New Proposals Concerning the First Tetrateuch
and its Sources
Two substantial studies of the origin of the pre-Priestly Tetrateuch must now receive our attention, Christoph Levin The Yahwist,1 and Erhard Blum Studies in the Composition of the Pentateuch.2 They have in common with the research outlined in the foregoing chapter that they too date the composition of the 'first Tetrateuch' to the exilic and early post-exilic period respectively. They differ from them, however, in seeking to uncover the earlier, pre-exilic written sources employed by the author(s) of this work which, they argue, were substantial. As we shall see, they also differ strikingly from each other.
Levin takes as his starting-point the insight of earlier research that literary unevenness in J is evidence of different stages of its growth (variously described as J1, J2, or Ja, Jb, etc.). He argues that this insight was fully justified, but that the evidence must be interpreted differently, that is, not in terms of the growth in stages of an original J narrative at the hands of successive J writers and editors, but of the distinction between pre-Yahwistic sources (JQ) and the contribution of the Yahwist proper. According to Levin, the Yahwist is correctly understood, therefore, as a redactor (JR) who selected, arranged, combined, and supplemented inherited narratives and narrative complexes in accordance with the message he wished to convey. That is, he fully accepts the conclusions of other recent studies which point to____________________