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The Bible with Sources Revealed

The Bible with Sources Revealed
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For centuries, biblical scholars have worked on discovering how the Bible came to be. The consensus that emerged from experts of various traditions was the Documentary Hypothesis: the idea that ancient writers produced documents of poetry, prose, and law over many hundreds of years, which editors then used as sources to fashion the books of the Bible that people have read for the last two thousand years.

In The Bible with Sources Revealed, Richard Elliott Friedman, one of the world's foremost experts on the Bible and author of the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible?, offers a new visual presentation of the Five Books of Moses–enesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy–unlocking their complex and fascinating tapestry of sources.

This unique Bible provides a new means to explore the riches of scripture by:

  • Making it possible to read the source texts individually, to see their artistry, their views of God, Israel, and humankind, and their connection to their moment in history;
  • Presenting the largest collection of evidence ever assembled for establishing and explaining the Documentary Hypothesis;
  • Showing visually how the Bible was formed out of these sources; and
  • Helping readers appreciate that the Bible is a rich, complex, beautiful work as a result of the extraordinary way in which it was created.

Now everyone can explore these rich resources. This new version will forever change the way you understand the Five Books of Moses.

HarperCollins; June 2009
400 pages; ISBN 9780061951299
Download in EPUB

Collection of Evidence

The Seven Main Arguments

The process of identifying the biblical sources took centuries. The process of refining our identifications of these sources has been ongoing, and itcontinues to the present day. Initially, it was a tentative division based onsimple factors: where the name of God appeared in the texts, similar storiesappearing twice in the texts, contradictions of fact between one text andanother. Accounts of this early identifying and refining may be found inmany introductions to this subject and in my Who Wrote the Bible? The collection of evidence here is not a review of that history of the subject. It is atabulation of the evidence that has emerged that establishes the hypothesis. It is grouped here in seven categories, which form the seven main arguments for the hypothesis in my judgment.

1. Linguistic

When we separate the texts that have been identified with the varioussources, we find that they reflect the Hebrew language of several distinctperiods.

The development of Hebrew that we observe through these successiveperiods indicates that:

  • The Hebrew of J and E comes from the earliest stage of biblicalHebrew.
  • The Hebrew of P comes from a later stage of the language.
  • The Hebrew of the Deuteronomistic texts comes from a still laterstage of the language.
  • P comes from an earlier stage of Hebrew than the Hebrew of thebook of Ezekiel (which comes from the time of the Babylonianexile).
  • All of these main sources come from a stage of Hebrew known asClassical Biblical Hebrew, which is earlier than the Hebrew of thepostexilic, Persian period (known as Late Biblical Hebrew).

This chronology of the language of the sources is confirmed by Hebrewtexts outside the Bible. The characteristics of Classical Biblical Hebrew areconfirmed through comparison with inscriptions that have been discoveredthrough archaeology, which come from the period before the Babylonianexile (587 BCE). The characteristics of Late Biblical Hebrew are confirmedthrough comparison with the Hebrew of later sources such as the Dead SeaScrolls.

Despite the power of this evidence, it is practically never mentioned bythose who oppose the hypothesis.

2. Terminology

Certain words and phrases occur disproportionately -- or even entirely -- in one source but not in others. The quantity of such terms that consistentlybelong to a particular source is considerable. Thus:

The mountain that is called Sinai in J and P (twenty times) is calledHoreb or "the Mountain of God" in E and D (fourteen times). In thirty-fouroccurrences of these names, there is no exception to this distinction.

The phrase "in that very day" (beesem hayyôm hazzeh) occurs eleventimes in the Torah. Ten of the eleven are in P. (And the eleventh is in R, ina passage that R modeled on P; Deut 32:48.)

The phrase "the place where YHWH sets his name" or "the placewhere YHWH tents his name ”occurs ten times in D but never in J,E,or P.