Why Study the Documentary Hypothesis?

Why is it important for evangelicals to become familiar with critical approaches to the Pentateuch?

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It's important for evangelicals to be aware of critical approaches to the Pentateuch because there is a lot of information out there – commentaries, articles, other resources – that are valuable for helping us understand what is written in the Pentateuch. But, in order to understand what they're saying, the arguments that they're communicating, you have to understand their language. And so, a major theology paradigm for them in the Old Testament is the J.E.D.P. theory, or the documentary hypothesis. And you need to understand a little bit about what this means so that when you read their commentaries or some of their sources that you're able to understand the language that they're using so that you can say, "Oh, I get it, I understand what this biblical text is saying from their perspective."

Answer by Dr. David Talley

Dr. David Talley is Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology and is Chair of the Biblical and Theological Studies Old Testament Department.