Fohrer-sources behind the sources behind the Pentateuch

Georg Fohrer explained his own take on the sources for the Pentateuch in his Introduction to the Old Testament.  He asked what existed before J, E, P, or D.

Fohrer thought there must have been an old story about the patriarchs, the exodus, and the beginnings of the conquest which got passed on by mouth and then was written down. This existed before any of the sources that the Pentateuch draws upon existed. This story consisted of historical traditions about how Israel acquired its land. The original oral source, G1, did not include the Joseph story or the saga about Balaam. But G2, which became a written source, included both along with some other new material.

Also there existed independent collections of laws like the Covenant Code and parts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. He thought that the Holiness Code in Leviticus 17 ff. was one of these early codes. (I have previously blogged about the view Knohl and Milgrom, that the Holiness Code is later.)

So these, along with some poems and other short pieces, is what the sources had to work with. The authors of the sources were both collectors and artistic composers. The combination of pulling together dissimilar stuff and having unique agendas gave the sources their irregularity and inconsistency. Sometimes they use the same material, but give it a different spin. These often got added together without harmonization in the five books as we know them.

The first source or stratum he considered is J, the Yahwist. In addition to the usual insights about J seeing God as near to humans and as faithful despite human attempts to shuck off his dominion, Fohrer saw J as favorable toward agricultural civilization even though he (or she, according to some writers) recognizes the temptations that go with it. This leads also to a favorable attitude toward national power and kingship in Israel.

Fohrer believed that the Yahwist wrote in the royal court at Jerusalem in the second half of the 9th century B.C.E, perhaps during the time of King Amaziah.

Next, he considered E, the Elohist. He agreed that E is more ellusive than J, but defended the existence of E as a continuous story. E has a more prophetic approach than J. E often sees historical events as divine judgment on human sin. The story of the golden calf is distinct to E. It is told as a critique of government and priestly policy in Samaria. So, unlike J, E is not at all positive toward kingship.

This means that the setting of E is the Northern Kingdom. Fohrer saw E as influencing both Hosea and Deuteronomy. He dates it a little after J, perhaps during the rule of Jeroboam II in the North.

I am still having trouble seeing the basis for the existence of G2. But Fohrer claimed that J and E relied on G2, except for the parts of J that relied on another source. In my next post, I will get to what interested me about Fohrer. He argued for another source behind J, one that relied on G1.

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About theoutwardquest

I have many interests, but will blog mostly about what I read in the fields of Bible and religion.
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