Wiseman Hypothesis - Reception

Reception

Biblical scholar Victor Hamilton states that Wiseman's hypothesis was "the first concerted attempt to challenge the hypothesis" of introductory colophons. Hamilton does however identify several problems with what he terms the "Wiseman-Harrison approach". Firstly, "in five instances where the formula precedes a genealogy ..., it is difficult not to include the colophon with what follows." Secondly, the approach requires the "unlikely" explanation that "Ishmael was responsible for preserving the history of Abraham", Isaac for Ishmael's history, Esau for Jacob's and Jacob for Esau's. The third problem he identifies is that Genesis is narrative not biographical, as that approach would suggest.

Herbert M. Wolf describes the theory as "an attractive one", but suggests that it has "serious shortcomings". Firstly, he suggests that toledoth almost always fit more naturally with the verses that they precede than with the verses that precede them. Secondly he doubts if Moses would be able to read writing made before the Tower of Babel. Thirdly he also suggests that the pairings of preservers and preserved histories are "unlikely", given the "rivalry and jealousy" involved and the lack of contact between Esau and Jacob. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament says that Wiseman's view is "unconvincing" and distinguishes between the Babylonian colophons and the toledoth of Genesis, in that the colophon is a repetition, not a description of contents, the owner named is the current owner, not the original, and the colophons do not use the Akkadian equivalent of the toledoth as part of their formula.

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