The Kevins and I have had a wonderful discussion concerning aspects of higher criticism.Â One article that might be of interest to all parties is that by Stephen Kaufman, my professor, here is the bibliographic info: The Temple Scroll and Higher Criticism, Hebrew Union College Annual 53 (1982), 29-43.
Here is the abstract of this article:
The compositional techniques used by the author of the Temple Scroll constitute an almost perfect parallel to the composition of the Pentateuch as envisaged by higher criticism–a parallel, moreover, from the same literary tradition.Â Although the sources of the Pentateuch are only hypothetical reconstructins, the major source of the Temple Scroll is known to us–the Pentateuch itself.Â This provides us the opportunity to test the methods of higher criticism empirically by performing such critical analysis on the Temple Scroll without recourse to its sources and subsequently comparing the results of our analysis with the known sources.
Six major compositional patterns are identified in the Temple Scroll and each is examined to determine its character and characteristics, the possibilities of identifying that character through blind literary criticism, and the possibilities of reconstructing the biblcal sources used therin.Â It is shown that although the Temple Scroll demonstrates the feasibility, indeed perhaps even the high probablility, that the Torah, too, was coposed primarily of earlier, written sources, it also demonstrates that the attempt to identify and reconstruct those sources in other than their broadest outlines is a consummately fruitless endeavor.
This should give us pause as we attempt to delineate clear divisions between particular phrases and sometimes words to hypothetical authors.Â As Kaufman demonstrates, if we did not have the source material that the Temple Scroll used, we would be very hard pressed to reconstruct the sources they used.Â As Kaufman concludes, without the actual sources, we can only make very general remarks concerning the original materials that were edited together.Â In fact, in most cases, we are completely unable to recover the textual history at all.
I really like digital communication. It lets scholars communicate with each other with ease. In my last post (written from Cincinnati, Ohio) I referred to a post (written in Berkeley, California) on the subject of higher criticism. I was wanting to get Kevin Wilson’s take on it since he has done extensive work in this area and he graciously obliged (writing from Lithuania). Thanks for the insightful response!
If I might be so bold as to dip my toe into the discussion. I agree with Kevin Wilson, there is a constant re-evaluation of theories in light of new evidence. One might argue that the re-evaluations have not gone far enough, fair enough. But, we see similar methodology in examining sources of documents in other ANE literature–it’s not like the Old Testament is the only ancient document that undergoes this sort of analysis. For instance, see Jeffrey Tigay’s book: The Evolution of the Gilgamesh Epic in which he tries to trace the text history of that document. Keep up the great work guys, discussions like these make us all better.
P.S. I hope that Jim West is encouraged that there are still rousing discussions happening in the blogosphere!
It seems that there might be a bit of higher criticism on the brain in the blogosphere. I referred you to Kevin Wilson’s thoughts a few days ago and now another Kevin, Edgecomb that is, offers his view. Edgecomb works from William Hallo’s comparative approach to ancient literature and he states that the traditional documentary hypothesis is all washed up. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but I would be interested to see what Kevin Wilson’s response to this is…
Thanks to everyone who voted for my manifesto proposal on ChangeThis.com: Never the Same: How to Create Transformational Experiences.Â We’re shooting for the July issue.Â I know you want it now, but good things come to those who wait–it’ll be worth it.
I just recieved a mailer today from a biblical studies publisher and it reminded me of a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to learn biblical Hebrew. Russell Fuller has produced a new teaching grammar along with a workbook and DVDs of lectures.
I know what you’re thinking–not another Hebrew grammar! I feel you. I groan every time I see a new one, I bet there have been at least 4 or 5 new Hebrew grammars published in the last 6 months. So, what makes this one different from all the others gathering dust on the shelves? Fuller approaches teaching biblical Hebrew like Wooden approached teaching championship basketball. You want to learn a language–you need to know the fundamentals–and you need to know them well. If you get the fundamentals in place, the rest will follow.
Fuller’s method is the best there is. He combines reading a chapter, watching someone explain the concept on DVD, and physically doing excercises out of a workbook (or on a whiteboard in a classroom). If you want to learn Hebrew and you don’t have access to a school–buy the book, workbook, DVDs and get studying. If you’re teaching a class, integrate this into your semester, your students will thank you.
You might ask how I know this works. Well, I was one of Fuller’s students and now I’m doing a PhD in Semitic languages so it must have worked for me. (P.S. And no, he hasn’t paid me to say these things. I say it because I want to help you learn Hebrew and/or be the best teacher possible.)
Invitation to Biblical Hebrew
A Beginning Grammar
by Russell Fuller
Kregel Publications,Forthcoming December 2005
List Price: $99.99
Your Price: $89.99
“Even the just man falls seven times a day”
–Brother Callistus Crichlow
What can you learn from some monks about excellent scholarship? Plenty.
One thing we can learn from Brother Crichlow is that everyone makes mistakes. Creating an environment that accepts this fact will help scholars as they test out new ideas. Good ideas will (hopefully) stick and the bad ones will (hopefully) fall out of favor. If you penalize people too much for mistakes, it will make them overly cautious and not venture out into new ideas. Furthermore, you have to let yourself fail. You’ll never be right all the time, some people will call you names and scoff at your ideas, but you just have to pick yourself up again, revaluate, and keep trying. For an interesting read about the monks, click here.
Kevin Wilson has an interesting post on assumptions concerning the authorship of the Pentateuch.Â This is Kevin’s particular area of interest so his comments are all the more worthy of note.
Yitzhak Sapir reports that an underwater museum will be open for business on Friday in Caesarea. Anyone with a diving permit may strap on a tank and take one of the four tours around the 25,000 sf complex. Sounds pretty neat, I’d love to check it out! For more info and links, check out Yitzhak’s site.
The NY Times reports [free registration required] that college students are not brand loyal to their universities and are taking classes from multiple institutions to create their own educational experience. Students are sometimes transferring to 4-5 different universities before they earn their bachelors degree. Furthermore, a student may take summer school classes from a college while they are back home on summer break, they might take a class at another institution in the same city as their “home-base” university, or they take online classes as they simulaneous take “live-format” classes.
It’s all about students taking the lead and designing their own education instead of just recieving what a central administrator hands them. This is the education of the future. But, one thing you often don’t get with this “educational mashup” or even the current university format, is a mentor to guide you through the educational choices you make, and also to provide students with a role model and wise direction as they seek the tools to atain their dreams. The universities that will suceed in the world of educational mashups will be the ones that offer the greatest, most compelling and rewarding educational content and experiences, provide wise guidance and help for students as they form their mashups, provide incredible mentor experiences, and have a network of relationships with other institutions, organizations, businesses, and individuals that enables student to sucessfully design their educational experiences.
So, how do our present colleges and universities get to this level? What do you think?
Remains of the city of Ugarit. Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra) was located on the coast of northern Syria. The city is quite important for biblical studies because of its proximity to ancient Israel and the fair number of texts, including religious and ritual, that are extant. For more info on Ugarit see the wikipedia entry.