Alice C. Linsley
The Documentary Hypothesis put forth by J. Wellhausen (1895) was largely accepted in academic circles for most of the 20th century. According to this hypothesis the five books of Moses were created c. 450 BC by combining four originally independent sources: the Jehovist, or J (c. 900 BC), the Elohist, or E (c. 800 BC), the Deuteronomist, or D, (c. 600 BC), and the Priestly source, or P (c. 500 BC). However, no manuscript evidence of these documents has ever been discovered and there are no ancient Jewish commentaries that mention any of these documents or sources.
In my view there is only one source: the Horite ruler-priests. This royal caste included Methuselah, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and David. Their ancestors were Nilo-Saharans and the oldest layers of Genesis and Exodus reflect that older cultural context. The documentary theory served to obscure the cultural uniformity of Abraham's ancestors and his descendants up to the time of the Babylonian captivity.
Today many question the usefulness of the documentary theory. It is not helpful in an anthropological approach to the Bible. Another rebuttal comes from Yehuda T. Radday who designed a statistical study of the Documentary Hypothesis. Using computer-assisted statistical linguistics, his research team produced an interpretation of the authorship of Genesis. The team did not find statistical validity for the attribution of the book to J, E, and P. Instead, the evidence calls for a division of the book into three categories: divine speech, human speech, and the narrator. The book provides much of the mathematical material on which the conclusions are based.
In Genesis: An Authorship Study in Computer-Assisted Statistical Linguistics (Analecta Biblica No. 903, Vol. 20) Radday explains:
Biblical scholarship in the nineteenth century, and until quite recently, concentrated either on Lower Criticism, i.e. reconstructing an allegedly corrupt Massoretic text, or on Higher Criticism, i.e. differentiating the sources from which the Massoretic text was thought to be composed. Lower Criticism, as it would be, finds little need to attend to matters of structure, while Higher Criticism, which takes any repetition in the flow of a narrative as evidence of separate source materials, is by definition bound to overlook the very essence of chiasm, namely the fact that such repetitions may have been employed in a given composition as an intentional stylistic device. The result, in the final analysis, is that both approaches, and indeed the somewhat myopic scholarly fixation on detailed and minute analysis generally, can combine to preclude even the most dedicated scholar from perceiving the overall structure of many compositions which reveals the presence of chiasm in longer passages and entire books.
But scholarly attitudes are changing. The general attitude toward biblical exegesis has become less text-critical, especially as the discoveries of Ugaritic and Essene literatures frequently sustain the Massoretic text against its major detractors. Furthermore, disillusionment with the crass rationalism of the last century has brought about a more cautious posture vis-î-vis ancient literatures than the confident attitudes which spawned much of Higher Criticism. These changes in the intellectual climate have slowly enabled scholars to agree that several techniques other than the naturalistic manner of telling a tale may exist in the Bible.
Unfortunately, the Genesis King Lists were not part of the team's analysis. In my opinion, this necessarily skews the results. It is through analysis of the marriage and ascendancy pattern of the Horite rulers that we find them to be kinsmen who share a common worldview and a common expectation of a deified ruler or "son" of the Creator.
Related reading: Dating the Books Of Moses Against the Documentary Hypothesis; The Documentary Hypothesis; The Horite Ancestry of Jesus Christ; The Genesis Record of Horite Rule; The Urheimat of the Canaanite Y; Mother and Son Pierced: A Picture of Intimacy