The Writers of the Pentateuch.html

The Documentary Hypothesis About the Writers of the
Who wrote the OT?
The author and scholars
 Traditionally, Christians and Jews had
attributed the first five books of the bible to
Moses, but he is not the author.
 Moses died many centuries before the
books were composed.
 When studying the bible, scholars use two
main methods:
 historical criticism – asking whether the
events in the bible really had happened.
 literary criticism- it aims to explain why the
same event in the Bible is sometimes told
more than once and how different versions
of that story came to be told.
JEDP Background
 German and French Bible scholars in the
18th and 19th centuries were in the forefront
of scientific biblical scholarship. When they
analyzed the biblical stories very carefully,
they saw patterns that repeated themselves in
the stories of the Pentateuch.
 Julis Wellhausen gets the credit for this
scholarship called the “4 Source Theory” or
“Documentary Hypothesis”
 4 different writers wrote the Pentateuch
using oral tradition accounts
 There was also a redactor, a final editor, who
compiled and interwove these stories into the
form we now have.
J= Yawhist
The J is from the German “Jahveh”, which is pronounced like an English “y”
The Yahwist source is believed to be the oldest source of the stories and from the southern
kingdom of Judah
J stories are found from Genesis to Numbers
This source is responsible for the Genesis 2 creation story
Uses the name Lord or Lord God
The God portrayed by the Yahwists
Has human qualities- God is more human than divine
Shows a closeness to humans
Talks directly to them
Is called YHWH –written as LORD in the Bible
It is believed that the Elohist wrote the
story of the Burning Bush, in which
God reveals the Divine Name YHWH
to Moses.
Prior to this occurrence in the Bible,
the Elohist does not use the Divine
name; he uses the generic Hebrew term
for God – elohim, writtten as “God” in
For the Elohist, God often speaks to
humans through dreams, angels and
Content focuses on tribal concerns of
the Covenant, worship and land
The Elohist is believed to have been
from Israel, the Northern kingdom and
wrote during the 900s BCE
The E source
 He featured heroes from the
northern tribes.
 Speaks of the covenant relationship
between God and man
 Emphasizes human responsibility,
service, faithfulness and obedience
to God.
The Deuteronomist Writer
 Called- second giving of
the Law
 Deuteros- means
 Nomous- means law
 It is limited almost
entirely to the book of
 Wrote the Book of
Deuteronomy + Joshua,
Judges, Samuel 1-2,
Kings 1-2=
Deuteronomic History
D- Deuteronomist
 Common theme –
faithfulness to God =
obedience to Torah
Many of the laws from
Leviticus are repeated,
some modified.
 Believed to have been added
600s-500s BCE, perhaps in
two stages, pre and post
Contains the Shema, faith
statement of Israel – “Hear O
Israel, the LORD is our God; the
LORD alone.”
P- Priestly
Most of it was likely post-exilic – in the 500s BCE
Priests had a prominent role after the Exile
The resettlement of Jerusalem stressed purity on the
part of all Jews
Priests were descendents of Aaron, Moses’ brother
There is also more ancient material
Before priests became highly influential
Characteristics are
Behavior codes and laws of purity – most of Leviticus
Genesis 1
God is more distant and is all powerful than Yahwist
Uses generic term elohim for God
Emphasis on Aaron
 May have been from the priestly tradition.
 Believed to have been scribes and theologians who
combined JE with P and D to form the
Pentateuch/Torah as we now have it.
 Completed 500s BCE