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Destructive Criticism of the Pentateuch

   I.  Wellhausen

        A.  Evolution of Israel’s Religion

            1.  Anismism

            2.  Poly-demonism

            3.  Polytheism

            4.  Monolatry (recognition of many gods, but worshipping only one)

            5.  Monotheism

        B.  Popularized the JEDP theory

            1.  J=Yahwist (@850 B.C. by someone in Southern Kingdom)

            2.  E=Elohist (@750 B.C. by someone in Northern Kingdom)

`           3.  D=Deuteronomist (composed during the 621 revival in Josiah’s day)

            4.  P=Priestly material (composed by men from Ezekiel to Ezra)

Basic criteria for division of the Pentateuch is the use of divine names.  But you have problems from the start. 

For example, liberals like to point to Gen. 1&2, where the same story is repeated twice--this would suggest the work of more than one author.  The word Elohim occurs in Gen. 1, and the name Yahweh occurs in Gen. 2:4ff; therefore, Gen. 1&2 is an example of the different sources behind the Pentateuch.  However, liberals encounter a major problem:  Yahweh occurs eleven times in Gen. 2:4-22, but it always occurs in connection with the name Elohim!  (See Gen. 2:4, 5, 7-9, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 22.)  Consequently, liberals have even gone as far as to divide Gen. 2:4 into two pieces!

The best explanation for the variation in names is context.  Elohim is more general.  Yahweh is the covenant name of God.  In Gen. 1, the focus is not on God as the sovereign of the universe; Elohim is most appropriate.  In Gen. 2, the focus is on the personal Creator God who enters into a relationship with His creation; Yahweh is most appropriate. 

Time has shown that the Wellhausen Hypothesis does not have a leg to stand on.  Rather than trying to deny Mosaic authorship and the supernatural inspiration of the Pentateuch, there are many proofs that evidence that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch.

Evidence for Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch (nos. 1-10 come from Archer, 117-25)


(1)  The Pentateuch itself testifies that Moses wrote it (Exod. 17:14; Exod. 24:4)

(2)  Other OT books bear witness to Mosaic authorship, referring to it as the “law of Moses” (Josh. 1:7; I Ki. 2:3; cf. Ezra 6:18)

(3)  The NT also bears witness to Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Matt. 19:8; Jn. 5:46-47; Acts 3:22)

(4)  Eyewitness details appear in the account of the exodus from Egypt that suggest an actual participant in the events, but which would be beyond the knowledge of an author who lived centuries later (e.g., knowledge of the exact number of fountains and palm trees at Elim; acquaintance with the taste and appearance of manna)

(5)  The author shows a thorough acquaintance with Egypt (Egyptian names, cities, and customs).

(6)  Author shows a consistently foreign or extraPalestinian viewpoint as far as Canaan is concerned; most details are Egyptian or Sinaitic (e.g., seasons, flora and fauna).

(7)  The atmosphere of Exodus through Numbers is unmistakeably that of the desert, not of an agricultural people settled in their land for nearly 1,000 years.

(8) References (primarily in Genesis) to customs that existed in the second millennium B.C. but did not continue into the first millennium (e.g., children by handmaiden; validity of an oral deathbed will; possession of the family teraphim)

(9) There are significant archaims in language (“she” is often HW’ instead of HY’).

(10) There is a most remarkable unity of arrangement that underlies the entire Pentateuch and links it together into a progressive whole.

(11)  Based on these last seven factors, Moses is the most likely candidate for authoring the Pentateuch (e.g., his educational background in Egypt, where writing was widely cultivated).


   I.  Gap Theory

Postulates a gap between Genesis 1:1-2 and Genesis 1:3ff.  The world created in Gen. 1:1 became “without form and void” in Gen. 1:2 by an act of divine judgment.  After a gap of countless years, God “re-created” the earth.  Gen. 1:3ff tells the story of this second creation.  The purpose of this theory is to reconcile the Biblical account of creation with the hundreds of thousands of years that modern science requires.


(1)     It is unsupported by the Hebrew grammar.  Hayatha (“was” in Gen. 1:2) is not normally translated become if it occurs without the lamedh preposition.

(2)     Gen. 1:2 is describing the earth as something that had never been formed--it was probably not even spherical.  It was a shapeless piece of matter floating in water.  II Pet. 3:5-6 suggests that there have only been two worlds:  (1) the one destroyed by Noah’s Flood; and (2) the world we know today.

          (3)  Rom. 5:12.  Death, even in the animal kingdom, did not enter until Adam.  It is impossible to have an entire race of people exist and die prior to the Fall of man.

  II.  Day Age Theory

The days of creation are unspecified, unknown lengths of time.  Each day is an “age” in length.  This view provides the time necessary for the evolutionary geological strata.



(1)     The phrase the evening and the morning suggests a literal 24-hour day.

(2)     Exodus 20:11:  The sabbath day is a day of regular length; the other days must have been as well.

          (3)  The existence of fossils (The day-age theory is partly an attempt to explain the existence of ancient fossils.  But how can you have fossils before the fall of man?)

III.  Normal 24-hour days of creation  (The correct view)


        A.  Proofs for this interpretation:

              1. Normal interpretation of the word day.

              2. The division of darkness and light on Day 1:  This suggests that God set the earth into the 24-hour rotation of day and night as we know it today.

              3. Death came by man (Rom. 5:12); the first deaths had to occur after Adam’s Fall.

              4. No need for long periods of time during creation.

              5. Living beings did not become man; man became a living being.

        B.  Often cited problem:  God created the sun on the fourth day, and plant life on the third.  Plant life cannot survive without the sun. 


Rebuttal:  This is a heliocentric philosophy.  God is the source of life, not the sun.  Perhaps God deliberately created plant life before the sun so that all mankind would know that the sun does not ultimately provide life but God Himself.  The essential presence of the sun in order to maintain life has been known by all civilizations.  This has led to the worship of the sun in many cultures (e.g., Egyptians; American Indians).  However, God is the source of light.  He created the sun as a secondary source of light and nourishment (Col. 1:17:  “by him all things consist”).  [John Whitcomb, The Early Earth, pp. 58-59]

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