The History Of Joseph And The Higher Criticism (Genesis 37-50) -- By: Oxonius

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 080:318 (Apr 1923)
Article: The History Of Joseph And The Higher Criticism (Genesis 37-50)
Author: Oxonius

The History Of Joseph And The Higher Criticism
(Genesis 37-50)


The space given to the history of Joseph is very considerable, hardly less than to Abraham; it occupies more than a fifth of the book of Genesis; yet the more is told the more comes to sight which might have been told, only that the necessary limits of a book called for contraction and not completeness. Much of the discrepancy discovered by the critics in this account of Joseph is not really inconsistency but variety of statements which may well be complementary, and the limits of space make extensive omission of original matter more than probable.

There may be no a priori objection to the use of more than one document in its original wording more or less modified, but at the same time no actual discrimination should be accepted without serious weighing of substantial evidence.

Mr. D. C. Simpson, in his Pentateuchal Criticism, says that “in the story of Joseph, the compiler who united J and E into a single whole, did his work with consummate skill and ably harmonized the two strands without destroying the distinctive characteristics still observable in each.” He has no doubt harmonized the documents in a masterly manner, restricting himself conscientiously to their words while producing a result at variance with both. It will be well to write out in full under the head of J and E the verses or parts of verses beginning at v. 17 of the thirty-seventh chapter in which Dr. Driver (LOT, 7th Edition, p. 18) finds “two complete parallel accounts of the manner in which Joseph was taken into Egypt, each connecting with two corresponding narratives in the chapters following.”1


37:17. And Joseph went after his brethren and found them in Dothan. (18) And they saw him afar off. and before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. (21) And Reuben (read Judah) heard

it and delivered him out of their hand, and said, Let us not take his life. (25) And they lifted up their eyes and looked, and behold a travelling company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. (26) And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother and conceal his blood? (27) Co...

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