Friday, August 4, 2017

Fact-Checking the Torah -- DH pillars

Before your brain fills up and spills over, I’d better give you the basic scheme for DH.  The basis is what Umberto Cassuto called the “five pillars”.  These are the classes of criteria that DH set up to assign material to the four documents.
The pillars are: Name of Gd used in the material; language and style; unified viewpoint including theology and ethics; repetitions; contradictions; and composites or conflations of material.
DH has produced descriptions of each putative source document.
J or Jahwist is a document invented in writing in the monotheistic southern kingdom between 800 and 700 BCE.  It uses the Tetragrammaton for Gd’s name.  Two hundred years after the First Temple was built, this culture still had a primitive and practical but not a legal viewpoint (Wellhausen’s phrase “Jehovistic law” refers to D, AFAICT: to him, J is “Jehovistic history”), and it expressed this viewpoint unemotionally.
E or Elohist is a document invented in the pagan northern kingdom in writing between 800 and 700 BCE.  It uses elohim for Gd’s name.  It was written and brought south in a period of about 70 years that ended with the Assyrian invasion of the north.  It had a more refined theological viewpoint than J and used more emotional expressions.
D or Deuteronomist is a document invented in the southern kingdom between 650 and 625 BCE, after the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom.  It is related to the reforms centering around the scroll found in the temple and interpreted by the prophetess Huldah.  It contributed to Numbers and Deuteronomy.
P or Priestly is a document invented by Jews between 525 and 425 BCE, that is, during or after the Babylonian Captivity.  It covers all of Leviticus and part of Numbers and Genesis and served priestly didactic needs.
Furthermore, DH claims that each of these documents had a complete and completely different account of Jewish history that was completely consistent with its viewpoint. 
The first combination was JE.  JED came later and P was added on last.  Or rather, not added on but edited in. 
The editing preserved the original viewpoints, the styles of writing such as emotional or unemotional, but erased all traces of the fact that chapters, verses, and parts of verses came from different documents.  So for centuries people went along studying Torah thinking it was a whole, seamless or not, until starting in the 1700s and mostly in the 1800s CE, some clever scholars winkled out the original scheme.
Notice that the descriptions above are irrelevant to which steps happened in what order to get to JEDP. They only specify the timing prior to which nothing existed. E could have laid around in somebody’s back room until the Captivity and then been scooped up in a rush to, say, take it to Egypt with Barukh and Yirmiyahu. That’s like saying “Linda is 31”; DH is a true Linda problem.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

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