Monday, November 21, 2011

Incorrect Translation: Part 4

As promised this is the fourth and final segment of my critique on false translations. IF you haven't read of PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3 please start there so that it will be clear what this post is about.

During the early version of my review there was someone who claimed that the a theory about the development of the Torah created by European Christians proved the BOY. For those who bring up the Documentary Theory aka the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis in order to defend the BOY. This theory posits that the Torah, and only the Torah, is not a single text written by Moses but a series of documents collected over time.

The problem is that the Documentary Theory is about the different writing styles in the Torah and it is only a THEORY. There is no hard evidence that Documentary Theory is true, that is why it is called a theory or a hypothesis. Jewish and Samaritan sages, on the other hand, have discussed and can explain every segment of Torah and its transmission from Mount Sinai to the present era. If you read through the information you will also see how the Documentary Theory also disproves the HOY claim that their text is based on an original text.

The Torah Scroll

According to Jewish Law, a sefer Torah (scroll) should be preferably written on gevil. Gevil is a form of skin made from the whole hide, after the hair is removed. The precise requirements for processing gevil are laid by the Talmud, Geonim and Rishonim. They were reconfirmed as "the law according to Moses" by Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah.

Gevil Torah Scroll

According to the Talmud (Tractate Bava Batra 14b and Gittin 54b), gevil existed during the time of Moses (approximately 1280 BCE); Moses is described as using gevil for the Torah scroll he placed into the Holy Ark of the Covenant. Elsewhere in the Talmud (Tractate Gittin 54b), there is testimony that Torah scrolls were written on gevil.

200 Year Old Torah Scroll

The oldest Yemenite manuscripts are those of the Hebrew Bible, which the Yemenite Jews call "Taj" ("crown"). The oldest texts dating from the 9th century, and each of them has a short Masoretic introduction, while many contain Arabic commentaries.

Jewish Claim Authenticity

According to Jewish texts from 2,000 years ago there are three views of how the Torah was composed. A first view states that the entire Torah was given all at once to Mosheh (Moses) at Mount Sinai. In the maximalist view, this dictation included not only the quotations that appear in the text, but also every word of the text. A second view holds that although Moses wrote the vast majority of the Torah, the last four verses of the Torah were written after his death by Yehoshua bin-Nun (Joshua). A third view holds that YHWH dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Devarim (Deuteronomy) in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b). All classical rabbinic views hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin. 

The Torah given to the entire nation of Yisrael (Israel)

Judasim further holds that YHWH is not a human and does not communicate with humans in methods that can attributed to human thought. As Rabbi Mosheh ben-Maimon (1135-1204 CE) who wrote in the Mishnah Torah and the Moreh HaNevuchim (The Guide to the Perplexed) explained that that the Torah was written in the words of humans with divine concepts as the basis. The Jewish perspective further holds that the Torah is written in different styles for theological purposes and understanding the Torah can only be done by understanding the Oral Teachings about the text.

Another aspect of the giving of the Torah is that the entire nation of Yisrael (Israel) heard and saw the voice of YHWH when He spoke. Thus, when Moses presented the Torah it was not just his word, the revelation was to hundreds of thousands of Israelites. In this light Moses and also later scribes could not change or fake the text because hundreds of thousands could attest to what the original text was. Judaism also holds that before Moses died he made 12 copies of the first Torah he wrote and gave a copy to each of the 12 tribes. Further, several Jewish sources such as Pirke Avoth and the Mishnah Torah list the names of all of the Jews from Moses to the 2nd Cent. CE who preserved the Torah from Mount Sinai.

Mori Amnan Yitzhaq writing the last letters of a Torah Scroll

From Rav Ashe (Talmudic times) back to Moshe (Moses) there were forty generations of great men; that is to say: (1) Rav Ashe, (2) from Rabba, (3) from Rabbah, (4) from Rav Huna, (5) from Ribbi Yohanan, Rav, and Shemuel, (6) from Our Holy Teacher, (7) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (8) from his father, Rabban Gamliel, (9) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (10) from his father, Rabban Gamliel the Elder, (11) from his father, Rabban Shim`on, (12) from his father, Hillel, and Shammai, (13) from Shemayah and Avtalyon, (14) from Yehudah and Shim`on, (15) from Yehoshua and Nittai, (16) from Yosef and Yosef, (17) from Antignos, (18) from Shim`on the Righteous, (19) from Ezra, (20) from Baruch, (21) from Yirmiyah, (22) from Tsefanyah, (23) from Havaqquq, (24) from Nahum, (25) from Yoel, (26) from Michah, (27) from Yeshayah, (28) from Amos, (29) from Hoshea, (30) from Zecharyah, (31) from Yehoyada, (32) from Elisha, (33) from Eliyahu, (34) from Ahiyah, (35) from King David, (36) from Shemuel, (37) from Eli, (38) from Pinehas, (39) from Yehoshua bin-Nun, (40) from Moshe (Moses), the greatest of all of the prophets, from YHWH.

Jews of Southern Arabia (Habban) Displaying their Torah Scroll

 In order to maintain the accuracy of the text a a master copy was kept in the Temple and used as the reference. Jews further list a number of Kohenim (Priests) who insured the accuracy of the text from the time of Moses until the present time.To see how accurate Jews have kept the Torah go to the following link where you can hear how Jews read from the Torah HERE. This is the proof of the accuracy of the text from the Jewish perspective.

The Samaritan Claim of Torah Authenticity

The Samaritans of Northern Israel hold that the first Torah was given directly from YHWH to Moses in the form of a scroll that Moses copied for each tribe. Further, the Samaritans claim that the Levites were charged by Moses with the task of making copies of the Torah for the masses. Similar to Jews, the Samaritans also hold that an that Oral Teachings were given to Israel in order to properly understand the Torah. Also, similar to Jews Samaritans claim that there has been an unbroken chain from Moses to the present era proving the same Torah that was given at Mount Sinai exists today.

Samaritan Abisha Torah Scroll

The Samaritans also claim to have a scroll which they say was written 13 years after the Israelites entered Canaan by a priest named Abisha the grandson of Aharon the priest, and brother of Moses. Information about this scroll can be found HERE on pages 11 and 12 and HERE. The Samaritans claim the Torah to have been passed on to them through a priesthood that can be found in he following list HERE.

 Samaritan Torah Scroll in Shechem, Northern Israel

The Documentary Theory

The JEDP Theory found its roots in Jean Astruc (1684-1766), the son of a Protestant minister who had converted to Catholicism, who speculated that Moses used existing written or oral sources in constructing Genesis. By analyzing a) the use of different names of YHWH, b) stylistic differences, and c) patterns, Astruc saw clues of a composite or editorial structure.This method of biblical criticism became known as source criticism, and Astruc believed that Genesis was written from two main sources, the Yahwist and the Elohist which he later thought was too simplistic.

By the early 1800s and contrary to the traditional dating of Mosaic authorship around 1450 BCE the idea that the Torah was written around 900-800 BCE was introduced. Other scholars developed this form of biblical criticism resulting in K. Graf (1815-1869) and Julius Wellhausen’s (1844-1918) 19th century classic the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis. Julius Wellhausen (May 17, 1844 – January 7, 1918), was a German biblical scholar and orientalist of the Lutheran Christian faith. Wellhausen’s work was influential, because he was able to persuasively correlate the history and development of the Torah with the development of the Jewish faith. This hypothesis became later known as the Documentary Hypothesis.

A more detailed description of the Theory can be found HERE.

Problems with the Documentary Theory

Today, as the result of problems and criticisms brought on by anthropological and archeological findings and literary analysis, very few biblical scholars hold to JEDP theory or to Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis. Notice that in all of these theories none of the creators of the theories have evidence for all of the different writers they claim took part in creating the Torah. They have no names of any of the authors and all of this is  speculation. Further, the creators of the theory are Christian theologians from Europe, none of whom had contact with the Middle East. None of those who came up with the JEDP theories including information about for flung Jewish communities that had no contact with European Jewish communities and how their Torah's were virtually the same.

 YHWH's Revelation at Mount Sinai to Yisrael (Israel)

An additional problem for these theories is the Dead Sea scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name. The Dead Sea scrolls disprove the various elements of these theory since the differences between the Dead Scrolls, the Masoretic text, and the Samaritan Torah do not match any of the theories for different authorship. All three groups conform in more areas than disagree.

Jewish Torah Scroll with YHWH's (יהוה) Name

Further, 7th century BCE silver scroll found in Jerusalem, containing the priestly benediction matches the text as it is preserved by  (Israel Antiquities Authority)

Also, if the documentary theory were correct the Samaritan Torah would have Elohim in it more than YHWH. Yet, the Samaritan Torah has YHWH in it more than Eluwwem (this is the Samaritan pronunciation of Elohim). The Samaritans descend from the Northern Tribes of Israel and according to the Documentary Theory Northern Israel used Elohim in their texts as compared to the tribes of Yehudah (Judah) who used YHWH in their texts.

Samaritan Torah Disproving Documentary Theory

This is the reason why when HOY members who defend the BOY when asked to provide the source from which the BOY was translated they refuse or ignore the request. What they do instead is demonize anyone who questions and their text even when the introduction to their book makes it appear that all that was done was to rework a KJV bible translation.

Further, YHWH guaranteed that the people of Israel would always have those who keep the words of The Creator correctly.

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