Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Review of Berman, Inconsistency in the Torah

ANCIENT JEW REVIEW: Book Note | Inconsistency in the Torah (Ethan Schwartz).
Joshua A. Berman. Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism. Oxford University Press. New York, 2017.
In this context, Berman’s Inconsistency in the Torah is far less countercultural and iconoclastic than he seems to imagine. To be sure, it is a significant achievement. However, I doubt that it will be remembered as the study that finally overthrew the hegemony of source criticism. Instead, I suspect that it will be regarded as one of the last studies to ascribe to source criticism any hegemony to be overthrown in the first place. It will mark the close of a monumental chapter in biblical studies, not the opening of a new one.
My own view on source criticism is that the concept is sound and it has produced some useful results for, notably, our understanding of the Pentateuch. At the same time, the application of source criticism often carries it beyond what we can realistically hope to know. Sometimes you can't unscramble the egg. For more from PaleoJudaica on source criticism, here and links, here, here, and here.

I noted the book and a related essay here and had some comments of my own, on matters not discussed in this review. And I noted a three-part interview with Dr. Berman here.

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