This article surveys and discusses the fundamental problem in modern biblical scholarship identified and thoroughly criticized by Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889-1963). These problems are manifested especially in Julius Wellhausen's study of Israel's religious history, which was the prevailing position in Kaufmann's time. Kaufmann's discussion of Wellhausen's approach pertains not only to biblical scholarship in particular, but also to the study of religion and religious history in general. Therefore, reconsideration of his methodological discussion may greatly benefit scholars of religious studies and ancient texts generally. This article will first present a brief profile of Kaufmann, followed by an outline of Wellhausen's hypothesis. The paper will then discuss Kaufmann's critique of Wellhausen's study in the following order: (1) the dating of the P(riestly) Source; (2) the Christian prejudice that was then prevalent in modern biblical scholarship; (3) the problem of the philosophical presuppositions pertaining to the historical study of biblical monotheism.
Journal of the interdisciplinary study of monotheistic religions : JISMOR 3 41-77, 2007