This it tough, since I’m working off the top of my head, but I can tell you that my Religion 11 teacher in high school, Anne Carroll (in complete agreement with her husband, Dr. Warren Carroll), taught us that the JEDP theory was pretty much just wrong. For one, it effectively says that Moses was not the primary author of the Pentateuch, which runs rather contrary to tradition; and at the same time, the arguments on which it rests are a bunch of flimsy historical assumptions created by modernists.
I’ve touched it up in order to make it more readable and complete (less like a skeletal outline), but here’s what I have from one of our high school test review sheets (boy, am I sure glad I saved these)… I’m sure my notes from class are a bit more thorough and detailed, but they’re currently out-of-state at the moment, so this is the best I can give you:
Modernism: began in the late 1700’s, and was adopted by liberal Catholics in 1900’s – denies the truth of Scripture; denies prophecy, miracles, and the Divine Inspiration of Scripture – tries to claim that Scripture is just stories that were written long after the actual events, and is primarily full of myth and imagination, etc.
What do Modernists say about the Pentateuch?
We believe that the Pentateuch was mostly written by Moses.
They say that it was written by a variety of authors (4 authors or “sources”) long after the events took place:
J – Yahwist (author refers to God as Yahweh); around 800 BC (400 years after Moses died)
E – Elohist (author refers to God as Elohim); wrote around 700 BC
D – Deuteronomist; entire book of Deuteronomy, written around 600 BC
P – Priestly; written by Jewish priests around 500 BC
Then it was all put together at a later time by a redactor (editor).
Modernists cut it apart to show people that it is not inspired, and not written by Moses (who lived through some of these events, and is thus a more reliable historical source).
Main arguments for JEPD:
- Doublets: repetition; events described twice, two names for God, etc.
However, doublets were very common in mid-east literature; and God has many names.
- Style: many different writing styles seem apparent throughout the Pentateuch.
It was written over 40 years; a person’s writing style can change over a long period of time.
- Theology: concepts of God are too advanced for the Jews culture at the time.
They don’t need to have had an advanced culture; God revealed these things to them.
What has Church said?
Issue addressed by the Potifical Biblical Commission in 1906.
- Could Moses have uses sources in writing the Pentateuch?
>> Yes, but if so, those sources must have been inspired.
- Could Moses have used secretaries to aid him in writing the Pentateuch?
>> Yes, but anything that the secretaries wrote must also have been inspired.
- Could there have been additions to the Pentateuch made after Moses’ death?
>> Yes, but those additions must also have been inspired.
- Could anyone other than Moses have written most of the Pentateuch?
>> No, there is no evidence to prove that. (And no more evidence has surfaced.)