For over two centuries, the question of the composition of the Pentateuch has been among the most central and hotly debated issues in biblical studies. In this book, Joel Baden presents a fresh and comprehensive argument for the documentary hypothesis. Critically engaging both classic and contemporary scholarship, he fundamentally revises and reorients the documentary hypothesis. Interweaving historical and methodological chapters with detailed textual case studies, Baden provides a critical introduction to the history of Pentateuchal scholarship, discussions on the most pressing issues in the current debate, and a practical model for studying the biblical text.
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“Thus each one begins with the assumption that a text is unified until shown to be otherwise and continues with the analysis through the disentanglement of the sources.” (Page 33)
“The Documentary Hypothesis is the attempt to understand how the text came to be the way it is, to wit: problematic, and in parts incoherent.” (Page 12)
“that all of the sources basically told the same story” (Page 247)
“When the Pentateuch is read with a careful eye toward the narrative inconsistencies and continuities alike, the individual fragments coalesce into four strands or sources, each of which is internally consistent, and markedly distinct, in its historical claims. Furthermore, each of these sources is recognizable as an independently composed text—a document that once stood on its own, only later to be incorporated with the others. The original independence of the documents is to be seen in the coherence, continuity, and completeness of each (see further chapters 2, 3, and 4). This claim—four originally independent documents that have been subsequently combined and interwoven—is the central assertion of the Documentary Hypothesis.” (Page 20)
“The Documentary Hypothesis must be recognized for what it is: a hypothesis. It is a proposed literary solution to the literary problems of the Pentateuch, no more, no less. It does not purport to date the texts or to be the key to the history of Israelite religion. It does not intend to address the issue of the oral transmission of Israelite traditions or the combination thereof. It is only an attempt to understand how the book we call the Pentateuch came to look the way that it does.” (Page 32)
A 'must' for all theological libraries.
—International Review of Biblical Studies
An accessible defense of the documentary hypothesis by one of its leading proponents. Baden lays out the arguments of the theory in a clear manner, engaging in critical dialogue with alternate approaches while retaining the traditional source model in a refined manner. A book for students and scholars who are interested in the ongoing debates surrounding the most important part of the Hebrew Bible.
—Konrad Schmid, professor, University of Zürich & Center of Theological Inquiry
A truly significant and must-read contribution to the study of the Pentateuch. Fully conversant with alternative models, it offers compelling new evidence and a refined methodology arguing that a documentary hypothesis is the most viable explanation for literary and conceptual variety found in the Pentateuch.
—David P. Wright, professor of Bible and the ancient Near East, Brandeis University