Monday, October 27, 2008

Noach: Shadal's Rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis

{Update: Oops! As Berel Freidman notes in the comments, I read this too quickly and missed the all-important words באופן שיפלו ולא יקומו דברי האומרים. Shadal is rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis here, positing that this interchange of names within Noach disproves it. The phrase כי משה מגילות מגילות קדמוניות מצא certainly does echo the idea of megillah megillah nitnah. Oh well. Kesheim shemikablim sechar al hadrisha, kach mekablim sechar al haprisha.}

I've previously noted that the idea that megillah megillah nitnah could be understood as a sort of Documentary Hypothesis. This week, in parshat Noach, I see that Shadal makes a similar point.

והנה בכול סיפור נח מצאנו שמות אלהות והויה מעורבבים יחד באופן שיפלו ולא יקומו דברי האומרים, כי משה מגילות מגילות קדמוניות מצא, והפרשיות אשר בהן שם אלהות נכתבו בדור אחד וע"י אנשים מיוחדים, ואשר בהן שם הויה נכתבו בדור אחר וע"י אנשים אחרים, ואשר בהן הויה אלהות בדור אתר ועל ידי אנשים אחרים ג"כ. וכבר נתחבטו בחקירות כאלה החוקרים האחרונים, והעלו חרס בידם

That is, Shadal does not think that Moshe wrote sefer Bereishit, or at least parshat Noach. (And a similar idea I believe is found in midrash, IIRC, that there was text as kabbalah which the Jews brought with them even to Egypt.) Thus, Moshe found 3 different texts here: E, J, and EJ, all from different sources. (EJ being with the Divine Name of Hashem Elokim.) Moshe has a status of redactor, combining them in various ways, such that it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to pull out the individual threads. And modern day commentators have delved into this, but brought up (mere) shards of clay in their hands.


Wolf2191 said...

R' Dovid Tzvi used this as well see

Anonymous said...

Reb Josh,

Shadal is arguing against such a hypothesis here (he writes "yiplu v'lo yakumu") because in the Noach story the names are used interchangeably.

joshwaxman said...

Oops! You are correct. I will correct my post to reflect this.


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

The online Shadal is from the 1965 Schlesinger edition. It sure is great to have (both online, and off). However, as Dan Klein notes in his introduction to his English translation of Shadal's pirush on Bereishis, the Schlesinger edition is incomplete. In fact, quite a lot of interesting material was omitted.

Here, in the passage in question Shadal goes on to summarize the various documentary hypotheses that were extant in his time, that of Jean Astruc and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn. He then cites a lengthy passage by Rosenmuller (apparently his favorite non-Jewish commentator) in Latin refuting the J-E documentary hypothesis.

Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Shadal's original, unabridged commentaries can be found in these:

joshwaxman said...



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