the J author (was: Babel)

Herbert Stahlke hstahlke at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Fri Nov 8 23:10:54 UTC 2002


You're right on both counts.  There's much more to the minimalist school
than I described and they disagree with most of what you're representing,
essentially accurately, as the documentary hypothesis.  The name, BTW, was
given to them by their critics, I think because of the way scholars like
Davies and other minimalize the historical content of the HB.

However, going into a lot of detail on the various debates would go pretty
far afield even for this list, and so instead I'll refer you to a pretty
good web site that lays out nicely the ideas, the arguments, and the major

Herb Stahlke

> 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
> >  the historical claims of the HB. Rather than a documentary hypothesis
> >  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
> >  history out of which a nation could form.
> There must be more to the Minimalist School than you describe.  The
> inconsistencies,  changes in tone, changes in wording, and repeated
> 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
> large accumulation of accounts of varying origins, many of which had to
> 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
> >  Different schools may have share[d] some of the ideologies
> >  of the authors assumed under the documentary hypothesis, but the
> >  don't line up closely with JEDP.  <snip>  the Minimalists pretty much
> the
> >  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
> Document".  Anyone who disagrees with the JEDP hypothesis, as you imply
> Minimalists do, has to explain why it is possible to split out the
> so neatly into J, E, D, and P.
> Now suppose we admit to the existence of a J Document.  Could this
> have been created in post-Exilic times?  Yes, it could have been.  (If so,
> 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,
> P, and much of the rest of the Old Testament does not.  So we still have
> deal with the idea that J was a woman (or if J was a committee, that it
> women on it.)
> Perhaps I misunderstand the Minimalists (and by the way, what is it that
> are minimalizing?)
>     - Jim Landau

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