Argument Against Mosaic Authorship : J.E.D.P theory (Documentary hypothesis)

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Argument against mosaic authorship are classfied into classes, and sub chases, one of the fore-frontal argument is that of the Documentary hypothesis which include :  J.E.D.P and some other theory

 Documentary Hypothesis under which we have the J.E.D.P theory: According to this theory, the Pentateuch was formed by the Israel nation after the fact to justify, shape or explain their customs and religion. Wellhausen and others, trusting in the theory of progress and evolution, believed that Moses would have been too primitive to have written the Pentateuch as he could not have believed in only one God as suggested in the Torah, and probably did not even know how to write.

J.E.D.P. Theory

Many scholars have come up with several theories as to whether or not Moses actually wrote the Pentateuch. However, several scholars have written to counter the claim to mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. To this effect, the documentary hypothesis arose and several scholars’ such as Jean Astruc, a French medical doctor (1684-1766), J.G. Eichhorn (1752-1827), K. Graf (1815-1869), Julius Wellhausens

(1844-1918) among others have come up with different claims using the documentary hypothesis to antagonize the view of mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.

However, the J.E.D.P seeks to understand the authorship of the Pentateuch in the light of the documentary hypothesis. This theory states that the first five books were not entirely written by Moses who died in the 1400s BC, but by different authors and compilers after Moses and was later edited and arranged by the redactor and so this anonymous redactor was made the scape goat of all errors in the Pentateuch.


According to Jean Astruc, Moses used existing oral or written sources in constructing Genesis by analyzing.

  • The use of different names for God an author would not often use different names for God; the name “Elohim” and “Yahweh” occurring simultaneously.
  • Stylistic/ Linguistic differences
  • Use of different patterns.

All these facts acclaims that Moses could not have being the author of the Pentateuch, as a single author would have stuck to one name, style, and linguistic or use them interchangeably and not simultaneously.

The J.E.D.P theory however supports four authors or Moseses of the Pentateuch. This is called the J.E.D.P document. These documents also claimed that the Pentateuch was likely compiled by Ezra in the 4th century BC. The theory was thus, developed in the 18th& 19th century in an attempt to reconcile the inconsistency in the Bible. They are popularly known as the yahwehistic tradition.

J – The J document was dated 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.

E – The E which is attributed as anthropomorphic description of Yahweh, personal visits from Yahweh and the use of a personal name prior to the Jahwist source.

This document however presents Israel as Yahweh’s own people, which he brought into being, protected and settled in the land of Canaan.

D – This refers to the Deuteronomy book that was presumed to have been found in the temple at the time of Josiah’s reform after the exile.

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P– P document refers to a priestly code. It is marked by its dignified style, orderly arrangement of the creation story, and its fondness for exact details in numbers and dates.

Support for Documentary Hypothesis

  1. The use of different names for God indicates different authors or sources.
  2. The last chapter of Deuteronomy (31) which records Moses death is also used by the critics of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch to support the fact that Moses would have written the Pentateuch.
  3. The repetition of stories, such as the issue of Abraham lying twice about Sarah being his sister, (Gen.12 & Gen. 20). It is also used to support the fact that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch, as he would have seen the error and harmonized it.
  4. It was also argued that the use of Aramaic words and grammatical forms in some parts of the Pentateuch shows that they must have been written in an age after Israel returned from exile.
  5. Anthropological and archeological findings and literary findings have proved the fact that writings were not known at the time of Moses and so he could not have written the Pentateuch.
  6. Religion develops from primitive animism (ie. belief in many spirits) up to sophisticated monotheism with an organized priesthood. Thus, many of the theological ideas and laws of the Pentateuch are too advanced for Moses time.
  7. The historical books of the Old Testament do not show Israel following the laws of the Pentateuch, so those laws must have been written much later, and certainly not by Moses.

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