Is The Documentary Theory Tenable? -- By: Johannes Dahse

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:281 (Jan 1914)
Article: Is The Documentary Theory Tenable?
Author: Johannes Dahse

Is The Documentary Theory Tenable?1

Johannes Dahse


Three Important Admissions

Since I wrote my last article for the Bibliotheca Sacra (Oct. 1912), remarkable things have occurred in the field of Pentateuchal inquiry. In Germany, in England and America, leading members of the prevailing school have either abandoned important positions held by the higher critics or adopted the methods of the textual critics. We cite three instances: —

1. In Germany, Hugo Gressmann has published his work “Mose und seine Zeit” (Göttingen, 1913). According to this, Moses is the founder of the Israelitish religion (p. 446); out of the organic development of his work sprung the works of the great prophets; they are the heirs of Moses, without whom they could not have accomplished what they did (p. 467); the Red Sea incident is an historical event which was an ocular demonstration to the Israelites of the absolute supremacy of Jahweh over the gods of the Egyptians (p. 470). The religion of Jahweh, which Moses introduced, is a thoroughly moral religion. Through the services of Moses the sphere of justice was for the first time embodied in the domain of religion on Israelitish soil, thus creating the firm foundation for the future nature of the state (p. 471). The stories of Genesis emanate, in their original form, from pre-

Mosaic times (p. 426); those of the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, extend in their oldest parts into the time of Moses; indeed, they are perhaps, in part, still older (p. 385). Concerning the Decalogue, Gressmann not only considers a Mosaic conception of it possible, but he even asserts (p. 476) that the Decalogue of Exodus 20 is in distinct accordance with Moses’ foundation of religion, and that Exodus 20, was the catechism of the Hebrews in Mosaic times!

What a change in the view concerning the development of the religion of Israel; since, as late as 1890, Eduard Reuss voiced his well-known thesis that the Prophets are older than the Law, and the Psalms younger than both! But now Gressmann expresses the conviction that the current formula “Moses and the Prophets,” which critics have sought falsely to reverse, may still, as formerly, be justified. The same Eduard Reuss, in 1890, wrote in the second edition of his “Geschichte der heiligen Schriften alten Testaments”: “It may properly be asked, whether at the time of Moses there could be a question concerning the art of writing and of the other allied arts among the Israelites to the extent presupposed “(p. 96). The controversy con...

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