Koog P. Hong, «Abraham, Genesis 20–22, and the Northern Elohist», Vol. 94 (2013) 321-339
This article addresses the provenance of the Elohistic Abraham section (Genesis 20–22) in order to clarify the divergence between the source and tradition-historical models in pentateuchal criticism. Examining arguments for E’s northern provenance demonstrates that none of them applies directly to E’s Abraham section. The lack of Abraham tradition in early biblical literature further undermines the source model’s assumption of Israel and Judah’s common memory of the past. The southern provenance of Genesis 20–22 is more likely, and the current combination of Abraham and Jacob traditions is probably a result of the Judeans’ revision of Israelite tradition.
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ABRAHAM, GENESIS 20â€“22, AND THE NORTHERN ELOHIST
Israel and the J stories by someone concerned with Judahâ€ 28. Yet I
do not see his â€œconsistent series of cluesâ€ to be critically supported,
as I discuss below. In no way have historians discovered evidence
that northern Israelites were more reluctant to use YHWH while
Judeans had no qualms employing it 29.
Second, the notion of â€˜fear of Godâ€™, another well-established Elo-
histic motif, is certainly better represented in Genesis 20 compared
to its earlier parallel in Gen 12,10-20. Scholars such as H.W. Wolff
supposed this theme central to the northern theology 30. Wolff was
confident enough to pinpoint the Elohist to the time of Elijah when
Israel faced some of its greatest cultic, political, and social tempta-
tions, prompting the Elohist to attempt to bring Israel back to obedi-
ence to God by focusing on the fear of God. Surprisingly, however,
Wolff provides no basis for the alleged northern interest in the fear
of God; he simply presumes it, apparently based on his source-critical
framework. One may, again, agree that this notion is Elohistic 31, but,
in order to say it is northern, one must first establish that the entire
Elohistic document originated from northern Israel, a thesis I am cur-
rently scrutinizing. That the Joseph story evinces the idea of the fear
of God was frequently employed as a justification for its northern
orientation. However, the Joseph story, according to source critics,
also includes J layers. If so, unless one critically demonstrates how
its E layer more prominently betrays the notion of fear of God, this
argument is largely ineffective. Admittedly, the notion of fear of God
may tentatively point to the influence of a wisdom or prophetic tra-
dition. But, for that matter, Judah is as well represented as its northern
neighbor. It is therefore not incidental that Zimmer, who highlights
the wisdom and prophetic dimensions of Genesis 20â€“22, concludes
that E belonged to exilic Judah 32.
Third, it is commonly held that E has a more developed moral and
theological perspective than J33 and thus it prefers revelation in a dream
FRIEDMAN, Who Wrote, 61.
Cf. SKINNER, Genesis, xlix.
See esp. WOLFF, â€œElohistic Fragmentsâ€, 67-82.
For a different view, see G.W. COATS, â€œAbrahamâ€™s Sacrifice of Faithâ€,
Int 27 (1973) 396 n. 7; J.F. CRAGHAN, â€œElohist in Recent Literatureâ€, BTB 7
ZIMMER, Der Elohist, 286-293.
Contra ALEXANDER, Abraham, 47.
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