The Documentary Hypothesis @Abe Yonder: Also as a part of history, …

Comment on If the Creation Account Isn’t True… by Sean Pitman.

The Documentary Hypothesis

@Abe Yonder:

Also as a part of history, the book of Genesis began with Chapter two verse three, the seven-day creation story was added by the Deuteronomist at Babylon during the fifth century BC (See Harper’s Bible commentary)

Unfortunately, Yonder’s argument is based on the well-known, still popular, and yet fundamentally flawed “Documentary Hypothesis” of Biblical critics. “The documentary hypothesis (sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis), holds that the Pentateuch (the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives [labeled J, D, E, and P], which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors).” These editors supposedly compiled these independent accounts into one work some 500 years BC during the time of the Babylonian captivity.

Consider that the documentary hypothesis has been challenged, since it was first proposed in the late 1800s, quite effectively, by numerous Biblical scholars. Consider, for example, the arguments of Rendsburg (1986) where he demonstrates the linguistic unity and artistry of the composer of all of Genesis. For example, the “J” and “E” sections share a large number of theme-words and linking words, puns, etc.

It becomes simply incredulous that J wrote 12.1-4a, 12:6-9 about the start of Abraham’s spiritual odyssey and that E wrote 22:1-19 about the climax of his spiritual odyssey, and that these two authors living approximately 100 years apart and in different parts of ancient Israel time and again chose the same lexical terms. Surely this is too improbable, especially when such examples can be and have been multiplied over and over. Admittedly, a corresponding word here or there could be coincidental, but the cumulative nature of the evidence tips the scales heavily against the usual division of Genesis into JEP…

The evidence presented here points to the following conclusion: there is much more uniformity and much less fragmentation in the book of Genesis than generally assumed. The standard division of Genesis into J, E, and P strands should be discarded. This method of source criticism is a method of an earlier age, predominantly of the 19th century. If new approaches to the text, such as literary criticism of the type advanced here, deem the Documentary Hypothesis unreasonable and invalid, then source critics will have to rethink earlier conclusions and start anew.

– Rendsberg, p. 104-105

It seems then like “the Documentary Hypothesis and the arguments that support it have been effectively demolished by scholars from many different theological perspectives and areas of expertise. Even so, the ghost of Wellhausen hovers over Old Testament studies and symposiums like a thick fog, adding nothing of substance but effectively obscuring vision. Although actually incompatible with form-critical and archaeology-based studies, the Documentary Hypothesis has managed to remain the mainstay of critical orthodoxy.”

For a further review of the fundamental problems with the Documentary Hypothesis here is an interesting introduction: Link

As an interesting aside, note that ‘the documentary hypothesis was originally based on the supposition that the events in the Torah preceded the invention of writing, or at least its use among the Hebrews. This is because Julius Wellhausen lived in the nineteenth-century, but nineteenth-century notions about ancient literacy have been completely refuted by archaeological evidence. The documentarians have not updated the documentary hypothesis to take this into account, so we still find them assigning very late dates to their hypothetical sources of the Torah…. Archaeology has shown that writing was common during the time in which the events of the Torah were to have taken place.’ – Kenneth Collins, The Torah in Modern Scholarship

As evidence of this, consider that the Ebla Tablets, written some 2200 years BC, prove that writing, even alphabetic-type writing, was in existence well before Moses. Some of the statements about creation found on these tablets also seem to parallel the Biblical creation narrative, suggesting that the Genesis creation story, or something very similar to it, was known well before the “Deuteronomists” or even Moses came on the scene. These tablets also speak of a flood story like that of the flood story in the Bible. The Ebla Tablets also mention the names Abraham and Isaac, suggesting that such names were known during this time. They also tell of two sinful cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and mention all five of the cities of the valley in the same order mentioned in the Bible. This is in the face of “higher critics” who had claimed that Sodom, Gomorrah, Ur and other Canaan cities of the Bible never did exist. However, the Ebla Tablets showed the Bible was correct and that the critics were wrong. And the list goes on and on. The Bible is by far the most accurate history book known to modern man.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

If the Creation Account Isn’t True…
Mark Kellner is right on the money. Upon what basis does one accept the fantastic claims of the Bible regarding the pre-existence, incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus but reject biblical claims regarding the origin of life on this planet?

Erv Taylor, in particular, claims that those who believe all of the empirical claims of the Bible are living in Alice’s Wonderland. I don’t get it. If one is living in part of Wonderland, why make fun of those who live in other parts of Wonderland? who accept all of what the Wonderland Book says about the place?

It is fine to appreciate the ethics of Christianity, but Christianity is more than an appeal to good Christian ethics. Christianity is also a promise of a solid hope in a very real, empirically literal, very bright future with the same Jesus who lived and died and was raised again to save us. If you don’t believe what the Wonderland Book says about other empirical realities, why believe what it says about Jesus and our future with Him?

Sean Pitman

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