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Old Testament Scholarship 101 (Part 2 of 7)

A lot of us have heard of biblical terms like Pentateuch, Torah, textual criticism, documentary hypothesis, but we probably don’t understand what they clearly mean.  In our next conversation with Colby Townsend, we’ll define these terms and get more acquainted with Old Testament scholarship.  We will start off with how scholars determined the different authors of the Torah.

Colby:  So someone like Jean Astruc, actually wasn’t trying to create a new academic method for explaining why Moses didn’t write the Bible or something like that. He was actually somewhat of an apologist as well. He was trying to defend the Bible against the more critical work. So, for him, as he explained himself, the solution for him was to actually take the first part of Genesis, and to separate it into two columns. This is where you get the different sources. So, he started to notice the different use of the Divine Name.

So you have YAHWEH, as I pronounce it, most likely in Hebrew, and you have Elohim. He noticed that in Genesis 1, it is just Elohim. In Genesis 2, at least after verse four and on, it’s just Yahweh. I should note too, that often, in Christian circles, that name is just thrown around as either that pronunciation, similar to that or Jehovah, but it’s a very delicate name within Judaism, Hashem, or Adonai. Hashem is the name, usually what’s most commonly used. Bu Jean Astruc notices that the names are used completely differently. So he separates it into two columns. That’s where you first get the approach, to have what I think what he called was P–well, he didn’t call it that yet. He basically just called it the two…

GT:  It was J for Yahweh or Jehovah.

Colby:  Yes, but, early on, the other one was called E. You’re right. It wasn’t until much later, maybe even Wellhausen in the late 19th century, that it then becomes J and E, but E is no longer Genesis 1, P is.  Then you have J, E, P, D. But it’s a long development to get to the actual documentary hypothesis.

Check out our conversation….

We continue to get acquainted with scholarly terminology of the Old Testament and discuss when it was likely written.

426:  Intro to InIntro to Documentary Hypothesis

 

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Intro to Documentary Hypothesis (Part 1 of 7)

I’m excited to introduce Colby Townsend.  We’re going to jump into Old Testament scholarship and discuss how the Old Testament was put together.  Most scholars believe the Documentary Hypothesis is the best explanation. Colby recently graduated from Utah State University, and is headed to a Ph.D. program at Indiana University.  Over the next few weeks we’ll talk about how Joseph Smith may have been influenced by the Documentary Hypothesis as he translated the Book of Mormon.   Colby’s thesis won the Best Thesis Award this year at the Mormon History Association.  But first, we’ll introduce some terms used by biblical scholars.

GT:  I love to talk to regular people and say, “Have you ever heard of the Documentary Hypothesis?” They always say, “No, what’s that?”

Colby:  Right.

GT:  I know, in the scholarly world, everybody knows what that is. But for a lot of my listeners, we’re not scholars and so we talk to people like you, because you’re the experts. Can you give us a little bit of background? What is the Documentary Hypothesis? And then we’ll talk about your paper that talks about how it relates to the Book of Mormon. So that’s going to be really interesting. So, tell us about the Documentary Hypothesis.

Colby:  There are a handful of different terms that different people will be slightly familiar with, if they’re not too familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis right at the beginning.

Colby:  So, a lot of the time, people are going to be talking about historical criticism. So, when were texts written? Who were they written by? Those kinds methods and the tools that scholars use to be able to identify that kind of information. That’s historical criticism. I’m trying to remember exactly what it was in your post…. Sometimes people will use documentary hypothesis as an interchangeable phrase with historical criticism if we’re trying to understand different parts of it. [For example,] when was, text ‘X’ written in the Hebrew Bible? So, it’s important, because a lot of people will be familiar, probably even more so, with the phrase higher criticism. The purpose for that phrase, and the reason that it came about was that there was lower criticism and higher criticism. Lower criticism was the study of languages, philology, the way that Northwest Semitic languages all relate to each other. Part of the lower criticism is also textual criticism.

Colby:  Textual Criticism itself is finding all of the different manuscripts of a single given text. So if we wanted to engage with textual criticism of the Torah, the five books of Moses, we would gather together all of the manuscripts from Qumran, from the medieval [ages,] as far back as we could go, which before Qumran, the oldest manuscripts for the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible that we had only went back to about 1000 CE.

GT:  So Qumran is probably a better word, most people would probably [be more familiar with is] the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Colby:  Yes, thank you. So with the Dead Sea Scrolls, it shifted us back more than 1000 years in history as far as the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible goes, because we didn’t have any complete Hebrew manuscripts of the individual books of the Hebrew Bible that dated really very much further back from that.

We’ll learn other terms and get introduced to the documentary hypothesis.  Check out our conversation….

Colby Townsend’s thesis on the Documentary Hypothesis and Book of Mormon won the Best Thesis Award at this year’s Mormon History Association.

You might want to check out our previous conversation about the Documentary Hypothesis and the Adam-God Theory!

384: Documentary Hypothesis & Adam-God (Patrick-Shaffer)

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Documentary Hypotheses & Adam-God (Part 4 of 8)

The Adam-God doctrine identifies Elohim and Jehovah as separate beings.  However, the Documentary Hypothesis states that these two names were used interchangeably for the same god in the Old Testament.  I asked 2 members of Christ’s Church how they dealt with that issue with regards to the Documentary Hypothesis.  Apostle David Patrick and Seventy Benjamin Shaffer share how they deal with this issue.

GT:  As I understand the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea is the first five books of Moses were written by four different authors.

Benjamin: Right.

GT:  The J author refers to God as Yahweh; E [author refers to] Elohim because this is the point that I want to make here. I might be getting this backwards. In the Northern Kingdom, they referred to God as Elohim and then in the Southern Kingdom they referred to God as Jehovah.[1] And then the editors according to the Documentary Hypothesis combined them all. Really Jehovah and Elohim are really two names for the same for the one and only God. And if you go to the Hebrew, they basically alternate behind between Jehovah and Elohim as the same person. And so Mormons are heretical, because we say that Jehovah and Elohim are two different people but historically, especially in the in the five books of Moses (I hope I’m getting this right) the Southern Kingdom referred to Jehovah, the Northern Kingdom referred to Elohim but they’re really the same person. So how would you respond to that issue?

Benjamin: Textual criticism is a big rabbit hole to go down, a big gospel tangent.

GT:  Sure.

Benjamin:  And it is complicated, but I do have a couple things that I could say to that. First of all, we do believe in this unity of godliness. Jehovah is in Elohim as in El, right? These are different titles as David [Patrick] is explaining. Right? You can use those titles. Sometimes you can use those titles somewhat interchangeably. This is actually another evidence for the Adam-God Doctrine. If Michael is a title of God with God right in the name right there then you could call any of them by any of those titles without being incorrect.[2]

[1] I got it backwards.  Southern Kingdom called God “Elohim” while Northern Kingdom called God “Jehovah” according to Documentary Hypothesis.

[2] It should be noted that El means “god” in Hebrew.  Therefore the name Michael could be written as Micha-El, which includes El (God) as part of Michael’s name.

Benjamin talks further about how the Documentary Hypothesis might support the idea that Laban was helping put together the Torah under King Josiah.  What do you think of his explanation?  We’ll also talk about how Christ’s Church deals with evangelicals who like to ambush Mormons at places like the Manti Pageant over the Adam-God doctrine.  Check out our conversation….

Mormons believe Elohim & Jehovah are 2 different beings, while the Documentary Hypothesis says Elohim & Jehovah are 2 names for the same god.