Monday, December 17, 2007

The Documentary Hypothesis

I have to admit, I know nothing about the DH except the very high level ideas. Multiple documents, one redactor... Perhaps it is time to educate myself.

The blogger that seems to be most pedantic about the DH, who seems to have an infinite amount of patience to analyze every chapter and verse of the Tanach is littlefoxling. As I was re-reading some of his older posts, I came across this quote:
I stumbled upon S. R. Driver’s “Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament,” which was published in 1913.

I was mortified. The book was absolutely chock full of completely irrefutable proof for the DH.
This seems like an incredibly strong statement. Irrefutable proof?

Anyway, I found this introduction to the book on GoogleBooks - it is interesting that while the DH seems like a fatal blow to Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians, Driver and many others seem to have no problem with reconciling their religiosity with their denial of the literal Divine origin of the text.

It is objected however that some of the conclusions of critics respecting the Old Testament are incompatible with the authority of our blessed Lord and that in loyalty to Him we are precluded from accepting them. That our Lord appealed to the Old Testament as the record of a revelation in the past and as pointing forward to Himself is undoubted but these aspects of the Old Testament are perfectly consistent with a critical view of its structure and growth. That our Lord in so appealing to it designed to pronounce a verdict on the authorship and age of its different parts and to foreclose all future inquiry into these subjects is an assumption for which no sufficient ground can be alleged. Had such been His aim it would have been out of harmony with the entire method and tenor of His teaching. In no single instance so far as we are aware did He anticipate the results of scientific inquiry or historical research. The aim of His teaching was a religious one it was to set before men the pattern of a perfect life to move them to imitate it to bring them to Himself. He accepted as the basis of His teaching the opinions respecting the Old Testament current around Him. He assumed in His allusions to it the premises which His opponents recognised and which could not have been questioned even had it been necessary to question them without raising issues for which the time was not yet ripe and which had they been raised would have interfered seriously with the paramount purpose of His life. There is no record of the question whether a particular portion of the Old Testament was written by Moses or David or Isaiah having been ever submitted to Him and had it been so submitted we have no means of knowing what His answer would have been. The purposes for which our Lord appealed to the Old Testament its prophetic significance and the spiritual lessons deducible from it are not as has been already remarked above affected by critical inquiries. Criticism in the hands of Christian scholars does not banish or destroy the inspiration of the Old Testament it presupposes it it seeks only to determine the conditions under which it operates and the literary forms through which it manifests itself and it thus helps us to frame truer conceptions of the methods which it has pleased God to employ in revealing Himself to His ancient people of Israel and in preparing the way for the fuller manifestation of Himself in Christ Jesus.
S.R.D.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Irrefutable proof sounds so religious a statement.

December 17, 2007 9:17 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I don't see it as a religious statement at all. Relgion is usually not about proofs. That is more the domain of logic and rhetoric.

December 17, 2007 10:27 PM  
Anonymous B. Spinoza said...

What I find so interesting about James Kugel is that he is an Orthodox Jew and a bible scholar, yet he is of the opinion that the two can absolutely not be reconciled. He thinks that all attempts of reconciliation between religion and bible scholarship is apologetics, but he still believes strongly in the merit of both worlds

December 18, 2007 4:10 AM  
Blogger littlefoxling said...

Of course – I meant only that it refuted the Orthodox viewpoint that happens to hold that one author composed the entire thing.

Also, it does pose theological problems. The belief that various authors of the Bible do in fact disagree on certain matters refutes the view that all the words of the Bible are true.

December 18, 2007 7:07 AM  
Blogger littlefoxling said...

Irrefutable proof sounds so religious a statement.

why do religious people use the word religious as an insult?

December 18, 2007 7:07 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

b.spinoza,
"What I find so interesting about James Kugel is that he is an Orthodox Jew and a bible scholar, yet he is of the opinion that the two can absolutely not be reconciled."

Kugel is smarter than your average bear. I totally agree with his stance.

LF,
not to quibble about language, but I wouldn't state that the proof is irrefutable against the Orthodox position, I think it is a question of degrees of plausibility. Like I mentioned in my post, I don't know enough of the specifics of DH to make a statement one way or another, but having dabbled in other disciplines like history and biblical archaeology, I am pretty confident in saying that nothing can be proven conclusively in those disciplines.

Regarding your second comment, I think the best thing to do is to focus on substance and ignore the baiting. I know it's hard for foxes, but still... ;)

December 18, 2007 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

"littlefoxling said...
Irrefutable proof sounds so religious a statement.

why do religious people use the word religious as an insult?"

It's not an insult. It's an observation. When being scientific the word irrefutable is a personal assesment of a scientific idea. If the concept is pressed too far what is really being said is unscientific. If someone says that without a theory all of science falls something is wrong with the theory or the one expressing that idea.

December 18, 2007 10:15 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

RG,

I am not going to ban you but I want to let you know that on my blog, commenters are expected to:

a) Use proper grammar and punctuation, at least to the degree that their comments can be understood.
b)Stay away from bickering and focus on the topic. As much as it would flatter me to have 400 comments on a post, I don't need them to all be snipping between 'skeptics' and 'believers', especially since it's been done to death on every blog I visit.

Now, even allowing for the above points, your comment still doesn't make any sense to me starting with the sentence "When being..."

December 18, 2007 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Bickering? I wasn't bickering. i was referring to science done well or not. Nothing personal about anybody. Now I'm bickering with you. Stop it please.

"When being scientific the word irrefutable is a personal assesment of a scientific idea. If the concept is pressed too far what is really being said is unscientific. If someone says that without a theory all of science falls something is wrong with the theory or the one expressing that idea."

The above is grammatically correct. Now for the translation: In science you have to prove something. If you try and say that something is so true that it has to be believed in or else science falls then you are not being scientific. Science never falls. It goes on and always reexperiments. To the extent a scientist abandons this idea to that extent he is not doing good science but just expressing his personal opinion.

Sheesh! What the heck did you think I was saying?!

December 18, 2007 12:33 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home