Problems with the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP Model

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The Documentary Hypothesis, also known as the JEDP model, teaches that the Pentateuch—the first five books of the Bible—were not written by Moses, but rather were written by various authors at various times. It is not only completely unbiblical, but it is also severely lacking ini evidence. The Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP theory should be—must be—rejected by all Christians because it directly contradicts the Bible’s own teaching.

J, E, D, and P

What do the letters J, E, D, and P stand for? They refer to the various authors who are said to have written various sections of the Pentateuch.

J refers to the parts of the Pentateuch that were written by one or more authors who preferred to use the Hebrew name Jahweh, or Jehovah, for God. Supposedly, this author, or authors, wrote around 900–850 B.C.

E refers to the parts of the Pentateuch that were written by one or more authors who preferred to use the name Elohim for God. Supposedly, this author, or authors, wrote around 750–700 B.C.

D refers to the book of Deuteronomy, which was written by an author, or authors, who was different from the author(s) of J and E. Supposedly, this author, or authors, wrote around the time of King. Josiah’s reforms in 621 B.C.

P stands for “Priest,” and refers to the parts of the Pentateuch, especially Leviticus, that were written by a priest, or multiple priests. Supposedly, these priests wrote around the time of the Babylonian exile, after 586 B.C.

And supposedly, around 400 B.C., some editors, or redactors, combined these four sources, or documents, together to form the Pentateuch that we know today.

Next, we will first explain why the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model are not acceptable positions for Christians to hold, and then we will explain the problems with the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model.

Why the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP Model Must Be Rejected By All Faithful Christians

The source of truth for Christians is the Bible, which is God’s revelation. As God’s revelation, the Bible is infallibly true such that if there is even one mistake or contradiction in the Bible—more specifically, in the original documents—then the entire foundation of Christianity crumbles.

One reason why Christians must reject the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model is that the Bible clearly teaches that the Pentateuch was written by Moses, not by various authors who lived long after Moses died. For example, here is a long list of verses and passages that say Moses isi the author of the Pentateuch:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Exodus 17:14

Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the Lord, and these are their stages according to their starting places.

Numbers 33:2

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:7-8

just as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the people of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, “an altar of uncut stones, upon which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord and sacrificed peace offerings.

Joshua 8:31

and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn,

1 Kings 2:3

But he did not put to death the children of the murderers, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, where the Lord commanded, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. But each one shall die for his own sin.”

2 Kings 14:6

Then you will prosper if you are careful to observe the statutes and the rules that the Lord commanded Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Fear not; do not be dismayed.

1 Chronicles 22:13

And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.

Ezra 6:18

On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people. And in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,

Nehemiah 13:1

All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against him.

Daniel 9:11

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules

Malachi 4:4

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules

Matthew 8:4

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

Mark 12:26

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

Luke 16:29

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

Luke 24:44

For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.s

John 5:46

Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.

John 7:22

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.

Acts 3:22

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Acts 15:1

When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Acts 28:23

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.

Romans 10:5

But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, ““I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”

Romans 10:19

For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned?

1 Corinthians 9:9

Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:15

If the Documentary Hypothesis or JEDP model is true, that would mean these Bible verses are incorrect about who wrote the Pentateuch, which would mean the Bible is fallible and therefore not truly God’s Word or revelation.

So we see that theologically, the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model are not a valid option for any faithful Christian to believe. The good news for Christians is that the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model is severely flawed and should be rejected by anyone who studies the topic.

Could Moses Have Written the Pentateuch?

It is entirely reasonable to believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, for at least the following reasons:

  • Moses received an Egyptian royal education. Acts 7:22 says, “And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.”
  • Moses was an eyewitness to the events in Exodus through Deuteronomy, which demonstrate a deep familiarity with Egyptian places, people, gods, and language.
  • Moses was not a native Canaanite, and this is clearly the perspective of the Pentateuch.
  • Moses would have been able to receive written and oral records from as early as the time of Adam, which he could have used to write the book of Genesis.

Problems with the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP Model

We have seen so far that 1) the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model contradict with Scripture and therefore must be rejected by faithful Christians, and 2) it is reasonable to believe that Moses could have written the Pentateuch.

Now, let’s address the various problems with the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model.

There is Absolutely No Evidence for the Existence of J, E, D, and P Documents

There is absolutely no manuscript evidence for the existence of these different J, E, D, and P documents. Also, no Jewish commentaries mention any of these supposed documents. The J, E, D, and P model is purely a theory without any real evidence.

The Pentateuch was considered to be Moses’s writing throughout history, until just the last few centuries, when historical critical scholars set out to accomplish an agenda of proving the Bible’s fallibility.

The JEDP Scholars Were Biased, Had an Agenda, and Assumed Their Conclusion

The historical critical scholars behind the Documentary Hypothesis and JEDP model were not only not Christians, they were largely anti-Christian. Their presupposition was that the Bible is not God’s infallible revelation and that the religion of the Israelites and the Old Testament was a man-made religion, so their agenda was to prove this. They twist the words of the Bible to reach their pre-assumed conclusion.

They Falsely Asserted that Moses Lived Before the Time of Writing

Gleason Archer, in A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, writes this:

the art of writing was virtually unknown in Israel prior to the establishment of the Davidic monarchy; therefore there could have been no written records going back to the time of Moses.1

However, there are numerous problems with this assertion:

  1. It’s an attack upon the intelligence of the ancient Israelites.
  2. It’s an attack upon the intelligence of the Egyptians who taught Moses.
  3. During the time after the documentary hypothesis was proposed, numerous written records have been discovered by archeologists that pre-date the time of Moses. It is entirely reasonable to believe that, just like the Israelites’ neighbors, who knew how to write, the Israelites could likewise write.

For a more in-depth look into this topic, check out Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy.

The Scholars Arbitrarily “Picked and Chose” from the Bible

The historical critical scholars claimed that they found evidence for their hypothesis from the Bible, but they ignored the biblical passages that contradicted their theory. In this way, they utilized a “pick and choose” method that was blindly biased towards their position.

Furthermore, when one studies the supposedly biblical passages that support their hypothesis, one finds that these passages do not actually demonstrate the truth of the hypothesis.

It’s Entirely Reasonable to Believe that One Author Used Multiple Names for God for Different Purposes

The historical critical scholars claimed that one author would not have used multiple names for the same God. What this ignores is that different names for God would have different meanings, or emphases, so it is entirely reasonable that one author could have used multiple names for God, to emphasize different thinigs.

  1. Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 175 []

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