JEDP Documentary Hypothesis refuted

(Diagram of Documentary Hypothesis, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

RefCath[1], who said he is Catholic and Reformed, responded to one of my posts on the topic of “the Documentary Hypothesis” (DH) on Christian Forums. He wrote:

the DH is an hypothesis attempting to explain the development of the biblical text taking into account specific textual phenomena. For example, in Genesis 6-9 there does seem to be two stories having been combined. However, the traditional DH has been challenged and indeed very few biblical scholars adhere to it. Whybray offers a substantial critique of the DH however his solution is radical, like John Van Seters. Personally I’d go with Christoph Levin or David Carr. Farewell to the Yahwist?: The Composition of the Pentateuch in Recent European Interpretation is an excellent read.

This is my response (I’m OzSpen):

This JEDP overview and brief refutation makes some valid points against the JEDP Hypothesis, “The J.E.D.P. Theory: An Explanation and Refutation” by Brian Davis of Xenos Fellowship.[2] JEDP is designed by those who want to deny the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and I will not support such a view.

I have a higher view of Jesus Christ than the JEDP folks seem to have, in my support of Mosaic authorship. Mr Miller wrote on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch:

Livingstone summarizes the external evidence in PCE: 218-219:

“The term ‘the book of Moses,’ found in II Chronicles 25:4; 35:12; Ezra 3:2; 6:18; and Nehemiah 8:1; 13:1, surely included the Book of Genesis and also testifies to a belief in Israelite circles in the fifth century B.C. that all five of the books were the work of Moses. Ben Sira (Ecclus. 24:23), Philo, Josephus, and the authors of the Gospels held that Moses was intimately related to the Pentateuch. Philo and Josephus even explicitly said that Moses wrote Deuteronomy 34:5-12. Other writers of the New Testament tie the Pentateuch to Moses. The Jewish Talmud asserts that whoever denied Mosaic authorship would be excluded from Paradise.”

To this may be added the explicit statements of Jesus:

· Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matt 8.4)

· For Moses said, `Honor your father and your mother,’ and, `Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ (Mark 7.10)

· “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied. (Mark 10.5)

· Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? (Mark 12.26)

· “He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'” (Luke 16.31)

· He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” (Luke 24.44)

· Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3.14)

· If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5.46f)

· 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” (John 7.19)

· Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. 22 Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. 23 Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? 24 Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7.21ff)

Thus, the external evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of Mosaic authorship of the core substance (and most of the form) of the Pentateuch.

We have seen that the internal evidence for the antiquity of the Pentateuchal materials is exceedingly abundant, and that the external witness to Mosaic authority is virtually unanimous and very early. The main residual challenges to Mosaic authorship are in supposed historical inaccuracies (e.g. domestication of the camel), which I cannot go into now, but will later. The vast array of KNOWN historical points of validation, however, should engender a sense of humility in us, before judging this surprisingly accurate text as being in error!

Mr Miller was responding to an objector in ‘Was the Pentateuch “adulterated” by later additions?“’


[1] #48, available at: (Accessed 1 January 2012).

[2] When I updated this current writing on 22 February 2015, this article was no longer available online.


Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.