Since the beginning of modern biblical studies, there have been various theories about how the Pentateuch came to be composed from earlier sources or layers of tradition. The method for reconstructing these earlier sources or layers is known as literary criticism. Literary criticism seeks explanations for the various signs of disunity in the text, such as contradictions, inconsistencies, two versions of various stories (e.g. the story of Abraham’s wife Sarah in Egypt), redundancies, and other such features which readers have noticed in the biblical text. Literary criticism’s explanation is that these problems are a result of the development of the text from earlier sources or traditions.
How did these developments take place? The current biblical text might have been added to by supplements over time, or by editors making minor adjustments here and there, or perhaps an author combined multiple sources at one point in time. For about 100 years, one theory dominated literary criticism of the Pentateuch, and that was the Documentary Hypothesis. Under the Documentary Hypothesis, it was posited that the Pentateuch was primarily a combination of “Priestly” and “pre-Priestly” written sources (or “documents”). The Priestly sources are denoted by the siglum “P”, and the pre-Priestly sources by a variety of terms, the Yahwist “J” (after the German “Jahwist”), Elohist “E”, and various pre-J sources. In addition, a deuteronomic author “D” was responsible, primarily, for the book of Deuteronomy. Proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis concluded that Priestly and pre-Priestly sources could be traced throughout the books of Genesis-Deuteronomy.
Over recent decades, however, the Documentary Hypothesis has been criticised on various grounds. For example, the traditions identified as Priestly in Genesis and parts of Exodus seem to have a different character from those identified as Priestly in Leviticus and again from those in Numbers. The so-called Priestly traditions in Numbers generally seem to be a later development, dependent on those in Genesis-Leviticus. Also, there does not seem to be any Priestly source that continues to the final chapters of Deuteronomy. And therefore, there are no longer good grounds for viewing the so-called Priestly source as a continuous source stretching throughout the Pentateuch. It has become very difficult to identify continuous written sources, or documents, behind the Pentateuch. Pentateuchal scholars have suggested, instead, that the process by which the Pentateuch was composed may have involved sources or traditions that did not span the whole Pentateuch. The process seems to have involved more fragmentary sources or traditions, and there is more importance given to the role of the author or authors (or “redactors”) who were responsible for bringing the five books of the Pentateuch together.
However, none of this undermines literary criticism’s identification of disunity in the text. Just because it has become difficult to show how the whole Pentateuch came together does not mean that literary criticism has nothing to contribute to individual passages within the Pentateuch. We need to distinguish the big project of Pentateuchal criticism, the macro-level in which the whole Pentateuch was composed, from the micro-level in which we can identify the joining of sources and traditions.
The classic example demonstrating how literary criticism works is the story of Noah’s Ark. Genesis 6-9 provides a reasonably clear example of the joining of two sources (identified as J and P under the Documentary Hypothesis). But I want to suggest that we should start somewhere else entirely: with the story of David and Goliath, outside the Pentateuch, in 1 Samuel 16-18!
The story of David and Goliath, in contrast with the story of Noah’s Ark, has survived in two quite different manuscript traditions, one much shorter than the other. The shorter manuscript tradition is represented by the Greek Septuagint (LXX). The LXX provides us with actual empirical evidence for one of the sources in the longer story of David and Goliath. The longer story is found in modern English versions of the Bible, and is based on the Hebrew Masoretic Text (MT). Therefore, by comparing the LXX and MT, we can see how the MT has combined two earlier sources. The MT has combined the LXX source and (at least) one other source.
What do we gain when we compare the two sources within the story of David and Goliath? There are many inconsistencies and contradictions in the longer story of David and Goliath (the one in your English version of the Bible). But all of these inconsistencies and contradictions are explained as the combination of the two earlier sources – one of which still exists in the LXX!
One of the best discussions of the two sources within the story of David and Goliath is by Emanuel Tov. Please have a read of his article, “The David and Goliath Saga: How a Biblical editor combined two versions”, first published in Bible Review 2:04, Winter 1986.
Once we see that the Bible combines earlier sources, we can make sense of the inconsistencies in the story of David and Goliath.
For example, the LXX has King Saul taking David into his service and making him his armour-bearer. Goliath – standing at an impressive 6′ 9″ – would challenge Israel in the hearing of Saul and David (1 Samuel 16.1 – 17.11). But the other source in the longer MT has David suddenly switch to being a young shepherd boy. David arrives at the battle scene only after Goliath’s challenge, and in order to bring his older brothers some food (1 Sam. 17.12-31).
In the LXX, David, as Saul’s armour bearer, recounts how he used to kill lions and bears with his bare hands, back in the days when he was a shepherd boy. David then volunteers to confront Goliath, and kill him with his slingshot (1 Sam. 17.32-49). But in the longer MT, David, is still a young shepherd boy. David defeats Goliath without any sword in his hand. In this MT, the dead Goliath grows to a superhuman 10-feet tall (1 Sam. 17.50; cf. MT 17.4)
In the LXX, David takes the giant’s sword in his hand and chops off Goliath’s head, taking the head to Jerusalem – ignoring any Jebusites currently in residency there (1 Sam. 17.51-54). In the additional sections in MT, Saul does not recognise the boy, because he hadn’t been in his service as his armour bearer. David returns from battle for a second time, this time as a shepherd boy. David has the head of Goliath in his hand, which for some reason is no longer in Jerusalem (maybe the Jebusites gave it back?) Saul asks “who the hell are you?”, as though he had never seen him before, and David introduces himself to Saul as though the man and boy had never met (1 Sam. 17.55-58).
The two different versions of the David and Goliath story provide empirical evidence of what literary criticism has argued about the development of the Pentateuch. 1 Samuel 16-18 is, then, a good place to start in explaining what Pentateuchal literary criticism seeks to achieve.
Archie T. Wright has an article up on Bible & Interpretation for April 2015 entitled “The Origin of Evil Spirits in Early Jewish Literature“.
In the article, Archie Wright explains the link made between giants and evil spirits/demons in the Book of Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36):
the Fallen Watcher Angels in 1 Enoch have sexual relations with human women and produce what are described as giant offspring. These offspring begin to literally eat the humans out of house and home. Once they have eaten all the food that humans produce, they turn on the humans and begin to devour them; it is then that the call goes up to heaven for God to deliver humanity from the giants. These giants are considered a hybrid offspring, they are part human and also part heavenly being (angel); although the percentage of division (e.g. 50/50) between the two is unclear. The result of the call to heaven by the oppressed humans brings about the destruction of the physical giants by the Archangels Raphael, Michael, Sariel, and Gabriel. The death of the ‘giants’ is brought about by the Flood event in Genesis, which, at the same time, cleanses the earth of the blood shed by the giants and also eliminates corrupt humanity. However, the hybrid spirits of the physical giants survive the flood and are identified in 1 Enoch, and other early Jewish texts, as evil spirits (or demons). The fathers of the giants, the Watcher angels, are locked in a deep pit identified as Tartarus and are bound there with chains and covered with rocks, thus the image you see in the movie “Noah” of the giant beings who seem to be assisting Noah in various aspects of the Flood episode. The Watchers will be held there until the Day of Judgment – there is no notion in 1 Enoch that the evil spirits are fallen angels, rather the spirits of the giant offspring become the evil spirits or demons of the age.
The article coincides with the revised edition of Archie Wright’s book, The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6:1-4 in Early Jewish Literature (Fortress Press, 1 April 2015). The original edition was a fine read on the subject, so I am sure the revised edition will be very good too.
h/t: Jim Davila
There has been a news story doing the rounds about a pasta label that uses a depiction of Jewish heroine Judith:
The pasta sauce has caused quite a stir. The objection is that “the image, as Middle Earth Organics would know if anyone had done ANY research whatsoever, is Judith Beheading Holofernes, a 1598 painting by Caravaggio. Judith … is not making an al dente delight. Judith is cutting off some dude’s head.”
Here is the full painting from which the pasta label was taken:
The story then suggests that the pasta makers should have consulted “an art history major”. Well, perhaps.
But the use of Judith the beheader is actually quite appropriate for marketing pasta sauce.
In the Book of Judith, the heroine Judith takes her own Jewish food to eat while she stays with Holofernes: wine, oil, barley groats, figcakes, white bread, and (in some versions) cheese.
According to a tradition that began in the Middle Ages, Judith attempted to get Holofernes drunk by giving him wine, and tried to get him drowsy (or thirsty) by offering him her cheese. By incapacitating Holofernes with her own delicious food and drink, she was then able to cut off his head. The tradition provides an explanation why cheese is eaten at the festival of Hanukkah.
And of course, what’s a pasta without a bit of grated cheese on top? Some tasty pecorino romano would go nicely.
So the pasta label in fact seems rather apt… if not to an art historian, at least to a biblical reception historian.
The CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest, most powerful, and (at $10 Billion) most expensive particle accelerator.
Or is it?
Mike from around the world suggests otherwise. In an interview with Paul Begley, Mike from around the world claims that CERN has opened up portals to Hell through which Nephilim are now manifesting. Here’s a pic:
Satan lives in the dark matter. But he comes in and out…. I know the scientist guys don’t really want to go there.
– Paul Begley
You can listen to the interview on YouTube:
I’ve previously thought that Eegah (1962) was the worst ever movie made about a giant. But in 2013, along came… Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan.
If the trailer is anything to go by, this would provide Eegah with some stiff competition.
Although, on IMDB, Axe Giant (3.5/10) is currently outscoring Eegah (2.2/10),
Noah’s Father Would Not Have Been Able to give His Wife a Satisfying Orgasm after She had Experienced a Gigantic Angelic Penis
On March 15, 2015, Jeremiah Bailey (PhD candidate, Baylor University) presented a stimulating paper at the Southwestern Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies, or SCRS):
The Genesis Apocryphon is a fascinating example of the genre of “rewritten Bible.” However, the fascination with its adherence and divergence from the biblical text has left aspects of its text underexplored. One such underexplored textual feature is found in Column II of the scroll wherein Lamech worries that his son Noah is the illegitimate offspring of the Watchers leading him to confront his wife about the nature of the conception. Most of the work on this passage has focused on its relationship to the version of the story in 1 Enoch 106-107, but the text is interesting even beyond its relationship to a group of stories at Qumran about the birth of Noah. The Genesis Apocryphon uniquely gives Lamech’s wife, Bitenosh, a chance to answer the accusation of her infidelity.
In 1QAp Gen II, 9-10, 14, Bitenosh defends the legitimacy of Noah by demanding that Lamech remember the sexual pleasure she received during their intercourse. Why this should prove convincing is not immediately clear from the context of the passage. Despite the perplexing nature of the comments, most interpreters have made little more than passing reference to Bitenosh’s argument, and to date there have only been two real attempts—both recent and both dependent on Greek science—to provide a thorough and satisfactory explanation. This essay will provide an alternative interpretation to those currently on offer. It will argue that the key to understanding this passage lies outside Bitenosh herself, both physically and emotionally, and instead is rooted in the physiology of the Watchers and their offspring, specifically, the portrayal of the Watchers as endowed with absurdly large sexual organs.
Jeremiah Bailey’s interpretation comes after Pieter W. van der Horst’s alternative explanation, discussed earlier by Remnant of Giants.
Jeremiah’s suggestion certainly got me thinking again about Bitenosh’s sexual pleasure, and how it was meant to convince her husband Lamech of her fidelity. But I don’t know. It seems to me that Jeremiah is drawing a long bow.