DH 24: Text or Author?

DH 24: Text or Author? April 26, 2014

Jupiter’s Child is much exercised about my discussion of authorship and the DH.

The purpose of the DH is not to make claims about authors. Its purpose is to make sense of problems in straightforward readings of texts. Claims about authors only follow the separation of texts,  … At this point I’m not sure whether he has read actual “documentarian” analysis, because this is not assumed by any source critic I am aware of, living or dead. Again with the authorship!

There are several issues here which Jupiter conflates and confuses.

1- Texts don’t write themselves.  If the DH posits four coherent sources from which the Pentateuch was drawn, it must necessarily authors for those sources.

2- Do Documentarian theorists talk about authorship?  Yes. All the time.  In what is arguably the most famous and widely read book on the subject, Who Wrote the Bible, Richard Elliott Friedman talks extensively about authorship.  If Friedman is not a Documentarian, then there is no such thing.  And, relevantly, David Bokovoy talks about authorship throughout his volume.  If Jupiter has a beef about dealing with theories of authorship, it should  be with Friedman and Bokovoy. I am responding to what Documentarians actually claim, not what Jupiter thinks they should claim.

3- By this definitional equivocation, Jupiter now wants to narrow the discussion to questions of pure source criticism alone.  But source criticism is only the first step in the Documentarian enterprise.  I am not merely discussing the first step.  I’m discussing the entire theory.  If Jupiter wishes to narrow the discussion only to foundational source critical questions, then he is not responding to me.  Jupiter is free to discuss whatever he wants, but it is just as silly for him to try to narrow the definition from the entire JEDP theory to pure source critical questions when that is not the only thing Documentarians discuss, as it is for Bokovoy to broaden the discussion from JEDP only, to any theories of multiple authorship.  Jupiter and Bokovoy are free to discuss what they want, but please, don’t pretend you are responding to my arguments by equivocating about definitions.

4- In a purely empirical and pragmatic sense, I happen to agree with Baden and Jupiter that the use of the DH should be strictly limited to literary questions of source criticism.  In other words, many theorists’ claims throughout the past century have been vastly overblown relative to what the method can actually demonstrate.  This is a problem with the theory as it has been used in practice throughout the past century.  I’ll discuss this later.  But, be that as it may, Jupiter’s beef should be with Documentarians who make extravagant claims of what they can demonstrate using the theory, not with me because I discuss and reject those extravagant claims.


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