The Elohist–Five Reasons

File:Blake jacobsladder.jpg

The Elohist continues to intrigue RT. The more he re-reads the passages that belong to this elusive Biblical author, the surer he is that the pieces were taken from a much larger work, the first book that can claim to be a bible–and the first prose masterpiece. Here are some of RT’s reasons for thinking that this much edited work deserves these accolades:

1) Coherence and Unity. RT has noticed again and again that certain phrases and themes appear again and again in the text, for instance, the preference of the patriarchs for two wives.

2) Stones. It’s that simple: as RT has noted recently, standing stones were the mark of a widespread ancient religion, and stones are present in many of the E passages.

3) Samarian Politics. The split between Baal worshipers in the north and Yahweh worship in the south of Samaria could only be healed by somehow uniting the two belief systems–and how better to do this than to create a new national religious text?

4) The Gaps in the Text. RT is pretty sure that the E text contained a cosmogony, if for no other than that the Yahwist text does. If so, not a word of the cosmogony remains, or any of E’s version of Abraham until quite near the conclusion of the Patriarch’s story. This suggests an Elohist version with an opening quite different from the Yahwist–as one would expect in works representing two different sides of a social/religious conflict.

5) Changes in the storyline that the Yahwist probably made. RT is thinking of Moses’ killing of a man in the J text, something that the gentle Moses of E would not have done. Was J trying to portray a more human Moses than the one in E?

What remains to us is two great writers whose works were combined into the JE text. but then the story of the person who combined the texts is very sketchy…something else to think about…  RT

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p.s. RT has written more on the Elohist in this blog.

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Image: Jacob’s Ladder (c. 1800). William Blake. WikiCmns. Public Domain.

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  1. March 1, 2014 at 8:47 pm

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