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The Bible with Sources Revealed Hardcover – November 25, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An amazing work. It makes the theory of the Bible’s origins available to all in a clear and concise way.” (David Ellenson, President of Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion)

“Friedman’s The Bible with Sources Revealed is a paradigm of accessible scholarship of the highest order.” (Michael D. Coogan, Editor, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, and The Oxford Companion to the Bible)

“A fundamental resource for understanding what the Hebrew Bible is all about.” (Peter Machinist, Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages, Harvard University)

“A succinct, lucid, detailed exposition and defense of the classic Documentary Hypothesis--a highly useful resource.” (Eugene Ulrich, University of Notre Dame)

“A volume indispensable for study in Biblical history. No one can really understand the Bible’s composition without consulting this work.” (Baruch Halpern, Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies, Pennsylvania State University)

“An important and useful volume which should be on the book shelf of every serious student of the Bible.” (Frank Moore Cross, Hancock Professor of Hebrew and Other Oriental Languages Emeritus, Harvard University)

“Very highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Richard Elliott Friedman is professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and holds the Katzin Chair at the University of California, San Diego. One of the premier biblical scholars in the country, he received his doctorate at Harvard and was a visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge. Author of The Hidden Face of God, The Hidden Book in the Bible, Commentary on the Torah, The Exile and Biblical Narrative, and the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible?, Friedman is also the president of the Biblical Colloquium West. A consultant to universities, journals, encyclopedias, and publishers, he is also the editor of four books on biblical studies and has authored over fifty articles, reviews, and notes in scholarly and popular publications.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1St Edition edition (November 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060530693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060530693
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on January 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: 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.
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