Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Little Foxling and the Documentary Hypothesis

Da'as Hedyot has republished a five-part autobiographical post from blogger Little Foxling about his path away from Orthodoxy and the Documentary Hypothesis. The personal and intellectual story is fascinating.

Before I started this blog, I was hunting around the web for info on the DH. I came across LF's comments on someone else's blog. Someone had made a silly point, and LF responded by presenting the DH. He was immediately attacked by pretty much every other commentator. He then took on the whole room, point-by-point: LF vs. 15 other people. His arguments were precise, on point, and solid. It was clear he had a deep knowledge of both traditional sources and the documentary hypothesis and had really thought through these issues. I was quite impressed and started reading his blog regularly.

Unfortunately, LF stopped blogging and moved on to other things. He and I still occasionally e-mail each other.

Among other things, LF notes that Orthodox Jews have not effectively responded to the Documentary Hypothesis. They either ignore it, mischaracterize it and mock it, or (falsely) claim that scholars no longer belief in it. This neglect is quite dangerous. Sooner or later (and probably sooner, given the internet), it will lead more and more Orthodox Jews to doubt and eventually disbelieve the central factual tenet of Orthodox Judaism, namely a literal "Torah from Heaven" or Torah min Hashamayim. They will leave Orthodoxy, and the people who do so (like LF) will disproportionately be the brighter ones. When you are in a Galilelo vs. the Pope type of argument, you simply do not want to be taking the Pope side. It might work in the short run, but you end up losing very badly, and looking very foolish, in the long run.

Orthodoxy needs to effectively respond to the discoveries of modern Bible scholarship or come up with a better theory of revelation. The failure to do so risks seriously undermining Orthodoxy.

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