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Sep. 16th, 2008

i'm afraid i have pissed off a professor. i am taking a bible literature class (for fun, mind you) and the first essay was to support the JEDP theory in relation to the story of noah and the great flood. key here - theory. this professor teaches as if the theory is proven - it is not. worse, i completely disagree with it. (if you are not familiar with it, wiki is your friend).
in the assignment, he specifically says "was written by two authors", not is theorized that, or could have been, but WAS. for students with no familiarity of the bible as lit or this theory, they are learning and blindly accepting this theory as fact, because that is how he is teaching it. so, against my better judgement, i took a different approach on my paper. i argued that it was not written by two authors but was taken directly from gilgamesh, adding morality and covenant of israel's theological beliefs. i didn't leave it at that, however. i wrote the professor an email in which i explained, emphasizing that my beliefs *are not* theologically based, why i do not subscribe to this theory. I provided stylistic and linguistic evidence supporting my opinion.

first, here is the sum of what i wrote in my email:
I am a bit confused. You say "it is clear that two different authors are at work", however the Document Theory is still only a theory, is it not?
I struggled quite a bit with the Noah paper because you tell us our purpose is to prove two authors were at work. Here is my problem: I don't believe that is the case. I want to tell you first that my argument is not theologically based. I think the JEDP theory is hogwash, conceived by anti-Jewish and anti-Catholic Germans who set out to date P and D after the prophets of their Lutheran beliefs, and ensuring Jewish law and Catholic tradition would not be part of ancient Israel. While I agree there are places in the Bible of different authorship, the timing of JEDP authors is, in my opinion, completely inaccurate. Further, I believe there is linguistic and stylistic evidence to support the claims of scholars, Christian and non-Christian, disagreeing with this theory.

do note that i said my argument was not theologically based. i attached my essay and didn't ask for an extension.

he replies:

A theory doesn't mean something is a guess. Just as with the theory of evolution, the four-source theory seems to be the most reasonable explanation and no one has been able to disprove it, although no one can actually prove it either because all of the original players are dead.

I won't comment on your remarks regarding your conspiracy theory, as it is not applicable here and I am not qualified to discuss the validity of anyone's beliefs.

I can tell you that the JEPD theory is accepted across theological lines, that is it is supported by Catholic scholars, Protestant scholars (except fundamentalists), Jewish and Muslim scholars as well as by those with no religious background at all. JEPD is the leading theory on the authorship of the Pentateuch and the footnotes in most bibles discuss it as a bona fide analysis of the text.

Given your strong beliefs to the contrary, perhaps you would be better served studying the literature in the bible in a seminary or in some other theologically oriented institution of higher learning. If you drop now, I believe you can still get some of your money back.

Regarding your paper, I cannot grant you an extension because your theological beliefs do not allow you to accept the JEPD theory. Without having had an opportunity to look at your paper, I repeat what I've said from the beginning: papers that seek to evangelize but not analyze will receive a zero for two reasons: this is a literature class and it's a public institution that is constitutionally prohibited from advancing any particular religious belief under the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution.

conspiracy theory? ha. i didn't make this up. there are scholars who believe the same of wellhausen.
wow. now, i could share my essay, but i won't. i will say that it is not at all theological. i said that there was simply too much parallel cohesion to the flood story of gilgamesh for the story of noah to have been pieced together and put in order. i explained how the israelites would have been quite familiar with gilgamesh as it was *the* literary classic of the time. i paralleled the story line, linguistically justified the contradictions and provided archaeological evidence that flooding did not occur in canaan, but did in mesopotamia. the two authors supposedly wrote five centuries apart. for the latter there should have been persian loan words by that time, but there were not. in fact, it is all in ancient hebrew with no linguistic differences.
this is a professor stuck on a theory who is unwilling to accept the possibility that it is wrong. color me crazy, but that is poor teaching.
as for his evolution analogy, it sucks. evolution has evidence...galapagos turtles and dinosaurs and all. there is not one shred of evidence that the JEDP authors existed.

so i responded to him again. i stressed again that my argument was not theologically based. i pointed to a non-christian book, the redactor of genesis, by a well known biblical scholar, that argues against JEDP. i diplomatically told him i didn't want to drop his class, but thought i would learn much from it and looked forward to progressing through the class. i also apologized if i offended him and closed with telling him i would write, from here on out, in support of the theory, as he requested.

expect satire.
no, i didn't tell him that part.

i need an A.... after all, this is just an elective class i took for FUN. so i will swallow my opinion and write with the blind.

oh, i should add, he received his degree from notre dame seminary.....has only a masters degree and did not correct me when i addressed my emails to "Dr. Whatever".


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 16th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
the more i think about it, the angrier i become. how dare he suggest i drop the class or study at a seminary, especially before even reading my NON-theological paper.
i am going to wait and see my grade, but definitely keeping these emails. i certainly think the last one is insulting and inappropriate.
Sep. 19th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
That guy is ridiculous and definitely an asshole. I had originally wanted to take that class at some point, but now I do not. I really think he thought that you were trying to prove that you were smarter than he is. And that you were some hardcore Catholic or Jew who is afraid that the "theory" is hurting you. It is incredibly fucked up to basically say: "You're obviously too damn smart and awesomely Christian for my class: Drop it and go to a seminary where you belong."

Also, it is not illegal, I'm pretty sure, to write papers that show that you have strong religious convictions. I know that you didn't do that, but there's nothing wrong with that. People write papers that have to do with their beliefs all of the time and there is nothing illegal about it. It makes sense to get a zero if you don't provide any facts to back up these beliefs, but even at that point it's not illegal. It's just illegal for him to be teaching religion. Also, it's fucked up that he either didn't pay enough attention to your e-mail to realize that you said it wasn't theologically oriented or just completely ignored you so that he had grounds to give you a zero. And he didn't even look at it!

Most real literature teachers would be happy that you did what you did. I think most of them would have offered both options to begin with.

Anyway, don't think of it as, "writing with the blind," but think of it as playing the devil's advocate. After all, you need to know both sides just as well as you know your own in order to argue against it well, so it's preparation for arguing against it.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Here be Dragons
I would suggest that a close examination of the metadata would reveal the true authorship as being one Eric von Daniken thus answering a lot of questions whilst raising plenty more for a follow up best seller and movie. Of course the flood did not happen, how could it on a flat earth where the water would have just run off the side. However it could explain why there are no more dragons if they were drowned at the edge the world. Won't be long now before VP Palin (aka Doris Umbridge) tells us what truth will be taught.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 09:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Here be Dragons
My apologies to Doris I meant Dolores Umbridge Doris's muggle sister.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Here be Dragons
if Daniken spoke classical hebrew, maybe...but i doubt he is that old or learned.
maybe i am just brain dead today, but i can't make much sense of your comment ;)

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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