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Taking the Biblical Text Apart
For centuries, scholars from many backgrounds—religious and nonreligious, Christian and Jewish—have worked on discovering how the Bible came to be. Their task was not to prove whether the Bible’s words were divinely revealed to the authors. That is a question of faith, not scholarship. Rather, they were trying to learn the history of those authors: what they wrote, when they wrote and why they wrote. To date, the most persuasive solution they have found has been the documentary hypothesis. The idea of this hypothesis is that the Bible’s first books were formed through a long process. Ancient writers produced documents of poetry, prose and law over a period of many hundreds of years. And then editors used these documents as sources. From them, they fashioned the Bible that we have read for some two thousand years.

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