Source Criticism & Genesis 34 -- By: Robin Parry

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 51:1 (NA 2000)
Article: Source Criticism & Genesis 34
Author: Robin Parry

Source Criticism & Genesis 34

Robin Parry


Most historical critics consider the story in Genesis 34 to be composed of two sources which differ considerably from the redactional unity in which they now stand. In this study a critique is offered of the arguments given for such an analysis of the chapter and it is argued that we ought to consider the story always to have existed as a unity.

I. Introduction

The great revolution in Biblical Studies that came to be known as ‘Higher Criticism’ soon made its presence felt in the study of Genesis 34.1 Genesis 34 is of interest in that it is one of only two extended stories in Genesis thought to be composed of more than one source.2 Although many of the major writings in recent years on Genesis 34 have ignored source-critical questions and have simply examined the work as a finished product,3 there have been some important recent studies which continue the concern with the source history of

the chapter.4 In this essay I propose to outline the results of source-critical studies of Genesis 34 along with the rationale behind them. I shall argue that such studies fail to establish their conclusions and that Genesis 34 should be considered as coming from a single source.

II. Source Criticism Of Genesis 34

With very few exceptions, the world of biblical scholarship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries eagerly embraced the methods of source criticism and in particular the Graf-Wellhausen documentary hypothesis. As far as Genesis 34 goes basically two main positions were held (von Rad5 ):

(1) A documentary solution which held that the chapter was composed of two separate stories that were blended together by a redactor, and

(2) A supplementary hypothesis which held that the original story has been substantially modified by major additions from a later hand.

Both such approaches begin by trying to account for the same features of the text which are considered to count against the un...

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