The Editorial Team Behind the Bible

Who wrote the first five books of the Bible--and spliced older texts with newer ones?

Richard Elliott Friedman is a leading proponent of the Documentary Hypothesis, which maintains that the the biblical texts traditionally known as the Five Books of Moses are actually the synthesis of many different sources from different time periods. The conclusions drawn in his earlier bestseller "Who Wrote the Bible?" are the basis for his new work, a translation of the Bible's first five books which uses color coding to separate different sources.

In your introduction, you say your work--identifying and separating the different authors of the first five books of the Bible--is not meant to produce faith crises. Obviously, there are people out there with a strong belief about the author of the Bible. What's the role of divine inspiration here?

Some of the earliest Bible scholars who questioned who the authors were said, "Well, it wasn't all one person, it wasn't Moses who wrote the first five books"-even they were pious rabbis, priests, or ministers. Their answer was, "OK, it wasn't Moses who wrote it down, it was other people, but it still came from God." Today, there are religious Jews and Christians who take that same view: it could still be of a divine origin.

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But for others, this is a troubling and unacceptable point of view. They stand by the tradition that it was dictated to Moses by God at Sinai. So, yes, for them this is difficult.

My purpose is to put the evidence in front of everyone so they can argue for it or against it. The purpose is not to hurt. People imagine I'm attacked all the time by fundamentalist Christians and orthodox Jews, but in fact I'm not. We disagree respectfully.

Your new book, The Bible with Sources Revealed, talks about the different authors of the first five books of the Bible. Who are these authors?

The largest main sources are the J and E texts, called that because among the many differences between them, each one has a different idea about when the name of God, Yahweh, became known to humankind.

One of them has the idea that the name "Yahweh" was known from earliest times, and is called J because of the German spelling

Jahwe

(German scholars played a prominent role in working J out).

The other source understands that the name of God was not revealed until very late, at the time of Moses, so God until that time is referred to as God, which in Hebrew is Elohim. That's why it's called E.

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