In many of our seminaries today, it is taught that the first five books of the Bible (The Pentateuch) were not composed by Moses or revealed in any supernatural way, but rather were written by many different authors who were inventing the Jewish Law and history for political reasons. Each supposedly wrote with his own style and vocabulary. Then editors and redactors supposedly combined them into what we have today.
This theory was first proposed in the late 1700’s and developed fully by the late 1800’s into a complicated “modern” account of how the Pentateuch was written. The theory requires different authors (Mssr.s J, E, D, and P)for the Pentateuch based on the fact that different names are used for God within each book, and also teaches that they were written much later than was traditionally believed. The end result is that many of our pastors today are taught that the accounts of Genesis through Deuteronomy were basically invented history and not the Word of God. And we wonder why so many churches have gone in some very unbiblical directions!
Just look in many commentaries on the Pentateuch, and you will see references to “J “and “E”. These are supposed documents written by two different authors, one (J) who uses Yahweh for God’s name, and the other (E) uses Elohim. A third, (D), supposedly wrote the book of Deuteronomy, mostly for political purposes. The (E) document was then split into E1 and E2, one of which became P, the priestly document. According to the theory, J was the first, written in about 850 B.C.E, followed by E in 750, then the two combined by an editor or “redactor” in about 650 BCE. (D) wrote Deuteronomy during the time of King Josiah about 621 BCE, and P was composed in stages from about 570-200 BCE. So goes this complicated theory.
The problem with the JEDP theory is that it is still taught today as if nothing has happened in Biblical scholarship since about 1880!
Many flaws have been found in the JEDP theory since its heyday in the late 1800’s. For example:
The JEDP theory is circular- it assumes up front that there’s no such thing as supernaturally inspired writings, then concludes that the scriptures were not supernaturally revealed. This makes any fair consideration of evidence for divine inspiration impossible.
The theory is supposedly based on the text itself, but whenever something turns up in the text that goes against the theory, it is explained away as an insertion by a redactor or editor. Old Testament expert Gleason Archer: “…the Documentarians insisted, ‘the historical books of the Old Testament show no recognition of the existence of…a written Mosaic code until after the exile.’ When in reply to this claim numerous references to the Mosaic Law and P provisions were discovered in the historical books, the reply was made, “Oh well, all those references were later insertions made by priestly scribes who reworked these books after the exile.’ This means that the same body of evidence which is relied upon to prove the theory is rejected when it conflicts with the theory. Or to put it another way, whenever the theory is opposed by the very data it is supposed to explain, the troubleshooting team of Redactor and Interpolator, Inc., is called to the rescue.”  This is typical of the methodology of the JEDP theory. It just wouldn’t stand up in a court of law!
Another bad assumption of the Documentarians is that a single Hebrew author could not use could not use more than one name for God, or have more than one style of writing even when dealing with different subjects. For example, the Koran uses more than one name for God, yet no one has carved it up into multiple authors. And the nations around Israel such as Babylon, Egypt, or Greece, all used multiple names for their gods.
Many times in the text the “wrong” name for God appears, such as Yahweh in an “E” passage, or Elohim in a “J” passage. So what do you think they did? Many times they would split up even a single verse, and apply it to different authors, even though the divisions were not called for by the rest of the content of the text. In Genesis 2, both names for God occur as a compound name 11 times. Rather than embarrass their theory, they most often cut the verse in two!  One of the problems with this is that in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the corresponding names don’t even match up as pointed out by scholar Johannes Dahse as early as 1903. 
Furthermore, their artificial divisions also carve up stories that many scholars say show such unity that the different “parts” depend too much on one another to be by different writers. For example, in the story of Noah’s Ark, they have J speaking of the ark without any explanation of it’s being built, P shows Noah and his family entering the ark, but J shuts them in the ark, even though J says nothing about how they got in! To make matters worse, the Babylonian flood account which was derived from the Biblical account (See article-Noah’s Flood and the Gilgamesh Epic for evidence on which account came first) includes both the J and P elements in its story, but no one carves it up into separate authors.
These are only a small sample of the problems with the methods of the Documentarian scholars. And yet this poor scholarship is still taught to many pastors and church leaders in seminaries today!
In the next article in this series, we will look at how the archaeological discoveries ignored by the Documentary Hypothesis totally refute their theory.
 Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1994, p.114.