Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Arguments from N’KH Part 1

Submitted by David A

Within Biblical Studies, there are many reasons as to why just about every single biblical scholar, aside from those compelled by faith and religion to believe otherwise, considers the Torah as a composite book, developed over time and authored by different individuals.

One such source of “evidence” is the set of conclusions that stem from analysis of the textual contents of N’kh (i.e. the books of Nevi’im and Kesuvim). Note: I am NOT referring to The Documentary Hypothesis, but simply to the to a plain reading of the text and then noting the factual existence, or non-existence, of certain expressions and types of phrases and what reasonable conclusions can be reached.

In my days at yeshiva, I had a night seder with an older gentleman, a shomer Torah u’mitzvos, a physicist who, I eventually learned, did not believe in a literal TMS. In my early naivete, I had no idea that such an animal existed, (i.e. what they now call orthoprax).

During one discussion on T’N’Kh, he said to me something along these lines:

“Physics over the last 200 or so years has changed quite extensively, so that if you were to present to me the contents of 5 different books on physics, written within this period, I could easily sort them in chronological order of publication. Well, do the same with N’kh, only backwards. Start with a chronological order and then identify the development of Torah, by delineating Torah related references, by word or phrase or other textual content. You will find the ever increasing emergence of such wordings. And conclude from that what you will.”

I set about my exercise. Everyone agrees that the date-order of composition within N’Kh, is the Books of Samuel, then Kings, followed by Chronicles. Less certain is where in the time line to place the Book of Judges. Further, for Joshua, it is thought, except by the traditionalists, to have been written many centuries after the recorded events, so for my purposes it cannot be used.

The idea is to note and tally the appearance of expressions and references to the Torah or its contents as we read chronologically through Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. What is readily noted is that the tally increases and the number and type of appearances of such references are clearly a function of time.

This last statement is a fact, not an interpretation.

Being a mathematician by training, I see things more readily if organized by tables. So I present the results as such.

The table has 3 columns of data.

The first column are the counts of how many times in each book, the words “as written in”, “Toras Hashem”, “Toras Moishe” or “sefer of”, the last in context of God’s commandments.

The second column is a little more liberal and hence interpretative. It adds to column 1 expressions such, as “mitzvoth that were commanded”, “through Moishe” or “by Hashem”, which don’t readily imply a written Torah but certainly some Torah.

And finally, in the third column are counts of references to (a) specific mitzvos or (b) verse-phraseology that are very similar to verses in the Torah as we have it but for both (a) and (b) OMITTING references that are found in Sefer Devarim (i.e. the references are only to any of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers). In other words, the final column shows that if a Torah existed similar to ours, only Chronicles has references to this part of Torah It is as if this part was not known or available to anybody living many years earlier than the time of the authorship of Chronicles (which is generally accepted as early in the second Temple period).

Note:  Please forgive any minor errors in the data, as I’m not very meticulous in my work, but even with errors, the basic idea will still remain quite sound.

                        Column:           1             2              3
Book of Judges                        0             2              1                          
Samuel                                     0             0              0
I-Kings                                     1             2              0
II-Kings                                    8           13              1                                    
Chronicles                               19           23            20

Column 1 (i.e. references to “Ka-kosuv”), then Row 5 (all references in Chronicles) and Column 3 (references to entries in Exod+Lev.+Num.) are particularly interesting and very suggestive.

Is this just a table of random numbers and a set of coincidences, or an indication of something else?

By the way, the same analysis, with similar suggestive results, can be undertaken by comparing the chronological books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. I leave this exercise to the reader.

And, it doesn’t end there.  There’s more as I plan to demonstrate in PART II. It decidedly gets more compelling, 

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