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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338 KOOG P. HONG
The foregoing discussion reveals a critical flaw in the source
modelâ€™s categorical claim for Eâ€™s northern provenance. It is true
that most of the Elohistic tradition has northern roots, but not all of
it has. We found little basis for assigning the Elohistic Abraham
section to a northern origin. To be sure, this does not mean that
source criticism must be rejected entirely. What is challenged is a
claim for the Elohist documentâ€™s northern origin. Any source model
that assumes that the E document was written down in the northern
kingdom of Israel has to face the question of how the Abraham tra-
dition, which is tradition-historically of southern origin and later
than the northern kingdom as a political entity, happened to be in-
cluded in E before it was adopted by Judeans.
This problem is most apparent, of course, in the traditional source
model, like that of Friedman, in which the northern orientation of E is
not only assumed but also used as one of the main criteria for identifying
E. This applies also to Yorehâ€™s tradition-historically compromised
source model (northern base tradition with southern revision). In iden-
tifying the northern base tradition, Yoreh simply returns to and relies
on the traditional source-critical criteria, in which Eâ€™s northern prove-
nance is, as demonstrated above, not critically justified but only sec-
ondarily imposed 69. As a result, he has to deal with the presence of the
Abraham tradition (southern) in the middle of his northern Elohistic
corpus, which resulted in an unnecessarily complex explanation for the
role of Abraham in relation to Jacob in E 70. On the other hand, Neo-
Documentarians, in theory, do escape most of the present criticism, in-
sofar as the notion of Eâ€™s northern orientation belongs to the elements
secondary to the Documentary Hypothesis â€” the elements that are also
dismissed by Neo-Documentarians 71. But in practice Baden accepts
the traditional identification of Genesis 20â€“22* as E 72. He also appears
to accept Eâ€™s northern origin when he implies that E came down to
Jerusalem and somehow retained its independent form until it was fi-
nally compiled by the one and only post-exilic redactor that he posits73.
YOREH, The First Book of God, 10, 91, 157, 228.
YOREH, The First Book of God, 69-72. He argues that in Eâ€™s presenta-
tion, Isaac was actually killed and sacrificed. In E, therefore, Abrahamâ€™s line
is annexed from Israelite history at this point.
BADEN, J, E, and the Redaction, 313; SCHWARTZ, â€œRecent Scholarshipâ€™s
BADEN, J, E, and the Redaction, 215, n. 13.
BADEN, J, E, and the Redaction, 255-286, 309-310.
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