[Revised 1/18/12, 1/22/14, and 1/18/18]

A Strange Interlude:
Approaches to the Tanakh

[How sausage is made]

Usually when an English teacher introduces a book to a class, they start out with some information about the author.  Who wrote the book?  To whom?  When?  Why?  It’s often very important to have this kind of information in order to figure out what the book is all about.

I didn’t introduce Genesis in this way, though...and, if you’ll read your Archer book, you’ll see why.  Archer devotes more than 100 pages to such questions before he even gets to the book itself!!!  Archer deals with some facinating and important questions in these pages, but he's a bit slow to get to the questions most important to us in this class.  What is this book about?  What's it's main message?  Why are the ideas in Genesis important in terms of their historical impact?

It seems to me that Genesis is stands out especially for three things.  Like the earlier creation myths, it is an attempt to explain man and his place in the universe.  It explains why things are the way they are. 

Please note that when I talk about Genesis as "myth," I don't mean it is false or unreliable.  Just the reverse: The stories in the first part of Genesis show what the people of Israel believed to be the ultimate truth about this world and our place in it.  You might find it more useful to think of Genesis as an anti-myth.  The writer is deliberately challenging Mesopotamian/Canaainite mythology and inviting us to quit viewing the world in mythological terms.  The book is in some ways parallels what's going on in the works of Hecataeus of Miletus, the man whose challenge to the Greek mythological understanding prepared the way for Herodotus' great work.  In addition to being part of a great law code, Genesis is a book that invites us to view the world historically rather than mythologically.  Note the importance of geneaology, geography, and narrative tied to specific times and places.

Finally, Geneis is a great book of hope. It says that the universe is essentially good, and though evil is real enough, God is in control and will ultimately achieve his purpose through mankind. Further, those who obey him will be blessed even in the midst of an evil world.  Martin Luther said that there was no book more beautiful (and no book more useful!) than Genesis.

In understanding the Hebrews, it’s important to remember this fundamentally positive view, a great contrast to Mesopotamian pessimism.  Seems to me very danger in dealing with questions of authorship, etc. to overlook basic theme.  But now that we have looked at basic theme, well: we can go backwards and begin to look at authorship, structure, etc. Who wrote this book? When was it written?  Obviously, no agreement—but we can make some good guesses—and some really stupid guesses!!!

Scholarly guesses as to questions about the dating and authorship of the books of the Tanakh tend to by of three major types.  Some scholars take what we call a literalist approach to the scripture. Others take what is called a rationalist approach. Still others take a neo-orthodox approach to the scripture.

All three approaches have their strengths, but none of them are completely satisfactory in their attempts to understand and explain the Tanakh. And sometimes Old Testament scholars end up as perfect examples of Paul’s comment on those who “professing themselves wise they become fools” (note study question two).

The literalist approach says we should read the Bible as the most accurate history text ever written—and as something more: the literal word of God himself. At its extreme, the literalists view the Biblical writers as nothing more than secretaries taking dictation. In the same way the Ten Commandments were written on stone by the finger of God, so is the rest of Tanakh).  The tendency of this approach is to minimize or even eliminate any human element to the composition of the books.

If it’s all God talking, one can take verses from anywhere and combine them as one likes.  Context doesn’t matter. Further, if every word is God’s, doesn’t that mean every letter as well?  And the letters in Hebrew have numerical value.  Aleph is one, beth two and so on. So is there a message in the numerical values of the worlds?  There is a long Jewish tradition of gematria that does just that.  And then there is the recent book The Bible Code that got lots of people all excited by claiming there was a special revelation from God in the numerical value of the words of the Bible.

The rationalist approach to the scripture views the Tanakh as an entirely human document. Much of it is to be questioned—particularly the miraculous. The rationalists deny that people ever lived to be 900 years old.  If there was a flood, it was a purely local thing. The rationalist approach tends to look for small kernels of truth in stories, but often seems to be seeking for errors, seeking for problems.

The rationalist approach has created some real problems in Biblical studies.  First of all, the rationalists tend to be guilty of circular reasoning: they deny the possibility of the miraculous, reconstruct a Biblical history that has no miraculous elements, and then point to that reconstruction as the “real” history which shows there is nothing miraculous. Also, once you start the picking and choosing what one believes and doesn’t opens up the door to “eisegesis.”  “Exegesis” means to bring out the meaning of a Biblical passage.  Eisegesis is to read in meaning that isn’t there.  But the rationalist approach really hurts because it tends to undermine interest in the Bible altogether.  Those of you who have taken my Greek history class know my frustrations with the scholars who have made their scholarly careers sneering at the great Greek writers.  Well, they sneered so much that students concluded it wasn’t worth studying Herodotus, Thucydides, and the rest.  The same thing has tended to happen to Biblical studies as well.

Much of the last hundred years of Biblical scholarship has been devoted to debates between rationalists and literalists.  But there is a third major approach as well, the neo-orthodox approach.

The neo-orthodox types say that both sides are missing the point. It is the meaning of the Biblical books that is important—and this is what is truly inspired. neo-orthodox scholars may ultimately agree in general with either the literalists or rationalists when it comes down to specific details, but they are very likely to remain sort of agnostic. They aren’t going spend a lot of time debating questions like "Was there enough space in the ark for all the animals?"  In terms of the meaning of the Genesis, say the neo-orthodox, such questions don’t really matter.

In the context of a public school classroom, I prefer the neo-orthodox approach—for lots of reasons.  I don’t have the necessary background in languages or archaeology to handle the literalist/rationalist debates. My background is in comparative civilizations and the interpretation of literature, and I’d rather do what I can do fairly well: lead discussions that will help get to the meaning of the Biblical texts.

But much as I like the neo-orthodox approach, I have to say that it has some problems too.  It avoids conflict, to be sure, but it ducks an important question: is what the Bible says true?  Now the neo-orthodox approach says “Well, it’s true in meaning—spiritually true.”  But is what the Tanakh says also true in fact? And can what it says be true in meaning if it isn't true in fact?  Now I could simply duck the question all together and let you decide for yourselves (which, of course, you will do anyway).  But can we get to the meaning of the Tanakh without establishing basic facts about its authorship, date, etc.?  Not entirely: and so—well, here goes nothing.

In order to determine that date and authorship of literary works, historians and critics depend on two types of evidence, internal evidence and external evidence.  Internal evidence comes from analysis of the text itself.  External evidence comes from an outside source. Some of you are perhaps familiar with the way in which Shakespearian scholars sift through internal and external evidence in their attempts to figure out the order in which the plays were written.  There are lots of other great works where scholars have weigh internal and external evidence in order to figure out the most likely date of composition.

What do we have as evidence for the Torah?

First of all, there is some external evidence. There is a long Christian and Jewish tradition that Genesis (and rest of Pentateuch) comes from Moses. Certainly the later books of the Tanakh itself point to the Mosaic authorship of the substantial portion of the Torah.  We have also other sources, the Samaritan Targums, the rabbinic tradition later recorded in the Talmud, and the New Testament.

There is also some internal evidence. Deuteronomy 5:1 says, “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.”

The Bible also says Moses gave specific commands for preserving portions of the law. Deut. 27:1-3 says, “And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.  And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.”

Joshua indicates that these commands were kept. Jos 8:30 says, “Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up [any] iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.  And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.  There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

Now it's important to realize that Moses and Joshua are coming out of Egypt where the kind of thing described here was in fact very common.  If Moses came out of an Egyptian royal family, it would have been strange for him *not* to have asked for the construction of a memorial of this type.  [See these Egyptian Stelae]. 

But the Bible only designates certain portions of the Torah as definitely from the hand of Moses, and there are a few verses which it would be very strange for him to have written:

Deuteronomy 34:5-9

So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to he word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses [was] an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.  And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping [and] mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

It’s natural enough to assume what the rabbis did assume: that Moses wrote most of Deuteronomy, and that Joshua finished it up.

Now for most of the Torah, that’s a reasonable enough, though often questioned, explanation. Moses with the help of Joshua (and perhaps with some assistance from Miriam, Aaron, or a scribe or two), wrote Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  If that’s so, what we have is eyewitness accounts, and there’s no very great question about where they got their information.

Genesis is different.  The events described are 400 years before the time of Moses and more—so—another question: if Moses wrote Genesis, where did he get his information? What were his sources?

These kinds of questions led to the development of what is called source criticism, the attempt to identify underlying sources for Genesis.

There are indications in Genesis itself that the writer is combining earlier texts.

Genesis 5:1 This [is] the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

Gen 2:4 These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Gen 10:1 Now these [are] the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

Ok.  The writer seems to be using some earlier sources.  If the author is Moses, one might speculate that some of his information comes from Joseph (retained by the Hebrews somehow in Egypt), while other information came from Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, a Midianite priest. Note that Midian is also a descendent of Abraham, and a connection here is plausible enough.  One might also guess that Moses might have had access to stelae created by Joseph and immediate successors. [One thing worth thinking about: On stelae, there was often a colophon, a title indicating the author, swearing to the authenticity of the record, giving a date, or something similar. the colophon was very frequently at the bottom of the text.  If a Biblical writer includes the words "This is the book of..." he might be copying a colophon and referring to what came before in the text rather than what comes after.]

Can we do more?

In 1753, a French Physician, Jean Astruc, stated a promising theory.  He observed that in Genesis One and Two (and in much of the rest of Genesis) two different names are used for God.  Maybe, said Astruc, this is evidence of two different sources Moses is using.  He identified these two sources as “E” (for Elohim) and “J” (for Jehovah), the two different names for God.

Notice that Astruc was not at all questioning Mosaic authorship.  He was just seeing if he could figure out a little better how Moses worked.

But Source criticism soon went in a very different direction.

In the early 19th century, the French philosopher August Comte had developed a theory on religious progress.  The human race had progressed through different stages—animist, polytheist, monolatrous, (henotheist), monotheist, and finally the positive.
A new generation of Biblical scholars ended up combining Comte’s theory of religious development with Astruc’s source criticism.  For no particularly good reason, they decided Moses was too early for the purely monotheistic ideas in much of the Torah, and they decided the Torah had been written much later.  Their theory, the theory taught again and again today, came to be called the Wellhausen (or Graf-Wellhausen) hypothesis.  This hypothesis was that there are a number of sources combined in the Torah. 

J—written around 850 BC
E—written around 750 BC
D—a Deuteronomist who writes around 650 BC (maybe associated with reforms of Josiah)
P—a priestly source around 550 BC 550 BC (maybe associated with Ezra)

[Note that there is considerable debate on the dates.  Some scholars think "E" is earlier than "J."]

This approach was not the only new 19th century approach to scripture. Also important was the rise of form criticism

At same time, source critics were trying to divide up Torah into various sources, other critics were trying a very different approach.  The form critics carved up Torah (particularly Genesis) into small units—each called a pericope.  Then they tried to classify each of these segments.  Aetiological myth, etymolgical myth, ethnographic myth, etc.  Foremost among the OT form critics, was a man Herman Gunkel.

How useful are Source and Form criticism? Well, lots and lots of people get their Ph.D. doing this type of work, and secure for themselves a certain amount of fame.  But in terms of understanding Torah better, it seems to me lots of wasted effort.

1.  The intitial assumptions are wrong.  Graf, Wellhausen, and Gunkel lived before the great days of archaelogy, and made some very bad assumptions.  William Foxwell Albright has shown that the Comtian model is wrong: polytheism, animism, monotheism existed side by side at many times: they were not successive stages in chronological development.  The assumption that Moses couldn’t write turns out to be absurd. We have extensive libraries (e.g., Ebla) well before Moses—nearly two thousand years before Moses!

2.  The name of God criteria for separating sources won’t work.  Much of “E” material is more like the “J” material than other “E” material, so one has to have an E1 and an E2.   And how valid is the name thing in the first place.  If I asked you, "According to the Bible, who created the world?," what would you say?  Probably you'd say, "God."  But if I asked you to pray for me, most of you would begin your prayer with the word "Lord" or a title like "Heavenly Father."  It seems that the Biblical writers likewise typically use "Elohim" as a more abstract description of the creator and "Jehovah" when addressing God more personally.  And they frequently use both at once..just as we do in English.  Many people begin their prayers with a "Lord God," address.  Notice how often Biblical passages use all three styles of identification/address.

And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I [am] the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I [am] with thee, and will keep thee in all [places] whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done [that] which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew [it] not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful [is] this place! this [is] none other but the house of God, and this [is] the gate of heaven. Gen And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put [for] his pillows, and set it up [for] a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.  And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city [was called] Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set [for] a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. (Gen 28:13-22).

Note also that Genesis 2 doesn't identifiy God jus as Jehovah, but as Jehovah-Elohim!

Another problem with the documentary hypothesis is that people concentrated too much on identifying sources and neglected the overall message of the books. They assumed the final author didn't really know what he was doing because the final product appeared awkward to them. How could any intelligent man put Genesis Chapters I and II in the same book?

So why are these chapters joined together when they don't seem (to us) to neatly fit? The Answer lies in a couple of things. Should one alter one's sources? Contemporary historian would tend to--ancient authors for the most part did not. But the most important part of answer lies in the technique of composition the author uses.  What we have found over and over again is that the plan of works from Ancient Near East follows standards different from our own.

1.  There is a great emphasis on repetition. Authors reinforce their theme by repetition of similar, but not identical incidents. Theme and variation is an important pattern (cf. Epic of Gilgamesh). Thus authors are deliberately looking for similar (though not necessarily identical) events. Look at Proverbs 5, for instance, and the general Old Testament insistance that doubling is important. The doublings in Genesis (two creation accounts, the repetition of the covenant with Abraham, Abraham passing of wife as his sister, Isaac passing off wife as sister, two conflicts between Hagar and Sarah, Jacob cheating Esau of blessing, and of birthright) are part of a pattern deliberately sought by the author.

(Cf., Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, a book which deliberately pairs Greek and Roman figures who play similar roles.)

2.  The organization of Genesis is not necessarily chronological. Ancient sources often used inverted parallel structure. Isaac Kikawada and Arthur Quinn (author of Figures of Speech, 60 ways to Turn a Phrase) theorize that understanding the use of inverted parallel structure will clear up all sorts of problems in our understanding of the first chapters of Genesis. (See their book, “Before Abraham Was: The Unity of Genesis 1-11.”)

Note the title here: the *unity* of Genesis 1-11. Kikawada and Quinn are suggesting we treat at least the first 11 chapters of Genesis as a literary whole rather than a badly assembled mishmash of earlier sources.

Now it seems to me that, not just Genesis 1-11, but the whole of Genesis is a unity.  The author may have used multiple sources, but everything comes together into one great message.

What’s curious to me is how seldom the academic world sees the overall message of Genesis, and simply takes it for granted that the rationalist approach is right.

What confuses people, I think, is that the rationalist approach seems a lot more objective than it really is.  It’s important to understand that the rationalist approach is (at least in its origins) anything but objective.

Consider Julius Wellhausen, the most important figure in the development of the rationalist version of the documentary hypothesis.  In the introduction to his “Prolegomena to the History of Israel," Wellhausen explains exactly how and why he set out to do what he did.  As a boy, he says, he read and loved the prophets and the stories of David, Saul, etc.  But the law gave him difficulty.  He had always been told that the law was the foundation of the prophets.  But he found the law difficult and repellent.  He even read a famous commentary on the law and wasn’t any more impressed.

So, what he wanted was to show that the law really was not the foundation.  The law developed after (!) the prophets.  That’s why he uses his late dates for his analysis of the Torah.  It’s not linguistics, archeology or anything else: just an antipathy to the law.

What this really is, of course, is a kind of hyper-protestantism.  Luther emphasized grace over law—salvation by faith only.  But Luther acknowledged that the law was at least (in Paul’s words) a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ. Luther said that there was no book more beautiful or more useful than Genesis. Wellhausen has no place of the law at all.

Now the rationalists are quick to question the traditional view of the scripture, and, in a way, that’s good. A healthy skepticism about received wisdom is importance in academics.  Do we really know what we claim to know? But if one is going to take a skeptical approach, one should maintain it consistently—and it’s amazing how often modern scholars take Wellhausen’s reconstruction of Hebrew history as a matter of unquestioned faith, presenting as fact what is clearly only theory.

Even stranger in their combination of skepticism and credulity are the form critics. As an example, consider Hermann Gunkel, another of those figures key to the 19th century rationalists approach to scripture.  Here are some selections from Gunkel's "Legends of Genesis."  Note how quickly he goes from rejecting the historicity of the Genesis accounts to dogmatism regarding his own guesses as to Hebrew history.

Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, is seduced by  Shechem, and in punishment Shechem is treacherously  assaulted by Dinah's brothers; Jacob, however, abjures the brothers and curses them. The  history at the bottom of this is probably as follows:

Dinah, an Israelitish family, is overpowered by the Canaanitish city of Shechem and then treacherously avenged by Simeon and Levi, the most closely related tribes, but the other tribes of Israel renounce them and allow the two tribes to be destroyed.

The legend of Tamar, also, depicts in part early relations in the tribe of Judah: Judah allied itself with Canaanites, in the legend Hirah of Adul- lam and Judah's wife, Bathshua; a number of Judaean-Canaanitish tribes (Er and Onan) perished  early; finally two new tribes arose (Perez and  Zerah).

In the Esau-Jacob legend also there are quite evidently historical reminiscences: Esau and Jacob are brother tribes, Esau a tribe of hunters, Jacob a tribe of shepherds; Esau is the elder, but  by sale or fraud he loses his birthright, that is, the  older and better known tribe of Esau was compelled to give way to the later and originally weaker tribe of Jacob and has now the poorer land.

A similar rivalry is assumed by the legend  between the Judaean tribes of Perez and Zerah and between Ephraim and Manasseh. Reuben, the first-born among the Israelitish tribes, loses his birthright on account of sin: the tribe of Reuben, which was the leading tribe in the earliest times, afterwards forfeited this position. Cain, the husbandman, slew his brother Abel, the herdsman, but was compelled to leave the land which they had before occupied in common. Shem, Japhet, and Canaan are originally brothers; but Japhet has now a much more extensive territory than the others, and Canaan is the servant of both.

Now Gunkle came up with this in a time when large sections of the scholarly world thought of the Israelites as a non-literate, primitive people dominated by a "child-mind" approach to life.  As it turns out, this was hardly the case.  In the last years of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century, Biblical archaelogy began to come into its own, and it's very clear that the Biblical world was not at all the world Gunkel imagined.

Around 1850, Austin Henry Layard excavated Nineveh and, all of a sudden, the Assyrians (who had been a shadowy people on the fringes of historical knowledge) turned out to be exactly the mighty (and cruel) power the Biblical narrative made them.  And it soon turned out that this was just the tip of the iceberg.  Around 1930, Samuel Noah Kramer's work at Sumer pointed to an advanced civilization in Mesopotamia 1000 years before Abraham.  This supposedly primitive, illiterate Abraham turned out to be a migrant from an area of advanced civilization that had mastered writing more than 1000 years before his time!

At the same time, Kathleen Kenyon's work at Jericho and extensive archaeological work by William Foxwell Albright was shedding all sorts of light on obscure passages in the Bible.  Earlier scholars and travellers had done quite a bit to identify specific places mentioned in the Bible.  But Albright and Kenyon did more, helping place the Biblical narrative within a clear archaeological/anthropological context.  Bible scholars like David Noel Freedman (one of Albright's students) took full advantage of the new information and produced some excellent commentaries on the Bible.  

As more and more archaeological work was done, Bible characters suddenly were known from outside sources as well. Omri, mentioned only briefly in the Bible, appears both in Assyrian records and on the Mesha stele.

But there was a question here.  What Albright and Kenyon were discovering tended to confirm the general picture Genesis gives us of the period of the patriarchs, but the direct correspondence wasn't there.  When she excavated Jericho, for instance, Kenyon found evidence of destruction, but not quite of the kind described in Joshua, and not at the right time.  An impressive set of stables dubbed initially "Solomon's stables" turned out to from the century after Solomon.

Now there are many potential explanations for the lack of direct correspondence.  Thucydides "History of the Peloponessian War" notes that no-one seeing the physical city of Sparta would have any idea how strong the Spartans were, and that anyone seeing the city of Athens would conclude it to be twice as great as it actually was.  Appearances can be deceiving!  Perhaps the stables constructed by Omri or Ahab were originally Solomon's and just rebuilt by one of these later kings.  Perhaps Jericho was only being used temporarily as an outpost at the time of Joshua and didn't have the elaborate structures that would leave an impact on the archaeological record.

For Kenyon and Albright, it didn't matter very much.  They weren't literalists, and their concern was to illuminate our general picture of the Biblical world, not to prove or disprove the Bible--thought Albright did say that he had never discovered anything that would contradict anything he read in the Biblical narrative.

Overall, the pattern of Biblical archaeology was to win back respect for the general reliablility of the Biblical narrative: the Bible stories turned out to match very, very well the social and economic background of the world the archaeologists were recovering from the earth.

But then something strange happened in the world of Biblical archaeology.  Biblical archaelogists divided into two general schools, the maximalists and the minimalists.  The maximalists tended to think that archaeological discoveries should be interpreted in the light of Biblical texts, insisting that text and artifact should be matched as much as possible.  The minimalists said no: nothing in the Biblical text was to be assumed as true unless confirmed by outside archaeological evidence.  Unless and until there is an inscription with David's name on it that can be dated to the time of David, assume there is no David.  Unless there's archaeological evidence of a battle, the battle didn't occur.

Now this creates an impass, and it's hard to suggest exactly how it might be overcome.  And it's extraordinarily frustrating for students who expect from archaeology a certain amount of objectivity.  And, of course, both sides consider themselves to be the objective ones!  And so we go on...ever learning, but never able to come to knowlege of the truth.