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Wellhausen in Light of his Contemporaries

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Chapter Summary

Wellhausen wrote the Prolegomena in the 19th century when historicism was the guiding principle in the study of humanities. Every cultural phenomenon had to be explained historically; the principle of synchronism was simply not considered. Consequently, Wellhausen searched for the historical circumstances of the Priestly Code. According to Wellhausen, the codes of JE and D were already crystallized at the end of the First Temple period. The Priestly Code contains laws regarding such matters as the borders of the twelve tribes and the distribution of the land. The literature of the exilic and postexilic period, starting with the book of Jeremiah, is strongly influenced by the book of Deuteronomy. Constructive critique against dogmatic approaches was launched by Israeli scholars in the middle of the 20th century. The linguistic fabric of biblical works is being carefully analyzed, and the historical and sociological background of the various documents is being examined afresh.

Keywords: Deuteronomy; Israeli scholars; Jeremiah; Priestly Code; Prolegomena; Wellhausen



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