Documents Hypothesis (Redaction Theory)

iBrian

Peace, Love and Unity
Veteran Member
Messages
6,542
Reaction score
30
Points
48
Location
Scotland
We've covered this ground before, both with Bob X's excellent series of articles on the subject (torah torah torah) and in bananabrain's defence of the Jewish scriptures in tilting at windmills: a response to 'redaction theory' .

However, I came across an interesting article on beliefnet that covers some good ground with it, namely an interview with Richard Elliott Friedman, and a specific example of the application of this theory from his book:


[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The Editorial Team Behind the Bible [/font]
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Who wrote the first five books of the Bible--and spliced older texts with newer ones?[/font]
x.gif
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Interview with Richard Elliott Friedman [/font]

In your introduction, you say your work--identifying and separating the different authors of the first five books of the Bible--is not meant to produce faith crises. Obviously, there are people out there with a strong belief about the author of the Bible. What's the role of divine inspiration here?

Some of the earliest Bible scholars who questioned who the authors were said, "Well, it wasn't all one person, it wasn't Moses who wrote the first five books"—even they were pious rabbis, priests, or ministers. Their answer was, "OK, it wasn't Moses who wrote it down, it was other people, but it still came from God." Today, there are religious Jews and Christians who take that same view: it could still be of a divine origin.document.

More: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/139/story_13986_1.html


Also:

[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The Splicing of the Red Sea
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The story of the parting of the Red Sea with early sources coded by color.[/font]
x.gif
[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Translated by Richard Elliott Friedman [/font][/font]

Blue = J, an early source written by a Jewish layperson

Bold black = E, an early source written by a member of the Jewish priesthood

Bold purple = P, a later source written by a priest of the lineage of Aaron

According to the Documentary Hypothesis (held by Friedman and others), each source can be read on its own as a continuous text: the green J text is a self-contained story, as is the bold green text and the blue text. Excerpted from The Bible with Sources Revealed with permission of Harper SanFrancisco.

Exodus Chapter 14


5 And it was told to the king of Egypt that the people had fled. And the heart of Pharaoh and his servants changed toward the people. And they said, "What is this that we've done, that we let Israel go from serving us?!" 6 And he hitched his chariot and took his people with him. 7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots-and all the chariotry of Egypt-and officers over all of it. 8 And YHWH strengthened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel. And the children of Israel were going out with a high hand. 9 And Egypt pursued them. And they taught up to them, camping by the sea-every chariot horse of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army-at Pi-Hahiroth, in front of Baal-Zephon. 10 And Pharaoh came close! And the children of Israel raised their eyes, and here was Egypt coming after them, and they were very afraid. And the children of Israel cried out to YHWH.

More: http://www.beliefnet.com/story/139/story_13987_1.html
 
I have read Friedman's work and it was what made me realize his "Hidden Book in the Bible" was a text on astrology. Unfortuantely Friedman does not edit the text correctly either, although I agree with what you have reproduced here. He has major league problems once he gets into Judges.
 
i liked friedman's "hidden face of G!D" immensely; found it particularly insightful and interesting, so i read "who wrote the bible" and thought it was just rubbish. in fact, it was one of the major texts that led me to reject the documentary hypothesis. i can understand why some people like it, but for me it condemns the text to mediocrity. credit to friedman must, however, be given for his attempt to deal sensitively with the challenge that textual criticism can bring to some aspects of faith.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
Just as we do today.

The Editorial Team Behind the Bible...

How long was it ago, some thousand of years? The time of Moses and those guys who wrote or put together the earliest books of the Old Testament?

It was some kind of publishing house, I imagine.

They basically had what we have today, to put out a piece of writing for reading by others, to give information and move people to action.


First, the guys with the ideas and the skills to put them in written language.

Second, the guys with the working space and the ink and writing implements and the materials to write on.

Third, the guys who do the reviews and the corrections: spelling, grammar, style, physical formatting.

Fourth, the guys who do the final proofreading.

And lastly, the guys who do the duplication work; for it would have been stupid for them to just produce one copy only. At that time they did it by hand, letter by letter, line by line, page by page. Or they got several letter craftsmen to produce several copies at the same time, with only one master copy for all of them to replicate from; and these guys could cut corners.

Now, consider what you have to put up with today when you want to get a piece of your writing printed by any publishing establishment for dissemination to the reading public, which they had to bear with also in their days.

The publishers will decide with finality on how many pages, what paper and printing process to use, how the binding will be done, etc., all of which means that they will have already some kind of contributions into your ideas and style, specially when they have to consider the economy, the profit angle, the ideas acceptable to the public at the time, and whether finally it gibes with their peculiar philosophical or political agenda.

So, there is certainly a lot of borrowings, changes in borrowed texts, additions, reductions, with the books of the Bible, just like any piece of publication.

And don't tell me that the editorial team then were so very meticulous in meeting all the possible critical scrutiny of the readers for whom their publication was intended. Consider how easy it is even today to dupe the reading public and the listening and viewing audiences of radio, television, and now the internet.

No wonder, there are so many contradictions and errors in the Bible.


Susma Rio Sep
 
yes, susma - amazing, isn't it, with all of these problems, that even the masoretic text could be agreed and stabilised 1500 years ago or whenever it was.

And don't tell me that the editorial team then were so very meticulous in meeting all the possible critical scrutiny of the readers for whom their publication was intended.
why not? if you believe something is Divine Speech, are you really not going to take care that you don't make mistakes? if we had had this kind of attitude, what do you think the chances would have been of the text surviving as it has even for the last 1500 years, let alone 2500-3000?

you're very good at sneering and casting aspersions, susma, but not so good at learning that there are other opinions which - gasp - may show that moderns still have something to learn from this corrupt, venal, slapdash, "editorial team".

pheuuuuuuw.

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
i liked friedman's "hidden face of G!D" immensely; found it particularly insightful and interesting, so i read "who wrote the bible" and thought it was just rubbish. in fact, it was one of the major texts that led me to reject the documentary hypothesis. i can understand why some people like it, but for me it condemns the text to mediocrity. credit to friedman must, however, be given for his attempt to deal sensitively with the challenge that textual criticism can bring to some aspects of faith.

b'shalom

bananabrain
Just because the document hypothesis condemns a text to mediocrity does not mean it is incorrect. Let the chips fall where they may.
 
well, ngnm, if you think it is acceptable to condemn my sacred texts to mediocrity then your "let the chips fall where they may" is a call to accept the logical consequences, which are to condemn the belief systems based upon the sacredness of those texts. now you may think this is acceptable, but i don't. and if you have an axe to grind in this sense, seeing youself as a debunker, then you are no different from a huckstering evangelist or a missionary, or someone who tells me that "because of my beliefs i will go to hell". and i don't think that you have any place on a dialogue board, where mutual respect is necessary. if you're only here to try and attack biblical religionists, i fail to see how you expect to have civil discussions.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
bananabrain said:
well, ngnm, if you think it is acceptable to condemn my sacred texts to mediocrity then your "let the chips fall where they may" is a call to accept the logical consequences, which are to condemn the belief systems based upon the sacredness of those texts. now you may think this is acceptable, but i don't. and if you have an axe to grind in this sense, seeing youself as a debunker, then you are no different from a huckstering evangelist or a missionary, or someone who tells me that "because of my beliefs i will go to hell". and i don't think that you have any place on a dialogue board, where mutual respect is necessary. if you're only here to try and attack biblical religionists, i fail to see how you expect to have civil discussions.

b'shalom

bananabrain
Condemning a text to mediocrity was your conclusion of the document hypothesis not mine. For me any book which defies the laws of the universe and is being sold as truth needs to be defended, not my beliefs. If your religious texts falls on its face under critical examination, I am not to blame. I am just a messenger.

I am amazed -simply amazed how the same people can point out that the snakes of the head of Medusa are a myth because that is impossible or that a snake the size of a river is a myth because that is impossible, then turn around and believe in a book which has a talking snake.

The Bible deserves the same respect and criticism as all religious texts including dead myths.

If you find yourself constantly using ad hominems to defend your religious beliefs against critical eyes you view as ax grinders perhaps it is your religion you need to take a second look at- not those claiming snakes do not speak.
 
bananabrain said:
well, ngnm, if you think it is acceptable to condemn my sacred texts to mediocrity then your "let the chips fall where they may" is a call to accept the logical consequences, which are to condemn the belief systems based upon the sacredness of those texts.

Well, the bible is my sacred text, too. But I find the documentary thesis a significant help to opening it up to me. Things that were puzzling and contradictory become clear and understandable when we understand how and when and why the text originated. At least, that is my experience.

And I don't see it in any way as condemnatory of the belief systems based on the text. I don't understand the reasoning that would come to this conclusion.
 
Actually I am a firm supporter of the documantary hypothesis. Otherwise we have Moses writing about what happened to the Israelites AFTER his death (See the end of Deuteronomy, beginning of Joshua.

Kiwimac
 
I have always found the theory a little to artifical and materialist. I think some of it is valid. I just read Harold Bloom's and David Rosenberg's "The Book of J" . Harold Bloom has a way of swaying me. What I find so refreshing about "The Book of J" is that Rosenthal is a poet and Bloom is a literary critic. They are not writing to prove or to disprove a theory. They are writing because they love the story.
 
my issue with the DH arises when people attempt to apply it to the Torah (as opposed to the rest of the bible, where it's not really problematic, as we have our own opinions on who wrote what and edited what) mostly, the issue i have with it is that it ignores the relationships and explanations that stem from the indigenous tradition and refuses to consider them as authoritative. in all cases that i have ever seen, these texts have been painstakingly picked over and analysed to the nth degree, with reverence for a sacred task, for at least two thousand years by our own commentators. do you really think that *we* haven't noticed the bits where the grammar seems a bit skew-whiff, letters are changed or missing, or words are repeated or redundant? of *course* we have. the difference is in what our approach to the text is. whereas an academic approach would assume the text to be a "human" document and look for human explanations, like corruption or interpolation, what we do is take the text as part of a set of relationships (for example, with the oral tradition) and assume that the irregularity is there to draw our attention to a learning point.

taking a case in point; the bit at the end where moses dies - a glance at rashi for deut. 34:5 shows that he says immediately 'is it possible that moses died and then wrote "And Moses...died there"?'and resolves it by saying that moses *knew* and had been told the whole thing but that joshua was doing the *writing* from then on. however, he also points out that there is another opinion which has rabbi me'ir (talmudic, C1st) citing deut 31:26 when moses says to the levites "take this Torah scroll", thus implying they had a complete one at the time. he consequently concludes that the whole of the Torah must have been revealed to moses in advance of all the events subsequent to the actual revelation at mount sinai. me'ir states that moses wrote the verse about his own death in his own tears. now would the academics consider that to be "proof" of the text not being "corrupt"? of course not! but we're looking for different things.

look, i'm not saying the DH isn't at useful for some people. indeed, if it helps you encounter the text better then that's not such a bad thing. however, it is not compatible with the relationship with the text demanded by halachic judaism, which requires the text to have authority - how else is G!D to Command us to act, or refrain from acting? a human command is qualitatively different, which our own tradition makes clear, distinguishing between de'oraita, Torah authority and de'rabbanan, rabbinic authority for a particular law. but if you don't have a relationship with the Divine as the source of Commandments, the DH is not problematic.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
BB says

look, i'm not saying the DH isn't at useful for some people. indeed, if it helps you encounter the text better then that's not such a bad thing. however, it is not compatible with the relationship with the text demanded by halachic judaism, which requires the text to have authority - how else is G!D to Command us to act, or refrain from acting? a human command is qualitatively different, which our own tradition makes clear, distinguishing between de'oraita, Torah authority and de'rabbanan, rabbinic authority for a particular law. but if you don't have a relationship with the Divine as the source of Commandments, the DH is not problematic
To assert the DH is not to insist that the text is unauthoritative. As I have said textual studies convince me that the DH or something very like it is indeed operable in the Hexateuch but that does not mean I respond to the text in a piece-meal fashion.

As a Christian (of some kind or another :D ) there are, of course, bits such as the ceremonial / ritual laws I hold to be not binding on me but even still the work of the redactors of the text challenges me in my relationship with YHWH. Am I willing to follow even into a desert? Will I listen to YHWH or will I make my own idol of Gold? (metaphorically, of course :D, I should have so much gold!)

Kiwimac
 
To assert the DH is not to insist that the text is unauthoritative.
i know, but it is hard to argue that it is not therefore a human document and, consequently, it is even harder to argue that its laws are therefore binding. what i mean is that a human book can be authoritative, but it can also be changed, whereas a sacred Text which is "from the mouth of G!D to the hand of moses" cannot.

As a Christian (of some kind or another) there are, of course, bits such as the ceremonial / ritual laws I hold to be not binding on me but even still the work of the redactors of the text challenges me
i know, but for jews it remains a particular problem, because every bit of even the most obscure laws are still binding on us. it's no good some bits being binding and some not, because then you get an argument - effectively, it's all or nothing. this is why

(metaphorically, of course , I should have so much gold!)

well, this is precisely the point. when i encounter the Text that tells me to dwell in a booth for seven days, or to fast, or to eat no leaven, or any number of highly intrusive and complicated observances, it isn't metaphorical - we still have to do it! that's why it feels to me like "well, if the DH is correct, we don't have to feel so bad about not doing this stuff". whereas for christians it's so much metaphor.

b'shalom

bananabrain
 
Back
Top