Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Hypotheses on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

My fragments on fragments: Below are a few facts compiled awhile back, for which I have not had time to follow up. At this point I do not remember much of what I originally wrote (a little) and what is merely collected (most). I will go ahead and post this, and perhaps you can find minor usefulness in it somewhere.

According to Wikipedia, “The documentary hypothesis (DH) is one of three models used to explain the origins and composition of the first five books of the Bible…”[i] This hypothesis posits “four sources, each originally a separate and independent book (a ‘document’), joined together at various points in time by a series of editors (‘redactors’).”

The four sources claimed (with posited dating) are:[ii]
  • The Yahwist source (J), written circa 800 BC.
  • The Elohist source (E), written circa 700 BC.
  • The Deuteronomist source (D), written circa 600 BC.
  • The Priestly source (P), written circa 400 BC.
The supplementary hypothesis claims the Torah or Pentateuch is a single core document supplemented by fragments taken from many sources.

The fragmentary hypothesis claims it is a collection of small fragments.

The Wiseman hypothesis, sometimes called the tablet theory, is a theory of the authorship and composition of the Book of Genesis which suggests that Moses compiled Genesis from tablets handed down through Abraham and the other patriarchs.

The documentary hypothesis removes authorship of the Pentateuch from Moses, who died probably 700 or so years before the earliest so-called source. This is in clear contrast to the Bible itself and Jesus himself, both of which assume Mosaic authorship.

“The medieval sage Maimonides (c.1135-1204) enshrined this in his Thirteen Principles of Faith (a summary of the required beliefs of Judaism), the 8th of which states: ‘I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah presently in our possession is the one given to Moses’.”

Some use the record of the death of Moses in the last chapter of Deuteronomy to “prove” that he did not write the Pentateuch. Yet, many biblicists have no problem accepting this as supplemented by Joshua. Martin Luther similarly concluded that the description of Moses’ death was by Joshua – but believed that the question itself was of no great importance. (See The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 4, 2010, for example.)

[i] The five books are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, called collectively the Torah or Pentateuch.
[ii] The Documentary Hypothesis is also known as the JEDP Theory.

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