So, using the Wellhausen Documentary Hypothesis scholars argue the books of the OT are finally compiled much later than the "Traditional" view. Are the dates for the final edition critical to the theory?

I accept this is a difficult question because for the last 40 or 50 years proponents of the Hypothesis have splintered into various groupings with differing variations to the theory. I am not familiar with these splinterings, various alternative models, so maybe someone could summarise the variations as well.

It would be good to see what are the majority opinions about the date of the final redaction/compilation of all the OT books, in the various main modern offshoots of the Documentary Hypothesis.

  • @Nigel J - thanks, I've changed it. – Andrew Shanks May 31 '20 at 8:15

Before we dive into the various hypothesis models, it it useful to list the points that all these models (and the wider academic historical circle) are in agreement on:

  • the Torah/Pentateuch is not a unified work from a single author, but is made up of sources combined over many centuries by many hands.
  • the Pentateuch was not dictated to Mozes
  • it is the product of a long evolutionary process
  • redaction/compilation was done by several individuals over a long period of time

The disagreement over the models is solely focused on:

  • the dating of the redaction and compilation moments, and
  • the number of sources involved in redaction and compilation

The main models with varying sources are usually illustrated by this combined diagram:

enter image description here

And for most of these components we have fairly accurate dates:

  • J: Yahwist (10th–9th century BCE)
  • E: Elohist (9th century BCE)
  • Dtr1: early (7th century BCE) Deuteronomist historian
  • Dtr2: later (6th century BCE) Deuteronomist historian
  • P*: Priestly (6th–5th century BCE)
  • D†: Deuteronomist
  • R: redactor
  • DH: Deuteronomistic history (books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings)

So if your question is "when was the most recent redaction/compilation done?" it could not have been earlier than the dates for the used components. So, for example, if you follow the D† argumentation, the last redaction could not have been before the 5th century BCE.

Modern scholars generally see the completed Torah as a product of the time of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (probably 450–350 BCE), although some would place its production in the Hellenistic period (333–164 BCE), after the conquests of Alexander the Great.

Poetics and Interpretation of Biblical Narrative By Adele Berlin

enter image description here

Egypt on the Pentateuch's Ideological Map

enter image description here

  • good job. Do you happen to have any info about scholarly "consensus" or majority scholarly views on the final year of compilation of book of Ruth? Is it usually put with the DH books or treated entirely separately? – Andrew Shanks May 31 '20 at 9:42
  • See here pages 24-26 – Codosaur May 31 '20 at 9:58
  • And of course there are many scholars who say the evidence shows that the content of the pentateuch is firmly in the world of the ancient near east, and not the Persian period. John Walton is one such scholar, definitely check out some of his books if you haven't. – curiousdannii May 31 '20 at 11:34

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