At this stage of rebuilding his worldview we find Chris going from one idea to another; he is first impressed by this author and then that one. Sometime later some of the authors whose works he thought profound were dismantled by arguments of yet another impressive author. The sad truth is that as Chris showed himself embracing this idea and then that one, at first impressed but then disenchanted, he seemed like a drunkard bouncing off one wall of a hallway to the other as he staggered to reach the “light” (truth) at the end of the tunnel.
In his next video (HERE) Chris embraced the views of Karen Armstrong found in her book “A History of God.” He claims that if we are reading the English translation of our Bible, we aren’t reading the real story about God. Instead, we are reading an edited version of what really occurred, and that account contains additions and modifications. How do we know this? Chris tells us that monotheism evolved in Jewish history. It was never born until the Babylonian captivity. Different editors changed the details of the Torah, the historical books and the Prophets. What evidence does he or Karen Armstrong have that this is so? None! Instead Chris appeals to the popular opinion of academia, something he mentioned with disdain in an early video when he spoke of common sense—or an opinion that enjoys popular treatment. The fact remains that Karen Armstrong’s book is founded upon subjective opinion whose treatment of ancient archeology has other interpretations of at least equal value, but considering the fact that the Documentary Hypothesis is skewed from the start and intended to support a particular worldview, we must consider the natural flow of the Bible a tentatively better understanding of Jewish history.
Karen Armstrong’s views are not new. The Documentary Hypothesis began in the 19th century with Julius Wellhausen who compiled earlier arguments about the origins of Judaism into a logical and well thought out theory. It seemed to be the idea of its day, because in the biological evolutionary atmosphere of the 19th century folks were ready to be persuaded further in favor of the evolution of religion as well. Wellhausen’s documentary analysis of how we received the Bible dominated scholarly debate on this subject for well into the 20th century.
The problem is that when an hypothesis is proved wrong, it is usually scrapped in favor of something else, but this doesn’t seem to occur with the Documentary Hypothesis. It seems to be the favorite son of academia. For example, originally Wellhausen argued that Moses couldn’t have written the Torah, because writing hadn’t been invented at that time or at least hadn’t been used by Jews so early. Therefore, the first five books of the Bible **must** have been authored much later. Archeology has since proved that theory wrong, but JEDP survived the hit. In fact, it has survived many such ‘hits’. According to Jewish ANE scholar Cyrus Gordon:
“When I speak of ‘commitment’ to JEDP, I mean it in the deepest sense of the word. I have heard professors of Old Testament refer to the integrity of JEDP as their ‘conviction.’ They are willing to countenance modifications in detail. They permit you to subdivide (D1, D2, D3, and so forth) or combine (JE) or add a new document designated by another capital letter but they will not tolerate any questioning of the basic JEDP structure.
“I am at a loss to explain this kind of ‘conviction’ on any grounds other than intellectual laziness or inability to reappraise.
“A professor of Bible in a leading university once asked me to give him the facts on JEDP. I told him essentially what I have written above. He replied: ‘I am convinced by what you say but I shall go on teaching the old systems.’
“When I asked him why, he answered: ‘Because what you have told me means I should have to unlearn as well as study afresh and rethink. It is easier to go on with the accepted system of higher criticism for which we have standard textbooks.’” [Christianity Today; November, 1959]
The criteria Wellhausen used to determine a document’s source was very subjective in approach. He reasoned authorship using such things as vocabulary or word choice as proof of his hypothesis. If one would analyze this blogpost one might reason that it is the result of several authors. For example, Chris’s name is used only in the first two paragraphs. Perhaps the rest of my blog was written by someone else. The word ‘folks’ is used only in paragraph 3 and the name Wellhausen appears only in 3 & 4, both implying source ‘B’. Karen Armstrong’s name appears only in paragraph 2 and 3. Perhaps we have evidence of a transition from source ‘A’ to source ‘B’, indicating still a third source ‘C’ who seeks to smooth over the sudden changes from paragraphs 1 & 2 to that of 3 & 4. The word ‘worldview’ is also used only in paragraphs 1 and 2, further substantiating ‘A’ as its source. The word ‘documentary’ is used in paragraphs 2, 3 and 4 again implying another author seeking to blend sources ‘A’ and ‘B’. Isn’t this simply ridicules? Isn’t it much more likely that a single author wrote this blogpost, albeit, I did quote another author in the four paragraphs preceding this one, but I **did** refer to this author and identified him by name. Subjective analysis is not the end-all of literary criticism, and we should recognize this. Shouldn’t we?