On Bible Criticism and Its Counterarguments_FOOTNOTES

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This essay was written many years ago.
Since then, I have updated it several times. To my pleasant surprise, I
have found some similarities between this essay and some of the
observations made by Chief Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Sacks from Great Britain.
I have incorporated some of his insights from his book Crisis and Covenant (New York:
Manchester University Press, 1992).


[2] T. B. Sanhedrin 89a.


Maimonides, Commentary to Mishnah: Introduction to
, chap. 10, principle 8.



See Rabbi Chaim Hirschensohn’s interesting
discussion, Malki Ba-Kodesh, pt. 2. (St. Louis, MO: Moinester
Printing Co., 1921), pp. 215-250, concerning the question of whether it
is only the divinity of the Torah that is vital to Judaism or Moshe’s
“authorship” as well.



Benedictus de Spinoza, A
Theologic-Political Treatise
(New York: Dover, 1951), p. 165.
Spinoza’s conclusion was “that the word of God is faulty, mutilated,
tampered with, and inconsistent, that we possess it only in fragments
and that the original of the covenant which God made with the Jews has
been lost.” This observation is, for two reasons, most remarkable: First
of all, Spinoza leaves the door open for a possible revelational
experience. God may have spoken to the Jews, but the original
text of that conversation was lost. This seems to conflict with
Spinoza’s understanding of a God who lacks all “personality” and
henceforth is incapable of ever conversing with man. Second, it
lays the foundation for what later became the attitude of Reform
Judaism’s understanding of the Pentateuchal text, which sees the text as
some kind of human record of the Jews’ encounter with God, and as such,
“inspired.” This idea contradicts Spinoza’s general attitude, which sees
the text as “primitive literature.”


There are even earlier observations of this
kind. One famous “Bible critic” was Chivi Al Balkhi (ninth century) of
Persia. See “Geniza Specimens—The Oldest Collection of Bible
Difficulties by a Jew,” Solomon Schcchter, Jewish Quarterly Review
(old series) 13 (190): 345-374.

In Numbers, (chap. 16)
we read of Korach, the first critic of Moses’ authority, who claimed
that “the Torah was not from heaven” (Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin
10, halachah 1). Another earlier critic was Menashe the son
of Hizkiah (698-543 b.c.e)
“who examined biblical narratives to prove them worthless.” Thus,
he jeered: had Moses not anything else to write besides, “and Lothan’s
sister was Timnah”? (Genesis 36:12) (T. B. Sanhedrin



Karl Heinrich Graf (1815-1869), a German
Protestant Bible scholar on whose work Wellhausen founded his
theory.  Wellhausen’s
forerunners were Karl David Ilgen (1763-1834), a German Protestant
philologist (Urkunden des Ersten Buchs Moses, 1798); Wilhelm
Martin Leberecht de Wette (1780-1849), (Beitraege zur Einleitung in
das Alte Testament
, 1806-1807); and Wilhelm Vatke (1806-1882)
(Die Geschichte des Heiligen Schriften des Alten Testaments), who
was highly influenced by Hegel. Vatke laid the foundation for
Wellhausen’s critique, and the latter admitted that he was indebted to
Vatke “for the most and the best” of his own work. Ironically, Vatke, in
his later days, retracted his conclusions, undermining many theories
that Wellhausen later published!



See H. Wheeler Robinson, “The Contribution
of Great Britain to Old Testament Study,” Expository Times 41
(1929-1930): 46-50.


See J. M. Powis Smith, “The Contribution of
the United Stales to Old Testament Scholarship,” Expository Times
41 (1929-1930): 169-171.



See Handkommentar zum Alten
, 15 vols., ed. Wilhelm Nowack (Gotlingen, 1892-1903); Kurzer Handkommentar zum Alten Testament, 20
vols., ed. Karl Marti (Freiburg, 1897- 1904).



The following works summarize the literary
criticism of the Wellhausen schools: John Edgar McFaydon, “The Present
Position of Old Testament Criticism,” in Arthur S. Peake, The People and The Book; “Modern
Criticism,” in H. Wheeler Robinson, ed., Record and Revelation
(Oxford, 1938), pp. 74-109. For these and other important works in the
field, see Herbert F. Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern Research
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966).



One of the most important works following
this line is Heinrich Holzinger’s Einleitung in den Hexateuch
(Freiburg, 1893). (According to some scholars, the J and E
documents could also be traced through the Book of Joshua, so they spoke
of the Hexateuch—six books). See Rudolf Smend’s “JE in den
geschichtlichen Buchern des Alten Testament,” Zeitschrift fuer die
Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
49 (1921). Also see Rudolf Smend,
Die Erzaehlung des Hexateuch auf ihre Quellen des Genesis von neuem
(Giessen, 1916).



See J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and the Haftarahs, 2nd
ed., (London: Soncino Press, 1962), p. 199.





Alttestamentliche Studien (Giessen, 1908, 1910, 1912).



See Hertz, The Pentateuch and the
, p. 939. Kittel remarked on another

Speaking for all
branches of science we may say that a hypothesis which has stood for
half a century has done its duty. Measured by this standard,
Wellhausen’s theory is as good as the best. However, there is increasing
evidence that it has had its day and that those scholars, who from the
first expressed serious doubts about it, were right. (Ibid., p.



Die Aufgabe der Alttestamentlichen Forschung,” Zeitschrift
Juer die Alttestamentliche Wissenschqft
42 (1924): 8. See Hahn,
Old Testament in Modern Research, p. 28.



See, for example, Adam C. Welch, The Code of Deuteronomy: A New
Theory of Its Origin
(London, 1924); see also Theodor Oestreicher,
Das Deuteronomische Grundgesetz (Guthersloh, 1923) and Edward
Robertson, The Old Testament Problem (Manchester,



A. Welch, The Code of Deuteronomy.


Einleitung in das Alte Testament (Tubingen, 1943).



On Holscher, see his Komposition und Ursprung des Deuteronomi ums

Zeitschrift fuer die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 40


See C. R. North, “Pentateuchal Criticism,” in H. H. Rowley, ed., The
Old Testament and Modern Study
(Oxford, 1951).



S. R. Hirsch, The Pentateuch, Translated and Explained, tr. I.
Levy (New York: Judaica Press, 1971).



Die wichtigsten Instanzen gegen die
Graf-Wellhausensche Hypothese

(vol. 1, 1903; vol. 2, 1916); Das Buch Leviticus, uebersetzt und
(1905-1906); Das Buch Deuteronomium, uebersetzt und

Most important was
Hoffmann’s refutations of the theory that the Priestly Code was a
separate document composed after the Book of Deuteronomy and even after
Ezekiel. Hoffmann showed that Leviticus was an earlier work than
Deuteronomy and that Ezekiel was a derivative of it, rather than the
other way around. Interesting is Hoffmann’s belief referring to a
statement in the Talmud (T. B. Gittin 60a) that Moshe composed the Torah
in a series of scrolls that were written down after every revelation and
later redacted into a single document.




In many unpublished papers. 
See A. Barth, Dorenu Mul She’elat Ha-Netzach (Jerusalem,
1952). In this book some important examples of Hoffmann’s and Barth’s
arguments are presented.



Dorot Harishonim, 7 vols.
(1897-1939, repr. 1967).



The Documentary Hypothesis and the
Composition of the Pentateuch

trans. Israel Abrahams (English ed. [Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew
University, 1961-1972]) or “The Theory of Documents.” Cassuto concludes
(pp. 100-101):


I have not shown that it was possible to
solve the problems in a different way from that of the documentary
theory. I have shown that one must necessarily solve them otherwise and
that it is impossible to solve them according to this system. I did not
prove that the pillars are weak or that none of them is decisive. I have
proved that they are not pillars at all, that they arc non-existent and
imaginary. Hence, I have arrived at the conclusion that the complete
negation of the theory of documents is justified.



Other books by Cassuto
in this field are La questione della genesi (1934), his
commentaries on the books of Genesis and Exodus, and many other

important papers.


Toledot Ha-Emunah
(1937); abridged version in English, The Religion of
Israel, translated and condensed by M. Greenberg (Jerusalem: Magnes
Press, Hebrew University, 1960).



William F. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity
(Baltimore: Anchor, 1957), pp. 84, 118-119.


W. L. Baxter (1841-1937), a Scottish Bible scholar, wrote, “Witnesses
are reliable when they testify in favor of the critics, but their
veracity is promptly impeached if their testimony is on the other side”
(Sanctuary and Sacrifice
[1892]); quoted in J. H. Hertz, The Pentateuch and the Haftarahs
(London: Soncino Press, 1962), p. 556.



On Delitzch, see Babel und Bibel (Leipzig, 1902). See also Hugo
Winckler, Geschichte Israels, vol. 2 (Berlin, 1900).



See History, Archeology and Christian Humanism (Baltimore:
Anchor, 1942).


See W. R. Smith, Lectures on the Religion of the Semites
(Edinburgh, 1889).



Voelkerpsychologie, 2 vols. (Leipzig, 1909).


Israel: Its Life and Culture (London, 1926; repr.,



See E. Hardy, Zur Geschichte der vergleichenden Religion
, Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft 4 (1901).


Moses, Ein Beitrag zur Untersuchung ueber die Urspruenge der
Israelitischen Religion
(Tubingen, 1907).




Altorientalischer und Israelitischer Monotheismus (Tubingen,
1906), p. 1. For an interesting comparison, see Maimonides, Mishneh
Torah: Hilchot Avodah Zarah
, introduction.



For an overview of this debate, see Henry Biberfeld, Universal Jewish
(Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1948), appendix, pp.
129-156.  (editors note: also see

Babylonian laws of Hammurabi



Herman Wouk remarks in his book This is
My God
(Glasgow: Williams Collins Sons and Co., 1973) p.

“Literary analysis has been
used for generations by obsessive men to prove that everybody but
Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare. I believe literary analysis could be used
to prove that I wrote both David Copperfield and Farewell to
. I wish it were sound!”



Israelitisch-Juedische Religionsgeschichte und alttestamentliche
Theologie, Zeitschrift fuer die Alttestantentliche Wissenschaft
(1962): 1-12.


Theologie des Alten Testaments, 3 vols. (Leipzig, 1933-1939). See
“Guide to Understanding the Bible,” Journal of Biblical
65 (1946): 205-207.



The Relevance of the
(London, 1942). See also
his Rediscovery of the Old Testament (London, 1946); Frank Glen
Lankard, The Bible Speaks to Our Generation (New York, 1941); and
Wyatt A. Smart, Still the Bible Speaks (New York,



Erich Auerbach, Mimesis (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press, 1971).


The Art of Biblical Literature (London: George Allen and Unwin,



Image, Music, Text (London: Fontana, 1977).


A Remembered Future (Bloominglon, IN: Indiana University Press,



The Craft of Biblical Narrative (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Molad,


The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington, IN: Indiana
University Press, 1985).



Art in the Bible

(Sheffield, U.K.: Almond Press, 1989).



Most enlightening is Spinoza’s observation that some texts of the Torah,
such as the ones in Genesis 12:6; 22:14, and Deuteronomy 1:2, must have
been written many years after Moshe’s death, since they reveal
information that refers to latter days. Spinoza relies here on the
famous Jewish commentator Ibn Ezra (1088-1167), who wrote that these
verses were “mysteries” about “which the wise should be silent” (on
Deuteronomy 1:2). The traditional understanding of Ibn Ezra, as also
confirmed by the modern Jewish scholar Samuel David Luzzatto (ShaDaL)
(1800-1865), is that these passages must be understood as prophetic and
anticipating the future. Here, the differences between the traditional
approach and the ones of criticism become apparent. The critics were
obviously not prepared to accept the “prophetic” dimension as suggested
by tradition and consequently concluded that these passages could not
have been written by Moshe. In other words, it was not the problems
themselves that caused these differences of opinion but the very
approach to the text that created these controversies.


See chapter
7 [of Rabbi Cardozo’s Between Silence And Speech].



“Emunah U-Madda Be-Parashanut Ha-Mikra,” Deot, Cheker Ha-Mikra
Be-Machshavah Ha-Yehudit Ha-Datit He-Chadashah
, 11 (1959):18-25, 12
(I960): 13-27. See also Zvi Kurzweil, The Modem Impulse of
Traditional Judaism
(New York, 1985), pp. 79-91. See also the
critical comments by Jacob Katz, Uriel Simon, Joseph Heinemann, Meir
Weiss, Dr. Halperin, and Jacov Zeidman in Deot 13 (1961):



See Ish Shalom, Avraham Isaac Kook: Between Rationalism and
(Hebrew) Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1990), pp. 98-115. Also see
Zvi Yaron, The Philosophy of Rabbi Kook (Jerusalem: Elmer
Library, 1991), pp. 188-189.



See also Franz Rosenzweig, On Jewish Learning, ed. Nahum Glatzer
(New York: Schocken, 1955).


See H. S. Nijberg, Studien zum Hoseabuch: Zugleich ein Beitrag zur
Kehrung des Problems der Alttestestamentlichen Textkritik.
Uppsala Universitets, Arskrift, 1935). For an overview, see E. Nielsen,
Oral Tradition: A Modern Problem in the Old Testament Introduction,
Studies in Biblical Theology
11 (Chicago, 1954); C. Stuhlmueller,
“The Influence of Oral Tradition upon Exegeses and the Senses of
Scripture,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 20 (1958): 299-326, B.
Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript; Oral Tradition and Written
Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity
, Acta
seminarii neo-testamentici upsaliensis 22 (Uppsala, 1961); by the same
author, Muendliche und Schriftliche Tradition der
,Theologische Literaturzeitung 17 (1961), pp.
216-220; and Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985). Herbert Schneidau’s
Sacred Discontent (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,
1977) argues that textual tensions and apparent inconsistencies function
as ways through which the reader becomes involved in the text. See also
the important observations by J. F. Molitor, Philosophie der
Geschichte oder ueber die Tradition
, vol. 3 (Frankfurt, 1857), in
which the author stresses the fact that in ancient times, the
relationship of the written word and the spoken word was very different
and much more involved than in modern times.



See the introduction on Hirsch’s commentary on the Torah by Dayan Dr. I.
Grunfeld in Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Pentateuch, Translation and Commentary,
Genesis (New York: Judaica Press, 1971), pp. viii-xxx.



Judaism, Human Values, and the Jewish State
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), pp. 11-12.


Rabbi Simeon said:

Alas for the man who regards the Torah as a book
of mere tales and everyday matters! If that were so, even we could
compose a Torah dealing with everyday affairs and of even greater excellence. Nay, even
the princes of the world possess books of greater worth which we could
use as a model for composing some such Torah. The Torah, however,
contains it all, its words are supernal truth. (Zohar IIl:152a) (italics



“The Lonely Man of Faith,” Tradition 7:2 (Summer


IT. S. Nijberg, quoted in Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and
(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958), p.



Ibid., p. 385.


See the author’s The Infinite
(Jerusalem: Targum-Feldheim Press, 1989), pp. 35-42.



See Nachmanides on Ecclesiastes (Kitvei



For a short overview of these thirty-two exegetical rules, see Hermann

L. Strack, Introduction to the
Talmud and Midrash

(New York: Atheneum, 1978), pp. 95-98.



Quoted by M. Kapustin in “Biblical Criticism, a Traditionalist View,” in
Challenge, Torah Views on
Science and Its Problems
, ed. C. Domb and A. Carmel (Jerusalem:
Feldheim, 1976), pp. 426-427. See also Chaim Hirschensohn, Malki Ba-Kodesh, vol. 2 (St.
Louis, MO: Moinsier Printing Co., 1921), pp. 215-250, who points to a
talmudic passage (tractate Sofrim 6:3) that states that there
were three Torah scrolls in the Temple court that contained slight
textual misreadings and that the correct reading was determined on the
principle of following the majority.

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