Alice C. Linsley
Today three Democratic senators introduced Senate Bill 142 in Frankfort. It would allow Kentucky schools to teach from the Bible. Kentucky schools would offer it as an elective social studies course to help students become familiar with the Bible’s content and style. Read more here.
The Senators are riding the wave of the increasingly popular Bible Literacy Project. I looked at the Project to see who is the Consultant for Genesis. It is Thomas B. Dozeman (Ph.D., Columbia University), who is a Professor of Old Testament at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. Professor Dozeman is one of the editors of A Farewell to the Yahwist? The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation, (Society of Biblical Literature Symposium Series 34).
Dozemen generally holds to the Documentary Hypothesis, which maintains that the Pentateuch derives from four documentary sources: (1) a Yahwist (J) source, written in the south (Judah) in early monarchial times, (2) an Elohist (E) source, written in the north (Israel) somewhat later (these two sources being combined at some point, a combination referred to as JE), (3) a Deuteronomic (D) source, representing the book of the law found in the temple during the 621 B.C. reforms of Josiah., and (4) a Priestly (P) source, which most DH adherents thought to be post-Exilic. These sources were combined by an editor or Redactor (R) to form the first 5 books of the Old Testament (Pentateuch).
I've already written about the failure of this hypothesis to account for the uniqueness of Genesis, so I will not dwell on that here. Let me say only this: Genesis is a record of the Afro-Asiatic rulers and priests before the emergence of a people identified as Israel. As such, it deserves to be studied apart from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which focus on Moses and the people of Israel.
Genesis names no one as its author, but claims to be the “toledot” or record of God’s intervention in history among real persons. The claim to be toledot is made thirteen times in Genesis, a number associated with the Afro-Asiatic lunisolar calendar of 13 months (requiring adjustment 7 times every 19 years.) This, with the organization of 7 days of Genesis 1, suggests a priestly source which is much more ancient than that proposed by the Documentary Hypothesis.
Dozeman, taking the approach of literary criticism, views the ancestor and exodus traditions as originally separate, but ignores the significance of the unique kinship pattern found in both Genesis and Exodus. Analysis of the marriage pattern of Moses and his father Amram reveals that it is identical to that of Abraham and his ancestors.
I'm afraid that this Project will teach children that a resourceful editor is responsible for the first 5 books of the Old Testament, without showing them why the priestly lines intermarried according to a unique pattern until the time of the birth of Jesus Christ. This is equal to asking children to grasp the essence of an animal by showing them only the dissected parts.