Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Historical Timelines of Bible Translations & Biblical Texts

Section 1 - KJV Timeline

Section 2 - Functional Correspondence of Bible Translations

Section 3 - Historical Timelines of OT & NT Texts

Section 1
KJV Timeline
Adapted from the blog of "Parchment and Pen"

Many of you know this is the 400 year celebration of the King James Bible. Here’s a timeline of the people, places and events that led up to and include the publication of this great English Bible.

130 B.C.The Hebrew language stops being used by the masses. Only the highly educated can read the Old Testament in Hebrew. The first major Bible translation is done. The Old Testament is translated into the language of the day, Greek. This translation is called, “The Septuagint.” This is the Bible most in the first century probably read, including Jesus.

90’s A.D. – The last book of the New Testament, Revelation, is completed by John on the island of Patmos. The Old and New Testament are now complete.

100-382 A.D. – The Gospel spreads like wild fire throughout the known world. These people all need the Bible. Hand-written copies of the New Testament in Greek are produced all over the world to try to keep up with all the new followers of Christ. Over 20,000 of these copies exist to this day.

382-1500 A.D.The known world eventually stops using the Greek language in favor of Latin. Jerome translates the entire Bible into Latin, it is known as the Vulgate. The Vulgate is the all-time most used Bible translation in human history. Used more than the original Greek and the King James Version.

700 A.D. – The Psalms and some of the Gospels are the first to be translated in a new language called English.

735 A.D. – On the day he died a man named Venerable Bede finishes the first complete translation of a New Testament book into English (the book of John).

1384 A.D.John Wycliffe, a theology professor at Oxford, is fired for believing the Bible rather than the Pope is our ultimate authority. Because of this conviction Wycliffe and his followers produced the first complete Bible in English. Wycliffe died of a stroke the same year his Bible was completed. The Wycliffe Bible is a translation from the Latin Vulgate [and is thus, a translation of a translation.]

Associates of Wycliffe, after his death, finish his translation. The Church at the time said only the priests can rightly interpret the Bible so it was illegal to have the Bible in a language other than Latin. Many of Wycliffe’s associates were burned at the stake with their English translations tied around their necks.

1408 A.D. – A law is passed in England banning the translation of the Bible into English.

1428 A.D. – 44 years after Wycliffe died his bones were exhumed and burned for having translated the Bible into English (they were really, really mad).

1440 A.D.Johannes Gutenberg invents the Printing Press. It is no longer necessary to make hand-written copies of the Bible.

October 31st, 1517 – A young Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther challenges the church hierarchy of his day, like Wycliffe, by nailing his 95 theses to the church doors in Wittenberg, Germany. This act sparks the Protestant Reformation.

Part of the reformation passion is allowing every person to read the Bible in their own language. Martin Luther translates the Bible into German for his country.

1525 William Tyndale, educated at Oxford and Cambridge and fluent in at least 6 languages including ancient Hebrew and Greek, completes a translation of the New Testament into English. He flees England to complete his translation in the more friendly protestant land of Germany. This is the first English translation of the New Testament produced from the original Greek.

1536 – Tyndale famously says he wishes a plowboy to know as much about God as the Pope. Tyndale is burned at the stake for translating the Bible into English. His dying words are, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” Tyndale’s translation was so good 90% of it would reappear in the King James Version (the King of England’s Version).

1539 – An English translation called The Great Bible appears to try to give churches at least one English Bible in their possession. It is named Great because of its very large size.

1560 – The Geneva Bible becomes the first English Bible where the entire Bible (not just the New Testament) is translated from the original Greek AND Hebrew. It is also the first translation done by a committee of people.

At the end of the 1500’s England was torn between two Bible translations. Most people used the Geneva Bible but the clergy felt it was below them to use the commoners Geneva Bible. A solution was needed.

1603 - Queen Elizabeth dies and King James VI, who had ruled Scotland for 37 years, becomes King James I of England.

1604 - King James summons the religious leaders of England together to settle on a common English translation that can be used by both clergy and the masses. 47 men stationed at Oxford, Cambridge and Westminster Abbey worked on the translation from original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. The translators, additionally, relied heavily on the Tyndale and Geneva Bibles. Nearly 90% of Tyndale’s New Testament translation was used in the King James Version.

1611 - The King James Version, known in England as the Authorized Version, is published for the first time. The purpose of the translators was not to make an entirely new translation of the Bible but, “to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one.”

1660’s: The King James Bible is not immediately a success. It takes 50 years for the King James to surpass the Geneva Bible as the English Bible used by most people [mostly because of the many syntax errors found; once removed the public became more accepting].

The King James Version has endured the test of time. It has been referred to as, “the single greatest monument to the English language.” What makes the King James so good? In one word, elegance. It is not the most accurate, but it is the most beautiful. [The literal versions of NASB and ESV are the more accurate; then there is the popular dynamic equivalency versions like the NIV; and lastly, the very liberal translations of paraphrased bibles like the Living Bible].

Since 1611 the KJV has been “fixed” about 100,000 times to give us the translation of the KJV we have today. Almost all of these “fixes” are minor spelling and punctuation changes.

It is impossible to gauge how many King James Bibles have been sold; estimates are simply in the hundreds of millions [and thus surpassing the once popular medival edition of the Latin Vulgate bible]. The King James will be the leading English Bible translation for more than 300 years until being surpassed in the late 1900’s by the New International Version (NIV).

*additional comments made by RE Slater

Section 2


(Click on Picture to Expand to a Series of Gallery Views)

A Comment Concerning the Preference for Using Literal Translations of the Bible
by Kyle Roberts
September 21, 2011
Difficulties in Translating the Bible: ESV Video Session -

"Wayne Grudem’s rationale [for a literal bible] stood out for me, because he has said things like:
I cannot teach theology or ethics from a dynamic equivalent Bible. I tried the NIV for one semester, and I gave it up after a few weeks. Time and again I would try to use a verse to make a point and find that the specific detail I was looking for, a detail of wording that I knew was there in the original Hebrew or Greek, was missing from the verse in the NIV.

Nor can I preach from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would end up explaining in verse after verse that the words on the page are not really what the Bible says, and the whole experience would be confusing and would lead people to distrust the Bible in English.

Nor would I want to memorize passages from a dynamic equivalent translation. I would be fixing in my brain verses that were partly God’s words and partly some added ideas, and I would be leaving out of my brain some words that belonged to those verses as God inspired them but were simply missing from the dynamic equivalent translation.

“But I could readily use any essentially literal translation to teach, study, preach from, and memorize.”

The Process of Interpreting the Bible for Contemporary
Teaching, Worship, and Ministry

by R.E. Slater
September 28, 2011

examination -->
                         textual redaction -->
                                                          translation -->
                                                                                 exposition -->
                                                                                                       relevancy (personal / societal)

"...It is a difficult task to interpret the Bible requiring knowledge in hermeneutics, epistemology  (languages, symbolism), theology (both biblical and systematic), philosophy, ancient textual sources and archaelogy, church history (the early Church Fathers, relevant Contemporary Theologians, etc), and a reasonable awareness of the practical concerns of life. While discerning various ecclesiastical interpretations favored by denominational traditions and preferences as well as redacting and elucidating corporate and individual regional-understandings.
And then, over and above all this, to be able to speak street-wise to those around you in a personally directive, challenging, encouraging and motivating fashion offering hope, love, counsel, compassion and assistance. There's a lot more to speaking the gospel than simply speaking one's mind and biases, prejudices and judgments in cliche-like wisdoms bundled in cultural fluff and folklored-proverbs based upon popular hearsay and loudly acclaimed rhetoric."

Section 3
(Click on Picture to Expand to a Series of Gallery Views )




The Continuing Balance Between Holism and Accuracy
[Extracted from an earlier submission]
R.E. Slater
December 1, 2011

The following JEDP discussion (below) must be broached if only to show that God's revelation through Abraham and Moses, and Israel's later tribes and monarchies, was as complex a process as can be imagined. A process that endured the split of the monarchy into two separate kingdoms with their own separate traditions and beliefs. And later, two separate exiles (one for each kingdom) into foreign pagan countries which only added to the complexity of the textual/source transmission problem of Israel and Judah's epistemologies and culture.
During that time much of Israel's 1st Temple period traditions were lost due as much to their own negligence and nonobservance as to the massive exiles suffered by both the Northern and Southern tribes on separate occasions. Later, under Ezra (and others) the ancient institutions of Abraham and Moses were reconstructed and re-instated during the 2nd Temple restoration period. Many schismatic groups arose during this time, each perceiving some element, or other, of significance necessary to the preservation of their perceived traditions. (As example, John the Baptist's own Essene movement in the NT would be an instance of one of those of groups).
This early "redactionary" effort lasted from the 2nd Temple period into the InterTestamental period, and then through the time of the New Testament, until AD 200. It felt incomplete (as witnessed to by the many sectarian groups that arose in disagreement with one another) and was not standardized by any officiating priestly bodies as observed during Jesus' day of the early 1st century. Here we have the start of incipient (very early) "Rabbinicized" thought occurring in its incomplete construction of a Jewish "orthodoxy" as they debated each other - as demonstrated with Jesus and His disciples - over lost Mosaic traditions. Including their ancient Jewish culture which has already been said to have been lost due to the Israelite and Judaistic tribes nonobservance of their traditions, and because of the displacement of each disobedient tribe from beyond the "Holy Land of their birth."
[Please permit me an aside: ...Interestingly, "Holy Land of birth..." is a problem that continues to this day. One that falls under the Semitic idea of "birthright and inheritance." Rather than learning to live together as blended cultures (regardless of one's location on this planet) we as humans must discriminate and empower our un-loving actions towards other groups different from ourselves, as rights of fiat and control over "competing groups" to our own sociological group. In this case, the Jews have elevated their rights over-and-above their Palestinian, and later, Muslim neighbors. Each struggling with the other for land rights, political recognition, and safety - though the same could be said of any country around the world that has competing groups within, or outside, their borders (America not excluded). Each struggling for ascendancy over the other rather than cooperating with each other and using their cultural differences as added strengths to their continuing blended corporate identities rather than as detracting causes for separation and disharmony.]
Much later, in the late 2nd century, around AD 200, the Rabbinic tradition was codified having established the Torah with its separately perceived Jewish traditions that is observed by conservative Jewish worshippers of today some 2000 years later (again having morphed and endured millenia's of exile and cultural assimilations throughout Europe and the Middle East from the early centuries to the middle ages to today). This codification / ratification process was probably necessary due to the very popular reaction of regional Jews to the Jewish-Christian spread of the Gospel. As well as to its early influences within the early Jewish-Messianic church itself that had arisen in popular acceptance of Jesus radical teachings to the perceived notions of early Rabbinicism's Mosaic understanding of God, the Mosaic law and grace, mission, ministry and life. Meaning that, even in Rabbinicism's early days Jesus had told the Pharisees and Scribes that their perceptions of God, God's law, their faith and worship - even how they went about reducing their dogmatic perceptions into their culture - was misguided. Focusing on the rules of religion rather than the God of their religion. Jesus rebuked the religious bodies time-and-again for guiding their flocks into religious legalism and austerities rather than into the grace and life of His Father's Gospel.
And lest we Christians think we're "off the hook" here it is Emergent Christianity's observation that whether Emergent, Denominationally Progressive, Evangelic - or whatever Christian group that we prefer to be affiliated with - these attitudes still persist today. We have taken the Gospel of Jesus and have usurped God's love and grace into rules, rules, and more rules. Rules that appeal to our self-righteousness. Rules that appeal to our pride. Our legalisms. The old man of our flesh. The deceits of our hearts. The lies of our tongues. And the blindness of our eyes. We have missed the simplicity of God's Gospel in Christ by making a "religion" out of it rather than a "life" out of it. God did not intend His grace and love to be hard. Its as clear as personal sacrifice. Personal service. And personal sharing. To follow Jesus' example is to follow a life that is selfless, giving and transparent. Its no harder than that. Our faith should be living. And it should be living-out God's love and grace to one another. Not systematized. Not legalised. Not legitimized. Not worship'ized. Not dogmatized. Not.... anything! Jesus is the ground zero of the Christian example. His atoning life, death and resurrection gives our faith its reality and energy. We are His disciples and follow Him in obedience as His disciples. It is no harder than that. And it is as simple as that despite all that we would do to confuse and muck-up the purity of God's love and grace by our more human interpretations and demonstrations of "service, worship, love and duty."
And so then, I'm sharing below the JEDP effort of source criticism more to show how difficult it was to preserve both the oral and written traditions over millenias of religious tradition, personal interpretive preference, understanding and constitution when it was especially misunderstood and neglected even in its earliest years before tribal feuding began in political earnest. Through the books of Joshua, Judges and Samuel alone we see disruptions of faith occurring through simple inobservance and education of their faith, let alone the local and regional wars that dissembled their collective knowledge and process of learning. Prophets came and they went decrying Israel's lack of attention to Torah and worship of YHWH. They were ignored or killed. Making us ask, just what are we attempting to "collect" in our eternal pursuit for the original autographs of the Word of God - even amongst Israel's earliest histories of political formation?! For it seems that what we can collect is only what's left to collect. Which is Israel's own history of understanding her ancient God through the millenniums of her struggle to apprehend the divine. A collective knowledge that perhaps presented together can lead today's postmodern church to hearing Jesus' words more clearly than through our own creeds and confessions and church traditions built up over similar millenias of inobservance and misapprehension.
So that when we speak of God's "Word" our only credible evaluation of it now must be through Jesus and His disciples as they understood and interpreted the much older Abrahamic and Mosaic faith which had been lost and gathered-in as much as it was possible after Israel's return from their Babylonian exile. Verily, traditions and cultures by their nature can (and will) be lost due to time's ravages and the human psyche's perchance for selective memory. But the salvific truths of God's love and grace endures however they are passed on to the next generations for all time. And this is the nub of our observations here. It's not in the lost details that we wish to re-discover and interpret, but in the plain evidences that we still know - and have preserved right before us - that actually are the remaining legacies of Israel's ancient faith. That God is actively involved in His people's lives to preserve and protect their living faith so that it may be shared with their friends and enemies alike. A faith important enough to be shared of God's love and forgiveness to all men and women everywhere. What has been lost has been lost. And in a sense is not necessary to recover because of the larger thematic themes left before us. But in another sense if recovered will show the durability of those salient themes in ages past of God's patient love, willing forgiveness, austere holiness requiring atonement, the necessity of redemption, of belief, of faithfulness, of mercy, wisdom and good judgment shown to ourselves and to our neighbors around us.
And it is these elements that are the rockbeds of faith's persistence. Not how long a priestly skirt should be. Or where a temple vessel should be properly placed. Or how many times one bows to the East or to the West to praise God. Those are man's weak cultic attempts to appease his legalistic spirit and sin's blinded prevarications of religious division and pride. God has given to us the freedom to worship Him within the infinite totalitarity of our enterprising human spirit and boundlessly creative imaginations. He is neither less pleased, nor more pleased, with our efforts to grasp and live His love and grace, truth and Spirit. It is for us to follow, obey, worship, and behold the splendor of His creation. From its many forms of suffering to its many forms of delight. We do not need to muck-it up with the overburden of our guilts and ignorance.
So that regardless of cultural proscriptions and approbations - including those ancient Jewish customs of yesteryear, or today's more recent heritage of Gentile/church traditions - all men everywhere may enter into the Kingdom of God without cultic formality except by the blood of the Lamb and the holy breath of the Spirit of God! It is not important whether we worship God as a Jew or as a Gentile, with bells on our dress and headpieces on our bearded heads - or shaved heads for that matter! What God is looking for is our heart's devotion - whether it has been circumcised in Christ and betrothed to the Cross of Christ. For it is in the heart that our worship ultimately lies. Not the color of our skin. Nor the traditions we observe. Nor how worn our knees are from following the religious traditions of our church's prescripts and liturgies. For the Kingdom of God is trans-national, trans-cultural, trans-temporal in all of its behaviors and inclinations. God is our birthright. He is our inheritance. And it is all made possible through Christ Jesus His Son until He comes again in the renewal of all things at some future day of final resurrection and infinite grace. 

The JEDP Old Testament
Documentary Hypothesis

The documentary hypothesis (DH) (sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis), holds that the Pentateuch (the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors). The number of these is usually set at four, but this is not an essential part of the hypothesis.
Diagram of the Documentary Hypothesis.
         *includes most of Leviticus
            †includes most of Deuteronomy
            ‡"Deuteronomic history": Joshua,
Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings

The documentary hypothesis assumes that the text of the Torah as preserved can be divided into identifiable sources that predate its compilations by centuries, the Jahwist (J) source being the oldest, dating to as early as the 10th century BC, along with the Elohist (E), the Deuteronomist (D), and the Priestly source (P), dating to the 8th to 6th centuries. The final compilation of the extant text is dated to either the 6th or 5th century BC.

In an attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in the biblical text, and refusing to accept traditional explanations to harmonize them, 18th and 19th century biblical scholars using source criticism eventually arrived at the theory that the Torah was composed of selections woven together from several, at times inconsistent, sources, each originally a complete and independent document. The hypothesis developed slowly over the course of the 19th century, by the end of which it was generally agreed that there were four main sources, combined into their final form by a series of redactors, R. These four sources came to be known as the Yahwist, or Jahwist, J (J being the German equivalent of the English letter Y); the Elohist, E; the Deuteronomist, D, (the name comes from the Book of Deuteronomy, D's contribution to the Torah); and the Priestly Writer, P.

Julius Wellhausen's contribution was to order these sources chronologically as JEDP, giving them a coherent setting in the evolving religious history of Israel, which he saw as one of ever-increasing priestly power. Wellhausen's formulation was:

While the hypothesis dominated biblical scholarship for much of the 20th century, it has been increasingly challenged by other models in the last part of the 20th century. Its terminology and insights continue to provide the framework for some modern theories on the origins of the Torah. 

History of the Canonization of the OT

Theorized Transmission of OT Text based upon ancient JEDP Sources:
From the Judahistic (Yahwehistic), Israelite (Elohim/Elohist), Deuteronomic, and Priestly traditions.
Then proceeding from Redactors JE, to JED, to JEDP, and finally canonized into the today Torah.

[continuing from Wikipedia]

After Wellhausen

Distribution of materials of Jahwist, Elohist and Priestly sources,
 as well as Redactor's contribution in the first four books,
following Richard Friedman.
For much of the 20th century Wellhausen's hypothesis formed the framework within which the origins of the Pentateuch were discussed, and even the Vatican came to urge that the "light derived from recent research" not be neglected by Catholic scholars, urging them especially to pay attention to "the sources written or oral" and "the forms of expression" used by the "sacred writer". Some important modifications were introduced, notably by Albrecht Alt and Martin Noth, who argued for the oral transmission of ancient core beliefs—guidance out of Egypt, conquest of the Promised Land, covenants, revelation at Sinai/Horeb, etc. Simultaneously, the work of the American Biblical archaeology school under William F. Albright seemed to confirm that even if Genesis and Exodus were only given their final form in the first millennium BC, they were still firmly grounded in the material reality of the second millennium. The overall effect of such refinements was to aid the wider acceptance of the basic hypothesis by reassuring believers that even if the final form of the Pentateuch was late and not due to Moses himself, it was nevertheless possible to recover a credible picture of the period of Moses and of the patriarchal age. Hence, although challenged by scholars such as Umberto Cassuto, opposition to the documentary hypothesis gradually waned, and until the 1970s it was almost universally accepted.

This changed when R. N. Whybray in 1987 restated almost identical arguments with far greater consequences. By that time three separate models for the composition of the Pentateuch had been proposed: the documentary (the Torah as a compilation of originally separate but complete books), the supplementary (a single original book, supplemented with later additions/deletions), and the fragmentary (many fragmentary works and editions). Whybray pointed out that of the three possible models the documentary was the most difficult to demonstrate, for while the supplemental and fragmentary models propose relatively simple, logical processes and can account for the unevenness of the final text, the process envisaged by the DH is both complex and extremely specific in its assumptions about ancient Israel and the development of its religion. Whybray went on to assert that these assumptions were illogical and contradictory, and did not offer real explanatory power: why, for example, should the authors of the separate sources avoid duplication, while the final redactor accepted it? "Thus the hypothesis can only be maintained on the assumption that, while consistency was the hallmark of the various [source] documents, inconsistency was the hallmark of the redactors."

Since Whybray there has been a proliferation of theories and models regarding the origins of the Torah, many of them radically different from Wellhausen's model. Thus, to mention some of the major figures from the last decades of the 20th century, H. H. Schmid almost completely eliminated J, allowing only a late Deuteronomical redactor. With the idea of identifiable sources disappearing, the question of dating also changes its terms. Additionally, some scholars have abandoned the Documentary hypothesis entirely in favour of alternative models which see the Pentateuch as the product of a single author, or as the end-point of a process of creation by the entire community. Rolf Rendtorff and Erhard Blum saw the Pentateuch developing from the gradual accretion of small units into larger and larger works, a process which removes both J and E, and, significantly, implied a fragmentary rather than a documentary model for Old Testament origins; and John Van Seters, using a different model, envisaged an ongoing process of supplementation in which later authors modified earlier compositions and changed the focus of the narratives. The most radical contemporary proposal has come from Thomas L. Thompson, who suggests that the final redaction of the Torah occurred as late as the early Hasmonean monarchy.[citation needed]

The documentary hypothesis still has many supporters, especially in the United States, where William H. Propp has completed a two-volume translation and commentary on Exodus for the Anchor Bible Series from within a DH framework, and Antony F. Campbell and Mark A. O’Brien have published a "Sources of the Pentateuch" presenting the Torah sorted into continuous sources following the divisions of Martin Noth. Richard Elliott Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible? (1987) and The Bible with Sources Revealed (2003) were in essence an extended response to Whybray, explaining, in terms based on the history of ancient Israel, how the redactors could have tolerated inconsistency, contradiction and repetition, indeed had it forced upon them by the historical setting in which they worked. Friedman's classic four-source division differed from Wellhausen in accepting Yehezkel Kaufmann's dating of P to the reign of Hezekiah; this in itself is no small modification of Wellhausen, for whom a late dating of P was essential to his model of the historical development of Israelite religion. Friedman argued that J appeared a little before 722 BC, followed by E, and a combined JE soon after that. P was written as a rebuttal of JE (c. 715–687 BC), and D was the last to appear, at the time of Josiah (c. 622 BC), before the Redactor, whom Friedman identifies as Ezra, collated the final Torah.

While the terminology and insights of the documentary hypothesis—notably its claim that the Pentateuch is the work of many hands and many centuries, and that its final form belongs to the middle of the 1st millennium BC—continue to inform scholarly debate about the origins of the Pentateuch, it no longer dominates that debate as it did for the first two thirds of the 20th century. "The verities enshrined in older introductions [to the subject of the origins of the Pentateuch] have disappeared, and in their place scholars are confronted by competing theories which are discouragingly numerous, exceedingly complex, and often couched in an expository style that is (to quote John van Seter's description of one seminal work) 'not for the faint-hearted.'"


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