not far to Palestine.

 

Not that the question takes us very far. There's the problem, who influenced whom, and when. Martin L. West has long contended that much of Greek mythology is reworked from Asian originals. And of course, we don't know about Mycenaean literature or oral stories, except by extrapolation ...

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The Persians, the Akkadians, the Chaldeans, the Hittites, the Egyptians, etc… they were all there BEFORE the Greeks… by a fair bit. So were the Canaanites and Phoenicians, and from the texts from the Ugartic it is OBVIOUS that the Hebrews stem from there… there is much similarity between the Ugartic texts (and religious thought) and the early writings/archeaology too) of the Hebrews.. including the language.. it's nearly identical.  Before the Greeks were Greeks, so to say, but a collection of several peoples.. the Mycenaeans had a civilization there first…(which is somewhat concurrent with Babylonia). This preceded the dark age then the Syrians (Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world) Ionians, and others began the settlements in the early archaic period, they were from outside of Greece, bringing that influence… especially from Phoenicia and other sea-faring peoples like the Minoans.

 

During rewritings later did some Greek influence happen, probably….(midrash seems rather Greek to me).  But it's NOT the source. The major rewriting of the Torah happened during the captivity in Babylon. We have over 3500 years of history/theology in the mideast.. where the Greeks only cover about 700 to 800 of those years before the common era.

 

Another thought… the major civilizations of the area, Mesopotamia/Persia in the north and Egypt in the south were constantly fighting over the area in the middle (Israel, Syria, Canaan, Jordan, etc..) in ploys for territory..back and forth, back and forth… for most of that 3500 years. Long before the Greeks or Romans even existed. The Merneptah Stele places the Hebrews(Israel) in Palestine in 1200 BCE… 500 years before the Archaic Greeks.

 

So… we see very ancient stories that have come from these other civilizations pop up in the Torah, in their various forms… and we are supposed to believe it was from the Greek? no. Do I believe the Torah is an historical document? no.. do I believe it is a collection of legend, oral tradition, myth and rewriting of theological thought from the Judeans written down during their captivity (588 BCE) and strongly influenced by the cultures around them and evolved over time? I also believe it was partly a political move by the Yahwists. Yes - for the most part I think this is the case.

 

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding here. I apologize if I wasn't clear. 

 

1. No one is questioning or debating the fact that Mesopotamian cultures and literacy was established long before Greek culture/literature. This red herring has nothing to do with the point of this thread. 

 

2. No one is questioning the dates of the Canaanite/Ugaritic texts and their insight into the religious ideas and culture of the Canaanites, and the subsequent influence on the Hebrews and their religious ideas in the first half of the first millennium BCE.

 

3. No one is saying that Greek ideas were "the source" of the religion(s) of the Hebrews. We are talking mostly about the literary style and composition of the Bible, a completely different subject. However, as I mentioned in my last post, Wajdenbaum (following other scholars) has posited some Platonic influence on the Bible. 

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

 

Smug condescension duly noted. And how, pray tell, do linguistics support the DH? 

 

There are linguistic tools that can be used to establish the likelihood that two texts are written by the same person. This quite obviously falls in the purview of linguistics, as it's clearly linguistic phenomena that are investigated.

 

 

Yes. The difficulty is establishing the criteria for how the tools are used. For example, a criteria that assumes different names of a deity must signal different writers is a completely subjective criteria. It could mean something, but we don't know the motivations of the writer.  

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

 

Smug condescension duly noted. And how, pray tell, do linguistics support the DH? 

 

There are linguistic tools that can be used to establish the likelihood that two texts are written by the same person. This quite obviously falls in the purview of linguistics, as it's clearly linguistic phenomena that are investigated.

 

 

Yes. The difficulty is establishing the criteria for how the tools are used. For example, a criteria that assumes different names of a deity must signal different writers is a completely subjective criteria. It could mean something, but we don't know the motivations of the writer.  

 

If you were to look closer at the DH, it turns out that pretty much each one of them uses each of the names, and DHypothesists have never claimed that any one of the writers exclusively stick to one of them. Misunderstanding what you're criticizing isn't the best start. The names of 'Yahwist' and 'Elohist' mainly are due to these two being pretty frequent users of those particular names, but you'll find significant numbers of YHWH in the Elohist and vice versa.

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The archaeology places the Hebrews as slightly before the Greek archaic age, before the classical. Their relationship to the Canaanites is unmistakable…they are an offshoot of them - like the gypsy's (Roma) are offshoots of the Romanians. The linguistics are unmistakable, the art and architecture and pottery is nearly identical.. the syncretism of their theology, and it's evolution is obviously rooted in Canaanite pantheism, influenced by Mesopotamian, Egyptian (monotheism - a la Ahkenaten) and Persian thought… only later by Hellenistic thought.

 

Half right - the Hebrews do derive from the Canaanites, but the Roma are not offshoots of the Romanians. The language and genetics of the Roma demonstrate an origin in northern India. Whether Hellenistic thought influenced the Hebrew writers that wrote the Bible or not is entirely a question of how late the Bible was written. Certainly, many of the stories that had been incorporated had hovered around in narratives all around the middle east for a while, often originating in the cultures you mention. The fact that a book has an early source doesn't mean all its sources are equally early, though.

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I suggest, blood, that you learn some linguistics. Your crusade against the DH seems more based on ideology and wishful thinking and a misapprehension about its claims than on a genuine appraisal of its merits and demerits. 

 

Smug condescension duly noted. And how, pray tell, do linguistics support the DH? 

 

There are linguistic tools that can be used to establish the likelihood that two texts are written by the same person. This quite obviously falls in the purview of linguistics, as it's clearly linguistic phenomena that are investigated.

 

 

Yes. The difficulty is establishing the criteria for how the tools are used. For example, a criteria that assumes different names of a deity must signal different writers is a completely subjective criteria. It could mean something, but we don't know the motivations of the writer.  

 

If you were to look closer at the DH, it turns out that pretty much each one of them uses each of the names, and DHypothesists have never claimed that any one of the writers exclusively stick to one of them. Misunderstanding what you're criticizing isn't the best start. The names of 'Yahwist' and 'Elohist' mainly are due to these two being pretty frequent users of those particular names, but you'll find significant numbers of YHWH in the Elohist and vice versa.

 

 

I am aware that the DH doesn't claim that JEDP exclusively use those names in their sections. The point I was making was simply that the establishment of criteria based on the use of names of the deity or deities is a subjective criteria. 

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