Talk:Documentary hypothesis

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Former good article Documentary hypothesis was one of the good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Contradictions between articles[edit]

This article says, "Scholars estimate the date of composition as c. 950 BCE, not long before the split of the united Kingdom of Israel into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah in 922 BC, making it the oldest source."

But the article on Genesis says, "This leaves the question of when these works were created. Scholars in the first half of the 20th century came to the conclusion that the Yahwist was produced in the monarchic period, specifically at the court of Solomon, and the Priestly work in the middle of the 5th century BC (the author was even identified as Ezra), but more recent thinking is that the Yahwist was written either just before or during the Babylonian exile of the 6th century, and the Priestly final edition was made late in the Exilic period or soon after."

So which do scholars generally hold, 950 BCE or the 6th Century? Kevin Corbett (talk) 23:43, 5 April 2015 (UTC)

These days, 6th century - but bear in mind that there's a lot of discussion and the documentary hypothesis itself is not all that widely held. Best look up the books in the bibliography. PiCo (talk) 23:36, 15 May 2015 (UTC)

Repetitions that don't conflict[edit]

I am editing the following because of gross inaccuracies or otherwise easily explainable situations:

"Exodus 38:26 mentions "603,550 men over 20 years old included in the census" immediately after passage of the Red Sea, while Numbers 1:44-45 cites the precisely identical count, "The tally of Israelites according to their paternal families, those over 20 years old, all fit for service. The entire tally was 603,550", in a census taken a full year later, "on the first [day] of the second month in the second year of the Exodus" (Numbers 1:1);"
In actuality, the first mention of the census in Ex 38:26 occurs after the construction of the tabernacle (which Numbers agrees with), some 24 chapters after the red sea crossing. I have kept only the fact that the same census is mentioned in two different books.
Moses' wife, though often identified as a Midianite (and hence Semitic), appears in the tale of Snow-white Miriam as a "Cushite" (Ethiopian), and hence black;
Moses' Cushite wife in Numbers 12 is unnamed and most likely refers to an extra-biblical event, and thus should not be confused with his Midianite wife Zipporah from Exodus 2, judging from gross disparity in chronology (i.e. why would Miriam and Aaron choose to bring up the issue of a foreign born wife many years after the fact?). At the time, it was not out of the ordinary for a man to have multiple wives.

Clown (talk) 01:00, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

You're right, Clown. Despite all the contrary evidence, however, I don't think the secular administrators with this page on their watch lists will let us make critical edits. Wekn reven i susej eht Talk• Follow 15:26, 7 June 2011 (UTC)

Taking Issue with the Documentary Hypothesis[edit]

discussion removed from artice:

[Taking Issue with the Documentary Hypothesis: despite the excellent work of the author of this article, it should be noted that "The Documentary Hypothesis" (i.e., the Pentateuch is a compostie of 4 separate sources) while once accepted by the vast majority of Biblical scholars - is now only taught/promoted in universities and mainline/liberal seminaries in the United States. While the vast majority of scholars (except for orthodox Jewish and Christian ones) still reject Mosaic authoriship, the Documentary Hypothesis has (to the best of my knowledge) been rejected by European scholars, and is no longer taught as a valid theory in Tubingen, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburough, Aberdeen, Toulouse, Paris, or any of the more prestigious Biblical Studies programs throughout Europe. Unfortunately, I have no citations or references for this except my own memory from my Masters program from 14 years ago, and that was from lectures and studies in the basic coursework, and not in my specialty, which is early Christianity, so please, consider the source, and check into the facts on your own.]—The preceding comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:54, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

There are sources citing DH as the most accepted hypothesis. Are there sources citing DH as no longer the most accepted hypothesis? The trick is that some people like to play up differences between today's version of DH and the 100-year old version. Do scholars say that the consensus has "collapsed"? If not, we should cite our sources and describe DH as the most-accepted hypothesis. Documentary HypothesisLeadwind 21:43, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I think the problem is that the term "documentary hypothesis" has two meanings - Wellhausen's 4-document hypothesis, and at the same time any hypothesis that sees the Torah's origins in independent documents, no matter how many they may be. It boiols down to a difference between "hypothesis" and "model" - Wellhausen put forward a specific and influential hypothesis using a documentary model, while Van Seters, according to what he himself says on the subject, has been championing a hypothesis which uses a fragmentary model - i.e., not any kind of documentary hypothesis, even though others have decribed him as using a reduced documentary hypothesis because he refers to a J-author and a D-author. The big and crucial difference, as Van Seters explains it, is that he (Van Seters) vehemently rejects the concept of the Redactor, the "deus ex-machina" demanded by the logic of the DH to explain how the four documents came to be combined. If there were no Redactor, we'd be facing today an OT equivalent of the Four Gospels. Yet while the Redactor is a logical necessity, there's no actual evidence of his handiwork (says Van Seters). Anyway, to answer the point you make in your final sentence, every scholar who has produced a new theory outside the documentary model has begun with an explanation of why he felt it necessary to do so. The major names are mentioned in the final section of the article. The article tries to explain that Wellhausen is only one version of the documentary hypothesis, albeit the most widely known and most influential. It also explains, in the final section, how the acceptance of Wllhausen collapsed - basically, people came to accept that the redactor was a problem as much as a solution, a theoretical figure demanded by the hypothesis but not evidenced by the text itself. This was one of Friedman's concerns, to show just what the Redactor had contributed, thus answering these critics, but his revised hypothesis hasn't been widely accepted. PiCo 11:09, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

There is much in this section that I believe to be incorrect. The DH is in fact accepted by nearly every major university in BOTH the USA and Europe. A statement was even made here that it is not longer taught at Cambridge or Oxford. This is a false statement. Oxford does indeed teach the DH in its current Faculty of Theology department and even encourages students to submit specimen papers on the subject in its "Handbook for Bachelor of Theology". Cambridge has in its theological department a course in Old Testament studies called "Reading the Old Testament" in which students are asked to study Dom Henry Wansbrough's "Introduction to Genesis" which includes a discussion of the DH. Cambridge students are encouraged to write, as one of their required essays for this class, a paper on the "two flood accounts" as shown by the DH. Wansbrough's "Introduction to Genesis" can be read online here, and as you can see, like most scholars, he has a very favorable opinion of the DH:

The DH has certainly not undergone any kind of "collapse". —Preceding unsigned comment added by Cws51923 (talkcontribs) 17:43, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

No, the DH has not collapsed. However, there have been some interesting non-confessional challenges to it. One is the sort of "literary critique" that purports to show, at least with respect to Genesis, that the book is a literary unit and that the parallels between purportedly different sources are stronger than their differences. (E.g. Rendsburg, Gary - The Redaction of Genesis) Anyway, I don't think a discussion of this topic is complete without non-straw-man versions of its critics being presented. --Stormj (talk) 04:49, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

This article is very biased in favor of JEDP. It is just a theory, and it's unfair for any other opinions/views/facts/critiques to be summarily deleted. (talk) 22:26, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, it is just a theory and it may be that it is no longer broadly accepted. It is however taught for historical reasons, as propaedeutic knowledge, a shorthand for the basics of all what followed it in the last quarter of the 20th century and later. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:43, 11 October 2016 (UTC)
what does "teach" mean? Do they have textbooks that show what the methodology is and how it conforms better to linguistics and archaeology and other related fields? I have asked people to point me to such textbooks and nobody has been able to do it. Presenting conclusions in a lecture is not the same thing as teaching new people how to use and expand on a methodology. (talk) 12:49, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

--Here to say that support for the DH has definitely waned - at least in Europe. This means that although the history of DH is still taught, and how influential it was (even places like Oxford & Cambridge) it is now faced with a lot of criticism due to the lack of evidence. The only consensus that now prevails is p and non-p (priestly, and non-priestly). I'm actually here because I was going to edit the Hebrew Bible page that had a very badly written section on dating the bible, that vaguely mentions DH. Anyway, although - of course- lots of sources will claim the truth of DH, do remember that history is as progressive as it is cumulative, that means very well respected references are now outdated. Plus, religion - as a topic - is one of the most over saturated topics for *references* with very little of it being considered scholarly. Anyway, like I said on the talk page of Hebrew Bible, I'm going to write an explanation of where the author/dating debate is for the Hebrew Bible page. Maybe a more experienced editor will review it & see how/what from that can be added to this page. Noxiyu (talk) 14:38, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

There is an evangelical claim like "JEDP has fallen, so things are going good." No, things got actually worse, from an evangelical viewpoint, i.e. the present-day scholarship is much worse for them than JEDP. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:43, 11 October 2016 (UTC)


"... and consensus for the change with other editors."

I don't care what convention is used, whether BC or BCE. I do object to someone making a change in violation of standards. I'm not going to give in to the temptation to continuing an edit war. I'm giving you the chance to stand up for your opinion. But if you don't want to gather a "consensus for the change" .... TomS TDotO (talk) 13:25, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

The change wasn't in violation of standards because the article used both BC and BCE dating styles. I chose BC because it was first used and there was need for consistency (talk) 13:44, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Thank you. I agree that it is preferable to have the article use a uniform style. As the article stands now, however, there are only two places where the BC style is used, under Documentary hypothesis#The beginnings of the documenary hypothesis, where it says, "the reign of Josiah in 621 BC"; and under Documentary hypothesis#After Wellhausen, where it says, "in the first millennium BC". Elsewhere, there are many uses of the BCE style. Just on the basis of numbers, it would superficially seem preferable to change the two cases of BC to BCE. As I said, however, I don't care, but unless there is some reason not to, I suggest that these two instances be so changed. What I do strongly feel about is that we try to keep cool about it, and let's discuss it before acting unilaterally. I realize that some people feel strongly one way or the other, but let's not attribute bad faith to the other side. TomS TDotO (talk) 14:58, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't know why, but I just happened upon this old discussion, and I see that no one is interested in it. The article is still a mix of styles, and it isn't going to change unless someone does something. If no one show any interest in a reasonable time, I'm just going to go ahead and change all the "BC"s to "BCE"s. TomS TDotO (talk) 19:11, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Early date of P - consequences for Ezekiel?[edit]

The text says that Friedmann and Kaufmann argue for P dating from Hezekiah instead of Post Exilic.

With Post Exilic P the religious laws in the text evolve as follows

  1. Ritual Decalogue (J)/ Covenant Code (E)
  2. Deuteronomic Code (D)
  3. Implications of the Book of Ezekiel
  4. Holiness Code (H = early layer of P)
  5. Priestly Code (later layer of P)

but if you put P in Hezekiah's time it becomes (leaving out the priestly code and ezekiel):

  1. Ritual Decalogue (J)/ Covenant Code (E)
  2. Holiness Code (H = early layer of P)
  3. Deuteronomic Code (D)

So where do Friedmann and Kaufmann put

  • Implications of the Book of Ezekiel
  • Priestly Code (later layer of P)

in relation to the Deuteronomic Code (D), and how is that rectified with the date of Ezekiel?

Newman Luke (talk) 16:40, 24 October 2009 (UTC)

The Amber Witch link itself is weasel[edit]

There is no mention in the Amber Witch Hoax article to DH or even the idea behind DH. This is weaselly link to suggest that the DH is also a hoax. These topics are not related. fcsuper (How's That?, That's How!) (Exclusionistic Immediatist ) 17:45, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

The Amber Witch#Background has a discussion which begins: "The author's intention had been to set a deliberate "trap for the disciples of David Strauss and his school who pronounced the scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be a collection of legends from historical research assisted by internal evidence".[8]" I am not defending the idea that the Amber Witch Hoax was an appropriate attack on the DH (and certainly not that the DH is itself a hoax), but merely that it is a mildly interesting topic in the history of the idea, at least worth passing reference. TomS TDotO (talk) 19:17, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Nobody is interested in The Amber Witch? TomS TDotO (talk) 12:28, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
The Amber Witch Hoax was an attack upon scholars of the Historical Jesus, not upon scholars of the Documentary Hypothesis Revanneosl (talk) 13:39, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
They are all source critics. When source critics blow it on one subject, it casts doubt on the others. (talk) 12:49, 18 July 2016 (UTC)

Proposal to redirect Ritual decalogue to Covenant code[edit]

Please see my proposal here and comment/vote. Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 15:46, 11 July 2010 (UTC)

Support for Mosaic authorship[edit]

Are we really supposed to take seriously a reference which supports Mosaic authorship by saying that with God all things are possible? TomS TDotO (talk) 15:39, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Lacking any positive support for this reference, I'll revert the addition. TomS TDotO (talk) 16:03, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Absolutely, he did part the Red Sea. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:56, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Blenkinsopp book?[edit]

This sentence says: "Whybray's questions pertaining to the documentary hypothesis, however, have been largely answered[citation needed] by Joseph Blenkinsopp." Then we have a whole para about Blenkinsopp's answer. Much as I admire Blenkinsopp, this really needs a source - does anyone know what we're referring to? PiCo (talk) 11:37, 12 October 2010 (UTC)


We currently have this figure on the DH view re the development of the Torah:

Diagram of the Documentary Hypothesis.
* includes most of Leviticus
includes most of Deuteronomy
"Deuteronomic history": Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings

It's someone's personal work, and I think them for the effort they've put into it, but I believe it's a little bit not quite right in places. It puts J and E side by side, as if they came from the same time, when the theory holds that J was slighly earlier; and it seems to have D earlier than P, when the classic view has them the other way round. It also has a set of boxes for the Deuteronomistic history, which is really a separate if related issue. I wonder if anyone feels like either revising it or finding a free source we can use? PiCo (talk) 23:40, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Restoring a missing section of this article[edit]

There was a large section of this article that was deleted. The opinions of many Bible scholars were wiped out and replaced with this pious statement: "but none doubted the truth of the tradition." But this claim is simply incorrect.

That is why it is important to restore the deleted section. Critical academic study of the Torah's origins began in classical rabbinic Judaism, what some call Orthodox Judaism, centuries before Wellhausen - and as the sources quoted herein state, the existence of such views are explicitly recognized by Orthodox rabbis. In fact, the sources given within the article name an entire book on the academic, critical text study of the Torah, Bible and rabbinic literature from an Orthodox Jewish point of view.

RK (talk) 17:41, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

The "pious statement" is a quote from Gordon Wenham, a respected (and not fundamentalist) scholar. Wenham was talking about the difference between traditional and modern attitudes - before Astruc scholars didn't question or care who wrote the bible. You mention early Jewish scholars, but people like Ibn Ezra are very few and far between - the exception, and a very rare one. PiCo (talk) 10:26, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

The heart of this article was cut out: Now restored[edit]

Today, the vast majority of Bible scholars believe that the Torah is a composite document, edited together from a variety of earlier sources. (This view is also accepted as correct by all rabbis and scholars in non-Orthodox forms of Judaism, and by many priests and scholars in many forms of Christianity.) Why would anyone believe this? Shouldn't this article describe the reasoning behind the people who hold this point of view?

In point of fact, this article used to do just that. There was a section, Major areas considered to support the documentary hypothesis include. Just as importantly, this article used to note that: "Many portions of the Torah seem to imply more than one author. Doublets and triplets repeat stories with different points of view." This is a hugely important point. While at one point this article featured these sections front and center, for years, a while back somone cut out this section, leaving the article hanging in mid-air, presenting complicated views without summarizing the major textual reasons for people having such views. As such, I have restored this section. RK (talk) 20:28, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

I've cut this out, not because I disagree with it (I agree), but because I believe it to be unnecessary. The idea that the Torah is a composite is universal - there's no need to argue for it. PiCo (talk) 10:23, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I strenuously disagree. I have worked in general education and religious education, and I can tell you that this impression is incorrect. A great many Christians deny the essentials of the documentary hypothesis, possibly the majority of Christians in the world! And so do many Jews, including nearly all of the Orthodox Jewish community. Most people I have discussed the Bible with, in fact, simply assume that the Torah is more or less directly from Moses, even if they are agnostics or atheists. RK (talk) 16:57, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

One must take it on faith that there are many authors. There is no need to argue this point. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:01, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Removing all the evidence and logic is a very bad idea[edit]

The latest edits to this article, Documentary Hypothesis, removes the summary of reasons that scholars believe that the Torah is a composite document. I am concerned, because a few years ago, some Orthodox Jewish, and traditional Christians, made these same types of edits - to make it look like the documentary hypothesis is less likely to be correct, and that fundamentalist teachings were more likely to be certainly true.

Because of the huge amount of material deleted by PiCo, all that is left of this article are various ideas that the Torah is composite...but without a good summary of the logical reasons why. I think that it is important for us to summarize the logic and textual evidence. If we do not have this, then I can assure that this article will be (mis)used to "prove" that there isn't a serious case to accept that the Torah is composite. Rather, it will (as it has been before) be used to "prove" that the Torah is unitary and (mostly) unchanged since the time of Moses,

The majority of Wikipedia readers have little to no knowledge about this subject. Your averge person really believes that the Torah is, more or less, a unitary document, and many are willing to accept that it was probably written by Moses himself, plus or minus textual errors tha have accumulated over the milennai. In fact, even many agnostics believe this. For many people, the debate is about whether or not God literally inspired prophets to write the Bible, or whether God exists at all.

Right now this article focuses on the technical details, but lacks the general reasoning for it's very existence. RK (talk) 16:54, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

I'm concerned about this too. Look how much information was deleted without any discussion at all: I think we should revert these changes (as numerous as they are, many are just deletions and re-wordings), and not do it again until things are discussed. Yay or nay? GManNickG (talk) 22:34, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

What does the phrase "Documentary Hypothesis" mean?[edit]

I'd like to reiterate this point. Many people here seem to believe that the term "documentary hypothesis" refers to Wellhausen's 4-document hypothesis. But this is incorrect. Rather, Wellhausen's hypothesis is merely the first of a number of modern ideas about the textual origin of the Torah.

Outside of fundamentalist Christian and jewish communities, mainsteram academics (and non-fundamentalist Jews and Christians) use the phrase "documentary hypothesis" to describe any hypothesis that sees the Torah's origins in independent documents, no matter how many they may be. Also note that many, if not most, modern day views are loosely related to Wellhausen's basic concept of J, E, P and D. In other words, although his specific ideas are denied today, his general outline is still considered to be a good model by many scholars today. RK (talk) 20:35, 20 December 2010 (UTC)

"many" is a weasel word. (talk) 12:49, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Wellhausen wasn't the first to propose a documentary hypothesis, and I believe the article makes this clear. He merely put forward the most exhaustive, conclusive case for documents over the other two competing hypotheses - the supplementary hypothesis and the fragmentary hypothesis. Note that Wellhausen put forward "a" hypothesis, not "the" hypothesis - his version had 4 sources, but Astruc's had only 2 sources. In the 20th century the E source has been so severely criticised that modern versions of the hypothesis frequently propose only 3 sources. Nor are modern theories using the symbolic language of JEPD (more often JPD without E) necessarily documentary in nature - many regard D as a document, but J and P as editorial work over several centuries. (Unless they're Tommy Thompson). PiCo (talk) 10:21, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I am not sure of why you wrote this. Maybe I was unclear. Just to be clear, these are points on which we agree. RK (talk) 13:42, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

I have this question myself. Who coined "documentary hypothesis" as what Wellhausen meant? How do we know the coiner was right about what Wellhausen meant? The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has several meanings for "hypothesis," which one did the coiner mean? It's crucial to understanding what was originally meant, which may have meant different things to other scholars, leading to whatever disagreements have occurred. (talk) 23:41, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

This is a really significant point, and actually up for debate in my Theology department at KCL (university of London). If I was building this article from scratch, I would explain Documentary Hypothesis as a response/explanation to the many contradictions in the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). I would then go on to say that this form of biblical criticism has a long history. I would in fact call the (Graff-)Wellhausen hypothesis, the source hypothesis (or the Graff-Wellhausen hypothesis, or the JEDP hypothesis). Other examples under the title of DH, which are mostly ignored in the article, are: base text hypothesis, Fragmentary or Narratives hypothesis, and münsteraner pentateuch model (P.Weimar/E. Zenger). Finally, now that JEDP has been undermined and thrown out, we have P & non-P. The reason why this has the highest scholarly acceptance, is that nearly all forms of DH biblical criticism includes a differentiation between P and non-P. It's delineating the rest that is complicated, inconsistent & lacking consensus. P & non-P is primarily explained and *owned* by Schmid, Römer, et al. There are modern day DH biblical critics talking about Wellhausen: Schwartz, Baden, Stackert for example. Although their critics are that they are failing to provide any new evidence. (this comment goes with the one I wrote above, about how this article is factually flawed) As I mentioned in my earlier comment, I have written a suggested edit for the Hebrew Bible page on the dating, this concerns documentary hypothesis. It's on my user:noxiyu/sandbox page. Hopefully that short summary will give a little insight into what documentary hypothesis means - perhaps the content there, if accepted, can indicate what edits we should make on this page?

Noxiyu (talk) 15:10, 2 February 2015 (UTC)

Merger proposal[edit]

I've suggested that Torah redactor be merged into this article. It has been unsourced or poorly sourced for nearly a year and discusses mainly the same content in some more detail. (talk) 18:31, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

merge performed as there was no discussion. (talk) 10:15, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

I've now suggested that JE be merged into this article. JE is quite short and discusses the documentary hypothesis in more detail. That detail should be here, I think. (talk) 20:26, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Support merge. I don't think "Documentary hypothesis" is the most common meaning of "JE", which should be a disambiguation page linking to this one. Jokestress (talk) 06:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support merge. Because of the similarity of the two and the concreteness of this article compared to Torah redactor. Wekn TAKN 17:28, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

DH 'universally accepted' Wenham ref[edit]

Is it appropriate to cite Wenham as authority for 'universal acceptance' for the DH [1] , when he actually writes 'by the mid-twentieth century it was almost universally accepted. But in the 1970s this cosy consensus began to be disturbed.'? He then documents four areas of disagreement with and challenge to DH, which the article partly addresses, but the selective quote does not quite represent the situation accurately. Cpsoper (talk) 11:37, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Maybe you're right - the full sentence in our article says: "The hypothesis dominated biblical scholarship for much of the 20th century, and, although increasingly challenged by other models in the last part of the 20th century, its terminology and insights continue to provide the framework for modern theories on the origins of the Torah." Wenham (who's a very respectable scholar by the way - no problem in that area) does say pretty explicitly that the DH dominated the field for much of the C.20th, but it would be hard to source the rest of the sentence to that article. It happens to be true, but the source doesn't support it. Feel free to look around for something better. (Wenham does support the sentence indirectly, as he talks at length about the use of terms such as P and J and accepts without question that the Torah has complex origins and multiple authors, but he doesn't explicitly say so). PiCo (talk) 06:45, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I see now you were talking about a different sentence. You made a good edit there. PiCo (talk) 06:48, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, have updated reference for Umberto Cassuto, for whom I declare, as a matter of transparency, considerable admiration. I am not a professional scholar in the field, but Oswald Allis' writing on the subject also appears cogent, tightly reasoned and stocked with specific evidence, so I have also cited him. Cpsoper (talk) 21:14, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Bullet item for 'Redactor'[edit]

There was a left-over bullet item for 'Redactor' which was an internal link to a now-deleted section [2]; I've removed it since a) it didn't point anywhere and b) its inclusion in the list made it seem (to my admittedly untutored eye) that "R" was one of five sources postulated by Wellhausen; I don't know if that's true or not but I'm guessing if the section 'Redactor' was removed as unreferenced it probably wasn't. But please do correct me (or at least the article) if I'm incorrect. Thanks. BrideOfKripkenstein (talk) 06:05, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

'Redactor' should not redirect to this article, but to 'Redaction'. HuPi (talk) 23:37, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

What is the source material?[edit]

Several hundred years of work by people who speak several different languages. Which bible did each of them use? Hebrew? Ancient Greek? German? King James? A combination? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:20, 5 June 2012 (UTC)

Please specify and clarify your comment. Wekn TAKN
Like Wekn, I'm not suere what you mean. In the hope that this clarifies matters: The Old Testament was written almost entirely in Hebrew, the New Testament in the form of Greek common in the region in the first century CE; an important Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament was made in the last few centuries before Christ and is still the bible used by the Orthodox Christian churches. Both Testaments were translated into Latin round 500 CE, and then into various European languages from about 1500 on (the translators used the oldest texts they could find, usually the Hebrew text used by Jews for the Old Testament and old Greek texts for the New). PiCo (talk) 03:23, 30 August 2012 (UTC)
Astruc claimed to use the Neuchatel French Geneva Bible but he misquoted it; Graf is another author; Reuss did his own translation which is terrible. Their works are available free online. If DH pins itself to language issues but is not analyzing Hebrew, it hasn't said anything about the Hebrew Tannakh. If its linguistic information dates no later than 1900, it is outdated. Septuagint has been known to be a bad translation since within 100 years of its completion so it is invalid for examining the Hebrew Tannakh. Jerome translated Prophets and Writings from Septuagint but claimed to go back to Hebrew for Pentateuch -- but he used traditional translations like reproducing "Ohozath his friend" which is a Septuagint mistranslation. Dr. John A. Cook's doctoral dissertation on Biblical Hebrew (approved 2002) shows that almost everybody has mis-analyzed Biblical Hebrew because they are not taking into account its relationship to other ancient Semitic languages, deciphered by archaeologists, whose work DH ignores. (talk) 12:49, 18 July 2016 (UTC)
Cook teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary, which has officially proclaimed inerrantism as its stance. So he belongs to the vocal minority of scholars which still affirms inerrancy, contrary to what is taught as fact in all major US universities. Tgeorgescu (talk) 02:10, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Cook was writing about the language. His work coordinates with modern linguistics on a broad basis and also with the work on other ancient Semitic languages. The usefulness of his work has nothing to do with theology but with linguistics and in fact it also coordinates with 20th century work on oral traditions, which also has nothing to do with theology. (talk) 14:34, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
Cook will knee-jerk reject any approach which does not support theological orthodoxy. His employment depends upon him doing that. Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:34, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

Let me stress – I can’t stress this enough, although roughly 36% of my readers won’t believe me or possibly hear me – I am NOT saying there cannot be evangelical scholars of the New Testament. That is absolutely not the case, in the least. There are lots of evangelical scholars of the New Testament. Some of them superb scholars. BUT, if they approach the New Testament from the point of view that there can be no mistakes of any kind in the New Testament (that would be a very hard-core evangelical, and certainly a fundamentalist, position) then they have to restrict their scholarly conversation partners to one another, publishing in journals and with presses that support their theological views, not in the standard critical journals and presses.

— Bart Ehrman, [3]
Quoted by Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:48, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

question on expert sources[edit]

I've been corresponding with somebody who brought up an issue I find interesting. If somebody is considered an expert, they either have substantial continuing activities in a field (LPN) or they have published in peer-reviewed periodicals such that their methods, assumptions, application, and conclusions can be analyzed and the weaknesses corrected. AFAICT all the sources in the bibliography are books, which don't qualify. IS there a DH periodical that does all this stuff? On the same level as, like, Bulletinis of the American Schools of Oriental Research or Journal of International Affairs or Journal of Statistical Science? (talk) 16:55, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Books are reliable sources if they have been written by professors widely acknowledged as authorities on the discussed issue. The policy does not state that only journals may be considered reliable. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:58, 26 December 2013 (UTC)
what peer-reviewed journals about DH do professors write in to get acknowledged as authorities on DH? (talk) 16:59, 25 July 2016 (UTC)
I cannot answer that question, however if one is a full professor of Bible scholarship at a major university, we assume by default that he/she is an authority upon what he/she teaches there. With the disclaimer that sometimes even mainstream scholars indulge in WP:FRINGE theories, but this has to become evident at WP:FTN. Some disciplines prefer books to journals. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:58, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
Which does your discipline prefer? How does your discipline distinguish between "peer review" and "publisher puffing"? I've read books by "authorities" in a field that were filled with fallacies and based on information no longer accepted in the field. How do people in your discipline decide which books to read and use and which to ignore if you want your work to be taken seriously? (talk) 14:34, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
That is a complicated question. However, as far as Wikipedia is concerned do read WP:IRS, WP:UNDUE and WP:FRINGE. Briefly, Wikipedia editors never make the call, instead reliable sources make the call for us. Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:38, 10 October 2016 (UTC)

Talk suggests DH still accepted; article doesn't seem to end on this note[edit]

I've just read this article and the Talk. The question within the talk of whether the DH is still a widely held belief seems to be answered there in the affirmative: that the DH (in some form or other) is now a widely held belief in both scholarly and religious realms. If that is the case the article doesn't seem to assert this. Consider the last paragraph of the article in particular which, in stating that the DH no longer dominates the debate as it once did, left me with the only alternative: that the notion of one author (Moses) has returned to favour.

Can someone correct this? Is this interference in the article by someone with traditional views? -- (talk) 18:36, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

DH is still accepted as a starting point for even more daring and more radical theories. It opened their way, but it was not radical enough. DH has not been completely forgotten, but it has been surpassed at its own method. Certainly none but fundamentalist and very conservative evangelical scholars think that Moses has anything to do with writing the Pentateuch (that is, if he ever existed). Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:55, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

I found the last paragraph of this Wikipedia article unclear and confusing and I strongly feel it quoted Sommer out of context. I will present two longer quotes from Benjamin Sommer review which was quoted in the last paragraph so you can assess whether Sommer was quoted out of context: ″In the last quarter of this century, however, this consensus has broken down. No longer can a biblical scholar begin a sentence with the word J and presume that another scholar will listen to the rest -- or that the other scholar will mean more or less the same thing even if she is willing to use that term. The verities enshrined in older introductions have disappeared, and in their place scholars are confronted by competing theories which are discouragingly numerous, exceedingly complex, and often couched in an expository style that is (to quote John van Seter's description of one seminal work) "not for the faint-hearted.".″ To quote another Sommer paragraph ″In the longer second half, Nicholson examines the various attacks on the Documentary Hypothesis in the past quarter century, concentrating on the work of Rolf Rendtorff, Erhard Blum (both of whom describe the basic building blocks of the Pentateuch in new ways while rejecting the notion of discrete documents known as JE, P, and D), Norman Whybray (who views the Pentateuch as a literary unity built from motley older materials that cannot for the most part be reconstructed), and several scholars including Christoph Levin and John van Seters who retain the sigla of the Documentary Hypothesis but diverge from its main outlines in far-reaching ways (for example, by dating J-type material to the postexilic period and viewing it as dependent on Deuteronomy and related literature. In the last chapter he also addresses the work of synchronic readers who do not so much deny the Documentary Hypothesis as they move beyond it or ignore it.″

I read thru the trail of sources, and they do not support Mosaic authorship. Whybray is discussed Richard Elliott Friedman in the Bible with Sources Revealed disagreed with Whybray (see Here's a Bluhm reference CreateW (talk) 07:53, 25 December 2013 (UTC) There seems to be a broad and narrow definition of documentary hypothesis which I will demonstrate via two online sources (regardless of whether they are reliable). [1. ( ″The documentary hypothesis is a theory held by many historians that the five books of Moses (the Torah) are a combination of documents from different sources. ...While many of Wellhausen's specific claims have since been dismissed, the general idea that the five books of Moses had a composite origin is now fully accepted by historians.″ 2. ″The Documentary Hypothesis, in its broadest sense, is an attempt to identify various source documents from which the present text of the Hebrew Bible, particularly in the historical books of Genesis through Joshua, is derived. In a more restricted sense, it is applied to a line of reasoning that found its full expression in the work of the German theologian Julius Wellhausen, with subsequent developments by many other scholars, and which has as a central tenet the idea that different names of God in the Pentateuch (or Pentateuch plus Joshua) indicate different authors or editors, and these authors/editors lived long after the events they were describing. " ] I have trouble knowing what the majority of scholars believe, but I would guess they mostly accept the broader view of the documentary hypothesis while mostly reject the narrower view of DH. The last paragraph of this Wikipedia article can be (mis)interpreted as most scholars reject the broader view. Ideally, the Wikipedia article should clearly express its views regarding the broad and narrow view like the above two sources did. Also, the last paragraph should use a more fuller quote, as it is quoting the author out of context. Last paragraph starts out with a reasonably broad definition of DH ″notably its claim that the Pentateuch is the work of many hands and many centuries, and that its final form belongs to the middle of the 1st millennium BCE″ and then rejects it ″"The verities enshrined in older introductions [to the subject of the origins of the Pentateuch] have disappeared...″ (misusing) a source that seems to have only rejected the narrow definition ″In the last quarter of this century, however, this consensus has broken down. No longer can a biblical scholar begin a sentence with the word J and presume that another scholar will listen to the rest -- or that the other scholar will mean more or less the same thing even if she is willing to use that term. The verities enshrined in older introductions have disappeared, and in their place scholars are confronted by competing theories which are discouragingly numerous,exceedingly complex, and often couched in an expository style that is (to quote John van Seter's description of one seminal work) "not for the faint-hearted.".″ — Preceding unsigned comment added by CreateW (talkcontribs) 08:24, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

The documentary hypothesis is not widely held today - this is discussed in the last section of the article. This does not mean, however, that scholars now believe that Moses wrote anything at all, or even existed - Mosaic authorship has no standing in scholarly circles. Instead, contemporary scholars have turned to modern versions of old ideas that were in circulation before Wellhausen.
To understand what's gong on, you have to understand the difference between documents' and sources. All modern scholars, whether they accept the DH or not, agree that the Torah is made up from sources - which is to say, that it's not the work of a single author (Moses). The DH holds that these sources took the form of documents - written accounts of the complete and continuous story from Genesis to the end of Numbers (no need to Deuteronomy since it stands alone, a single source in a single document with no spill-over into the other books). These documents were supposedly written at different times and then combined by editors (the "redactors") into the Torah as we have it.
The other and more modern theories agree that there are sources involved, but not documents. Probably the most widely held view today is that a Yahwist source was created gradually over a century or more and then, in the 5th century, supplemented by a Priestly source, which hadn't previously existed. The D source had a separate history, and supposedly grew gradually from the late 6th century into the 5th.
Our articles on the sources (J, P, D) deal with the sources in some detail, while this source is about the older theory of the Documentary Hypothesis. If you want more information, look up the books in the reference sections - the more recent the better.PiCo (talk) 10:03, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Pico, I wish I had more time to investigate this topic. I find the last paragraph to be unclear and it informs, misleads and confuses the reader. This Wikipedia article wrote, ″notably its claim that the Pentateuch is the work of many hands and many centuries, and that its final form belongs to the middle of the 1st millennium BCE...The verities enshrined in older introductions have disappeared″. When read literally, if there is a small doubt regarding one of the 3 DH claims (I agree there is at least some doubt) then Wikipedia is literally correct. The literal reading means there is between 0%-99.9% chance of there being multiple hands. 0-99.9% of there being many centuries; 0-99.9% of there being mid millennium. A)The last paragraph quotes Sommers review, and nowhere in his review did it seem to challenge any of those 3 assertions(or at least directly challenge them). B) For example, if a large majority of modern bible scholars believe the bible has many hands, then the last paragraph shouldn't be challenging that assertion. If there is a strong minority scholarly view that a single author (single hand) (without editors; e.g., Ezra) then that opinion needs more support rather than a subtle hint in a sentence. C) My impression is that most scholars today accept many hands, multiple centuries and probably mid-millennium (but unsure how mid-millennium is defined). D) Sommers wrote: "In the last quarter of this century, however, this consensus has broken down. No longer can a biblical scholar begin a sentence with the word J and presume that another scholar will listen to the rest -- or that the other scholar will mean more or less the same thing even if she is willing to use that term. The verities enshrined in older introductions have disappeared,..." and I agree with him. In summary, if many scholars believe in a single hand, single century, non-mid-millennium then the last paragraph just needs sources/elaboration. If most scholars agree that there are multiple hands, multiple-centuries, mid-millennium but disagree on many details (roles of redactors vs. authors, how many authors/redactors, when did they live, who wrote each verse) then that message should be clearly articulated. CreateW (talk) 20:08, 1 January 2014 (UTC)

as of just a few years ago, I was taking a history course and I remember finding a jastor article that identified clearly divergent treads with the Europeans increasingly discounting the bible entirely and regarding it as a late hasmonean fabrication, and Americans who still preferred a basic 4 source theory. however our professor Morgan Broadhead (disregard his teaching at a minor junior collage, he is well accepted and liked in American IVY league schools) took a more cynical approach and more or less considered the entire biblical criticism field to be irresponsible and futile. (and tended to something which might be termed modest secular biblical maximalism.) If such views are current with any group of historians then there aught to be some mention of the reasons therefor. (talk) 15:18, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

See [4]. Tgeorgescu (talk) 13:44, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
To put it briefly, one can dismiss the answers (explanations) of biblical criticism, but a responsible intellectual cannot dismiss its questions (problems raised). Tgeorgescu (talk) 13:50, 6 February 2016 (UTC)


This article lists dates for JEDP. Wellhaussen (950, 850, 600, 500) and Friedman roughly (700, 700, 700 and 600). The Wikipedia's articles on the Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist and Priestly Source provides additional dates. The Jawhist article (In the first half of the 20th century it was believed that the Yahwist could be dated to c. 950 BCE,[5] but later study has demonstrated that portions of J cannot be earlier than the 7th century BCE.[6] Current theories place it in the exilic and/or post-exilic period (6th–5th centuries BCE),[7] but the date and even the existence of J are currently the subject of vigorous discussion.[8].) However, this article estimates the Jahwist to be 950. I suggest that this article include the best estimated dates and some rationale for these dates or at least reference other Wikipedia articles with those dates. Also, the dates in this article should be consistent with the other 4 articles. Further, the dates should be listed near each other (e.g., in a table) so they are easier to find.CreateW (talk) 21:57, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

The dates are of largely historical interest - the current idea is that the DH is incorrect in any case, and that the Torah as we know it was drawn together around 500 BCE. PiCo (talk) 10:05, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
It's good to aim for consistency among the articles. However, if I'm not mistaken, it needs to be done by having the main and the sub articles refer to the same reliable sources. That is, a WP article itself (such as J) cannot be used as a reference in another article (e.g., here). For this article, I think it'd be appropriate to list Wellhausen, due to the historical importance, and then a range of other estimates. Thanks. ProfGray (talk) 23:17, 17 May 2015 (UTC)
Wellhausen never suggested any dates. I think the first estimates are from the mid-20th century - maybe Albright? I'm not sure. I think this article needs substantial revision in any case - the DH is only one of three hypotheses about the origins of the Pentateuch, and presumably we should cover them all. Do you have any suggestions? PiCo (talk) 02:31, 18 May 2015 (UTC)

When is satire 'not appropriate'?[edit]

There is disagreement about the inclusion of reference to scholarly parody of DH. To my mind the source is RS and its inclusion highly appropriate, and reminiscent of though more biting than Cassuto's description of a salami slicing approach to Homeric authorship. Cpsoper (talk) 17:11, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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A mysterious R appears in the diagram accompanying the lead to this article, which appears (looking deep into the article) to stand for "Redactor," the meaning of which is that some editing was done at the three indicated points. There is no mention of the R in the lead, and hardly any explanation of its meaning down below where it appears. I will add R and explain it in the caption. - (talk) 01:41, 28 November 2016 (UTC)