I recently learned that many scholars think that verses 15-18 of Genesis 22 were a later addition to the text. These verses comprise the second angelic monologue after his initial instruction to spare Isaac (ESV, excerpted):
And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time...and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD...I will surely bless you...and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."
Victor Hamilton1 (who disagrees with this view) summarizes the two reasons that commentators "almost unanimously view these four verses as secondary":
- The "suspicious introduction" of the angel a second time, which seems artificial.
- The refocusing of the narrative in a different direction (the “promise theme”) which seems like it is not an integral part of the story.
From Skinner himself2:
The secondary character of 15-18 is clear not only from its loose connexion with the primary narrative, but also from its combination of Eulogistic conceptions with Yahwistic phraseology, the absence of originality, the improper use of נאמ יהוה etc.
He explains that נאמ יהוה (ESV: "declares the LORD”) is a label for for prophetic inspiration, hence the designation as "improper" here.
Neither what I’ve read of the argument in favor of this nor its refutation (just the two references given) seems especially persuasive to me, but apparently such things are considered knowable. Without putting the documentary hypothesis as a whole on trial, and without reference to absolute dating, I’m wondering if there are valid linguistic reasons to conclude that these four verses were written separately from the rest of the narrative.
1. Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50 (NICOT; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 114.
2. John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis (New York: Schribner, 1910), 330.