I was bothered by some comments in the NAB – a long time ago.
You might have a problem with some of the comments early on about the “documentary hypothesis.” (DH) Well, first of all, it’s just that, a hypothesis – a proposed explanation that accounts for what happens in the first five books of the Bible.
To start off, the footnotes you have depend on which edition of the NAB you are using. There may be relatively more or fewer footnotes. You don’t have to read any of the footnotes, if you don’t want.
In The New Jerome Biblical Commentary there is an article which explains which Bibles Catholics may read. Almost a hundred years ago, the Vatican said it was OK to read Protestant versions of the Bible. the article describes how that permission might be interpreted today, to include even reading the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible (what we call the Old Testament).
Elsewhere, the Church permits and even endorses reading Jewish commentaries on scripture, describing them as “first rate” sources of information – as long as we maintain an awareness and appreciation of their different point of view --we’re not going to agree with all their conclusions.
I have read the series, the Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentaries, and they, for example, explain the DH. That series of books really shows how the first five books of the Bible are knit together from pieces, which is to say, from different traditions.
For example, there are two versions of the Ten Commandments – one in exodus and one in deuteronomy. Now, why are they different? and why were they given twice? One says to observe the sabbath and the other says to remember the sabbath. What does that mean?
Perhaps you can get closer to understanding the need to interpret scripture by considering: the old testament was written in Hebrew (and Aramaic, I think). It has no vowels, no punctuation, no spaces between words, no chapter and verse numbers, and alphabet characters can represent numbers as well as alphabet characters. So, the very literal meaning of scripture is at stake here. If you read BG, would you say it meant bAg, bEg, bIg, bOg, or bUg? See? it could be any of those. So, people had to study scripture intently for centuries even to understand what it meant.
Not all of the books of the OT says exactly who the author was, reliably. That was one of the first questions of “modern” historical analysis back in the 1500’s and 1600’s. And, with it, went the idea that Moses was the author of the first five books of the Bible, even though Christ refers to these as the Books of Moses. That is a traditional interpretation. But,it’s a problem, which deeply bothers some, because Deuteronomy describes the death and burial of Moses – how could he have written this?
It’s hard to explain all of this in a single post. I would just say, keep your mind open, go out and look for commentaries which provide a lot more analysis that does a Bible with footnotes or a study Bible with footnotes and cross references.
When you check out multiple sources, you will find that the DH is fairly well-accepted by Catholics, Protestants (in general), and Jews.
Another example, the names for God in Genesis seem to be much older and not used in subsequent books of the Bible – again suggesting that one man, Moses, was not the author of all of those five books. Also, the language of Genesis is much harder to understand (in Hebrew).