Dressler Introduction to the Old Testament 9/13/03 Briefly describe some of the major characteristics of J, E, P, D. Wellhausen hypothesized that each portion of the Pentateuch was contrived by four different authors at four different times, namely, J, E, P, and D. The J part of JEDP refers to the section of Genesis where God is referred to by the Hebrew name Yahweh (spelled Jahve by German scholars). Presumably around the time of Solomon’s reign, someone in Judah composed the Yahwist account, which glorified David and Solomon’s reign and talked of a very immanent God that walks and talks with his creations. Shortly after Solomon’s reign, the Nation of Israel divided into the northern and southern kingdom known as Israel and Judah respectively. They now needed an account that did not praise the former monarchy so much. This resulted in the Northern Kingdom’s (Israel’s) account where Elohim was used as the name for God. This one emphasized the covenant of Moses, not the monarchy. It also portrayed God as being far less personal with mankind, one that speaks to his creations through dreams and messengers and is a distant god to be feared, not one that mankind walks and talks with. After Israel was occupied by the Assyrians, the deported Israelis escaped south and combined their Yahwe to the Elohist. In reaction to the manuscript’s stress on a promised land, a new group of priests tried to make some reforms. The result was the book of Deuteronomy. According to its legal traditions and sermons, only through obedience to the covenant would God’s mercy grant them the promised land. Once the entire nation was in exile, some priests seemed to have scrounged up enough new cultic traditions, legal traditions, stories, and laws to form a fourth source (the P), which essentially completed the earlier accounts of J and E. The focus of this account to restore faith in the people even all seemed to have been lost. Here, god is transcendent and unfathomable to all his creations. How does the Priestly source differ from the Yahwist and Elohist? What is distinctive about the Priestly source? What are its major themes? How are they developed? P is thought to be distinctly different from J and E chronologically because it seems to have been written to help the people keep their faith in God even after everything seemed to have been lost, which leads many to believe it was added at the time of their exile from the Promised Land. Once Y and E had been completed, there a great deal of strength that could still add to the work. For one thing, God’s people had just been exiled from their own nation by their enemies. In despair, the Israelis needed hope, and with some modification their conception of God would provide it. The author of P thus takes the fragments of Y and E and makes them flow in such a way that that future generations can appreciate that no matter what happens, God is acting out of love for his people. The P author accomplishes this unique flow using genealogical lists, place names, laws, more divine presence, the revelation of the divine name, and the importance of God’s blessing upon mankind. The genealogical lists were meant to bridge the time gaps between stories with the names of each generation. The addition of place names make the stories more real and personal. The new laws were aimed at future generations so that the documents of the past could speak to people of the future. With emphasis on the divine presence, believers were to feel God’s presence just as those like Moses and the high priests did. The concept of blessing is emphasized because even when God’s people fall from their own evils and mistakes, they still have been blessed: Adam and Noah with fertility and dominion, Abraham with the promise of land, and Moses with the covenant.
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