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
south) and the Jacob tradition (from the north). The nature of these
two cases of hiatus is analogous. In the exodus tradition, the land is
presented as unknown 58, not connected to the land of the patriarchs
in Genesis before the Priestly literary connections combined them
together. Similarly, in the Jacob tradition, before literary combina-
tions with the Abraham tradition were made, the land promised to
him is unknown and unrelated to the land promised to Abraham59.
The deity revealed to Jacob at Bethel does not presume an existing
tie with the patriarch 60.
The hiatus is of course a literary one. It does not mean an utter
ignorance of the other tradition in the mind of the populace or in oral
tradition; it simply points out that they were not necessarily con-
ceived of as a continuous course of history until the decisive literary
combination was made. This thesis directly challenges the traditional
understanding that the Yahwistic and Elohistic corpora encompass
both bodies of Israelâ€™s past memory (i.e., of Jacob and Abraham).
2. Did Northerners Remember Abraham?
With this, we come back to our original question: did northern-
ers remember Abraham as their father? The foregoing discussion
has made it clear that the source-critical equation of E with northern
tradition is not justified 61. When the uncritical basis for assigning
the Elohistic Abrahamic tradition to northern tradition is taken
away, there remains no ground for positing that northerners remem-
bered Abraham as their father.
The northern tradition (Jacob-Joseph-Moses) formed before the
fall of the kingdom did not remember Abraham as the founding father
of Israel. That role was certainly given to Jacob, the bearer of the name
RENDTORFF, Process of Transmission, 128; K. SCHMID, ErzvÃ¤ter und
Exodus. Untersuchungen zur doppelten BegrÃ¼ndung der UrsprÃ¼nge Israels
innerhalb der GeschichtsbÃ¼cher des Alten Testaments (WMANT 81; Neukir-
chen â€“ Vluyn 1999) = Genesis and the Moses Story (Siphrut 3; Winona Lake,
CARR, Fractures, 203-211.
Gen 28,13*-14 where YHWH is introduced as the God of Abraham and
Isaac is generally considered a later insertion. For a succinct discussion, see,
K.P. HONG, â€œThe Deceptive Pen of Scribes: Judean Reworking of the Bethel
Tradition as a Program for Assuming Israelite Identityâ€, Bib 92 (2011) 431-436.
Cf. ALEXANDER, Abraham, 22-25.
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