A few weeks agoÂ IÂ gave a mini lecture on Pentateuchal studies. I spent time talking about the French physician Jean Astruc and the Lutheran Pastor Bernhard Witter who were among some of the earliest writers on the documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch. We also talked about the groundbreaking work of DeWette who correlated the reforms of Josiah and the message of Deuteronomy. Hence DeWette located the Deuteronmomic source to 620 BCE. I next moved to Julius Wellhausenâ€™s construction in his Prologomena to the History of Ancient Israel which posited in a cogent manner Israelite history of religion as having a Yahwist document from the United monarchy, and Elohist Document from the northern kingdom during the divided monarchy, the Deuternomic source associated withÂ Josiah and finally an exilic Priestly document. We talked about the critique of Lutheran orthodoxy of the nineteenth century with its preoccupation with legalism and structure implicit in Wellhausenâ€™s work. We had only time to contemplate how this rendering of Israelite religion was later used in Germany to evil ends.
We recognized that the documentary hypothesis never attained scholarly consensus status. For instance Umberto Cassuto challenged it before that was fashionable. We also spent some time talking about the difficult process of getting the documentary hypothesis accepted in Baptist circles.
John Van Seters has argued that the date of the Yahwist is substantially later than the nineteenth century scholars suggested. Konrad Schmid argues that Genesis and Exodus were separate story lines untilÂ an editor in the Persian period (539-333 BCE) This shift of so profound that Schmid and Dozeman edited a volume titled the Death of the Yahwist.