Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research

Scientific Conference at the STH Basel, 16-18 March 2017

Both in Judaism and in Christianity, the Pentateuch forms the first and fundamental piece of the Bible and in many ways can be seen as the basic document of Western religious history. The paradigm for the study of the Pentateuch that currently prevails in Biblical Studies dates from the 19th century and forms a cornerstone of Biblical Studies and of the reconstruction of the history of ancient Israel. This paradigm extends to the narratives of the Pentateuch as well as to its legal collections. According to this paradigm, the Pentateuch was composed over a long period, with the three most important stages JE (from before the Deuteronomy), D (the core of Deuteronomy, dated in the 7th century) and P (Priestly texts, from the exilic and postexilic periods). This paradigm was established by Julius Wellhausen's «Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels» (1878). It has been modified in many ways since its invention, and in the last thirty years it has been subject to various criticisms even by representatives of theological schools that were previously defending it; nevertheless, no fundamental paradigm shift has taken place to this date.
It is the aim of this conference to discuss this paradigm critically and to explore whether a fundamental paradigm change can overcome the current impasse of old models and open new approaches to the understanding of the Pentateuch. The international speakers are experts in the fields of Biblical Studies, Legal History, Linguistics, and Ancient Near Eastern Studies.

Prof. Dr. Matthias Armgardt, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
Ass.-Prof. Dr. Benjamin Kilchör, STH Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Prof. Dr. Markus Zehnder, Biola University Los Angeles, USA

Picture Credits: «Moses zerschmettert die Gesetzestafeln» (Rembrandt van Rijn, 1659) – Public Domain