Recent Thoughts

Recently I received a letter about my book The Hidden Book in the Bible.  The writer said, “Years ago, I read with interest your The Hidden Book in the Bible. Recently I discovered that there was a book based on the same premise called The Yahwist Bible (Clarimond Mansfield, Cornhill Pub. Co., 1922). I just wanted to bring it to your attention because your book was presented as a new theory (i.e., that the Yahwist text extends beyond the Pentateuch into I Kings). I found the book on Google Books, and there is also a reprint available from Kessinger Publishing.”

I responded that I, too, became aware of this book recently.  I really don’t know what to make of it.  I have never heard of the author, who appears to be without advanced training or credentials in Hebrew Bible.  He makes no attempt to give any evidence for his text, and he does not identify his sources.  From small references, it appears that he was, for the most part, following the scholarship of William Henry Bennett, but not entirely.  Bennett’s work, like some others of that period, included the idea that the Pentateuch’s sources continued on into the later books of the Bible.  Of the scholars of that generation, I would say that the conclusions of Budde came closest to my own.  So the Mansfield book is interesting as one man’s reflection of some of the theories that were known in our field a hundred years ago and then pretty much forgotten.  I think that they were unfairly forgotten, and I am all for anything that brings them back.  A constant criticism I’ve made of the state of our field today is that the plethora of new theories do not respond to the scholarship and evidence that they think that they have now trumped.  My own work on the Hidden Book returned to much of the old scholarship.  For example, I noted that the old scholarship recognized the Samuel A and Samuel B sources but that this is practically forgotten now.  I don’t claim that the discovery of the Hidden Book was entirely my own, but rather it was a next step in a long process.  My most serious error was failing to cite a more recent work of scholarship by Hannelis Schulte; her book Die Enstehung der Geschichtsschreibung im Alten Israel (1972) has much of the same position as my own.  I want to give her the recognition she deserves.

Some scholars are annoyed when they find that someone else has independently thought of something that they thought was their own idea.  I have learned rather to be pleased about such things.  When two or more people arrive at the same conclusion, that may mean that it is more likely there is something to it.  So I welcome the Schulte and Mansfield books.

 

 

 

 
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011,
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