By James Hoffmeier
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Additional info for Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition
Historians and the Wilderness Tradition As the foregoing section illustrates, much of the wilderness tradition has been assigned to P, and therefore, according to Graf, Wellhausen, and many scholars since, it dates to postexilic times (ca. ﬁfth century). There is a tendency among biblical scholars and historians to think that if a narrative derives from a late source, and thus is far removed in time from the event(s) described, that the source cannot be reliable. The assumption that a historian working with a late source (that is, one separated by considerable time from the events being described) is unreliable for historical study has some merit and in some cases may be true, but is logically ﬂawed.
39 Nevertheless, Wellhausen’s evolutionary model and his dating of the Pentateuchal sources soon became the virtually uncontested orthodoxy within biblical scholarship for the next century. If ever there was an assured conclusion of biblical scholarship, it was that the Hexateuch (Genesis through Joshua, as Wellhausen envisioned it) was a composite document that could be tied to four primary, separate, datable documents: the Jahwist (J) from the ninth century, the Elohist (E) from the eighth century, the Deuteronomist (D) from the seventh century (the Josianic reforms), and the Priestly source (P) from the ﬁfth century, and that these sources were brought together by a redactor (R) in the postexilic period.
15 Known for his rebuke during the 1970s and 1980s of conservative biblical archaeologists and their naı¨ve use of archaeological data,16 Dever now takes aim at historical revisionists and their cavalier and selective use of archaeological data. ’’17 In this statement he attacks the uncritical use of archaeological data for ideological purposes, be it by fundamentalists or revisionists. Often called historical minimalists,18 these scholars have continued their unrelenting attack on the Hebrew Bible’s afﬁrmations in studies that have appeared since the appearance of Israel in Egypt in 1997.
Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition by James Hoffmeier