Cassuto's Critique of the Documentary Hypothesis Resources by gjjur4356


									                 Cassuto’s Critique of the Documentary Hypothesis


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
        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.

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.

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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