According to the documentary hypothesis, the Elohist (or simply E) is one of four source documents underlying the Torah,together with the Jahwist (or Yahwist), the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. The Elohist is so named because of its pervasive use of the word Elohim to refer to the Israelite god.
The Elohist source is characterized by, among other things, an abstract view of God, using Horeb instead of Sinai for the mountain where Moses received the laws of Israel and the use of the phrase "fear of God".It habitually locates ancestral stories in the north, especially Ephraim, and the documentary hypothesis holds that it must have been composed in that region, possibly in the second half of the 9th century BCE.
Because of its highly fragmentary nature, most scholars now reject the existence of the Elohist source as a coherent independent document.Instead, the E material is viewed as consisting of various fragments of earlier narratives that are incorporated into the Jahwist document.
Modern scholars agree that separate sources and multiple authors underlie the Pentateuch, but there is much disagreement on how these sources were used to write the first five books of the Bible.This documentary hypothesis dominated much of the 20th century, but the 20th-century consensus surrounding this hypothesis has now broken down. Those who uphold it now tend to do so in a highly modified form, giving a much larger role to the redactors (editors), who are now seen as adding much material of their own rather than as simply passive combiners of documents. Among those who reject the documentary approach altogether, the most significant revisions have been to combine E with J as a single source, and to see the Priestly source as a series of editorial revisions to that text.
The alternatives to the documentary approach can be broadly divided between "fragmentary" and "supplementary" theories. Fragmentary hypotheses, seen notably in the work of Rolf Rendtorff and Erhard Blum, see the Pentateuch as growing through the gradual accretion of material into larger and larger blocks before being joined together, first by a Deuteronomic writer,and then by a Priestly writer (6th/5th century), who also added his own material.
The "supplementary" approach is exemplified in the work of John Van Seters, who places the composition of J (which he, unlike the "fragmentists", sees as a complete document) in the 6th century as an introduction to the Deuteronomistic history (the history of Israel that takes up the series of books from Joshua to Kings). The Priestly writers later added their supplements to this, and these expansions continued down to the end of the 4th century BCE. [ page needed ]
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In the E source God's name is always presented as "Elohim" or "El" until the revelation of God's name to Moses, after which God is referred to as יהוה, often represented in English as "YHWH".
E is theorized to have been composed by collecting together the various stories and traditions concerning biblical Israel and its associated tribes (Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin), and the Levites, and weaving them into a single text. It has been argued that it reflects the views of northern refugees who came to Judah after the fall of Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) in 722 BCE.[ citation needed ]
E has a particular fascination for traditions concerning the Kingdom of Israel and its heroes such as Joshua and Joseph. E favors Israel over the Kingdom of Judah (e.g., claiming that Shechem was purchased rather than massacred) and speaks negatively of Aaron (e.g., the story of the golden calf). In particular it records the importance of Ephraim, the tribe from which Jeroboam, the King of Israel, happened to derive.
Some independent source texts thought to have been embedded within the text include the Covenant Code, a legal text used in the Chapters 21–23 of the Book of Exodus.
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The Elohist's story begins after Abram (Abraham) has begun migration, with the wife–sister narrative that is also present in the Jahwist tale.
After that, the first major story about Abram is that of the sacrifice of Isaac. In the Elohist work, Isaac never appears again after the conclusion, and the story strongly implies that Isaac was truly sacrificed. The Jahwist, on the other hand, does not mention this tale of Isaac's sacrifice at all, although he does mention Isaac extensively. When the presumed redactor came to edit together their writings, Isaac's continued presence would thus need to be explained. The text attributed to the redactor presents an escape clause, the Lord's allowing Abram to sacrifice a ram in place of his son, allowing Isaac to live. But nevertheless, an early tradition recorded in a midrash still preserves a version of the tale in which Isaac was killed.Understandably, given the Elohist's narrative so far, the next tale the Elohist offers brings the chance for Abram to have other children.
While the Jahwist presented an anthropomorphic God who could walk through the Garden of Eden looking for Adam and Eve, the Elohist frequently involves angels. For example, it is the Elohist version of the tale of Jacob's ladder in which there is a ladder of angels with God at the top, leading to Jacob later dedicating the place as Beth-El (House of God), whereas in the Jahwist tale, it is a simple dream in which God is simply above the location, without the ladder or angels. Likewise, the Elohist describes Jacob actually wrestling with God; later, it features the tale of Balaam and his divinely talking donkey, although this is often considered a tale that was accidentally added to the manuscript, as it appears quite unconnected to the rest of the work.[ citation needed ]
Further into the text, the Elohist exhibits a noticeably positive attitude to the main northern tribes—those of Joseph. Unlike the Jahwist, the Elohist contains stories of the political position of the Joseph tribes: the birth of Benjamin, and the pre-eminence of Ephraim. Also, whereas the Jahwist portrays Joseph as the victim of an attempted rape in the tale of Potiphar's wife, which would have been mildly humiliating to the Joseph tribes, the Elohist instead portrays Joseph as an interpreter of dreams—as one who can understand God. This pre-occupation with northern concerns extends to the Elohist explaining the northern cultic object known as the Nehushtan.[ citation needed ]
With regard to the Exodus from Egypt, the Elohist presents a more elaborate tale than the Jahwist. Firstly, the Elohist version expands on the supposed cruelty of the Egyptians by presenting them as asking for difficult work such as bricks without straw.
Secondly, whereas the Jahwist version of the Plagues of Egypt involves Moses acting only as an intercessor to ask God to stop each plague that God has wrought, the Elohist instead presents Moses as threatening the Pharaoh, and then bringing the plague down on the Egyptians himself. To the Elohist, the threat of the Angel of Death (recalled in the holiday of Passover) is enough to cause the Egyptians to chase the Israelites out, whereas the Jahwist presents the Egyptians as reluctantly giving in, and then changing their mind, and chasing after them to bring them back.
Where the Jahwist simply presents its version of the Ten Commandments as the law given by God at Sinai, the Elohist instead presents the more extensive Covenant Code. The Elohist then goes on to deal with how such an extensive code can be used in practice, by using a relative of Moses, Jethro, as a mouthpiece to explain the reason for the appointment of judges. To enforce the code further, the Elohist describes the process of the law code being read out to the people.
Benjamin was the last-born of Jacob's thirteen children, and the second and last son of Rachel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. He was the progenitor of the Israelite Tribe of Benjamin. In the Hebrew Bible unlike Rachel's first son, Joseph, Benjamin was born in Canaan.
The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction of a Yahwistic source made some time in the early Persian period. The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.
The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Bible and describes the Exodus, which includes the Israelites' deliverance from slavery in Egypt through the hand of Yahweh, the revelations at biblical Mount Sinai, and the subsequent "divine indwelling" of God with Israel.
The Book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, is an account of the creation of the world and the origins of the Jewish people.
The Book of Leviticus is the third book of the Torah and of the Old Testament; scholars generally agree that it developed over a long period of time, reaching its present form during the Persian Period between 538-332 BCE.
Torah has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the first five books of the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible. This is commonly known as the Written Torah. It can also mean the continued narrative from all the 24 books, from the Book of Genesis to the end of the Tanakh (Chronicles), and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture, and practice, whether derived from biblical texts or later rabbinic writings. This is often known as the Oral Torah. Common to all these meanings, Torah consists of the origin of Jewish peoplehood: their call into being by God, their trials and tribulations, and their covenant with their God, which involves following a way of life embodied in a set of moral and religious obligations and civil laws.
The documentary hypothesis (DH) is one of the models historically used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah. More recent models include the supplementary hypothesis and the fragmentary hypothesis. All agree that the Torah is not a unified work from a single author, but is made up of sources combined over many centuries by many hands. These models differ on the nature of these sources and how they were combined.
The Tribe of Joseph is one of the Tribes of Israel in biblical tradition. Since Ephraim and Manasseh together traditionally constituted the tribe of Joseph, it was often not listed as one of the tribes, in favour of Ephraim and Manasseh being listed in its place; consequently it was often termed the House of Joseph, to avoid the use of the term tribe. According to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the ensign of both the House of Joseph and the Tribe of Benjamin was the figure of a boy, with the inscription: the cloud of the Lord rested on them until they went forth out of the camp. There were obvious linguistic differences between at least one portion of Joseph and the other Israelite tribes. At the time when Ephraim were at war with the Israelites of Gilead, under the leadership of Jephthah, the pronunciation of shibboleth as sibboleth was considered sufficient evidence to single out individuals from Ephraim, so that they could be subjected to immediate death by the Israelites of Gilead.
The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source. The existence of the Jahwist is somewhat controversial, with a number of scholars, especially in Europe, denying that it ever existed as a coherent independent document. Nevertheless, most scholars do assume its existence, and date its composition to the period of the Babylonian captivity or perhaps somewhat later. The Jahwist is so named because of its characteristic use of the term Yahweh for God.
The Priestly source is perhaps the most widely recognized source underlying the Torah. It is both stylistically and theologically distinct from other material in the Torah, and includes a set of claims that are contradicted by non-Priestly passages and therefore uniquely characteristic: no sacrifice before the institution is ordained by Yahweh (God) at Sinai, the exalted status of Aaron and the priesthood, and the use of the divine title El Shaddai before God reveals his name to Moses, to name a few. In general, the Priestly work is concerned with priestly matters – ritual law, the origins of shrines and rituals, and genealogies – all expressed in a formal, repetitive style. It stresses the rules and rituals of worship, and the crucial role of priests, expanding considerably on the role given to Aaron.
The Ritual Decalogue is a list of laws at Exodus 34:11–26. These laws are similar to the Covenant Code and are followed by the phrase "ten commandments". Although the phrase "Ten Commandments" has traditionally been interpreted as referring to a very different set of laws, in Exodus 20:2–17, many scholars believe it instead refers to the Ritual Decalogue found two verses earlier.
Abraham in History and Tradition is a book by biblical scholar John Van Seters.
John Van Seters is a Canadian scholar of the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Currently University Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina, he was formerly James A. Gray Professor of Biblical Literature at UNC. He took his PhD at Yale University in Near Eastern Studies (1965) and a ThD h.c. from the University of Lausanne (1999). His honours and awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEH fellowship, an ACLS Fellowship, and research fellowships at Oxford, Cambridge, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and National Research Foundation of South Africa. His many publications include The Hyksos: A New Investigation (1966); Abraham in History and Tradition (1975); In Search of History ; The Edited Bible (2006); and The Biblical Saga of King David (2009).
Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels is a book by German biblical scholar and orientalist Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918) that formulated but did not found the documentary hypothesis, a theory on the composition history of the Torah or Pentateuch. Influential and long debated, the volume is often compared for its impact in its field with Charles Darwin's 1859 work, On the Origin of Species.
The Bible with Sources Revealed (2003) is a book by American biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman dealing with the process by which the five books of the Torah or Pentateuch came to be written. Friedman follows the four-source Documentary Hypothesis model, but differs significantly from Julius Wellhausen's model in several respects.
According to the Hebrew Bible, the covenant of the pieces or covenant between the parts was an event in which God revealed himself to Abraham and made a covenant with him, in which God announced to Abraham that his descendants would eventually inherit the Land of Israel. This was the first of a series of covenants made between God and the biblical patriarchs.
Source criticism, in biblical criticism, refers to the attempt to establish the sources used by the authors and redactors of a biblical text.
In biblical studies, the supplementary hypothesis proposes that the Pentateuch was derived from a series of direct additions to an existing corpus of work. It serves as a revision to the earlier documentary hypothesis, which proposed that independent and complete narratives were later combined by redactors to create the Pentateuch.
The primeval history, the name given by biblical scholars to the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, is a story of the first years of the world's existence.
The composition of the Torah was a process that involved multiple authors over an extended period of time. While Jewish tradition holds that all five books were originally written by Moses sometime in the 2nd millennium BCE, by the 17th century leading scholars had rejected Mosaic authorship.
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