I am now nearly finished talking about the “Documentary Hypothesis” devised by scholars of the Hebrew Bible to account for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.  I have already discussed the traditional view developed in the nineteenth century, especially as it was laid out by Julius Wellhausen (the JEDP hypothesis).  But that was a long time ago.  What do scholars say today?  As one might expect, the discussions have not gotten simpler but more complicated.  Here is what I say, briefly, about that in my undergraduate textbook on the Bible.  It’s about as much as most beginning students (and most people in general) need to know.

 

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The Scholarly View Today

It is impossible to speak about a single scholarly opinion about the Documentary Hypothesis today.  Some scholars reject the idea that J and E were separate sources; some think that there were far more sources than the four; some propose radically different dates for the various sources (for example, one increasingly popular proposal is that the earliest sources were written in the 7th century; other scholars maintain that none of the sources was produced before the Babylonian exile in the 6th century).  A number of scholars have produced mind-numbingly complicated proposals that try to take better into account all of the nuances of the data.

But it is possible to speak about a scholarly consensus on some of the truly critical points.  These would include the following:

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