I’m a big fan of “The Teaching Company” and its lecture series. I have listened to quite a few of them, and I am surprised at how many updates there have been–significant updates–in the scholarly world since I was in college. Ok–so that’s longer than it seems.

Anyway, you can imagine my surprise (if you’re a geek) when I was listening to Dr. Gary Rendsburg’s lectures on the book of Genesis (Bereshith) and he claimed that the documentary hypothesis was old news. That’s a big development, if true. Second, he spent considerable time making arguments that bolster Urfa, Turkey as “Ur of the Chaldees.”

For the former, I can at least say that he explained the J-E-D-P theory before whacking it. He never explained that Urfa’s claim to be Ur of the Chaldees is more or less just local tradition in Urfa. (He mentioned that tradition.)

But neither of these are the predominant scholarly theory, so maybe less has changed than I thought.

Rendsburg makes some brilliant points about the literary unity of Genesis, and argues that this is a point against many sources. Another part of Rendsburg’s brilliance is his ability to connect the ancient Israelite sources with world-wide literary themes, I suppose because of his background in literature.

Then I wonder why he makes that logical sleight of hand. Because it’s more or less undisputed that many of Shakespeare’s plays had their source in Italian writings. That’s not to say that Shakespeare as poet and later redactor of these stories didn’t add his own brilliance—he did. (Those old Italian plays are junk in comparison.)

So, it’s not inconcievable that Ezra the Scribe or whoever was the Redactor didn’t do the same thing with the different sources.

His dating of biblical events is also not mainstream, but he advertises that.

I think it would behoove TTC to, in the future, still sell this minority opinions, but perhaps as companions to a mainstream introduction.