Quotes from Who Wrote the Bible?

Richard Elliott Friedman ·  304 pages

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“Gen 22:11–16a The story of the near-sacrifice of Isaac is traced to E. It refers to the deity as Elohim in vv. 1,3,8, and 9. But, just as Abraham’s hand is raised with the knife to sacrifice Isaac, the text says that the angel of Yahweh stops him (v. 11). The verses in which Isaac is spared refer to the deity as Yahweh (vv. 11–14). These verses are followed by a report that the angel speaks a second time and says, “… because you did not withhold your son from me….” Thus the four verses which report that Isaac was not sacrificed involve both a contradiction and a change of the name of the deity. As extraordinary as it may seem, it has been suggested that in the original version of this story Isaac was actually sacrificed, and that the intervening four verses were added subsequently, when the notion of human sacrifice was rejected (perhaps by the person who combined J and E). Of course, the words “you did not withhold your son” might mean only that Abraham had been willing to sacrifice his son. But still it must be noted that the text concludes (v. 19), “And Abraham returned to his servants.” Isaac is not mentioned. Moreover, Isaac never again appears as a character in E. Interestingly, a later midrashic tradition developed this notion, that Isaac actually had been sacrificed. This tradition is discussed in S. Spiegel’s The Last Trial (New York: Schocken, 1969; Hebrew edition 1950).”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“One of the logical consequences of monotheism is guilt.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“Investigators found that in most cases one of the two versions of a doublet story would refer to the deity by the divine name, Yahweh (formerly mispronounced Jehovah), and the other version of the story would refer to the deity simply as “God.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“The document that was associated with the divine name Yahweh/Jehovah was called J. The document that was identified as referring to the deity as God (in Hebrew, Elohim) was called E. The third document, by far the largest, included most of the legal sections and concentrated a great deal on matters having to do with priests, and so it was called P. And the source that was found only in the book of Deuteronomy was called D. The question was how to uncover the history of these four documents—not only who wrote them, but why four different versions of the story were written, what their relationship to each other was, whether any of the authors were aware of the existence of the others’ texts, when in history each was produced, how they were preserved and combined, and a host of other questions. The first step was to try to determine the relative order in which they were written. The idea was to try to see if each version reflected a particular stage in the development of religion in biblical Israel. This approach reflected the influence in nineteenth-century Germany of Hegelian notions of historical development of civilization. Two nineteenth-century figures stand out. They approached the problem in very different ways, but they arrived at complementary findings. One of them,”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“The chief pagan god in the region that was to become Israel was El. El was male, patriarchal, a ruler.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“no word in the Hebrew language of that period for “religion.” Religion was not a separate, identifiable category of beliefs and activities. It was an inseparable, pervasive part of life.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“missîm. The term missîm in Hebrew refers to a sort of tax, not of money but of physical labor. Citizens owed a month of required work to the government each year.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“understand better the world in which it was born and how inextricably connected it was to that world; to appreciate the wonder of how it came together; to appreciate that literary study and historical study of the Bible are not enemies, or even alternatives to one another. Rather, they enrich one another. Whether one is a Christian or a Jew or from another religion or no religion, whether one is religious or not, the more one knows of the Bible the more one stands in awe of it.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“There are two different stories of the creation of the world. There are two stories of the covenant between God and the patriarch Abraham, two stories of the naming of Abraham’s son Isaac, two stories of Abraham’s claiming to a foreign king that his wife Sarah is his sister, two stories of Isaac’s son Jacob making a journey to Mesopotamia, two stories of a revelation to Jacob at Beth-El, two stories of God’s changing Jacob’s name to Israel, two stories of Moses’ getting water from a rock at a place called Meribah, and more.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

“of the story would refer to the deity simply as “God.” That is, the doublets lined up into two groups of parallel versions of stories. Each group was almost always consistent about the name of the deity that it used.”
― Richard Elliott Friedman, quote from Who Wrote the Bible?

About the author

Richard Elliott Friedman
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