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The Documentary Hypothesis Paperback – February 1, 2006
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For me, I was excited by Cassuto’s arguments against pillars one and three, and after starting the book, I became convinced that I was going to have to abandon the Documentary Hypothesis for good. But unfortunately for me, his attacks against pillars two, four and five were not as convincing. Perhaps it was my lack of knowledge of Hebrew grammar that let me down, but in this instance, he failed to annul the Documentary Hypothesis.
I like how the author uses the philological tools to endeavour a reasonable explanation for the composition of the Torah.
However, it might be noted that the author does not poses the idea of a single hand for all the masterpiece of the Torah, nor negates it. He neither says Moses wrote it. Beyond any doubt, many of the points of the traditional Documentary Hypothesis have become futile under the scrutiny of these lectures.
Nevertheless, the author opens the possibility that more than one, two, three, four, ore even more sources served as the raw material for the composition of the Pentateuch, without neccesarily implying that JEDP is the right attempt to explain the divergences and evidences of complex literature visible in the Torah.
It's interesting that one NT figure of note DID believe the OT, it authorships and the authority of it, That would of course be Jesus - He often quoted the OT, taught the OT and used it as if it were...true as written.
He overviews and disproves each of the 5 pillars of the Documentary Hypothesis.
a) the use of different names for the Deity;
b) variations of language and style;
c) contradictions and divergences of view;
d) duplications and repetitions;
e) signs of composite structure in the sections.
His phrase 'irretrievably doomed' distinguishes him from others who have critiqued this century old thesis—still being tweaked and taught. He shows that no academic face lifting or support will keep this building from collapsing in on itself.
If you have read that Moses is not the author of the Torah/Penteteuch but it was authored by 5 others: Jehovist, Elohist, a scribe who wrote the priestly code, the Deuteronomist and a redactor (or 2 or 3 ) that put these together.. and if you are beside yourself with rage or concern, this book is for you!
Not that Cassuto has no argument. He does. But Friedman's book is written for the lay person, while Cassuto's, drawn as it was from a series of academic lectures for teachers, presumes a high degree of prior knowledge and sophistication on the part of the reader. His presumption is not necessarily true for the lay person.
Written in 1941 for an intended audiece of academics, it is not surprising to find that the the prose is very dense. This makes for a difficult read and gets in the way of following his logical argument.
I have concluded that this was not the best volume for the lay person to begin a study of the debunking of the Documentary Hypothesis, and that I may have made the wrong choice for myself in that regard. I'll continue to look for other volumes on the subject.
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