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JSmith: Patterning in the Torah

To: talk.religion.misc,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (tyaginator)
Subject: JSmith: Patterning in the Torah
Date: 27 Mar 1999 02:37:34 -0800

[from Jeffrey Smith ]

Re the computer that said the Torah had one author:
The analysis was done on the [Hebrew] Masoretic text.  It's not really 
possible to go beyond that to underlying material.  The Document 
Hypothesis is after all just that, a hypothesis (and one that in my view 
has far weaker foundations that academic orthodoxy will allow).   The 
computer found no real differences among the sections that were supposed 
to be from the J document, as opposed to other sections supposed to be 
from other sources.

Consider this hypothetical situation:   a person, called the Redactor, 
finds several different manuscripts, each of which is a history of 
Thelema written by  various people:  say Frater Achad, Jack Parsons, 
Kenneth Grant, and Bill Heidrick.  The Redactor takes these different 
versions and combines them into one longer manuscript; Redactor does this 
by the cut and paste method, writing short bridging passages, and making 
as little editorial changes as possible.  You thus get a history of 
Thelema written by several people, giving differing POVs, and 
occassionally including two or more accounts of the same event, not 
necessarily in harmony with each other.   The Redactor doesn't gloss 
which sections are from which author, or even that they are from 
different authors, or note where the manuscript switches between original 
authors.  The unwary reader thus finds a history of Thelema which seems 
to be from one person, but has major portions that are stylistically 
unlike each other, and sometimes contradict each other on the facts.

That is the modern academic theory of how the Torah came to be.  A 
computer analysis for literary traits would identify which passage comes 
from which author based on statistics (for instance, longwinded 
sentences, use of certain favorite words or terms, etc.) and style 
analysis.  The computer should have found some differences among the 
portions alleged to emanate from J, as opposed to E, and P, and D.  It 
did not.  Based on literary considerations, the Torah (according to this 
computer study) has one and only one author.  Presumably this would be 
either God, or the person who produced the final version that is 
essentially the Masoretic text we use today.  [My own take:  the 
Redactor, guided by God; who then made sure that the text was kept whole 
and preserved via scribal efforts and the Masoretic program in later 
times--by which an overt campaign was conducted to determine and put into 
general use a uniform text as close as possible to the original, rather 
like academic text scholarship of the current day.]

One final consideration I learned from a Conservative rabbi some years 
ago. "R" for Redactor is the usual abbreviation given to denote the work 
done by whoever produced the final version.  This rabbi suggested that we 
treat the R as an abbreviation for Rabbenu--our teacher.

  Jeffrey Smith
	We must live in joy.  We must live in love.  They are moreover,
	one and the same thing.	
	--R. Moshe Kobriner

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