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Yahweh and Moses in Conflict

The Role of Exodus 4:24-26 in the Book of Exodus


John T. Willis

The interpretation of Exodus 4:24-26 is very controversial. Scholars have treated this text from various viewpoints on the basis of divergent methods or approaches. Two fundamental problems cause uncertainty about the origin and meaning of this text. One problem has to do with the nature of Exod 4:24-26. Another problem is the identity of the persons mentioned in Exod 4:24-26. This book arranges forty-two documented interpretations under each approach or approaches, presenting the view of each scholar proposing his/her interpretation of Exodus 4:24-26 in chronological order. The author presents his own view in the concluding chapter, essentially adopting a redactional, canonical, narrative, rhetorical methodology.


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Chapter IV – Literary Critical [Source] Criticism, Form Criticism, Traditio-Historical Criticism, and Social Scientific Criticism 47


Chapter IV Literary Critical [Source] Criticism, Form Criticism, Traditio-Historical Criticism, and Social Scientific Criticism There are ways in which literary historical [source] criticism, form criti- cism, traditio-historical criticism, and social scientific criticism [includ- ing sociology, anthropology, ethnology, structuralism, intertextuality, and related disciplines] are distinct. But in some ways, they are insepa- rable from one another in attempting to deal with biblical texts and ideas. Several scholars apply these approaches to the interpretation of Exod 4:24-26. Briefly, this study sketches the fundamental aspects of each of these methods and their application to this text. Source criticism assumes that biblical works are the end result of earlier written sources. Following W. M. L. de Wette and K.-H. Graf, J. Wellhausen championed the view that a careful scholar can isolate four sources from the Pentateuch: J, E. D, and P based on differences of inconsistencies, repetitions and doublets, vocabulary variants or empha- ses, stylistic differences, and theological distinctions.1 Major scholars of this discipline identify Exod 4:24-26 as an earlier pericope of non- Israelite as well as Israelite origin. H. Gunkel and his followers generally assumed and accepted the approach and conclusions of Source Criticism, but insisted that addi- tional concerns of biblical study are also necessary, often dealing with a pre-literary level originally transmitted orally, which soon led to what scholars now call Form Criticism and Traditio-Historical Criticism. Form Criticism essentially attempts to address four aspects of a biblical text: (1) the extent of the pericope [beginning and conclusion], its struc-...

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