The Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism

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Excerpt A review of The Edited Bible, by John Van Seters (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006. This recent book by John Van Seters should have a revolutionary impact on the critical study of the Bible, particularly on the study of the Pentateuch/ Hexateuch in the OT. Continue reading

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Van Seters’ thesis is that the development of German higher criticism was based upon an anachronistic application to the Bible, and also to other ancient texts, of the historical examples of the editing methods used by late Renaissance scholars to prepare ancient texts for publication. Van Seters writes (p. 400):

The notion of the ancient editor was created out of an obvious anachronism and then developed in the interest of literary and text-critical theories, with the result that it has become devoid of all contact with reality.

During the Renaissance, various ancient Greek and Latin texts were rediscovered in the West, and as more and more ancient manuscripts were discovered, almost every ancient piece of literature was found to have numerous variant manuscript readings.

With the invention of the printing press ca. 1450, there was a frenetic attempt by publishers in Western Europe to print a definitive “textus receptus” edition of each piece of ancient literature. It was to scholars of the later Renaissance period that publishers gave the task of collecting, collating, editing, and redacting the variant readings found in the ancient manuscripts. In producing their “textus receptus” editions for publication, these late Renaissance scholars decided between variant readings, filled in perceived textual gaps, omitted repetitive words and lines, removed supposed interpolations, corrected the meter of poems, provided explanations, and at times added written material of their own. Non-original material was sometimes added to the earliest editions without even telling the reader. Erasmus’s “textus receptus” version of the Greek New Testament is a good example of this. Erasmus is known to have written Greek texts for a few NT verses which were found in the Latin Vulgate, but which were missing from the Greek manuscripts that he used.

Classical and biblical scholars in the 18th century anachronistically assumed that ancient scholars had also edited ancient classical and biblical texts; just as Renaissance scholars had done. However, Van Seters vehemently rejects this assumed similarity between Renaissance and ancient editors. He also attacks those modern scholars who base their textual theories on this assumed similarity. He writes in the introduction to his book (p. 23):

We will see that the “editors” of antiquity contributed nothing to the composition of the classical and biblical texts and that their influence upon the establishment of vulgate texts was limited, indirect, and accidental. They do not correspond in any way to the “editors” and “redactors” of modern biblical criticism.

The Editing of Iliad and Odyssey

It was generally assumed in the 18th and 19th centuries that the best classical example of this ancient editing/ redacting process could be seen in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Post-Renaissance classical scholars came to believe that ancient scholars at the great museum/library in Alexandria, Egypt, were mainly responsible for this editing/redacting process on Iliad and Odyssey. But before editing could take place, there had to be written Homeric texts to edit. However, critical classical scholars have assumed that Iliad and Odyssey were not composed in written form, but were at first composed and preserved orally. Obviously it is not possible to trace oral transmission, but that did not stop critical scholars from developing oral transmission theories.

European classical scholars invented a history for the supposed early oral development of Iliad and Odyssey. They assumed that Iliad and Odyssey began as many smaller poems, composed by an unknown number of ancient oral poets, Homer possibly being one. Examples of oral folk literature from modern ethnic groups were cited as models for the theoretical oral development of Iliad and Odyssey. These many smaller Greek poems, all dealing with the Trojan War and its aftermath, eventually came to be grouped together into two great poems by some ancient editor(s), and then were traditionally attributed to Homer. The well-integrated literary nature of Iliad and Odyssey should have been enough to call this multiple-poems theory into question for modern classical scholars, but for most it did not. Homer unquestionably relied on older sources and may have even used the oral poems of other older poets as sources, but there is no evidence that he directly incorporated entire ancient poems into his two epic poems.

Incidentally, the old critical assumption, that these pre-Homeric poems on the Trojan War only could have been composed and transmitted orally, may itself be false. The old assumption was that all Greeks during their Dark Ages from ca. 1200 to 900 BC were illiterate. Before 1200 BC the Greeks used the Minoan-based Linear B script to write their language, and then sometime around 900 BC it is believed that they adopted the Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet. The Trojan War is believed to have taken place in ca. 1200 BC. Between 1200 and 900 BC, it is generally assumed that the Greeks were illiterate. However, the recent discovery of what appear to be Greek names written on an Iron Age I (ca. 1200–1000 BC) ostracon found at Tell es-Safi (biblical Gath) suggests that there were at least some Greeks, i.e. “Philistines,” who were literate during the Greek Dark Ages.

Whatever the original ethnic background of the true Philistines, it is certain that there were Greek peoples who, along with the true Philistines, were a part of the Sea Peoples coalition of tribes that conquered Canaan in ca. 1200 BC. The Israelites called all of the tribal members of the Sea Peoples coalition “Philistines.” Archaeological evidence now suggests that it was Greek “Philistines” who settled at Gath. It should be noted that King David knew there were tribal and ethnic divisions among the Philistines, since he used them in his army. He called some “Cherethites” (Cretans), some “Pelethites” (true Philistines), and some “Gittites” (probably Greeks).

It is unknown how long the various Sea Peoples tribes continued to use their own languages before adopting the Canaanite language. Nevertheless, there is some archaeological evidence suggesting that at least some Philistine Greeks were literate during the Greek Dark Ages, although possibly not in their own language. There is also archaeological and historical evidence indicating that the Philistines maintained contact with the Aegean world. It may even have been through the agency of the Philistines (“Pelasgians” in Greek sources) that the Greeks adopted the Canaanite alphabet. It should also be noted that there is archaeological evidence that suggests that some Greeks had contact with literate Egypt during the period of the Greek Dark Ages. All of this to say, that the old assumption about Greek illiteracy during their Dark Ages, may be just that, an assumption.

As was stated above, these European classical scholars assumed that once Iliad and Odyssey were composed out of many earlier poems, they were transmitted orally for several centuries. These same scholars assumed that Homer—or whoever collected these poems about the Trojan War in the eighth century BC—never put them in written form, but only passed them on orally. As was noted above, in critical scholarly theory, Iliad and Odyssey were transmitted orally for several centuries, and during this period of oral transmission critical classical scholars assumed that great textual changes took place. There is, however, a major problem with this theory of oral transmission. Most critical classical scholars believe that Iliad and Odyssey were composed in the eighth century BC, at a time when the Greeks were clearly literate. As will be seen below, these same critical scholars assumed that Iliad and Odyssey were not put into written form, however, until the sixth century BC. In other words, Iliad and Odyssey were only transmitted orally for two centuries during a time period when the Greeks were clearly literate. And yet, since the Greeks were unquestionably literate in the eighth century BC, it is certainly possible that Homer himself or some hired scribe wrote down his two great epic poems. Homer is believed to have sung his poems for wealthy and powerful Greeks. Is it not possible, if not likely, that some wealthy Greek ruler had a scribe write down Homer’s very popular poems as he sang them? It should not be assumed, as has been frequently done, that, because Homer’s poems were sung in oral performances, they were only transmitted orally.

It seems highly unlikely that the popular Iliad and Odyssey were only transmitted orally for two centuries before they were written down. It should not be assumed, because no ancient manuscripts of Iliad and Odyssey have been found dating to the eighth century, that they were not written down during that period. British Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen’s warning “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” should be remembered here. There is a paucity of any sort of Greek texts coming from the eighth and seventh centuries BC.

There is also no solid proof supporting the critical theory’s assumption that oral transmission produced more variants than written transmission did. Modern classical scholars of the 18th and 19th centuries, rather than using modern folk tales as their model for oral transmission, should have used the oral transmission of the ancient Jewish Mishnah, as their model. After all, Iliad and Odyssey were also looked on as religious texts by the ancient Greeks and not just as folk tales. Jewish tradition places a great deal of stress on the accuracy of the Mishnah’s oral transmission. There were apparently professional “authorized” memorizers for the Mishnah. In addition, for another ancient example, it was fairly common for early Christian monks to memorize large portions of the Bible, especially Psalms. Monks taught other monks by oral repetition. There is no evidence of monastic textual corruption by memorization and oral transmission.

It is even possible that oral transmission, if it did indeed occur, may have produced, very soon after composition, a standardized text of Iliad and Odyssey. The memorization of long poems was once a popular feature in Europe and America. Today any sort of memorization is an educational no-no. But anyone who has heard older adults recite very long poems, and do so very accurately, knows that memorization can maintain a very accurate version of an ancient text.

After an assumed centuries-long oral transmission of Iliad and Odyssey, modern classical scholars have further assumed that in the sixth century BC written recensions/redactions of both literary masterpieces were finally produced in Athens. These written recensions were supposedly made when the tyrant Peisistratus introduced a competition in the oral reciting from memory of these two epic poems. Modern classical scholars have, until recently, insisted that it was for this competition that standardized, written editions of Iliad and Odyssey were produced. However, as Van Seters states, there is absolutely no historical or textual support for the supposed creation of these written “Peisistratid recensions” in the sixth century BC. It should be noted that the period of Peisistratus’ tyranny served much the same function for critical classical scholars, as does the period of Josiah’s reign in the seventh century BC for critical biblical scholars.

It was these “Peisistratid recensions” of the sixth century BC that were supposedly later edited by the great scholars of the library of Alexandria during the Hellenistic period (ca. 332–37 BC). The primary Hellenistic scholars who are known to, or who are assumed to, have edited the works of Homer were Zenodotus, Aristophanes and Aristarchus. However, as Van Seters notes, the conservative and very limited amount of editing done by these Hellenistic scholars was completely different from the extensive editing done by Renaissance editors more than a millennium later. And as he also notes, ancient scholarly editions had almost no impact on the far more abundant “vulgate” manuscript copies of ancient texts made by professional scribes.

Van Seters uses the term “vulgate” for the commonly accepted versions of ancient texts that existed in the ancient world. It was these vulgate versions of ancient texts that the ancient and medieval literati read, and, for the most part, not the supposedly edited versions of the Alexandrian scholars. Incidentally, the edited versions of the Alexandrian scholars also frequently used these same vulgate versions, but added editing marks and marginal notes indicating their proposed revisions to ancient texts. They, however, almost never changed the actual texts that they edited, and, as Van Seters proves in his book, they also strongly condemned anyone who did. Alexandrian scholars are known to have copied exactly the very textual readings that they believed were erroneous. As Van Seters states, this was very different from the editing methods used by Renaissance scholars.

Nevertheless, it was assumed by later European classical scholars that the editorial work of these Hellenistic scholars mimicked exactly the editorial work of later Renaissance scholars. The fact that Renaissance scholars had a completely different attitude and were editing for the printing press, which of course did not exist in the ancient world, was completely lost on these European classical scholars from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Editor in Critical Theories of the Bible

Biblical scholars in dealing with the OT quickly adopted almost all of the textual assumptions and methods adopted by modern classical scholars in dealing with Iliad and Odyssey. As Van Seters states, there was in the 18th and 19th centuries a very close connection between Homeric scholarship and biblical scholarship. Van Seters writes (p. 133):

The role of the editor(s) lies at the heart of the “Homeric Question” in the same way that the redactor is central to the history of Pentateuchal criticism. As we shall see, the two fields of classical and Oriental studies (the study of the Old Testament was often located in the later) were very closely associated.

To illustrate the very early and very close connection between classical scholarship and biblical scholarship, Van Seters continues (p. 133):

We begin with Friedrich August Wolf (1759–1824), who matriculated as a student of philosophy at Gottingen in 1777 under the tutelage of the classicist Christian G. Hayne and the biblical scholar J.D. Michaelis. These two were also the teachers of the Old Testament scholar J.G. Eichorn. F.A. Wolf eventually became the most famous classical scholar of his day, and J.G. Eichorn became one of the founding fathers of German higher criticism.

C.G. Hayne, J.D. Michaelis, F.A. Wolf, and J.G. Eichorn were all also greatly impacted by the earlier English classical scholar Richard Bentley (1662–1742). For both classical and biblical scholars in the 18th century, the brilliant, but erratic, Bentley served not only as something of a personal scholarly model, but also as a theoretical model for the editing methods, which they anachronistically believed ancient classical and biblical scholars had used when they edited ancient texts. Bentley’s own Renaissance-like approach to the editing of ancient classical texts can be seen in his critical edition of Horace. Van Seters writes (p. 126):

The work that perhaps best exemplifies Bentley’s skill [sic] as a text-critic is his edition of Horace (1711). In his attempt to restore the purity of the original, he went far beyond the evidence of the manuscripts alone and made liberal use of conjecture, which he characterized as a sort of “divination.” The result was a text drastically different from the familiar vulgate version.

Van Seters notes that Bentley made “more than 700 changes in the text of Horace,” and yet not one single ancient manuscript of Horace has ever been found supporting any of his revisions (p. 126). In his editing Bentley was following the editing practices of the late Renaissance editors who immediately preceded him. However, ancient Hellenistic scholars never ever treated an ancient text in this arrogant manner.

Bentley’s approach to textual criticism can also be seen in his ridiculous edition of Milton’s Paradise Lost. Bentley’s corrected edition of Paradise Lost was published only about 80 years after Milton published his first edition in 1667. It should be noted that Milton died in 1673, years after the first edition of his Paradise Lost had been published. There is no evidence that Milton ever complained about an editor changing his masterpiece, but this did not stop Bentley from proposing exactly that. Van Seters writes of Bentley and of his edited version of Paradise Lost (p. 128):

As he worked, there were many passages in the Paradise Lost that he viewed as unworthy of Milton, inappropriate to the work as he understood it. Consequently, he invented the explanation that an editor had willfully changed many words and phrases in the text and even interpolated large passages, hundreds of verses, in the same style as Milton. These he deleted from his edition!

The similarity between Bentley’s “divination” approach to editing ancient and modern classics and the approach used by later German higher critics on the Bible is obvious. Incidentally, as I discovered as a graduate student, critical biblical scholars today, just as Bentley said about passages in Paradise Lost, still say that some verses of the Bible “are unworthy.” The label “unworthy” is used to mean that a passage or verse is either a supposed interpolation or the result of bad editing by a biblical redactor.

Van Seters provides an excellent history of the development of German higher criticism in his book. He deals with all of the major critical biblical scholars, and he shows how they frequently contradicted and disagreed with one another, especially when dealing with the Pentateuch/Hexateuch. To illustrate the controversial and contradictory theories of modern biblical critics, who like Bentley did for Milton, invent hypothetical editors for the Bible. Van Seters writes the following about the modern German scholar R. Achenbach’s approach to the book of Numbers (p. 391):

For instance, in a recent publication [by R. Achenbach] we are told that virtually the whole of the book of Numbers is “editorial.” These diverse and contradictory understandings of ancient biblical literary activity do not derive from etymology or the original meaning of the term editor or redactor, which have only arisen as neologisms in modern times, but are based entirely on their convenience as supports for literary theories that have changed significantly over the course of time.

Van Seters’ historical review of the development of German higher criticism is alone worth the price of his book. His goal in doing his review of the historical development of critical biblical scholarship was to destroy those textual theories on the Bible that are based upon the supposed work of hypothetical ancient editors/redactors. Van Seters did an excellent job in doing this. However, he rather weakly and ineffectively argues, at least in this book, for his own position that the biblical writers were collectors, authors, and historians, but not redactors or editors.

The problem with Van Seters’ own approach is that, while he does try to elevate the writers of biblical books from editors/redactors to collectors, authors and historians, his own presuppositions about when these biblical books were written and by whom they were written mean that these same biblical “authors” and “historians” must have been either self-deluded or dishonest.

The Cyrus Cylinder is a document issued by the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great in the form of a clay cylinder inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform script. The cylinder was created following the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, when Cyrus overthrew the Babylonian king Nabonidus and replaced him as ruler, ending the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It goes on to describe how Cyrus had improved the lives of the citizens of Babylonia, repatriated displaced peoples and restored temples and cult sanctuaries, including the Hebrews. Daniel’s prophecy of Cyrus’ decree years prior to its actual occurrence is powerful evidence for the divine inspiration of Scripture. Mike Luddeni.

For example, without any historical or textual support, he continues to repeat the old critical theory that the book of Daniel was written in ca. 165 BC. Van Seters writes (p. 373):

At the very time that the limits of the Scriptures were being debated, the ancient world knew a great deal about pseudepigraphy and the attribution of false authors to texts in order to gain authority for the views expressed in those writings. The Book of Daniel is a rather blatant example of an instance in which a pseudepigraphy succeeded in deceiving the rabbinic “canonizers.”

However, the first century Jewish historian Josephus, in his Antiquities of the Jews, wrote that the book of Daniel was already in existence in the fourth century BC, and Josephus clearly believed that it was inspired prophecy. And, in addition, the fragments of a very early manuscript copy of the book of Daniel (ca. 140 BC) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls do not match well with a date of ca. 165 BC for the composition of the book of Daniel (Hasel 1992). It must also be noted that fragments of seven other manuscript copies of Daniel have been found at Qumran, and it appears that the Essenes from the very beginning of their existence considered Daniel to be authentic. Furthermore, unquestioned archaeological evidence from the sixth century BC provides very strong historical support for some of the very detailed historical information provided in both Daniel 1 and 5, and this information unquestionably dates to the sixth century BC.

Incidentally, Daniel 5 is a better historical source on the fall of Babylon to Cyrus the Great in 539 BC than is either Herodotus (fifth century BC) or Xenephon (early fourth century BC). Daniel knew the name of the last king ruling in Babylon, Belshazzar, and he also knew that a co-regency existed between Belshazzar and his father Nabonidus. Both of these facts are missing from Herodotus and Xenephon. Herodotus even incorrectly states in his Histories that the Babylonian king killed by Cyrus was named “Labonidas.” Belshazzar’s father Nabonidus, in fact, survived the fall of Babylon and eventually died of old age. How is it that, centuries after the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, the author of Daniel writing in 165 BC had better historical information than the Greek historians Herodotus and Xenephon? I once asked this question of Jonathan Goldstein, the translator and author of I Maccabees and II Maccabees in the Anchor Bible series. His response to me was that somehow the author of Daniel in 165 BC got his hands on some very good historical sources!

Van Seters’ own views on documentary sources, authors, divisions, dates and textual approaches to the OT still rely heavily upon the ideas and theories advanced by the same higher critics whose textual theories on ancient editors/ redactors he destroys. And, as he himself notes in his book, all of their theories were originally based on an incorrect, anachronistic model of what editors did in the ancient world. I will return to this topic later, but it must be stated here that Van Seters tries to live in the penthouse of the same apartment house whose foundation and lower floors he has demolished.

The Nabonidus Cylinder records the co-regency of Belshazzar and his father Nabonidus in Babylon. This discovery vindicated the biblical account of Daniel 5, and showed that both the ancient Greek historians and the critical scholars of the 19th century were in error. Mike Luddeni.

Let us now return to the connection between Homeric and biblical textual criticism. As Van Seters proves, the approach taken toward the OT by German higher critics was identical to that taken by classical scholars toward Iliad and Odyssey. In time Homeric and biblical studies separated, and today they have little connection with one another. This fact explains the complete disconnect which now exists between Homeric critical studies and biblical critical studies. As a result, an earthshaking change has taken place in Homeric studies, but this has not happened in critical biblical studies.

As Van Seters states, classical scholars in the last half of the 20th century almost completely abandoned the old text-critical approach that had been taken toward Homer for nearly three centuries earlier in Europe. There is simply no historical or textual evidence to support the old critical approach to Homer, and recently discovered manuscript fragments, mainly from Egypt, clearly contradict it. It is also evident from a careful reading of ancient sources, most of which were available even in the 18th century, that the editing practices of Renaissance scholars were vastly different from the editing practices of ancient Hellenistic scholars. However, as Van Seters states, this recent drastic change in classical criticism has been largely ignored by critical biblical scholarship. He also points out that historical and textual evidence, which is very similar to that which destroyed the old critical approach to Homer, is available against the approach to the Bible still taken by critical scholars who continue to invent hypothetical editors/redactors for the Bible.

Van Seters argues very effectively that there is no historical or archaeological evidence supporting the theory that any editors/redactors played any sort of a major role in the production of the OT. For example, as Van Seters notes, textual evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls does not support the idea that an ancient editor or group of editors played any role in the production of a standardized text of the Pentateuch/Hexateuch. While dealing with the supposed role of editors/redactors in producing edited versions or “recensions” of the Hebrew Pentateuch, Van Seters writes (p. 348):

The discovery of the Qumran scrolls, with its great diversity of texts belonging to the Essenes, a major division of Judaism and a rival of the Pharisees, raises a number of serious questions about the nature of the two Hebrew “recensions,” the MT [Masoretic Text] and the SamP [Samaritan Pentateuch]. Although the majority of biblical texts belong to the MT text-tradition, there is nothing to suggest that these texts were the result of conscious editing, the activity of the sopherim [scribes], or any sort of preference given over other texts; nor was any distinction made between texts that were merely “vulgar” and texts that were “select” or “authorized.” From the point of view of modern textual criticism, the text of some books found at Qumran seems to be clearly superior to the text now found in the MT. This majority text-tradition is often labeled proto-MT in that it anticipates the form of the text in the MT, but nothing suggests that its place in the MT corpus was the result of a deliberate selection process that also involved the conscious suppression of other rival texts.

While Van Seters uses the Dead Sea Scrolls to destroy the concept of editors/redactors in the development of the OT, as was noted above, he himself still clings to many of the basic assumptions of the old documentary hypothesis, which was developed earlier by German higher critics. For example, Van Seters writes:

The earliest possible date for the use of Mosaic authorship to legitimate the Law is the time of Josiah’s reform, and then it has to do with a radical reformation of religious practice. Only after the Deuteronomic development of Moses’ role as lawgiver by making him the author of a whole range of legal reforms did the general conception of Moses as the fountainhead of all law come about. Furthermore, it was not a vague canonical process by which the community tested the traditional laws and assigned them to Moses (through the medium of editors?) but an elite group who were [sic] responsible for the various codes found in the Pentateuch and who attributed the authorship of their own segments to Moses in order to gain their acceptance as authoritative. And not only the laws, but also an equally large portion of narrative came to be attributed to Moses as well (372–73).

Van Seters himself has three major problems with his own theories as seen in the above quote. First, he too has absolutely no historical or archaeological support for his textual theories. In other words, Van Seters completely contradicts himself.

There is no proof that “an elite group” produced the law “codes” in the Pentateuch during Josiah’s reformation, and there is, as will be seen, archaeological evidence which clearly contradicts it. Van Seters is here clinging to his own modified version of the old documentary theories of German higher criticism.

The second problem for Van Seters is that all of the founding fathers of German higher criticism believed in biblical editors, and based their theories of biblical editors on their erroneous assumption that ancient editors followed the later Renaissance model of editing. It is this very assumption that Van Seters destroys with his book.

And the third problem for Van Seters is that his own textual theories also need editors/redactors to put his documentary pieces together, but instead of calling them “editors,” he calls them “collectors,” “historians,” and “authors.”(p. 291) It should be noted that “the elite group who were responsible for the various codes found in the Pentateuch” is changed by Van Seters from a group of redactors into a group of pious deceivers. Van Seters is here playing semantical games. Authors who write new law codes and add them to older materials, and “collectors,” who combine and position smaller documents into some predetermined order so that they can advance their own ideas, are editors, even if they do not write transitions or make a single change in the texts of the documents that they combine.

Incidentally, Van Seters’ assumption that the Mosaic law code could not have been written by Moses, but must have been written during the reign of Josiah in the seventh century BC, is highly questionable. It was a very ancient and common practice in the ancient Near East, except in Egypt, for leaders to produce written law codes. Hammurabi’s famous law code, for example, was written more than a thousand years before Josiah’s reformation. Critical scholars in dealing with the Mosaic law code never answer the question: why did the Jews wait such a long time to write their law code, since archaeologists have discovered many ancient law codes which pre-date Josiah by many centuries?

Archaeology and Critical Biblical Scholars

The greatest problem for Van Seters and other critical scholars is that the historical and archaeological evidence does not match well, and frequently flatly contradicts, many of their textual theories. There are many examples that could be cited where almost all critical biblical scholars have failed to absorb, have ignored, have dismissed, or have not dealt with relevant archaeological and historical evidence of great importance to biblical studies. Just a few examples will illustrate this fact.

The first example is the Merneptah Stele, which dates to ca. 1215 BC during the reign of the Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah. The Merneptah Stele is generally believed to contain the earliest reference to Israel found in any ancient text. It almost certainly is not the oldest reference to the Israelites in Egyptian texts, which is the subject of a future paper now being written by the Egyptologist Charles Aling. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for modern critical OT scholars to write about their textual theories on the Pentateuch, the Exodus, and the development of the Israelite tribes, and not even mention the Merneptah Stele. The famous Jewish archaeologist Amnon Ben-Tor in an interview expressed to me his own frustration with the many “minimalist” OT scholars who ignore the Merneptah Stele in their theories.

The Merneptah Stela can be seen in the Cairo Museum, Egypt. It specifically mentions Israel, and is dated to around 1215 BC. This discovery is just one of many that flatly contradicts secular theories about the development of the Old Testament. Mike Luddeni.

The second example is the two tiny silver scrolls found by the Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay in 1979 in the Valley of Hinnom (Franz 2005). Barkay believes that these two tiny silver scrolls were the precursors of the phylacteries still worn by observant Jews today. On these two tiny silver scrolls—“the size of a cigarette butt”—were inscribed in tiny Hebrew letters the priestly blessing found in Numbers 6:24–26. The only place in the OT where the wearing of such phylacteries is required is Deuteronomy 6:8. These two tiny scrolls almost certainly date no later than the reign of King Josiah in the mid seventh century BC, and may date even earlier.

In the mid-seventh century, the Jewish King Josiah initiated a great reform movement, which is mentioned in 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 34. Josiah’s reformation has been made to carry much of the baggage for the textual theories of critical scholars. But, these two tiny silver scrolls with Numbers 6:24–26 inscribed on them create major problems for the textual theories of modern critical biblical scholars on the creation of the Pentateuch/Hexateuch.

Critical scholars have for several centuries argued that the book of Deuteronomy was forged in the seventh century BC, and falsely attributed to Moses by Josiah and his reform minded priestly allies. Now it appears, based on these two tiny silver scrolls, that both Numbers and Deuteronomy were already being used as divine writings in the seventh century BC.

Archaeologist Barkay himself has stated that his discovery presents major problems for the textual theories of higher critics on the development of the Pentateuch.

One of the silver scroll amulets before it was unrolled as seen on screen in a slide lecture. The silhouette is that of Gabriel Barkay, the archaeologist responsible for the discovery. Museums in England and Germany were given the opportunity to unroll the scrolls, but declined because of the delicate nature of the operation. Three years after their discovery, the scrolls were finally opened by conservators at the Israel Museum.

The third example is the Hayes Papyrus, which provides strong support for various elements found in the Joseph story. The Hayes Papyrus proves that in the Middle Kingdom Period in Egypt there were slaves from Canaan serving on private estates. It also proves that there was a state-run royal prison in Egypt under a warden or “keeper.” True prisons were very uncommon in the ancient world, but the existence of one in Egypt matches the Joseph story perfectly. In addition, the Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen has proven that the 20 shekels paid for Joseph was the standard price for a male slave in Egypt during the Patriarchal Period. Any OT scholar who deals with Joseph and the related topic of the dating of the Pentateuch, and who does not also deal with the Hayes Papyrus and Kitchen’s research, deserves to have his scholarship seriously questioned.

The fourth example is the two references to the God Yahweh found in two New Kingdom Egyptian texts, one dating to ca. 1400 BC during the reign of Amenhotep III and the other to ca. 1300 BC during the reign of Seti I. These two references to Yahweh are mentioned by S. Herrmann in his Der alttestamentliche Gottesname (1966) and in his Israel in Egypt (1973). The Egyptologist D. Redford also mentions these two references to Yahweh in his Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times (1992). (See also: The Name Yahweh in Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts).

Van Seters has several large passages in his book dealing with the theories of critical scholars on the “J” Yahwist and “JE” Yahowist writers. J and JE have at various times been labeled by critical scholars as “editors,” “redactors,” “authors,” “historians,” “collectors,” etc. However when discussing the “Yahwist” and “Yahowist” writers, almost all modern critical scholars, including Van Seters himself in this book, never even mention the oldest known references to the God Yahweh ever found in any non-biblical ancient text. This is an inexcusable omission. About a year ago I talked with a fairly famous OT scholar, who had never even heard of these references to Yahweh in Egyptian texts. Incidentally, Van Seters himself dates all of the books of Moses after 850 BC (p. 27).

The fifth example is an Egyptian “model letter” which mentions a people called the “Shasu of Edom” who were allowed by the pharaoh to settle in the area of Goshen near the ancient city of Pithom. Pithom is, of course, given in the book of Exodus as one of the cities built by the Israelites for an earlier pharaoh. This model letter, which dates to ca. 1192 BC, also states that these Shasu of Edom and their herds were being allowed to settle in Egypt because of a drought. This letter is so close to the story of the Israelite entrance into Egypt that it is shocking, but only a few OT scholars have made use of it. It appears that it was not unusual for ancient Egyptian pharaohs to allow Semitic herders to settle in the area of Goshen. S. Herrmann provides a copy of this model letter in English translation in his Israel and Egypt.

And the sixth example is my own work on “Cushan of the Rishathaim, King of Aram Naharim,” against whom Judges 3 states that the first judge Othniel fought. As I proved in my article “Othniel, Cushan-Rishathaim, and the Date of the Exodus,” Cushan was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mitanni. There  are a number of ancient Egyptian historical sources which prove my identification of the “Rishathaim” with the Indo-European rulers of the Kingdom of Mitanni. The Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II even campaigned against an incursion of the king of “Naharin” [Mitanni] into Canaan ca. 1450 BC. The story of Othniel’s war against Cushan fits very well within the historical context of that period. Since the Kingdom of Mitanni disappeared when the Hittites conquered it ca. 1340 BC, this identification of Cushan as a Mitanni ruler is vital for the dating of the historical material in the book of Judges.

There are dozens of other examples, which could be cited here of relevant archaeological and historical information being ignored by critical scholars of the OT, and unfortunately at times also by evangelical scholars. Incidentally, I almost immediately distrust any OT scholar that I read who does not make at least some use of either James Pritchard’s Ancient Near Eastern Texts or William Hallo’s The Context of Scripture, when interpreting, dissecting, or dating OT books. It is surprising how many, like Van Seters himself in this book, do not. Van Seters does not even list the ANET or The Context in his “Reference Works.”

Van Seters rightly complains in his book that a disconnect now exists between Homeric and biblical studies. However, there is an even greater problem, the disconnect that exists between critical OT scholarship and the relevant discoveries made by modern archaeologists. Perhaps Walter Kaiser’s Archaeological Study Bible will, in part, help to solve this problem, at least for evangelical Christians.

New Testament Critical Scholarship

While Van Seters’ main focus is the OT, primarily the Pentateuch/Hexateuch, he does deal briefly with the New Testament. He writes (290):

As Nils Dahl points out, Wellhausen’s treatment of the Gospels conforms with the sort of source analysis that was typical of his Pentateuchal studies and the general practice of Quellenscheidung of ancient literary texts that prevailed in the nineteenth century. Wellhausen accepted the Two-Source theory, that Matthew and Luke had used Mark and a common source Q, as the basic solution to the Synoptic problem.

In other words, critical scholars have played much the same game with the Gospels as they have with the Pentateuch. However, the real problem in critical NT scholarship is not the “Synoptic problem,” but how to fit so many textual theories into such a short period of time from the death of Christ to the first appearance of actual Gospel manuscripts in Egypt. For example, one fragment of the Gospel of John found in Egypt dates to ca. AD 125.

In other words, the ministry of Christ and the entire oral and written stages for the production of the Gospels had to have taken place in less than 100 years. Incidentally, not one single fragment of a Q manuscript has ever been found, and there is also not one single reference by any apostolic father that suggests that Q ever existed. In addition, the assumption of some critical scholars that the sayings of Jesus only existed in oral form for decades before being written into Q, the canonical Gospels, or the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, has nothing but critical textual theory to support it, and critical textual theories have a very poor track record when it comes to being right.

Van Seters, in dealing with the development of the NT canon and the process of canonization by the Church, makes some highly questionable statements. For example, he states that at first the “canon” of the Church was a rule of faith that was established to measure proper belief. There is a certain element of truth in this, but he goes on to state that before the fourth century: “The Church’s canon and the secret tradition of gnosis are identical” (358). Van Seters continues (355–56):

This brings us to the third question: why it is that the term canon came to be used for the exclusive list of Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Canon was not used by Greek and Latin scholars for their classics as a whole, but only for individual authors as exemplars of literary style, historical method, grammar or philosophy. Nevertheless, the Christian authors of the fourth century from the time of Athanasius on use the term canon and its verb canonize to mean the selection of an exclusive list of books recognized as holy and authoritative, and it is this meaning that is read back into earlier periods in which there was any discussion about lists of books or limits to a select group of books that were inherited from Judaism.

There are several problems with these statements by Van Seters. First, the Church’s canon, or early measure of belief, was not “identical” to a “secret tradition of gnosis.” It was the Gnostics, and the semi-Gnostic Clement of Alexandria, whom Van Seters cites for support, who believed in a “secret tradition of gnosis.” I can only imagine what Irenaeus, if he were alive today, would do with this highly questionable statement by Van Seters.

And second, Van Seters suggests that it was only when the word “canon” came to be used by the Church in the fourth century as “an exclusive list of books” which was recognized as “holy and authoritative,” that such a list came into existence. While Van Seters here is dealing with the Church’s “canonization” of OT books, he fails to mention even in passing the Muratorian Canon for the NT, which dates to the second century and which has every appearance of being an exclusive list of inspired books. This is an inexcusable omission in any discussion of canonization. He also fails to mention the Gnostic heretic Marcion, whose own rump version of the NT argues strongly for the existence of some sort of a “list of exclusive books” that were considered “holy and authoritative” by the early Church in the second century. As for the Church’s canonization of the books of the OT, it should be noted that only “canonical” OT books are actually quoted as scripture in the NT. Does not this fact alone suggest that the early Church had some sort of list of what OT books were canonical? This does not mean that there were not disagreements about the canonicity of a few books, the Song of Solomon for example; but clearly almost all of the OT books used by all Christians today, except for the Apocrypha, were accepted by orthodox, non-Gnostic Christians in the early Church as inspired Scripture.

The Contradictory Nature of Critical Biblical Scholarship

While trying to limit his attack against critical biblical scholarship to its use of editors/redactors in textual theories, Van Seters in his book deals some heavy body blows to the entire theoretical model of critical scholarship. As was seen above, Van Seters bases his attack against editors/redactors on the fact that their existence is not supported by historical or textual evidence. In this he is correct. However, as was stated above, Van Seters himself clings to dates and textual source theories which not only lack historical evidence, but which are also based on older textual theories derived from critical scholarship. And yet, as Van Seters himself states, older critical scholars based all of their critical textual theories on the supposed existence of ancient editors. While he has jettisoned editors and redactors, Van Seters’ own critical theories are also not substantiated or supported by archaeological or historical evidence.

Van Seters is a deist, and therefore has no real appreciation for or understanding of religious people who believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures. It is clear that he views such people of faith as at best unscholarly, if not naïve and/or stupid, for believing in any divine role in the production of the Old and New Testaments. However, his own textual theories are based upon his own deistic beliefs and assumptions, and he appears to be totally blind to this fact. His theories, and those of the other critical biblical scholars whom he attacks in his book, are fatally flawed. And, as was stated above, Van Seters clings to many of the same old critical assumptions. Van Seters seems to think that he can save selected parts of the old theories of German higher critics. In doing this, Van Seters attempts to save the wooden support beams out of a house that he has set on fire. Critical biblical scholarship, including that of Van Seters himself, should be given a very critical look. It has, as was stated above, a number of fatal flaws.

First, critical biblical scholars seldom agree and often blatantly contradict one another with their textual theories. Van Seters’ own historical review of critical scholarship in his book makes this abundantly clear. The conflicting and contradicting textual theories of critical scholars can be clearly seen in the conflicting and confusing alphabetic nomenclature used in their various textual theories for the OT; for example J, JE, JED, D, DH, Dtr, DJE, DtrG, DtrN, E, P, PC [Priestly Code], Q [for OT not NT], pre-exilic P, post-exilic P, R, Rj, Re, Rb, Rh, Rp, Rd, Rje, Rjep, RI, RII, RIII, K, KD, KP, L, B, H. Note also that even when the same alphabet letters are used by critical scholars for dividing up the OT, they frequently use them in very different ways; for example: J, E, and D are by various textual critics called: “collectors,” “historians,” “authors” “redactors,” and “editors.”

The technical language used by biblical critics in their theories also reflects the vast array of their conflicting textual theories and methodological approaches. For example note the following technical terms and phrases:

Tetrateuch, Pentateuch, Hexateuch, Hexateuchal redactor, Volksdichtung, Glossator, Zusammenarbeiter, Grundlage, Formgeschichte, Quellenscheidung, Gemeindebildung, Bearbeitungeschichte, Uberlieferungsgeschichte, Redaktionsgeschichte, Traditionsgeschichte, Heilsgeschichte, Urtext, Urschrift, soferim, Verfasseroder Sammler, Vatergeschichte, Sammlungen, Sagen, Heldensagen, etc.

Amarna Letter from Labayu, king of Shechem. The Amarna Letters are powerful proof of sophisticated communications between Egypt and Canaan, another reality demonstrating the falsity of liberal theories about the formation of the Pentateuch. Mike Luddeni.

How can so many conflicting textual theories be true? Unfortunately, for most textual critics truth is not their goal. Many biblical critics today are more interested in reader response hermeneutics and creative textual criticism than they are in finding the truth, and for some, truth is purely relative. To paraphrase a modern saying, for textual critics “it is not important whether your textual theory is true or false, but how you play the methodological game.”

I once took a graduate seminar course with a critical biblical professor and heard him compliment students on their ingenuity in dissecting the Bible into various sources and giving their interpretations. As I remember from his later comments, there were only one or two out of 10–12 students who agreed with his own textual divisions and interpretations. But he complimented everyone, except for me, and told most that he thought that their conflicting interpretations and textual divisions, almost all of which were in conflict with his, were interesting and/or deserved consideration. To me it appeared that textual method was more important than the search for truth.

Second, critical scholarship is extremely deceptive in its use of the word “history,” or geschichte in German. Note the following German terms used by critical scholars: Formgeschichte, Bearbeitungeschichte, Uberlieferungsgeschichte, Redaktionsgeschichte, Traditionsgeschichte, Heilsgeschichte and Vatergeschichte, and I have undoubtedly left some off of this list.

Critical scholars have frequently based their textual theories upon textual “histories,” which they have reconstructed or deconstructed from the biblical texts themselves. These textual “histories” seldom use, or only use in passing, actual historical sources or archaeological discoveries. This is a dishonest and deceptive use of the word “history” by critical scholars. It gives the false impression that their critical theories are historically based, when they are not. Their deceptive use of the word “history” should stop. (I am, by the way, trained as an ancient historian.)

Third, when critical biblical scholars do make use of history and archaeology, it often is in the form of “there is no historical evidence for __________; therefore, the Bible is inaccurate.” I am old enough to have sat in a college class and to have heard a critical professor say that Ezekiel 29:19 was a false prophecy because there was no archaeological evidence that the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar had ever invaded Egypt. This was a foolish argument from silence, and later archaeological evidence from Egypt proved that Nebuchadnezzar had indeed invaded, looted, and devastated the delta area of Egypt (Holladay 1982: 21–22; 1992: 590). Critical scholarship has for far too long made use of such arguments from silence. This is very poor scholarship, and it is time that this too stopped.

Fourth, critical textual theories are frequently based upon highly questionable assumptions. For example, based on the old Homeric model, critical scholars frequently assumed a period of oral transmission for various portions of the OT. I see no real problem with the possibility that portions of the Bible were passed along orally before biblical writers incorporated them into their books. However, the assumption of oral transmission is almost always based upon another assumption, which is that the Jews were not literate at some point in ancient history. This assumption is frequently made for the Patriarchal Period; that is, if the critical scholar even happens to believe there were patriarchs. This is another critical argument from silence that has now been blown away by archaeology.

Richard Steiner, professor of Semitic languages and literature at Yeshiva University in New York recently gave a public lecture titled “Proto-Canaanite Spells in the Pyramid Texts” in which he stated that ancient texts in a “proto-Canaanite” language have been found in Egypt that date at least as early as the 25th century BC. These proto-Canaanite spells were written using Egyptian hieroglyphs. They were originally discovered over a century ago, but only recently identified by Steiner as Semitic.

Egyptologist Robert Ritner of the University of Chicago sent these texts to Steiner when he himself could not make sense of the hieroglyphics; Ritner suspected that the language was Semitic. Steiner in studying these texts concluded, as Ritner suspected, that, while these magical spells are written in Egyptian hieroglyphs, they are not in the Egyptian language, but in a Semitic “proto-Canaanite” language.

Biblical Hebrew and ancient Canaanite were essentially the same language, and later both even used the same alphabet. Incidentally, the artificial division made by a few historians between Canaanites and Phoenicians is stupid. There is textual evidence from ancient Carthage that the Phoenicians who lived there still called themselves “Canaanites,” long after having left Canaan. There is no textual evidence suggesting that they ever called themselves Phoenicians—but I, too, need to avoid arguments from silence.

The infamous Egyptian “Book of the Dead” serves as one of many examples of how ancient writers copied and preserved texts over long periods of time. Critical scholars rarely, if ever, refer to these texts when examining the history of the transmission of the Old Testament. Mike Luddeni.

These magical spells in this proto-Canaanite language were found in an older chamber beneath the pyramid tomb of King Unas at Saqqara in Egypt. The pyramid of King Unas dates to the 24th century BC, but these Semitic texts have been dated even earlier between the 30th and 25th centuries BC. Steiner thinks that these Canaanite magical texts were sent to Egypt from Byblos to be copied into the Pyramid Texts found in this non-royal tomb. This means that someone in Byblos could write this proto-Canaanite language in Egyptian hieroglyphs at least as early as the 25th century BC. Most modern scholars, if they believe in a real Abraham, would date him to ca. 2000 BC. In other words, there is now evidence that a very early version of the Canaanite/Hebrew language was being written in Egyptian hieroglyphs centuries before Abraham lived. Critical textual theories that assume that portions of the OT could have only existed for centuries in oral form must, at the very least, be re-thought, if not rejected. Incidentally, a wide range of artifacts, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics and dating as early as the Middle Kingdom Period, have been found at the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit, which is located about 400 mi (644 km) north of Egypt on the Syrian coast.

Numerous clay tablets in cuneiform have also been found at Ugarit. It was, of course, at Ugarit that an alphabet based on Mesopotamian cuneiform glyphs was seemingly invented.

Besides Ugaritic alphabetic cuneiform, texts have been found at Ugarit written in Sumerian cuneiform, Akkadian cuneiform, Hittite hieroglyphic, Hittite cuneiform, Egyptian hieroglyphic, Hurrian cuneiform, and Cypro-Minoan Linear A. All of these date from before the fall of Ugarit to the Sea Peoples in ca. 1200 BC. Incidentally, one text at Ugarit mentions a man called “Abraham the Egyptian,” who cannot be the Abraham of the Bible, but was probably a Hyksos leader.

To the textual evidence at Ugarit should also be added the evidence of the Amarna Letters, which clearly prove that Canaanite kings in the 14th century BC, during the Late Bronze Age, were either literate themselves or had scribes who were literate in Akkadian cuneiform. As Horowitz and Oshima’s new book Cuneiform in Canaan proves, there is even epigraphical evidence as early as the Middle Bronze Age in Canaan, which indicates that at least some Canaanites were literate in cuneiform at this early period. All of this is to say, that any critical scholar who assumes that Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Joseph, Joshua, etc., were a bunch of illiterate sheep-herding nomads, needs to take a very close look at what archaeology has discovered about the literacy of the ancient Canaanites.

And fifth, critical biblical scholars, who have theories on the editing, transmission, and development of biblical texts, seldom use exemplars that are available of other ancient sacred or semi-sacred texts. For example, archaeologists have discovered hundreds of portions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead and its antecedents in the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts. I have yet to read a single OT scholar who has used the transmission of the Book of the Dead as an exemplar for studying the transmission of the Pentateuch. In addition, at least three major portions of The Epic of Gilgamesh have been found at various sites, and all come from different time periods. If my memory does not fail me, these texts and several other fragments of Gilgamesh span a period of about 1000 years, and some were found hundreds of miles away from each other. Small fragments of The Epic have even been found at Ugarit and Megiddo. Perhaps there is one biblical critic who has studied the textual transmission of The Epic of Gilgamesh, but I have not read him/her. Certainly such a comparative approach is at the least very uncommon.

A comparative study of textual transmission could also be made with other ancient texts. For another example, several copies of ancient Mesopotamian myths written in Akkadian cuneiform were discovered at Amarna in Egypt. Among them were the myths Nergal and Ereshkigal and Apada. However, I have also not yet read any critical biblical scholar who has used the transmission of these ancient texts as any sort of an exemplar for the transmission of biblical texts. There may be a critical scholar who has, but I have not read him/her; and, as was stated above, at the very least, this approach is not common. However, it should be!

Conclusion

Van Seters’ attack on the supposed use of editors/redactors by critical biblical scholars in their textual theories is justified. Critical scholars did adopt the late Renaissance model of editors and anachronistically applied it to ancient “editors.” But Van Seters does not go far enough. He should have also attacked all critical textual theories for which there is no historical or archaeological support. The problem for Van Seters is that he too still clings to critical textual beliefs for which there is no archaeological or historical support. I am not writing here about conflicting interpretations of archaeological or historical evidence. I am writing about textual theories and interpretations for which there is no historical evidence, and for which contradictory evidence often exists. Biblical scholars may differ on the interpretation of historical and archaeological evidence, but they should never develop textual theories without first looking very carefully at the archaeological and historical evidence which is available.

The wide variety of conflicting textual theories developed by critical scholars, and the lack of supporting archaeological or historical evidence for almost all of their theories, demands that they adopt a new paradigm when interpreting the Bible. Below is a suggested list of rules which I believe all biblical scholars should keep. There is nothing new in my list, but I do feel strongly that these are rules that must be followed.

First, determine what the biblical text is actually saying, not what you think it is saying.

Second, place the biblical text in its historical setting; this means consulting archaeology and ancient history. This will provide an essential check on what you think the biblical text is saying.

Third, never develop a textual theory on the transmission of the text of the Bible without first determining how other ancient texts were copied, “edited,” or transmitted.

Fourth, never assume that the mindset of ancient peoples was identical to that of modern Western Europeans. This is a common error made by modern interpreters of the Bible, and it was the great error of critical classical and biblical scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Fifth, deal with biblical books as units and not as a series of fragmented texts to be constantly dissected into smaller pieces. Six, avoid like the plague any textual theory or interpretation which does not match the cultural context of the ancient world as seen in ancient history and archaeology.

Seventh, never use the word “history” without actually doing historical research. Textual theories based only on textual analysis are not historical!

Eighth, be conscious of your own assumptions and beliefs.

And ninth, never play the hermeneutical game of “what does this mean to me?” without first determining what the author intended it to mean.

In conclusion, Van Seters’ The Edited Bible would make an excellent addition to the library of any biblical scholar who wants to see the theoretical mistakes made by critical biblical scholars in the last 300-plus years. It also should serve as a warning to any biblical scholar who bases his/her interpretations only on his/her own textual theories without seeing if they fit with archaeology and ancient history.

Bibliography

Billington, Clyde E.
2005 Othniel, Cushan-Rishathaim, and the Date of the Exodus. Pp. 117–32 in Beyond the Jordan: Studies in Honor of W. Harold Mare, ed. Glenn A. Carnagey, Sr. Eugene, OR: Wipf &
Stock.

Franz, Gordon
2005 “Remember, Archaeology is NOT a Treasure Hunt!” Bible and Spade 18: 53–59.

Hallo, William W.
1997 The Context of Scripture I: Canonical Compositions from the Biblical World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
2000 The Context of Scripture II: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.
2002 The Context of Scripture III: Archival Documents from the Biblical World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

Hasel, Gerhard F.
1992 New Light on the Book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Archaeology and Biblical Research 5:45–53.

Herrmann, Siegfried
1966 Der alttestamentliche Gottesname. Evangelische Theologie 26:281–93.
1973 Israel in Egypt. Trans. Margaret Kohl, from German. London: SCM.

Holladay, John S., Jr.
1982 Tell el-Maskhuta: Preliminary Report on the Wadi Tumilat Project 1978–1979. Malibu, CA: Undena.
1992 Maskhuta, Tell el-. Pp. 588–92 in The Anchor Bible Dictionary 4, ed. David N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday.

Horowitz, Wayne, and Oshima, Takayoshi
2006 Cuneiform in Canaan: Cuneiform Sources from the Land of Israel in Ancient Times. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Kaiser, Walter C., ed.
2005 NIV Archaeological Study Bible. Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan.

Pritchard, James B., ed.
1969 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, third ed. Princeton NJ: Princeton University.

Redford, Donald B.
1992 Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton NJ: Princeton University.

Van Seters, John
1992 Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University.
2006 The Edited Bible: The Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism. Winona Lake IN: Eisenbrauns.

Dr. Clyde Billington has a PhD in history from the University of Iowa. He has taught at Oakland University in Michigan, Valley Baptist Seminary in Minneapolis, and at Wayne State University in Detroit. Dr. Billington joined the faculty at Northwestern in 1993, where he is currently the executive director for the Institute of Biblical Archaeology.

 

 

Comments Comment RSS

9/17/2010 9:26 PM #

Exemplary logic.  Clear and helpful presentation of the historical evidence.  Epistemological soundness despite muddy waters poured out by others who foist "science so-called" in lieu of real scholarship.  Finally, some clear-headed thinking on an archaeological problem:  of course, such Biblical, logical, Christ-honoring thinking is to be expected from a scholar like Dr. Billington!

Dr. James J. S. Johnson - 9/17/2010 9:26:17 PM

8/10/2012 11:28 AM #

Dear ABR Supporters,

A new online article by Dr. Eugene Merrill, Distinguished Professor of OT at Dallas Seminary, concerning the Documentary Hypothesis was recently published. Entitled: "Deuteronomy and de Wette: A Fresh Look at a Fallacious Premise", this article deals with several glaring deficiencies concerning the DH and Deuteronomy. Here is an excerpt:

"The premise to be re-evaluated here is that Deuteronomy, in part or in its entirety, was the product of pious scribes of the Divided Monarchy period, who, recipients of certain oral and perhaps fragmentary written traditions, were intent on delivering Israel from political, social, and religious disintegration. They therefore integrated their sources and composed the book, attributing it to Moses and thus investing it with authority necessary to address in most specific terms the circumstances that threatened the existence of the covenant community...The purpose of this essay is once more to raise objections to these tenets on historical, geographical, cultural/sociological, and theological grounds and to place back into the hands of Moses the text which itself testifies to his authorship."

It is available off-site at:

jesot.org/.../JESOT-1.1-Merrill.pdf

Blessings,
ABR Staff

ABR - 8/10/2012 11:28:52 AM

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