Thus far, the discussion has provided contextualizing and background information. In order to determine the referent of God's ‘we’ in Gen 1: 26 (P), it was necessary to explore one of P's antecedents where God also utters this self-inclusive plural pronoun (11: 7). Then, several linguistic tacks converged to indicate that God's ‘we’ in Gen 11: 7 refers to a nonsingular entity. A complementary analysis further described some pragmatic constituents of Gen 11: 7, including its goal of forming a cooperative relationship, under unusual circumstances and with ominous implications, between Yahweh and one or more gods. Finally, this background discussion determined that God, in his role as group leader, enacts the proposal that spurred the union of the divine team.
The discussion may now be expanded and extended. It will have a wider methodological scope, including linguistic as well as nonlinguistic evidence. It will concentrate on two pentateuchal traditions that underlie and antecede P: the Elohist and the Yahwist (see §0.5). It will also investigate the J tradition in greater detail, especially Gen 3: 22 where God again utters the self-inclusive first person plural pronoun and, again, forms a cooperative relationship with his addressee. The following discussion, then, will establish a broader interpretive and historical rubric within which the divine ‘we’ of Gen 1: 26 can be evaluated.
4.1.1. The two early pentateuchal traditions acknowledge the existence of Israelite angels.1 J and E often refer to them in the singular: e.g.,‘angel’ (e.g., Ex 33: 2 ; Num 20: 16 [E?]), ‘the angel’ (Gen 48: 16 [E?]), ‘angel of the Lord’ (e.g., 16: 7 , 22: 11 [E]), ‘angel of God; divine angel’ (21: 17 [E]), and
1 Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomenon to the History of Ancient Israel (trans. J. Sutherland Black and Allan Menzies; 1885; repr., Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1973) 335 n. 1.