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The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis



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.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

If you like this title be sure to check out the Anchor Yale Reference Library.

Resource Experts
  • Presents a fresh and comprehensive argument for the documentary hypothesis
  • Engages both classic and contemporary scholarship
  • Provides a critical introduction to the history of Pentateuchal scholarship
  • The Documentary Hypothesis
  • Continuity: The J Source
  • Coherence: The E Source
  • Complementarity: The D Source
  • Completeness: The P Source
  • Compilation: The Combining of the Sources

Top Highlights

“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

  • Title: The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis
  • Author: Joel Baden
  • Series: Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Print Publication Date: 2012
  • Logos Release Date: 2014
  • Pages: 392
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bible. O.T. Pentateuch › Criticism, Redaction; Bible. O.T. Pentateuch › Criticism, interpretation, etc; Documentary hypothesis (Pentateuchal criticism)
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-02-11T17:45:59Z

Joel Baden joined the YDS community in the fall of 2007 as an assistant professor of Old Testament. Baden, a specialist in the Pentateuch and Biblical Hebrew, is particularly interested in the issue of Pentateuchal and Deuteronomistic composition and redaction. He is teaching classes in Advanced Biblical Hebrew (prose and poetry), Composition of the Pentateuch, and Methods of Reading the Pentateuch. Baden holds a B.A. in Judaic Studies from Yale University, an M.A. in Northwest Semitics from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Harvard University. When asked if he ever thought that he would return to Yale after earning a bachelor’s degree, Baden says, “Think—not necessarily. Hope—of course. I would think that most Yale undergrads, who generally spend four fantastic years in New Haven, upon making the decision to pursue a life in academia would be looking for just about any excuse to come back ‘home.’†“I’ve had a very easy transition to YDS. Faculty, staff, and students have all made me feel very welcome” Baden continues. “What has impressed me most is the collegiality, both between faculty members and among the students, and the real excitement the student body has for their learning. It’s a rare and valuable characteristic for a graduate school, and it’s refreshing to be a part of.†Baden has presented papers on source criticism and other methods of reading the biblical text, as well as the nature of the priestly strand of the Torah. Currently his dissertation, on the redaction of the Pentateuch, is in the final stages of being transformed into a book. Baden has a number of articles in “various stages between conception and press” he says. Future projects include articles on detailed source-critical treatments of various passages in the Pentateuch, a handbook on the methodology of source criticism, and a study of the differing redactional techniques in the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History. As Baden reflects on his place in the YDS community, he says, “I see myself as an educator first and foremost. In my view, that title comprises both classroom teaching and mentoring.â€


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  1. Reuven Milles

    Reuven Milles