Rationalist critics of the Wellhausen school have attempted to include Joshua with the five books of the Pentateuch, calling the whole collection the Hexateuch. They consider the basic material to come from J and E, but with considerable editorial work and redaction by the “Deuteronomic School.” DH: Deuteronomistic history (books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings) dated to the 6th–5th century BCE, not the 16th-15th. Is this true? How do we respond to these liberal critics with a rational, reasonable answer?
The documentary hypothesis is one of the models used by biblical scholars to explain the origins and composition of the Torah. A version of the documentary hypothesis, frequently identified with the German scholar Julius Wellhausen, was almost universally accepted for most of the 20th century.
The Documentary Hypothesis is a theory, also known as JEDP, that states that the first five books of the Bible, called the Pentateuch consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, were not written completely by Moses but by different authors.
The Documentary Hypothesis—the theory that the Pentateuch was a compilation of selections from several different written documents composed at different places and times over a period of five centuries, long after Moses.
The Hebrew text was like the Greek NT; it had accumulated copyist errors, a few intentional, a good number accidental, between the Malachi days of 440 BCE and Rabbi Judah ha-Nasi (135 to 217 CE). The same thing happened to the Greek New Testament from about 400 CE to 1550 CE, a period of copyist errors.
Why are there only these 66 books in the Bible? Because God is the ultimate author of the Bible, and He inspired only these 66. All Scripture is breathed out of the mouth of God (Mt 4:4; 2 Tm 3:16). What the human authors wrote did not originate with them but with God, who moved upon them (2 Sm 23:2; 1 Pt 1:20–21).
What is a modern reader of the Old Testament to do with a book that teaches animal sacrifice, male circumcision, strange dietary codes, and festivals based on an agricultural cycle? Its contents appear to be so ancient and so removed from our day that some dismiss it as “primitive religion.”
In creating men and women, God had something different in mind than He did for the other creatures. The latter are spoken of as having been created “according to their kinds” (Gen 1:25). Humans, however, are described as being made in the image and likeness of God (1:26–27).
Because God is truthful, we can expect His written self-revelation (in the original manuscripts) to be truthful in what it affirms. But not everything in Scripture is perfectly clear. The Apostle Peter admitted that Paul’s writings are hard to understand in places (2 Pt 3:15–16).