tilting at windmills: a response to 'redaction theory'

Discussion in 'Comparative Studies' started by bananabrain, Sep 9, 2003.

  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    i'm not sure where this should go. comments are welcome.

    it is not just the "ultra-orthodox" who believe in the revelation at sinai. this revelation is axiomatic for all jews, insofar as we believe that "something" happened there and that some kind of direct interface took place between the Divine and humanity. precisely *what* happened is not clear, nor is it required to hold a particular view, in fact - all that is required traditionally is to believe in "Torah min-hashamayim" - Torah from 'heaven', meaning directly from the Divine. the difference between orthodox and non-orthodox is that orthodox jews believe that this means at very least the five books in the form we have them now were given to moses; *how* is not mentioned, nor is their form directly mentioned in the primary text. conservative and reform jews believe a variety of things starting from "G!D spoke to moses, who wrote it down", scribal emendation and errors creeping in subsequently, otherwise known as "inspired by G!D but written by humans" all the way down to people who totally believe the DH, but nonetheless consider being jewish a thing that they want to continue. for an inspired analysis of the issues that still divide 'am yisrael' to this day, i recommend rabbi jonathan sacks' 1991 book "one people?"

    however, still proceeding from a traditional standpoint, there is not much more than that that one is actually required to believe. maimonides' "13 principles" include one which says that the Torah was given from heaven and *shall* (note tense) never change. howsomebeitever, traditional opinion is definitely divided on exactly what moses heard and what *everybody* heard - which gives us the traditional position that "there were 600,000 of us there, so we we are all witnesses and can't possibly all be lying" - which will not convince a sceptical modern, of course! some say that the people heard the "ten commandments" (which aren't that comprehensive, in fact, given that we have 613 of the things) and some say that all they heard was the first word of the first one ("ANOKhI", meaning "I am") whereas others maintain that all they heard was the first letter of that word, which is an 'alef', which has, effectively, no sound. it is left to us to work out what that might mean. either way, to believe any of this does not in any way mean that a traditional jew must therefore not be able to subscribe to, say, the theory of evolution or scientific method. they're just different ways of searching for the truth.

    anyway, over and above the Torah itself, it is logically inferred by a number of traditional authorities that the Oral Law actually *predated* the Written Law - especially given that people, for example, get married before sinai happens. so we must have had some framework of ethical behaviour to live by. what moses heard on top of sinai is best understood as a Divine lecture, where he, as our top prophet, was able to understand how these laws would imply the whole of the Oral Law in a way that nobody has done before or since. the whole of the rest of jewish tradition is simply the rest of us trying to work out what moses understood and write it down. halacha (jewish law) is therefore "reverse-engineered" - in other words, we know what we do, because we do it. what we don't know is how come we came to do it and how this links back to the original source text - and this is what the Oral Law sets out.

    in connection with books that are referred to such as "the book of the wars of G!D" it is assumed by traditional scholars that these books existed, but were lost. as Torah stands up in its own right as an integrated system, however, they are not considered crucial, having a standing, i dare say, somewhat similar to the great texts of mysticism such as the "Sefer Yetzirah" - ie it's great if you have them, but if you don't you'll still be OK.

    in fact, where there are things that are anomalous, for example unusual grammatical constructions or apparent continuity errors are explained in all cases by traditional commentators. don't forget that our sages have been looking at this system for a couple of thousand years before wellhausen and his ilk ever got their grubby little paws on it and we're hardly unaware of the peculiarities of the text. so what if "shabbat" in biblical hebrew sounds like the "asapatu" festival in mesopotamia? does that mean they're the same? or that shabbat isn't, therefore, an social innovation that has resulted in immense benefits over the centuries? i mean, really!

    the essential problem is that academics, as a point of principle, reject the idea that there could be a metanatural explanation for the text, which is the fundamental divergence between their world view and that of ours. we have had to look for other explanations - and there is no way that the two points of view can ever be reconciled. but it does not necessarily follow, therefore, that the bible scholars are right and the jews are wrong. similarly, the picture of the jewish people that emerges from the world of wellhausen is a 19th-century eurocentric one, where human history is considered ideologically as part of a progression towards the correctness and objectivity of modernity, away from "blind faith", barbarism and near-eastern nomadic societies. in much the same way, europeans spread all over the world assuming that they were more advanced than everyone else.

    frankly, i find it unconvincing compared to the mysterious answers that come from within my own tradition. wellhausen's own well-documented antisemitism and conversionist agenda taints this set of ideas at source, and isolates the text from the rich tapestry within which i and my community live our lives, turning it into a set of dead scraps of ink and parchment. you could try just as easily to trace the constituent woods of a musical instrument back to their original forests - or you could play the instrument itself. what i object to is not the theory, but the patronising assumption that we're all just kidding ourselves and that they must be right because they're academics. that's the trouble with the academic arrogance that accompanies the language of so-called "objective proof" - even in *western* philosophy, this idea was discredited long ago.

    when yuri gagarin went into space, one of the first things he said was something along the lines of "i can't see G!D up here, so communism must be correct". from my point of view, the documentary hypothesis is no less risible and certainly, given its regular use by those who seek to use it to make judaism appear ridiculous, outmoded and primitive, one that insults both my intelligence and my commitment.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
    juantoo3 likes this.
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    8
    The idea that the Documents Analysis (Redaction Theory) - as I understand it – is certinly disturbing, but I can assure everyone here that that is not at all the intention of including an article on the subject on this site.

    So far as I am aware of, Redaction Theory is simply a consequence of hundreds of years of literary criticism, and this is how it is presented.

    Even more so, as represented on this site, Redaction Theory itself has nothing to do with dismissing either Judaic or Christian belief systems, as much as simply acknowledging that the texts are a written source with possible clues to early literary or oral forms.

    If you take a look at Bob X's article Torah Torah Torah and read some of his entries, you'll see that's his own personal interest – and the focus on the article – is in tracing the use of the literary material.The conclusions, in essence, appear to be:
    1. That the Pentateuch underwent a series of revisions, during which additional material was added from other written or oral sources,
    2. That the original 5 books have a very ancient origin, as evinced in the preservation of ancient words in parts of the text,
    3. That the material was appended not as to corrupt it, as much as simply help illustrate key points and areas of interest with important commentaries,
    4. That the actual process of redaction can be identified in instances
    My overall reading is that there is no attempt by the theory in its main state as being an anti-Semitic push whatsoever – in fact, quite the opposite.

    For a start, it kills the anti-Judaic theory that everything known in Christendom as the "Old Testament" was effectively invented in the Babylonian captivity, by illustrating a notable lineage of development of the accounts over preceding centuries – even millenia...

    ...and also clearly refutes the sometimes simplistic criticisms from Atheist commentators, such as Dennis McKinsey, that works such as the "Book of Genesis" are merely self-contractory and non-sensical, especially on issues of the account of how many clean or unclean animals were taken aboard (the use of Redaction Theory clearly sees two different oral accounts being inadvertently merged here by two different redactors).

    Anyway, I do hope that's cleared a few issues up – feel free to make any further comments. And apologies for taking my time with this. I have tried to get Bob X to come aboard, but he tends to have his home in MSN groups.

    Btw – as a general comment no the articles section – they were all written by people I know online, and are included not because I necessarily subscribe to any particular claims or hypotheses inherent within them – as much as that I simply find them both interesting and stimulating for thought.
     
  3. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    harrumph

    i *have* read bob x's article. this is a response to it. i mean, it didn't make me angry or anything. i have known about the DH/RT for years and what disturbs me is not the details - i mean, we've known about it ever since it was first concocted, most of us didn't find it convincing then and still don't now. the thing that disturbs me is the *blithe assumption* or at least implication that "no serious-thinking person could possibly find it less than convincing". that's the point - that i am a S-T P and i don't find it nearly as convincing or comprehensive - let alone beautiful - as the answers my tradition has given over the last two-plus millennia to exactly the same problems that are posed by the bible critics since they came up with this "new" idea in the C19th; not "hundreds of years ago".

    look, i am *sooo* not calling bob x an antisemite. i haven't even met the guy :D but julius wellhausen *was* and so were most of the early bible critics. their agenda was a christian-supremacist one aimed principally at us, as opposed to much of the modern thinking. however, when you say "Redaction Theory itself has nothing to do with dismissing either Judaic or Christian belief systems, as much as simply acknowledging that the texts are a written source with possible clues to early literary or oral forms" - that might not be problematic for christianity, which has known exactly which human is supposed to have written down which text, so all the RT does is question the degree to which something is "inspired". but for the believer, like myself, in "Torah min-ha'shamayim" if it was possible to prove that the Pentateuch (as opposed to anything else in the "OT") had been redacted, rather than received from G!D in exactly the form that we have it now, then everything that is predicated on this - in other words, traditional jewish law - loses its authority to bind us to our obligations. now this may not be a big deal to christians or scholars, but halacha - jewish law - has preserved our culture over the last few thousand years more effectively than anything else and without obligations, there is no reason ever to pay attention to anything other than one's own personal whims and desires. judaism, by contrast, elevates the importance of the community.

    the problem is also that "tracing the use of literary material" is exactly what the process of halachic development does! it just doesn't allow for those five books to be anything other than a single, unredacted, unrevised unit. we have traditional explanations for everything bible critics have ever pointed out, linguistic or interpretational and they are entirely dismissed by the critics, because they take it as axiomatic that they are "objective" and we are simply kidding ourselves, which is what really annoys us. i mean, when the Torah contradicts itself, the Oral Law doesn't ignore the contradiction. it says "what is this trying to teach us?" and approaches it in such a way as to derive a usable bit of law or custom. what bible critics are effectively doing, from my PoV, is looking at the engine of the car without ever having seen a car, or indeed understanding internal combustion. naturally, what they are seeing is an arrangement of metal parts that doesn't make sense to them. then, told that it's meant to enable mechanised transport, they sit on top of it and say "but it's not moving!" of course not! no camshaft, chassis or wheels are attached.

    except from our PoV, there was no *need* to add any additional material because all its potentiality is already in it; this refers to the explanatory material of the Oral Law which surrounds the Written Torah and in certain cases (such as murder or marriage) had been figured out prior to the revelation at sinai. effectively, the books we have today *are* the original five books, preserved right down from the letters themselves to the the vowel notation, the notes used to chant them and the crowns on the letters. but you're never going to see that in your king james or american standard, let alone the oral tradition, whose function is precisely as you state to "illustrate key points and areas of interest with important commentaries", which process continues to this day.

    i never said the *theory* was anti-semitic. i said that the people who first started it, back in the day, were - and that is a matter of public record. i don't accuse people of anti-semitism for disagreeing with me. but the aim of wellhausen and his friends was to reduce jewish reverence for Torah and thus allow more easy conversion to the more 'modern' christianity by showing that the OT was redacted just like the NT and was therefore no more directly the 'word of G!D'.

    however, what i do say is that it is *unreasonable* to dismiss the traditional jewish view of the text as not worthy of consideration whilst apparently accepting the DH/RT as "self-evident" and normative. is the islamic view of the Qur'an, or the taoist view of the tao te ching not more 'normative' than that of some guy in a western university? do anthropologists not attempt to understand how native americans might approach the idea of a vision quest rather than assuming that "we civilised white europeans know better than these primitives"? don't forget, 2000 years ago whilst my lot were debating how much provision should be made for the wife in a pre-nup, europeans were painting themselves blue and burning each other in wicker baskets. doesn't that give me a right to rebut?

    even assuming that that theory itself deserved the time it took to explain, it still assumes that *judaism requires western academic validation* - which it doesn't. judaism doesn't have to justify itself to the bible critics, let alone the atheist commentator you mention - it's the difference between me seeing the queen of england and saying "ha, ha, look at the stupid sparkly hat that woman's wearing, she must be an idiot" and saying "this is how monarchs used to dress in the unenlightened times when we were all so stupid as to think that kings were a good idea". either way, directly or indirectly, it insults the intelligence of the people who have kept the system alive for the last 2000 years and continue to to this day. i am not stupid or ignorant, according to the western university system, so when the aforementioned w.u.s. says my beliefs are based on forged documents and i'm basically in a cargo cult, it is not automatically the case that i tug my forelock and say "yes, sir, thank'ee and may i have another, sir?" rather, i question the w.u.s.'s right to sit in judgement. not only that, but although i may well be interested to hear the theories of those who know something about biblical hebrew and aramaic, even though they subscribe to the DH/RT, it doesn't therefore follow that all those who espouse the theory are to be given equal credence - especially if they don't know how to read the text in the original languages.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  4. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hi, sorry it took me a while to respond to brian's invite but I have somewhat of a busy time of late.
    No, 18th century French philosophes were also examining these questions, although 19th century Germany elaborated it more fully.

    Look, I do not know of Julius Wellhausen, nor would I rely uncritically on anyone from that period. My first intro to the documentary analysis was by Elie Weisel. This is a subject that many scholars of many nations, Jewish, Christian, and neither, have been looking into for many years.
    19th century Germans went overboard on debunking everything; you think that is all anti-Semitism, but there is the same problem with New Testament criticism, where the more exuberant 19th century critics thought all of the gospels were written from scratch at the end of the 2nd century, with no genuine 1st century material at all.

    I'm sorry but that really is absurd. Vowel and cantillation pointings are very recent and were not quite stable even one thousand years ago.
    This notion of a verbatim preservation of the text is older than the pointings, certainly established by Maccabean times-- but that is a millennium after Sinai, and there was no such notion of a BOOK as the "word of God" in the earlier period: during the reign of the Kings, if you wanted the "word of God" you went to a living prophet, not to a book. The "discovery" of a book of the law (typically taken to be a text of Deuteronomy) in Josiah's reign is a case in point: without buying in to the ultra-cynicism that the book was invented at that point, still it indicates that nobody had been paying much attention to keeping old books copied and studied, all that time. A couple generations later we get the only prophetic reference to the Book, and in most unflattering terms: "How is it you say, We have the Torah of the LORD, when the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?" (Jeremiah)

    No, certainly not. It is important to *understand* the Islamic view of the Qur'an as directly spoken by God, but it is even more important to understand the actual facts behind its assembly. (As for Taoists, I do not find this kind of fundamentalism; the latest edition of the Tao Teh Ching that I saw had a lengthy introduction on the earliest texts and what their variants indicate about how it was assembled from fragments, sometimes not in the originally intended order.)

    Some very basic notions simply did not occur to people until recently. Do you know why Greeks and Romans wore those flowing robes? Not for aesthetic reasons, but just because nobody had conceived of the button, or even the hook-and-eye; all they had were brooches and clasps so they could not make snugly-fitting clothes. There is a dialogue in Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, "Isaac Newton was brilliant! He invented the catflap! Do you know how much time humans have spent opening doors for cats?"-- "Well, there was gravity, that was a little more important"-- "Oh, pffft, gravity [tossing a coin on the ground], see, they even leave it on weekends, somebody was bound to notice"-- "But the catflap isn't much, *I* could have invented THAT"-- "Yes, but... YOU DIDN'T! You may think that is a trivial point, but I assure you it is not."
    Some things are only obvious *after* they have been pointed out. The idea of looking inside a text for clues as to the period it was written, the local dialect of the author, etc. is surprisingly modern: Vico's exposure of the "Donation of Constantine" forgery is, I believe, the first work of that kind, ever, anywhere, and that was 16th century.

    I won't call myself a great scholar of Hebrew, but I am an honorary Masorete (the JPS edition of the Tanakh gives me a walkon mention on p. xii for my role in transmitting the Leningrad Codex of the Masoretic text into the presently-standard computerized form; I did the majority of the typing, and revised the coding scheme for the cantillations).
     
  5. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    cool!

    bob - first of all, thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply.

    and spinoza is late 17th century; yes, of course - the *idea* that the text is less than of entirely Divine origin is older than the bible critics; i just think that the idea that "for hundreds of years" this has been some kind of established consensus is somewhat tendential.

    well, the point was that where wellhausen wasn't able to make the language fit his theories, he simply bent his translations until it did. the point is that i don't believe in human objectivity and academics are certainly not the impartial beings they claim to be.

    yes - but the fact that some even extraordinarily learned jews happen to be convinced by it does not necessarily translate into everyone being convinced. i mean, i've studied with r. louis jacobs and a lot of other people like that - you can still learn Torah from people even if you disagree with their theology - at least as far as i'm concerned. le'havdil (i'm not making a comparison), but even r. meir learnt Torah from elisha aher after his apostasy.

    and that's the problem with the post-enlightenment period, the elevation of the individual to judge, jury and executioner - i've studied the philosophes as well and i understand why they were so keen on destroying the hold of the catholic church over intellectual life - but unfortunately when it came to the jews, we were to be rewarded with full citizenship and equal rights only at the price of assimilation; our religion and culture was regarded (and continues to be by some) as a barrier to our self-actualisation as complete human beings, which from my PoV is sheer arse. look, i don't think that bible criticism is necessarily anti-semitic, but the net result of it has been an incalculable loss to us as a community because it destroys the idea that there is something special in Torah that must be preserved.

    it's not at all absurd. i've discussed this with one of the researchers who works on the dead sea scrolls and he says (and not even from a religious PoV) that discovered variations do not necessarily constitute evidence of *systematic* variation - they could be private copies which one may annotate, temporary variations which were later recorrected, or rediscovery of an authoritative previous version allowing a return to the original. the point is that just because academics agree on what seems to them the most plausible explanation does not preclude other opinions - such as that of religious jews - being true. of course, i will naturally concede that we couldn't "prove" it to the satisfaction of a western university, but why should we? i'm just pointing out that there are limitations to academic method in that we can never truly know from this kind of enquiry what is "true" - nothing can be "proved", only ever disproved. and academics may have disproved our opinion to *their* satisfaction, but there are still religious jews a lot more academically knowledgeable than me who are still able to sustain belief in Torah min ha'shamayim. that should not be read as a dismissal of the work academics have done - of course this has value and truth; just not religious jewish value and truth, if you see what i mean.

    now this is where the academic work is really useful - for NaKh, rather than Torah. of course, reading the text one realises that the prophets are pretty darn pissed off at the behaviour of the people for precisely this reason. it is not unreasonable in these circumstances to conclude that it was the prophets themselves who preserved the originally revealed Torah, which was why they were "on-message", so to speak, as opposed to the 'lying pen of the scribes', which might imply, for the sake of argument, that the prophets were aware that there were people circulating miscopied, altered or falsified texts - which may very well be the texts that academics have discovered and have used to support the conclusion that the text was unstable - come to think of it, i actually think this provides support for *my* PoV! perhaps this is why the Talmud states that prophecy is no longer occurring after the destruction of the Temple - perhaps one of the reasons it was no longer needed was because the authoritative text was no longer in danger from corrupt members of the establishment and the masoretes could go ahead with writing it down.

    fair enough about taoists, i don't know that much about the text itself - but i find the idea that the normative view of a text from within the tradition that owns it is not considered as important as that of academic consensus astonishing, not to mention breathtakingly arrogant. but then, that's european scholarship all over. what a bloody shame and how conducive to conflict, rather than peace.

    i take your point, but it's a bit like arriving in an amazonian jungle village and trying to convince the natives how much they're missing out by not having a football league. the problem with this argument is that it relies upon the idea that our grasp of the truth increases with time and progress, that we are becoming more and more perfect as time goes on. judaism does not take this view of history - but neither does it hark back to some kind of revisionist, fundamentalist utopia (unless one happens to think that life in an east european shtetl was some kind of paradise!) humanity has never known perfection - the golden calf was constructed at the very foot of sinai. secondly, we have ourselves been having the argument about the authority of the oral tradition for a really long time. and thirdly, i've got a religious mate that used to work with douglas adams and even such a hardened anti-godnik as he was prepared to concede that judaism was not as backward as he had thought after he had been exposed for a while to someone who lived according to it. something may be obvious, even self-evident to one group of people whilst appearing completely ridiculous to others. for example, it was self-evident to europeans that they were superior to everyone else not so long ago, but it certainly wasn't so self-evident to everyone else. perhaps this lack of humility and respect for other systems of thought persists rather longer in academia - it seems to me rather akin to the pitying statements that christian fundamentalists make about the poor benighted souls who have never heard the good news about salvation through jesus "pointed out" to them, which is so obvious and self-evidently superior to anything they could have come up with.

    look, i realise that you're not going to change your opinion and fair play to you, you are entitled to it and have plenty of credentials. all i ask is the same respect in return, that people do not assume that their opinion is not automatically more valid than mine because of their background, or that the superiority of one set of opinions is a given. people require different things to sustain their opinions - and i can hardly refer you to the mystical tradition or the sense of community, tradition and balance with the universe that justify my beliefs to myself, because it's impossible to convey my inner experience to someone who denies it as an a priori possibility - nor would it be reasonable for me to expect other people to take it to be the 'truth' just because i said it was.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
    juantoo3 likes this.
  6. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    My pleasure to meet you.
    Here's an exchange from ChristianDebate (the MSN group where Brian and I met) that you might enjoy:
    ...Did you know that the telephone answering machine was first utilized by Jewish folks so that they could get messages off the telephone because they didnt feel they were allowed to answer it on this day? This was back in the 1930s...
    ...I cant help wondering WHO CALLED THE JEW ON THE SABBATH ?? Some palestinians , just letting it ring all night , cause they knew
    the Jew couldnt answer it ??
    Ok , now we all know how my cruel mind works ...
    OK. I thought you were maintaining that nothing on this line had gotten started until the 19th century.
    Similarly, the fact that some extraordinary learned people have bought into this notion of the book dropping from the heavens does not convince.
    I DO think there is "something special" about the Torah. It, and the rest of the Tanakh, is a record of man's early struggles to understand the large questions of the universe; we do not have a parallel document of similar age from any other nation.
    Variations in the Dead Sea Scrolls are variations in the consonantal text, which was the ENTIRETY of the text at that time; no text from Qumran has any pointing of any kind, nor does any other text for the next five centuries: after that we see two competing styles of vowel-points, from the Babylonian and Palestinian communities, both above-the-line markings, then the "Tiberian" system mostly below-the-line with above-the-line for a new set of cantillation points, which finally become stable c. 10th century.
    For failure to adhere to the book??? No, none of the prophets think the law of God is contained in a canonical text; the only one who knows anything about such a book is Jeremiah, and he regards it as corrupt.
    Or rather, they are the texts which we now call "the Torah"; there is absolutely nothing in Jeremiah to suggest that any other text EXISTS AT ALL, except the books copied by "the scribes".
    Well, I am not really sure what you mean by "normative" here. Peoples have all sorts of self-important beliefs about the transcendental importance of certain artifacts of theirs, not just books: the Ephesians believed that their holy image of Diana was sent to them by Jupiter; it is of course important to understand that they believed that, but it is also important to understand that it was a piece of meteoric iron, very unusual but not outside the realm of the natural.
    To me, your attitude toward the book is an idolatry, deifying a human work-- and thus, ironically, very contrary to the message of the book itself.
     
  7. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    8
    If I may interject, I wonder if an important part of bananabrain's objections are not so much directed to the possibility of literary criticism of the ancient Hebrew texts, as much as the way such studies are perceived to have been conducted - namely, to undermine a people without any real rational basis.

    The objections to European scholarship I would think is fairly applied to at least a lot of Victorian British thinking, which seems to have regarded and recorded a lot of what it encountered within the British Empire, within a very patronising frame of reference.

    If this is bananabrain's position of objection then it is certainly very understandable - after all, I'm sure Christians would be very wary if the Gospels were treated as nothing more than toilet paper for intellectuals.

    Of course, how that applies to Redaction Theory itself - so far as I understand it, it still remains an important exploration of the structure of the texts. Not necessary the best, but an important one - and certainly for those looking in for any clues to the historical development of one of the most pivotal faiths in the worlds.

    Certainly Christians will often insist on the Gospel accounts being taken as a literal history, because that is the object of the Christian Faith (certainly to some degree). However, to attempt to preserve any document from an analysis of its relevance in a purely historical fashion would be a dangerously closed way of treating them - though, as the point has been clearly made, there are perhaps more proper ways to do so, and improper motivations do not garner the respect of modern historical inquiry.

    Importantly, also, the inquiry remains a perception, and not a truth. So far as I know, Redaction Theory is little recognised within Christianity at large, and no doubt Judaism itself - whether Reform of Ultra-Orthodox, has its own opinions of the whole process.

    In which case, Redaction Theory remains a tentative look at the development of a people from the outside.
     
  8. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    normative schnormative

    fair enough, i know that, but the point i am trying to make is that because our belief doesn't convince people who need to be convinced because they have elevated their own rational intellectual faculties to a position of supreme authority, that doesn't make it stupid or self-deceiving. i mean, i love my own r.i.f., but that doesn't mean they automatically overrule any of my other drivers. it's a bit like music - nobody can really explain rationally why it makes us feel the way we do, especially to someone tone-deaf. why discount the entire right half of the brain? some things simply have to come out of the intuitive faculties, the blood, bone, soul and other such things. all i'm trying to say is that no one group can monopolise truth to such an extent as to preclude other explanations - that would be a fundamentalist position and, i'm sure, not one you'd approve of.

    OK - but there must have been some form of system of pronunciation! we also had babylonian and palestinian Talmuds! look, you must admit that the absence of a correctly dated, completely pointed and cantillated text to settle this argument for academics once and for all would still constitute *our* needing to be validated by academic say-so, which just isn't important to everyone. it seems kind of hysterical for academics to need for everyone else to bow down and acknowledge their correctness and authority. even in its absence, you must also admit that this very absence doesn't mean that one does not and has never existed - i mean, we haven't found a lot of things, but that doesn't mean they 100% never were, especially given the passage of time and the propensity of a bunch of people for burning jewish texts for a large part of the last 2000 years. there is more than one explanation.

    our sages have an interesting perspective on this, which is that at the parting of the reed sea for moses and the israelites, the Torah says "an east wind blew all night" - and the reason for this, apparently, is that it was important to have an *alternative*, natural explanation for these events, otherwise it would remove all doubt. we've all seen what happens when a religious group is 100% absolutely convinced that they are doing exactly the right thing and have a direct, ongoing link to the Divine. this is why pharaoh's magicians were able to duplicate moses' miracles. the only biblical miracle that is considered 100% bona fide supernatural is the Revelation at sinai to the whole jewish people - and even that, according to some, was just the first "I" of the ten commandments and, according to others, just the first letter of the word "ANOCHI", meaning "I", which is an alef, which has no discernible sound at all. this doesn't mean the sages rule out the supernatural - it just means that the continued exercise of human free-will and choice requires doubt to be available, which the DH/RT certainly helps with. the point is that in our tradition, although the rule of the majority must prevail, the minority opinion must be preserved and respected. i'm just arguing for a little perspective from the academic side.

    um.... bob, how can you be so certain of the entirety of the mind and thought of the prophets? how do you know that the lying pen referred to by jeremiah means only that there was a text and it was altered by the scribes? there are many ways that could be interpreted. just 'cos jeremiah doesn't suggest something exists doesn't preclude its existence. i mean, he doesn't mention a lot of things.

    what i mean by 'normative' is 'mainstream'. a lot of jews kind of take exception to the idea that jewish beliefs about jewish texts are somehow not mainstream, let alone "self-important". i have beliefs about my family, which i am entitled to hold because i'm a member of it. what gives other people the right to dismiss them so off-handedly?

    hence my point above about natural explanations being necessarily available in order to preclude absolute freedom from doubt.

    with all due respect, that's not what idolatry is. we don't worship the book itself, just G!D. protecting something and preserving it is not the same as deifying it - as maimonides says: "there is no true worship but of G!D". we have to be *very* clear about that. how do you treat your own rational and intellectual faculties, then? do you not hold them up for similar deification? furthermore, what exactly do you think the message of the book is? rabbi jonathan sacks says it can be considered an answer to the question "then how shall we live?" can it be so clearly established that the message is X and that eveything else is not-X? i think you're being as prescriptive as you seem to think i'm being.

    thank you! that is exactly what i mean, except far more concisely put than when i try to do it.

    exactly. sometimes i feel like my culture is still being treated in the way that the empire treated the "natives". this is no more evident than in the university world. look, i'm obviously not trying to say universities have nothing to say to me, i'm just saying that they're not *universal* validators. thank you for your understanding.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  9. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    What is reality?

    Rather, several competing pronunciations. While Hebrew was a living language, it had significant dialectal differences, as recorded in the Shibboleth/Sibboleth incident; and which dialect ultimately prevailed was largely a matter of accident. We do not know at what point 'Ayin fell silent: as late as when the Septuagint translation of the Torah appeared, it was still a thick glottal consonant as in Arabic, since we see 'Omorah and Zo'an transliterated Gomorrah and Zogan; but when Greek translations of the Navi'im appear, the 'Ayin is silent as in Aramaic; by this point Hebrew is ceasing to be an everyday spoken language, so the influence of the vernacular Aramaic has prevailed.
    As late as the first medieval pointed texts, there are basic disagreements over the pronunciations of such forms as "to them", either lahem (now standard) or lahimma (also common). We cannot tell from Talmud which pronunciations were being used by which groups of rabbis, since the Talmud texts are unpointed.
    We have a large variety of preserved Jewish manuscripts now; and by some "very strange coincidence", no pre-6th-century text contains any pointings of any kind, and the 6th-to-10th texts show a variety of competing systems of pointings.
    You are sounding to me as if you are insistently believing that all the ancient Jews had cell phones, and just refusing to accept basic facts.
    He mentions things that are important to him. Neither he nor any of the prophets from the time of the Kings ever thinks that people should be urged to read the Torah.
    What the canonical text has done for you since Ezra is to replace the prophets: you don't need to receive revelations from G-d because you think the revelations from long ago are sufficient. You can see why the prophets would not be so keen on the idea.
    The words in the book have replaced G-d.
    It was an answer for how to live in those times and those circumstances. The application necessarily changes over time. You may want to believe that your current practices would all be recognizable to the people of Moses's day, but they would not. Understanding what principles are truly universal and what are just contingent on a particular time and circumstance is crucial here, and that means understanding what the history really was.
     
  10. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, that last post sounds more hostile than it ought to.
    I understand that you do not want to lose your anchor, your tie to whatever has been working for you all the centuries. But it has been a long time since you wanted to ritually slaughter animals to atone for sins, or throw rocks at unruly teenagers and loose women until they are dead, or make sure to impregnate your brother's widow as quickly as possible-- and you would not want to go back to any of that even if you could (yes, I know there are those "Third Temple" nutters out there; I strongly disapprove).
    You will say, all of those things were symbolic and intended to teach certain lessons-- within my own way of hearing that, I can even agree. But it would be a bad mistake to think that any of it was "symbolic" to the people back in the days of Moses or the kings. You have evolved a lot since then. The ability of the Jewish culture to keep finding new ways of adapting the principles to new situations is what I find admirable: yet that is what you seem insistent on pretending that you have NOT been doing!
     
  11. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    This statement of mine seems unsupportably broad when I look at Isaiah 8:20 "To the law [Torah] and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them"; as in other cases where the word "Torah" is used in the sense of "instruction" (etymology: a causative form of the root "to throw" or "to shoot [an arrow]", with the sense "to direct [another person's] aim" hence metaphorically "to give guidance"), it need not be a reference to a book; but the earlier verse 8:16 "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples." does make it sound as if Isaiah is talking about physical written records of "testimony" and "law", whose scrolls are to be tied up and marked with an official seal.
     
  12. Dave the Web

    Dave the Web New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Messages:
    187
    Likes Received:
    0
    For all the protests about the sacrosanct nature of scriptures I can quite agree. The New Testament has undergone various different suggestions on its origins and compositions. What these theories tell us is not truth or claims of truth but of possibilities and possible possibilities. Sometimes they can repulse, but sometimes they can enrich our understanding. Always possibilities remain and we are left asking still more questions. Sometimes that is good but at other times is definitely not. It all rounds to a personal matter of faith.
    What do I think of the theory discussed? I note with interest that it is only ever regarded as a theory and a hypothesis, not a truth or law. Perhaps that is the nature of religion to make such declarations.
    I sympathise with the feelings of invasive query but bob x makes a good argument for its consideration. With such information we can each perhaps make a more informed opinion for ourself. If Judaism is too rich to take such external ideas seriously then perhaps ever seeking Christians can look to it for ourselves as a guide for the the development for one of the most important compilation of books ever brought together within a single cover.
    Too many read literally into metaphor and without the Jewish commentaries the positions of conservatism and liberalism reach loggerheads. While they battle I will read and consider the ideas presented for what they are, that of inquiry.
     
  13. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    shibboleth schmibboleth

    isn't this your opinion? but, of course, you're not interested in what we think of our own sacred texts.

    indeed - as it says in hosea 14:3 "may we compensate for the bull-offerings with our lips"; in other words, we conduct the daily sacrifices by conceptual means nowadays. similarly, in these other cases the rabbis have interpreted them to allow our subsequent practices to reflect the inner principles that the Law is intended to preserve. but what you seem to be saying is "go on, admit you've altered the Torah" - which we have not and will not, but then again, apparently our opinion doesn't count.

    i pray for the coming of Moshiach and the restoration of the Temple several times a day - that doesn't mean i approve of the nutters i think you're referring to, to whom i say: "see Moshiach anywhere around here? no? then stop going all 'field of dreams' - nowhere does it say 'if you build it, he will come'". let the prophet elijah sort out what will happen with the dome of the rock and i'll say this - pulling it down and pissing everyone off is *hardly* the way to usher in an era of peace.

    oh, really? you seem to be a great expert on reading the minds of people you've never met. if you're saying that the ancient hebrews were not capable of symbolic thought i think you're insulting almost every non-industrial culture on the planet - but then again, i must remember, we're all primitive compared to you clever europeans.

    yes, massa boss, thank you for deigning to admit us to your wonderful civilisation.

    that's because you seem insistent on dismissing what we think we are doing in favour of imposing your own interpretations rather than trying to understand ours. we don't think we're adapting the principles - as far as we are concerned they haven't changed, but our way of *applying* them has changed with our context.

    although i understand your point, shibboleth and sibboleth is not so much a dialectal indicator as it is a regional (or tribal, in this case) accent - the point of the incident concerned, of course, being to criticise tribal discriminators. my own accent (which, being iraqi, includes the guttural 'ayin') takes account of the dagesh, as ashkenazic accents do not, also distinguishing between tet and taf, het and khaf and so on, as one might expect given our residence in what is now iraq for 2500+ years. although i'm not a sociolinguist, i don't see how you can state so categorically that you know how the sort of things we're talking about happened - i mean, what constitutes proof in these sorts of cases? isn't it more likely to be something more like the "balance of probabilities", which allows you to climb down if you discover it, rather than nailing your trousers to the mast? scientific fact, after all, is merely the prevailing point of view at a given point in time - which may be disproved by the results of subsequent experimentation. look, i am not saying that pronunciational differences didn't exist, but i am saying that they don't preclude the integral nature of the text. i'm not even using the argument, as some might, that G!D Is *capable* of Writing a text which confuses scholars into thinking it had more than one author - after all, don't they say the same about shakespeare, too? and some of rubens' paintings? i just don't happen to like it as an argument.

    look, i don't know as much about this field as you do, but there are a lot of people who do, yet still manage to maintain a belief in Torah min'hashamayim. i've gone and done some more research on this since you got involved and it appears that i am not religiously obliged to maintain that moses came down the mountain with the vowels, cantillation and crowns written down on a scroll - apparently the consonantal text is sufficient, so i will concede that *but for the word "effectively"*, what i said before was too hardline. to redefine the argument slightly, i continue to maintain that all the *potentiality* of the text was contained in that which was given at sinai, which the sages definitely agree with - see the famous story about moses finding G!D tying crowns onto the letters and not knowing what they were for and then not understanding the laws that r. akiva deduced from them (menachot 13a) similarly, they themselves argued about pronunciation, you know - see the following: banayich/bonayich (berachot 64a) halicha/halacha (megillah 28b) and kharut/kherut (eruvin 52a; avot 6:2) - but, as you see, they use this to learn, not to destroy.

    as for "insistently believing that all the ancient Jews had cell phones, and just refusing to accept basic facts" - the fact that one happens to *consider* X a basic fact does not make it any more so than if one does not. this is a problem of belief and perspective - so why do you feel the need to attempt to impose yours and misrepresent mine so as to discredit them? it feels evangelical. for some people me going to hell is a "basic fact" because i don't accept jesus as my personal saviour, or whatever. you have not established anything so far apart from that you aren't aware of an extant text of the right vintage that proves that the pentateuch had only one author - but i ask you, is there any way i could prove that that *would* satisfy you that this was the case and, more importantly, that the text came down from sinai? i'm sure i couldn't, which brings us back to belief again and your being convinced that yours are somehow more valid than mine.

    again, for someone who requires academic proof for validation, you seem awfully sure you know the thoughts of the prophets better than our sages.

    actually, the incident where human interpretation overrules revelation from G!D in the form of a "bat kol" or heavenly voice is found in the subsequent episode of the oven of achnai (bava metzia 59b), with the Torah support coming from deuteronomy 30:12 - "it is not in heaven". it's not that the prophets "wouldn't be keen on the idea" - from our PoV, our Torah is exactly what they were fighting to preserve.

    again, that's your conclusion. i don't pray to the book, or the words in it, but to G!D, as maimonides puts it, "ein 'avodah le'zulato". but thank you, once more, for telling us what we believe.

    but this is exactly what the episode of menachot 13a is arguing. naturally, it doesn't mean that we should be wandering round the sinai desert indefinitely.

    which, to my mind, would make the discipline of history the thing we worshipped, instead. if i am going to understand what principles are "truly universal" i don't see how you can demand that we discount the principles that come from our own tradition in favour of those of academic historians! can't you see how arrogant that seems to us?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  14. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    8
    It is a shame that you are so dismissive of "outside" interpretation. Religious texts simply do not exist independent of secular analysis. Certainly there is a case to be argued that certain secular analysis has been disrespectful not simply to the subject of study, but to the process of study itself.

    However, you are making your first points in your post as if Bob X is lining up against a united Judaic position - which is most certainly not the case.

    To be dismissive of the comments of someone who has particular skills in dealing with this narrow field of linguistics, on the grounds that he is not arguing for a particularly sect view, would be misguided.

    It would be like Roman Catholics dismissing any historical analysis of the New Testament texts on the grounds that only Papal authorities - whether Vatican Council or individual Bishoprics - have any right to make any form of adjudication of the possible conclusions.

    A particular point about Faith - under any circumstance - is that it requires a personal leap into potential irrationalism. By this I mean that we are required to make final judgements on issues that simply cannot be quantified, let alone proved. That is where Faith takes over.

    But arguing that Faith itself, as a collective experience, is inviolate, would be a mistaken position to forward. The possibilities of various secular analyses do not offer religious or metaphysical truths, but instead offer unqiue rational perspectives.

    Although at times they are certainly open to abuse, there are also times when they require respect. After all, what is being offered is simply a perspective. It's up to us to be able to cope with such perspective constructively.
     
  15. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    you're very evenhanded, i'brian

    and i respect you for that.

    actually, i'm not at all dismissive of it - mary douglas' "leviticus as literature" is an absolutely wonderful piece of work, for example - but i get a bit narked when outside interpreters are dismissive of 'inside' interpretation, that's all it is. it can even - shock, horror - disagree with me!

    not sure i understand exactly what you're getting at here, but i'm sure you don't mean that texts can't be meaningful without secular analysis. i just think that there are ways of doing it which don't imply that the "inside" group are kidding themselves, making it up, conning people, etc.

    what united judaic position do you mean? even the halacha allows a lot of different perspectives on this issue. what i don't like is the suggestion that internal perspectives require external validation to be considered somehow 'justified'. i might be misunderstanding what you mean though.

    i'm not at all dismissive of his comments - you will note that some of them forced me to go and do some checking-up - and i've found him therefore very enlightening, but being a linguistics expert doesn't make him an expert on how judaism works, if you see what i mean. i refer you to my earlier metaphors - if you want to know why a particular piece of music sounds, you listen to it with your ears rather than analyse the wave-form, or try to find where the forest was that the wood came from that the instrument is made out of. what i am sceptical of is when he starts going into textual *interpretation* - when he starts telling me what the prophets "think", as if any of us know! look, i find textual criticism very interesting, but we have our own way of doing it that doesn't dismiss out of hand the metanatural origins of the text concerned - and i'm saying this because of my spiritual experience with the text, not from some dogmatic, inquisitorial paranoia.

    i agree - but you must admit that arguing that with bob x would make me look like i was weaselling out of answering the points he made instead of standing up for my PoV. i would like secular scholars like bob x to acknowledge that there are value systems that do not need western rationalism's approval to function perfectly adequately. i don't question W.R.'s contribution, so why does it have to be so condescending to everyone else? i'm damned if i'm going to kow-tow to athens.

    actually, i would ask you to justify that statement in some way. as it is, it's not self-evidently obvious to me.

    i know, but it is the idea that rationality is necessarily supreme that i am arguing with.

    you're right! but will the academics accord us the same courtesy?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2003
    Messages:
    6,532
    Likes Received:
    8
    I'm not at all suggesting that external validation is required - simply that I don't see the external position in this aspect being universally dismissive.

    Perhaps a big part fo the issue is that you've earlier encountered this theory through less respectful means?

    At the end of the day, though, my reply above is more a call to calm. I am trying to defuse potential rants from developing into arguments. :)
     
  17. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    I have not wanted to respond in haste, because I seem to be irritating you to the limit of what you can take. You are saying things like "of course, you're not interested in what we think of our own sacred texts": of course I am interested; that is not the same as believing everything you say, but apparently you want me to give beliefs that I regard as profoundly false the same level of "respect" as what I would give to truth, and that I cannot do.
    And: "you seem awfully sure you know the thoughts of the prophets better than our sages." To me, the only evidence for what Jeremiah thought is the recorded words of Jeremiah. A secondary source is not "evidence". The opinion of me, you, a "sage", or an "idiot" (after all, even a blind pig finds an acorn sometimes) may help to point out something Jeremiah said, or some way of viewing what Jeremiah said, that the other person has not noticed. The only advantage that reading the sages has over reading the idiots is that they are more likely actually to have noticed something I haven't; but the only justification for agreeing with what they say has to be a confrontation with the actual words of Jeremiah. I say that Jeremiah never says a thing about the existence of any "Torah" books except the ones he calls corrupt; if you disagree, show me Jeremiah saying something about "Torah". I opine that in Jeremiah's day either there were no other "Torah" books, or else that he did not think studying them was important enough to urge on his audience. If you think this opinion wrong, I do not care to hear "Maimonides said such-and-such" unless you mean "Maimonides pointed out that Jeremiah said such-and-such and read these words as follows..."
    Quote: although i understand your point, shibboleth and sibboleth is not so much a dialectal indicator as it is a regional (or tribal, in this case) accent - the point of the incident concerned, of course, being to criticise tribal discriminators. my own accent (which, being iraqi, includes the guttural 'ayin') takes account of the dagesh, as ashkenazic accents do not, also distinguishing between tet and taf, het and khaf and so on, as one might expect given our residence in what is now iraq for 2500+ years. although i'm not a sociolinguist, i don't see how you can state so categorically that you know how the sort of things we're talking about happened - i mean, what constitutes proof in these sorts of cases? isn't it more likely to be something more like the "balance of probabilities"​
    Regional and tribals accents are what the "dialect" *means*. The only point here was in response to your originally expressed belief that the pronunciation was fixed all the way down to the vowels, from the very beginning; a position you now seem to have abandoned.
    "Proof" of the ancient pronunciations is necessarily scanty: there was a deplorable shortage of tape recorders back then. You can look at how a word or name gets written in different scripts: for example, we know that intervocalic "m" shifted to "v" in late Babylonian from borrowings out of Babylonian, like the month-names Kislimu and Simanu becoming Hebrew Kislev and Sivan, and into Babylonian, as the Mede kings named 'Uvakhshatra (Kuaxares in Greek, becoming Cyaxares in Latin) and Ashtuvaga (Astuages, Astyages) are spelled U.MAK.SAS and ISH.TU.MA.GA in cuneiform: evidently those syllabic characters were already being pronounced VAK and VA or they would not have been used to transliterate those names. For variations in the vowels, we are handicapped because nobody wrote the vowels in Hebrew (in any texts that we see, anyhow) until late, so we cannot know whether the lahem/lahimma variation was ancient or medieval in origin. But we can look at early transliterations into Greek, such as Nabuchodnosor, indicating that the vowels pronounced with that name were once closer to the original Babylonian Nabukudurusur (the r to n shift in the consonantal text is a scribal error in the paleo-Hebrew alphabet, where nun like "y" and resh with a triangular head were only a stroke apart; the absence of this error in the duplication of the Kings materials in the prophets indicates that it occurred after the books of the prophets had been assembled, though before the "squarehand" or "Assyrian" alphabet became the standard Hebrew writing).
     
  18. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Messages:
    2,749
    Likes Received:
    4
    deary me

    i've not responded in haste, because i've been busy - kidding myself over new year worshipping the text, according to you.
    again we run into the problem that you seem to think you have a monopoly on recognising the truth - and, more importantly, that what i and thousands of jews for at least two thousand years (let's not even go into preTalmudic times) have believed is "profoundly false"; yet you have nothing but your opinion and the opinions of others to believe in. why can't you understand that even though your opinion may feel 'true' to you, that doesn't make it feel self-evidently true to others? and can't you understand why taking this tone might seem kind of rude to me?

    look, bob, i'm really trying to find some common language here to try and prevent this deteriorating. i respect your learning in the matter of ancient near-eastern languages and you have prompted me to clarify something about Torah min ha-shamayim that i assumed was the case, but was mistaken about (namely that TMHS requires the pointing and cantillations to be fixed at time of Revelation, which apparently it doesn't) and for that i thank you for increasing my own knowledge. you know a lot more than me about linguistics and the science of textual archaeology or whatever, but this statement about evidence and secondary sources reveals that you don't know anything about how these texts function. have you even heard of PaRDe"S? the 32 rules? the baraita of rabbi ishmael? i don't think you know how the relationship between the oral Torah and written Torah works and i really think you owe us the courtesy of at least trying to understand our position as i do yours, so please do not take it the wrong way if i recommend that you read at least two of these books:

    1. "The Written and Oral Torah: A Comprehensive Introduction" by r. nathan lopes cardozo. available from http://www.aronson.com

    2. "Leviticus as Literature" by the anthropologist mary douglas. ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...f=sr_1_1/102-2262715-0116956?v=glance&s=books )

    3. "Black Fire on White Fire: An Essay on Jewish Hermeneutics" by the semiotic theorist betty rojtman ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...f=sr_1_1/102-2262715-0116956?v=glance&s=books )

    and while you're at it, i recommend r. adin steinsaltz's reference guide to the babylonian talmud, which contains an indepth introduction to jewish hermeneutic and exegetical methodogies. quite apart from all this, if the Torah was written, according to you, by all these different writers and a redactor/s, the book of jeremiah is hardly a guide to the thought of jeremiah - or even evidence that there was such a person. so, by your own logic, appealing to text attributed to the pen of jeremiah (no doubt altered by the lying pen of the scribes, i dare say) as evidence of his thought puts you on a pretty sticky wicket - even for a much-vaunted primary source. i guess what i am trying to say is that you could even break it down into its constituent letters and say each one was written by a different author and you still wouldn't have learned very much.

    anyway:
    actually, that's exactly what the sages do, all the time. it's the second level of PaRDe"S, that of remez or hint. in other words, if the Text describes somebody as getting divorced, we can deduce that he got married, even if it doesn't say so. by means of a set of other hermeneutical devices we can find out a whole bunch of other stuff about it as well. in fact, the lack of pointing etc aids this process considerably, which is, i dare say, why it wasn't included in TMHS. a standard chumash with RaSh"I (r. shimon yitzhaki, C12th, troyes) ought to show numerous examples of this.

    which doesn't therefore show that your explanation for something is necessarily the only one, let alone the correct one.

    yes, i know, but judaism started out as a conscious rejection of much of the surrounding host culture, language, customs and religions in favour of an innovative new vision of society - and this process continues to this day. and from that perspective the fact that the babylonians used to do or say something is therefore no guarantee of the jews having done it or not:

    however, as you are no doubt aware, they were hardly perfect and used to pick up stuff from people we disapproved of all the time, like the constant struggle in NaKh between the cult of the baals and asherahs and what the prophets were saying they ought to be doing. furthermore, i am taking a minimalist position here, namely that when i maintain TMHS i am *only* talking about the consonantal text of the pentateuch. the rest of the OT is a completely different argument and one which, frankly, i shall leave to those who are interested. obviously we have our own opinions upon who traditionally is understood to have authored such and such a book (such as solomon in the case of kohelet/ecclesiastes and the song of songs) but they have little bearing on what we actually learn from them. therefore, if you're telling me that there were three isaiahs or whatever, i don't really have to object.

    OK. even though we're going to have to agree to disagree, i have tried to show how my position can be one of integrity and one that is worthy of respect and not dissing out of hand. i'm sorry i have to get aggressive about it occasionally but so would you if someone came round to your house and started digging up the foundations to look for oil, or whatever.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  19. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2003
    Messages:
    192
    Likes Received:
    1
    Redaction theory compromise

    There is a problem with the document hypothesis whether one supports it or not. There is clearly different styles of writing and view points in the Old Testament books in question. They were most certainly written by various authors. However, there is no E, P, or D document that can stand by itself. These documents are all parasites on the J document, which I will contend as does Richard Elliot Friedman, extends until the crowning of Solomon as a single text.

    This was a "living document." As time changed stories were added or inserted to the original text. The beauty of the way they did it is inspirational. They left the original ancient text intact. Many times the inserted phrase or story altered the original meaning of the text.

    I have gone through this text and further edited Friedman's work and the book of J. It seems there was a pattern to one of the redactors. That is to repeat a phrase in the text and insert material betwen those phrases. The inserted material would provide a long introduction for a concept, person or place which would then "echo" with smaller insertions through the next few pages. Every noticed how Samuel dies twice? Solomon become king twice? Abraham travels with Lott twice? All within a page of each other?

    Once the text is properly edited it becomes MORE astounding. The story becomes a star guide for the constellations. The Bible stories from Adam and Eve as Leo and Virgo to the crowning of Solomon as the Southern Crown follows a contigeous flow through 48 constellations and hundreds of stars. At this point everything falls in place. It becomes easy to identify the cardinal points. My guess is 2141 BCE is the age of the original text. It has an extremely heavy Babylonian influence.

    Stories and passages were added as the cardinal points changed and as cities went to dust and new ones appeared. The authors believed the stars told of their past, present, and future. The prophets and Revelation are all extreme astrological documents.

    The text is also very historical, minus the miracles. The great famine of 2200 BCE plays as the general background. I have worked through most of the problems of anachronisms that prevent the text of dating to this age by eliminating them in the text itself through the aforesaid method.

    Another beauty in explaining the text with astrology is that those "difficult" texts now make perfect sense in the original Hebrew. Astrology also accounts for the deliberate mistranslations into the Septuagint.

    I also have a Biblical time that is 100% archaelogically correct.
     
  20. bob x

    bob x New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    1
    L'shanah tovah tiktav I hope the High Holy Days are doing good for your spirit.
    Not at all. But I am not going to give your opinions, or the opinions of "thousands of jews for at least two thousand years" (and bear in mind that all that time there have been thousands of intelligent who thoughtfully considered the Biblical texts and yet held different opinions) the same respect that I would give to truth, unless you persuade me that it *is* truth, or at least (not to demand perfect wisdom from you) that there is something aspect of truth captured in it. Simply pointing out that many people share your opinion does not in itself confer respectability on it: lots of people are of the opinion that Bush is a decent and honorable man, but I do not respect that opinion.
    This is the same question that *I* have for *you*. You do not treat me with a tone of respect: you talk down to me as if I were a child who has never looked at this stuff before. For example:
    Yes, I have. An adequate set of English words for it: the Plain meaning of the text, the Reasonable inferences, the Directed understanding from comparing with other texts, and the Symbolic meanings.
    AS WITH JUST ABOUT ANY ANCIENT BOOK, Jeremiah has a complex history and has to be scrutinized carefully to distinguish what is original and what is added later. There was a "Short Jeremiah" text in ancient circulation (used for the Septuagint and other early translations) missing many of the chapters in the "Long Jeremiah" (the text now in the Tanakh): at some rather-late date, supplemental materials were added to the book. Much of this is likely to be genuine material, simply passed down through a different chain of custody (there are, in most of these chapters, no tell-tale signs of being written in a later stage of the Hebrew language than the "Short Jeremiah" material, or by an author with different idiosyncrasies of favorite word usage; this is in contrast to the "Second Isaiah" material, which appears to be centuries later than the "First Isaiah"). It is thought that the scroll compiling Jeremiah's prophecies described in Jer. 36 was, essentially, the "Short Jeremiah", and that Baruch made some other collections of later prophecies afterwards. But some additions are from quite separate sources, such as an early draft of the book of Kings (some time before the NebuchadRezzar-> NebuchadNezzar copyist error crept in), inevitably including some spurious compositions (chapters 50-51 are considered very suspect).
    The Septuagint added a different, shorter collection of "supplemental Jeremiah" material, supposedly by Baruch and concluding with a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon, and then there is an apocalyptic "Second Baruch", but even the Christians recognized that as bogus. Catholics still have the "First Baruch" in their Bibles, minus the "Epistle" (which was not even written in Hebrew apparently, rather in Greek; it was long doubted whether the rest of "Baruch" had a Hebrew original, but some of it turned up at Qumran) despite Jerome's opinion that "it isn't worth translating".
    Both Septuagint and Tanakh ascribed the "Lamentations" poems to Jeremiah, though marking them off as a separate book: the stage of the Hebrew language and the emotional tone of immediate pain both indicate that these poems are genuinely from an author present at the sack of Jerusalem, but he is more likely to be someone whose name is lost, rather than Jeremiah (otherwise why would they not have been passed down together with Jeremiah's writings, which as they stand contain all kinds of stuff, poetry, prose, and miscellaneous?)
    But it is not what YOU are doing. I point out that Jeremiah has a lowly opinion of the Torah books that the scribes circulate. You opine that there must have been other, uncorrupted copies of the Torah around which Jeremiah approved of: "why can't you understand that even though your opinion may feel 'true' to you, that doesn't make it feel self-evidently true to others?" If you want to persuade me, you need to show something in Jeremiah that could be taken as indicating that.
    You are not getting my intentions in citing the Babylonian linguistics at all. You had asked the question, how can you possibly know what changes in pronunciation happened in ancient times? The answer of course is that you cannot know with certainty, but: there are certain kinds of evidence that indicate highly probable answers. And I was starting with an example from Babylonian just because it was not from Hebrew: you don't have any emotional stake in believing that one definitive pronunciation of each cuneiform syllable has been passed down from the beginning of time, so I thought I could tell you "It is believed by scholars that all the MA came to be pronounced VA, etc." and show how one would go about concluding such a thing.
    To me, of course, all the books are of the same kind, and show all the same signs of having the same sorts of editorial histories behind their current forms. The Torah was "frozen" earlier than the other books: I believe that the public reading described in the book of Ezra, with interpreters to make sure the Hebrew-impaired in the audience would understand every word, was a reading of the exact same text (up to a handful of scribal errors) that we have today. I just do not believe that the text was "frozen" before then; in the Kings period, people still felt free to add material, or rephrase, etc. This is not to say that there is not a large core of genuinely quite ancient material in it.
     

Share This Page