What you have to explain without the Documentary Hypothesis

Last year I tried to give sure-fire evidence from a single chapter in Exodus supporting the claim that the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible were arranged from multiple sources. One negative response to my three-part post came from Julie M. Smith over at Times and Seasons.* She said, essentially, that if this was the extent of the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis, she’d lost her faith in what she’d been taught during her Master’s Degree in New Testament studies. In the discussion of her post that ensued, the disagreement centered on the existence of possible alternative explanations for the material I was discussing. I argued that we have clear evidence that Deuteronomy knew only one version of Moses’ re-ascent of Sinai (Horeb) preserved, in integrated fashion, in Exodus 34. The only logical explanation for this is that the author of Deuteronomy (not Moses) had before him two distinct sources (or one of the two), which he incorporated into his own source. On the other side, people including Julie argued that this is not the only (nor, I assume they meant to say, the best) explanation of the phenomenon. After all, because our literary sensitivities differ from those of the ancient world, we don’t have license to go carving up the text, especially not one that, tradition tells us, was penned by Moses himself. This is a common (if vernacular) type of critique of the DH, the misconceptions of which need to be dispelled.

The Documentary Hypothesis (DH hereafter), it must be remembered, is a theory that arose because people couldn’t make sense of the text as it stood in front of them, and were no longer willing to find in these seams, repetitions, and non sequiturs some cryptic lesson that God wanted the reader to learn, as the Second Temple and Rabbinic interpreters did (see Kugel, The Bible as It Was). People often lose sight of these origins (what is now called “source” criticism was originally called “literary” criticism because of it) and attack the theory on the premises that a) one can’t really know how these things have come to be, b) people have found multiple sources in places like Melville, c) authors can build in literary seams, d) the argumentation is circular, etc. All of these might be true (I’m tempted here to use Mike Myers’ rejoinder from Wayne’s World), but do they make sense for this particular text? And, more important, do these explain the weighty mass of problems in these “books”?

We often hear that the reliance upon doublets (multiple stories narrating the same event, see below) or upon the varying names of God has been shown to be problematic. Partially true. But what hasn’t been acknowledged by many (especially lay) critics is that scholars have long since moved on from relying just upon the names or on the doublets. It’s easy to come up with an explanation as to why humans are created twice in Genesis 1-3, (the Rabbis certainly did), but when that is only one very small part of an ocean of evidence, it’s much harder to discount. And it’s that ocean that most critics of the DH fail to reckon with. In the words of Richard Friedman, “it must come down to evidence.” So while last year’s post was a careful source-critical reading of one (highly relevant) example, today’s is an effort to take a panoramic view. If the critiques are correct, and the DH is so totally wrong, here’s an incomplete list of what you have to explain better than the DH. (Feel free to add more in the comments. I don’t have a complete list of doublets here, because, well, I think we all get the picture that lots of events are repeated.)

  1. Why humans are created twice (Gen. 1:27, 2:7ff.).
  2. Why Noah is commanded to take two of every animal (Gen 6:17) and then seven of every clean and two of every unclean (Gen 7:2).
  3. Why the seams between the two creation accounts and the two flood accounts also divide perfectly the similar language that is used in the creation and flood accounts.
  4. Why in one text (Num 12:4-15) the tent of meeting is outside the camp, and anyone can go to it, and in an earlier one (Num 2), it is in the center of the camp, and only the priests can enter it. And why these two texts preserve similar language and textual allusions to other similarly divided texts.
  5. Why in the flood account it is proclaimed that God limits man’s days to 120 years, but in Genesis 47:9 Jacob says he lived 130 years and Abraham and Isaac lived even longer.
  6. Why Hagar is banished twice (Gen 16 & 21)
  7. Why Jacob is named twice (Gen 32 & 35)
  8. Why Beersheva is given two different etymologies (Gen 21 & 26).
  9. Why Abraham is born in Ur Kasdim (Gen 11:27-32), i.e., in southern Iraq, then moves to Haran, i.e. North Syria, and while in Haran (apparently) God tells him to leave his birthplace to go to Canaan (Gen 12:1ff.), but of course he’d already left his birthplace—in Ur!
  10. Why Jacob finished a long discourse about why Ephraim and Manasseh will be adopted as Jacob’s sons, and then in the next verse doesn’t know who they are (Gen 48:3-7, 8), and why if you remove that discourse, the narrative makes perfect sense. And why that discourse matches with language of other similar discourses that are divided by similar literary seams.
  11. Why in one text (Gen 35:23-26, (=P)) Benjamin is born in Paddan Aram, but in another (35:16-19 (=E)) he is born near Bethlehem, in Canaan.
  12. Why in one text (Gen 37:36) the Midianites sell Joseph to Potiphar, but in another (Gen 39:1) it was the Ishmaelites.
  13. Why, in Genesis 37:21-22 it’s Reuben who wants to save Joseph, and in 26-27 it’s Judah.
  14. Why Moses’ father-in-law has two names (Reuel/Jethro), and Sinai has two names (Sinai/Horeb), and why the use of each of these names corresponds to other linguistic, thematic, and narrative distinctions.
  15. Why Abraham tries to pass his wife off as his sister in two similar instances (albeit with important distinctions that would indicate different sources) and then Isaac does the same thing. (Genesis 12, 20, 26). Incidentally, even our own Bible Dictionary admits (s.v. “Abimelech”) that these were probably originally a single story that got passed down in different streams of tradition (or what would later become “sources”).
  16. Why the name of God is revealed as if for the first time in Genesis 3, then again in Genesis 6, and why in these distinct texts there are linguistic similarities that track back to other texts distinguished by linguistic and literary divisions, and why in those divisions the one that hasn’t used the tetragrammaton up to this point (P, for those of you who are with me) now begins to use it, but in the others it had long been used.
  17. Why God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart so that he chases the Israelites (Exod 14:8-9) follows Pharaoh’s decision to chase the Israelites (14:5-7).
  18. An angel moves to the rear of the fleeing Israelite camp (Exod 14:19a) but in the same verse it was not the angel but the cloud pillar (Exod 14:19b).
  19. Why it seems that God blew the sea back, drying the ground, in one text, and in the next split the waters through which the Israelites walk. (Exod 14:21a, compare 14:21b-22). And if this seems scant, why in Exodus 15, which recounts the mighty acts of the deliverance, there is no splitting of the sea.
  20. Why linguistic formulae that are never supposed to be interrupted (the command-fulfillment pattern in the Pentateuch) are interrupted around source divisions or insertions of other material.
  21. Why Exodus 34 can be separated into two narratives, one about God appearing to Moses and making a covenant, and the other about Moses going up the mountain to receive the second set of tablets with the same writing on them. And why these two episodes preserve the language and terminology of J and E, respectively, and why when these two episodes are separated their narratives match up perfectly with where the other separated J and E narratives left off and where they continue. And why Deuteronomy 10 quotes only one of these tightly integrated stories.
  22. Why God is immanent in some texts and transcendent in others (compare the Tent of meeting, where he is transcendent, to the Tabernacle, where he is immanent).
  23. Why in some texts the ark is just a plain wooden box with two tablets in it, and in others it’s an ornately-decorated chest containing several relics.
  24. Why we have the Decalogue and Covenant Code, (=the set of laws beginning in Exodus 20), and the Deuteronomic Code (Deut 5; 12-26, which is supposed to be a repeat of the Covenant Code, but it’s not; it introduces many, many changes. Compare, for example, the Sabbath laws in Exod 20 and Deut 5).
  25. Why in Exodus 12 we have pesach (passover) celebrated followed immediately by the seven-day matzah festival, but in Deuteronomy 16:1-8 there is only a seven-day festival (pesach and matzah have been conflated), with no specific date assigned in Deuteronomy. Also, why Deuteronomy requires the paschal lamb to be slaughtered at the central shrine but in Exodus it’s done in a family setting.
  26. Why in some texts Moses’ staff is used to perform miracles, and in others it’s Aaron’s. (And why in these different cases there is other linguistic and narrative evidence pointing toward source divisions.)
  27. Why the differentiated texts exhibit particularized geographical foci. Why, for example, do the spies in Num 17-20, 22-24 only see sites in the kingdom of Judah? (These happen to correlate with other J texts, whose focus is clearly on Judah). Abraham, in J, lives in Hebron, a capital in Judah. There are only four birth stories in J: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, and in J the first three are disinherited, leaving Judah to rule. These trends can be extended to the other sources.
  28. Why all of these discrepancies are differentiated along linguistic, terminological, and substantial lines. E.g., the doubled stories will show different names for god, treatments of the priesthood, use of individual words (where such words are excluded from the other sources), sacred objects, etc. And, here’s a kicker, why the separation of these differentiated texts and rejoining to texts seemingly hewn from the same quarry results most often in a continuous narrative. Were one to spell out these individual differentiations, they’d number in the thousands. A replacement theory would have to explain this.

I should add, too, that we know that other narratives were composed from sources, such as the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings), which was composed of documents likely from the Temple library. As scholars have long noted, it seems that the principal reason for a rejection of this theory isn’t at all due to disagreement over literary approaches, but rather to theological discomfort.

I think one should conclude with Friedman here: “Above all, the strongest evidence establishing the Documentary Hypothesis is that several different lines of evidence converge.” [1] He cites as evidence for the theory: the convergence of the thirty-one doublets (repeated stories, which, he says contra others, is never attested elsewhere in ancient literature as a rhetorical device), the contradictions in the text, the different styles and terminology, and the fact that when separated, these form distinct, coherent narratives. No one of these constitutes the bedrock of the documentary hypothesis, without which the theory would crumble. It is the fact that they correlate in toto that makes the hypothesis nearly impossible to refute.

*I am aware of many LDS treatments that accept the DH, especially those of John Sorensen and Kevin Barney. I would add, though, that it’s rare to find an actual LDS source critic.

1. The Bible with Sources Revealed, 28. Emphasis his.

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40 Comments

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40 responses to “What you have to explain without the Documentary Hypothesis

  1. Don’t the LDS Books of Moses and Abraham kind of throw a wrench into things when looking at the DH? Especially referring to question #1?

    I hold the heretical view that Genesis 1 and the corresponding chapters in Moses and Abraham are the Spiritual Creation, followed by the temporal/physical creation in the following chapter.

    Just wondering how Moses who is writing what the Lord is telling him to write, and Abraham, who is recording a vision, would fit into the DH.

  2. It is interesting you posted this today. For some reason I just reread Friedman’s introduction to “The Bible with Source Revealed” the other day.

  3. jupiterschild

    That depends on what view you take of the Books of Moses and Abraham. Moses is the JST of a portion of Genesis, and as such is not the restoration of an original text. The idea of a spiritual creation is one that was around long before Joseph Smith as a way of solving the problem of the double creation. I don’t see the Book of Abraham (and all its attendant problems) as impacting the DH at all, though I haven’t looked into it carefully. In any case, you have to ask what the evidence tells you. If you set aside Genesis 1-3, is a wrench thrown into the whole of the DH? I don’t think so. I actually think that the Book of Moses plays into the whole DH in an interesting way because of its adoption of traditional ways of making sense of the difficulties in the text.

  4. jupiterschild

    TYD, we’re on the same page.

  5. Not necessarily Tim. If one looks at Moses and to a certain extent Abraham as midrash then it’s not a problem.

    I don’t think the distinction between Gen 1 & 2 as spiritual is heretical. It’s rather explicitly described as such in Moses isn’t it?

  6. To add to “Jupiterschild” the distinction between spiritual and physical goes back at least to Philo if not earlier. Exactly how to take “spiritual creation” is a more interesting question. Is it spiritual in the sense of an abstract plan? (Philo took it Platonically) Or is it spiritual in the sense some Mormons think of it – i.e. as literally a spiritual creation or organization of physical spirits. I favor it as an intellectual plan and thus closer to Philo’s view I suppose.

  7. Clark, if you try teaching that Genesis 1 etc. is the Spiritual Creation, you’ll soon discover how heretical it is. :)

    So in other words, and I admit not having studied about the DH much, you consider Moses and Abraham as one of the sources of the DH? Which I’m fine with, just trying to reconcile.

  8. Gander

    If you hold that the first creation story in Genesis is a spiritual creation, why does the Lord command Adam and Eve to multiply (if they have no bodies)? And why are the creation events in completely different orders?

  9. They would multiply once they got to the Earth. And the commandment would have been given to all of us.

    This also resolves the myth that there were two “conflicting commandments” given in the Garden. Why would the Lord tell them to multiply when they were physically unable to do so?

    Sorry for the tangent.

  10. jupiterschild

    (7) No, I do not consider either Moses or Abraham to have had anything to do with the writing of the text of the Pentateuch as we have it, except insofar as they are characters in that text. The reason for the traditional attribution of authorship to Moses, which Joseph Smith took for granted, is that he is the most important character in the narrative (taken as a whole), he has a vision and direct communication with God in the narrative, and the narrative basically ends with his death. The text itself tells us nothing of its authors. It also has many anachronisms that presuppose authors working long after the Israelites had settled in Palestine. I’m not sure that anyone in the first temple period would have thought Moses was responsible for the text.

  11. Tim, I’ve taught it several times without anyone batting an eye. I usually just quote Moses 3:5.

  12. Clark, consider yourself fortunate. I taught it a couple weeks ago and have been relentlessly defending myself from Joseph Fielding Smith and McConkie quotes ever since.

  13. jupiterschild

    There’s an easy defense against JFS and BRM quotes: “It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve been publicly wrong.” That, or “show me the money!” Evidence is king.

    One cannot emphasize enough that the Book of Moses is *not* the restoration of an original source. It’s the JST, which does not exclude the possibility of a multiple-source theory.

  14. Those who tend to quote JFS and McConkie aren’t too open to them being wrong.

    So we need to treat the BofM independently from Genesis? It’s a different source altogether.

  15. JS, help me out here. It seems like a major “problem” with accepting the DH is that it forces one to reconsider—and possibly even reject—many (strained?) conclusions. A good example has been raised here when asking “why two creation accounts?” For someone who rejects DH, there are two creations because…one is physical and one is spiritual. For someone who accepts DH, there are simply two versions of the story (maybe both are spiritual or both are physical).

    I’m also thinking of all the commentary I’ve heard about the two different versions of the commandments, but I’m not sure if the DH applies there.

    This same kind of problem comes up in the NT as well when trying to reconcile the different Gospels. Did Jesus cleanse the temple once or twice? If twice, then there is some interesting commentary on why he did it differently each time. If only once, then all the commentary is rather silly.

    Anyway, I don’t know much about DH and so I don’t know if what I’m saying is gibberish.

  16. Addendum: I just went back and re-read your previous series and it looks like you addressed my question about one vs. two covenants.

    http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2007/05/14/a-case-for-the-dh-part-iii-no-new-covenant-not-in-exod-34-anyway/

    It might be interesting to compile a list of “doctrinal interpretations” that are challenged by the DH.

  17. Brian I think the DH issue is largely orthagonal to the two creation. To give an example we wouldn’t think of a problem reconciling say Gen 2 with the creation account given in Ps 104. So why make a big deal of Gen 1 & 2?

    One can see Moses 3:5 as a midrashic way of reconciling the two accounts (1 & 2) simply in terms of their physical proximity. I’m not sure one has to read it that way though.

    But even for someone like McConkie who rejects the DH he also rejects the spiritual/physical dichotomy that a straightforward reading of Moses 3:5 entails. So I don’t think one can say the DH has much to do with this at all.

    This seems different from the NT issue – or at least somewhat different.

  18. Is there really an alternative to the DH? I mean, Moses probably couldn’t write his own death after all…

  19. I don’t think there’s a realistic alternative to the DH myself. I think the question becomes what in the details goes where. One can accept the DH and quibble quite a bit in the details.

  20. Mogget

    don’t think there’s a realistic alternative to the DH myself. I think the question becomes what in the details goes where.

    Amen! Nice job, JC!

  21. jupiterschild

    Brian J: I agree that someone should compile a list of doctrinal points challenged by the DH. Some are well-known, like if one accepts multiple Isaiahs (which I do), then the Book of Mormon’s quotation of second Isaiah becomes problematic. (Of course, this is not DH, since it’s not in the Pentateuch, but it’s along the same lines). The DH certainly challenges the way we read “Elohim” and “Yahweh”. With the DH, these are alternatives for essentially the same person. (Of course, this is how Joseph Smith understood the names when he was translating the BoMor.) The Genesis 34 account becomes a bit problematic as well.

    But all of these can be solved by recourse to something many already accept: that the scriptures acted simply as a catalyst for JS’s revelations, much like an Egyptian Papyrus, coupled with some limited Hebrew training, contributed to the revelation of the Book of Abraham, which is not a translation of an ancient document (not in the way we think of translations, anyway). Genesis 34 acted in the same way to make JS think about higher/lower priesthoods, etc.

    Matt W and Clark: I’m with you: the purpose of this post has been to show that there is no good alternative, even though, as Clark rightly says, one might quibble over details.

    And thanks Mogs.

  22. I should add that I sometimes think the Yahweh/Elohiem naming distinction pushed a tad too far. But to me that’s quibbling over details.

  23. jupiterschild

    Clark, you’re right. Name differentiation is not a perfect distinction, which I should add goes for most of the terminological differences. Each of the authors undoubtedly knew the other’s terms, since they’re not usually obscure Hebrew words. But the usage *is* overwhelmingly lopsided.

  24. Secco

    Kevin Barney’s article cited above points out how for him, being a believer in the Book of Mormon actually helped him understand and eventually tentatively accept the DH, since, after all, the Book of Mormon describes a similar process of multiple sources put together by one or more editors. It would seem that Mormons would be in a good position, given that background, to not just accept the DH, but to exploit it even further. Theologically, we more than most other Christians are ready to have multiple inspired authors working over our texts. So… where are the Mormon DH experts? It seems like there is a lot of hand-wringing about whether the tool is useful, rather than just moving ahead with using it. The Sorenson article does take a stab at that, I guess, suggesting we might have particular interest in E. But hopefully the best is yet to come.

    Two related side notes. It is too bad that the argument over the DH has gotten so polarized into conservative/liberal issues, because that seems to distract from the real benefits adopting it might provide. There’s got to be a lesson in there for us as we look at other tools that we might tap in to: maybe more focus on the positive benefits such as how to explain the text, less on the potential implications. Second Isaiah comes to mind as an example: people seem to get focused on whether there were one or two (or three) much more than how such a possibility helps explain textual questions that might be of devotional value.

    Second side note, to self: the q about two creations reminds me that sometime I’d like to get the views of our august commentators on whether man was created on day 6 or day 7… but that’s a separate post…

  25. Mogget

    more focus on the positive benefits such as how to explain the text, less on the potential implications.

    Here, you’re going to run astray of the folks who find that this sort of interest in how the text came to be in its final form takes the Bible from the church and makes it the “playground of scholars.” To them, this sort of thing is definitely not a positive, so getting the news of devotional value out is going to be an uphill struggle.

    When time permits why don’t you give us an example of the devotional value that comes from this sort of work with the text?

  26. Secco I think apologists have long made use of the DH since it actually explains a lot about what happens in the Book of Mormon (missing texts and so forth) Most apologists also tend to adopt the criticism of the Bible in the Book of Mormon to not be an attack on translation in the sense of Greek -> English or Hebrew -> English translations but more along the lines of transmission or so forth.

    They also like some of the theological implications of competing schools.

    The place where apologists have trouble is how to deal with 2 & 3 Isaiah given the Book of Mormon quotations. As someone above mentioned this isn’t the DH proper but it is related. I’ve not seen really good answers here beyond Blake Ostler’s expansion model.

  27. holdinator

    In my limited academic training, the DH has held the most fascination for me. The evidence really is overwhelming in its favor, and the few personal stabs I’ve taken at certain texts has been very stimulating in that I’ve been able to distinguish between the sources for myself and then found that Friedman (or others) have come to similar conclusions.

    Good post. I would echo the sentiments concerning 2 & 3 Isaiah and the Book of Mormon; I would really like to see some serious consideration of this beyond simply concluding (as many apologists have) that Deutero-Isaiah is false because of the Book of Mormon.

  28. holdinator,

    “I would really like to see some serious consideration of this beyond simply concluding…that Deutero-Isaiah is false….”

    Here is a place to start. Joe Spencer argues that the BoM only quotes from 1 and 2 Isaiah, but conspicuously never from 3 Isaiah, and the quotes from 1 and 2 Isaiah follow a decided pattern.

  29. Secco

    #25 Mogget — OK, good challenge, I will try to think about this question of where textual work can help with devotional meaning.

    One that springs to mind, unrelated to DH or Isaiah, is in John 8. The omission of the story of the woman taken in adultery from most early texts, yet its inclusion in the final version, speaks volumes (to me) about how radical Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness and acceptance after repentance really is: so radical, it couldn’t be included in the canon for decades or centuries. Too hot to handle, this idea that sinners can be forgiven and accepted in the kingdom (and therefore in the Church). It’s authentic (the story and the idea), it’s just radical. Even today. Textual analysis really brings that point home, as a wonderful addition to the story’s content.

    I’d like to find something similar in Isaiah — maybe something about how the Babylonian setting makes the Servant Songs more nuanced or meaningful. Will look around, a great suggestion, thank you.

    I leave it to Jchild or someone else more DH-savvy than me to provide a DH-related example.

  30. Secco

    Jupiterschild, I’m still not sure I’m getting your original point, either in this post, or the trilogy you did last year (and I skimmed the lovefest with Julie as well). If your point is, the DH explains lots of difficulties in the pentateuch, OK, I buy that, you’ve got me in the crushing grip of reason :-). The listing of 1-28 seems very clear, and I think your earlier posts about how D quotes E so clearly and ignores J so clearly that it’s excellent evidence in favor of the DH. That’s great. And it suggests that the DH is an excellent way to deal with interpreting the pentateuch.

    But I’m missing the LDS link. In your earlier posts it was (if I’m reading them right) that accepting the DH means there was no new covenant in Ex 34. But, irrespective of the DH, conservative Protestants and Jews point to 34 as a restoration of the original covenant, not a new covenant. It’s really only JST Ex 34:1-2 (and D&C 84) that give the LDS view of the second round of tablets being lessor than the first round, right? (Well, that, and the fact that the first tablets were made by God, per Ex 32:16, and the second tablets were made by man, so maybe the second law was inferior as well.)

    Isn’t our doctrine that the Israelites had the Melchizedek Priesthood taken away and were left with the Aaronic orthogonal to the acceptance or nonacceptance of the DH?

    Maybe it’s time for you (or someone?) to come up with something for us newbies to the DH. Sort of like #16/21′s suggestion above, but if not a “top ten doctrinal changes” then perhaps “ten tidbits from the DH” that would point out its relevance to non-scholars / non-experts. Once one buys into source criticism, does it have a big enough impact — or potential impact — that we should all become more familiar with it?

  31. jupiterschild

    Clark (26) – You’re absolutely correct about the Deutero-Isaiah problem.

    Holdinator (27) – Agreed.

    BrianJ (28 ) – Thanks very much for the link. Much to profit from JoeSpencer’s take. His analysis is an example of what can be done with more careful attention to the issues involved in discerning multiple sources. I do, however, wonder how much of what he sees is dependent on the multiple authors theory, and how much is simply a side effect: in other words, he analyzes the different uses of Isaiah in 1-2 Nephi as falling along First-Second Isaiah borderlines, but this seems to be due the fact that First-Second Isaiah treat radically different themes. That is to say, I’m not sure that there has to be any 1-2 Isaiah division for Spencer’s argument to hold, even though it certainly enhances the discussion.

    The other problem with his analysis is that he still holds to a pre-exilic II-Isaiah, which virtually no one does. I don’t think this is tenable, and as Clark (26) says, we haven’t begun to deal with this problem, III-Isaiah lacunae notwithstanding. I think Blake’s model is the most adept to handle the problem without jettisoning an inspirational model.

  32. holdinator

    Brian J- Thanks for the link; that is a wonderful post.

  33. jupiterschild

    Alright Secco, way to push the issue. I’m now working on a more extensive post. You’ve rightly seen that my purpose in these posts has been to lay the groundwork for an acceptance of the theory; where one goes with it is a more complex and interesting issue.

    In general, I’d say that a recognition of the DH a) allows us to make greater sense of the narrative, and b) allows us to observe competing views of God, law, doctrine, etc., and perhaps to apply it to ourselves in a more nuanced way. In other words, what does it mean to read P’s view of God alongside E’s? (I blogged about this somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me find the link.) This is kind of a way out, because I think you were wanting specifics. I’m working on a longer “tidbits” post. But I think these two points should not be overlooked. One of the big obstacles to reading the (most often read first five books of the) Old Testament, besides the difficult and outdated KJV language (jab), is the confused narrative at so many points, where plain readings just don’t get us far. Although, I have to say, that this would be a benefit of any careful reading of any biblical (OT or NT) text, which I think is largely foreign to LDSs.

    In any case, I think the benefit of the DH is an increased understanding of the text, which need not have any doctrinal implications for it to have real value for us. One of my purposes has been to break out of the many political and poorly argued conservative defenses of the traditional understanding of the Pentateuch. This in itself requires something of a doctrinal adjustment and an answer to the question of where we stand on such topics as the JST and Mosaic authorship. That said, I accept your challenge.

  34. Gerald Smith

    Kevin Barney’s article suggests that the Book of Mormon supports the DH. First, in the original manuscript, the BoM states the “book of Moses”, which was later changed to “books of Moses.”
    Second, it was proposed that the Brass Plates of Laban could have been the source for E, a sacred record that came from the Northern Kingdom. This record was pro-Moses, doesn’t mention Aaron or David much, puts the priesthood in the hands of non-Levitical players, supports the concept of altars/high places in the wilderness, dreams/visions in the wilderness, and romanticizes the wandering patriarch.

    Nephi mentions Moses at the waters of Meribah as a good experience: of the two times it is mentioned in the Bible, E has the angel showing Moses where to strike, but J has Moses condemned for not showing God the glory.

    The BoM, IOW, is a strong proponent of the DH!

  35. jupiterschild

    Gerald, thanks for joining the discussion! I’m not sure about the “book of Moses” “books of Moses” change. Did this come about before or after the JST? But books of Moses is still well within the traditional way of talking about the Pentateuch. (“Five books of Moses”). No reasonable scholar holds that any of the four strands goes back to Moses, so when we hear of books (plural) of Moses, the reference is to Genesis, Exodus, etc. and not to J,E,D,P. I may be misunderstanding you, though.

    I’m glad for your enthusiastic acceptance of the DH, and I certainly think the directions you outline should be explored much further. A caveat, though: I’m not sure how closely we can associate E and the Book of Mormon, because affinities don’t have to mean dependency, and especially not an isolated source. It’s possible that E themes (which, you may know, are taken up strongly by D, a southern, late 7th-early 6th century source) are the ones that also rang Nephi et al.’s bells.

  36. I have noticed that several comments here have raised the issue of the unity of the Book of Isaiah and its relationship to the Book of Mormon. I have, in fact, been writing a paper of sorts for several weeks now on this issue (I know, I work slow), and I intend to post it here at FPR within the next few weeks. It contains a relatively concise synopsis of the history of modern Isaiah scholarship and the reasons posited for multiple authorship, a section on the Book of Mormon’s usage of Isaiah, another section which gives a selected history of critical LDS approaches to the topic, and a final section offering preliminary conclusions and suggestions for a resolution (it will also contain not a few references as well as suggestions for further reading and research) as well as an appeal for further comments and suggestions from the (blogging) community interested in the topic. I was hoping to have Nitsav review it before I post it, but if Jupiterschild or any of the others here at FPR would be interested in reading it before I submit it, I would be happy for the feedback.

  37. I look forward to this. Do you engage the unity of Isaiah arguments of the past couple of decades? (Not that I’m too convinced by them)

  38. Clark,

    I do not devote a section to analyzing scholarly arguments (LDS or otherwise) for the unity of Isaiah. I do, however, provide references for such work, and I also draw on LDS scholars’ work who do accept the unity of Isaiah when I feel it can contribute to a possible resolution without at the same time entailing that Isaiah is an entirely unified composition (I personally do not consider Isaiah to be an entirely unified work). In the paper I am simply more interested in critical LDS scholarly approaches and resolutions to the Isaiah issue.

  39. The Yellow Dart

    I have discussed the separateness of the P and J sources in Genesis 1-3 on my blog. Feel free to look it over. Constructive critcism and comments are always appreciated.

    Best wishes,

    TYD

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