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Encyclopedia > Torah redactor

The Torah redactor (R) is, according to the documentary hypothesis, the figure who assembled hypothetical source texts of the Torah—the Deuteronomist text (D), the Priestly text P, and JE (an earlier joining of the Jahwist text [J] and the Elohist text [E])—into a single work. The documentary hypothesis is a hypothesis proposed by many historians and academics in the field of linguistics and source criticism that the Five Books of Moses (the Torah) are in fact a combination of documents from different sources rather than authored by one individual. ... Torah (תורה) is a Hebrew word meaning teaching, instruction, or law. ... The Deuteronomist (D) is one of the sources of the Torah postulated by the documentary hypothesis that treats the texts of Scripture as products of human intellect, working in time. ... The Priestly Source (P) is one of the sources of the Torah postulated by the documentary hypothesis. ... JE is an intermediate source text postulated by the documentary hypothesis for the torah. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Jehovist. ... The Elohist (E) is one of the sources of the torah postulated by the documentary hypothesis Nature of the Elohist text In this source Gods name is always presented as Elohim (Hebrew for God, or Power) until the revelation of Gods name to Moses, after which God is...

This theory is not universally accepted. According to classical Judaism, particularly Orthodox Judaism, the entire notion of "redactors of the Torah" based on the documentary hypothesis is false and misleading. // Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people. ... Orthodox Judaism is the stream of Judaism which adheres to a relatively strict interpretation and application of the laws and ethics first canonized in the Talmud (The Oral Law) and later codified in the Shulkhan Arukh (Code of Jewish Law). It is governed by these works and the Rabbinical commentary...


The Torah redactor

Certain scholars postulate that the Persian emperor, wishing to promote Hebrew national unity after the Babylonian exile, promulgated the redaction of the hypothetical JE, P, and D texts. JE and P contained rival histories and rival religious views, P and D contained rival law codes. Both had to be kept to avoid alienating each group, but the differences needed to be minimized so that people could be certain what the law code and history was. Achaemenid empire at its greatest extent The Achaemenid Dynasty (Hakamanishiya in the Old Persian (Avestan ??) language - transliterated Hakamanshee in Modern Persian) - was a dynasty in the ancient Persian Empire. ... The Babylonian captivity, or Babylonian exile, is the name generally given to the deportation and exile of the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. ...

Many scholars think that the redactor, R, was Ezra, as he was the priest empowered by the Persian emperor to arbitrate and assert the state religion. Ezra was instructed to uphold the religious text that he carried back with him from the Babylonian exile. According to the Biblical Book of Nehemiah, when Ezra read it out to the assembled people returning from exile, many thought that certain things were new and had not been read before. In particular, a law, usually ascribed to R, concerning the Festival of Booths, is reported as never having been carried out before. Ezra (עֶזְרָא, Standard Hebrew Ê¿Ezra, Tiberian Hebrew Ê¿Ezrâ: short for עַזְרִיאֵל My help/court is God, Standard Hebrew Ê¿Azriʾel, Tiberian Hebrew Ê¿Azrîʾēl) was the scribe who led the second body of exiled Israelites that returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in 459 BC, and the author of the Book of Ezra... The Book of Nehemiah is a book of the Hebrew Bible, known to Jews as the Tanakh and to Christians as the Old Testament. ... Sukkot (סוכות or סֻכּוֹת sukkōt, booths) or Succoth is an 8-day Biblical pilgrimage festival, also known as the Feast of Booths, the Feast of Tabernacles, or Tabernacles. ...

Ezra was an Aaronid priest (a priest claiming descent from Aaron), and as such would have favoured P-like texts, which is also a characteristic of the texts added by R. The similarity between P and R lead many early scholars to conclude that R was part of P, although this neglected the fact that in such a situation, P would have needlessly duplicated JE in the Torah, when it could have just rewritten and replaced it, and consequently today such an idea is generally discredited. Aaron (אַהֲרֹן;, a word meaning bearer of martyrs in Hebrew (perhaps also, or instead, related to the Egyptian Aha Rw, Warrior Lion), Standard Hebrew Aharon, Tiberian Hebrew ʾAhărōn), was a Levite and the elder brother of Moses and the eldest son of Amram and Jochebed (Exodus 6:16 ff. ...

Ezra was also a scribe and had a great interest in the Torah ("set his heart on seeking out the Lord's Torah" - Ezra 7:10). An ancient tradition, recorded in the 2nd century AD in the apocryphal Fourth Book of Ezra (the 1st book is the Book of Ezra, the 2nd is the Book of Nehemiah), claims that Ezra wrote the Torah himself as the result of a revelation from God, the original having been destroyed when the earlier temple was burnt down by the Babylonians. Jerome reports this tradition in the 4th century AD, stating that there was no objection to people stating Ezra was the renewer of the Torah. 2 Esdras is a Jewish Christian apocalypse written toward the end of the first century AD. It is not accepted as scriptural by most Christians; therefore, they count it among the apocrypha. ... The Book of Ezra is a book of the Bible in the Old Testament and Hebrew Tanakh. ... , by Albrecht Dürer Jerome (ca. ...

The redaction

The majority of the hypothesized redaction is composed by splicing together the JE version and P version of each story (and inserting the text where there is no opposing version) either dispersing small parts of each story into the text of the version in the other text, or placing the other version of the story afterward.

It appears that the redactor felt it necessary to add minor details to make the resulting combination of each story appear sufficiently whole (such as adding the names from the JE version text to the P version text in the story of rebellion against the priesthood at Numbers 16, or adding a description of the Pharaoh's opinion to the Plague story at Exodus 8,9,10,11).

The hypothetical JE, P, and D texts appear to have had very little cut from them, and separating the Torah along these lines produces consistent narratives with few gaps. However, a few stories appear to have had parts cut to improve the flow between two narratives, such as the Heresy of Peor (Numbers 25), in which the end of the JE version and the start of the P version appear to be missing.

R appears to have inserted parts of other minor source texts to the P and JE redaction to form a more continuous work than it otherwise would have been. These texts are

  • The Book of Generations, a hypothetical early text apparently simply describing genealogies, and having a textual style similar to P. This text appears to have been used to add a stronger narrative continuity to stories in Genesis. This is used only in Genesis, at 5:1 - 28, 5: 30-32, 7:6, 9:28 - 29, 11:10(ii) - 26, 11:32, 25:12, 25:19, 36:2 - 30
  • The Stations list, a hypothetical text describing the places that the Hebrews wandered during the exodus. It is present in Numbers, at 33:5 - 37, 33:41 - 49. Many, or all, of the more narrative elements composing the remainder of Numbers 33 may also be part of this text. Parts of the text are also used throughout Numbers and Exodus by R to provide narrative continuity between stories. The text itself may be an independent record of the exodus story.
  • Additional sacrifice laws have been added in Numbers at 15:1 - 31, 28, 29, and an additional ritual is specified for the feast of Booths in Leviticus at 23:39 - 43 (insisting that people actually live in a tent during the feast). These appear to take a similar form to laws in P, and may be later developments amongst the Aaronid Priests.

In combining the relevant part (i.e. that finishing the story of Moses, and containing the law code) of D into the Torah, it appears that R chose merely to move the stories in JE and in P of Moses' death, and the appointment of Joshua, to the other side of D, so as to avoid Moses appearing to die twice. The Book of generations is a partially lost text that the modern documentary hypothesis claims was used by the redactor of the torah to connect up parts of the priestly source and the JE source. ... The Stations list is a document forming part of the Torah, which is believed, under the modern documentary hypothesis, to have originally been a distinct and seperate source text. ...


Richard Elliot Friedman. The Bible with Sources Revealed. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003.)

External links

  • Additional rituals attributed to the redactor, isolated, at wikisource

  Results from FactBites:
Torah - Hutchinson encyclopedia article about Torah (537 words)
Jews believe that the Torah was a renewal of God's covenant with his people, and that by observing the guidelines laid down in the Torah, they fulfil their part of the covenant with God.
The word Torah may also be used either to describe the whole collection of Jewish written and oral scriptures, or all the books in the Hebrew Bible, including the Torah (first five books), Nevi'im (books of the prophets), and Ketuvim (remaining books such as Psalms).
For Orthodox Jews the Torah is to be obeyed, and it is not for humans to offer their opinion of the relative worth of the laws.
Torah, Pentateuch, Taurah (959 words)
Torah (a Hebrew word meaning "instruction"), in its broadest sense, refers to the entire body of Jewish teaching incorporated in the Old Testament and the Talmud and in later rabbinical commentaries.
The Torah, in the latter sense, is preserved on scrolls kept in the ark of every synagogue; reading of the Torah is central to the synagogue service.
A special holiday in honor of the Torah, known as Simhath Torah (Hebrew, "rejoicing in the Law"), is celebrated in the synagogue by singing, and marching and dancing with the scrolls.
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