Item description for Ethnic Myths and Pentateuchal Foundations: A New Approach to the Formation of the Pentateuch by E. Theodore Mullen & Jr. E. Mullen...
Proposes a new interpretive model that views the section of the Old Testament as documenting the foundation of a distinct ethnic and religious group. Argues that it was composed in Judah during the Persian period in response to threats to the community resulting from foreign domination. The emphasis is on the function of the texts; avoids the much
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Studio: Society of Biblical Literature
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.3" Width: 6.22" Height: 0.85" Weight: 1.02 lbs.
Release Date Dec 31, 1998
Publisher Society of Biblical Literature
ISBN 0788503820 ISBN13 9780788503825
Availability 117 units. Availability accurate as of May 29, 2017 11:31.
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More About E. Theodore Mullen & Jr. E. Mullen
E. Theodore Mullen has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Ethnic Myths and Pentateuchal Foundations: A New Approach to the Formation of the Pentateuch?
Read Richard Friedman instead Jul 22, 2004
While it's true that it's always difficult to advance a nonconventional opinion, it's particularly hard to do so when the opinion you advance is poorly grounded in overarching evidence. This is the fatal flaw of this book wherein Mullen attempts to buck two hundred years of biblical scholarhship by claiming that not only that source theory is defunct but also that the first five books of the Bible were written after the fall of the first Jewish temple of Solomon and during the time when Jews found themselves captives in Babylonia. For the benefit of those who haven't read much about it, the past two hundred years have been an exciting time in biblical scholarship. During this time, scholars studying the texts of Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy have noticed stark differences in phraseology between the texts. For example, in some places the Bible will speak of "Yaweh" while in others the Bible will speak of "Lord." In some places the Bible will seem to tell two different versions of the same story. For example, the Bible has two different creation accounts in that in one creation took seven days while in the other the Bible speaks of "the day" on which creation took place. As another for instance, in one flood story, the Bible speaks of how Noah took two pairs of all animals while in the other, Noah took seven pairs of all clean animals but two pair of all the others. Also, in some places the Hebrew itself is so archaic as to suggest authorship by an earlier writer. In this case, the Song of the Sea at Exodus 15 is a great example in that this writing if perhaps the earliest writing in the entire Bible. As a result of these observations, scholars have distilled basically five different strata of biblical authorship. The first is called the J material. It's basically all the interesting stuff that's in the first five books. According to Richard Friedman in his Hidden Books in the Bible, the original book of J finds itself parsed out in sections starting in Genesis and ending in Kings. It is characterized in one fashion by its usage of the term Yaweh in discussing the name of God. Because of its word choice and unique set of concerns, it is traditionally held to have been written sometime after the reign of King David. The second strata is E material characterized by its use of the term Elohim for God. It dates from shortly after J and is also characerized by the fact that it does not mention the name of Yaweh for God until after Yaweh's self revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai/Horeb. The next strata is P or priestly material so called because of its uniquely Priestly concerns. Leviticus for example is basically just one long priestly document. This is traditionally dated to prior to the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. The next strata is D to refer to Deutronomy which uses similar words to both Jeremiah and the so called Deutronomistic histories (for example Kings until Josiah dies). Finally there is R material so called because of the manner in which it serves to finally unite the fives books into more or less their current format. R is traditionally dated to around the time of Esra. Please note that these divisions are just basic ones. For example, Deuteronomy has been further parsed into Dtr1, Dtr2, and Dtr3 each revealing distinct strata in the composition and development of the document. This is the theory that that Mullens attacks. One would think that a scholar attempting to attack two centuries of scholarship would rise to the occassion and recognize the inherent skepticism he would face would require extreme proofs. Even conceding Mullens this subjective understanding, I would deny that his book shows it. As indicated, if his claim is that the Pentatauch was created after the fall, his first problem is with the traditionally older texts like for example the Song of the Sea. As stated this poem is perhaps the oldest thing in the Bible and yet all we get from Mullens is a footnote that forwards us to Frank Moore Cross' book Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. This citation is particularly unsatisfying because, well, Cross, was a proponent of source theory. Mullens references to the Blessing of Jacob and the Blessing of Moses were equally unsatisfying dealing, as they did with material heretofore uniformly conceded to be among the oldest in pre J biblical strata. Textually Mullens fails to explain why Jews writing in Babylon would still recall the specifics as to Pi Rameses and Egyptian brick making practices or be hung up about the old days of the corvee. Written at a later date, the text would have shown concerns with later practices. For example, although Mullens makes much of his claim that Abraham's purchase of a burial plot for Sarah accorded with later practice, he fails to explain why Joseph would have sold for a slave rate consistent with that prevalent during the beginning of the New Kingdom or as another for instance why Abraham and Sarah would have observed the earlier practice of adopting each other as a sibling. For that matter while we're on the subject of Abraham, how does Mullens explain the unique tradition about Abraham as a war cheiftain as set out at Genesis 14. An easier explanation is that these writings reflected more antiquated practices because they were written in more antiquated times reflecting more antiquated traditions. Mullens seems to show an unnecessary skepticism about early Hebrew literacy thinking that less literacy would make a later date for biblical origins more likely. However, other cultures had their own greatly articulated epic stories at an early point. One for instance is the Epic of Gilgamesh and the other of course are the Illiad and Odessy of Homer. Should Hebrews a priori be denied a similar status? Honestly, although the answer may well be yes, Mullens fails to prove it. And indeed he even so inartfully advances his cause as to make the outside observer wonder how irrevocably he has damaged it. In other words, source theory may fall but certainly not as a result of this book.