Goethe's Analysis of Exodus 34 and its Influence on Julius Wellhausen: The Pfropfung of the Documentary Hypothesis

Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Vol. 114, pp. 212-223, 2002

12 Pages Posted: 25 May 2011

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

This article investigates the intellectual history of the argument for the antiquity of Ex 34,11–26. In the contemporary debate about pentateuchal theory, a question that remains insufficiently addressed is how and why the idea originally developed that the unit represents an ancient, independent, pre-Deuteronomic legal source. Wellhausen credited the idea to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Zwo bisher unerörterte biblische Fragen … (1773). Like Goethe, Wellhausen regarded the unit as a ritual Decalogue, in contrast to the ethical Decalogue of Exodus 20. The distinction helped Wellhausen consolidate the classical model of the documentary hypothesis: he attributed the cultic Decalogue to the Yahwist and the ethical one to the Elohist. Despite the importance of Goethe's essay to the history of pentateuchal criticism, it is not clear that its arguments have previously been investigated. The article addresses equally Goethe's construction of the Jew as "other" and as particularistic, in contrast to the German Protestant as "self" and universal. The article demonstrates that Goethe could not have read read Spinoza's Tractatus, despite the common belief otherwise.

Keywords: Julius Wellhausen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Baruch Spinoza, Zwo Bisher Unerörterte Biblische Fragen, Dekalog, Decalolgue, Cultic Decalog, Ethical Decalog, German Jewish History, Christian Jewish Relations, Ten Commandments, History of Biblical Scholarship, Exod 34:11-26, German Romanticism

Suggested Citation

Levinson, Bernard M., Goethe's Analysis of Exodus 34 and its Influence on Julius Wellhausen: The Pfropfung of the Documentary Hypothesis (2002). Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, Vol. 114, pp. 212-223, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1848205

Bernard M. Levinson (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota ( email )

245 Nicholson Hall
216 Pillsbury Dr., SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0229
United States
612-625-4323 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://levinson.umn.edu/

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