Issues relating to the Documentary Hypothesis are again being discussed these days in some LDS circles, stimulated by the publication of David Bokovoy’s new book Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–-Deuteronomy (also available at Amazon). In its most simple form, the Documentary Hypothesis maintains that the five books of Moses—also known as the Torah (Hebrew: “Law”) or Pentateuch (Greek: “Five [scroll] cases”)—were not written by Moses, but were composed later by unknown editors/redactors out of preexisting texts, textual fragments, and oral traditions.
While it is quite true that most LDS have never heard of the Documentary Hypothesis—or at best have a vague notion of what it entails—it is equally true that most atheists have never heard of it either. It is rather an arcane academic theory, which, while widely discussed in the biblical studies academy, has marginal impact outside that academy. I’m quite confident that many more people have heard of Iron Man than the Documentary Hypothesis. Much like the Nicaean Creed, most non-specialists who profess to believe in the Documentary Hypothesis don’t really understand what it is they are claiming to believe. On the other hand, it is equally true that LDS scholars have been discussing the Documentary Hypothesis and its implications for decades. This is not a new discussion among LDS by any means. Over the course of the next few days I’ll be examining various perspectives and issues relating to the Documentary Hypothesis. I’ll entitle these future discussions “DH” in the header.