Thursday, May 04, 2006

How critical scholarship can produce divrei Torah

Gil lists a table comparing the geneologies of the lines of Cain and Seth. It looks like this:
  1. Adam
  2. Cain
  3. Enoch (Chanoch)
  4. Irad
  5. Mehujael
  6. Methushael
  7. Lamech
  8. Jabal, Jubal, Tubal-cain

  1. Enosh
  2. Kenan
  3. Mahalalel
  4. Jared
  5. Enoch (Chanoch)
  6. Methuselah
  7. Lamech
  8. Noah
  9. Shem, Ham, Japhet
Gil brings it up to point out that Bible source critics see herein two separate early geneologies of man (starting with the point that 'adam' and 'enosh' both mean 'man,' and noting similar names with similar meanings). Another post at Hirhurim is promised which will show the approach of Bible scholars like Moshe David Cassuto, David Sykes and Hayyim Angel who dispute that these lists show two separate source.

Whatever the case, there is certainly interesting patterns which develop when these lists are placed side by side. I think this is a fine example of where critical scholarship can flesh out certain patterns in the text which can then lead to fine parshanut, wholly apart from dismissing the patterns, as some commenters did, stating that they had similar names because they were from the same family.

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