Church and State are separate kingdoms, but both
are established by God upon the authority of His
Word, the Bible. Christian churches have historically
recognized the Bible as the inspired and
authoritative Word of God, and as President Andrew
Jackson said, "The Bible is the rock upon which our
But during the last two centuries, the Bible has been under unrelenting attack.
Unsurprisingly, secular philosophers denounce the Bible as a collection of
fables, myths, and legends loosely put together by ignorant and superstitious
men. But shockingly, many in the mainline churches parrot the same attacks
and say the Bible must be "demythologized" to make it acceptable to the
In the mid-1800s, the school of "higher criticism" arose out of this mindset,
holding that modern scholars must examine the Bible critically to determine
whether it is really true. Within higher criticism arose the documentary
hypothesis, often called the Graf-Wellhausen theory or simply the JEDP theory,
which holds that the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch, Genesis
through Deuteronomy) were not written by Moses under the inspiration of
God but rather were the work of at least four different writers identified as
J, E, D, and P at a later time over a period of hundreds of years.
The JEDP theory holds that, wherever the Pentateuch refers to God as
Jehovah, this must be the work of anonymous writer identified as J. Wherever
God is called Elohim, this is the work of the E writer. Then came the D writer
who wrote the original form of Deuteronomy. And then, centuries later and
perhaps after the Babylonian Exile in the 500s BC, a priest called the P writer
took the works of J, E, and D, revised and redacted them, and rendered the
Pentateuch into its present form.
Conservative Christians need to understand the JEDP theory, because it is
foundational to theological liberalism, and because many in mainline churches
consider it established fact and are astounded that any intelligent Christian
would question it.
But even more importantly, conservative Christians need to know why the
JEDP theory is false. I will therefore present ten leading reasons to reject the
Graf-Wellhausen theory as a modern fable.
(1) Different names for God do not mean different authors; rather, they
indicate different purposes. Jehovah is God's Name; Elohim is simply a
generic word referring to God, god, or gods. Depending on my purpose, I
sometimes refer to my wife as "Mrs. John Eidsmoe" or sometimes "Marlene."
The author is still me.
(2) No ancient manuscript has ever been discovered that contains only the
writings of J, E, D, or P. All ancient manuscripts show the Pentateuch as one
(3) No ancient writer, Jewish or Gentile, ever indicated that the Pentateuch
was written by anyone other than Moses.
(4) Whenever the Pentateuch is quoted in either the Old Testament or the New
Testament, it is treated as the work of Moses.
(5) Jesus quoted from the Pentateuch, attributing it to Moses (Matthew 8:4;
19:7-8; Mark 7:10; 12 :26; Luke 16:31; 24:27, 44; John 5:46-67; 7:19).
This presents a dilemma: If Moses didn't write the Pentateuch, did Jesus know
that? If He did, He wasn't truthful; if He didn't, He wasn't all-knowing. An
attack upon the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is ultimately an attack
upon the divinity of Jesus Christ.
(6) The Pentateuch was already old in the days of King Josiah (600s BC) (II
Kings 22), was well-known during the Babylonian Exile (Daniel 6:5; 9:10-
13; Ezra 7:12-26; Nehemiah 1:7-9), and was reinstated after the Exile by
Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezra 9-10; Nehemiah 8-10).
(7) If the Pentateuch were written in later times, why does it contain no
reference to the kingship other than the prophetic reference of Deuteronomy
17 and no reference to the Temple or to Mt. Zion?
(8) After the Jews returned from the Babylonian Exile, they spoke Aramaic,
a mixture of Hebrew and Babylonian/Chaldean. If the Pentateuch were
redacted by the P writer after the Exile, why is it in Hebrew rather than
Aramaic, and why is the rest of the Old Testament in Hebrew except portions
of Daniel and Ezra?
(9)Wellhausen assumed that Moses and the Hebrew people were illiterate and
therefore could not have written or read the Pentateuch in the 1400s BC. But
the Ebla Tablets reveal that Mesopotamia (from which Abraham migrated
around 2,000 BC) was a highly literate society filled with schools and libraries.
As the British Assyriologist A.H. Sayce wrote, "The Babylonia of the age of
Abraham was a more highly educated country than the England of George
III." Furthermore, Egypt had a written language well before 2,000 BC. Raised
in the palace of the Pharaoh, Moses certainly knew how to read and write.
(10) Finally, as Herbert F. Hahn observes in The Old Testament in Modern
Research, Wellhausen did not develop his theory "merely from an objective
reading of the sources," but rather "consciously based his exposition on the
evolutionary view of history" under which "it was inconceivable that the
nomadic ancestors of the Israelites could have held the lofty, monotheistic
conceptions ascribed to Abraham."
And so, following Darwinism and the fad of nineteenth-century scholarship
that attributed multiple authorship to everything from Beowulf to Shakespeare,
higher critics placed themselves above the Scriptures and declared them to be
the work of men rather than God and therefore not to be trusted as authoritative.
This freed liberal theologians to depart from the Bible and wander abroad
in the trackless fields of their own imaginations, denying the basic doctrines
of Creation and the Fall, sin and salvation through the substitutionary atoning
work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
As Billy Graham began his Bible-based ministry of evangelism, a reporter
told him a religion professor had accused him of setting the church back 200
years. Graham replied, “I’m sorry to hear that! I am trying to set the church
back 2,000 years!” -- back to the time of Jesus Christ.
Amen, brother! Take away the anchor of the Word of God, and theology and
jurisprudence are cast adrift by every wind of doctrine.
Colonel Eidsmoe serves as Professor of Constitutional Law for the Oak Brook College
of Law & Government Policy (obcl.edu) and as Senior Counsel for the Foundation
for Moral Law (www.morallaw.org). He also pastors two small Alabama churches.
Constitutional concerns may be addressed to the Foundation at (334) 324-1812.