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Re: Source criticism: OT & NT

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  • Jim West
    ... I would only say that you might want to qualify this a bit by adding some or maybe even many . As it is you suggest that NO NT scholars are conversant
    Message 1 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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      At 11:05 PM 1/2/99 -0700, you wrote:
      >It often surprises me that NT scholars are not more conversant with OT


      I would only say that you might want to qualify this a bit by adding "some"
      or maybe even "many". As it is you suggest that NO NT scholars are
      conversant with OT issues. This is, of course, false.

      [snipped]

      >
      >The bottom line is that I think that a study of Pentateuchal source
      >criticism provides an interesting perspective on NT source critical
      >studies, and I recommend it.
      >


      Source criticism of the Pentateuch is hardly utilized in amore in these days
      of literary criticism. In fact- the old notion that the Pent. can be nicely
      cut up is virtually abandoned. Instead, scholars of the Hebrew Bible are
      focusing on the fascinating and incredibly insightful ways ancient authors
      utilized doublets and the like to say things in useful though subtle ways.
      Further- there is precious little support for the idea that the OT was
      composed before the exile- which makes the old J, E, D, P theory absolutely
      impossible.

      >Bob

      Best,

      Jim

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Jim West, ThD
      Quartz Hill School of Theology

      jwest@...
    • Bob Schacht
      ... Jim, Of course, you are quite right. I certainly did not mean to imply that *NO* NT scholars were conversant with OT source criticism. Its just that I am
      Message 2 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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        At 08:52 AM 1/3/99 +0000, Jim West wrote:
        >At 11:05 PM 1/2/99 -0700, you wrote:
        >>It often surprises me that NT scholars are not more conversant with OT
        >
        >
        >I would only say that you might want to qualify this a bit by adding "some"
        >or maybe even "many". As it is you suggest that NO NT scholars are
        >conversant with OT issues. This is, of course, false.
        >

        Jim,
        Of course, you are quite right. I certainly did not mean to imply that *NO*
        NT scholars were conversant with OT source criticism. Its just that I am
        not personally knowledgable about any of them, or that my brain is
        sufficiently addled that I have forgotten the coversantivity (if there is
        such a word) of some of the scholars with whom I am acquainted.

        >[snipped]
        >...Source criticism of the Pentateuch is hardly utilized in amore in these
        days
        >of literary criticism. In fact- the old notion that the Pent. can be nicely
        >cut up is virtually abandoned.

        Well, you are saved by the restriction to "nicely cut up". I made no such
        claims, and indeed the seams are often hard to find, especially between J
        and E. However, I am surprised by your dismissal of the utility of
        pentateuchal source criticism. The editors of the New Oxford [NRSV]
        Annotated Bible (1991), the Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), Oxford [REB]
        Study Bible (1992), and Achtemeier's Bible Dictionary (1996, which calls
        the Documentary Hypothesis "the prevailing account of the composition of
        the Pentateuch") do not seem to be of the same mind.

        More to the point of this list, the ultimate Source Critical question is,
        to what extent are our surviving documents based on historical sources?
        Which in this list translates as, what can we say about the historical
        Jesus? While source criticism is not the only relevant methodology, it
        cannot be dismissed as irrelevant.

        Similarly, in pentateuchal research, the historical questions are not
        irrelevant. As I recall, one of the *big* issues in understanding our texts
        is, what meaning did the writer intend to convey? If you dismiss the
        original context in which a passage was written, how can you hope to
        understand the answer to this question?

        > Instead, scholars of the Hebrew Bible are
        >focusing on the fascinating and incredibly insightful ways ancient authors
        >utilized doublets and the like to say things in useful though subtle ways.

        I think you are hoist on your own petard. Look at your opening remarks in
        your message about sweeping generalizations about the interests of a
        particular class of scholars, and you'll see what I mean. I have no doubt
        that *some*, perhaps even *many* scholars of the Hebrew Bible are concerned
        with the questions you pose. But I'll bet you that the intentional
        composition of doublets (as opposed to the editorial juxtaposition of
        received parallel texts) is a relatively late practice attempting to make a
        compositional virtue imitating a historically received multiplicity of
        sacred sources. And I'll bet you that there are plenty of scholars of the
        Hebrew Bible who are still very much interested in source critical issues.

        >Further- there is precious little support for the idea that the OT was
        >composed before the exile- which makes the old J, E, D, P theory absolutely
        >impossible.
        >

        I notice how you have changed the nature of the question again, from
        pentateuchal source criticism to the date of composition of the OT (as a
        whole?). Of course, the OT, as a whole, in the form that we now have it,
        was not completed until after the exile. But to return to my point (and not
        your caricature of it), I refer you to the above named reference materials,
        which provide much scholarly support for the idea that *some significant
        literary sources* of the pentateuch (notably J and E, and perhaps some
        others) are pre-exilic in date.

        Nevertheless, if you are right about the post-exilic date of the entire OT,
        this is still a source-critical issue, and you then have to explain the
        occurrence of so much material in the OT (and especially the Pentateuch)
        which makes no sense in a post-exilic context. You also need to explain why
        it is that so many of the stories in the Pentateuch are presented twice (or
        three times), and why the differences between them seem arcane to a
        post-exilic readership.

        Bob


        Robert Schacht
        Northern Arizona University
        Robert.Schacht@...

        "This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method':
        that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's
        position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our
        criticism to be worth while." [Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific
        Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5]
      • Stephen C. Carlson
        ... [...snip...] ... I would say OT source criticism has influenced NT source critical to some extent, especially about a hundred years ago. For example, the
        Message 3 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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          At 11:05 PM 1/2/99 -0700, Bob Schacht wrote:
          >It often surprises me that NT scholars are not more conversant with OT
          >issues. Take Source criticism: surely this is a domain where the methods
          >and theories are basically similar. But I see little 'cross-fertilization'
          >of ideas between OT and NT source criticism.
          [...snip...]
          >The bottom line is that I think that a study of Pentateuchal source
          >criticism provides an interesting perspective on NT source critical
          >studies, and I recommend it.

          I would say OT source criticism has influenced NT source critical to
          some extent, especially about a hundred years ago. For example,
          the use of doublets as a indicator of sources to infer the existence
          and the documentary nature of Q was pioneered in OT source criticism.

          However, the kind of source problem that the Synoptic Problem is
          concerned with is quite different from the source problem of the
          Pentateuch, so the usefulness of OT source criticism (which seems
          even more stagnant than NT source criticism) for NT source criticism
          is limited.

          Stephen Carlson
          --
          Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
          Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
          "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
        • Bob Schacht
          ... Interesting point; thanks! ... Well, of course, that is the standard defense of scholarly over-specialization. I was just trying to open up the doors and
          Message 4 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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            At 05:21 PM 1/3/99 -0500, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
            >...
            >I would say OT source criticism has influenced NT source critical to
            >some extent, especially about a hundred years ago. For example,
            >the use of doublets as a indicator of sources to infer the existence
            >and the documentary nature of Q was pioneered in OT source criticism.
            >

            Interesting point; thanks!

            >However, the kind of source problem that the Synoptic Problem is
            >concerned with is quite different from the source problem of the
            >Pentateuch, so the usefulness of OT source criticism (which seems
            >even more stagnant than NT source criticism) for NT source criticism
            >is limited.
            >
            >Stephen Carlson
            >

            Well, of course, that is the standard defense of scholarly
            over-specialization. I was just trying to open up the doors and windows a
            little. Is the difference due to the subject matter, or to the questions we
            choose to ask? And are the appropriate questions really all that different?

            I grant that you have a more sophisticated understanding of source
            criticism than I, a novice, have. Nevertheless, an example might be
            instructive:

            1. The "Lord's Prayer" is found only in Matthew and Luke. Normally in NT
            studies, such shared material is attributed to the source labelled as "Q"
            that is usually dated at least a generation earlier than M & L (i.e., 60-70
            C.E.), and hence only a few generations following its putative historical
            context (i.e., ca. 30 C.E.). This has the effect of enhancing its possible
            historicity (although not in the collective assessment of the Jesus Seminar.)

            2. The so-called "Ten Commandments" are found only in Exodus (20:1-17) and
            Deuteronomy (5:6-21). Yet, the two lists are not identical, meaning that
            either one has amended the other, or that both have a common source.
            Furthermore, Andre Lemaire (1981) proposed no less than four literary
            redactions of the TC, indicating an even more complex set of literary
            relationships. Using source-critical methods could help establish the
            literary relationships between the hypothesized Deuteronomist and
            previous(?) literary strands within the Pentateuch, as well as their
            possible antiquity and origins.

            In what way are these two source-critical problems so different?

            So I still hold that source critics of the OT and NT still can learn
            worthwhile theories and techniques from each other. But since no one else
            seems interested in this enterprise, I'll let it rest.

            Bob
            Robert Schacht
            Northern Arizona University
            Robert.Schacht@...

            "This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method':
            that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's
            position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our
            criticism to be worth while." [Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific
            Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5]
          • Stephen C. Carlson
            ... Bob, both these passges, taken alone, are not sufficient by themselves to establish any kind of a literary as opposed to oral relationships between them.
            Message 5 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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              At 08:11 PM 1/3/99 -0700, Bob Schacht wrote:
              >1. The "Lord's Prayer" is found only in Matthew and Luke. [...]
              >
              >2. The so-called "Ten Commandments" are found only in Exodus (20:1-17) and
              >Deuteronomy (5:6-21). [...]
              >
              >In what way are these two source-critical problems so different?

              Bob, both these passges, taken alone, are not sufficient by themselves
              to establish any kind of a literary as opposed to oral relationships
              between them. The difference is that there is sufficient other evidence
              to conclude that Matthew and Luke are literarily interrelated (outside
              of Mark), but that is this is not the case for D and P. Since literary
              theories are out in order unless and until there is sufficient evidence
              for them, only the Lord's Prayer example raises interesting NT-style source
              critical issues.

              >So I still hold that source critics of the OT and NT still can learn
              >worthwhile theories and techniques from each other. But since no one else
              >seems interested in this enterprise, I'll let it rest.

              There is somewhat of a difference in terminology between the two
              disciplines. OT source criticism is more akin to NT redaction criticism
              than to NT source criticism, and I would be interested to find out if
              anyone has applied modern NT redaction critical techniques to the OT
              literary problems.

              Stephen Carlson
              --
              Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
              Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
              "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
            • Weasel
              Jack Kilmon wrote: snip . . . ... Excuse me, but the JS preferred the Lukan form of the LP to the Matthean form precisely because it was the less embellished
              Message 6 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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                Jack Kilmon wrote:

                snip . . .

                > This is one of the areas that I have to disagree with the JS. Their
                > reasoning for voting black on the Lukan form of the LP while voting
                > pink for the Matthean petitions that parallel Luke leave me puzzled.
                > The Lukan form is almost certainly closer to the original...albeit
                > with a tad of Lukan redaction... than Matthew's embellished version.
                >

                Excuse me, but the JS preferred the Lukan form of the LP to the Matthean form
                precisely because it was the less embellished of the two.
                --
                Dave Jones
                ----------------------------------
                The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar
                doctrine that age brings wisdom.

                H.L. Mencken

                AOL Instant Messenger
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              • Jack Kilmon
                ... This is one of the areas that I have to disagree with the JS. Their reasoning for voting black on the Lukan form of the LP while voting pink for the
                Message 7 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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                  Bob Schacht wrote:
                  >
                  > At 05:21 PM 1/3/99 -0500, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
                  > >...
                  > >I would say OT source criticism has influenced NT source critical to
                  > >some extent, especially about a hundred years ago. For example,
                  > >the use of doublets as a indicator of sources to infer the existence
                  > >and the documentary nature of Q was pioneered in OT source criticism.
                  > >
                  >
                  > Interesting point; thanks!
                  >
                  > >However, the kind of source problem that the Synoptic Problem is
                  > >concerned with is quite different from the source problem of the
                  > >Pentateuch, so the usefulness of OT source criticism (which seems
                  > >even more stagnant than NT source criticism) for NT source criticism
                  > >is limited.
                  > >
                  > >Stephen Carlson
                  > >
                  >
                  > Well, of course, that is the standard defense of scholarly
                  > over-specialization. I was just trying to open up the doors and windows a
                  > little. Is the difference due to the subject matter, or to the questions we
                  > choose to ask? And are the appropriate questions really all that different?
                  >
                  > I grant that you have a more sophisticated understanding of source
                  > criticism than I, a novice, have. Nevertheless, an example might be
                  > instructive:
                  >
                  > 1. The "Lord's Prayer" is found only in Matthew and Luke. Normally in NT
                  > studies, such shared material is attributed to the source labelled as "Q"
                  > that is usually dated at least a generation earlier than M & L (i.e., 60-70
                  > C.E.), and hence only a few generations following its putative historical
                  > context (i.e., ca. 30 C.E.). This has the effect of enhancing its possible
                  > historicity (although not in the collective assessment of the Jesus Seminar.)

                  This is one of the areas that I have to disagree with the JS. Their
                  reasoning for voting black on the Lukan form of the LP while voting
                  pink for the Matthean petitions that parallel Luke leave me puzzled.
                  The Lukan form is almost certainly closer to the original...albeit
                  with a tad of Lukan redaction... than Matthew's embellished version.

                  Add to this the even more embellished Didache version taken from
                  Matthew and I see a flower that has bloomed from a definite "shoot"
                  and "stem." That was a pun (g).

                  >
                  > 2. The so-called "Ten Commandments" are found only in Exodus (20:1-17) and
                  > Deuteronomy (5:6-21). Yet, the two lists are not identical, meaning that
                  > either one has amended the other, or that both have a common source.
                  > Furthermore, Andre Lemaire (1981) proposed no less than four literary
                  > redactions of the TC, indicating an even more complex set of literary
                  > relationships. Using source-critical methods could help establish the
                  > literary relationships between the hypothesized Deuteronomist and
                  > previous(?) literary strands within the Pentateuch, as well as their
                  > possible antiquity and origins.
                  >
                  > In what way are these two source-critical problems so different?
                  >
                  > So I still hold that source critics of the OT and NT still can learn
                  > worthwhile theories and techniques from each other. But since no one else
                  > seems interested in this enterprise, I'll let it rest.

                  Part of the problem may be the tendency of NT scholars to be
                  Greek chauvinists. Whenever I extend source criticism for
                  Yeshuine sayings to an Aramaic common denominator, many NT
                  scholars turn red in the face, gasp for breath and
                  mail me letter bombs. OT source work deals in Aramaic
                  and Hebrew. Graecists and Hebraists are like oil and water.

                  Jack
                  --
                  ______________________________________________

                  taybutheh d'maran yeshua masheecha am kulkon

                  Jack Kilmon
                  jkilmon@...

                  http://www.historian.net
                • Bob Schacht
                  ... Stephen, Thank you for helping me understand the state of the field in this manner. If I understand what you are saying correctly, the Ten Commandments
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
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                    At 11:22 PM 1/3/99 -0500, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
                    >At 08:11 PM 1/3/99 -0700, Bob Schacht wrote:
                    >>1. The "Lord's Prayer" is found only in Matthew and Luke. [...]
                    >>
                    >>2. The so-called "Ten Commandments" are found only in Exodus (20:1-17) and
                    >>Deuteronomy (5:6-21). [...]
                    >>
                    >>In what way are these two source-critical problems so different?
                    >
                    >Bob, both these passges, taken alone, are not sufficient by themselves
                    >to establish any kind of a literary as opposed to oral relationships
                    >between them. The difference is that there is sufficient other evidence
                    >to conclude that Matthew and Luke are literarily interrelated (outside
                    >of Mark), but that is this is not the case for D and P. Since literary
                    >theories are out in order unless and until there is sufficient evidence
                    >for them, only the Lord's Prayer example raises interesting NT-style source
                    >critical issues.
                    >

                    Stephen,
                    Thank you for helping me understand the state of the field in this manner.
                    If I understand what you are saying correctly, the Ten Commandments example
                    is ruled dissimilar because it is *assumed* that the sources involved were
                    oral rather than written; is that correct?

                    The problem I have with that is that I disagree with the assumption.
                    According to the ADB article on "Writing and Writing Materials",
                    "When Israel appears as a people in central Palestine towards the end of
                    the 13th Century B.C. (as indicated by reference to it on the Merneptah
                    Stela), the Israelites occupied a region where alphabetic writing was
                    already known for several centuries. They naturally adopted the "Canaanite"
                    alphabetic linear script as is probably shown by the Raddanan inscribed
                    handle (12th century B.C.), the inscribed ostracon from Izbet Sartah (near
                    Aphek), dated 11th century B.C. [Cross 1980], and the Khirbet Tannin
                    fragment [end of 11th century B.C. [Lemaire 1985c])."
                    This article even discerns the beginning of various national schools of
                    scribes associated with state organizations in the region at the beginning
                    of the first millenium B.C., mentioning Phoenician, "Hebrew (see David's
                    kingdom)," Aramaic, Ammonite, and Moabite. The Gezer tablet, dated to the
                    second half of the 10th century provides additional evidence for early
                    writing in Palestine.

                    Given this archaeological data, it seems to me absolutely untenable to
                    suppose that the kingdom of David and Solomon was illiterate (i.e., had no
                    scribes in the royal court), and that therefore it seems quite unnecessary
                    to suppose that the traditions usually ascribed to the J and E sources were
                    merely oral. For this reason, it seems to me that the question of the Ten
                    Commandments sources for Deuteronomy and Exodus cannot be *assumed* to have
                    been only oral, and that it would be quite legitimate to proceed as if the
                    question of literary relationships is appropriate.

                    It would make a difference if the so-called "J" and "E" strands (or, to
                    bring it back to the present example, Deuteronomy and Exodus) contained
                    actual internal evidence of having been transmitted orally rather than in
                    writing until some late date. I mean evidence, not a priori assumptions. Is
                    there any such evidence?

                    >...There is somewhat of a difference in terminology between the two
                    >disciplines. OT source criticism is more akin to NT redaction criticism
                    >than to NT source criticism, and I would be interested to find out if
                    >anyone has applied modern NT redaction critical techniques to the OT
                    >literary problems.
                    >
                    >Stephen Carlson

                    I would also be interested. Thank you for this information.

                    Respectfully,
                    Bob
                    Robert Schacht
                    Northern Arizona University
                    Robert.Schacht@...

                    "This success of my endeavors was due, I believe, to a rule of 'method':
                    that we should always try to clarify and to strengthen our opponent's
                    position as much as possible before criticizing him, if we wish our
                    criticism to be worth while." [Sir Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific
                    Discovery (1968), p. 260 n.*5]
                  • Stephen C. Carlson
                    ... It doesn t quite work that way. The burden of proof is on the one asserting that there is a literary relationship between two texts. Since the Ten
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jan 4, 1999
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                      At 10:57 PM 1/3/99 -0700, Bob Schacht wrote:
                      >At 11:22 PM 1/3/99 -0500, Stephen C. Carlson wrote:
                      >>Bob, both these passges, taken alone, are not sufficient by themselves
                      >>to establish any kind of a literary as opposed to oral relationships
                      >>between them. The difference is that there is sufficient other evidence
                      >>to conclude that Matthew and Luke are literarily interrelated (outside
                      >>of Mark), but that is this is not the case for D and P. Since literary
                      >>theories are out in order unless and until there is sufficient evidence
                      >>for them, only the Lord's Prayer example raises interesting NT-style source
                      >>critical issues.
                      >>
                      >
                      >Thank you for helping me understand the state of the field in this manner.
                      >If I understand what you are saying correctly, the Ten Commandments example
                      >is ruled dissimilar because it is *assumed* that the sources involved were
                      >oral rather than written; is that correct?
                      >
                      >The problem I have with that is that I disagree with the assumption.

                      It doesn't quite work that way. The burden of proof is on the one
                      asserting that there is a literary relationship between two texts.
                      Since the Ten Commandments are easily memorized, there is little
                      and insufficient reason to reach the conclusion that there is a
                      literary interrelation between D and P solely on the basis of this
                      common tradition.

                      The same would be true if the only point of contact between Matthew
                      and Luke is the Lord's Prayer. However, the evidence for establishing
                      a literary interrelationship between Matthew and Luke (even in non-
                      Markan parts) is strong enough. This allows for, but does not mandate,
                      consideration of a possible common literary origin of the Lord's Prayer.
                      This is permissive, not mandatory, because with a memorable passage like
                      the Lord's Prayer, one cannot rule out an oral interrelation.

                      >Given this archaeological data, it seems to me absolutely untenable to
                      >suppose that the kingdom of David and Solomon was illiterate (i.e., had no
                      >scribes in the royal court), and that therefore it seems quite unnecessary
                      >to suppose that the traditions usually ascribed to the J and E sources were
                      >merely oral. For this reason, it seems to me that the question of the Ten
                      >Commandments sources for Deuteronomy and Exodus cannot be *assumed* to have
                      >been only oral, and that it would be quite legitimate to proceed as if the
                      >question of literary relationships is appropriate.
                      >
                      >It would make a difference if the so-called "J" and "E" strands (or, to
                      >bring it back to the present example, Deuteronomy and Exodus) contained
                      >actual internal evidence of having been transmitted orally rather than in
                      >writing until some late date. I mean evidence, not a priori assumptions. Is
                      >there any such evidence?

                      Because of where I perceive the burden of proof, I would like to see actual
                      internal evidence of a written interrelation between J and E before I would
                      feel right in reaching that conclusion. The problem is that the procedure
                      of combining J and E into a harmony tends to eradicate the very evidence
                      that is necessary to reach that conclusion: literary similar pericopae get
                      conflated, so it is hard to assign them to a particular source, and
                      dissimilar pericopae are preserved as doublets or lose one member.

                      I do not dispute that there was a literary culture, just whether there is
                      enough evidence to conclude that these particular, hypothetical, reconstructed
                      texts stand in some literary as opposed to oral relationship with one
                      another.

                      Stephen Carlson
                      --
                      Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
                      Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
                      "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
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