Pentateuch Midterm Study guide
PENTATEUCH AND HISTORICAL BOOKS MID-TERM EXAM STUDY GUIDE Joseph F. Wimmer, O.S.A. – September 29, 2010
Give a brief outline history of archaeological discoveries related to the Bible, give the approximate dates and state the importance of the following discoveries: the Rosetta Stone, the Moabite Stone, the tunnel of Hezekiah and the Siloam inscription, the Tell el-Amarna letters, Ugaritic texts, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the “House of David” inscription. Reference Wimmer p. 17
|Rosetta Stone||169 B.C. Found in 1799||Egypt by Napoleon’s troops. Deciphered in 1822 by Jean-Francios Champollion. Text written in three languages Greek, Demotic (a late form of Egyptian) and Hieroglyphics.|
|Moabite Stone||850 BC||Carved for King Mesha of Moab to commemorate his war for freedom against the rule of the Israelite kings in the 9th century B.C. Reveals much about Moabite writing, the worship of its god and its relation to Israel. Has 34 lines, was written in Moabite dialect of Hebrew.|
|Tunnel of Hezekiah and the Siloam inscription:||715-689 BC.||From the time of King Hezekiah of Judah in Describes in detail how two parties worked from opposite ends, met successfully in the middle. Referenced in 2 Kings 20:20|
|Tell el-Amarna letters||1350 BC||Over 300 tablets found; letters from Palestine about ; Palestine was under Egyptian domination at this time.|
|Ugaritic texts||1200 BC||Found in Syria 1929 by C. Shaeffer. A Canaanite city destroyed in and never rebuilt. An entire library from the royal palace with hundreds of texts in a dialect very close to ancient Hebrew. Many political but some about the Canaanite religion. What had been known only through Israel’s prophets, who fought against its pagan practices, was now revealed in writings by its own believers.|
|Dead Sea Scrolls||275 BC and 50 AD||of the Monks of Qumran. Find included texts of the Bible copied between . collection of 972 documents, including texts from the Hebrew Bible, discovered between 1946 and 1956 in eleven caves in and around the ruins of the ancient settlement of Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in the West Bank|
|House of David inscription||9th century BC||From Abraham Brian Tel Dan found the fragment of a basalt setel with an Aramaic inscription that contains the wordes “bytdwd”, “House of David” paralled to the “King if Israel. The first mention of King David in extra-biblical text.|
Briefly describe the three stone ages, with approximate dates, also the Early Bronze Age (EB) and Iron Age I. Give the approximate dates of the following events: Death of King Solomon and formation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel; conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians; Conquest of Jerusalem and beginning of the Babylonian Exile; Conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Persian; Freedom of the Israelites to return home from Babylon; dates of the beginning and completion of the rebuilding of the Temple after the return of the Israelites from Babylon.
|790,000||'Old Stone Age, Paleolithic||Food-gathering; earliest controlled use of fire,|
|12,000 - 8000||Middle Stone Age, Mesolithic||transition from a nomatic to sedentary life; beginning of agriculture, sickles, domestication of animals; stone tools improved.|
|8,000 – 4,000||New Stone Age, Neolithic||towns Jerico; potters wheel|
|4,000 - 3,300||Chalcolithic (Copper-Stone)||transition from stone to copper/bronze|
|3,200 – 2,100||Early Bronze Age||
|2,100 - 1,550||Middle Bronze||
|1,550 - 1,200||Late Bronze||Moses and the Exodus ca. 1260|
|1,200 – 900||Iron Age I||
|900 - 600||Iron Age II||
|600 - 332||Iron age III||
|332 - 164||Hellenistic||Alexander the Great brought the Greek armies to Palestine in 332|
|164 - 63||The Maccabees|
|63 - 325 AD||Roman Period||
See Coogan Chapter 4 p. 47
What is the documentary hypothesis of the formation of the Pentateuch? Describe what is meant by J, E, D, and P in terms of traditional date, general literary characteristics, and some examples of a text from J, .D, and P in the Old Testament. Be prepared to say how the passage you chose exemplifies the special qualities of the document it illustrates.
- What is DH: The theory that the Pentateuch was composed by combining four main strands or documents. P Priestly, J Yahwistic, E Elohistic, and D Deuteronomy. The classic formulation is credited to the German Julius Wellhausen in the 1870s and 1880s. (Collins)
|Priestly||Priestly is easiest to recognize. Has a rather dry, formulaic style; marked by a strong interest in genealogies, in dates and in ritual observance. P history id punctuated by a series of covenants, with Noah, Abraham, and finally Moses. P has no angels, dreams, or talking angels.||Date is very controversial. 6th century during exile to help Israel to regain moral and spiritual strength.||Genesis 5 Patriarchs before the flood is a long genealogy with lengths of life.|
||D has been associated with the reform of King Josiah in 621 B.C.||D 6:4 Israel is commanded to love YHWH “with all of your heart and soul”, to listen to His voice and to do what is right in his sight.|
|E Elohist||Puts Gods at a distance; associate revelation with dreams; reflect on problems of guilt and innocence and emphasize “fear of God”. There is no primeval history; it begins with Abraham in Genesis 15||721 B.C.||Genesis 22 Abraham told to sacrifice Isaac. The substitution of the ram for for a human sacrifice under the theme God will provide.|
||Date is disputed but likely before 721 B.C. There are writers who place it before, during and after the exile.||Genesis 12: Abraham is to be a blessing for all; I will bless all who bless you.|
- What were Joseph Blenkinsopp’s conclusions about the documentary hypothesis according to “Recent Development: The Documentary Hypothesis in Crisis,” in his book, The Pentateuch (NY: Doubleday, 1992), pp.19-28?
- It is difficult to be sure of dates before the 8th century. Items dated before this time must be demonstrated; If evidence is lacking, it is presupposed to be late (exilic)
- The Priestly writing has stood up best to scrutiny, because of its more distinctive vocabulary, style and ideology. Date of Babylonian diaspora is still favored [587-538]
- The existence of the Elohist as a separate, complete source is disputed. There is no longer any enthusiasm for retaining it.
- The presence of the Deuteronomic redaction in the first four books has been frequently asserted.
- The dating of the Yahwist (J) is also disputed. The Babylonian exile in the sixth century BC seems to provide the most plausible setting for the tradition.
- One new approach known as “canonical criticism” represented preeminently by Childs… the basic point seems to be that the appropriate object of theological reflection is the biblical text in its final form rather than hypothetically reconstructed earlier stages of formation.
- What is needed is the need for coexistence between different interpretive systems with their quite different but not necessarily incompatible agendas. We need an edict of toleration to discourage the tendency of new theories to proscribe their predecessors.
- The documentary hypothesis although flawed, will survive if at all only in a greatly modified form.
- What were Ernest Nicholson’s conclusions on this issue in The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century: The Legacy of Julius Wellhausen (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 240-248?
- Nicholson - Traces the history of the documentary hypothesis, discusses newer theories and finds problems with each of them. He concludes with a nuanced acceptance of the more traditional JEDP.
- What reasons does Jean-Louis Ska give in his Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2006), pp.191-196, for denying that a continuous documentary source existed prior to the Exile?
- Many Doubts about the historicity of the early pre-exilic period have arisen, prior to the 9th century, especially about a powerful kingdom in Jerusalem in the times of David and Solomon, thus making the general background of the traditional understanding of the Yahwist improbable (Wimmer). More in SKA pg. 191-196
What does the Pontifical Biblical Commission’s Document, “Interpretation of the Bible in the Church,” say about the following:
- Historical-Critical Method -
- " The historical-critical method is the indispensable method for the scientific study of the meaning of ancient texts. Holy Scripture, inasmuch as it is the "word of God in human language," h�as been composed by human authors in all its various parts and in all the sources that lie behind them. Because of this, its proper understanding not only admits the use of this method but actually requires it.
- "To be sure, the classic use of the historical-critical method reveals its limitations. It restricts itself to a search for the meaning of the biblical text within the historical circumstances that gave rise to it and is not concerned with other possibilities of meaning which have been revealed at later stages of the biblical revelation and history of the church. Nonetheless, this method has contributed to the production of works of exegesis and of biblical theology which are of great value." (PBC I A 4)
- synchronic and diachronic analysis:
- With respect to the inclusion in the method of a synchronic analysis of texts, we must recognize that we are dealing here with a legitimate operation, for it is the text in its final stage, rather than in its earlier editions, which is the expression of the word of God. But diachronic study remains indispensable for making known the historical dynamism which animates sacred Scripture and for shedding light upon its rich complexity.
- A second conclusion is that the very nature of biblical texts means that interpreting them will require continued use of the historical-critical method, at least in its principal procedures.
- "Diachronic" research will always be indispensable for exegesis. Whatever be their own interest and value, "synchronic" approaches cannot replace it.
- fundamentalism- When fundamentalists relegate exegetes to the role of translators only (failing to grasp that translating the Bible is already a work of exegesis) and refuse to follow them further in their studies, these same fundamentalists do not realize that for all their very laudable concern for total fidelity to the word of God, they proceed in fact along ways which will lead them far away from the true meaning of the biblical texts, as well as from full acceptance of the consequences of the incarnation
- the importance of liberationist and feminist approaches to the study of the Bible.
- PBC lists these two under the heading of contextual approaches. whereby "Readers give privileged attention to certain aspects and, without even being aware of it, neglect others. Thus it is inevitable that some exegetes bring to their work points of view that are new and responsive to contemporary currents of thought which have not up till now been taken sufficiently into consideration.
- It is interesting to note that these approaches are not mentioned in the conclusion to the document but rather lumped in with the semiotic approaches. The closest to an evaluation to them implies a cautionary tone.
- Liberationist Approach - More recent social and political changes have led this approach to ask itself new questions and to seek new directions. For its further development and fruitfulness within the church, a decisive factor will be the clarification of its hermeneutical presuppositions, its methods and its coherence with the faith and the tradition of the church as a whole
- Feminist exegesis, to the extent that it proceeds from a preconceived judgment, runs the risk of interpreting the biblical texts in a tendentious and thus debatable manner. To establish its positions it must often, for want of something better, have recourse to arguments ex silentio. As is well known, this type of argument is generally viewed with much reserve: It can never suffice to establish a conclusion on a solid basis. On the other hand, the attempt made on the basis of fleeting indications in the texts to reconstitute a historical situation which these same texts are considered to have been designed to hide--this does not correspond at all to the work of exegesis properly so called. It entails rejecting the content of the inspired texts in preference for a hypothetical construction, quite different in nature.
- Feminist exegesis often raises questions of power within the church, questions which, as is obvious, are matters of discussion and even of confrontation. In this area, feminist exegesis can be useful to the church only to the degree that it does not fall into the very traps it denounces and that it does not lose sight of the evangelical teaching concerning power as service, a teaching addressed by Jesus to all disciples, men and women
Discuss briefly inspiration and canonicity as consequences of the Bible as Word of God. Be prepared to state both the Thomistic notion of transcendental and instrumental causality in this regard, as well as Karl Rahner’s theory of divine authorship of the Bible. Define sensus plenior and give an example.
See NJBC: ch.65, “Inspiration,” (Raymond F. Collins); ch.72, “Church Pronouncements,” (Raymond E. Brown and Thomas A. Collins, OP). 1023-33; 1166-74.
- The "Word of God" has various senses in its suggesting "divine communicability: NJBC: ch.65, “Inspiration,” (Raymond F. Collins); ch.72, “Church Pronouncements,” (Raymond E. Brown and Thomas A. Collins, OP). 1023-33; 1166-74.
- The events of salvific history
- Spoken message of divine emmissaries esp. of the prophets and Jesus
- Christian preaching
- The person of Jesus who is "The Word of God"
- God's general message to human beings
- The Bible
- Theologically it is less confusing to state that Scriptures witness to the word of God.
- Thomistic notion of causality.
- Aquinas considered inspiration to be "something imperfect within the genus of prophecy".
- He held that prophecy is a motio, a gift given by God to a prophet on a temporary basis for a specific function.
- Every instrument functions according to its nature. Relative to causality, Auquinas considered God as the agent or "transcendental (divine) principal cause and the human as an intelligent and free so-called "instrumental" cause.
- Rhaner's theory.
- Form Criticism has demonstrated that, to a large extent, biblical books cannot simply be considered the literary production of isolated individuals. This complexity of origin has led to new theories of "social inspiration". He felt the need for a theology of inspiration along communitarian lines because practically every book of the bible as the result of various traditions, oral and written, came into existence through the combined efforts of many individuals, sometimes over great periods of time. (Wimmer p. 9)
- sensus plenior - The fuller Sense.
- The deeper meaning of the text, intended by God but not clearly expressed by the human author. It's existence in the biblical text comes to be known when one studies the text in light of other biblical texts which utilize it or in its relationship with internal developments of revelation. e.g. the Context of Mat. 1:23 gives fuller sense to the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14 The virgin will conceive (Pontifical Biblical Commission, Interpretation of the Bible 1994, II B 3)
- "... The fuller sense is a way of indicating the spiritual sense of a biblical text in the case where the spiritual sense is distinct from the literal sense.
According to the theory of form criticism, what is the relationship between the form of a text and its Sitz im Leben? Explain with at least two examples.
From NJBC 69:37...
- ""Gunkel insisted that exegesis must be founded on recognized separate preliterary and oral traditions, from which the written documents eventually developed (NJBC 69:38).
- "To determine the form, it is indispensable to know the particular life situation (sitz im leben) that gave rise to it.
- "By emphasis on oral tradition and by utilization of the archaeological and literary materials of the Near East, it approached closer to the life situation that produced the biblical writings than did static literary criticism.
- SKA chapter 6 p. 112
- "Anyone who wants to understand an ancient literary genre must first ask where it was situated in the life of the people"
- "Literary genres are usually defined according to three characteristics: a genre has a structure and a series of formulas; it has an atmosphere and a perspective; and it has an existential context (sitz im leben).
- law, saga, legend,
- etiology a narrative account of the origin of a particular phenomena e.g. why do snakes crawl on their belly and eat dust? Sitz im lebin: Popular wisdom
- Saga structure exaggeration and embellishment heroic details e.g. Judges 15:4-5 Samson caught 300 foxes, tied tales together with a torch and burned cornfields. sitz em lebin bards' tales of early heros of the nation
Can the term "myth" have a positive connotation? Explain. What is the importance of "primordial time" in myth? How is it related to the present? Cite an example from Genesis.
- Rather than Positive, it is not negative and is in fact necessary.
- In the 19th century, "myth" meant fable, invention, fiction; today scholars regard mythic stories as "true" and precious because they are sacred, exemplary and significant. "Myth narrates a sacred history; it relates an event that took place in primordial time, the fabled time of the "beginnings" (Eliade 1963, 5). Mythic events can occur in remote times that are either primordial and prehistoric or are in the distant future. These events while taking place outside of historical time, nevertheless impact historical events. Myth describes the beginning of human and earthly happenings, and points them toward their end. Mythical events are normative and appear as prototypes of all happenings. It may be said that "it never happened but it is always there" (Sacramentum Mundi IV, 153). The tension between eternity and time is expressed in Christian thought through "myth".
- Myth articulates God in the language of history, eternity in the language of time, and the transcendent in the language of human action. In a sense "myth" is not something unreal, a fairy tale. It is a means of talking about the reality of God, and the "myth" of creation is true, not a a literal event, but as an affirmation about the relation of everythine in the world to God as a Creator.
- "The myth of creation does not tell us about a first moment of time any more than the myth of the Fall tells us about a first human being. What is does tell us is that every moment of time, is like every contingent being, what comes to be from the creative power of God (Gilley 1965, 317) Source: (Wimmer).
Discuss Genesis 1:1-2:4a, and answer the following questions:
- Who wrote the text? How do you know (that is, what are its literary and theological characteristics?) Priestly (P).
- Why are the sun and moon not named? This was part of an attempt by the writer to "demythologize the story. The Greater light and the lesser light were used in order to avoid using the word Shemesh which would remind one of the sun-god.
- What is concordism? Is it true? The attempt to correlate the bible and modern science by considering the days to be aeons of perhaps millions of years each. It does not work: Light was created before the sun and even the earth (v 10) and the planets were created before the sun. (Wimmer p. 68)
- What do you think is the content of the revelation found in Genesis 1 as Word of God, and what would be some examples of the “human words” in which that is expressed. Revelation presented in and through human vocabulary and the ideas (including scientific ones) that were current at the time.
- How much of Genesis 1 can we still hold to be true in our evolutionary world?
- What does it mean to be the “image and likeness of God?” Several options:
- image - salem statue
- The spiritual qualities of Elohim
- To be someone to whom God can speak and have communication with; This brings us deep into the idea of creation as revelation. In this case, no particular quality is meant, simply the fact of being human.
- According to JP II, Man is the highpoint of creation .. crowns the whole work of creation
- Why does God say in Gen 1:26: “Let us make…” – why the plural? God is probably speaking to the "heavenly court". The plural is used in order to keep the image from being too exact. Does not mean Trinity as was a later interpretation of the church.
- Why does God work 6 days and rest on the seventh? This was a model for the Hebrews as that which they should do.
- Why do all the wild animals eat vegetation (see Gen 1:29-30)? It is a symbol of peaceful coexistence. This is explicitly changed after the flood.
- What does the German expression “Unzeit = Endzeit” imply? Primordial time equals eschatological time.
See Wimmer p. 71 Discuss Genesis 2-3 and answer the following questions:
- According to the narrative, is the serpent a devil? No, it is one of the animals that the Lord God has made; thus it is not the devil, but simply a creature recognized by the ancients as dangerous and cunning.
- What was the fruit that Eve and Adam ate? Not apple. The transgression of an express command of god.
- What is meant by knowing “good and evil” according to Gen 3:22? It is the power of deciding for himself what is good and what is evil and of acting accordingly, a claim to complete moral independence by which man refuses to acknowledge his status as being a created being.
- What was the nature of the sin committed by Adam and Eve according to the culture in which the text was written? A sin of pride that is wanting to userp the divine status and equality.
- Why does the text say that they were naked? The image of being naked and not self-conscious about it is probably taken from that of young children, who often go about naked in the middle east. It is an image of peace, mutual trust, of childlike simplicity and closeness.
- What is the purpose of the punishments given to the serpent, the woman, and Adam? A story set in original time and original place to explain why things are now the way they are.
- Describe the efforts of Gilgamesh to live forever, and also the story of Adapa. Why did they fail in their quest to live forever?
- Gilgamesh heard about a plant at the bottom of the sea. Tied rocks to his feet got get it. "A Serpent snuffed the fragrance of the plant; Adapa was told when offered the "bread of death" or "water of death" he should not partake, if offered garment and oil, he should put on the garment and anoint himself. Upon arringing to heaven, he was offered the "bread of life" and "water of life" He accepted the wrong ones and did not get eternal life.
What are some of the characteristics of the theological explanation of original sin and how does Genesis 2-3 and evolution fit into it?
- Genesis 1-3 do not present a literal history but rather myth. This means that they present an ahistoric theology of origins that teaches profound truths - neither history or fairy tale, but an affirmaiton about the relation of everything in the world to God as Creator.
- There is within all humans a tendency toward selfishness that is die to their evolutionary origin. This is concupiscence.
- We all need the grace of God (in Christ) to be saved; that grace both "elevates" and "heals"
- The doctrine of original sin points not only to continued concupiscence and to one's integration into (sinful) humanity But also to Christ's redemption, as expressed in Romans 5:12-21 "... where sin increased grace abounded all the more, so that as sin reigned in death, grace might also reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ"
- ... our birth as individuals into sinful human societies inevitably biases our own free moral choices toward sin. Overcoming this immense negative influence - which is genetic as well as social - requires the grace of God, offered to us in liberating and transforming salvific life of Christ.
- Genesis 2-3 are the story of Temptation, Sin, Judgement and Punishment.
- Genesis 3:15 is Proto-evangelium
- "... Selfish behavior ... is the mainspring of Darwinian evolution.
- Did the Flood really happen? Explain.
- Michael Maher asserts that biblical authors have borrowed extensively from this famous epic and they have done little to hide it. He points out that the "floods were frequent in the Tigres-Euphrates valley, and it is very probable that Mesopotamian flood stories are based on unusually disastrous local inundations that made a lasting impression on the popular memory, and that in the course of time, were magnified out of all proportion into catastrophes of universal dimensions.
- It is impossible to put the animals of the world into an arch.
- There is archeological evidence of great floods. "Artifacts found in the Black Sea William Putman and Walter Ryan 7,500 years ago.
- "They completely reworked the ancient myth, adapted it to the spirit of Israel's faith, and gave a religious meaning to an amoral tale.
- Who was Ziusudra? Utnapishtim? Atrahasis? Ziusudra warned by some of the gods, builds a large boat and survived the flood. Utnapishtim - part of the Epic of Gilgamesh a flood story. Utnapishtim survives in a boat. Atrahasis the earliest Babylonian cuneiform text from 17th century B.C. gods perturbed by "noise" of humans cause a flood to kill all humanity.
- Describe, at least in general, the flood narratives of Mesopotamia and of cultures not related to the Bible and discuss their relationship to Genesis 6-8. - A Comparison of both accounts ( J & P) shows a dependence on the latter, or at least on the Babylonian stories of the flood.
- How would you explain the theology of the flood story in the Bible? Bruce Vawter - "found in this legend from the distant past a suitable means of illustrating a deeply held religious conviction: the conviction that evil is requited by a just god who is at the same time a God of mercy.
What are the main theological points made in Genesis 1-11?
- 1:1-2:4a (P) Creation of the world
- 2:4b 3:24 (J) Adam and Eve
- 4:1-26 (J) Cain and Able
- 5:1-32 (P) Patriarchs before the flood
- 6:1-4 (J?) "Sons of God" and women
- 6:5-9:28 (2 narratives J&P) Flood
- 10:1-32 Table of Nations
- 11:1-9 (J) Tower of Babel
- 11:10032 (P) Patriarchs after flood
- God is the sole transcendent, unconditional ground or source of all existence, and that creatures, through dependence on him are real and good.
- Paul (Rom 5:12-21) Reflects on the Adam and Eve Story as pointing top incarnation One man's offense brought condemnation on all humanity: and one man's good act has brought justification and life to all humanity.
- God's rest after working 6 days is a model for Hebrews to do the same.
- The story does not begin with the chosen people or even the human race, it points out that God is about all of the cosmos
- God is a relational God; He creates, blesses, gives laws, judges, greves, saves, elects, promices, makes covenents, councils, protects, confers responsibility to humans and holds them accountable (Birch p. 41)
- God's creation by means of the Word.
- God brings the cosmos into being and it is "very good"
- Humans are created in the image of God
- Sin disrupts the harmony between God and man
- God rejects annihilation and and rather chooses long terfm engagement, working from within the life of the world. The world survives because of this commitment of God.