Torah - Wellhausen/JEDP Theory  

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Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy were believed to have been written by Moses, up until 1883.

In 1883, the efforts of leading German and French scholars in the field of scientific biblical scholarship discovered textual patterns in the Old Testament Bible. This discovery led to the JEDP Theory (or "Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis") that established the possibility of several 'independent' source writings, later edited ('redacted') to produce a single document, the Torah.

Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) was a German biblical scholar and orientalist who set the chronological order of the independent sources as J, E, D and P with reference to the evolving religious history of Israel, which he saw as one of ever-increasing priestly power.
W Julius_Wellhausen

JEDP Theory (or "Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis")
The Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy is not a unified work from a single author (Moses) but is made up of independent writings combined over many centuries by many editors ('redactors'). Wellhausen contributed little that was new, but sifted and combined the previous scholarship works into a coherent, comprehensive theory on the origins of the Torah and of Judaism. One so persuasive that it dominated scholarly debate on the subject ever since.
W Documentary_hypothesis
JEDP Theory / 'Graf-Wellhausen'

Exodus (50%)
Genesis (50%)
Numbers (minor)
Exodus (50%)
Genesis (33%)
Numbers (minor)
Deuteronomy (most) Leviticus (most)
Genesis (20%)
Exodus (minor)
Numbers (minor)

950-920 BCE

United Monarcy

A Judean Source written during the United Monarcy period (1030-920 BCE).

Written in the South, just before the South split from the North in 922 BC.

Interest in territory of the Kingdom of Judah, and individuals connected with its history.
870-840 BCE

North-South Divide

Written in the North at the time when the North broke away from South (870-840 BCE).
650-620 BCE

Josiah's Reform

Writing reflects literary style/ theology prevalent at the time of Josiah's reform (621 BCE).
550-520 BCE

Babylonian Exile

After the fall of Jerusalem (587 BCE), Israelite priests were exiled in Babylon.

Southern Kingdom
of Judah

Capital: Jerusalem

Text contains Southern geographical references and propoganda i.e. David's line
Northern Kingdom
of Israel

Capital: Samaria (Shomron)

Northern tribes and Ephraim, so its suppoused it was.

Prophet over King (Northern concern then)

During a period of religious reform.

May have originated in the Northern Kingdom

Jewish priests were exiled in Babylon.

Writing at a time of great loneliness and despair; God far away.
NAME Yahweh

Elohim used until Exodus 3-6;
a human-like God

Yahweh used after Exodus 3 (burning bush incident) when Elohim reveals himself as Yahweh
Yahweh Elohim
El Shaddai
Other El combinations
PERSONALITY Anthropomorphic

Yahweh walks and talks. He makes personal visits.
Less Anthropomorphic

Elohim speaks through dreams, prophets and angels; not personal appearances.

Elohim is remote, distant, and unmerciful. He appears on a quest for glory.

  • Vivid concrete
  • Elegant descriptive vocabulary
  • Rich narrative, long stories or epics
  • Abstract
  • Less eloquent
  • Distinct language
  • Reflects later composition
  • Precise
  • Dry legalistic language
      Ephraimitic Tribe

    Someone from Tribe of Ephraim or a North Israelite source
    Josiah's Reform

    Reflects style and religious attitudes of Josiah's reform (c.621)


    A literary corpus, marked by the style and cultic interests of the priestly circle of Jerusalem

    Israelite priests retrieved, revised and 'redacted' Torah text
    KEY POINTS Southern Propoganda

    Ancient stories i.e. Creation of mankind, flood, Babel etc.

    Yahweh close to His people

  • Interactions with man (cultic approach)
  • Sin & punishment i.e. Sodom Gomorrah
  • Human mortality
  • Sibling rivalry
  • Man & earth
  • Northern Focus

    Elohim is distant and away from His people.

    Kingdom of Israel and on Shiloh priesthood.

  • "Fearing" Elohim
  • Moral & ethical living
  • Law & righteousness
  • Religious aspects of prayer/sacrifice
  • Revelation in visions and dreams
  • Yahweh's favours

    God's love dominates Israel's history and law.

  • How Yahweh blessed his people
  • Obedience to law of Moses
  • Obedience to Covenant

    Priestly concerns, legal and cultic aspects

    Lists of genealogies, dates, numbers and laws.

  • Rituals: Sabbath, circumcision, sacrifice, worship, temple, dietary law, tabernacle
  • MOUNT SINAI Place of Mosaic covenant. Emphasis on term 'Sinai' Horeb is mountain where covenant takes place Idea of a central sanctuary
    Holy mountain
    COVENANT Mosaic

    Abrahamic promise of land, descendants and blessing
    Exodus 24 ceremony

    Establishment of the tent of meeting

    Israel's rebellion at Sinai with worship of the golden calf
      Sabbath and circumcision
    ISRAEL Israel's faith in Yahweh and their leaders Explicitly religious: to be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation"   Elohim grants his presence to the people "who know his name."

    Israel's role in salvation
    PEOPLE Moses father-in-law is Reuel Begins story with Abraham Some connections to E; Horeb, prophecy. Normally starts with "These are the generations"
        Fragmentary texts
    Often combined with J, to create J+E
    Possibly referenced in 2 Kings 22:8. The "book of the law" found by King Josiah in the Temple in Jerusalem (621 BC)

    Some scholars believe 'D' is an independent text
    Some scholars believe P is a redactor (revision of pre-existing texts)

    Others believe 'P' shows signs of a seperate, independent text

    In Islam, Moses received the 'Oral' Torah
    Islam teaches that Moses received the Torah from God. This was an 'oral transmission' from God through the Angel Gabrial to Moses. Today, the Torah is presented in a written book format. This is a corrupted version of the original Oral Torah. The JEDP Theory (or "Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis") supports the Islamic position on Biblical corruption.

    Maurice Bucaille
    Maurice Bucaille (d. 1998), a Muslim scholar supported Documentary Hypothesis (DH)
    Maurice Bucaille (1920-1998), a French medical doctor, author, convert and scholar of Islam. Bucaille writes the Old Testament has been distorted due to the numerous translations and corrections, as it was transmitted orally. Bucaille argued for biblical criticism, including the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) and JEDP Theory.
    W Maurice_Bucaille
      Bucaille on Documentary Hypothesis

      Explanation on Documentary Hypothesis (DH)
    563 views · 15 hrs ago |   Author: Guest   •   Updated: 14 Jan 2019

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