#74. On their first trip back to Canaan from Egypt, the brothers open their bags and find their silver at a lodging place en route OR home in front of Jacob? (Gen 42:27-28 vs Gen 42:35)

Continuing our examination of the two Joseph stories (#69, #71, #72-73), which a later editorial endeavor had woven together in Genesis 37-48, this contradiction picks up where we left off.

Genesis 42 displays a variety of doublets that reenforce our hypothesis that the Joseph story is in fact a compilation of two once separate Joseph stories. These duplicate renditions of the same narrative details once belonged to each of the two originally separate sources.

If you read the chapter closely you will notice that there are:

—2 mentions of the brothers having come down to Egypt to buy grain (42:1-4 [J] & 42:5 [E])

—2 occurrences of Joseph recognizing his brothers, but the brothers not recognizing him (42:7 [E] & 42:8-9 [J]),

—2 narratives outlining the choice to leave one brother behind as the rest go back to Canaan to fetch Benjamin (42:14-20 [J] & 42:23-25 [E])

—2 times that the brothers open their sacks and find that their silver has been returned to them (42:26-28 [J] & 42:35 [E]).

This last doublet is the only one that actually produces a contradiction in the combined JE text. Besides the difference in the location where this event happens—en route or at home—there is a difference in vocabulary between our two sources as well. Similar to the different word used between the J and P flood narratives for ‘dry ground,’ so too here one source [J] prefers the Hebrew word ’amtahat, ‘bag,’ while the other [E] uses saq, ‘sack.’

 J’s text
And they loaded their grain on their asses and went from there. And one opened his sack to give fodder to his ass at a lodging place, and he saw his silver, and here it was in the mouth of his bag (42:27).

E‘s text
And it was that they were emptying their sacks, and here was each man’s bundle of silver in his sack, and they saw the bundle of silver, they and their father, and they were afraid (42:35).


An excerpt from Stories from the North [E] and the South [J]:

Such differences or variations on the same story were often the result of a story’s flexibility in its oral tradition prior to it being recorded down. Stories and traditions were told and retold from generation to generation and often with slight variations or modifications, and these variations were often shaped by the concerns of the reciter or the community for which they were intended.

The ancient Israelites were no exception. They told stories, retold stories, modified their stories, recited them at festivals, and eventually wrote them down, collected them, and codified them as scripture. The Bible as it has come down to us preserves numerous stories, and many of them are duplicates—that is, a traditional story that was told in one manner at one place and time, and told in a variant manner at another place and time. In the end, these different versions were written down by scribes and thenceforth became unalterable. Later, editors who collected Israel’s various stories preserved both versions of the story, even when, as we shall see, they contradicted one another, or a later story was written to replace an earlier version! … read more

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21 Responses to #74. On their first trip back to Canaan from Egypt, the brothers open their bags and find their silver at a lodging place en route OR home in front of Jacob? (Gen 42:27-28 vs Gen 42:35)

  1. sure thing says:

    These brothers were on their way home, a 500 kilometer trek, after just being released from prison, accused of being spies against Pharaoh. On their first stop for the night, still well within “enemy territory”, one of the brothers opened his sack and found his silver right on top; his payment for the grain was returned. The brothers were filled with fear and guilt! They exclaimed, “What is this that God has done to us?!” This is the first time they ever mention God. They instantly recognize his hand is in this. Instead of seeing this free silver as the gift of grace it was, their guilt makes them feel as if God is setting them up.

    They sulked back home, again returning once more to their father, Jacob, minus one brother and plus money that they should not have. That must have been one hell of a walk (pun intended). What were the going to tell their father? How would they explain this to him? They agree that they would tell him “all that happened to them”… But they don’t say anything about being in prison. They definitely don’t mention anything about the found silver. Oh, and one other thing they fail to mention: Why it is they feel God is doing this all to them (because of what they had done to Joseph).

    Upon unloading their things, they emptied their sacks, and out fell each man’s silver! Imagine Jacob’s mind racing – what evil had his son’s done now! Did they steal the silver or did they steal the grain? Was their brother captured, or worse, killed in a treacherous heist? The silver is the very reminder of their sin! Even now they don’t confess. They are tortured slaves to their guilt, lost in their sin. How many lies have they told in these past 20 years, desperately trying to hide from the truth? Jacob has always suspected them of wrongdoing and now it looks like they are caught red-handed! Adding insult, they claim that they need to take Benjamin back to Egypt if they are going to get any more grain. There is no way Jacob can trust them with his last son. Now their deceit is threatening all of their lives, yet still, they can’t bring themselves to confess!

  2. sure thing says:

    But wait, why did Joseph put the silver in their bags to begin with? In the Jewish tradition it would be unthinkable to charge your family for food. By giving his brothers back their silver, he was recognizing them as family, reconciling them to him. Joseph, the man that prophesied the years of abundance and famine, who made the necessary preparations, and also the one who doled out the provisions was the very last person that should have paid for grain. Yet, that is exactly what he did – he paid the price for his brother’s sins! Even though the grain was given freely, legally, someone had to pay. Joseph is the foreshadow of Christ.

    True reconciliation requires reciprocation. If you never admit to your sins, you will never be able to accept that you have been forgiven. Not accepting forgiveness is the same as self-condemnation – by denying the truth, you damn yourself. This is the exact place Joseph’s brothers found themselves. Thankfully, through their full confession on their second visit to Egypt, they finally came to know their brother.

    This article is your worst “contradiction” that is not a contradiction that I have I read on this site yet! You are a doctor of words and can’t tell the difference between “his” versus “their” and “opened” versus “emptied”? The way I see it, the problem here is that you are so fastidiously dissecting these stories, intentionally seeking contradictions, that you see them everywhere you look, regardless if they are actually there. With your blind butchering, you absolutely kill these stories, voiding them of the author’s intended meaning. You claim to be defending the texts but have no clue what they are saying. How do you expect to defend something that you don’t know?

  3. KW says:

    That was a nice sermon, but don’t you think you’re the one reading into these passages the most? :-) Most of the internal motivations you ascribe to the brothers and their father are not stated clearly. I could just as well question why, when the first brother found his money back in his bag, the others didn’t think to check their own bags, er, sacks?, before they got any further and made the situation worse.

    It’s a touching story, to be sure, but it also splits very nicely into two self-sufficient touching stories! The moral of the original tale(s) is clearly that God was looking out for his servants, and that even the great land of Egypt can be put in subjection to a Jew and the good things they have be emptied out to God’s people (an idea that the Egyptians would have found hilarious if anyone told them this story). To go any further than that, especially with the Christ antitype you brought up, requires one to approach the book with the assumption that it is a single book written by inspiration of God.

    I’m sure you realize by now that Dr. DiMattei is instead looking at these writings as just that — very old writings — and all evidence points to them being a collection, a mish-mash that was created over time. You don’t have to buy into every detail — I personally am not convinced by point 2 above, the two times Joseph recognizes his brothers — but what the Doctor is doing is no different than what you are: he is building a case, verse by verse, for an overall understanding of the Bible.

    The connections he’s drawing are no more tenuous than yours on an individual case-by-case basis. The message that I was raised to believe the Bible contains (the Original Sin, prophecies and Law leading to the Messiah as ransom, fulfillment and redeemer) are not stated clearly anywhere in the OT, nor even very much by Jesus. They don’t get spelled out until Paul shows up. One then has to read his new meanings (foreshadowings, minor/major fulfillments, etc.) back into the original texts. I have to say that this traditional Christian exegesis is masterful and compelling for someone who wants to believe; Paul was very good at what he did. But on an individual basis, few of the verses seem to have any reason to be read that way and it’s only the gestalt that becomes an attractive belief system.

    Dr. DiMattei is doing the same thing — building a gestalt verse by verse, and personally I find it increasingly convincing…

  4. KW says:

    Phew, I really need to stop flirting with the reply character limit; I was 6 characters under that time, and still lost a few words at the end. Oh well. Another thing I thought was interesting was that Reuben and Judah both get a chance to shine once again as this parallel story-telling continues. Before, in 37:21, Reuben was the one who convinced his brothers to pitch him into a pit instead of killing him and in 37:26, Judah was the one who convinced his brothers to sell him instead of killing him.

    Now, in 42:37, it is Reuben who insures the safety of Benjamin and Simeon by offering his own two sons’ lives as a guarantee to Jacob. However, the brothers don’t go anywhere at that time. Then, in chapter 43, after the brothers go over the same subject as 42:29-34 with their father again, as to what they said to Joseph and why they said it (perhaps Jacob’s memory is going? ;) ), Judah speaks up in 43:8, offering himself as surety for the safety of Benjamin. He then follows through with this promise when speaking to Joseph in 44:14-34.

    I have to also retract my earlier doubt about Joseph recognizing his brothers being a doublet. If this isn’t two whole stories stitched together, I’ll eat my proverbial hat. One story, as Dr. DiMattei suggested, was probably told by Judah’s tribe and one by Reuben’s, so they both get their (slightly redundant) time in the spotlight in this final version. (Although the favoring of Benjamin in 43:34, 45:14, and 45:22 is interesting to me, where did that come from?)

    In fact, it looks to me like the redactor wasn’t allowed to remove or alter any words from the original passages. He was, however, allowed to add words to sew the stories together. I’m wildly speculating here, but I would guess that the stitcher added 43:10 as a (slightly sassy!) way to tie the two “surety” passages together. Judah seems aware of Reuben’s earlier promise and the fact that they did nothing but sit around and eat the rest of the food after Reuben’s promise was made.

    It’s fairly clever to have Judah be exasperated that they still haven’t returned to Egypt, even though in Judah’s original tale there was probably no Reuben passage and therefore no appearance of hesitation after Reuben spoke. Judah is perhaps, in a way, annoyed at the fact that his story got stitched together with Reuben’s and made them look foolish for taking so long to return to Egypt to buy more food and get their brother back! Just a guess on my…

  5. KW says:

    “…part.” Sigh. I was 26 characters under the limit that time.

  6. Steven DiMattei says:

    KW, I was wondering when you we’re going to step into the fray. Thanks for bringing some clarity and balance to the discussion. Your note about the doublet “security for Benjamin” passage — voilà #75! Also, as you rightly recognize, it’s one thing to note the contradictions and inconsistencies in the composite text as it now stands and realize that these are due to the later stitching together of two once separate version of the Joseph story AND then speculating on why this stitching was done, how, for what intent, etc. Your proposal is interesting. Sometimes the editor will lay the clues out for us as we will see in some of the Exodus passages.

    surething, I’m not going to add much to KW’s response, other than stressing again that your “nice story” is not, that I can see of, addressing the text in any manner, but rather the story and its meaning. You’re making conjectures about how the story is read in later Jewish tradition, what do various elements in the story itself mean, etc. All of this is not textual analysis per se, which we are primarily interested in here. How the story develops, or what themes are employed is a different set of questions, and does not address, nor negate, the narrative’s contradictions. As you note, partially, E’s Joseph story is a wonderful theological message, since God is presented as the agent behind the whole plot, doing good where one (i.e., Joseph’s brothers) percieves evil. In J’s account, Yahweh is never mentioned! Furthermore, my aims are not to provide interpretations about what the text means, and I am trying to leave that aside. But to notice what’s going on at the textual level. So noting that text A says “Jane crossed the road” while text B says “Jane did not cross the road” hasn’t even broached the topic of what does “Jane crossed the road” mean and how it was interpreted in later traditon.

    I started these Joseph contradictions by stating that this, like the Flood narrative (and the crossing of the Red sea as we shall see!) are used by scholars as classic examples of the Documentary Hypothesis. This is a 100 year old assessment of these texts that have stood up to the scrutiny and re-scrutiny of biblical scholars of all persuasions. Anthony Campbell and Mark O’Brien, who are theologians (!) have wonderfully examined this passage in great detail in their book, Sources of the Pentateuch, 1993. They start with the premise that the Joseph story is whole! But when one carefully reads it, the “seams” and “fractures” (to use David Carr’s vocabulary) in the narrative fabric start to emerge and it is these seams, fractures, inconsistencies, contradictions, etc. that strongly indicate where the stitching together of two once separate stories happened. Why this happened is certainly a more speculative question. Campbell & O’Brien’s book gives you, if you’re interested, the whole reconstructed Yahwist text, then the Elohist, and Priestly texts. Again their whole program has been listening to the text! Ibid for Carr, Friedman, etc. There is some really excellent textual analysis going on here. I’m trying to bring some of that to the public. Right, the ramifications of this study is where the real and difficult conversation needs to occur. But we must be honest to these ancient texts, understand why they were written and to whom, understand how they get reinterpreted, re-envisioned in later interpretive traditions and why, how meaning is conveyed through these traditions and why, etc…

  7. KW says:

    Ha, indeed, there’s #75! I wasn’t even going to mention that doublet because I thought you surely would have seen it and I didn’t want to step on your toes if you were going to write about it, except that you had seemingly already covered the overall passage, and I saw an opportunity to reinforce the point I was making to sure thing about how redundant the story is.

    Anyway, I know from experience how Christian Bible interpretation is a bit like a stack of pancakes. A single pancake isn’t enough to satisfy you — and the pancake on top is no more filling than the one on the bottom. But when you add enough of them together, it makes for a good meal. Similarly, when someone is told that this OT story and that OT story foreshadow Christ, the individual assertions do not have a lot of weight to them. It’s only because there’s so many individual claims being stacked onto each other that it eventually becomes compelling enough that someone who is willing to believe will feel that they have a lot of evidence for their beliefs.

    It could be that what Dr. DiMattei is doing here is not convincing because you focus on each specific contradiction, or take the word “contradiction” more literally than he intends it to be applied to some of these scriptural “fractures”. But it’s not much different from how I was taught that the Bible was one message from one true God: one thing adds onto another to support a conclusion. One difference, however, is that this modern reading of the Bible is detecting a clear difference in “voice” between passages that traditionally were written by one person (Moses, in this case) and these differing voices sometimes provide answers to questions that many religious thinkers have had over the years about certain oddities in the text.

  8. KW says:

    Ultimately, there are Christians who accept the Documentary Hypothesis, or just generally the idea that the Bible is not inerrant, and yet still are able to have a strong faith in God and in Jesus. Likewise, many Christians now accept evolution, even though they believe that God started or guided the process, rather than life being an accidental product.

    There’s no need to abandon faith in order to see the reasonableness of what is being suggested here — which, as the writer points out, is based on over 100 years of progressive work. Evolution theory was much more tenuous when first suggested, but fossil discoveries, DNA analysis, etc. have reduced the debate over evolution to a matter of details (“Did it happen like this or like this?”). I don’t agree with 100% of the contradictions posted here so far, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t increasing evidence in favor of the overall theory that the OT is a patchwork of preserved folk tales and various warnings and laws from priestly factions, nor does it preclude a person from having faith in God.

  9. sure thing says:

    I do value both point-of-views (and thank you for the suggested reading). However, I find it severely disingenuous that you say we need to be honest to these ancient texts and then alter the words to support your claims – this is blatantly obvious just with the title of this article:

    #74. On their first trip back to Canaan from Egypt, the brothers open their bags and find their silver at a lodging place en route OR home in front of Jacob? (Gen 42:27-28 vs Gen 42:35)

    You conveniently change the story of one brother finding silver in Egypt to all brothers finding silver in order to support your claims. You can talk about honesty all you like, but when your actions show otherwise you have zero credibility. Unfortunately, a lot of people reading your article won’t be as astute at noticing your (intentional?) deception.

  10. Steven DiMattei says:

    It’s not about me. It’s about the texts. If I’ve mis-stated a passage, per your reading!, ok, I’ll take responsibility. But this is all about the texts! It seems that you’re still refusing to listen to them. This one narrative detail does not alter the conclusion reached here, and certainly doesn’t refute my claim of being honest to the texts. In fact it highlights once again the differences in the oral tradition of this story’s tellings before they were written down. Finally, there have been much smarter people than myself, and much more faith-oriented than myself, who have nonetheless concluded the same after listening to the text, i.e., not the text through a later interpretive tradition. I think KW has written a nice response.

  11. Steven DiMattei says:

    As usual, elegantly and well said!

    Indeed, many of my colleagues who know the Bible is a man-made text, a composite of various sources each with their competing views, are faith-oriented individuals. I remember a student I once had who felt decimated when we were doing Daniel and he found out that the text has nothing what so ever to do with a prophecy of Christ. The text makes no such claims, and a proper understanding of when this text was written, why, and to whom, sheds light on the text’s symbolism and why it is even used. We had a long discussion about why he felt that his faith needed to be defined as a believe in—not even the inerrancy of the text—but that it supported his Christian views as taught via later Christian tradition, and then packaged as the word of God! I would argue that although I may understand why and how such later interpretive traditions get formed, and understand their significance, they are nevertheless abusive to the texts, their original authors, and why and to whom they wrote. Indeed, the text’s interpretive tradition presents itself as the authoritative voice that has correctly interpreted the text. But this is the phenomenon of textual traditions in general, and the Bible is a collection of them. We will see this first hand when we get to Deuteronomy.

    What if modern faith has really nothing to do about these texts in their own historical and literary contexts, and has more to do with how these texts are perceived, read, understood, interpreted through later interpretive traditions, such as the one that goes by the name “the Bible,” which prescribes that the reader read the text as a “book”—as the holy book!? This too was formed by readers with particular agendas living centuries after these texts were written. What if faith is a cultural, community, or individual construct (for lack of a better word here) that is formed and verified through interpretive lenses, interpretive traditions, or authoritative traditions, and nothing more? I might preliminary respond: and so what if it is? These are by no means easy questions. And I realize that people build lives, meaningful lives, on this sort of faith.

  12. sure thing says:

    It would be nice if we all started with universally accept lexicons. When you say “faith”, you mean something completely different from what I hear. When I say “God”, I imply something that you envision completely different from what I mean. We all come to the conversation with our own interpretive lenses. No matter the strength of any of our arguments, there is no “proof”. You place faith in your interpretation and I in mine.

    I hope you see the fact that I have found my way to your site shows that I am seeking the “truth” despite the natural tendency to drag my feet through my indoctrination – is it ever possible to escape that which has defined us?

    If I’ve mis-stated a passage,

    You are deflecting. There is no “if”. Period.

    per your reading!,

    And this is your attempt at disqualify the truth because of the source – in this case me.

    [If… then…] ok, I’ll take responsibility.

    But you haven’t have you? You stating your willingness to take responsibility is nothing more than some hand-waving. If you were actually a man of your words, you would have already fixed your error.

    It’s not about me. It’s about the texts.

    Indeed, it is about the texts, but it is also about you (us). When we speak the texts, we are acting as ambassadors on their behalf. You have repeatedly made the claim that you are speaking for the original authors. The way you interpret, and discount, my words speaks volumes towards your professionalism and bias in the way you choose to interpret the biblical texts as well. It follows that with the same (dis)honesty that show me, you also show the texts. With that said, I take no offense in your words; we are all liars in some fashion.

    As it is, I find it is far more appropriate to place my faith in the Jewish tradition that out dates the Documentary tradition by a few thousand years. They are by far closer to the source – directly from those that wrote them. It is funny to me that you call the “later interpretive tradition” an “abuse to the texts” when the entire Documentary Hypothesis is a much later (100 year old) interpretive tradition! Please tell me you see the irony in this, right?

  13. sure thing says:

    I am not seeking to discredit your work – quite the opposite. It certainly has value.

    I have shared the “traditional interpretations” because I find them relevant in understanding the text, giving us a wider view for the textual analysis.

  14. Steven DiMattei says:

    You’re still not getting it. Read the What is the Bible? post or How the biblical texts reveal to us that they ain’t history post. The DH is not an interpretive tradition: Christianity is an interpretive tradition on the OT, the label “Bible” which means “Book” is a later imposed interpretive framework on earlier and once independent texts, any reading community over the last 2,000 years is an interpretive tradition. These are all reader-oriented readings of the text through later interpretive traditions, such as the main one that goes by the name “Holy Book.” Soon we will see some really transparent whole rewritings made by later authors on earlier texts, both of which are preserved in the Bible. The Deuteronomist will have in front of him the Elohist text, but have Moses renarrate the same stories, the same “history” in contradictory fashion, ditto for the Chronicler on Samuel-Kings, Daniel on Jeremiah, P on J (no that’s not a sandwhich), NT authors on OT texts, etc, etc, etc. The goal here is to honor each text as it was individually written, to read and understand them as products of their historical circumstances and how they interacted with other texts in their historical context — the authors and their texts are our concern. The Bible is a whole other thing. It is a later prescriptive lens that prescribes, not describes, its content—i.e., these various and competing texts. Again that preliminary query is here What is the Bible? or Studying the Bible objectively. These are good starting points.

  15. sure thing says:

    That’s okay, you still aren’t getting it either. The oldest pieces of the OT we have date to c. 400 BC. This is well after all redactions. This means all of the proposed “contradictions”, “seams”, “fractures”, etc. are based on interpretation from completed texts – I.e., the biblical manuscripts which were compiled into the “Bible” (and Bible means “library” by the way). The DH is a modern attempt at “reconstructing” the texts prior to redaction. The DH is entirely based on modern influenced assumptions which are entirely based on modern biased feelings. As it is right now, there are zero manuscripts prior to redaction. All of the DH work amounts to is unverifiable guesses.

    If this isn’t true, show me one text prior to redaction. Just one. Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath.

  16. Steven DiMattei says:

    Again this is not about the DH but the texts, and their authors! That the authors are anonymous does not mean that they didn’t exist. Your questions are foolish. And Bible means “books.” I know Greek. Read What is the Bible?— all explained therein. You’re way off the mark.

    If you walk across a beach and it visibly displays different grains and colors of sand, different textures, etc. And the beach has taken on various forms till it got to its present form. The logical hypothesis in explaining the various textures, grains, colors of the beach— especially if there were repeated patterns (e.g., red sand always had the same texture, etc.)—you would deduce that the sands came from different beaches. That they eventually were washed up on shore to form the present beach. Those former or original beaches need not be accessible or even exist now to validate such a claim. We may know nothing of the once former beaches that these different sand grains came from; but we would be sure that they came from different beaches and different times to form the present landscape.

    These authors of these texts are screaming from their graves: Look I wrote this and this is why, and furthermore it disagrees with that elite guild there who wrote 300 years before me, etc. etc. I’m not making this up. Nor have attentive readers been making this up for 300 years. The Bible itself is telling us that! Err, not the Bible–because that’s telling us ‘read me I’m a book’—but the biblical texts. And THAT’S where the discussion is, as I keep harping. It’s laid out in What is the Bible?

  17. sure thing says:

    Okay, let us work with your sand analogy…

    So, there was this beach with several different sands. In time, this particular beach was subjected to earthquakes. This beautiful sand fell into the earth. Under extreme pressures and enormous amounts of heat, the sands changed. They were altered down to the atomic level. Over time this magma cooled and hardened. BOOM!! With an eruption from the deep this rock was hurtled out, crashing onto the surface.

    Now, we no longer have the beach. We no longer have the sands. What we do have is the rock. We can see that it has veins of different minerals running through out and we can study them. We can surmise that it is possible that a couple types of sand created the veins but there is no way to tell how much of which one. It is literally impossible to separate the minerals into the original grains! The sand was destroyed.

    Saying that there is evidence of the sand is fine. There most certainly is. You can even make assertions saying that you believe certain parts consist of a specific type of sand. That’s wonderful. However, since that sand has ceased to exist as it once was, it is impossible to absolutely separate this rock back to its initial preformed state. The grains have been irreversibly fused together – they are no longer sand.

    This rock is the Biblical texts. While we can be sure they came together from separate sources, i.e. sand, all we have is the redacted texts, i.e. the rock. Even if we had the pre-redacted texts, we would not be able to definitively tell where the texts were joined. But we don’t even have that. There is not one pre-redacted text.

    You can take a hammer to the rock and smash it to pieces, creating sand, but this is not the same thing as the original sand. Your claims that “this part is from the northern kingdom” and “that part is from the southern kingdom” is pretentious, to say the least. You have absolutely zero proof of your claims that you assert as fact – all through your modern, indoctrinated, interpretive lens.

  18. Steven DiMattei says:

    Please, read some Plato and Socrates on the function of an analogy. After that, read carefully the Bible. The proof is the Bible. If you’d like to ignore that, that is your prerogative. Read the posts I’ve suggested now on 4 different occasions. You might learn something, from the Bible about the Bible. It is the Bible we’re listening to here. I’m not making the claims. The Bible, err the biblical texts and their authors are making the claims. Ignore them, be ignorant of them. Your call.

  19. sure thing says:

    It is the Bible we’re listening to here. I’m not making the claims. The Bible, err the biblical texts and their authors are making the claims.

    …all according to your biased, indoctrinated lens. Are so sure of your perception that you can’t even admit that it “might” be an illusion?

  20. Steven DiMattei says:

    Ask that of yourself. Here we let the texts and their authors speak, each on their own terms and in their own contexts, historical and literary, period. Do you have any knowledge of ancient literature, who wrote, whether texts were public, why they wrote, their audiences, how supposedly “historical” texts were written and why, how later texts were built upon earlier, how law codes were written, presented, and changed, etc., etc. You seem to dismiss the world from which the biblical texts were written, and that I will not tolerate.

    Yes there is a perception, but that too we’re looking at in context—i.e., how the authors crafted “historical” narratives from and through theological lenses, how authors crafted “historical” narratives that competed, conflicted, and even contradicted with earlier texts that only due to a later editorial endeavor both became part of what an even later editorial endeavor labeled the “Bible.”

    Surething you need to read a lot, lot more, and after that, still a lot more. You pick up a grain of sand and from there make claims on how or how not the universe is created. You need to collect the data. The daily contradictions are merely collecting the textual data, after which an hypothesis or hypotheses are formed that best explain this data. I’ve been all through this, but your reluctance to actually understand what is going on here… as well as what is going on at the level of the texts—again, not through the later lens of those who prescribed that you read these texts as a “Holy Book”—is getting a bit tiring. If you’re sincere about understanding what I’m doing and the approach we’re following here, and why, again read one of the following and move the discussion there. I’m not going to keep reiterating what has already been written, well and intelligently, in the essential reading section.

    Studying the Bible objectively
    What is the Bible?
    How the Bible reveals its composite nature to its readers
    How comparing the Bible’s “historical” narratives with one another and with the literature of their own era reveals that their authors were not writing history.

  21. KW says:

    @sure thing: For whatever it’s worth, my initial impression of the DH was extreme skepticism. I didn’t believe that someone could look at the final, compiled text of the Bible and somehow read all this extra information into it. It smacked of scholars who thought too much of their own intellect and were trying to out-speculate each other.

    What I didn’t realize at the time was that there are characters who can be seen to reoccur in the OT text, who have distinct voices in terms of subjects of interest and choice of Hebrew words. Furthermore, the time period during which they could have written (or redacted the OT texts) seems to consistently coincide with the subjects they’re writing about, as Dr. DiMattei has been explaining in some of his posts (I think #28 is a really good example of where an account is duplicated, but with a different emphasis that reflects a specific, explainable agenda of a later writer).

    I’m still learning more about this, and don’t consider myself a DH advocate yet, but I find it a lot more plausible than I used to. At the very least, I am trying to clear my mind of pre-conceptions while reading. When you say “you have absolutely zero proof of your claims” to the author, it sounds like you didn’t absorb anything from the articles he wrote that explain the beliefs of the northern and southern kingdoms or the consistent voices of the different contributors to the text. Or perhaps you’re defining “proof” differently for him than for yourself?

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