Dating of old testament books
The last decade has been one of great turmoil in the field of documentary studies.
Many of the most cherished ideas of the classic documentary theory have been put in serious question by mainline critical scholars.
Some scholars simply do not believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible: certainly Wellhausen fell into this camp, so it was easy for him to accept that Deuteronomy was fictitious.According to the classic theory popularized by Wellhausen in 1878 there are four main sources in the Pentateuch: J from the tenth century BC, E from the ninth, D(euteronomy) from the seventh and P from the late sixth century.But in recent years the very existence of an independent E document has been questioned, and it has been forcefully argued that P, supposedly the latest source, is really an earlier source perhaps contemporary with J and certainly before D(euteronomy). Pleading for a new look at the whole question of pentateuchal critical theory, Rendtorff, Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg, observed: 'We possess hardly any reliable criteria for dating pentateuchal literature.One will read these works in vain for a clear statement of why these scholars believe Deuteronomy was written in the seventh century: this dating is simply such a central element in critical tradition that it is not regarded as necessary to state the reasons for it, let alone defend them.
On the other hand conservatives have persistently tried to argue for a much earlier date for Deuteronomy, indeed often for a Mosaic origin of the book.
'I believe in order to understand', said Anselm, And in the realm of critical biblical study this approach to theology often takes the form of defending Scripture against the doubts of unbelievers.