John Anderson’s “How the Documentary Hypothesis has been Debunked”

It’s a few days old, but John Anderson has an excellent post up about R. N. Whybray’s publication on the flaws of DH. I think he reiterates a number of important considerations (e.g., Hegelian assumptions about the evolution of religion, lack of ancient analogs, authorial consistency is presupposed, etc.), but I cringed when I read the title of the post, because I know a lot of folks who think that “debunking” DH means establishing Mosaic authorship of the Torah.

The most important thing I think John points out is the neglect of the supplementary and fragmentary hypotheses. While I disagree with Van Seter’s chronology, I think he’s moving in the right direction. I also agree with John that speaking of sources proper is a little aggressive. I think identifying literary seams without necessarily saying so-and-so is responsible for this redaction or text is an approach on a much more sure foundation.

UPDATE: John’s already mentioned it, but see his new post on challenging DH.


3 responses to “John Anderson’s “How the Documentary Hypothesis has been Debunked”

  • John Anderson

    Thanks for noting the post. You may have noticed I have another up now discussing Gunkel and von Rad. I’m planning to make a bit of an unofficial series about it.

    And I would think (hope!) those who hear ‘debunking’ of DH do not automatically presume Mosaic authorship. I by no means argue for that. In matters of authorship I don’t think we can say very much. Moses traditions, yes. Moses traditions that may have originated even with an exodus group. Maybe. But wholesale Mosaic authorship? I can’t go there. Dare I say DH is more convincing than Mosaic authorship! Ok, maybe a little overstated . . . .

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    I did notice your new post, and I think it’s a great idea. I know it’s an issue to which I could use more exposure.

    The Mosaic authorship thing just popped in my head because I’m used to hearing fundamental Christian responses to source critical perspectives on the Pentateuch that sound something like, “Oh, the Documentary Hypothesis was debunked centuries ago! Single authorship is the best explanation!”

  • John Anderson

    Whybray argues for a single author; most find it unpersuasive.

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