How many animals did Noah take aboard the ark?

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Since everyone is all het up about Noah, I thought I would resurrect (sorry) a narrative I wrote 15 years ago for my book on science and religion. The “Friedman” I cite is Richard Elliott Friedman, author of Who Wrote the Bible? I used the section primarily to explain why scholars are convinced that the Hebrew Bible is a composite of two different but related methodologies (the documentary hypothesis), but it also shows the utter incoherence of the Bible when read as a literal history. The excerpt may be found below the fold.

How many animals did Noah take aboard the ark? Two of each kind, you say? That is not exactly what the Book of Genesis says. Rather, the story begins with Elohim telling Noah (Gen 6:19, 20 [Jewish Publication Society’s 1962 translation]),

And of all that lives, of all flesh, you shall take two into the ark to keep alive with you; they shall be male and female [note the terms, male and female]. From birds of every kind, cattle of every kind, every creeping thing on earth, two of each shall come to you to stay alive.

Friedman assigns this passage to the P document.

In the very next chapter (7:2, 3), it is Adonai, not Elohim, who tells Noah,

Of every clean [italics mine] animal you shall take seven pairs, males and their mates [note the terms, males and their mates], and of every animal which is not clean, two, a male and its mate; of the birds of the sky also, seven pairs, male and female, to keep seed alive upon the earth.

Friedman assigns this passage to the J document. Later in the same chapter, we learn that (7:8, 9)

Of the clean animals [italics mine], of the animals that are not clean, of the birds, of everything that creeps on the ground, two of each, male and female, came to Noah into the ark, as God [Elohim] had commanded Noah.

Friedman assigns this passage to the P document. Then, finally (7:14, 16),

… they and all beasts of every kind, all cattle of every kind, all creatures of every kind that creep on the earth, and all birds of every kind, every winged thing [went into the ark] … two of all flesh in which there was breath of life. Thus they that entered comprised male and female of all flesh, as God [Elohim] had commanded him.

Friedman assigns this passage also to the P document.

So what do we have? First, Elohim tells Noah to take two of each kind into the ark. Then, Adonai says take seven pairs of each “œclean” animal. Next, the P document tells us, almost as if P had been eavesdropping on J, that no, Noah has taken two of each kind, whether clean or not, as Elohim has commanded him. Finally, the P document repeats that Noah has taken two of all flesh into the ark. In short, there are two contradictory statements: Noah took two of each kind into the ark, and Noah took seven.

What about the term clean? It is taken to mean fit for sacrifice. Domestic animals are fit for sacrifice, whereas predators and animals that have wounds of any kind are not. The stricture against wounded animals means, in effect, that animals that have been hunted or trapped are necessarily unclean. The traditional explanation of these passages is that Noah was instructed to bring aboard seven pairs of each kind that was fit for sacrifice and two of all others. Presumably he did so in order to ensure that there would be enough clean animals to sacrifice. Why then does 7:3 say, “œof the birds of the sky also, seven pairs”? The birds of the sky, whether predators or not, will almost certainly have to be shot or trapped and will therefore be wounded if they are available for sacrifice. That is, the birds of the sky can never be fit for sacrifice, so one pair would have sufficed.

56 Comments

“Cattle of every kind”

How many kinds of cattle were there? Holsteins and Texan longhorns and Angus … Wikipedia List of breeds of cattle says that there are over 800 breeds of cattle.

TomS said:

“Cattle of every kind”

How many kinds of cattle were there? Holsteins and Texan longhorns and Angus … Wikipedia List of breeds of cattle says that there are over 800 breeds of cattle.

I thought “kind” was a genus, or maybe a family? So you have multiple families of cattle. Or just one, and “of every kind” is an oblique way of saying “and a mated pair of cattle.” Or was it seven cattle?

Ah, but most of those breed only evolved after the Flood!

Well, beetles are clean, at least according to one passage from an English translation, so how many of each species were brought in? Especially considering the Designer’s fondness for them.

Dung beetles presumably would do quite well, and flies would be wonderfully abundant, too, so no troubles there. One wonders how many aphids Noah brought along for the ladybugs, though, and how they were kept fresh. Carrion beetles probably ate the dinosaurs, which apparently died. Did Noah grow pine trees for the pine beetles, fig trees for fig wasps?

Come on, Ken, we need the science behind all of this.

https://me.yahoo.com/a/JxVN0eQFqtmg[…]X_Zhn8#57cad said:

Come on, Ken, we need the science behind all of this.

The “science behind all of this” means just making something – anything – up on the spur of the moment to ‘answer’ the objection.

Everything hibernated. The dinosaurs were all babies. Whatever.

Since miracles are all made up, it’s easy to make up whatever miracles you need.

That’s creation science.

All Noah needed was two of each “kind,” as after the flood ebbed and animals were again set forth upon the soggy earth, they immediately began to furiously breed, producing the creationist Noahian “explosion” of species after species evolving so rapidly before his eyes into the so many different animals we see today. Why, it even would put the Cambrian “explosion” to shame it happened so durn fast.

DavidK said:

All Noah needed was two of each “kind,” as after the flood ebbed and animals were again set forth upon the soggy earth, they immediately began to furiously breed, producing the creationist Noahian “explosion” of species after species evolving so rapidly before his eyes into the so many different animals we see today. Why, it even would put the Cambrian “explosion” to shame it happened so durn fast.

But it was NOT evolution!

Does Richard Friedman separate the Gilgamesh flood account into J and P as well?

Since we are neither creationists nor ID advocates, whoever proposes the Documentary Hypothesis has to specify what happened when. The Gilgamesh Epic is about 1,000 years older than the Noah account in Genesis. Supposedly the Genesis account derives from Gilgamesh. Did the J author read Gilgamesh and write down his take on the flood? Then did the P source read Gilgamesh and spin things his way? And then the Redactor “skilfully wove the two accounts together”? (Or not so skillfully.)

That sounds like a weird sequence to me. It’s simpler to assume a single Gilgamesh account became a single Genesis account (Occam’s Razor).

Or is Gilgamesh a single source J? Or is it P?

Do the Elohist and Deuteronomist sources play any role here?

And then the Redactor “skilfully wove the two accounts together”? (Or not so skillfully.)

Not so skillfully – because it is too easy to figure out that there were at least 2 sources. Presumably one came from 1 tradition and one from another. I see no reason to demand that Friedman provide an exact history; the words speak for themselves. Or can you suggest how (or why) a single author might have made it look as if there were 2 threads, sort of the way God put the fossils in the ground to fool us?

Carl Drews said:

Does Richard Friedman separate the Gilgamesh flood account into J and P as well?

Since we are neither creationists nor ID advocates, whoever proposes the Documentary Hypothesis has to specify what happened when. The Gilgamesh Epic is about 1,000 years older than the Noah account in Genesis. Supposedly the Genesis account derives from Gilgamesh. Did the J author read Gilgamesh and write down his take on the flood? Then did the P source read Gilgamesh and spin things his way? And then the Redactor “skilfully wove the two accounts together”? (Or not so skillfully.)

That sounds like a weird sequence to me. It’s simpler to assume a single Gilgamesh account became a single Genesis account (Occam’s Razor).

Or is Gilgamesh a single source J? Or is it P?

Do the Elohist and Deuteronomist sources play any role here?

The Genesis account does not derive from the Gilgamesh Epic. Common ancestor and all that.

The Gilgamesh Epic is definitely thought to be a compilation from various sources, but not in the same way as Genesis was apparently compiled (Genesis seems to be out to reconcile different versions of similar accounts, while the Gilgamesh Epic just picks a version). The flood story doesn’t fit especially well with the rest of the narrative, but apparently was thought important enough to include. The entire epic appears to be made of familiar Semitic tales, with the story of the snake and the herb that gave eternal life seeming to be related to the story of the Fall in early Genesis.

Glen Davidson

Genesis seems to be out to reconcile different versions of similar accounts

Or, in many cases it isn’t so much a matter of reconciling different versions, but of simply including bits of both. Political (regional, perhaps) interests appear thereby to be represented.

Glen Davidson

Both Richard Friedman and the Documentary Hypothesis come in for some serious (and well-deserved) criticism in this analysis from the Trinity Evangelical Church website:

“History of the Documentary Hypothesis”

http://trinity-evangelical-church.o[…]umentary.pdf

FL

It’s been conceded for some time now that the Documentary Hypothesis is, in its further reaches, overblown. The attempt to attribute passages in the Pentateuch to specific separate authors, and to deduce the chronology from what is assumed to be their contributions, is to build out from insecure foundations.

Nevertheless, the textual evidence from doublets, variations in vocabulary, outlook, narrative differences and style is sufficient to say that there were multiple authors and multiple sources. FL’s article simply handwaves these aside, engaging in special pleading to do so.

It goes further to assert that the tradition is right, and Moses wrote the whole thing, except the last few verses of Deuteronomy. Even more, it asserts that the text itself says he wrote it. Well, it doesn’t.

Dave Luckett said: It goes further to assert that the tradition is right, and Moses wrote the whole thing, except the last few verses of Deuteronomy. Even more, it asserts that the text itself says he wrote it. Well, it doesn’t.

It possible that the Omphalos Hypothesis is true: that God created the universe some few thousands years ago (or Last Tuesay) with all the appearances, from the beginning, of there having had a history of billions of years.

It is possible that God dictated the Pentateuch to Moses with all the appearances of its being written centuries in the future.

What I don’t understand is why any one would balk at the Mosaic authorship of the last chapter of Deuteronomy. Why could not God have revealed to Moses his death, burial, and future standing, and that Moses could not have also written that?

Dave Luckett said:

Even more, it asserts that the text itself says he wrote it. Well, it doesn’t.

You mean [gasp!] his source (and through it, FL) claims that the Bible says things that it actually doesn’t? I am shocked. Shocked, I say!

Have these people, in the end, no decency at all?

Just Bob said:

Dave Luckett said:

Even more, it asserts that the text itself says he wrote it. Well, it doesn’t.

You mean [gasp!] his source (and through it, FL) claims that the Bible says things that it actually doesn’t? I am shocked. Shocked, I say!

Have these people, in the end, no decency at all?

I have learned that people are capable of finding meanings in the Bible which I would never had expected. And that it is pointless to argue what the “true meaning” of the text is. Actually some of these interpretations go back far. See:

James L. Kugel The Bible As It Was Belknap Press of Harvard U. Press, 1997

The one exception I make is for pointing out some interpretations which clearly have been influenced by modern knowledge. Such as interpretations which reinterpret (“seemingly”) geocentric passages by accepting modern astronomy as a legitimate source in treating the Bible. i don’t mean that any such influence is wrong, but only that it can be inconsistently denied.

TomS said:

Dave Luckett said: It goes further to assert that the tradition is right, and Moses wrote the whole thing, except the last few verses of Deuteronomy. Even more, it asserts that the text itself says he wrote it. Well, it doesn’t.

It possible that the Omphalos Hypothesis is true: that God created the universe some few thousands years ago (or Last Tuesay) with all the appearances, from the beginning, of there having had a history of billions of years.

It is possible that God dictated the Pentateuch to Moses with all the appearances of its being written centuries in the future.

What I don’t understand is why any one would balk at the Mosaic authorship of the last chapter of Deuteronomy. Why could not God have revealed to Moses his death, burial, and future standing, and that Moses could not have also written that?

Thursday. He created it last Thursday. Not Tuesday. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphal[…]_Thursdayism

Real scientists are glad when new data is discovered, because it gives them additional ways to test their hypotheses and hopefully get closer to the truth. Richard Freidman’s field of study is the origin of the Hebrew Bible. The flood story in the Gilgamesh Epic is relevant to his field of study. Yes, it’s a big field. He does not have to deal with Gilgamesh in one particular book, or certainly in one particular research paper. But sooner or later the Documentary Hypothesis has to reckon with Gilgamesh and determine how that earlier flood story fits into the hypothesis. Paleontologists don’t get to ignore fossils. Proposals contrary to the fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible do not get a free pass to behave like the Intelligent Design movement.

To review, I registered a mild objection to the following model of the flood story:

Single text Gilgamesh -> dual texts J and P -> single text Genesis 6-8

Glen Davidson doesn’t like that model either; he proposes that the Gilg and Gen accounts derive from a common older source, not Gilg straight to Gen.

I don’t dispute that the Pentateuch has multiple authors.

When I read the original post, I tried to test the Documentary Hypothesis. How many animals of each kind does Utnapishtim say were brought onto the Ark? That information should tell us if Gilgamesh is J or P. Gilgamesh ought to be identifiable as J or P if the DH is true. Answer: My translation of Gilgamesh merely says “take aboard the ship examples of every living creature.” No animal counts are given. This is one reason why I don’t like the Documentary Hypothesis; it fails to make successful predictions.

I prefer Glen Davidson’s model.

Okay, just now I read Dave Luckett’s post, which I’m in agreement with.

TomS said:

What I don’t understand is why any one would balk at the Mosaic authorship of the last chapter of Deuteronomy. Why could not God have revealed to Moses his death, burial, and future standing, and that Moses could not have also written that?

I’ll balk at that scenario. It’s creepy! Try reading Deuteronomy 34 and filling in your own name.

I recognize that my objection is neither theological nor scientific. Yes, I know I’m going to die someday, but learning that I’m never going to make it into the Promised Land would be heart-breaking.

Carl Drews said:

Yes, I know I’m going to die someday, but learning that I’m never going to make it into the Promised Land would be heart-breaking.

What makes you think there is an afterlife?

Carl Drews said:

TomS said:

What I don’t understand is why any one would balk at the Mosaic authorship of the last chapter of Deuteronomy. Why could not God have revealed to Moses his death, burial, and future standing, and that Moses could not have also written that?

I’ll balk at that scenario. It’s creepy! Try reading Deuteronomy 34 and filling in your own name.

I recognize that my objection is neither theological nor scientific. Yes, I know I’m going to die someday, but learning that I’m never going to make it into the Promised Land would be heart-breaking.

One you allow mere human reasons for rejecting a text as being written by Moses, what about the other standard a-Mosaica and post-Mosaica?

TomS said:

Once you allow mere human reasons for rejecting a text as being written by Moses, what about the other standard a-Mosaica and post-Mosaica?

Carl declares:

Deuteronomy 34 was written after the death of Moses, by an author who was not Moses.

Reasons: Common historical sense. Examining the biblical text and making sense of it. Giving the author some credit for honest narrative. Trying to determine the original author’s intent. Not making up stuff that is absent from the text.

Carl Drews said:

TomS said:

Once you allow mere human reasons for rejecting a text as being written by Moses, what about the other standard a-Mosaica and post-Mosaica?

Carl declares:

Deuteronomy 34 was written after the death of Moses, by an author who was not Moses.

Reasons: Common historical sense. Examining the biblical text and making sense of it. Giving the author some credit for honest narrative. Trying to determine the original author’s intent. Not making up stuff that is absent from the text.

That is what it looks to me.

And by similar criteria, take Genesis 36:31 “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel”. That sounds like it could not be composed long before the reign of Saul.

Carl Drews said: My translation of Gilgamesh merely says “take aboard the ship examples of every living creature.”

Two males or two females - or single examples - could be “examples” of a species or kind…but I see a problem there. If Noah didn’t, the Ark may have been a LOT bigger.

Genuine critical analysis - way cool

Nevertheless, the textual evidence from doublets, variations in vocabulary, outlook, narrative differences and style is sufficient to say that there were multiple authors and multiple sources.

Well, actually, no they are NOT sufficient. The works of OT scholar Dr. Gleason Archer, especially his textbook “Survey of Old Testament Introduction”, make this very clear.

Meanwhile, I selected the first item you mentioned, “doublets”, and am offering readers an easy-to-understand article (one that is partially based on Archer’s “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties” and a couple excellent textbooks from other scholars), that clearly shows that doublets do NOT mean multiple sources.

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh11.aspx

****

You also mentioned the topics “variations in vocabulary” and “style.” That’s been responded to as well, in textbooks, and more recently via Internet. Again, a plain-English example:

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh10.aspx

****

By the way, TomS mentioned “a-Mosaica” and “p-Mosaica.”

That’s another issue, and again it’s one that Christians have responded to.

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh12.aspx

It’s a lot of information (and the textbooks have a lot more on these topics), but the important point is just for readers to be aware that the information exists.

To simply be aware that skeptical attacks (such as “Documentary Hypothesis” and “Multiple Sources”) really HAVE been responded to and countered by Christian scholarship.

****

Sure, I was taught about the doublets, the Doc Hyp and the JEDP and etc in the university religion classes, but us students were never taught that published, scholarly rebuttals such as OT professor Archer’s textbooks, even existed.

One time, I even snuck a hardback copy of Archer’s “SOTI” textbook into OT class, a new copy that I bought with my own cash, and quietly gave it away to another student, another church kid, who seemed very unprepared and unarmed (as I was initially) for the skeptical challenges that was being presented.

It just seemed the right thing to do. The church kid smiled, accepted the offer, and thanked me. It was a very good, very subversive moment.

FL

Hey FL.

Gravity waves.

Pretty cool, huh.

Please do not bait the FL troll – it is bad enough that I am allowing his comments, but in this case he is providing potentially useful links, which I may check out after I emerge from under a mountain of grading. I think I can safely predict, however, that Dave Luckett’s earlier comment will remain pertinent.

How many animals did Noah take aboard the ark?

After giving this a bit of thought, my answer is:

None.

Henry J said:

How many animals did Noah take aboard the ark?

After giving this a bit of thought, my answer is:

None.

Same as Russell Crowe. Imagine that! :)

FL said:

Nevertheless, the textual evidence from doublets, variations in vocabulary, outlook, narrative differences and style is sufficient to say that there were multiple authors and multiple sources.

Well, actually, no they are NOT sufficient. The works of OT scholar Dr. Gleason Archer, especially his textbook “Survey of Old Testament Introduction”, make this very clear.

Meanwhile, I selected the first item you mentioned, “doublets”, and am offering readers an easy-to-understand article (one that is partially based on Archer’s “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties” and a couple excellent textbooks from other scholars), that clearly shows that doublets do NOT mean multiple sources.

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh11.aspx

****

You also mentioned the topics “variations in vocabulary” and “style.” That’s been responded to as well, in textbooks, and more recently via Internet. Again, a plain-English example:

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh10.aspx

****

By the way, TomS mentioned “a-Mosaica” and “p-Mosaica.”

That’s another issue, and again it’s one that Christians have responded to.

http://helpmewithbiblestudy.org/5sy[…]es/dh12.aspx

It’s a lot of information (and the textbooks have a lot more on these topics), but the important point is just for readers to be aware that the information exists.

To simply be aware that skeptical attacks (such as “Documentary Hypothesis” and “Multiple Sources”) really HAVE been responded to and countered by Christian scholarship.

****

Sure, I was taught about the doublets, the Doc Hyp and the JEDP and etc in the university religion classes, but us students were never taught that published, scholarly rebuttals such as OT professor Archer’s textbooks, even existed.

One time, I even snuck a hardback copy of Archer’s “SOTI” textbook into OT class, a new copy that I bought with my own cash, and quietly gave it away to another student, another church kid, who seemed very unprepared and unarmed (as I was initially) for the skeptical challenges that was being presented.

It just seemed the right thing to do. The church kid smiled, accepted the offer, and thanked me. It was a very good, very subversive moment.

FL

Archer “responded to and countered” exactly nothing. He was a proponent of Biblical inerrancy, which is about useful in Biblical criticism as creationism is in sciences–they are both ‘god did it”. The recent abandonment of the documentary hypothesis has nothing whatsoever to do with his work. I have never seen his publications referenced in any scholarly article on the subject.

Incidentally, the new model of composition for something like the flood story goes something like this: imagine a small group of intellectuals with antiquarian interests. What they do is write and circulate old stories that to them seem to say what their culture is about. They use any old texts they have and what they hear from story tellers. That’s clearly how genesis 1 and 2 got combined–someone had two old stories he liked and pasted them next to each other in his scrap book. Imagine scribe A copying out the flood story with pairs of animals–but he knows he’s once heard it with 7 pairs of each animal, so added that detail in–maybe in the margin, and the next scribe put it in the text,as he does some other polishing–adding more narrative to connect the fragments. Years later–maybe in the time of the Maccabees–someone found a couple of these old scrap books and cobbled them together into Genesis. You can get an idea of how the process of re-use and transformation worked by comparing Genesis and Jubilees.

The documentary hypothesis, on the other hand, required that a single editor had exactly five texts before him that he cut into little bits ranging from a paragraph to individual words, and then glued them back together into the order we find, which is a bit much.

Gleason Archer was no fool. His work is not lightly to be tossed aside, no indeed. Rather, it should be hurled with great force.

It’s a crying shame. Here was a man who was a genuine scholar in the languages, but with a mind crippled and blasted by a presupposition - that the text is authoritative, inerrant and directly inspired by Almighty God. He filtered everything through that. Anything in the text that is incompatible with it couldn’t mean what it seems to mean. It must mean something else. Or nothing at all, as required by the presupposition.

As Helena says, he didn’t respond to or counter anything with evidence. All he offered was trenchant assertion and dogmatic denial, underpinned by one unfailing mechanism - omphalos. God can do anything, therefore anything can be explained as an act of God. Even where the text does not specify a miracle, if one is required, one is to be assumed. For instance, the miracle of direct divine inspiration of the whole text of the Pentateuch to Moses and its unfailing preservation through God knows how many copyists is to be assumed, because the text couldn’t be inerrant without it. And the text is so inerrant, because Gleason Archer says so.

It’s useless to argue against omphalos. All you can do is point to it. It’s useless to object that if natural cause can explain, then natural cause should explain. Omphalos is proof against that: God could have done it miraculously, and it can’t be proven that He didn’t, therefore He did.

It’s even useless to argue that to demand uncovenanted miracles, such as the one above, is an example of what Jesus called “straining at gnats while swallowing camels”. If sufficient miracles are rung in, the text could be inerrant. Therefore it is inerrant. The marks of multiple authorship are therefore to be dismissed. God and Moses could have done it all, therefore God and Moses did do it all.

That’s it. That’s all of it.

As I said, it’s a crying shame.

Dave Luckett said: It’s even useless to argue that to demand uncovenanted miracles, such as the one above, is an example of what Jesus called “straining at gnats while swallowing camels”. If sufficient miracles are rung in, the text could be inerrant. Therefore it is inerrant. The marks of multiple authorship are therefore to be dismissed. God and Moses could have done it all, therefore God and Moses did do it all.

Except the last chapter of the Pentateuch. Why, in that lone case, mere human reason is allowed to reign over what Moses, with God’s instruction, could have gone? One would show some consistency by saying that God dictated that last chapter to Moses, about his death and things that would happen some time after his death. After all, elsewhere in the Pentateuch there are passages that talked about things that were going to happen centuries after his death (such as there being kings over Israel), and they are not marked as prophecies, but no less matter-of-fact than the language in Deut. 34.

If there were some recognition of the modern commentator that this is somehow different, Deut. 34, where divine power was not being invoked, well, maybe, one might give him slack. Lacking that … the reader gets the impression that it is ad hoc, that “permission” is given to say that Joshua wrote this. (And, by the language of Deut. 34 looks like it was composed after Joshua, too, but let’s not get into that.)

Helena Constantine said:

The documentary hypothesis, on the other hand, required that a single editor had exactly five texts before him that he cut into little bits ranging from a paragraph to individual words, and then glued them back together into the order we find, which is a bit much.

Thanks, Helena. For those PT readers who are interested in examining the Documentary Hypothesis in detail and testing it, I recommend this book: “The Bible with Sources Revealed”, by Richard Friedman (2003)

Note the hubris in the title: he is going to “reveal” the sources, not “suggest” or “propose” where the text came from. That hubris continues in the commentary. I found that certainty annoying, but - you’ll get the full DH experience from “Revealed”.

Here is why you should buy or borrow this book: Friedman and the publishers have done a great job in printing the text coded by color and font so that you can really see and read what are the proposed sources (J E P RJE R Other). He deserves credit for stating exactly what are his textual assignments. There is some extreme interleaving of sources on a phrase-by-phrase basis, just like Helena mentioned.

Friedman (2003) covers the entire Pentateuch: Genesis through Deuteronomy. And for Deuteronomy 34 we have …

A mix of sources. How many of you were expecting that?

Deuteronomy 33 is assigned entirely to the source Dtr1, which goes smoothly into Deut 34 through verse 4.

Deut 34:5-7 are assigned to J.

Deut 34:8-9 are assigned to P. Or as Friedman puts it, “This section is P.”

Deut 34:10-12 are assigned to Dtr1.

The documentary hypothesis, on the other hand, required that a single editor had exactly five texts before him that he cut into little bits ranging from a paragraph to individual words, and then glued them back together into the order we find, which is a bit much.

I had always understood that the Redactor was not a single person but a number of people, not necessarily even at the same time. The idea that there was 1 Redactor and a lot of Bronze-Age Scotch tape is relatively recent and seems to me to be a considerable stretch. Nevertheless (whether or not we can find Mr. Drews’s transitional form between the Bible and Gilgamesh), someone, somewhere, sometime combined several sources into a single (incoherent) narrative. For that reason, if for no other, we cannot take the Bible literally – there are too many inconsistencies.

Matt Young said:

The documentary hypothesis, on the other hand, required that a single editor had exactly five texts before him that he cut into little bits ranging from a paragraph to individual words, and then glued them back together into the order we find, which is a bit much.

I had always understood that the Redactor was not a single person but a number of people, not necessarily even at the same time. The idea that there was 1 Redactor and a lot of Bronze-Age Scotch tape is relatively recent and seems to me to be a considerable stretch. Nevertheless (whether or not we can find Mr. Drews’s transitional form between the Bible and Gilgamesh), someone, somewhere, sometime combined several sources into a single (incoherent) narrative. For that reason, if for no other, we cannot take the Bible literally – there are too many inconsistencies.

Is not the “Documentary” in “DH” to be understood literally, that were actual physical, written documents, rather than, for example, oral traditions on which the redactor(s) relied? I don’t know whether that would make any difference, or whether there is evidence that leads one to prefer one over the other as the immediate source on which the redactor(s) worked.

TomS said:

And by similar criteria, take Genesis 36:31 “before there reigned any king over the children of Israel”. That sounds like it could not be composed long before the reign of Saul.

TomS suggests that Genesis 36:31 was composed sometime after the anointing of King Saul, because the wording of the verse suggests that “now” there is a king reigning over the children of Israel. Let’s see if Richard Friedman agrees with TomS by checking the Documentary Hypothesis. There should be some kind of source break at Genesis 36:31. Here we go …

(flip, flip, flip)

Ooh, look, there is a change in source right there! Genesis 36:1 is assigned to R. Genesis 36:2-30 is assigned to P. Genesis 36:31-43 (the rest of the chapter) is assigned to J. The Documentary Hypothesis wins a point. :-)

Unfortunately, TomS does not get to claim original research and publish a peer-reviewed paper in a Bible journal for making that observation. The note at the bottom of page 92 says:

*As early as the eleventh century CE[AD] it was pointed out that the Edomite king list in this chapter was made up of names of persons who would have reigned long after Moses had died. It was one of the earliest passages that scholars said must have been written by someone other than Moses. [Friedman 2003]

Eleventh century would be contemporary with William the Conqueror. Nice work anyway, TomS.

Here’s a short piece I long ago translated from a Norwegian book:

QUOTE Into this storytelling old adventure stories also were incorporated, and they were told as being as credible as the heroic epics. The motif in the story about Joseph and the wife of Potifar for instance is copied from the Egyptian fairytale “The two Brothers”. Of old an enmity existed between the semi-nomadic sheepherders and the Bedouins. In the production of myths, the sheepherders therefore made a story about how the Bedouins were descendants of a farmer that had fled because of murdering his brother. We recognize the story about Cain and Abel. They then equipped Adam and Eve with a third son, Set, who was made god-fearing and straight enough to be the one they themselves descended from.

In Canaan, drought was the enemy; high summer was the death of nature. But with autumn the rains came, and nature awakened to life again. The creation myth of the Canaanites therefore speaks of the dry, arid land that is being blessed by their God with rain and wells breaking forth. Thus life was created on Earth. Contrary to that; in Babylon floods were the dangerous problem. Their creation myth, that also became known by the Israelites and incorporated into their folklore, therefore tells that it began with water all over, then with land rising out of the water. The two creation myths are placed side by side in the Bible and they are both equally true and believable. UNQUOTE

In the production of myths, the sheepherders therefore made a story about how the Bedouins were descendants of a farmer that had fled because of murdering his brother. We recognize the story about Cain and Abel.

Except that didn’t all of Cain’s descendants drown? Or am I missing something?

Henry

Interview, The exodus is not fiction, with Richard Elliott Friedman in the quarter’s issue of Reform Judaism.

Henry J said: Except that didn’t all of Cain’s descendants drown? Or am I missing something?

How do you know that? All you have is the direct patrilineal descent of Noah. You know nothing about any of his ancestors outside that line, not to mention the four women on the boat.

Matt Young said:

Interview, The exodus is not fiction, with Richard Elliott Friedman in the quarter’s issue of Reform Judaism.

What was that a reply to? What that says is that the Levites were Semitic speakers who had once lived in Egypt. He suggest no evidence that they were slaves, or that Joseph was a real person, or Moses for that matter.

What was that a reply to?

Were the Jews slaves in Egypt? by S. David Sperling, and Torah is not history by David Wolpe, both in the spring 2013 issue.

John Harshman said:

Henry J said: Except that didn’t all of Cain’s descendants drown? Or am I missing something?

How do you know that? All you have is the direct patrilineal descent of Noah. You know nothing about any of his ancestors outside that line, not to mention the four women on the boat.

I hadn’t thought about intermarriage; I had the impression that that tribe didn’t socialize much with the people in the forefront of the stories.

Matt Young said:

What was that a reply to?

Were the Jews slaves in Egypt? by S. David Sperling, and Torah is not history by David Wolpe, both in the spring 2013 issue.

I meant “What post in this thread was that a reply to?”

IIRC, the most recently-discovered version of the proto-Gilgamesh narrative actually had the phrase “two by two”, matching the Genesis version exactly. So the Genesis version most likely came in some textual form from that common ancestor.

Not wanting to bait the FL, but for the sake of our general discussion:

FL said:

…simply be aware that skeptical attacks (such as “Documentary Hypothesis” and “Multiple Sources”) really HAVE been responded to and countered by Christian scholarship.

Of course FL doesn’t realize he shouldn’t say “Christian” scholarship. Because scholarship is scholarship and should be able to stand on its own regardless of who wrote it.

But more importantly, neither “Documentary Hypothesis” nor “Multiple Sources” are ‘attacks’. Not at all. They’re explanations. Models. Systematic theories.

Matt Young said:

Interview, The exodus is not fiction, with Richard Elliott Friedman in the quarter’s issue of Reform Judaism.

Hmm, this is fascinating. I’ve long suspected something along these lines…to me, there just seemed to be too much baggage for the Exodus story to be purely fiction. I don’t spot any glaring inconsistencies in the theory. It doesn’t stretch too far and it seems to fit the evidence pretty closely.

harold said:

TomS said:

It possible that the Omphalos Hypothesis is true: that God created the universe some few thousands years ago (or Last Tuesay) with all the appearances, from the beginning, of there having had a history of billions of years.

{snip}

Thursday. He created it last Thursday. Not Tuesday. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omphal[…]_Thursdayism

I am kind of a fan (not at all a believer, but a fan) of Next Thursdayism. God actually created everything next Thursday, and everything before that is a carefully constructed lie; our current existence is an illusion, a false memory created & set in place by the G-man when he gets around to the actual creation event. With deception on this scale, though, I have to wonder how setting up ‘Satan’ as the father of lies is at all useful.

J. L. Brown said: I am kind of a fan (not at all a believer, but a fan) of Next Thursdayism. God actually created everything next Thursday, and everything before that is a carefully constructed lie; our current existence is an illusion, a false memory created & set in place by the G-man when he gets around to the actual creation event. With deception on this scale, though, I have to wonder how setting up ‘Satan’ as the father of lies is at all useful.

It is applying merely human standards to gods to characterize this kind of behavior as “lying”.

Just we cannot call death brought about by gods “murder”. Every human (so far, at least) has been called to eternal bliss or punishment, as determined by God’s will, but we cannot call it “murder”, or “injustice” - it is the will of God. Nor can we call it “robbery” or “theft” when God takes our property from us. No can we call it cruelty when animals (or humans) suffer pain by the will of God.

So, too, when God intelligently, purposely designs the world of life to appear to our minds (which minds are also intelligently, purposely designed to come to that conclusion) as if were has been common descent with modification for billions of years, we are not to call that a “lie”. Or when God designs the Bible to make it look as if a product of an Ancient Near Eastern civilization, with the Pentateuch being composed as if it were written centuries after Moses, when the true facts are different. It is not a “lie” when God does it.

TomS said:

J. L. Brown said: I am kind of a fan (not at all a believer, but a fan) of Next Thursdayism. God actually created everything next Thursday, and everything before that is a carefully constructed lie; our current existence is an illusion, a false memory created & set in place by the G-man when he gets around to the actual creation event. With deception on this scale, though, I have to wonder how setting up ‘Satan’ as the father of lies is at all useful.

It is applying merely human standards to gods to characterize this kind of behavior as “lying”.

Just we cannot call death brought about by gods “murder”. Every human (so far, at least) has been called to eternal bliss or punishment, as determined by God’s will, but we cannot call it “murder”, or “injustice” - it is the will of God. Nor can we call it “robbery” or “theft” when God takes our property from us. No can we call it cruelty when animals (or humans) suffer pain by the will of God.

So, too, when God intelligently, purposely designs the world of life to appear to our minds (which minds are also intelligently, purposely designed to come to that conclusion) as if were has been common descent with modification for billions of years, we are not to call that a “lie”. Or when God designs the Bible to make it look as if a product of an Ancient Near Eastern civilization, with the Pentateuch being composed as if it were written centuries after Moses, when the true facts are different. It is not a “lie” when God does it.

So… moral relativism is the order of the day? Different moral standards apply to different entities, and at different times? Or is it just that the ‘Ultimate Authority ™’ on morality has no conception or comprehension of it? If we take the YEC position on ‘the perfectly moral and blameless life of Jesus’ (required so that he could become the perfect sin-offering, thus atoning for original sin) then either he could not have led a perfectly moral life because moral standards don’t apply to a deity, or he could not have led a perfectly moral life because he had no conception of what moral behavior was. This whole line of rationalization seems as thoroughly toxic to theism as the ‘Omphalos’ supposition – well done, sir.

TomS said: It is not a “lie” when God does it.

Richard Nixon said: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

Maybe I’d make it clear that this was not my opinion, nor of anyone else that I’ve heard of.

Just Bob said:

TomS said: It is not a “lie” when God does it.

Richard Nixon said: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

When did Nixon allegedly say that?

Just Bob said:

TomS said: It is not a “lie” when God does it.

Richard Nixon said: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

When did Nixon allegedly say that?

KlausH said:

Richard Nixon said: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

When did Nixon allegedly say that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejvyDn1TPr8

Matt Young said:

Interview, The exodus is not fiction, with Richard Elliott Friedman in the quarter’s issue of Reform Judaism.

John Harshman said:

What was that a reply to? What that says is that the Levites were Semitic speakers who had once lived in Egypt. He suggest no evidence that they were slaves, or that Joseph was a real person, or Moses for that matter.

Matt Young said:

Were the Jews slaves in Egypt? by S. David Sperling, and Torah is not history by David Wolpe, both in the spring 2013 issue.

John Harshman said:

I meant “What post in this thread was that a reply to?”

I’m shooting in the dark here but when you asked that I thought he was posting that link because of a comment from daoudmbo. I went back in the comments in this thread to check it out and realized daoudmbo’s comment was in the Noah movie article by Dave Thomas just previous to this one. My guess is Matt posted to the wrong article or perhaps posted here to prompt some discussion in this one?

Whatever the case, thanks for those links Matt as I was recently reading a discussion elsewhere on that very topic and the sources weren’t provided. In that discussion someone was claiming that unlike most cultures that interact through trade, war, etc. there is typically some linguistic, artistic, and other cultural exchanges that aren’t found between Israel and Egypt. Especially for an interaction that supposedly lasted for 400 years and involved the numbers of people whose loss would have economically (and otherwise) devastated Egypt and left no traces in its historical record. There is no evidence of the “biblical” scenario but like david.starling.macmillan I find Friedman’s arguments in the first link to be fairly persuasive concerning a much smaller population of Jews, possibly occurring in a shorter period of time.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 29, 2014 8:11 AM.

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