Friday, June 29, 2007


Yep, you heard it right. I am coming home for a week or so. Unfortunately, it is only me. It is really hard to leave the family at home. I wouldn't have even come except...I am not bashful - The reason I am coming home is to raise funds for the next school year (and subsequent ones, I hope). In the past, I would be embarrassed to even say that, and, although I don't necessarily like it, the Lord's will for me is to attend the ITI which requires that I do this. No matter what, it is a joy to do God's will...

Anyway, I am really excited to have the opportunity to give a talk while I am there. The title is "Make Straight the Paths of the Lord". I will present it at Holy Apostles on Monday night, July 16th, @ 7:00 pm in the Dining Room. I will be using the Pope's new book, Jesus of Nazareth, Guardini's, The Lord, and the Carmelite Doctors (in honor of the 16th being the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) as the sources and foundation for it. The talk will focus on seeing Jesus, and his message, as it really is and the radical response to which it invites us. All of this in the context of and with the aim of freeing us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to "make straight the paths of the Lord" directly to the core of our life and our being.

There is also a dinner on Saturday where you can come, eat, and visit. I am not sure of the details to be honest. Check out the HA bulletin. I believe it will be in there, or check back here and I will try to get all the details.

We are doing newsletters again. Shorter and hopefully more frequent. The newsletters are up at another site called "The Friends of Mike Lee Family" at It is run by a wonderful group of folks that are coordinating fundraising and support for us. THANKS FOTMLF!! You guys are the hands and feet of Christ to my family. AND thanks to all of you who pray for us and support us in any way. We simply couldn't do this without you!

I hope to see you in a couple weeks....I will be the guy sitting in air conditioning, with a beefsteak in one hand, and a Pacific Northwest Microbrew in the other!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Documentary Theory or the Graf-Welhausen Theory (Part 4)...

In this, the final installment, I treat of the arguments against the GWDT and conclude with some reflections of my own. Here are the previous installments: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The GWDT has been the dominant paradigm of Pentateuchal studies since Wellhausen published Composition des Hexateuchs und der historischen B├╝cher A.T.s. in 1889.[1] There have been many opponents to the GWDT due to its highly subjective and artificial structure and from the conclusions that follow. Wellhausen proposed that the religion of Israel in its early forms was animistic and polytheistic[2]. It was not until much later with the final redactions of the Pentateuch and the preaching of the prophets that an ethical monotheism developed. As one can see, this reduces the history of early Judaism to nothing more than a “projection into the unknown and distant past of conditions prevailing in late ages”[3]. There are serious technical and philosophical problems with the GWDT that bring its correspondence with truth into question. In what follows, evidence undermining the GWDT will be presented.

A difficulty with the GWDT and its modern counterparts is the completely artificial character of its authorship spread over many centuries. Segal writes;

“Hebrew Literature, or any other literature all the world over, cannot show another example of the production of a literary work by such a succession of recurring amalgamations and such a succession of compilers and redactors centuries apart, all working by the same method, as attributed by the Theory to the formation of the Pentateuch[4].

Furthermore, reducing the entire Pentateuch into source fragments and traditions spread over a great deal of time reduces it to mere nonsense. There is an obvious unity that goes beyond simply a cut and paste-type of literature model. This is Revelation. Therefore, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in a particularly unique way. There is an added component of the inspiration by the Holy Spirit that must be taken into account.

As stated above, the GWDT stands or falls on whether the first division of sources according to the naming of God. The problem arises when a particular divine name is found within a section that is purported to belong to a different source. Segal points out that in many instances in the Pentateuch the name used does not correspond with the appropriate source rendering the division by the names unreliable at best[5]. Furthermore, he demonstrates that in the Historical books (e.g., Judges, Samuel, Kings) of the Old Testament there are many examples of both YHWH and Elohim being used in such a manner that they can’t possibly be from different sources. Thus, other ancient Hebrew writers used the terms seemingly interchangeably in cases that cannot be ascribed to separate sources. Again, if the terms are used elsewhere interchangeably, how can they be used a criterion of division? Segal attributes the difference in usage to the purpose of variety in expression. Parallels exist in Ex 18 and 2 Sam 16 between “Jethro” and “the father-in-law” and “David” and “the king”, respectively[6].

Segal extends the use of literary variation to explain the main examples the adherents of the GWDT forward as examples of style and vocabulary differences which indicate separate sources[7]. First, the words and styles listed in Table 1 (here) are of the same dialect across the different sources. This is important because the GWDT uses particular words to assign a passage to a particular source. However, there is absolutely no proof that these lists are anything else but false, imposed criteria. How can one confidently state that a given word is always used by one source and not the other if any word could be used by any source? Isn’t it much more likely that the author is varying usage? He continues by analyzing pairs of synonyms that are used to differentiate sources. Thus, the pairs of words such as the use of Sinai and Horeb, for example, Segal explains that Horeb is used to indicate a wider area in which Sinai is a part. Sinai is used for the mountain itself. Concerning stylistic changes, Segal states;

The fact is that as soon as there is a change in subject matter in the Pentateuch, there is immediately also a change of vocabulary and style. The difference of style cannot therefore be attributed to a change of document[8].

This makes perfect sense. When anyone writes the “voice” or style of writing changes with the subject of what is being written. Certainly, I would use a different tone when laying down the law to my children, when comforting them, or teaching them about God. If one took the entire corpus of an individual and applied the GWDT, there would be many sources indicated due to stylistic differences between the subject matter that that one person wrote about.

Lastly, Segal calls the gradation set up by the criterion of ideology “nothing more than a hasty generalization in the hackneyed evolutionary method, unsupported by facts”[9]. There are anthropomorphic and anthropopathic elements in Scripture and other ancient texts that is known to be of much later writing, e.g., Daniel and the late Aggadah of the Talmud, respectively.

Evidence that questions the conclusion of the GWDT concerning Mosaic authorship comes from the Scriptures themselves. There are several allusions to Mosaic authorship in the Old Testament; moreover, there is even more convincing evidence supplied in the New Testament[10]. The Jews, apostles, and even the Lord himself attributed the authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses. Christ even states that Moses wrote of him in Jn 5:45-47[11]. This is not to suggest that Moses wrote every single word of the entire Pentateuch. It does suggest, however, that Moses wrote at least some portion of it.

In sum, any theory to be valid must forward reasonable hypotheses that are based on fact that can withstand strident analysis of its conclusions. It should be obvious from this brief survey of the development and conclusions of the GWDT that it is fundamentally flawed and should be abandoned. Under the scrutiny of modern archeology, philology, and reason, the GWDT collapses. I am not an Old Testament scholar such that I can propose an alternate theory. However, I can say that I am not against the use of modern biblical criticism in Scripture study. I do not hold to a rigid Mosaic authorship that doesn’t allow for any other additions or redactor's involvement in the development of the text. My main concern with this essay is to reveal the weaknesses in the GWDT so that the near Magisterial status that it currently enjoys will be shattered by studies, such as Segal’s, that have been around for decades. There needs to be a fresh start free from the uncritically accepted philosophical presuppositions that undergird the GWDT, and the vestiges of the long term acceptance of it.

The GWDT did not come into being in a vacuum. There was a particular scientific, philosophical, and theological milieu that facilitated its development. It is important to understand the intellectual environment of the time just as in an analogous manner we must understand the cultural milieu surrounding the composition of the Scriptures in order to understand them properly. There is always a danger to bring uncritically accepted philosophical presuppositions to a text which colors our ability to see things clearly. They are most dangerous when one does not admit to the bias and thinks that they are the truly objective ones. This type of intellectual pride and blindness poses a grave danger to honest intellectual investigation. Thus, one must maintain humility before the text and the truth such that one is ever ready to modify or even abandon one’s position when clear data is presented to the contrary. Biblical criticism in all its forms is not undesirable. However, it violates its own objective of better understanding of the Scriptures when it loses the search for truth for the maintenance of a certain theory. That, in my opinion, is exactly is what has happened with the GWDT. It flowed from a rationalistic, agnostic mindset that was imbued the fashionable philosophical formulation of the day, namely, Hegelian Idealism. Wellhausen “frankly admitted that his interpretation of this history was deeply influenced by the Hegelian concepts of Vatke”[12]. The Hegelian notion of everything progressing from thesis over to antithesis finally to a new synthesis deeply underlies the GWDT. There is always progress – evolution from the more primitive to the more advanced. Thus, the Jewish religion must have been more primitive early on and developed into something more advanced over time. In this notion of the ‘evolution’ of history and man, it follows that the sophisticated theology and ‘spiritual’ writing of the P editor came much later than the crude anthropomorphisms of the J editor, although the premises are not true as shown in this essay. This means that the Pentateuch does not describe the beginning, the foundation of the faith of the Jews but the final result of a particular development of religion. In my opinion, that conclusion is to be rejected. Thus, the GWDT has a certain error within its foundation, viz., the inexorable progress to the ideal.

There seems to be a strong undercurrent of post-Enlightenment rationalism that infects Scriptural exegesis. In fact, I was reading a statement by a current exegete (I cannot remember who, I just remember the comment) who stated that to be an effective exegete one must be a “functional atheist”. This is in direct contradistinction to the teaching of the Church. Certainly, the Church affirms that the human authors were true authors[13]. Thus, we must use all the proper techniques possible to ascertain their intention since their assertion is the assertion of the Holy Spirit[14]. I understand the concern of encouraging a certain fundamentalism that leans towards a literal interpretation that the sacred authors took dictation from God. However, we must pay special attention to the following concept:

But since Sacred Scripture is inspired, there is another and no less important principle of correct interpretation, without which Scripture would remain a dead letter. Sacred Scripture must be read and interpreted in the light of the same Spirit by whom it was written[15] (emphasis mine).

There is a place for and deep need for reason informed by faith. In my opinion, the fact that these texts have the Holy Spirit as their author should be foremost in one’s mind as they are approached. An attitude of deep prayer, intimacy with Christ Jesus, and docility to the Holy Spirit must be the mark of the Scriptural exegete prior to any intellectual acumen. This will be the interior ‘environment’ from which deep insight will flow.

[1]Segal, 1.

[2] Robert and Feuillet, 85.

[3]Segal, 2.

[4]Segal, 4.

[5]Segal, 10.

[6] Ibid, 14

[7] Ibid 14-19

[8] Segal 19

[9] Ibid

[10] Robert and Feuillet, 94.

[11] “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” Jn 5:45-47.

[12] Robert and Feuillet, 85

[13]Dei Verbum, 11.

[14] Ibid.

[15]Catechism of the Catholic Church. United States Catholic Conference, Inc. - Liberia Editrice Vaticana, 1997, #111.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Thanks be to God!!

It looks like we will finally have health insurance and for only €79/month for the whole family!! We have to wait (and pay) for 6 months before we are insured, but what a gift! Now, I can begin to breathe easier with four rambunctious boys (yep even Zeke - he is a madman!)

The insurance covers everything from doctors, dentists, and optometrists. I hope we can get Cody and Felicity into braces for free!! Anyway, thank you for your prayers and support!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I thought I would begin to post the different books that I am reading for different classes. I know it is tough sometimes to find an appropriate book that is orthodox and a wonderful read. Here are a few of gems:

This a must read about Jesus. Focused in the Gospels themselves, Guardini gives wonderful reflections on the Lord! It has a real contemplative feel to it.

Of course, everyone should read the book by the Holy Father. It is not too technical for the popular reader. It is more 'technical' than Guardini's book, however. The Holy Father spends more time doing exegetical work especially philology (word studies). It is a fantastic book to counterbalance all the garbage people see on the Heresy (History) Channel about the Gospels.

The Synopsis of the Four Gospels is a must for anyone trying to understand the Gospels more deeply. It puts all four Gospels side-by-side in columns so you can directly compare what each of them says. It is really amazing!

Spiritual reading of this sort is always the compliment to prayer. One must know about Jesus (so we can enter into the Truth) as one knows Jesus through prayer. It has to be both. Without the knowledge we easily fall into misconceptions, and you can't love what you do not know. If we do not know him in prayer, then the faith becomes a philosophy of living rather than an encounter with a person (cf. Deus Caritas Est #1).

The Documentary Theory or the Graf-Welhausen Theory (Part 3)...

In Part 1 and Part 2, I briefly described the history and exegetical landscape that led to the formulation of the GWDT. I will offer a sketch of the GWDT in this installment.

Having given a very brief survey of the historical and intellectual development upon which the GWDT was founded, the major premises and conclusions of the GWDT will be presented. The conclusions of the GWDT have far reaching ramifications. This is not simply about the literary development and formation of the Pentateuch as one historical text among many. The development of the entire religion and history of the Hebrew people is at stake. For if the dating of the Pentateuch is quite late, around 500 BC according to the GWDT, then the Pentateuch is a development of Judaism rather than its foundation. Are the Josiac reforms of the seventh century really a so-called pious fraud, as Wellhausen claims[1]? Is the Pentateuch really a compilation of a multitude of unrelated sources that were shaped into a story by countless, faceless redactors? What impact does that have on our notions of the inspiration of Scripture? The GWDT along with other types of criticism are looking to answer important questions about the text such as ‘who is the author?’, ‘what is the date of composition?’, and ‘how is one to explicate the various styles etc. that occur within the Pentateuch?’ to name a few. The Theory consists in the identification of different sources based on several broad categories: the use of different names for God, stylistic and vocabulary differences, and repetitions and doublets. The first and foundational criterion for the GWDT is based on the observation that different names are used for God as discovered by Witter and Astruc[2]. One of the sources exclusively used YHWH (J) when referring to God and the other Elohim (E) until the revelation of the name YHWH to Moses in Exodus 3:14[3]. Obviously, this criterion was only useful for Genesis. When the two sources were separated, it was observed that there were stylistic and vocabulary differences between the E and J and even within the E itself[4]. Based on these criteria, the Elohist was subsequently divided into two sources: the Elohist source and the Priestly (P) source. Due to the fact that Deuteronomy was so different stylistically, this was considered a separate source and named the Deuteronomist. This produced the basic and well known source divisions of J, E, P, and D of the GWDT. The figure below illustrates one conception of the interrelation of the sources.

Figure 1. The Scheme of Pentateuchal Sources Over Time[5]. One can see the obvious complexity of the sources as they are being redacted over a great number of centuries. Stylistic and vocabulary usage are a major, albeit secondary, criteria by which the sources are identified. Once the separation between J and E was made, it was noticed that there were obvious differences in style and word usage between J and E, as stated above. This allowed the exegetes to divide the rest of the Pentateuch according the J, E, P, and D model by correlating these differences with the sources delineated in Genesis. The figure below summarizes the major stylistic and vocabulary differences.

Yahwist (J)

Elohist (E) Priestly (P) Deuteronomist (D)
God is Yahweh God is Elohim God is Elohim God is Yahweh
God walks and talks with us God speaks in dreams, etc. Cultic approach to God Moralistic approach
Stress on blessing Stress on fear of the Lord Stress on law obeyed Stress on Mosaic obedience
Earthy speech about God Refined speech about God Majestic speech about God Speech recalling God’s work
Stresses the leaders Stresses the prophetic Stresses the cultic Stresses fidelity to Jerusalem
Narrative and stories Narrative and warnings Dry lists and schemata Long homiletic speeches
Stress on Judah Stress on Northern Israel Stress on Judah Stress on whole land of Israel
Uses term “Sinai” Uses term “Horeb

Calls natives “Canaanites” Calls natives “Amorites

Uses genealogy lists Loves military imagery

Has many fixed phrases
Table 1. Stylistic and Vocabulary Differences Between Pentateuchal Sources[6].

Furthermore, Table 1 above illustrates the so-called Criterion of Ideology. This criterion uses speech about God i.e., whether it is anthropomorphic or anthropopathic, to further delineate the sources. In other words, speaking about God in a lofty, spiritual way indicates a later, more developed theology such as P; whereas, more anthropomorphic or anthropopathic language is indicative of a different, earlier, and more crude source J. This is a striking example of the Hegelian model of progress that underlies the GWDT. Lastly, one can find multiple examples of doublets and repetitions throughout the Pentateuch. The GWDT considered these textual features to again indicate separate sources[7]. Examples include two stories of creation (Gn 1 and Gn 2), two stories of the flood (Gn 7, 7:31), Abraham sends Hagar away twice (Gn 16 and 21), and the Decalogue being given twice (Ex 20 and Dt 5). In sum, the GWDT is founded upon a characteristic of the Biblical text wherein one finds two different names used for God. These are considered to be different sources. When exegetes separated the passages using the names of God as their criteria, they were able to identify other criteria (style and vocabulary, doublets and repetitions, and the criterion of ideology) within the primary division that allowed them to resolve the rest of the Pentateuch into its putative sources. One quickly notices how subjective and artificial the entire structure of the GWDT is. There are no objective criteria to assess stylistic variations with any certitude. Furthermore, the entire system relies completely on the first division being true for if J and E are not actually different sources then the entire apparatus collapses.
Next time we will forward arguments against the GWDT...

[1] - The so-called "Pious Fraud is Wellhausen's hypothesis that there was a "prophet" that wrote Deuteronomy who was interested in reforming Jewish worship especially relegating it to Jerusalem. This unknown prophet wrote Deuteronomy and hid it within the Temple where he knew that it would be found. Hilkiah the high priest found the law and brought it to king Josiah. The discovery of the law led to a great period of reform (cf. 2 Samuel 22-23). Deuteronomy, then, would have been written in about 622 BC.

[2] Boadt, L., Reading the Old Testament: an Introduction, New York: Paulist Press, 1984, pg. 93; Weiser, 77.

[3] Segal, M.H., The Documentary Theory in the Composition of the Pentateuch, pg. 3.

[4] Boadt, 93.

[5] Reproduced from Boadt, 94.

[6] Reproduced from Boadt, 97.

[7] Robert and Feuillet, 75.

Lee Altar Servers....The Next Generation...

(click on image to enlarge)
Zach served Mass for the first time today. He looks so tiny in that cassock and surplice. It was a blessed day!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

HAPPY FEAST DAY!!'s right...American Catholics can't be bothered to go to Mass another day in addition to Sunday...sorry! ;-)

Anyway, today it the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ). It is a national holiday and holy day of obligation in Austria. We celebrated Mass outside in a park and then participated in a Eucharistic Procession through town back to the Church. The Cross led the way, followed by the fire dept., brass band, then children dropping flower petals before the Monstrance. There are a lot of pictures here. I hope you enjoy!!

Click on images to enlarge.

Outside Altar

Lining up...


Front of procession

Just aft of the picture above


Inside the village church

It was marvelous! (I have a few more pictures of the church I will post at a later date.)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

If Jesus came today...

We have all thought about what it would be like if Jesus came today.

I think there are many right now who think he would come with the 1962 Missal in one hand, a sword in the other, while solely speaking Latin.

There are others that think he would come as a woman or Buddha or a goddess telling us all the religions are exactly the same.

The next bunch thinks he would come only to the poor and would never even look at the rich at all. In fact, he would condemn them with fire and hell.

Some think that he will come pat them on the head, tell them that he loves them, and tells them to keep doing what they are doing 'cause they are a "good person".

How long could I go on here?? My point is this: It is our tendency, whoever we are, to read our concerns, likes, dislikes, and our very self into a false portrait of Jesus. He was completely free with a divine freedom. Jesus wasn't concerned about expectations and didn't fulfill them. He didn't care what people thought of him, nor did he try to please anyone on this earth. His one and only concern was to do the Father's will to the point of calling it his food:
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Jn 4:34
The Father, completely sovereign, does whatever he pleases. More often than not, the move of God is a scandal by doing exactly opposite of what we think he ought to do:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Is 55:8-9
The way we can worship in the Spirit and truth is to know Jesus, the Truth, as he is rather than as we want him. Then, and only then, can we move toward a deeper relationship with him.

On this most Solemn Feast of the Holy Trinity, let us pray for the grace to set aside ourselves so that we might receive him in fullness. In his day, the ones who missed him were the ones who couldn't see past their preconceived notions. Let us embrace him as he is: Lord, Master, Brother, Lover, Eternal Priest, and King...

Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Documentary Theory or the Graf-Welhausen Theory (Part 2)...

In this part of coming to understand the Documentary Theory, we continue briefly tracing its historical background. It important to have this knowledge because it gives us the context to help evaluate whether the GWDT is valid or not.

The Reformation was the event that shook the Christian world to its core. It is interesting that Robert and Feuillet don’t even mention the Reformation[1] (even though they are obviously Catholic writers), and Harrison (a Protestant) briefly mentions the Reformation by discussing the position of the main reformers in relation to the Old Testament[2]. He makes a single comment that in this writer’s opinion is extremely important. He says,
The importance of the Reformation for Biblical criticism lay not so much in concern for the historical or literary processes involved in the formulation of the Biblical canon as in a continued insistence upon the primacy of the simple grammatical meaning of the text in its own right, independent of any interpretation by ecclesiastical authority[3].

In my opinion, Harrison drastically underestimates (and misunderstands or misrepresents) the true impact of the Protestant Reformation upon Biblical criticism and exegesis. He doesn’t mention that for fifteen centuries of Church history Biblical interpretation did rely on ecclesiastical authority just as the Lord Jesus Christ intended it. In contrast to Harrison and Robert and Feuillet, I believe the Protestant Reformation was the crucial event in modern Biblical scholarship and formation of the GWDT because it was Luther’s rejection of the authority of the Ecumenical Councils in Leipzig in 1519[4] and his rejection of the Magisterium’s role in Scriptural interpretation[5] in An Open Letter to The Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate that set the stage for the Enlightenment. The rejection of the Magisterium as sole interpreter of Scripture[6] and the personal interpretation that follows from that position completely changed the landscape of Biblical exegesis. The protection that the Magisterium affords would have ensured a more measured approach to Biblical criticism. Many may disagree and state that it was exactly the fact that exegesis could be separated from ecclesial authority that led to many advances. True, the advances may have come much more quickly. However, the damage done is still being felt as so many have had their faith in the Scriptures destroyed by modern exegesis. Once one divides exegesis from the authority of the Church, exegesis will move into error and a plenitude of hypotheses. Nevertheless, the Reformation did occur and, although there were definitely many positive developments in Scripture studies, there were many grave difficulties that can be referred back to the Reformation as a cause and principle.

The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries saw more developed approaches to Pentateuchal criticism in the latter part of the period which began with much confusion and wild speculations where Pentateuchal criticism was concerned[7]. Hobbes (+1679), a Deistic philosopher, and Spinoza, a Jewish philosopher, used internal evidence from the text to deny Mosaic authorship[8]. Spinoza is considered one of the fathers of modern Biblical criticism[9].

The GWDT started to take shape in the early 18th century when Witter in 1711 was the first to forward the usage of the different names of God, doublets and stylistic considerations to support the hypothesis that Moses compiled the Pentateuch from earlier traditions[10]. Jean Astruc, a French physician, used the same criteria to argue for different sources in Genesis[11] (what the particular the criteria that comprises the GWDT will be discussed later). Astruc divided Genesis into columns that corresponded to the usage of different names for God in Genesis (YHWH and Elohim)[12]. This was the age of the Enlightenment when, partially due to the seemingly endless religious conflicts, reason become the one measure of the truth with a concomitant rejection of external authority especially ecclesial authority[13]. The rationalism that characterized the Enlightenment affected approaches to Biblical criticism. This meant that the Scriptures should be subject to exactly the same principles of study as any other text. Furthermore, the rejection of authority enshrined in the Enlightenment spilled over to the approach to Biblical criticism. There was “the feeling that such as investigation should be able to be pursued independently of ecclesiastical authority, religious dogmas, or church traditions of any sort”[14]. Eichhorn applied these principles when he took up Astruc’s work but rather than attempting to maintain Mosaic authorship, as did Astruc, he rejected Mosaic authorship[15]. Furthermore, Eichhorn included additional criteria such as differences in literary style and vocabulary as means to distinguish the sources[16]. There was an ensuing flurry of activity as many others expanded the beginning work of Astruc.

This activity led to a number of different hypotheses concerning Pentateuchal source criticism: Early Documentary Hypothesis, Fragmentary Hypothesis, Supplementary Hypothesis, and the New Documentary hypothesis[17]. The Early Documentary Hypothesis was held by Astruc, Eichhorn, and others. They restricted their theories to Genesis. It posited that the ‘author’ of Genesis simply put together a series of ‘documents’ that made up the book. A closer scrutiny of the Pentateuch suggested much smaller independent fragments that were places alongside each other without any internal connection which led to the Fragmentary Hypothesis forwarded by Vater among others. Ewald posited the Supplementary Hypothesis in which there exists a homogenous Elohist basic document as a core which is supplemented by “Yahwist passages”. The New Documentary Hypothesis (referred to in this paper as the GWDT) found its primordial and decisive formulation via von Graf and Wellhausen in the late 19th century. They combined parts of the Early Documentary Hypothesis and the Supplementary Hypothesis with additional ideas about further sources. Thus, rather than just the two sources posited earlier (Elohist (E) and Yahwist (J)), a Priestly (P) and Deuteronomist (D) were posited. Weiser summarizes Wellhausen’s contributions to the formulation of the GWDT thusly:

[Wellhausen] proved by means of comparison with the information in the rest of the Old Testament that the historical place of the ‘Mosaic law’ (P) is not at the beginning, but at the end of the development of the Old Testament religion, and that the Yahwist source must be considered to be the oldest document in the Pentateuch[18].
The dating of the different sources according to Wellhausen is J ninth century, E eighth century, D seventh century, and P fifth century. The GWDT continued to be developed over time by other exegetes.

In summary, there have always been certain questions concerning the author, date of composition, and other aspects of the Pentateuch and the Scriptures as a whole. The questions and challenges are remarkably similar across the centuries. Moreover, I find it especially interesting that the main challengers and their answers that veer farthest from the traditional understandings of the Pentateuch come from individuals (for the most part) that are outside of what would be considered orthodox Catholicism. Much of the criticism flowed from an underlying willful rejection of Church authority and focused on individual, rationalistic philosophical presuppositions. One wonders how this may have colored their conclusions.

Next time, we'll dig into the GWDT itself...

[1] Ibid.

[2] Harrison, 9.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Bedouelle, Guy. The History of the Church. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc., 2003, pg. 98.

[5] Luther, Martin. An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate, 1520. April 8, 2007, .

[6] Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum, # 12. “For all of what has been said about the way of interpreting Scripture is subject finally to the judgment of the Church, which carries out the divine commission and ministry of guarding and interpreting the word of God.”

[7] Robert and Feuillet, 81.

[8] Harrison, 9-10.

[9] Livingstone 544.

[10] Robert and Feuillet, 82; Weiser, The Old Testament: Its Formation and Development, New York: Association Press, 1961, pg. 75.

[11] Weiser, 75.

[12] Harrison ,13; Astruc actually divided Genesis into four columns of text using other criteria in addition to the names designating God.

[13] Livingstone, 191.

[14] Harrison, 13.

[15] Weiser, 75.

[16] Harrison, 14.

[17] Weiser, 75-77.

[18] Weiser, 77.