Sources of Hebrew Scripture

Discussion in 'Abrahamic Religions' started by Thomas, Mar 31, 2019.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    For most of the twentieth century, the New Documentary Hypothesis of Julius Wellhausen, written in the 1870s, was the accepted hypothesis regarding the origin of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures.

    According to this, the earliest materials were from the Jahwist scribes, nearly 1,000BC from the court of Solomon. The next layer were the Elhoist texts from the 8th century BC in the northern kingdom of Israel. The Deuteronomists then redacted again in the 7th century BC, after the Babylonian exile, and much ink has been spilled on the 'hard line' D texts calling a recalcitrant diaspora back to the homeland and the faith of their fathers (a process not altogether successful).

    In the 600s BC, during the reign of King Josiah produced the Priestly materials in a world dominated by priests and the emerging temple cult.

    Wellhausen saw the J and E texts describe the inchoate emergence of monotheism and a direct personal relationship with God. In Deuteronomy he saw the influence of the prophets and the development of an ethical outlook, which he felt represented the pinnacle of Jewish religion. On the other hand, the release from the Babylonian exile led to a determined effort by the D scribes to assert the ancient traditions and rebuild Israel, and the P source reflected the rigid, ritualistic world of the priest-dominated post-exilic period.

    This somewhat 'tidy' view of sources began to unravel in the last decades of the 20th century when studies into the origins of the written sources in oral compositions suggested the creators of J and E were collectors and compilers, not authors and historians. Rolf Rendtorff (d2014) argued that the Pentateuch was the result of short, independent narratives gradually brought together and shaped in two editorial phases, the first Deuteronomic, the second Priestly.

    The current view sees only two major sources in the Pentateuch, the Deuteronomist (Deuteronomy) and the Priestly (Genesis-Exodus-Leviticus-Numbers).

    The majority of scholars today recognise Deuteronomy as a source, with its origin in the law-code produced at the court of Josiah and framed during the exile as the words of Moses.

    Most scholars agree some form of Priestly source existed, although its extent is uncertain.

    The Torah is increasingly seen as probably 450–350BC, possibly a product of the Persian imperial practice of authorising local, autonomous law codes for conquered populations. Some scholars would place the final formation of the Pentateuch even later, in the Hellenist (333–164BC) or Hasmonean (140–37BC) periods.

    The latter dating remains a minority view, but the Elephantine papyri, the record of a Jewish colony in Egypt dating from the end of the 5th century BC, shows no knowledge of a Torah or an exodus. There is also a growing recognition that Genesis developed separately and was joined to the story of Moses post-exileby the Priestly writer.[10]

    A revised neo-documentary hypothesis still has adherents, especially in North America and Israel.[38] This distinguishes sources by means of plot and continuity rather than stylistic and linguistic concerns, and does not tie them to stages in the evolution of Israel's religious history.[38] Its resurrection of an E source is probably the element most often criticised by other scholars, as it is rarely distinguishable from the classical J source and European scholars have largely rejected it as fragmentary or non-existent.[39]

    Wellhausen used the sources of the Torah as evidence of changes in the history of Israelite religion as it moved (in his opinion) from free, simple and natural to fixed, formal and institutional.[40] Modern scholars of Israel's religion have become much more circumspect in how they use the Old Testament, not least because many have concluded that the Bible is not a reliable witness to the religion of ancient Israel and Judah, representing instead the beliefs of only a small segment of the ancient Israelite community centred in Jerusalem and devoted to the exclusive worship of the god Yahweh.[41][42]
     
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  2. Arif Ghamiq

    Arif Ghamiq Active Member

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    Very interesting - thank you. As I’m sure you know, The Quran clearly states that Prophet Musa/Moses (as) was the recepient of a Divine Revelation called Tawrat/Torah, so we do believe that it did exist, but do not know exactly what it was (or is) other than it did contain Commandment and/or Codes of Conduct and that pure monotheism was paramount.

    Was the Original Revelation lost forever with the Babylonian destruction of the Temple ?

    I’ve always been interested in the Persian thing.

    Is Divine Revelation to Musa/Moses in question or is it just authenticity of text ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2019
  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    the Pentateuch as given by G!d complete in 5 books and Moses crying when he was told if his death? That is only held onto by literalists...
     
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    As I understand it, Islam believe in the Torah/Tawrat as a direct revelation to Moses, but that this was corrupted subsequently within Judaism? For the Jews, the term Torah has a broader context than just the Pentateuch.

    What seems evident is we have no materials from the time of Moses, and no other references to him. Moses doesn't appear at all until the post-exilic era.

    Well in Scripture it says the original documents were rediscovered when the temple was being rebuilt in the time of King Josiah.

    But here again we have difficulties. The Book of Kings and the Book of Chrionicles are parallel accounts, with significant difficulties. Both books speak of the establishment of a renewed religion, based on the Book (Deuteronomy) found in the temple, and of Jerusalem as the centre and source of Jewish religious practice.

    In Chronicles, God calls Israel to a special relationship, narrowing the focus from all mankind to a single family, the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. 'True' Israel are those who continue to worship Yahweh at the Temple in Jerusalem, whilst the history of the historical Kingdom of Israel is ignored.

    God chooses Jerusalem as the place of His worship. More is recorded on the construction of the Temple and its rituals of worship than on any other subject.

    By stressing the centrality of the Temple cult in to pre-exilic Judah, Chronicles stresses the importance of the newly-rebuilt Persian-era Second Temple to his own readers.

    Chronicles seems to be the work of a single individual, probably a native of Jerusalem and a Temple priest. Much of the content of Chronicles is a repetition of material from other books of the Bible, from Genesis on. One view is that these books, or an early version of them, provided the author with the bulk of his material.

    Another view, in line with the above, is that the situation was rather more complex, and that the Hebrew Scriptures could be contemporary with each other, from Genesis on, all drawing on the same materials.

    Well the authenticity of the text throws questions onto Moses.

    The birth and childhood of Moses — mother a princess, a child hidden who later emerges as a champion — is common in the mythological literature of the era. There is another story of a king who is placed in a basket of rushes and cast adrift on a river ... so the origins of Moses is most likely mythical.

    I think it's commonly assumed that Moses existed, and that he played a significant role, and that his biographers subsequently wrapped his story in the mythological trimmings, as it were.

    It's interesting that the plagues of Egypt can be explained as an environmental disaster, or an ecological imbalance. Another has suggested a volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini caused a tsunami which struck the region, and the plagues ... there is geological evidence of ash deposits and matter from Santorini in the Nile Delta!

    There is evidence that 'the Hebrews' were a conquered tribe who were tasked with making bricks to build a city for the Egyptians. They were conquered, but might not necessarily be 'slaves' or driven under the lash as portrayed in Hollywood movies. There would have been religious tensions, and no doubt discrimination, etc ... then some natural disaster, they would suffer all the more ... so they decide to up sticks and leave, and then later, tales of the disaster get wound into the leaving history, until the disaster is seen as the work of God to 'set my people free' — so mythological, but not entirely fictional.
     
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  5. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Quite ...
     
  6. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    Until I regain full use of my arm and right hand - probably not for several weeks at the earliest, even my physical therapy is limited because healing is still ongoing - my ability to type is sorely constrained, so let me be brief.

    While the term "Torah" can be, and is, at times used in a broader context than simply designating Genesis through Deuteronomy, it is most usually understood as describing those five books.
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    that little microphone button is my friend.
     
  8. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    Get well soon.
     
  9. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    The little who to what???
     
  10. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

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    As my grandmother, may her memory be for a blessing, used to say - From your mouth to G-d's ears!
     
  11. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Speech to text, no typing
     
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  12. StevePame

    StevePame Administrator Staff Member

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    Hope you heal quickly!
     
  13. RJM Corbet

    RJM Corbet God Feeds the Ravens

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    Very educational. Thank you.
     

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