Coming this July from Zondervan is A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism by Mark Gignilliat. The issue of Old Testament criticism was raised fresh for me in reading The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns. For example Enns writes:
“The Pentateuch was not authored out of whole cloth by a second-millennium Moses but is the end product of a complex literary process–written, oral, or both–that did not come to a close until the postexilic period. This summary statement, with only the rarest exception, is a virtual scholarly consensus after one and a half centuries of debate.” (23, Emphasis his)
Enns offered one of the finest explanations of the J, E, D P theory I’ve ever read. I’m not saying I’m persuaded but I have a much better grasp of the rationale behind the theory than before. As I’ve found with so much of my previous training the issues were drawn up as black and white. The liberals were out to undermine the authority of the Bible and so one of the first things they did was to get rid of Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. Little did I know that the guy who “spearheaded this revolution in biblical scholarship was Jean Astruc (1684-1766).” (18) Enns explains that Astruc was “a French professor of medicine and physician to Louis XV. He apparently was quite industrious. In addition to teaching and tending to the French monarch, Astruc also read a lot of Hebrew and came up with a theory about Genesis that formed the basis for the work of every scholar after him, including Wellhausen and beyond.” (18) I’m sure to Old Testament students this is all old news but for me it was new.
Here’s the catalog description for A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism.
Modern Old Testament interpretation arose in an intellectual environment marked by interest in specific historical contexts of the Bible, attention to its literary matters, and, most significantly, the suspension of belief. A vast array of scholars contributed to the large, developing complex of ideas and trends that now serves as the foundation of contemporary discussions on interpretation. In A Brief History of Old Testament Criticism, Mark Gignilliat brings representative figures—such as Baruch Spinoza, W.M.L. de Wette, Julius Wellhausen, Hermann Gunkel, and others—and their theories together to serve as windows into the critical trends of Old Testament interpretation in the modern period. This concise overview is ideal for classroom use. It lays a foundation and provides a working knowledge of the major critical interpreters of the Old Testament, their approaches to the Bible, and the philosophical background of their positions. Each chapter concludes with a section For Further Reading, directing students to additional resources on specific theologians and theories.
Watch for it this July. It will be a paperback with 176 pages and sell for $16.99.