Oxford Provost Says Documentary Hypothesis is in “Sharp Decline”

nicholson_book.gifIn The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century: The Legacy of Julius Wellhausen (1998), Ernest Nicholson says the following …

By the end of the decade [1970s], however, and continuing throughout the 1980s and into the present decade [1990s], one major study after another, like a series of hammer blows, has rejected the main claims of the Documentary Theory and the criteria on the basis of which they were argued. Winnet’s view, for which he expected few if any converts, is now in the driving-seat, so to speak, and those who adhere to the Documentary Theory are very much on the defensive. As a result, Pentateuchal research since the mid-1970s has become a mirror image of what it was in the years following the publication of Wellhausen’s study of the composition of the Pentateuch in the mid-1870s: whereas at that time the Documentary Theory which he had so persuasively argued was in the ascendant, commanding ever increasing support, today it is in sharp decline–some would say in a state of advanced rigor mortis–and new solutions are being argued and urged in its place. (p. 95-96)

This author still is an advocate of the DH, but the recent convulsions have caused him to modify his positions somewhat.

If you are a Questia subscriber as I am, you can read the book yourself here … http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=10126098

And one of those “new solutions” is some form of tablet theory. Not necessarily Wiseman’s … his has some problems. But some form resembling it.

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One Response to “Oxford Provost Says Documentary Hypothesis is in “Sharp Decline””

  1. lordkalvan Says:

    I am not sure that you are entirely right about the Documentary Hypothesis being in ‘sharp decline’. A quick Internet search using Google for ‘Documentary Hypothesis’ returns as the second result this item from the Department of Religious Studies at Penn State University this observation:

    ‘Contemporary critical scholars disagree with Wellhausen and with one another on details and on whether D or P was added last. But they agree that the general approach of the Documentary Hypothesis best explains the doublets, contradictions, differences in terminology and theology, and the geographical and historical interests that we find in various parts of the Torah.’

    Full article available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rs/2/Judaism/jepd.html.

    From what you have quoted of the NIcholson book, this would not seem to be entirely at variance with his opinion and scarcely evidence for ‘some form of tablet theory.’

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