Friday, March 31, 2006

Critical Approach

The "documentary hypothesis" was a monumental step forward in our understanding of the historic process which led to the development of the Biblical text. However, in light of recent research, we are forced to conclude that the documentary hypothesis is insufficient to explain the Bible's unique characteristics. The most reliable evidence now indicates that the Pentateuch was actually written not by 4, but by 22 different authors.

The superiority of the 22-source theory is demonstrated by the fact that every single section of the Bible can be broken down into segments, each of which bears the characteristics of one of the 22 sources and of no others. Even among traditional theologians, the existence of 22 different styles used within the text has always been tacitly acknowledged. But until recently nobody had followed to the logical conclusion, that each of the 22 styles corresponds to a separate author. The failure of every scholar up to the present day to discern these variants as 22 distinct sources of the Bible can only be ascribed to theistically induced prejudice.

One example, from the beginning of the Bible, will suffice to show the strength of the 22-source theory. The book of Genesis begins with an excerpt from an especially early text, which we will refer to as "bet". (Following the lead of Israeli scholars, the various sources are referred to by Hebrew letters.) Immediately following this is an excerpt from a later source, "reish". The next section can be unmistakably identified as coming from the "alef" account of the Biblical story. Following this are short excerpts from the authors "shin", "yud", and "taf".

Next, the redacted story returns to the "bet" account. This section is then followed by selections from "reish" and "alef", and so on. The sequence of independently written sections continues throughout the Pentateuch, as can be verified by even a cursory reading.

The careful reader will notice that the source sequence "bet"-"reish"-"alef" appears multiple times within the small portion of Genesis which has been discussed so far. It is theorized that an early redactor, who had access to only these three sources, assembled them into a composite narrative detailing the beginning of the creation story. Later on, the final redactor inserted other selections, such as "shin" and "yud" and "taf", while leaving the intermediate redacted narrative mostly intact.

Current investigation focuses on the possible influence of a 23rd author, "space". Dispute centers on whether the longer and shorter quotations from this author are indicative of redactive intent and purpose. It is also unclear whether excerpts from "space" were meant to be part of the redacted narrative at all or were just added to make the scroll look prettier and easier to read. The fact that all other authors' texts are included within a framework of "space" is sure to lead to exciting further discoveries.

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