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I just finished “Who Wrote The Bible” by Prof. Richard Friedman
Posted: 16 January 2009 04:36 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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I didn’t see this book listed here.  Has anyone else read it? If not, I highly recommend it.  It’s an awesome read.  Also, does anyone have the Anchor Bible Dictionary?

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Posted: 16 January 2009 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Stephanie,

When I started my re-introduction to biblical studies 5 years ago, this was the specific book that I started with.  It makes a great case for the Documentary Hypothesis, which has dominated biblical scholarship for the past 200 years.  I especially enjoyed the perspective that much of the material seemed to derive from rival priestly clans struggling with each other for power.  “Damn the priests” as another author once said.

However, while this hypothesis dominated for so long, it is now considered passe by OT scholars.  There are at least 2 other primary hypotheses that have passed it by, based in large part of results from archaeology.

The hypothesis that currently dominates maintains that most of the OT (Hebrew Bible) was written during the Babylonian captivity or shortly after.  But there is a another hypothesis, favored by “minimalists”, that says that most of the Hebrew Bible was created during the Persian and Hellenistic periods.  In other words, right before the period of the Macabbees, Essenes, and Jeshua.

Take a look at In Search of Ancient Israel by Philip R. Davies for a brief summary of this perspective.

After some initial resistance, I have come to favor Davies’ approach, because it explains more than Friedman’s.

Have fun,  David

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Posted: 16 January 2009 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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DancingFoolVB - 16 January 2009 03:25 PM

However, while this hypothesis dominated for so long, it is now considered passe by OT scholars.  There are at least 2 other primary hypotheses that have passed it by, based in large part of results from archaeology.

The hypothesis that currently dominates maintains that most of the OT (Hebrew Bible) was written during the Babylonian captivity or shortly after.  But there is a another hypothesis, favored by “minimalists”, that says that most of the Hebrew Bible was created during the Persian and Hellenistic periods.  In other words, right before the period of the Macabbees, Essenes, and Jeshua.

Take a look at In Search of Ancient Israel by Philip R. Davies for a brief summary of this perspective.

After some initial resistance, I have come to favor Davies’ approach, because it explains more than Friedman’s.

Have fun,  David

Thanks David, I will definitely get Davies’ book. I have a couple of questions.  Does the hypothesis that currently dominates today’s scholarship still based on 4 source documents and an editor/redactor?

Is your copy of “Who Wrote The Bible” the edition released in 1996 with a new preface?  I see that Davies book was published in 1992 and released in paperback in 1995. In Friedman’s new Preface, he doesn’t discuss any new archeological finds but does discuss a group of scholars from mainly Germany who claimed to have thrown the field into disarray by challenging the dominant models mainly by claiming the bible was written earlier than first thought. Also, Do you know off hand what archeological finds have been discovered since 1996 that has made Friedman’s hypothesis now obsolete? Anything you can tell me will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Stephanie

[ Edited: 16 January 2009 04:43 PM by Stephanie]
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Posted: 16 January 2009 04:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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The biggest difference between the Documentary Hypothesis and the newer hypothesis is more about dating and the implications of the dating.  Davies maintains that the creation of the majority of the Hebrew Bible occurred only when scribal schools could be supported and had the purpose of creating a national myth to explain how things developed.  The piece that is most different is that he believes “Biblical Israel” was a literary creation that bears no resemblance to the archaeological record.  He maintains that the people who returned from the Babylonian Captivity may not have been descendants of the people who were deported, and that Persian imperial policy was NOT to send deported populations back to their place of origin.  The whole point of deportation was to prevent the people from maintaining their identity and force them to take on new cultural identities.  So the “returnees” may have had orders to create a new identity for the region, which the Persians called “Yehud”.

There is no question that various traditions, types of language, etc. were used by the scribes, so I can’t discount the Documentary Hypothesis’ identification of 4 sources, just the story of their origins and dating.

There is NO archaeological evidence to support the invasion of the promised land by Joshua (Judges).  None.

When you look at the archaeological evidence for settlement patterns and material culture, you cannot distinguish a Canaanite culture from an Israelite culture.  No differences.  So the Israelites were probably always there under a different identity.

There is NO archaeological evidence to support the Exodus story, despite numerous attempts to find evidence.  Davies has an interesting take on this, but I won’t ruin the surprise for you.

Cheers, David

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Posted: 16 January 2009 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I forgot the other part of your question.  The hypothesis that currently dominates—that the Hebrew Bible originated in the Babylonian Captivity, also changes the dating.  I believe this theory says that Deuteronomy came first, then the histories.  So the biggest different is how the traditions developed, more in reaction to Deuteronomy than to J/E.  Not sure how this theory affects the identification of the 4 sources.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Thank you so much for taking the time to write all that! It was a tremendous help and so fascinating! I can’t wait to read Davies’ book. 

Stephanie

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Posted: 17 January 2009 10:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I am also interested in the history of “god”.  While looking of Davies’ book on Amazon, I found “The Early History of God:  Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel” by Mark A. Smith.  Have you read this book and if so, would you recommend it? If not, is there is similar book you would recommend?

Thanks again.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Stephanie,

I posted a few related comments on my blog.  Take a look.

Update Religion

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Posted: 17 January 2009 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Mark Smith’s book is quite good.  But I would recommend Karen Armstrong’s book first or in addition:

A History of God.  I also like her volume The Great Transformation.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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DancingFoolVB - 17 January 2009 06:41 PM

Stephanie,

I posted a few related comments on my blog.  Take a look.

Update Religion

Thanks, I will.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 04:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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DancingFoolVB - 17 January 2009 06:47 PM

Mark Smith’s book is quite good.  But I would recommend Karen Armstrong’s book first or in addition:

A History of God.  I also like her volume The Great Transformation.

Thanks!  I will check them out as well.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 04:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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I see on your blog you follow “Debunking Christianity” blog.  I’m on there from time to time.  I’m reading John Loftus’ book right now.  He seems like an upstanding guy.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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I have not read his book yet, not any of the other deconversion-type books.  I am sure I will some day, but I have other priorities at the moment,  I am reading currently on the subject of violence in our religious traditions.

“Is Religion Killing Us” by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

“Fighting Words” by Hector Avalos

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Posted: 17 January 2009 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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His book is very thorough and covers every argument for and against Christianity. As you probably know, he wrote it for Christians to read, not skeptics. It didn’t get a warm welcome here.  However, I bought it because I was interested in what caused him to deconvert. Also, he explains the ontological and cosmological arguments in a way that I can understand.

I haven’t read any of Hector Avalos’ book.  However, I would like to read “The End of Biblical Studies”.

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Posted: 17 January 2009 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Ah, I recently read The End of Biblical Studies.  It will probably be the next book that I blog about.  Very insightful, but focused mostly on the academic discipline of biblical studies.  I agreed with most of what he said.  Have fun with that one too!

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Posted: 18 January 2009 04:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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DancingFoolVB - 17 January 2009 11:00 PM

Ah, I recently read The End of Biblical Studies.  It will probably be the next book that I blog about.  Very insightful, but focused mostly on the academic discipline of biblical studies.  I agreed with most of what he said.  Have fun with that one too!

Great!  I thought a book about the academic side of biblical studies would be an interesting read.

I’ll add it to my long list of must reads.

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