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Cassuto’s Critique of the Documentary Hypothesis Resources: Cassuto, U. The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1941 (Hebrew), 1961 (English). Cassuto, U. La Questione della Genesi. Pubblicazioni della R. Università degli Studi di Firenze. Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofica. 3 Serie, Vol. 1. Florence, 1934. Evidence supporting the Documentary Hypothesis: 1. Use of Different Names for the Deity Modern scholars argued that the Pentateuch was a composite document put together from several sources. One criterion for identifying the different sources was the use of the Divine Names. One source preferred the name Yahweh for the deity (accordingly labelled J) , whereas others preferred the name Elohim (E and P). Cassuto examined all occurrences of the divine names in the Old Testament. He states: … in all branches of Hebrew literature having a purely Israelite con- tent—for example, the prophetic writings, the legal sections, and the poetic literature in so far as it has a national or folk character—the personal name of God is always YHWH, and the other names serve only as appellatives [common nouns]. Conversely, in the wisdom lit- erature and in the poetry that has been more or less influenced by it, whose subject-matter is not exclusive to Israel but is of universal im- port (for instance, the poetic section of Job, the Book of Ecclesiastes and the like; and so, too, those psalms whose aim is to praise the Lord not only as the God of Israel but as the God of humanity, and to invite all mankind to join Israel in acknowledging and serving Him) the most usual name is ’El¤h£m or some other designation that was likewise to begin with an appellative, such as ’El¤ah or ’El. We have also seen that this difference in the choice of the Divine Name flows on the one hand from the original meaning of the Names and on the other from the literary tradition of the ancient East (p. 27). Both YHWH and ’Elohim are employed in narrative. Is this evidence of composite sources or is another explanation of mixed usage possible? See pp. 31-32. 2. Variations of Language and Style Variations in language and style constituted further support for composite sources. Cassuto examined these and found that the differences were based upon the Hebrew language in general and did not demonstrate idioms peculiar to parti- cular authors or sources. We can only take time to discuss two of them. The idiom hêqîm berît (he established a covenant) is said to be characteristic of P, while karat berît is found in other sources. Earlier we saw that these expressions are not two different ways of saying the same thing, one idiom preferred by one speaker and another preferred by another, but rather, the expressions indicate different mean- ings in a consistent way throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and therefore is basic to the language. Numbers in Hebrew may be given in either ascending or descending order. The former is preferred by P, the latter by J, E, and D according to source theory. In fact, however, the two orders indicate two different uses in all texts. See p. 52. 3. Contradictions and Divergences of View The proponents of the documentary hypothesis argue that the different sources provide divergent perspectives or views of the deity and that there are even contradictions between the sources (pp. 55-58). If God reveals himself in bodily form, the passage is from J, in dreams and visions by night, from E, and in speech alone, from P. Prior to Moses, there are seven dreams or visions. The name YHWH occurs in three of them which contra- dicts the character of E. In the four which remain, ’Elohim is used because it suits the content of the episodes in question. 4. Duplications and Repetitions Certain duplications or repetitions are seen to be evidence of an editor put- ting together different sources. There are two accounts of creation (1:1-2:3 and 2:4- 3:24). The experiences of the Matriarchs in the palaces of foreign kings: Sarah in Egypt (Gen 12:10-20); Sarah again in Gerar (Gen 20); Rebekah also in Gerar (Gen 27:7-11). The accounts of creation are actually complementary and not supplemen- tary at all. There are a number of apparent contradictions between the two. I have only time to mention one or two. Genesis 2:5 and 9 appear to contradict the fact that in Gen 1, the plants were made on the third day and humans on the sixth (pp. 74-77). 5. Signs of Composite Structure in Sections Genesis 27 is, according to the source theorists, a composite of J and E. See pp. 87-88.
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