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Old 05-08-2018, 12:45 PM   #1
Senior Member
Joined: Jul 2017
From: Kettering, Ohio USA
Posts: 182
The Documentary Hypothesis of the Torah

I am taking a course on the Hebrew Bible at the Wilmette Institute. This is a post from there, it's not by me, but it's so good I had to share it.

We should listen to scholars. Of course we don't have to believe everything they say. But what they say about the Bible's sources should be listened to.

Some notes from Christine Hayes lecture: Critical Approaches to the Bible: Introduction to Genesis 12-50

According to Julius Wellhausen the Hebrew Bible has different sources.

These sources are like blocks that have distinct style and terminology.

Sometimes these blocks are blurred.

It is possible to ascertain relative dates (not absolute dates) to the blocks and historical situation of authors.

The compilation of all these sources occurred from 10th to 6th century. The sources were woven together with great skill. Torah is a product of 5 centuries of religious and Literary activity.

This theory is named “Documentary Hypothesis “; it is also known as "source criticism" or "historical criticism". It is bases on analyzing terminology, style and motifs of the authors.

This theory is still disputed by conservative groups.
E Source (Elohist)

Supplement to J Source; difficult to isolate.
Less anthropomorphic.
No face-to-face revelation; God is more distant.
Emphasis in Prophets.
Style is more abstract; less picturesque.
Revelation/covenant is in Mt Horeb.
Concern with Northern tribes; likely composed 9th BCE on the North.
Israel Ancient Patriarchs, Moses and wandering in the desert.
Very fragmentary.

J Source (Jahwist)

Humans know God by Name (Javeh/Lord)
Begins with 2nd creation story (Gn 2:4)
Anthropomorphically descriptions of God.
Vivid and concrete earthly style.
Refers to Mt Sinai as place of revelation/covenant.
Date: granting/justification of a national land to Israelites (10 century BCE).
Reflects the interest of the South (Judah).

D Source (Deuteronomist)

Book of Deuteronomy.
It contains three speeches delivery by Moses.
Reflects interest of Agrarian life (not Nomads).
Insists in one central Sanctuary (not several altars);never says its Jerusalem.
All sacrifices should be offered in the central sanctuary.
Centralization of the Cult is a key aspect of religious reform of King Josiah (7th BCE).
But it seems to reflect Northern Tribes.

P Source (Priestly)

Leviticus and Numbers (non-narrative part).
Great concern with Religious institutions, Sacrificial rites, Sabbath. Passover,
It has some narrative.
God is transcendent and remote (more than J). His name is known only when He reveals Himself.
It focus in covenant, census, genealogies.
Functions as a bridge between stories.
Seems a final editing of other material and sources Bible.
Composed during/after the Exile (post 586 BCE)
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Old 05-08-2018, 01:28 PM   #2
Senior Member
Joined: Nov 2015
From: Canada
Posts: 126
All a matter of what we individually see as true Thank you for sharing. I studied this in high school and found it to be very interesting and possible, though I personally do not subscribe to it (anymore) - the Documentary Hypothesis has been the subject of debate for some time now and I do enjoy seeing the arguments both for and against it.

To play devil's advocate a little, here's someone's attempt at refuting the hypothesis (Again, not saying this is what I believe either, just posting an opposite):
The Documentary Hypothesis

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