Arquivo Maaravi: Estudos Judaicos na UFMG

Arquivo Maaravi: Revista Digital de Estudos Judaicos da UFMG – Chamada para publicação

O Núcleo de Estudos Judaicos da UFMG convida pesquisadores, escritores e artistas a enviarem trabalhos para

Arquivo Maaravi: Revista Digital de Estudos Judaicos da UFMG

A publicação da Arquivo Maaravi é parte das comemorações dos três anos do NEJ na UFMG. A revista, semestral, tem, como objetivo principal, abrigar ensaios, resenhas, contos e poemas na área dos Estudos Judaicos.

Cada número possui uma linha temática que determinará um dossiê preestabelecido. Os ensaios enviados e submetidos ao Conselho Editorial irão compor esse dossiê. Os poemas e contos também serão de tema livre, desde que relacionados à área de dedicação da revista. Cada número terá uma entrevista com escritores, pesquisadores e artistas que se dediquem aos Estudos Judaicos.

A agenda da Arquivo Maaravi para os próximos 04 números é a seguinte:

:: Número 1: Dossiê – Shoah: arquivos do bem, arquivos do mal
Data limite para envio de trabalhos: 10 de junho 2007 (encerrado)
Publicação: setembro de 2007

:: Número 2: Dossiê – Torah: arquivos multidisciplinares da escritura
Data limite para envio de trabalhos: 30 de outubro 2007
Publicação: dezembro 2007

:: Número 3: O estranho, o mágico e o maravilhoso no arquivo da tradição judaica
Data limite para envio de trabalhos: 10 de abril 2008
Publicação: julho 2008

:: Número 4: Humor, ironia e controvérsia no arquivo da cultura judaica
Data limite para envio de trabalhos: 30 de outubro 2008
Publicação: dezembro 2008.

A arqueologia da Palestina que conta

True treasures of the Holy Land

Although sometimes overshadowed by the grand claims of amateurs, important discoveries are now being made by biblical archeologists on an almost weekly basis. In just the past month, researchers have announced five major finds in Israel, three in Jerusalem alone.

:: Beehives from the 10th or ninth century BC at Tel Rehov, in Israel’s Bet She’an Valley

:: A possible Egyptian fortress from before the time of the Exodus, buried beneath a seventh century BC Philistine village near the Gaza Strip

:: A quarry in Jerusalem that may have supplied massive stone blocks for the Second Temple, built in the first century BC

:: A wall, possibly from the Second Temple itself, found during repair work on top of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount

:: A huge city drain in Jerusalem dating from the time of the First Jewish Revolt in the first century AD.

A maior parte dos links são do blog de Todd Bolen, BiblePlaces Blog, onde, em geral, há belas fotos. The Boston Globe – September 30, 2007

Via Explorator 10.23 – September 30, 2007

Cline denuncia as constantes fraudes na arqueologia

Raiders of the faux ark

Biblical archeology is too important to leave to crackpots and ideologues. It’s time to fight back.

NOAH’S ARK. The Ark of the Covenant. The Garden of Eden. Sodom and Gomorrah. The Exodus. The Lost Tomb of Jesus. All have been “found” in the last 10 years, including one within the past six months. The discoverers: a former SWAT team member; an investigator of ghosts, telepathy, and parapsychology; a filmmaker who calls himself “The Naked Archeologist”; and others, none of whom has any professional training in archeology.

We are living in a time of exciting discoveries in biblical archeology. We are also living in a time of widespread biblical fraud, dubious science, and crackpot theorizing. Some of the highest-profile discoveries of the past several years are shadowed by accusations of forgery, such as the James Ossuary, which may or may not be the burial box of Jesus’ brother, as well as other supposed Bible-era findings such as the Jehoash Tablet and a small ivory pomegranate said to be from the time of Solomon. Every year “scientific” expeditions embark to look for Noah’s Ark, raising untold amounts of money from gullible believers who eagerly listen to tales spun by sincere amateurs or rapacious con men; it is not always easy to tell the two apart.

The tools of modern archeology, from magnetometers to precise excavation methods, offer a growing opportunity to illuminate some of the intriguing mysteries surrounding the Bible, one of the foundations of western civilization. Yet the amateurs are taking in the public’s money to support ventures that offer little chance of furthering the cause of knowledge. With their grand claims, and all the ensuing attention, they divert the public’s attention from the scientific study of the Holy Land – and bring confusion, and even discredit, to biblical archeology.

Unfortunately, when fantastic claims are made, they largely go unchallenged by academics. There have been some obvious exceptions, such as the recent film “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which inspired an outcry from scholars by claiming that archeologists had found, but not recognized, the tomb of Jesus more than 20 years ago. But much more common is a vast and echoing silence reminiscent of the early days of the debate over “intelligent design,” when biologists were reluctant to respond to the neocreationist challenge. Archeologists, too, are often reluctant to be seen as challenging deeply held religious beliefs. And so the professionals are allowing a PR disaster to slowly unfold: yielding a field of tremendous importance to pseudoscientists, amateur enthusiasts, and irresponsible documentary filmmakers.

At a time when the world is increasingly divided by religion, both domestically and internationally, and when many people are biblically illiterate, legitimate inquiries into the common origins of religions have never been more important. I believe that the public deserves – and wants – better. We have an obligation to challenge the lies and the hype, to share the real data, so that the public discussion can be an informed one.

It is time we take back our field.

. . .

The first archeological endeavors in the Holy Land were conducted not by archeologists, but rather by theologians primarily interested in locating places mentioned in the Bible. Pride of place goes to the American minister Edward Robinson, who toured the Holy Land in 1838, accompanied by an American missionary named Eli Smith who was fluent in Arabic, in order to identify as many sites mentioned in the Bible as possible – in other words, to create a historical (and biblical) geography of Palestine. Others soon followed, including Sir Charles Warren, a British general who explored and recorded the features of Jerusalem in the 1860s. None of these men were archeologists, but they made important contributions to the field.

Throughout much of the 19th century, the field of biblical archeology was dominated by men said to have been working with a Bible in one hand and a trowel in the other. The field soon became more scientific, thanks to the efforts of men like Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who introduced into archeology the dual concepts of stratigraphy (when two succeeding cities are built one on top of the other, the lower one will always be earlier in time) and pottery seriation (pottery types go in and out of style, just like today’s clothes, and can be used to help date the stratigraphic levels observable at ancient sites).

By the time Dame Kathleen Kenyon was excavating in Jericho and Jerusalem during the mid-20th century, archeology was in the hands of professionals trained not just in proper excavation techniques, but in the scientific method, and with years of schooling in ancient languages, cultures, and history. They also mastered bodies of literature and theory and spent years practicing their craft and being subjected to peer review. Theological motivation became less important.

Today there are strict standards concerning excavations in every country in the Middle East. Permission to excavate must be obtained from the proper authorities, with presentation of a detailed research plan, good reasons given for the questions being examined, evidence of sufficient funding, and often a strategy for conservation of the site upon completion of the excavation. Peer review of any large funding proposals is obligatory. In short, it is a serious and highly competitive field.

As a result, however, we have seen a rise of two cultures – the scientists and the amateur enthusiasts. Lacking the proper training and credentials, the amateurs are sustained by vanity presses, television, and now the Internet.

For example, in 2006, Bob Cornuke, a former SWAT team member turned biblical investigator – and now president of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute in Colorado – led an expedition searching for Noah’s Ark. Media reports breathlessly announced that Cornuke’s team had discovered boat-shaped rocks at an altitude of 13,000 feet on Mount Suleiman in Iran’s Elburz mountain range. Cornuke said the rocks look “uncannily like wood. . . .We have had [cut] thin sections of the rock made, and we can see [wood] cell structures.”

But peer review would have quickly debunked these findings. Kevin Pickering, a geologist at University College London who specializes in sedimentary rocks, said, “The photos appear to show iron-stained sedimentary rocks, probably thin beds of silicified sandstones and shales, which were most likely laid down in a marine environment a long time ago.”

Then there is Michael Sanders, who has made a habit of using NASA satellite photographs to search for biblical locations and objects. From 1998 to 2001, Sanders announced that he had not only located the lost cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, but also the Garden of Eden, the Ark of the Covenant, and the Tower of Babel.

Sanders describes himself on his website as a “Biblical Scholar of Archaeology, Egyptology and Assyriology,” but according to the Los Angeles Times, he “concedes that he has no formal archeological training.” Other newspaper accounts describe him as a “self-made scholar” who did research in parapsychology at Duke University.

And we must not forget documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici. He bills himself as “The Naked Archeologist” in a television series on the History Channel, but has repeatedly stated during media interviews that he is an investigative journalist rather than an archeologist. Jacobovici is perhaps best known for “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which first aired in March 2007 and which has been described by professor Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as making “a sensationalistic claim without any scientific basis or support.”

In short, the amateur arena is full of deeply flawed junk science. Important issues are cloaked in legitimate-sounding terminology, little attention is paid to the investigative process, and contrary evidence is ignored.

Biblical archeologists are suddenly finding themselves in a position similar to the evolutionary biologists fighting intelligent design – an entire parallel version of their field is being driven by religious belief, not research principles. The biologists’ situation makes the risk clear – they did not deign to mount a public refutation of the “science” of intelligent design for years, until it was almost too late, and thus anti-evolutionary science began making its way into the public schools.

Why are we sitting the battle out?

Partly, this is a matter of a strain of snobbery that runs through many academic fields: a suspicion of colleagues who venture too far from “serious” topics or appear in the popular media too often.

Partly it is a matter of the uncertainty of the stories themselves: many biblical questions are so shrouded in uncertainty as to be inherently unsolvable. For example, even if the Garden of Eden once were a real place, and even if we knew the general location where it might have been, how would we know when we had found it? When most archeologists and biblical scholars hear that someone has (yet again) discovered Noah’s Ark, they roll their eyes and get on with their business. This can leave the impression that the report might be true.

And partly it is because scientific findings may challenge religious dogma. Biblical scholarship is highly charged because the Bible is a religious book and any research carries the prospect of “proving” or “disproving” treasured beliefs. What if the Exodus might not have taken place as described in the Bible? Similarly, what will people do when told that there are identical stories to Noah and the Ark, but they were recorded between 500 and 1,000 years earlier sans Noah? And that the flood was sent because the people were too noisy and the Gods couldn’t sleep, not because people were evil and sinning? Or when you tell them that “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” was a concept expressed in Hammurabi’s Law Code nearly 1,000 years before the Bible?

This is where it can get daunting for academics, for it is at this point that the ideologues frequently weigh in. And these pundits are often sophisticated and convincing debaters, which can make them intimidating opponents for a scholar.

But we don’t need to go looking for Noah’s Ark to find confirmation of details found in the Bible. During the past century or so, archeologists have found the first mention of Israel outside the Bible, in an Egyptian inscription carved by the Pharaoh Merneptah in the year 1207 BC. They have found mentions of Israelite kings, including Omri, Ahab, and Jehu, in neo-Assyrian inscriptions from the early first millennium BC. And they have found, most recently, a mention of the House of David in an inscription from northern Israel dating to the ninth century BC. These are conclusive pieces of evidence that these people and places once existed and that at least parts of the Bible are historically accurate. Perhaps none of these is as attention-getting as finding Noah’s Ark, but they serve to deepen our understanding of, and appreciation for, the Bible.

Religious archeologists and secular archeologists frequently work side by side in the Holy Land. Among the top ranks of researchers, there are evangelical Christians, orthodox Jews, and people of many denominations. It is not religious views that are the issue here; it is whether good science is being done. Biblical archeology is a field in which people of good will, and all religions, can join under the banner of the scientific process.

Most archeological organizations, including the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Society for American Archaeology, state that it is one of the obligations of professional archeologists to make their findings and discoveries generally available. But we need to do more than simply publish research if we are to successfully counter junk science. We need to take our information to the public not only via writing but also via radio, television, film, and any other available media.

Remember that biblical mysteries are not just ancient history. For example, did Joshua really fight the Battle of Jericho and drive the Canaanites out of the land, as stated in the biblical account of the Israelite conquest of Canaan? If so, who was there first and to whom does the land really belong today? Does it matter? It does to many Palestinians, who exert a (dubious) claim as descendants of the Canaanites and Jebusites, and to many Israelis, who exert a similar claim based on their own understanding of their ancestors’ history.

Remember, too, that archeologists who speak out can make a difference. “Disclaimer statements” have recently been posted on Bob Cornuke’s Web pages concerning the Ark of the Covenant, Noah’s Ark, and the location of Mount Sinai. Now, for instance, we find the statement that the BASE Institute “does not make the claim that we have found Noah’s Ark. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions. In our opinion, it’s a candidate. The research continues.”

Even when our own investigations come up empty – we can’t solve all the mysteries in the Bible – we can present the current state of our evidence. And we can promote a shared methodology, and a shared body of facts, that can be used by everyone. The data and opinions that we provide may not end any debates, but they will introduce genuine archeological and historical data and considerations into the mix. We owe it to the ancient world, and to the people who inhabited it, to do no less.


Eric H. Cline denuncia: ao mesmo tempo em que vivemos uma época de fascinantes descobertas arqueológicas no Oriente Médio e que podem contribuir muito para a compreensão do mundo bíblico, vivemos uma época de fraudes generalizadas, pressupostos científicos duvidosos, teorias fantásticas e fanáticas sem nenhum fundamento.

É hora de dar o troco. É hora de denunciar. É hora de combater o amadorismo daqueles que se autoproclamam arqueólogos e que montam espetáculos grandiosos para ganhar dinheiro e vender ao público falsos produtos como as “descobertas” da Arca de Noé, da Arca da Aliança, do Jardim do Éden, de Sodoma e Gomorra, do Êxodo, do Sepulcro Esquecido de Jesus, do Ossuário de Tiago…

É hora da arqueologia séria também divulgar, através de todos os meios, as suas descobertas. O público merece e quer o melhor. E os especialistas têm a obrigação de desafiar e desmistificar as mentiras e o sensacionalismo das cada vez mais frequentes fraudes arqueológicas que dizem, via jornais, revistas, televisão, Internet e outros meios eletrônicos que, finalmente, a verdade bíblica, ocultada ao mundo, por séculos, pelas autoridades religiosas judaicas e cristãs, acaba de ser revelada.


Vi o texto no, do Jim Davila. A análise, escrita por Eric H. Cline, está em The Boston Globe – 30 de setembro de 2007.

Eric H. Cline é Professor no Departamento de Literaturas e Línguas Clássicas e Semíticas da Universidade George Washington, em Washington, D.C. Diretor associado de escavações em Megiddo, Israel.

É autor do recente From Eden to Exile: Unraveling Mysteries of the Bible. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2007, 256 p. – ISBN 9781426200847.


E preste atenção também a este comentário que está na página da “In a world that turns more and more to irrational views of history, Eric Cline demythologizes the ‘mysteries of the Bible’. He does so with the force of reason, using clear language and a perfect command of the ancient records and the finds from the field.” Israel Finkelstein, Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University, author, with N. A. Silberman, of The Bible Unearthed [tradução brasileira: A Bíblia desenterrada].

A literatura henóquica em novo livro de Boccaccini

Está para sair, pela Editora Brill, mais um livro sobre a literatura henóquica, editado por Gabriele Boccaccini e John J. Collins. Por enquanto, não tenho mais informações sobre esta obra, a não ser o que está na página da editora.

BOCCACCINI, G.; COLLINS, J. J. (ed.) The Early Enoch Literature. Leiden: Brill, x + 374 p. – ISBN 9789004161542.

Diz a editora Brill:
In recent years there has been a lively debate about the early Enoch literature and its place in Judaism. This volume is intended to represent that debate, by juxtaposing pairs of articles on several key issues: the textual evidence, the relationship to the Torah, the calendar, the relation to wisdom, the relation to the temple, the sociological setting and the relation to the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not the intention of the editors to impose a consensus, but rather to stimulate discussion by bringing together divergent viewpoints. The book should be a useful textbook not only on the Enoch literature and apocalypticism, but more generally on Second Temple Judaism.

Os rumos da Teologia hoje

A Teologia precisa “reinventar seu tradicional diálogo com as outras ciências em bases muito mais árduas”, afirma Afonso Maria Ligório Soares, Presidente da Sociedade de Teologia e Ciências da Religião (SOTER).

Segundo ele, a Teologia sempre esteve em diálogo com a ciência do seu tempo, mas, para dialogar, é preciso ter claro o que é próprio de cada interlocutor. Um teólogo que não dialoga com a ciência de seu tempo nem teólogo é.

Em entrevista concedida à IHU On-Line, Afonso Maria Ligório Soares aponta para a necessidade de construir “uma teologia pluralista não confessionalmente cristã, mas transreligiosa, plurirreligiosa, macro-ecumênica ou inter-faith”.

Afonso Maria Ligório Soares é Mestre em Teologia Fundamental pela Universidade Gregoriana de Roma, Doutor em Ciências da Religião pela Universidade Metodista de São Paulo (UMESP) e Pós-Doutor em Teologia pela Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). Atualmente é Professor da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP) e Coordenador do Departamento de Teologia e Ciências da Religião da mesma Universidade.

Confira a entrevista Para onde vamos? Os rumos da Teologia hoje, publicada pela IHU On-line, n. 237, 24 de setembro de 2007, p. 38-40.

Paolo Merlo analisa Kuntillet ‘Ajrud

O artigo de Paolo Merlo, Professor da Pontifícia Universidade Lateranense, Roma, sobre a inscrição de Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, na qual Iahweh aparece associado a Asherah, está disponível online. Em italiano.

O artigo foi publicado pela revista SEL (n. 11, 1994) – Studi Epigrafici e Linguistici sul Vicino Oriente Antico – do Instituto de Estudios Islámicos y del Oriente Próximo, de Zaragoza, Espanha.

Leia L‘Asherah di Yhwh a Kuntillet ‘Ajrud. Rassegna critica degli studi e delle interpretazioni (pdf).

Lembro que a descoberta das inscrições de Kuntillet ‘Ajrud e de Khirbet el-Qôm são muito importantes para se debater as origens de Israel e o sincretismo javista/baalista existente em Canaã. Há uma enorme bibliografia sobre o assunto.

Tomei conhecimento do assunto em ABZU e no blog Abnormal Interests, de Duane Smith.

Anchor Bible foi adquirida por Yale

Está circulando pelos biblioblogs (Jim Davila, Iyov), com sabor de comemoração, a notícia da aquisição da Coleção Anchor Bible, da Doubleday, pela Yale University Press. A editora promete acelerar o programa de publicações da coleção, daí a comemoração.

Quem é biblista obrigatoriamente conhece a Coleção Anchor Bible, com seus cerca de 115 volumes, valiosos comentários, o ótimo dicionário em 6 volumes, que tenho em um único CD…

Transcrevo de The Book Standard um trecho da notícia Yale Acquires Anchor Bible Series:

Yale University Press has acquired the Anchor Bible series from Doubleday for undisclosed terms. The series, which was started in 1956 with guidance from biblical scholar William Foxwell Albright, is a collection of more than 115 volumes of biblical scholarship. The overall series is divided into the Anchor Bible Commentary Series, a book-by-book translation and exegesis of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha; the six-volume Anchor Bible Dictionary set; and the open-ended Anchor Bible Reference Library series… (September 25, 2007, by Kimberly Maul).

Aprenda Hebraico

No dia 29 de junho de 2006, publiquei o post Site de Jacob Richman ensina gratuitamente hebraico moderno. Leia.

Depois, prossiga aqui, pois vi hoje no biblioblog do Dr. Claude Mariottini o post Learn Hebrew. E retomo o asssunto, com mais dados.

Jacob Richman, de Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel, nos informa que, em seu site Learn Hebrew, o interessado pode aprender cerca de 1700 palavras e frases de hebraico moderno, organizadas em 46 categorias diferentes, como alfabeto, animais, clima, comida, esporte, computadores, corpo humano, família etc.

Tudo com clara pronúncia e tradução para 5 línguas. Com possibilidade de impressão e outros recursos mais.

Sei, por exemplo, que o alfabeto, com bela pronúncia, pode ser extremamente útil para minhas aulas…

Hauser bate forte na teoria das fontes do Pentateuco

No Forum SBL de setembro 2007, Alan J. Hauser, Professor da Appalachian State University, Boone, Carolina do Norte, USA, publicou um artigo sobre a situação atual da pesquisa do Pentateuco, com o título de Sources of the Pentateuch: So Many Theories, So Little Consensus [Fontes do Pentateuco: tantas teorias, tão pouco consenso].

Hauser critica, neste artigo, fortemente, as muitas tentativas pós-wellhausenianas de explicação do Pentateuco que ainda permanecem no campo da teoria das fontes. Ele insiste que é preciso verificar com mais rigor os pressupostos metodológicos subjacentes a tais teorias: “In source-critical studies, the energy and focus have typically been on discerning the details and content of the sources. Rarely has there been a serious look at underlying methodological presuppositions. I want to raise a few of these methodological issues, pointedly“.

Hauser concorda com a insuficiência do consenso wellhauseniano. Mas também vê a falência das propostas posteriores, que não conseguem construir um novo consenso e atribui este fato a uma teimosa acomodação a pressupostos que deveriam ser questionados.

O modelo das fontes do Pentateuco, que insiste em sobreviver nas atuais propostas, é, para o autor, o problema maior. Ele diz, por exemplo: “… a key flaw of source criticism is that, rather than reexamining its conceptual framework, and rather than probing for its methodological flaws, it continues to generate nuanced reiterations of its central construct, assuming that the best way to study the Pentateuch is to divide it into its sources, place each into its own proposed historical context, and then interpret the content in this conceptual framework. Source-critics have rarely questioned the cogency and usefulness of this approach“.

Ele conclui que

Factors that should challenge the center of source criticism include our growing awareness of the complex interrelationships among the many parts of the Pentateuch, as well as with other ancient Israelite literature, both oral and written; the difficulty of reconstructing the particulars of historical contexts for specific periods/events in ancient Israelite history; our imperfect understanding of ancient Israelite literature, its conventions, its variety, and the ways in which creative writers played on these; and the promise of new methods that can help us better evaluate the text of the Pentateuch. Taken as a whole, these factors demonstrate the need for a thoroughgoing reassessment of the foundation on which source critical studies have been based for well over a century.

Entretanto: se alguém pensa que vai encontrar, neste artigo, uma solução para o problema do Pentateuco, desista…

Para mim, está claro: enquanto algumas questões fundamentais da História de Israel não forem resolvidas, não se chegará a um novo consenso acerca de quem, quando e como foi composto o Pentateuco.

O que sabemos do antigo Israel através da Bíblia Hebraica, para nós, hoje, não é mais uma resposta. É um problema. Como já notava, em 1992, Philip R. Davies.

Ora, no ano seguinte, em 1993, também Rolf Rendtorff já afirmava, com todas as letras: “Os problemas da interpretação do Pentateuco estão intimamente ligados aos problemas mais amplos da reconstrução da história de Israel e da história de sua religião (…) Não é por acaso que uma das mudanças mais importantes estejam ocorrendo com as hipóteses sobre as origens de Israel”. E completava: “Um dos muitos pontos de incerteza é a questão da identidade de Israel” (RENDTORFF, R. The Paradigm is Changing: Hopes and Fears. Em LONG, V. P. (ed.) Israel’s Past in Present Research: Essays on Ancient Israelite Historiography. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1999, p. 60-61 – ISBN 9781575060286. O artigo de Rendtorff, à época professor em Heidelberg, foi reimpresso da revista Biblical Interpretation 1 (1993), p. 34-53).


O artigo

Sources of the Pentateuch: So Many Theories, So Little Consensus

As I ponder the post-Wellhausian quest for sources of the Pentateuch, the myth of Sisyphus haunts me. The numerous attempts by source critics to delineate definitively and ground historically the sources of the Pentateuch sooner or later have stalled without reaching the hilltop, and the rock has become well worn from its repeated downhill journeys.

In source-critical studies, the energy and focus have typically been on discerning the details and content of the sources. Rarely has there been a serious look at underlying methodological presuppositions. I want to raise a few of these methodological issues, pointedly.

It is difficult when an old construct shows its age and flaws, especially when a new, consensus-driven construct has not yet appeared. However, the failure of a new construct to coalesce does not necessarily lend credence to an old construct that may have outlived its usefulness.

Determining the Sources
Without doubt, the Pentateuch contains diverse literary styles and units. This can be seen, for example, by comparing the literary structure and systematic ordering of Gen 1 with the story-like nature of Gen 2-3. Once that diversity is recognized, however, key issues emerge. Can we articulately and consistently use these different styles and structures to discern earlier pentateuchal sources, as well as the historical matrix in which they were composed? And, how much reliance can we place on any particular iteration of the documentary hypothesis as we reconstruct various aspects of ancient Israelite religion, literature, and history? Entire worlds of biblical scholarship have been built on the documentary hypothesis construct. But has this helped us to understand the Old Testament? I cite David Clines’s questions presented last year at the International SBL meeting in Edinburgh: “Is such a theory useful? Should I be interested in it? How important is it to have a theory of Pentateuchal origins?” [1] Many rigorous studies on pentateuchal sources have been published, but consensus regarding these sources continues to elude us. Yet, even if a stable consensus on the sources and their historical contexts were to appear, recent methodological concerns lead us to ask whether source-critical analysis is the best way to study the Pentateuch in the twenty-first century, since the conceptual framework for biblical scholarship is changing rapidly. See Rolf Rendtorff’s excellent survey of recent source critical analysis. [2]

A foundational assumption of source criticism is that the pentateuchal text is best studied when divided into sources. Recent literary constructs, typically J, E, D, and P, have been assembled using criteria of literary style, convention, and format primarily derived from our modern Western world. Unfortunately, seldom is there any awareness of how bound readers are to contemporary perspectives regarding proper literary style. A primary example of this is the inclination to find at least two literary strands wherever there is what we, by our standards, view as redundancy in the text. Repetition must indicate different sources, it is assumed, even though the received text must have made good literary sense to ancient Israelite writers or editors, according to literary standards they endorsed. If they skillfully blended the materials they received, why is their literary product not worth our careful attention? Why see it instead as an obstacle we must get past in order to achieve our scholarly goals? If we shape modern literary constructs as the sources we propose for the Pentateuch, why should we decline to value the comprehensive ancient construct these writers/editors assembled in order to understand their heritage?

If repetition/parallelism is a core feature of the poetry of the Hebrew Bible, as scholars typically assume, then why is it deemed unacceptable in the prose of the Hebrew Bible? Allan Rosengren recently argued this point. See his discussion of divergent details in the Flood Story (Gen 6-8), such as the number of pairs of animals taken onto the ark, or the seven pairs of clean animals mentioned in one case, but not in the other.[3] Source critics typically take such differences in detail as pointing to different sources, without asking whether ancient Hebrew narrative style may not have incorporated such diversity within its notion of parallelism. Along similar lines, when I composed a study on parataxis in the Song of Deborah, I was amazed at the tendency of scholars to dissect and shorten the poetry of Judg 5: 26-27 simply because its lines are deemed excessively repetitive, even for Hebrew poetry.[4] As I argue, such repetition has a clear purpose in this text, providing catharsis for the Israelite victors, which supersedes typical scholarly criteria defining “proper” ancient Hebrew poetic structure and meter. My analysis led me to realize how strongly scholars are tied to contemporary criteria of acceptable literary style, and how insensitive recent scholarship can be to the varieties of styles and creative options employed by skilled ancient Israelite writers. The implications of this observation for attempts to discern sources for the Pentateuch should not be taken lightly.

Historical Contexts of the Sources
While Wellhausen’s seminal work laid the foundation for subsequent source-critical work on the Pentateuch, Wellhausen himself saw his analysis as a prolegomenon.[5] That is, unraveling the pentateuchal strands was an entree to the more important task of reconstructing ancient Israelite history. Wellhausen’s primary purpose was not to study the subtle nuances of the pentateuchal text. In the intellectual climate of late-nineteenth century Germany, under the influence of historical positivism as advocated by von Ranke and others, this historical-reconstructive approach was the presumed proper way to study the Pentateuch. One wonders, however, whether such a methodological mind-set provides a good fit for twenty-first century scholarship.

There is thus a strong interface between Wellhausen’s source-critical analysis and the history of ancient Israel as constructed by modern writers upon that base. Proposed pentateuchal sources feed into the reconstruction of ancient Israelite history, which, in turn, feeds back into the study of the sources. Such reconstructions are essentially incestuous, and the opportunity for circular thinking is boundless. The key question concerns just how much reliable data we can derive from this circular process. This can be like trying to nail Jello to the wall. In order for the construct to stick, there must be an undisputed center. Finding such a consensus-driven core is becoming increasingly problematic, and new methodological issues, noted below, reveal the shortcomings of source critical analysis.

Source critical reconstruction presupposes sufficient knowledge of ancient Israelite history to reconstruct the specific contexts of the several writers/editors who composed the various pentateuchal sources. Today, scholars are questioning this presupposition, and the dates and contexts proposed for the sources vary considerably. For example, John Van Seters places J in the Exilic era, rather than, as typically has been done, in the period of the early monarchy. [6]

The Priestly source (P), considered the latest source of the Pentateuch, is commonly placed in the Postexilic era, a time frame in which any attempt to reconstruct ancient Israelite history struggles. After the events of 587, 538, and 515 B.C.E., Israelite history essentially drops off the radar screen, with only the time of Ezra and Nehemiah receiving significant attention in biblical literature prior to the Hasmonean Era. Yet, it is precisely in this historical black hole that the final compilation of the Pentateuch is typically vested. The uncertainties of this period therefore provide a wide-open breeding ground for theories about the communities that produced P, as well as the final compilation of the Pentateuch. There is little dependable, core knowledge to which these theories can be attached. Scholars are, for all practical purposes, given a blank sheet of paper on which they can compose the nature of the historical community responsible for the source(s) that scholars have reconstructed. Reconstructed communities feed into reconstructed sources, which in turn feed back into reconstructed communities. But what is holding the Jello to the wall? And how solid an anchor for the study of the OT are these pentateuchal source theories?

Other Methodological Issues
Another underlying presupposition of source criticism is that the final form of the text is of minimal value. However, an issue raised by Childs, and not taken with the seriousness it deserves, is the undeniable fact that for many centuries the final form of the text has been the basis for study within both the Jewish and Christian communities. [7] Thus, on what grounds does scholarship brush aside the final form of the text and replace it with a variety of hypothetically reconstructed sources? If there were a resounding consensus among scholars about the content and scope of these proposed sources, as well as the socio-historical context in which each was produced, one might be less inclined to pay attention to the challenge Childs and others have raised. However, an encompassing consensus on these points is precisely what has been lacking. There is consensus that the Pentateuch has sources, and that P is a late source, but beyond that, consensus gets quite thin. I am unwilling to make decisions about the nature of the Old Testament on the basis of continually morphing theories and constructs. We need to find a better approach. A serious dialogue between those scholars doing source criticism and scholars engaged in the numerous other forms of contemporary biblical scholarship would certainly help source critics address these concerns.

Based on modern presuppositions, source-critics often assume that a single writer, or a school of writers, is responsible for composing each source. Unfortunately for this perspective, compositional processes are typically far more complicated and dynamic than this simplistic approach presumes.

The Book of Isaiah provides an example. Scholars have recently come to see the complex interwovenness of First, Second, and Third Isaiah. No longer can we view First Isaiah as a unit, composed in Preexilic times, with Second and Third Isaiah created as unified, discrete pieces in subsequent Exilic and Postexilic stages. It has been argued, for example, that the final form of First Isaiah has been significantly influenced by Third Isaiah.[8] Scholars are discerning considerable intertextual influence among the three Isaiahs, rather than interpreting each as a separate piece. Thus, the book of Isaiah is being interpreted holistically, with growing emphasis on the ongoing interplay and cohesiveness among the various elements of the book. By analogy, we should consider the possibility that we likewise view the composition of the Pentateuch too simplistically if we talk of four basic sources by four separate writers. There could have been far more dynamic intertextuality among the many sources of the Pentateuch than scholars have heretofore presumed. Of course, this makes the process of reconstructing the sources of the Pentateuch and their growth monumentally more complex. This, by itself, may suggest that source-critical analysis has gone as far as scholars can take it. If scholars cannot agree about the content and historical contexts of four pentateuchal sources, what might be the multiplicity of theories if a more complex formative process must be considered? Sisyphus’s task would become considerably more difficult.

Many generations stretched between the time of David and Solomon, typically the earliest era to which a pentateuchal source is assigned, and the final compilation of the Pentateuch, commonly placed in Postexilic times. While, during this lengthy period, there likely was substantial interaction among the many pieces now found in the Pentateuch, there could also have been a great deal of interplay with other ancient Israelite texts, those in other portions of the Tanak, as well as others no longer available to us, such as the Book of Jasher (Josh 10:13), the Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kgs 11: 41), and the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num 21:14). Such intertextuality not only goes well beyond our ability to reconstruct it; it also beclouds attempts to propose a mere three- or four-stage development of the Pentateuch’s sources. Indeed, the growth of the Pentateuch was likely far more complex and interdynamic than most source critics have imagined.

While writing eventually comes into play, since the content of the Pentateuch did become a written text, it is all too easy, with our modern literacy rates and massive print media, to focus on writing as the main process in the creation of the Pentateuch. What if orality played a far more dynamic role, one that continued until the final transcription of the Pentateuch? Susan Niditch demonstrates how, regarding the relationship between orality and the written word, the ancient Israelite world was very different from our world. [9] Even intertextuality masks this, because the interplay of oral materials prior to their being written down may have been more extensive in ancient Israel than the intertextuality we can now observe in the written texts. This oral cross-fertilization can easily have continued until the final stages of the compilation of the Pentateuch. Orality is an extremely difficult process to track, but that does not mean we can ignore it, and only speak of writers in describing the creation of the Pentateuch.

Studies in ethnicity also promise to help enrich our study of the Pentateuch. James Miller’s article “Ethnicity and the Hebrew Bible: Problems and Prospects” will appear next year. [10] In it, Miller notes, “given the problems associated with detailed historical reconstructions of ancient Israel, I have suggested reading texts in terms of their function within a more general historical setting.” As these ethnic studies look beyond kingly courts and priestly circles, how much more might we learn about the impact of larger social groups and broader social movements on the development of oral literature subsequently found in the Pentateuch?

Deconstruction, when carried to an extreme, leaves only crumbs and shards, and no focal point. Source criticism, however, has erred at the opposite end of the spectrum, devising one ingenious Gestalt after another as a means of reconstructing pentateuchal sources. A key point taught to us by deconstructionists, and ignored at our own peril, is that we should continually reexamine our constructs precisely when we believe we have things figured out. We must relentlessly seek factors that could force us to rethink our positions. A center exists only to be challenged and decentered when forced to encompass what was previously marginalized. Centers are not absolute, and meaning conveyed is relational, not essential.

Deconstructionism teaches that we grow by being challenged, especially when confronted by new issues. Therefore, a key flaw of source criticism is that, rather than reexamining its conceptual framework, and rather than probing for its methodological flaws, it continues to generate nuanced reiterations of its central construct, assuming that the best way to study the Pentateuch is to divide it into its sources, place each into its own proposed historical context, and then interpret the content in this conceptual framework. Source-critics have rarely questioned the cogency and usefulness of this approach.

Factors that should challenge the center of source criticism include our growing awareness of the complex interrelationships among the many parts of the Pentateuch, as well as with other ancient Israelite literature, both oral and written; the difficulty of reconstructing the particulars of historical contexts for specific periods/events in ancient Israelite history; our imperfect understanding of ancient Israelite literature, its conventions, its variety, and the ways in which creative writers played on these; and the promise of new methods that can help us better evaluate the text of the Pentateuch. Taken as a whole, these factors demonstrate the need for a thoroughgoing reassessment of the foundation on which source critical studies have been based for well over a century.

Alan J. Hauser, Appalachian State University

[1] David Clines, “Response to Rolf Rendtorff’s ‘What Happened to the Yahwist? Reflections after Thirty Years’,” SBL Forum (August 2006).

[2] Rolf Rendtorff, “Directions in Pentateuchal Studies,” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 5 (1997) 43-65.

[3] Allen Rosengren, “Why is there a Documentary Hypothesis, and What Does It Do to You If You Use It?: A Response to David Clines,” SBL Forum (August 2006).

[4] Alan J.Hauser, “Judges 5: Parataxis in Hebrew Poetry,” Journal of Biblical Literature 99.1 (1980) 23-41.

[5] Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Israel (New York: Meridian Books, 1959 [1878]).

[6] John Van Seters, Prologue to History: The Yahwist as Historian in Genesis (Louisville, KY Westminster John Knox, 1992).

[7] Brevard Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979). See also Umberto Cassuto, The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch (trans. I. Abrahams; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961 [Hebrew 1941]); Benno Jacob, Das Erste Buch der Tora: Genesis (Berlin: Schocken Verlag, 1934).

[8] See for example, Marvin Sweeney, “The Book of Isaiah in Recent Research,” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 1 (1993) 141-62; and “Reevaluating Isaiah 1-39 in Recent Critical Research,” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 4 (1996): 79-113; Roy Melugin, “Isaiah 40-66 in Recent Research: The ‘Unity’ Movement,” in Recent Research in the Major Prophets (ed. Alan J. Hauser; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, forthcoming)

[9] Susan Niditch, Oral World and Written Word (Louisville, KY. Westminster John Knox, 1996).

[10] Forthcoming in Currents in Biblical Research, 6.2 (2008).