Umberto Cassuto - The Documentary Hypothesis - Introduction
The introduction is written by Joshua A Berman, an Orthodox Rabbi and lecturer at Bar-Ilan.
The introduction begins by talking about Thomas Kuhn and his concept of "paradigm shift". Kuhn argues that scientists are constrained by a prevailing paradigm to restrict their hypotheses to those which are conformant to the paradigm. Those who try to think outside the box are excluded and looked down upon. Evidence of outcomes which do not fit the paradigm are viewed skeptically and explained away as outliers or errors. However, at some point the evidence becomes too overwhelming to explain away and so the paradigm shifts.
Berman argues (somewhat convincingly) that the same has occurred in Biblical Criticism where anything which does not presuppose a DH is rejected prima fascie. He then presents Cassuto as one who is at the forefront of the new paradigm shift, which sees the Torah as a coherent document and not as a redacted conglomerate of multiple disparate sources. This is a little peculiar as Cassuto died in 1951 and the introduction was written in 2005. Surely, had he been at the forefront of this paradigm shift, the shift would have occurred by now?
One thing which struck me as very odd about this notion, is that, of course, Cassuto's position is the traditional position that had been prevalent for as far back as we can go in history. So, while it is true that it is a paradigm shift from the DH proponents, it is primarily a shift back to the classical view.
It is possible that I misunderstood Berman's point. He does seem to imply that Cassuto himself, though a rabbi, did not argue for Mosaic authorship. Nor did he necessarily exclude the possibility that the Torah may have been based on preexisting documents, in the same way that Shakespeare had based many of his plays on existing stories and plot lines, yet we would not say that Shakespeare redacted them. According to Berman, Cassuto makes the point that the DH both ignores the complex thematic and documentary structure within the Torah and that the distinctions the DH makes when it tries to separate out the "sources" are fallacious and based on both preconceived ideology and lack of understanding.
With respect to ideology, Berman (not sure if making his own point or echoing Cassuto) makes very valid points that in many ways, the 19th and early 20th centuries were very big on defining an ideology and especially identifying trends and then molding your thought process accordingly. It was not enough for Wellhausen to post multiple sources, but he also had to identify them with various stages of Israelite development. Wellhausen is labeled a historicist and a romanticist. I'll have to read up on these and their relationship to early Biblical Scholarship.
The introduction was well written. Now onto the first chapter.