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Re: Source criticism: OT & NT

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  • 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 1 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
      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 2 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
        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 3 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
          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 4 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
            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 5 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
              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
              Amphipod38
            • 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 6 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
                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 7 of 11 , Jan 3, 1999
                  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 8 of 11 , Jan 4, 1999
                    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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