C. S. Lewis Roundly Mocked the Documentary Hypothesis

C. S. Lewis Roundly Mocked the Documentary Hypothesis October 6, 2019

No one need accept the Documentary Hypothesis, and there are many solid reasons not to:

In the last two decades of Pentateuchal scholarship, the source-critical method has come under unprecedented attack; in many quarters it has been rejected entirely. . . . [various factors] have led scholarship to the brink of abandoning the four sources, J, E, P and D. (The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University: Spring 2009 Calendar of Events)

C. S. Lewis lampooned the theory in his letters:

This bloomer [a geographical error in his Screwtape Letters] has been pointed out several times already. The higher critics will use it to prove that the book was really written 200 years later by five different ‘Hands’ as they appropriately call them! (Letter to Thomas Wilkinson Riddle, 17 May 1944; in The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Vol. II: Books, Broadcasts, and the War, 1931-1949, edited by Walter Hooper, HarperSanFrancisco, 2004, p. 614)

I envy you parts of your obituary. You get in very essential points which I had missed — his scepticism and his way of converting the other person’s mere stammer into great truth. A higher critic would deduce from this either that C. W. [Charles Williams] had never existed or that one or other of us was quite unhistorical. (Letter to Anne Ridler, 3 June 1945, Ibid., pp. 658-659)

I have addressed the Documentary Hypothesis in two articles of mine:

Documentary Theory of Biblical Authorship (JEPD): Dialogue [2-12-04]

Documentary Theory (Pentateuch): Critical Articles [6-21-10]

I also have lampooned it and/or the general skeptical / liberal theological flawed and wrongheaded approach to the Bible at least twice:

Silent Night: A “Progressive” and “Enlightened” Reinterpretation [12-10-04; additionally edited for publication at National Catholic Register: 12-21-17]

A Satire on the Modernist Distortion of Jesus’ Human Nature and Denigration of the Reliability of Holy Scripture [1-11-00]

Bottom line: I reject what I regard to be false premises of the Documentary Hypothesis, as to biblical interpretation.

G. K. Chesterton and Fr. Ronald Knox also agree, as documented in the combox for this paper (below).


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Photo credit: stuartpilbrow at Flickr (3-9-09) [Wikimedia CommonsCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license]



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