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165 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explanation of the Documentary Hypothesis
Why is the Bible so hard to read? The answer lies in the Documentary Hypothesis, conceived over a hundred years ago. This book presents a comprehensive collection of evidence supporting this theory, all in a concentrated format in the first 31 pages.

The rest of the book presents the author's translation of the Torah (1st 5 books of the Bible), coded to...
Published on January 23, 2005 by The Spinozanator

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT buy the Kindle Edition
While the content of the first couple of chapters is indeed a spectacularly succinct and illuminating introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis, the main meat of the book, the text linking to sources is impossible to read.

The original text was printed in color, something that obviously does not translate to the Kindle at all, I had hoped they would endeavor...
Published on February 11, 2010 by kyoseki


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165 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Explanation of the Documentary Hypothesis, January 23, 2005
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Why is the Bible so hard to read? The answer lies in the Documentary Hypothesis, conceived over a hundred years ago. This book presents a comprehensive collection of evidence supporting this theory, all in a concentrated format in the first 31 pages.

The rest of the book presents the author's translation of the Torah (1st 5 books of the Bible), coded to alleged authorship, with extensive footnotes & explanations. What a job!

The short version is as follows: "J" wrote a story representative of Southern Judean interests. "E" wrote one about Northern Israeli interests. When the North and the South united, the Priests in charge could not get rid of either well known document, so he (they) wrote "P", making the story more to his (their) liking. King Josiah "took charge" at age 8. Because of his age, he was heavily influenced by the priests. After he attained young adulthood, the main priest conveniently found "D" (mainly a set of laws) that so impressed the young king that he had the whole tome read aloud to the masses.

All these sources and editions were put together by an editor, called the "Redactor" into the final 5-book work. The Redactor may have been Ezra, a priest of the Second Temple after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon.

Evidence for this elaborate theory consists of differences in linguistics, terminology, content, narrative flow, connections with other parts of the Bible, relationships among the sources to each other and to history, and convergence (several different lines of evidence converge). This data is fascinating, well-presented, and quite convincing.

The above is my light summary of the Documentary Hypothesis. The heart and soul of the book, however, is in the text of the Torah itself, which is color coded. This makes it quite convenient to read each source individually as a flowing text. When read in this fashion, the improvement in continuity is striking. The footnotes are helpful in bringing out political considerations of the authors and the Redactor.

Friedman is also the author of "Who Wrote the Bible", a book which creates a mystery out of the authorship delimma. That book I also recommend, and suspect a person who likes one book would like the other. The book under review here appears to be the definitive work on the Documentary Hypothesis. It belongs in the library of anyone interested in the Bible, with the possible exception of literal interpreters, and I recommend it highly.
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97 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Light will be thrown . . . ", November 6, 2004
Centuries of copying, moving, editing and tinkering have caused monotheism's "holy book" to viewed with some doubt. The "Hebrew Bible", or Torah, transmogrified into the "Old Testament" by Christianity, is the fundamental origin of the faith of millions. Once thought to be authored by Moses, who would have had to pen much of it after his death, scholarship finally concluded that The Book was the work of many authors. Friedman has done an

outstanding job of sorting out who [at least in the abstract] produced the texts accumulated into what was known as The Books of Moses. A proponent of the Documentary Hypothesis, he has lined out with vivid clarity which author created which text of The Book.

In his Introduction, Friedman insists that whatever interpretation of authorship is to be followed, it must be based on evidence. This challenges the idea that "faith" is sufficient support for how the authorship of this anthology should be viewed. Empirical evidence, he argues, is the only solid basis to consider in assessing origins. To perform this feat, he has accumulated "the largest collection of evidence ever assembled". He then presents the source texts to demonstrate their artistry, their notions of the divine, the history of their nation and how they view humanity. The books, he notes, were assembled from sources as any historical rendering should be done.

He identifies the authors by letter designations, mostly arbitrary, but clearly distinct. Each author has an identifiable reference in time and place. The first two, "J" and "E", and their editor ["redactor"] "RJE" are scribes from the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. "J" is a resident of the southern kingdom of Judah, while "E" is an Israelite priest in the north. Their use of the name of the deity, Yahweh or Elohim respectively, is the major clue to the author. Using these sources, the "RJE" editor compiled their work after the Assyrian conquest of Israel. A third author, "P" follows, probably in the 6th or 5th century, who added much on the law and stories of creation, exile and captivities. The final author, "D" composed the book of Deuteronomy, which assembled the "J" and "E" sources and covered the last acts of Moses.

Friedman lists seven methods of analysis he used in compiling and evaluating the material to determine authorship. These are: Linguistic, which reflects the variations of Hebrew over the centuries; Terminology, the use of words and phrases by the various authors; Content, which includes the names of the deity and various sacred objects; Continuity, in which the "narrative flow" is revealed by separating the texts and re-reading them for stylistic indicators; Connections, parallels in or between various Books; Relationships, placing the texts in historical context; and Convergence, showing how different lines of evidence come together. It was clearly a monumental task Friedman has undertaken and achieved.

In presenting this mass of material in understandable form, Friedman has put the publisher to an immense task. Verse by the various authors are presented in varying fonts and colours in direct contrast to each other. A key to the sources is presented, which the reader would do well to review closely. It's the expression of Friedman's analytical prowess and dedicated scholarship. This book, as a reference, is hardly light reading, nor is it intended to be. It demonstrates fully the human basis of the collection. Authors draw on one another for material, then restate it in their own terms, or create new text where they feel omissions require explanation. Friedman dodges the question of "divine inspiration" adroitly, but it's clear The Book, revered by so many, is work of men's hands. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very handy reference work, July 1, 2004
By 
Zeeshan Hasan (Dhaka, Bangladesh) - See all my reviews
This is exactly what I wished I had when I was first getting into Biblical studies - a Pentateuch with the J, E, P and D sources all colour-coded!
A word of caution, though. Friedman's own most recent book, "The Hidden Book in the Bible", makes a very good argument that the J source and the "Court History" in the book of Kings were written by the same authour. So if you want the whole text of J, you may have to consult that as well.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helps you better understand the Hebrew Scriptures, May 12, 2007
By 
Joan K. Snipes (Shepherdstown, WV) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses by Richard Elliott Friedman is a very helpful book for students of the Bible.

Friedman's opening two chapters are amazingly succinct. In a very few pages, Friedman lays out an incredibly compelling case for what is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. This is the widely accepted theory that the first five books of the Bible are a compilation of four main documents, known by the letters J, E, P, and D, which were woven together by later editors known as Redactors.

After the introductory material, the book is a translation of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

In his chapter, "Collection of Evidence," Friedman catalogs the seven main arguments for accepting the Documentary Hypothesis. They fall into these categories: linguistic, terminology, consistent content, narrative flow, connections with other parts of the Old Testament, relationships among the sources, and convergence of the evidence. I find Friedman's explanation clear and convincing.

What does it matter whether you buy into the idea that sources by J, P, E, and D form the Pentateuch? Because, if you are somewhat familiar with this concept, certain "problems" with the text suddenly become clear as you read the new English translation that follows Friedman's opening chapters. By using two different ink colors (blue and green) and a variety of fonts, average Bible readers like you and me can easily understand various contradictions and redundancies in the text. The four strands are clearly set off, thanks to the wonders of modern technology in printing.

Here's an example of how seeing the sources helps you understand what's going on in the Bible texts. The story of Noah's ark is told in Genesis, chapters 6 through 9. Both J and P originally told the story. The Redactors blended these two accounts. With The Bible with Sources Revealed, I learned that in the P version there is only one pair of each animal, whether pure or impure. See Genesis 6:19-20; 7:8, 9 15. In P, there are no sacrifices until the establishment of the Tabernacle in Exodus 40, so two of each animal is sufficient. However, J specifies seven pairs of pure and one pair of impure (see Genesis 7:2, 3.) This fits with the fact that in the J account, Noah will offer sacrifices at the end of the flood, so he needs more than two of each animal--or else his sacrifice would end a species. Friedman's footnotes clarify such differences throughout the Pentateuch.

Friedman's translation is unique because the text is so clearly marked in terms of sources. You won't be disappointed.
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104 of 128 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best new scholarship on the five books of Moses, December 11, 2003
This is the best new research published on the origins of the five books of Moses in some time. As most anyone interested in biblical scholarship is aware the five books of Moses comprise the Torah and the number of Hebrew letters in the Torah has always remained the same since it was first recorded into its present form. Thus one can be assured that when you read the bible(whether it be the Hebrew, Catholic or King James) you are receiving the same stories, with some translation difference in English. The question this book delves into is the question of how the Torah came to be and why so many contradictions and repetitions appear in the five books of Moses. As an example; why is the story of the creation of earth told twice? This author is at the forefront of biblical(old testament) scholarship by showing that in fact the five books of Moses are most likely a series of different books combined and then redacted into one form. There is the Books of J and E and then there are additions and some commentary in a book of D(Deuteronomy) and a further layover of the Redactor who brought these varied books together.
The argument here is relatively simple, if far fetched for those not familiar with it, namely that two bibles existed in ancient Israel Books J and E. These most likely were due to the civil war between the two Jewish states(Southern and Northern). The author presents his case clearly, if briefly, and explains that these two books were combined to form the beginning of the modern day Torah. Yet the chapter of Leviticus was later edited to be made mostly a legal diatribe on the Rabbinical Priesthood, while Deuteronomy was edited to be put in line with Samuel and the god/Israel relationship. A redactor was able to combine these varied plots and lobby's to create the text we know to be the Torah and the one that we know to be correct, one that has existed for three thousand years(plus or minus a few hundred). No other religious book comes close to the Torah in its exactness, for instance the New testament is retranslated and seemingly changed every few decades. Rest assured this book is a revolutionary look at the origins of monotheism but a quick flip through and you will see this is a must have as a companion to any biblical research. A must have and a joy to read this will open your eyes to biblical scholarship and shed light on the imprint man has given the interpretation of God. An essential work by an eminent scholar.
Seth J. Frantzman
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must In Biblical Scholarship, May 9, 2007
This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
Friedman's treatment of the Pentatuech and its sources is an absolute must for any scholar of the Hebrew Bible. Even if you do not buy into the Documentary Hypothesis, it is nevertheless an indispensible resource for research and dialogue in the area of Biblical Studies. Friedman carefully separates the sources in the Pentateuch and provides notes and explanation to aid in understadning why he categorizes as he does. This is one of the most crucial works in Source Criticism for contemporary Biblical Scholarship.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT buy the Kindle Edition, February 11, 2010
By 
kyoseki (A wretched hive of scum and villainy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
While the content of the first couple of chapters is indeed a spectacularly succinct and illuminating introduction to the Documentary Hypothesis, the main meat of the book, the text linking to sources is impossible to read.

The original text was printed in color, something that obviously does not translate to the Kindle at all, I had hoped they would endeavor to change the formatting to make the sources more apparent or perhaps used different fonts, but they have not done so, with the exception of the use of bold text or italics for a couple of the sources, it's impossible to discern one from the other.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for all bible scholars, amateur to professional, February 16, 2011
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This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
This book uses a very simple font-and-color based system to differentiate between the different authors and editors of the Pentateuch. Friedman has given the Documentary Hypothesis an invaluable tool that demonstrates its power and lays the foundation for future research.

I've started reading each book one author at a time, starting with the Jahwist. It's interesting to see how, when you seperate out the authors, you can tell each one's priorities (J is concerned with Judah, E with Israel, P with ritual, etc.).

This book belongs on the shelf of anyone who wants to understand the bible in its historical and cultural context. Period.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dubious Disciple Book Review, March 9, 2011
This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
The first five books of the Bible are traditionally understood to have been written by Moses. In places, Jesus appears to confirm this. Most critical Bible scholars since the late 19th-century, however, have recognized at least four different contributors of the books of Moses:

A text known as J was composed during the period when the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were divided. J was written by an author living in the southern kingdom. It's known as J because it refers to God by the name of YHWH (Jahwe in German).

A second text known as E was composed in the same period, by a priest living in the northern kingdom. It's called E because it refers to God as Elohim.

A third text is known as P because it concerns the priesthood. There remains some argument about when it was composed; Friedman suggests shortly after J and E were combined into one text.

The final source is known as D because it comprises most of the book of Deuteronomy. It's part of a longer work, including Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. It contains sources that date as early as J and E, but it was not compiled into one source until the reign of King Josiah, circa 622 BC.

All of these sources were spliced together by a redactor to create the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Friedman discusses the evidence for this theory (called the Documentary Hypothesis), and then travels verse by verse through the Torah, color-coding the source and footnoting the setting. You'll recognize two distinct creation stories in the Bible and two flood stories, and conflicting accounts within the Bible will suddenly make more sense, as the source and motive of the writings are revealed.

It's best used as a reference book--I certainly haven't read it straight through--but it's a book I refer to often.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sources of the Books of Moses., January 12, 2007
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This review is from: The Bible with Sources Revealed (Paperback)
As another reviewer mentioned,this book is about the five books of Moses rather than the entire Bible. In my opinion that doesn't diminish the author's work.

Mr.Friedman's book offers some possible answers to questions such as;why is the creation of man duplicated in Genesis? The author's theory makes a lot of sense.

I'm not very familiar with the "Source Theory",but this book presents a plausible case for it.

Some of the features in this book that I appreciate are:

The color-coded layout of the book is well done.

Some very informational footnotes.A good example is the "Name" and whether or not the Patriarchs knew it.

The author sheds light on some Hebrew words and the "punning" or word play used.

The use of the tetragrammaton(YHWH)for the Name.

The text is easy to read.

This book is put together very well and any serious Bible student would benefit from having this book available as a reference/resource tool!
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The Bible with Sources Revealed
The Bible with Sources Revealed by Richard Elliott Friedman (Paperback - August 16, 2005)
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