The Forum: Journal of History


This paper examines the antithesis between Christian scholarship and modern higher criticism of the Pentateuch during the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the 19th century, the popularization and eventual hegemony of the Documentary Hypothesis revolutionized the field of Biblical studies. Modern critical scholars claimed that Moses did not write the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) during the 15th century BC, but rather it was the product of a later redaction of at least four separate documents: J, E, P, and D. Writing hundreds of years apart and long after Moses, their authors reflect not the ancient covenantal religion of Moses, but rather various periods in the evolution of Israel’s religion. The implications of the Documentary Hypothesis bring into question the historicity and theological validity of not only the Pentateuch, but also the Christian New Testament which presupposes it. The goal of this research is to identify the foundational presuppositions, conclusions, and contextual consciousness that both the modern critics and the Reformed body of Christian scholars opposing them brought to their scholarship. These Reformed Christian scholars recognized the antithetical nature of and cultural power bolstering the modern critics’ paradigm and thus challenged its conclusions at its foundational roots.