Sunday, 25 July 2010

DH vs.TMS = False Dichotomy

If you want to watch the stupid people stop over at the Orthoprax Rabbi - really stupid people seem to simply abound there, probably because it's there 14th ikkar of emuna that someone educated in Judaism cannot become an atheist. Now we can't have that can we! It seriously saddens me to the depths of my heart that a people who produced Maimonides, Spinoza, and Einstein can produce people like this.

Anyway I started an argument with one of the folks there about the DH (why do I bother!)

One of the misconceptions frummies have about the DH is that if they somehow destroy the DH (which they have tried doing with limited success) then they are somehow out of the water, and they can celebrate their divine Pentateuch. Well folks, sorry to burst your bubble but there are many other options besides the DH and TMS. Let us analyze (b'kiztur nimratz) the different possibilities for arguments sake, of who/what/when wrote the Pentateuch and decide how far away the Orthodox are from proving their point. (The OJ apologists seem to thrive on false dichotomies)

1. TMS

God wrote Torah through Moshe

2. Mosaic authorship not divine

Okay just 'cuz Moshe wrote it doesn't mean it's from God. Ah the Kuzari proof!? Folks, people were illiterate back then so Moshe prolly could've wrote "I'm a pink monkey with long hair" and maybe 10 people would've been able to read it. (There are other objections but אין פה מקום להאריך) The prophecies in Devarim are not precise enough to "prove" that the Torah makes accurate predictions (Read Bondage of the Mind by R.D. Gold) Also I HOPE God didn't really want us mercilessly slaughtering Midianites and Amalekites, but hey that's just an evil heretic like me. REAL tzadikim obviously think that's A-OK.

3. Non-Mosaic authorship


Let's say ONE person wrote the whole thing. Okay. But it still is rather hard to claim that the book we have was written by a CONTEMPORARY of the events described. Besides referring to Moshe in the 3rd person, the Pentateuch talks as if it is describing events long past. I can't PROVE that to you but if you read it with an open mind it will immediately become apparent. I quote Spinoza on this over here.

4. Multiple Authorship


Let's say the whole JEPD thing is rubbish. You're STILL not outta the water. Because the Torah contradicts itself CONSTANTLY. Yes, yes, I know the Rabbis "solved" all the problems. But these are almost all FORCED EXPLANATIONS. And pashut peshat is that when the Torah says one thing and in another place says something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. That it wasn't written by one guy. (Unless God/Moshe was a little unbalanced of course)

5. the DH

Folks, the DH has what to stand on. Don't throw it out so quickly. (And it's not JUST about YHWH/ELOHIM that's JUST HOW IT STARTED!)

A Note About Breuer

Okay Rabbi Mordechai Breuer basically says: God writes AS IF many people wrote the Torah (to teach us some sort of lesson). This is roughly equivalent to Gosse and his Jewish fan Gottlieb who say that God creates/writes in tricky ways. If you believe in Breuer you might as well believe in Gosse and you might as well believe that Zaboomafoo (any old GH readers here?) created the world, wrote the Torah, and wrote Shakespeare too once he was at it.

A Note About Umberto Cassuto

Cassuto did not believe in the DH but believed in Multiple Authorship

So...


So conventional Orthodox ideology, let's just say you have a way to go before you can "prove" your Divine Pentateuch Written by Moshe theory. Anyone who can CONVINCINGLY knock down ALL of the various possibilities above has a right to believe in OJ TMS. Everybody else is just following their faith semi-blindly. So STOP hating on the DH because even after you've jumped that hurdle you have a LOOOOOOOONG way to go.

Why do I Care?

I wouldn't mind if people hung onto their cherished Jewish beliefs despite the overwhelming challenges from modernity. HOWEVER, I cannot stand the maddening chutzpa of J-bloggers saying that "The DH is Dead" or "Only idiots believe in the DH" or "The DH makes no sense" I consider it an insult to my intelligence and more importantly an insult to the long and bitter inner conflict I went through trying to reconcile what I knew about Orthodoxy and Bible scholarship. It took me YEARS to admit that TMS was untenable. No schmuck is gonna come along and cavalierly call the end point of my inner struggle "nonsense" without a fight. So if any OJ'ers are reading this (all one of you if the poll on the side is correct) I would absolutely LOVE to here your response.




39 comments:

E-man said...

Do you believe the DH is more tenable than TMS and, if yes, why. I mean, it seems to me that the DH was made up very recently and has little to no support for its theories, especially after reading Cassuto. If you want to make other claims that sounds fine, but the DH does not seem like a real good option. It is similar to saying that the original theory of evolution is better than ID.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Do you believe the DH is more tenable than TMS and, if yes, why.

Hullo!? Did you read my post? You're using the false dichotomy!!! My whole point was DH vs. TMS = false dichotomy and then you sail in and demand "well which one is it DH or TMS?!"

>It is similar to saying that the original theory of evolution is better than ID.

ROFL!!!! You just made my day!!!

(Folks, please don't let this devolve into an ID/Natural Selection debate maybe another time...)

E-Man said...

>Hullo!? Did you read my post? You're using the false dichotomy!!! My whole point was DH vs. TMS = false dichotomy and then you sail in and demand "well which one is it DH or TMS?!"

No I didn't. However, you are claiming the DH has more merit than TMS. I am asking you why you think that. I am not saying you have to choose one at all. HELLO, read what I wrote, especially this line "If you want to make other claims that sounds fine,"

E-Man said...

>
>It is similar to saying that the original theory of evolution is better than ID.

ROFL!!!! You just made my day!!!

Apparently, you misunderstood my point so I will try to clarify. The original theory of evolution has been proven to have flaws and, although new theories that make sense exist, the old theory is considered wrong. I think that is similar to this idea here. True, there are newer and better ideas than the DH and holding onto something that has no real reason to believe in, liek the DH, doesn't make sense.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>No I didn't. However, you are claiming the DH has more merit than TMS.

Yes. Because TMS denies 2, 3, and 4. while DH accepts all of them. And I think it is delusional/intellectually dishonest to deny 2,3,4. Therefore TMS is WRONG in MORE things than the DH. Nitpicking on the DH is not fair unless you nitpick on TMS also which I think I've rather satisfactorily done in this post.

You can't even discuss TMS vs. DH and ignore all the stuff in between.

But I think an important point you're missing (or avoidin) is that fine - let's say for argument's sake that the DH is utter rubbish - you're still a long way from Orthodoxy.

I do not intend to discuss the intricacies of the Documentary Hypothesis in this thread maybe another time...

The point of this post is to discuss whether TMS is tenable irrespective of whether or not you accept the specific theory of Biblical authorship now in the vogue.

E-Man said...

I was simply responding to your rant against orthodox people who say the DH is rubbish. It seems like you would be willing to admit that it IS rubbish. That is all I care to find out.

Anonymous said...

e-man- I'm not sure who told you that evolution is considered "wrong" but as an academic, let me tell you that is completely not the case- evolution is the dominant theory within all sciences right now.

Also, why doesn't the DH make sense? You can't just say it "doesn't make sense" without providing specific examples backing up your claim. Just like you can't say "evolution has flaws therefore this completely made up theory based on pure conjecture and no evidence must be correct". What are these flaws exactly? Where is your evidence? Both these arguments seem to boil down to "we don't know the answer to why things are the way they are, so we're going to attribute it to a magical dude in the sky. A book written 3,000 years ago says that it must be true, therefore it must be true." And we all know that the people 3,000 years ago were totally NOT driven by superstition and ritualism because they had no idea why anything worked the way it did...oh wait except all our evidence of ancient cultures show that they all have crazy ass religions. This one just happened to stick around awhile. The only reason you aren't worshiping Odin right now is random chance.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>Apparently, you misunderstood my point so I will try to clarify.

You're right I misunderstood I thought you were saying ID is better than natural selection. Sorry.

But once again we're not discussing DH specifically here we're discussing alternatives to TMS.

The whole point of this post is to FORGET the details of the DH and get into the nitty gritty of - is TMS tenable.

Abandoning Eden said...

oh that last comment was me...

Shilton HaSechel said...

E-man,
>I was simply responding to your rant against orthodox people who say the DH is rubbish. It seems like you would be willing to admit that it IS rubbish. That is all I care to find out.

I see. Personally I don't think it's rubbish but the reason it bothers me is because they present it as a false dichotomy and then say "well why don't you believe in TMS!" So my rant is really against those who say "Well the DH is rubbish so TMS is obviously true" while they ignore all the steps in between.

Put it this way whether or not the DH is true has little bearing on OJ - because even if it is rubbish (which I'm not saying) there are many more hurdles 'till u get to TMS

E-Man said...

AE- Try rereading what I wrote and maybe you will figure out why you just set up a straw man and argued against it. I never said evolution is not right, I said the ORIGINAL theory has been thrown away. Also, I never argued for or against TMS. All I was saying is that if you read Cassutos argument the DH seems untenable.

SH wants to discuss TMS, so I will let him discuss TMS. Sorry, I was just trying to understand SHs frustration with the people that said DH is no longer tenable. So I was confused because it seems like SH is admitting that DH might be untenable, but I will let him get into that in another post.

Shilton HaSechel said...

90% of arguments come from misunderstandings ;)

>All I was saying is that if you read Cassutos argument the DH seems untenable.

Eh.... but for another time!

Puzzled said...

The religious get to say that academics/science are "constantly proven wrong" and then make analogies about climbing a mountain and finding a religious person already sitting there. Why do they get to do this? Because scientists and academics care about truth. We don't take new discoveries and 'reconcile' them with old beliefs, we modify or throw out old beliefs in the face of new evidence. Religious people, meanwhile, are happy to live with contradictions or to do nonsensical reconciliations. Thus, they're "never wrong" and they get to point out the impressionable that we constantly get it wrong.

Regarding the absurd Kuzari argument, it is disproven in the text itself - Sukkos, the book of the wars of the lord, the finding of a Torah scroll after it had been forgotten followed by the nation weeping that they had forgotten about it - really, is someone willing to keep repeating the Kuzari principle with these things in the text? That's in addition to the fact that TMS/Kuzari actually does little for OJ anyway, and in a way undercuts it. The Kuzari principle is all about a public revelation. How, then, to explain the fact that the Torah is nothing at all like OJ, and in fact would be considered heretical if it were written today? A bunch of private revelations.

Finally, a note about another silly argument: "if we look at all the Torah scrolls, they're all the same, and that's a miracle." They always forget to buttress this with the addition "and whenever we find one that's different, we just say that it was wrong and that's why it was buried." Complete unfalsifiable claptrap.

Chapter 4 of Pirkei Avos contains one mishnah clearly promising that those who follow the Torah in poverty will get to follow it in wealth. It also contains a mishnah admitting that we cannot explain the suffering of the righteous or the success of the wicked. Let the absurd reconciliations begin.

Abe Silberstein said...

oops. Shilton, delete my last comment it was FILLED with typos lol.

E-man the original evolution proposed by Darwin in the Origin, was not a theory. It was a hypothesis and NOT a theory. A theory in science is not the same way as it is in the English dictionary. The current status of evolution is a fact, and the only way it isn't is is if some omnipotent deity is fooling us.

Regarding DH vs TMS. You can't criticize the former without saying how big the lack of evidence for the latter is, and that its claims have mostly come out to be false. You can reject DH, but if you then accept TMS, well that's just unintellectual.

AE-Congrats on the move.

Abandoning Eden said...

i guess I just don't understand what you're saying...the original theory of evolution was thrown away? Since when? What are you referring to? Like the theories of Malthus or something?

E-Man said...

Read up on all the modifications to the theory. I saw some of them in Scientific American in the article of the Evolution of Evolution. Mainly they changed the theory based on DNA and stuff like that.

E-Man said...

The theory that is accepted today as THE THEORY is Modern evolutionary synthesis. However, there have been many changes from the original ideas of Darwin. His ideas were the basis, but there have been many changes. In the words of Steve Mirsky, a writer for scientific american "today's evolution is not your grandfather's or even your monkeys' uncle['s]."

Puzzled said...

Yes E-Man, that's true. And it will probably see further changes. That's the exact process that makes science more reliable than claims at absolute knowledge, not less. We deal with mistakes, we make changes when new data contradict our theories.

E-Man said...

That was my point puzzled. Why do people keep missing my points. A) I am unclear or B) They don;t read what I actually write, at least not in context.

E-Man said...

If you read my statements above, my point is that the original theory of evolution is just as reliable as ID. Meaning, NEITHER are reliable science, get me?

Shilton HaSechel said...

When I have more than 10 comments on a post I usually suspect that E-man has something to do with it ;)

E-Man said...

You're welcome

gamzoo said...

"my point is that the original theory of evolution is just as reliable as ID. Meaning, NEITHER are reliable science, get me?"

Darwin's ideas are still used to explain how the the biological world developed. While ID has no useful ideas to explain how the biological world developed. That's where your comparison fails.

It's true that Darwin's ideas needed to be modified just like Newton's ideas needed to modified by Einstein. that doesn't mean that Newton's ideas or Darwin's is not reliable science, unless you mean by reliable that it is without any mistakes.

The point is both Newton and Darwin had useful ideas and they are still used even if we know they aren't complete. While ID is not useful period.

Puzzled said...

Yes, E-man, I get you. I just think you're wrong. The original evolutionary theories were the starting point for experiment. ID is religion in scientific garb.

david a. said...

This is to bolster SH post. I repeatedly tell people, the argument that convincingly shows the non-divinity of the Torah, does not require any appeal to the DH.
As I wrote in a comment recently it goes like this .....
First, can we agree on the assumption that if God authored the Torah, we would expect it to be truthful, just and beneficent in all its commandments, and contain some kind of timeless morality, and finally not be internally contradictory.

So, based on these assumptions, here is a quick summary of the reasons against TMS in a nutshell.

1. Historicity. Many of the narratives, if taken literally, have been proven, via hard science, to be historically untrue (such as the creation story, age of universe, size of the group of escapees from Egypt, encounter with groups that archaeology believes were non-existent at the time, and many other lesser important events). and some events that can even be categorized as historically impossible. (ie. Flood, Hebrew as the only language). We can discuss any of these in more detail if you actually cannot see the problems with these narratives.
2. Morality. The morality of the literal Bible, without considering the major Rabbinic interventions/modifications, is only marginally better than the ANE morality of the surrounding nations. examples. Acceptance of Slavery, treatment of women, treatment of children, abusive use (to modern sentiments) of the death penalty, genocide, lex talonis (eye for and eye), rape or enslavement of women captured in battle, etc. (By “etc.” i mean there are probably more ideas but can’t think, off the top of my head),
3. Unjust/Unfair Commandments. Such as maaser and shmittah.,inheritance laws, treatment of women, etc
4. Detrimental Commands. Commandments that modern knowledge would view as detrimental to society such as the ban on interest, shmittah loan laws.
5. Missing commandments. (a) If the Torah was meant to establish an optimal society, the book fails to provide many laws such as laws relating to government structure and its function, only very limited criminal laws, laws establishing and operating an education system, etc. (b) laws and suggestions about human relations, specifically husband/wife, health, etc.
6. Contradictions. Many laws and hashkofot of Sefer Devarim as well as many details of some of the narratives in Devarim contradict their equivalents found in other parts of the Torah, almost as if 2 people wrote them or Moishe had a change of heart and mind later in life. Examples text of the 10 Cs, laws of bechor, shmittah, maaser, laws of yom tov, Korban pesach, etc. are all contradictory, concept of Kapporah is completely non-existent in Dev., attitude to the Temple, Kohanim, etc. An entire book can be written just on this problem.
7. Miscellaneous. Anachronisms, as if the text was written many years later. Also, oddities such that many rituals can be compared or contrasted to what who know about ANE history that preceded the Torah. A clincher to me is that the Torah presents circumcision as a special bond, yet many of the ANE societies practiced this ritual.

While any particular entry above, on its own, likely doesn’t amount to much, taken together, it makes for a compelling and power argument against the likelihood that THIS book was authored by a divine, just, and beneficent Being.

E-Man said...

So Puzzled, you think I am wrong, does that mean you think the original theory of evolution is scientifically reliable today?

Josh said...

david a.

You once gave a fuller analysis of the many contradictions in Devarim, but I can't for the life of me remember where I saw it. Any links?

david a. said...

http://friedfalafel.blogspot.com/2009/06/devarim-is-just-different-part-1.html

http://friedfalafel.blogspot.com/2009/06/devarim-is-just-different-part-2.html

http://friedfalafel.blogspot.com/2009/07/devarim-is-just-different-part-3.html

Shilton HaSechel said...

Wow this is a gold mine of info. Can I repost some of this stuff?

david a. said...

Sure, with pleasure ....

personally, i have been flabbergasted for years on how can one possibly continue to believe that the same moshe who wrote exod-lev-num also wrote dev.

as far a i see the judaism of exod-lev-num is absolutely NOT the same Judaism as Dev. almost like comparing conservative.jud. with charei-judaism.

Puzzled said...

No, but it means that evolution - in it's evolving forms - is a different type of theory from ID. Evolution, as you point out, has changed (evolved) over time, because it is a scientific theory. ID is not falsifiable in this way, because it is not a scientific theory.

Lisa said...

You realize you didn't say anything of substance in this post, right? I mean, you claim that we were all almost illiterate back then, but where's your evidence? Not even proof; just evidence will do. Flimsy evidence, even. It's just an assertion on your part.

You say "Besides referring to Moshe in the 3rd person, the Pentateuch talks as if it is describing events long past. I can't PROVE that to you but if you read it with an open mind it will immediately become apparent." First of all, the idea of Moses *authoring* the Torah is a strawman. Who claims that? So the third person is so much fog. And you're right, you can't prove that it was describing events long past. You can't even argue it. In fact, you didn't. You just asserted it.

You say that the Torah contradicts itself all over the place and that the explanations for this are forced. Without a single example. Again, it's just a bald assertion. No substance of any sort.

You say the DH has what to go on. But again, you just assert it. What does it have to go on? Other than fulfilling an emotional need to have the Torah *not* be what it purports to be?

And the Breuer thing. I wasn't aware that you had to accept everything Rav Breuer ever said to be an Orthodox Jew. Maybe some day I'll see what he said in context (not that I don't trust you, but... well, yeah, it's exactly that), but that's nothing but his opinion.

Do you have anything of substance to say on the subject, or is it all going to be just rants and assertions?

Shilton HaSechel said...

Nice of you to stop by ;)

I was hesitant to give you this link because I don't think I adequately expressed my position (as you point out) But whatever.

>I mean, you claim that we were all almost illiterate back then, but where's your evidence?

Historically mass literacy picked up in about the eighteenth or nineteenth century due to systematic education. Unless you have evidence to the contrary I see no reason why Ancient Israel would be any different(especially a population of slaves.)

>>You can't even argue it. In fact, you didn't. You just asserted it.

Read my other links

>>Without a single example.

I'm preparing a post on it but there are just so many I don't know where to start. (And no I'm not just bluffing)


>>>You say the DH has what to go on. But again, you just assert it. What does it have to go on?

I would recommend reading R. D. Drivers book. It's available in it's entirety over here

http://books.google.com/books?id=gHgRAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=literature+old+testament+driver&hl=en&ei=fWhcTNeBOoL58Aah0sGMAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

Its outdated but I think he covers a lot of the basics. I can't say he proves anything but it's worth reading.

>>>Other than fulfilling an emotional need to have the Torah *not* be what it purports to be?

I have no such emotional need but please keep things non ad-hominem. Thank you.

>>>I wasn't aware that you had to accept everything Rav Breuer ever said to be an Orthodox Jew.

Never said you did but I'm just objecting to his approach

>>>Do you have anything of substance to say on the subject, or is it all going to be just rants and assertions?

I do but don't have enough time to do such a complex topic justice.

Stay tuned I will try to address some of your issues in future posts.

Dov Kramer said...

>>Anyone who can CONVINCINGLY knock down ALL of the various possibilities above has a right to believe in OJ TMS. Everybody else is just following their faith semi-blindly.<<

You're way off here. You don't need absolute proof in order to conclude that any of the approaches are the most reasonable. Each approach has strengths and weaknesses, and each individual has to use their seichel as objectively as possible to try to figure out which one is most likely to be right.

Dov Kramer said...

>>can we agree on the assumption that if God authored the Torah, we would expect it to be truthful, just and beneficent in all its commandments, and contain some kind of timeless morality, and finally not be internally contradictory.<<

Truthful: yes

Just: yes

beneficent in all its commandments: Since the definition of "good" is not shared by all, this is impossible to prove or disprove. ("no good scotsman")

contain some kind of timeless morality: Key phrase here is "some kind." If the only way to change what was wrong is incrementally, then there will be stages that are only acceptable temporarily, but would be unacceptable after a period of time. As a rough example, take the "bamah." It is forbidden to bring an offering outside of the Temple, but if one was bringing offerings to false deities on a nearby mountain, bringing them to G-d istead is a step in the right direction, but not ideal. (This is how some explain "be'makom she'baalay teshuvah omdim yzadikim gemurim ainam yecholim laamod," as this "place" is a step down for the righteous, but a step up for those who aren't.

not be internally contradictory: Unless every lesson is stated explicitly, inconsistencies are necessary in order to complete the picture.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Hi!

>Each approach has strengths and weaknesses, and each individual has to use their seichel as objectively as possible to try to figure out which one is most likely to be right.

The only problem is seichel doesn't objectively point MORE to TMS then all the other possibilities. So what's tipping the scales?

Dov Kramer said...

>>seichel doesn't objectively point MORE to TMS then all the other possibilities.<<

If you're looking (in a vacuum) only at TMS vs. other possibilities, it's arguable.

If looking at everything, my seichel tells me that traditional Judaism has it right. TMS is only part (aleit a major part) of what traditional Judaism says.

Shilton HaSechel said...

>If looking at everything, my seichel tells me that traditional Judaism has it right.

Well firstly TMS is obviously the foundation of all of Judaism so I don't understand the distinction between TMS vs. all of Judaism - but either way I don't think seichel objectively points to all of traditional Judaism more than Atheism or Deism.

Dov Kramer said...

>>TMS is obviously the foundation of all of Judaism<<

Yes, but that doesn't make "the Kuzari argument" the only reason to think that traditional Judaism, including TMS, is true.

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