The Wellhausen Theory Of The Pentateuch, And Textual Criticism -- By: G. Ch. Aalders

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 071:283 (Jul 1914)
Article: The Wellhausen Theory Of The Pentateuch, And Textual Criticism
Author: G. Ch. Aalders


The Wellhausen Theory Of The Pentateuch, And Textual Criticism

Dr. G. Ch. Aalders

The edifice of Pentateuchal Criticism, of which Astruc had laid the foundations a century and half ago, and which a large number of scholars had laboriously helped to rear, each in his way, till Julius Wellhausen gave it its present form, was the glory and pride of Old Testament scholarship till a short time ago. No result seemed to be so sure as the documentary theory. The voices which had been raised against this hypothesis at the outset had gradually died away. Keil, Böhl, Ad. Zahn, Bissell, Green, and Hoedemaker had sunk in the grave, one after the other; Franz Delitzsch in his old age had been more and more convinced of the correctness of the documentary theory; only Rupprecht had continued to raise his voice against it, supported by a few believing Roman Catholic and orthodox Jewish scholars like Kaulen and David Hoffmann. Hardly any thorough scholar could be found who did not bow to the scientific authority of the Graf-Kuenen-Wellhausen hypothesis, even though he held the extremely conservative opinions of a König. Nobody really dared question its correctness.

True there was much divergence of opinion about numerous questions of detail, e. g. as to the age of the several parts out of which the Pentateuch had been composed, and the extension of the analysis to the whole text of the Pentateuch. But about the fact itself that the Pentateuch consisted of dif-

ferent strata, diverging especially in time, about the number, course, and characteristics of these different strata, there was sufficient agreement, as a single glance at the “Introductions” and Commentaries on the Pentateuch most widely used at present distinctly proves. Thus though Old Testament scholars were obliged to acknowledge that a good deal further work would be necessary to equip the interior of the edifice of Pentateuchal Criticism in accordance with scientific requirements, and though they still differed entirely as to how this equipment ought to be effected, one thing seemed to be beyond question, viz. that the actual edifice of Pentateuchal Criticism, raised on unshakable foundations and built in splendid fashion, was a brilliant monument, for all time, of the glory of Old Testament Scholarship.

During the last ten years this state of affairs has undergone a radical change. A remarkable turn is taking place in opinion. Objections have been raised to the correctness of the almost supreme Wellhausen hypothesis, which can no longer be waived aside with a single gesture as coming from the traditionalists. And in the circles of Old Testament scholars men have been asking more and more earnestly whether the edifice is indeed as solid...

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