When reading the book, “Who wrote the Bible”, by Richard Friedman, Friedman presents a strong case for the Documentary Hypothesis as it relates to the first five books of the Old Testament, also known as the Pentateuch or the Torah. This hypothesis proposes that the Torah was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors, or editors. These four sources came to be known as the Yahwist (J), Elohist (E), Deuteronomist (D), and the Priestly Writer (P). While many biblical scholars believe there were many redactors that helped combine the four sources, Friedman believes there is only one. Through extensive research on the historical context, special characteristics of the JEDP, and how they view and interpret God, Friedman came to the conclusion and argues that these four sources were combined into the Five Books of Moses by one redactor, Ezra. When examining all the Yahwist (J) source of the first five books of the Bible-- Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—it’s historical context, characteristics, and dating all play a major role in Friedman’s argument that one person assembled the four sources into the Five Books of Moses. In 922 BCE, King Solomon forced labor upon the Northern tribes, causing them to split into what we know as the “divided kingdoms”, with the city of Israel in the North and Judah in the South. It was here in the southern city of Judah that the J source appeared, anywhere between 922-721 BCE. To the J source, the deity is introduced with the divine name, Yahweh, throughout the entire story. In the J story, the arc is very important. It was considered important not only religiously, but it also signified success in the wilderness and was also suggested that there would be no military success without it. 1According to Freidman, “The arc, as we know, was regarded as the central object of the Temple of King Solomon in Jerusalem. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that it is treated with such importance in J”. This arc is very important to the J source, and that is exemplified in Friedman’s readings. Not only does the J source have special characteristics that distinguish the time it was created, but it also views God in a different way than the P and D sources. The J source views and interprets God in a more personal way. According to Friedman: 2 J pictures a deity who can regret things that he has done (6:6,7), which raises
interesting theological questions, such as whether an all-powerful, all-
knowing being would ever regret past actions. It pictures a deity who can be
‘grieved to his heart’ (6:6), who personally closes the arc (7:16) and smells
Noah’s sacrifice (8:21). In this quote, Friedman is describing the J source as having a close connection with Yahweh. He is pictured as human-like and has anthropomorphisms, which are just human-like qualities. Through the way the J source exemplifies the arc and views God, it is easy to conclude that the J source comes from the reign of King Solomon.
The second source that helped create the Five Books of Moses is the Elohist (E). This source was also written during the time of the divided kingdoms between 848-721 BCE; however, this source was found in the Northern kingdom of Israel, not Judah. The E source regarded their deity as Elohim throughout all the stories and they regard Moses as the central hero of their religion. The Israelites see him as the hero because Moses is the one that pleads with God and saves the people from destruction. To the Elohist, the Tabernacle is considered very important. Unlike the J source, E attributes “3much importance to the Tent of Meeting as the symbol of the presence of God among the people.” This Tabernacle was considered the primary site of the nation’s worship until Solomon replaced the Tabernacle with the Temple, because the Tabernacle was associated with the city of...
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