the J author (was: Babel)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Fri Nov 8 20:20:54 UTC 2002

In a message dated 11/7/02 9:30:25 PM Eastern Standard Time,
hstahlke at WORLDNET.ATT.NET writes:

>  the work of Richard Davies (In Search of
>  Ancient Israel) and others of what has come to be called the Minimalist
>  School.  This group holds that there is no evidence, archeological or
>  documentary, outside the Hebrew Bible for a Davidic kingdom or for most of
>  the historical claims of the HB. Rather than a documentary hypothesis going
>  back perhaps 8 to 10 centuries before the Hasmonean Dynasty[, the]
>  Minimalists claim that in the post-Babylonian period schools of Judaism
>  produced the HB. <snip> The Minimalists claim that the HB was
>  written between about 400 and 100 and did not report but rather created a
>  history out of which a nation could form.

There must be more to the Minimalist School than you describe.  The numerous
inconsistencies,  changes in tone, changes in wording, and repeated accounts
argue that the Old Testament is a paste-up of pieces of text from a large
number of sources, ranging from the Gilgamesh legend (Noah's Flood) to
Akhnaton (one of the psalms) to various historical accounts.  Various bits
and pieces of the history in the Old Testament can be confirmed from
contemporary written sources or archeology.

Let's assume that the Old Testament was compiled by a Redactor, or a
Redaction Committee, in post-Exilic accounts.  Many proponents of JEPD
theories will agree to that, e.g. Friedman whom I quoted earlier identifes
Ezra as the Redactor.  What the Redactor, or Redaction Committee, used was a
large accumulation of accounts of varying origins, many of which had to have
been created before the Exile and faithfully transmitted (if oral) or
available in written copies (if written) since pre-Exilic times.

Either your description is incomplete or the Minimalists disagree with
everything I have written in the last two paragraphs.  I suspect the former.

>  Different schools may have share[d] some of the ideologies
>  of the authors assumed under the documentary hypothesis, but the schools
>  don't line up closely with JEDP.  <snip>  the Minimalists pretty much moot
>  question of J's  gender since there would likely have been no J.

There must have been schools which disagreed (e.g. Hillel and Shammai of a
slightly later era) and which don't line up with JEDP, but that misses the
point.  It is not difficult to pick out that part of the Pentateuch which
uses certain word choices, in particular the use of "JHVH" for the name of
the Deity (hence "Jahvist" or "J" for the postulated author).  This is the "J
Document".  Anyone who disagrees with the JEDP hypothesis, as you imply the
Minimalists do, has to explain why it is possible to split out the Pentateuch
so neatly into J, E, D, and P.

Now suppose we admit to the existence of a J Document.  Could this document
have been created in post-Exilic times?  Yes, it could have been.  (If so, it
still used at least one pre-Exilic source, namely the Gilgamesh cycle.)
However, the J Document still deals sympathetically with women in a way E, D,
P, and much of the rest of the Old Testament does not.  So we still have to
deal with the idea that J was a woman (or if J was a committee, that it had
women on it.)

Perhaps I misunderstand the Minimalists (and by the way, what is it that they
are minimalizing?)

    - Jim Landau

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