The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century: The Legacy of Julius Wellhausen

By Ernest W. Nicholson | Go to book overview

6
New Proposals Concerning the First Tetrateuch
and its Sources

Two substantial studies of the origin of the pre-Priestly Tetrateuch must now receive our attention, Christoph Levin The Yahwist,1 and Erhard Blum Studies in the Composition of the Pentateuch.2 They have in common with the research outlined in the foregoing chapter that they too date the composition of the 'first Tetrateuch' to the exilic and early post-exilic period respectively. They differ from them, however, in seeking to uncover the earlier, pre-exilic written sources employed by the author(s) of this work which, they argue, were substantial. As we shall see, they also differ strikingly from each other.


I

Levin takes as his starting-point the insight of earlier research that literary unevenness in J is evidence of different stages of its growth (variously described as J1, J2, or Ja, Jb, etc.). He argues that this insight was fully justified, but that the evidence must be interpreted differently, that is, not in terms of the growth in stages of an original J narrative at the hands of successive J writers and editors, but of the distinction between pre-Yahwistic sources (JQ) and the contribution of the Yahwist proper. According to Levin, the Yahwist is correctly understood, therefore, as a redactor (JR) who selected, arranged, combined, and supplemented inherited narratives and narrative complexes in accordance with the message he wished to convey. That is, he fully accepts the conclusions of other recent studies which point to

____________________
1
C. Levin, Der Jahivist, FRLANT 157 (Göttingen 1993). Though more narrowly based, H.-C. Schmitt monograph Die nichtpriesterliche Josephsgeschichte, BZAW 154 ( Berlin 1980) provides another example of this approach. He argues along similar lines to Winnett for a so-called 'late Yahwist' who worked in the exilic period but employed earlier, pre-exilic sources.
2
Blum, Studien zur Komposition des Pentateuch.

-161-

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