Son of Compare and Contrast

Kevin Wilson at Blue Cord rightly takes me to task for my rhetoric, which, of course, is rhetoric and isn’t intended to be addressed, but is my way of keeping such tediously boring drivel as this interesting for my readers. What can I say? I like English and slinging it about like playing airplane with a kid. I even say, “Whee!” in real life.

Regarding the substance of my off-handed critique of one or more of Biblical Studies sacred cows (heavens, what a fuss!), we will still have to differ. I am completely unconvinced that all the source critical work, even since the 1970s is even fundamentally right-headed, much less of truly permanent value. I don’t mean that to sound unkind, but I think it’s true, and I’ll give some of my reasons below, in no particular order.

Kevin begins with a defense of source criticism as it is practiced now, while I particularly had in mind its origins. It was particularly in its beginnings that suggestions were made in source criticism by Astruc and Eichorn, both in the eighteenth century, based primarily upon the “Divine Names,” (really rather one Divine Name and one Divine Title or Noun). Had either of them even one Assyrian royal inscription to hand, and could they have read it, seeing the Assyrian’s chief god referred to by name as both Aššur and Bêlišu, “His Lord,” they would likely never have followed up on the idea. From there, it’s a matter of continuing the process and “discovering” other bits and pieces, leading to more and more sources. The excesses of the early twentieth century in Hebrew Bible source criticism weren’t an aberration as Kevin would have it, but rather its logical conclusion. Source criticism has, however, continued, backing off from that early plethora of sources, in realization that such detail is unknowable. Actually, it all is, and the sources are invented, not discovered.

Kevin mentions the discernment of various theologies particular to the sources. Theology in a non-theological literary work is always in the eye of the beholder, and many have beheld much theology that has since disappeared from the Biblical texts. Discerning a particular theological emphasis and isolating it to a single time is fundamentally wrong-headed. I presume Kevin is particularly thinking of theology like that imputed to the construed “Deuteronomist.” Let’s rather look at the Babylonian and Assyrian texts for examples of something similar to Deuteronomism (is that even a word?). Is there ever a time when Marduk’s beloved home was not Babylon, and in which one must go there to find him? Was there ever a period in Mesopotamia when exile was not a tactic used in warfare by victors over conquered cities? Did the Egyptians not use exile and depopulation in their dealings with Canaan in the 18th and 18th Dynasties? Even in 19th/18th century Mari, with those who Malamat refers to as the first known “intuitive prophets” both implicitly and explicitly warn of the dangers of disobeying the commands of the god. Sounds pretty centralized, pretty Deuteronomic, not isolated to one city, one time, even one nation, or even one age. Such ideas are certainly not only possible, but are found throughout history, Ancient Near Eastern and otherwise. The same holds for the theologies imputed to JE and that to H or P, such as they are. Of course, if one creates a separation of texts according to any set of criteria, BEHOLD!, we have discreet collection of texts that represent only the criteria by which we separated them, which particular collection supports our theory that our criteria are good for determining such separation. Isn’t that clever? Yet, when we have examples, objective, real-world data, again as in the case of the indubitably now-wearied Gilgamesh Epic, we seen their develpment doesn’t correspond to the pattern suggested by standard source criticism. Data speaks. Theory only suggests. When data contradicts a theory, the theory is rejected. Except perhaps in Biblical Studies, it seems, where, as I’ve said before and will say again, Occam’s razor never cuts.

I prefer data. With a larger textual base, something along the lines of what we have for Akkadian or Greek or Latin, we might be able to construct an objective evolution of Hebrew and discern properly what this or that style is. As it is, we don’t have that, and using a series of texts that have already gone through a process of centuries-long management and attempting to define a style in them is an uncontrolled experiment. Works passed through the generations are capable of being rewritten in a style of any of those centuries, or even all of them, which is exactly what we see in things like the Gilgamesh Epic in Sumerian and Akkadian. Or they may be more subtly altered, perhaps with the insertion of matres lectionis or such other indicators tied to the development of Hebrew, which we know happened, but cannot precisely date without the external evidence. Input from earliest fragments (DSS, etc) of the textual tradition are still from a period after the management of the texts as a sacred corpus had long already been in place. The very, very few fragments we have of texts from the ancient times when the language was vibrantly alive are insufficient: not many ostraca, but mostly of only one period; a couple amulets; many seal impressions from various periods, but these are not so useful for such reconstructive purposes. There is simply insufficient evidence to reconstruct in detail such development for Hebrew and its texts, unlike in the case of Mesopotamian and even Egyptian documents and literature and language, all such preservation being due to the particularities of climate and writing material. To do so is possible, but shouldn’t ever be expected to receive acceptance as scientific or even very likely. It should remain in the misty realms of discussion as possibility, not, as they are, considered fact.

In the end, I object, and always will object, to textual or other work built solely upon theories, and not on objective data, whether Biblical or any other texts. That’s all we have in Hebrew Bible source criticism. We lack all the necessary truly objective data in Hebrew. We always will, almost without a doubt. Textual criticism, which actually does indeed work with the objective data we have, is something that I enjoy, support, and find immensely fascinating. Source criticism, on the other hand, to me, is a charade. It pretends to be based upon objective data, but it is not. It is based upon imagination, then more imagination, and then further imagination, until an industry, Biblical Source Criticism, has been built of imagination. That’s fine for the Magic Kingdom, but not, I think for Biblical Studies, particularly regarding a book which, to many if not most, is of much greater value than any Disney movie.

I trust that’s more clear, and that my closing rhetorical flourish is forgivable!


  1. Kevin, one of my professors used to call most source criticism, the cookie cutter approach so I agree with a lot of your points, though I would caution that differences between texts in the MT, LXX, DSS, and so on do provide us with some of the kind of evidence you say doesn’t exist. Also, we do have even inner-biblical examples of the use of sources, e.g. Chronicles. Furthermore, language typology works with a number of controls, including comparative Semitics and so on. So, I don’t think matters are quite as you make them.

    PS. On another point, I would say your theory of the composition of Isaiah fails occam’s razor. The evidence does point to a post-exilic text as Chris Heard so ably shows in one of his recent blog entries.

  2. Thanks for the comments, gents.

    Ken, I definitely disagree, particularly with your PS. The vast majority of Isaiah fits the historical situation of the “First Isaiah” much better than that of an invented “Second Isaiah” and/or “Third Isaiah.” The only parts to be dated later are those particular elements which are obviously later, quite obviously a few elements in chapters 44-45, and perhaps a few others. Obviously such later redaction definitely exists, which I’ve never denied, but is minor and isolated, certainly not encompassing a neat swath of chapters, and is built upon a foundation of catch-phrases from the early 7th century text.

    As I clearly noted, however, and will continue to insist, textual criticism must not be equated with source criticism. The former is entirely based upon objectively verifiable data: a variety of texts. So called “source criticism” is not. The former is inductive, the later deductive. The former has controls, the latter does not. They cannot and must not be equated. If one is going to insist, through a misconstrual of source criticism with textual criticism, that a text is required to be dated by its latest edition then we’d be dating the version of Isaiah most of us know to 1009 AD. That date is objective.

    Chronicles is only partly germane, as we do not have all the sources at hand, and this would be required in order to truly examine the usage of the sources in Chronicles. We have the Samuels and Kings books, the Pentateuch, the Psalms, Isaiah, etc. But the really important bits that make up the majority of the interesting parts, those court documents and other truly historical texts, are entirely lost to us.

    Comparative Semitics and any other supposed controls are only as useful as it is considered that one has data. Objective data from the ground is lacking. We have texts that have been reworked. Objective controls therefore ARE lacking. Academically agreed controls are not lacking. That’s the problem: “academically agreed” ? “objective.” This should not even need to be brought up, but it is a particular problem in Biblical Studies.

    Returning to my original point, the world of 8th/7th century Isaiah, “First Isaiah” if one must, was one of incredible complexity politically, which we’ve learned from cuneiform discoveries. Traditional approaches to Isaiah, however, are simplistic, ignoring most of this context, a wild time of trouble for the entire Near East, particularly Assyria, Babylon, and Elam, and of course Israel and Judah. This context is disregarded in favor of a simplistic equation of all exilic themes with the early 6th centry exile of Judahites to Babylon, etc. Much of this, I suggest, is a legacy of the days when the cuneiform data were unknown. This is definitely the case of the tripartition of Isaiah, which was proposed and accepted before the enlightening cuneiform texts were published. That is an objective statement, datable, provable, and incontrovertible. Preference for it may be justified in many different self-referential ways, with which Biblical Studies is rife. That doesn’t make it right, that a theory from a day of the absence of data is maintained in the face of contradictory data.

  3. I appreciate the depth of the passion for your position, Kevin, but you are passing by information. Comparing texts from the LXX, DSS, and MT isn’t only about text criticism; I am not conflating text and source criticism. Rather, we have clearly instances of shorter books, reworked books, commentaries on books, new books using old books, and so on. The evidence is quite complex and reveals that the idea of a First, Second, and Third Isaiah is hardly as absurd as you pretend. It is quite clear from the manuscript evidence that books were routinely expanded and reworked in the way scholars argue concerning Isaiah. Habakkuk at Qumran, e.g., is missing chapter three; 1Esdras combines Chronicles, Ezra, and parts of Nehemiah; Daniel, Jeremiah, and Esther have all had major revisions and additions; so on and so forth. Furthermore, as Chris Heard cogently argues, your points to situate Second Isaiah earlier fall flat. I won’t repeat his arguments here but they are persuasive in my opinion. In particular, your argument regarding Cyrus I is definitely special pleading. I mean honestly… why on earth would Cyrus I elicit the type of praise that Isaiah gives? Also, another parallel to Isaiah tripartite division is Zechariah, which is almost certainly consists of two discrete parts. The fact is Kevin that while your points should encourage caution and skepticism towards source criticism, especially its excesses, you are ignoring substantial swaths of intertestamental evidence that support some of the basic principles and assumptions in source critical analysis.

  4. Ken, I’m ignoring nothing. You raise only some superficial standard objections. I would seriously love to see a study utilizing Greek intertestamental literature in support of Isaianic or any other Hebrew source criticism! I could use a laugh. For shame!

    Again, I don’t deny that there is material on Cyrus II there in Isaiah. How many times do I have to write that? The minor insertion of a few verses is not, however, multiple chapters. It IS special pleading to say that it must be so, and that precisely chapters 40-55 can ONLY date to the sixth century because of these verses. Other reasons are apparently as secondary to you as to others.

    Source criticism is a completely subjective discipline, with obviously deep roots in Biblical Studies, especially evinced by reactions to these ideas of mine. That doesn’t make source criticism any more realistic. Without the sources in hand, there are no controls.

    Return to the issue I raised: historical data is not utilized to update Biblical Studies. Period. Isaiah is a case in point. Source criticism is another target. Why is this the case? In Isaiah, why is it assumed that every reference to a destruction of Babylon must refer to an occupation of Babylon, especially now knowing, as Duhm, et alia did not, that Babylon was actually entirely destroyed in 689? Sennacherib’s assassination was blamed on this event by most, including his successors, while the Judahite writers like Isaiah preferred the siege of Jerusalem as the apparent reason. Why is Biblical Studies stuck on the overthrow of Babylon by Cyrus II, and doesn’t either know or care about any other history before or after that time? Because it became an item of academic orthodoxy, that’s why. And it’s as lodged in the craw of new students as of old.

    It’s ludicrous. It is not logical, when the text is better explained another way, and I’ll keep saying it until it sinks into all the bright and learning heads such as your own!

  5. Kevin, the destruction of Babylon in 689 is, as Chris Heard observed, hardly going to elicit the type of gleeful response in the seventh century as it did in the sixth. Chris noted quite accurately that the biblical material would suggest Judah and Babylon were more likely allies in this period. So, why per se would the destruction of Babylon in 689 elicit the type of commentary found in Isaiah? Moreover, of what significance was that destruction to the redemption of Israel/Jacob?

    As pertains to my “standard” objections, you’ve offered nothing in response to those objections save a moment of ridicule. These objections are standard for a reason. If you spend time looking at the interestamental literature, Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, or otherwise, you get evidence of the composition of biblical books in the way you are claiming does not exist. I’ve given very practical parallels.

    I also think you are completely wrong that biblical studies does not update. It does. Certainly, there are corners of biblical scholarship that are stuck in naive and hyper-critical source theories that are old-fashioned and useless. I agree with you there wholeheartedly. But, you, Kevin, are throwing the baby out with the bath water… source criticism as the controls of analogy just as any type of historical reconstruction does. By comparisons of genres and document types, ancient literary/scribal practices, and historical linguistic reconstruction, we can posit some sources or recognize earlier from later texts. Sometimes, of course, we will get it wrong… this is a bane of research in the humanities. It’s simply not scientific. Ever. Period.

  6. Ken, I’m sorry you found some ridicule in my message. I didn’t intend any. Certainly not directed at you.

    Honestly, though, but it does seem somewhat ridiculous for you or anyone else to ask why the destruction of Babylon in 689, which involved destroying its divine images and dumping the remains in the Euphrates, razing the temples, and flooding the site through canals dug for the purpose, or so says Sennacherib who did it, would be even equated with an explicitly non-destructive occupation, or so say the Babylonian/Persian records, in the sixth century. There was NO destruction of Babylon in the sixth century. None. The destruction of Babylon in 689 was, however, an International Big Deal when it happened. Sennacherib’s impiety in his treatment of Marduk’s home was widely conceived, by Assyrians as well as Babylonians, of as the reason for his assassination 8 years later. The destruction of Babylon was a significant event, and it is not surprising at all that someone alive at the time in Judah would mention it and ascribe to it a certain role in the further work of God in favor of Israel and Judah and their exiles, particularly those who will have happened to be in the area.

    Drop the assumption of a Babylonian alliance in or around 689. Hezekiah may have made an alliance with Merodach-Baladan, but he completely disappeared from the scene after 703. There is NO evidence whatsoever of any further contact with Babylon or the Chaldeans on the part of Judahite royals. Aside from this, we are talking about Isaiah, who if you hadn’t noticed had a low opinion of Chaldea/Babylon, for which see his chapter 21, and a not terrifically high view of the international relations at court, for which see his chapter 39. It is entirely simplistic to claim “once allies, always allies,” particularly for such a turbulent period as the early seventh century.

    Regarding the intertestamental literature, when you can, utilizing source critical canons, reconstruct Genesis through 2 Kings solely from Sirach, let me know. In the meantime, I suggest you bone up on what the additions to Daniel, Esther, and Jeremiah really are, not to mention the other works, and not try to claim for them for something that they are not.

    Source materials can of course be “discerned” in just about anything, even a list of ingredients on a cereal box. But without the actual source materials, there is no control over the assumptions made by the textual critic, assumptions which are wholly founded in theory, NOT on observation, no matter how anyone may say they are. In the real world, among the works that we possess, again bringing up for the umpteenth time a REAL work that we can read and trace versions of throughout the millennia, the Epic of Gilgamesh (He Who Saw Far, or however one wishes to translate its title), the reality of the data shows us that source criticism is incapable of determining the earlier versions out of the later. That’s the reality that needs to be faced. In the charmingly snappy phrase of Charles Halton’s professor Kaufman, source criticism is “a consummately fruitless endeavor.”

    Claiming that humanities are never going to be scientific is one thing, as no one expects that. Such worlk should, however, at least be based in rational thinking, not in the irrational preference for longstanding theory over data that flies in its face. I’m sure you’d agree with that.

  7. Kevin, You make some good points vis-a-vis the destruction of Babylon. I’d be willing to look at it more closely, but you still don’t really deal with how this accomplishes the redemption of Jacob. In “Second Isaiah” especially, the fall of Babylon is linked with such redemption and that makes much more sense in a sixth century context in my opinion.

    Regarding using Sirach to find Genesis-2 Kings… this is not possible of course, just as I wouldn’t Samuel from Chronicles. But, I’d venture to say that if I did not have Genesis-2 Kings, I would still have hypothesized that Sirach had in his possession a source that chronicled Israel’s history based on his “heroes of the faith” chapter and lo, and behold, I’d have been right. Also, if I only had Chronicles, I’d have hypothesized a source containing a much longer Saul narrative and lo, and behold, I would have been right. Like you, I find the hyper-criticism especially prominent in some German schools absurd but I really have to reiterate that I remain unconvinced that your criticism invalidates more reasonable, measured conclusions about sources.

    What’s more, your standard that you are applying to source criticism would really invalidate your maximalist historical-critical approach. On the one hand, you are saying you need absolute verification of the sources but on the other, you admit the possibility of reconstruction through analogy or contextualization.

    Also, one of the issues I was addressing was your claim that the hypothesized tripartite structure of Isaiah does not reflect what we know about compositional techniques in the ANE and this is just false. I gave you several examples of books that have had major additions appended to them, or significant portions removed from them. This happens, plain and simple.

  8. Yes, definitely look more into the Babylon issue. As I noted for Chris, the first couple hundred pages of CAH 3.2 cover the period in decent detail. Redemption isn’t the only motif in Isaiah, I hesitate to point out. There’s a whole lotta vengeance going on.

    I don’t think we can equate source criticism, the kind I’m rather rabid about, with literary reference/allusion/quotation, which is what I brought up in relation to Sirach and Chronicles. I thought about that just after I’d posted that comment. The two really should be kept separate from the issue of “sources” as dealt with in source criticism. Things like the majority of the apocrypha are original works, with only very little reliance upon canonical works. Try to pick apart 3 Esdras even WITH having the canonical books, and it’s difficult. To determine the discreet sources in this only partially preserved “book” in a manner corresponding to that of the Doc. Hyp. or the Isaiah scenario isn’t done, anyway. Influences, allusions, and quotations are acknowledged, but this is a literary reliance, not a hodge-podge of textual chunks tossed together by some hack.

    There’s no real impact on my historical approach. If anything, a more or less unified Isaiah of the eighth/seventh would be of MORE value rather than less. That I deny wild supposition in the face of contrasting evidence for how people wrote is of a piece with a more maximalist viewpoint in the particular case of Isaiah, and would be in many others as well.

    And I’ll say it again. Look at the evidence. Every single ancient text of which we can objectively trace the development is not put together in such a manner that would equate with either the Documentary Hypothesis, in all its excesses or not, or the Tripartite Isaiah, especially the latter, consisting of suggested discreet huge blocks of material. There is no evidence that ancient people wrote that way, solely ripping chunks from older documents in the case of the DH, or just adding chunks at the end, as in Isaiah. That is certainly contrary to reality. The changes that occur in these works as they are passed through the centuries occur on a larger scale, and can only be classified more properly as separate literary works, when they are not faithfully retained in a particular, archaic version (which is much more common in Egyptian than cuneiform texts). I don’t deny that changes have occurred, but I DO state, emphatically, that these cannot be determined, and I have mentioned precise, objective examples, while you have only raised those which are claimed as such examples as part of the body of theory under critique, or which aren’t really applicable at all. That doesn’t work.

  9. Kevin, your last paragraph is completely wrong. I gave you concrete examples: chapter three of Habakkuk, the additions to Daniel and Esther, the significant differences between the versions of Jeremiah. These are not “part of the body of theory under critique” Kevin. They are concrete examples of texts that have been altered in the way you say is ‘contrary to reality.’ Plain and simple. In fact, I think your example of Gilgamesh proves the exact opposite point you are trying to make. It too shows the same type of additions and subtractions and editorial activity across millennia as that which scholars posit happened in the book of Isaiah. I really don’t get anymore where you coming from on this…

    Also, some of the changes posited by past generations have been determined and subsequently confirmed by the DSS and other texts. But then, very few people do more than to say the kind of sources that underlie a document. It is certainly possible for me to analyze a document and say this or that section shows clear signs of later insertion. We have examples of this.

    Look, it is one thing to chop up a document word by word and posit five, six, seven, or more layers of redactional activity. It is quite another to notice clear resumptive repetition and in between a pericope with distinctly different qualities than the narrative surrounding it and so posit a source.

    It is also another thing to notice antiquarian material in a document from generations earlier than the document itself and posit that a written or oral source sits behind that document.

    It is also possible to use blind motifs and other literary techniques to identify dependency of one document upon another.

    It is also possible to identify significant genre distinctions and posit sources, especially in the case of lists, genealogies, and other accounts.

    In short, Kevin, there are many legitimate reasons to posit sources without “wildly speculating”.

    Also, you are not understanding my point about the incongruity in your approach to source criticism vis-a-vis historical criticism. My point is that your standard of verification is higher for the former than it is in the latter. What you call wild speculation in source criticism, because it lacks anything more concrete than analogy and circumstantial evidence, is otherwise for you a permissible level of certitude and quality of evidence for the reconstruction of the history. You are being very inconsistent on the one hand to demand absolute proof for sources that reasonably posited on any number of grounds and than not require that same level of proof for reconstructing events recounted in the bible.

  10. Ken, no. Versional evidence is one thing, source critical theory is another. Neither of the Greek versions of Esther nor Daniel have all their additions en bloc, as is posited in the Tripartite Isaiah, and both are altered far more than just a set of insertions, which you should already know. OG Jeremiah is a completely different (and earlier) literary version of the same book. Emmanuel Tov is strongly insistent on the literary character of the differences, rather than merely textual. Take Tov’s word for it if not mine. No matter the approach, these and the others do nothing to support your assertion.

    Regarding Gilgamesh, read the separate versions. The evidence in Gilgamesh shows no support for what you claim. I’m astonished you can suggest that they do. I can only conclude that you’re unfamiliar with the differences, because they are as blatant as possible. Do the reading.

    I also understood completely your point about what you perceive as a contradiction in my approach to historical criticism and source criticism. But, obviously, you don’t understand my approach very well, do you? Let me describe it for you. If the texts we have in the Biblical corpus are congruent with texts of appropriate periods which we know from archaeological discoveries, which they are, and if the anachronistic elements are taken into account, which they are, then what we are left with are essentially documents transmitted from the periods in question. It’s quite simple, and would probably be considered old-fashioned by some. Yet, this is a position regarding ancient texts accepted in modern historiography, as practiced by real, living professional historians, not of the Biblical Studies backwater/niche ilk. I find them better arbiters of what is good historiography.

    You would like to equate my entirely reasonable textual realism with an impossible historical positivism, finding a contradiction. There is none. Historical positivism is an oxymoron, for positivism is the end of historiography, as some minimalists now display in their creep toward nihilism in historiography. This too is agreed upon in modern historiography. The ultimate, logical end of historical positivism, is self-annihilation. My apparent textual positivism is rather a textual realism, because that is its focus: what we know from reality’s objective input from texts of all kinds, gained through discovery, decipherment, and detailed exegesis, and even the traditional (from trado, to hand on) Biblical texts. We are, after all, dealing with texts that we have in our hands, in reality, from various ages. These are not hypothetical. What history we may learn is based upon these texts, not upon seeds, broken stones, muddy pits. The same “wild speculation” that I despise in the uncontrolled imagination of source critical issues is found in the unhinged imagination of minimalism, creating histories independent of both textual and artifactual evidence. I distance myself from both, the better to get a bead on them….

    At this point, Ken, this is taking way too much time. I know you mean well, which is fine. But I don’t have the time or patience anymore to continue to repeat myself. Let’s drop it and revisit it later. You’d do well to read a bit more on the apocrypha and the textual/versional issues involved (try Tov’s The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research for starters), not to mention the actual Gilgamesh texts (Tigay’s volume gives all known to that date, apparently, and my copy is on the way; the versions in ANET, COS and Stephanie Dalley’s Myths from Mesopotamia all provide a large enough sample). Read all that with my points in mind, and we’ll see where we end up in a few months.

  11. First, let me applaud your defense with respect to the contradiction I perceived in your methodology. Your clarification is well taken. Thank-you.

    Now, your condescension notwithstanding, I am acquianted with the texts you mention. While I will grant that source criticism is not my areas of expertise and so I am not fully competent in some of these aspects of the texts you cite, I know them well enough for these purposes. Regarding Gilgamesh, I am familiar with some of the theories around composition, including those of Jacobsen who sees a cultural and literary development not unlike many compositional and source theories for biblical books. It is on that basis, as well as comments from other scholars, that I’ve made my remarks. At this point, you really have not shown me any reason to believe that I’ve received bad information; your assertions are not compelling. Still, I’m by no means fully conversant at this point and respect that this is an area in which I need to spend more time.

    Also, I have to wonder which scholars you are reading on Isaiah, Kevin. I can’t think of anyone offhand who posits that Isaiah’s additions are all en bloc, despite the implication of the First, Second, Third divisions. Having done considerable work in Isaiah, I know quite well that most of the scholars hypothesize that the additions involved the rewriting of the book. This is also the case with theories concerning the bipartite or tripartite revision of Zechariah. So, what you are calling “versional differences” is precisely what would have happened with Isaiah, a series of subsequent versions built on core texts, the core texts being the ones scholars have attempted to isolate through source-critical methodology. To that end, the literary character of the differences is as relevant as their textual character. The difference for Isaiah, vis-a-vis Jeremiah, Esther, and Daniel , is that in the case of the latter texts we have evidence of the versions but with Isaiah we don’t. I’d also add that even if Isaiah did involve additions ‘en bloc,’ this is attested in the difference between the MT and DSS Habakkuk, not to mention that if scribes are copying/rewriting books, why not simply add to it? Perhaps I’m not following some of the distinctions in terminology or conceptualization that you are assuming?

    In any case, that’s fine if you want to revisit the topic later, but I doubt it would be productive. You seem very ideologically committed to your views on this issue and haven’t really addressed the nitty-gritty of some of my points regarding the evidence of sources. Still, I respect your opinion and hope your defense resonates with scholarship. I, for one, would prefer more work on the received texts than the preoccupation some scholars exhibit with compositional history.

  12. Thanks, Ken. I’m sorry that I seem or am condescending. Text critical issues are much more relevant for all this, and provide real data. And as far as I can see, the problem is definitely that I haven’t and can’t right now take the time to clarify, for which I apologize. I have a tendency to forget that others can’t follow me easily, obviously! Perhaps later, in the summer sometime, I’ll have some time to put something more explicative together.

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