(5-Minute Read)
In my recent debate with Muslim author Kenny Bomer, we had the opportunity to discuss and look at his perspectives about the alleged influences and adaptions that were interpolated into the Bible from sources like the Ugaritic texts and other Ancient Near Eastern narratives.  You can view the complete debate here:
DEBATE!  In this series of articles, I will look at some of the claims of Kenny and unravel some of the underlined marks that note his position. Ringgren, in his article “Israel’s Place Among the Religions of the Ancient Near East,” writes.

“Comparative research in the Biblical field has often become a kind of “parallel hunting.” Once it has been established that a certain biblical expression or custom has a parallel outside the Bible, the whole problem is regarded as solved. It is not asked whether or not the extra-Biblical element has the same place in life, the same function in the context of its own culture. The first question that should be asked in comparative research is that of the Sitz im Leben and the meaning of the extra-Biblical parallel adduced. It is not until this has been established that the parallel can be utilized to elucidate a Biblical fact.”[1]

Throughout the discussion, I showed that adaption in the Ancient Near Eastern Cultures was nothing novel. In fact, the very birthplace of the concept of “books” and language, especially one of the first alphabets, had its roots in the Canaanite people write Werner Keller.[2] Keller shows that cultures systemically mingled across boundaries and even took on other nations’ people’s names[3] and the dress was not excluded, especially the color purple that showed a distinguished class. We can but assume that Near Eastern Imagery was commonplace but, in the discussion, I have shown that the ancient Jews clearly distinguished themselves as Yahweh’s elect people worshipping the One and Only God. Randall Price even affirms that Biblical Scholars have a lot to be thankful for and that ancient documents, especially those from the Ugarit helped them immensely in understanding Hebrew poetry and grammar.[4]

Kenny assumes more in that the Hebrews vastly adapted and even syncretized the majority of what was held sacred in their understanding of God (Yahweh/Elohim). The Jewish rulers were simple Pagans adopting set believes that were not uncommon to the notions of the Ancient Near Eastern Paganism shunning ‘original pure monotheism.’ It should not be a shock that Kenny’s ideas are not new, there are two specific elements that seemed to have influenced his ideas. The first would be the documentary hypothesis and the second the evolutionary approach to understand World religions.   

The Documentary Hypothesis [5]

Old Testament scholar Duane Garrett—whose book “Rethinking Genesis” has been called “the most convincing refutation of the documentary hypothesis now in print”—writes:

“A creature stalks the halls of biblical studies. It is routinely raised up from the grave in classrooms and it haunts textbooks and monographs that deal with the Hebrew Scriptures. Wherever it roams, it distorts the analysis of the text of the Bible, confounds readers, and produces strange and irrational interpretations. This undead creature sometimes goes by the quasi-mystical sounding sobriquet “the JEDP theory,” but it is better known by its formal name, the documentary hypothesis. The time has come for scholars to recognize that the documentary hypothesis is dead. The arguments that support it have been dismantled by scholars of many stripes—many of whom have no theological commitment to the Bible.

What are some of the reasons we deny the Documentary Hypothesis? Here are a few reasons.

(1) The whole thesis assumes its conclusion and does not necessarily prove its conclusion. Those using this perspective are usually trying to proof a lot more than what the theory is saying.

(2) There is an overwhelming Biblical motif that Moses was the author of the of the Pentateuch (Exod. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1–2; and Deut. 31:9–11; Josh.1:8; 8:31–32; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Dan. 9:11–13; and Mal. 4:4; Matt. 19:8; John 5:45–47; 7:19; Acts 3:22; Rom. 10:5; and Mark 12:26.)

(3) The impression is created that Israel, especially at the time of Moses was vastly illiterate and only become a people that would produce an articulate history in books at the time of the Davidic Monarchy. The point is then that these books were put together late, and they had numerous redactions.

(4)  Those using this theory assumes that the ancient Hebrews were not capable to use different names and conceptions about Yahweh and neither were they capable of writing in different styles. Both of these assumptions were not true.

(5) The Hypothesis violates what is known as ‘Aristotle’s Dictum’, which is that an ancient text shall be measured by its own merit and given the benefit of the doubt, above assumed unfounded criticisms, and be deemed reliable until the contrary can be undeniably proven.

(6) No document has been discovered that proves multiple authorship or gives a singular account for each supposed influence. The unanimous testimony has always been that the author of the Pentateuch is Moses.

“You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible.”

On point number 3, Kenny objected that any Biblical mandate could not be used to prove the biblical merit, because that would be circular. “You cannot use the Bible to prove the Bible.” What Kenny is failing to understand is that this is not circular in any way because the Bible consists of 66 books (39 in the Old and 27 in the New Testaments) that are compiled into one book. To put it in other words, there are multiple witnesses (40[6]) attesting to the same reality independently from various languages, backgrounds, and perspectives. This is not circular, but rather cogent reasoning. If a group of people attests independently to the fact of one reality the most reasonable outcome would be to conclude that what they affirm was true. Back to the point, I also affirm that the JEDP[7] Documentary Hypothesis is not supportable because of its numerous complications and that that has been the view of an increasing majority of biblical scholars since around 1970. This theory is simply a strawman argument attempting to prove Mosaic authorship.[8] Now let us look at the evolutionary approach to World religions.

Evolution of religion and Robert Wright who is a Buddhist?

Kenny makes no secret of the fact that he is drawing his inferences from secular sources. One cannot but ask if the same would be done concerning the Qur’an if the author would lament about these standards applied? So, what is wrong with Wright’s point of view? First, it is important to note that Wrights’ whole theory is nothing novel. The evolutionary approach to understand world religion is a humanist anthropological model seeking to negate any form of supernatural influence in exchange for a more natural one. One should wonder why any theist would simply use a perspective that would undermine their own view? On the evolutionary approach scholar, Winfred Corduan writes.

“The biggest problem with the evolutionary model of religion is that the kind of development it describes has never been observed. Certainly, there is a lot of change in the religious life of many cultures. But the changes may occur anywhere along the line and can proceed in either direction. We have no record of any Evolutionary model of religion. [There is no evidence of] Culture moving precisely from a mannalike beginning to a monotheistic culmination, incorporating all stages in proper sequence, or anything even close to it, and the same thing is true for any of the variations of the evolutionary model. In fact, there is no region in the world where such a sequence is demonstrated by successive different cultures either.” there is no historical validation of a grand evolutionary pattern in religion, leading from a supposed lower form steadily to a higher form.” (Emphasis added in brackets)[9]

In Conclusion of Part 1:

There is a sense of modern snobbery where we believe the ancients were less complex than we were. The underline assumption is that religion grew from a very ‘mana/fetishism’ lower-order religious conception to a higher, more complex, henotheism ending in monotheism. That being said, nowhere in Israel’s History do we find any such conception or idea. The burden of proof is upon the individual who makes the claim, but I am pretty sure no notable scholar has proposed any such a thesis.


Works Cites:

[1] H. Ringgren, “Israel’s Place Among the Religions of the Ancient Near East,” in Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel, VTSup 23 (Leiden: Brill, 1972), 1, cited in Talmon, 402.

[2] The Bible as History, Pg. 72.

[3] Ibid, Pg.73.

[4] The Stones Cry Out, Pg. 85.

[5] https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/the-yawn-of-jedp/

[6] Alphabetical list of Old Testament authors


Amos: The book of Amos

Daniel: The book of Daniel

David: Psalms (Other authors wrote portions of Psalms as well)

Ezekiel: The book of Ezekiel

Ezra: The book of Ezra (Additionally Ezra is thought to have written 1st and 2nd Chronicles and possibly portions of Nehemiah)

Habakkuk: The book of Habakkuk

Haggai: The book of Haggai

Hosea: The book of Hosea

Isaiah: The book of Isaiah

Jeremiah: 1st and 2nd Kings, Lamentations, the book of Jeremiah

Joel: The book of Joel

Jonah: The book of Jonah

Joshua: The book of Joshua

Malachi: The book of Malachi

Micah: The book of Micah

Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (Moses possibly compiled/wrote the book of Job)

Nahum: The book of Nahum

Nehemiah: The book of Nehemiah

Obadiah: The book of Obadiah

Samuel: (Samuel is believed to have written 1st and 2nd Samuel, Ruth, and Judges)

Solomon: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Song of Solomon (also known as Song of Songs)

Zechariah: The book of Zechariah

Zephaniah: The book of Zephaniah


Alphabetical list of New Testament authors


James: The book of James

John: Gospel of John, 1st John, 2nd John, 3rd John, Revelation

Jude: Book of Jude

Luke: Gospel of Luke, Acts of the Apostles

Mark: Gospel of Mark

Matthew: Gospel of Matthew

Paul: Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus, Philemon (possibly the book of Hebrews)

Peter: 1st and 2nd Peter

[7] The letters stand for:

J documents are the sections, verses, or in some cases parts of verses that were written by one or more authors who preferred to use the Hebrew name Jahweh (Jehovah) to refer to God. It is proposed that this author wrote about 900–850 B.C.

E documents are the texts that use the name Elohim for God and were supposedly written around 750–700 B.C.

D stands for Deuteronomy, most of which was written by a different author or group of authors, perhaps around the time of King Josiah’s reforms in 621 B.C.

P stands for Priest and identifies the texts in Leviticus and elsewhere in the Pentateuch that were written by a priest or priests during the exile in Babylon after 586 B.C.

[8] https://reformedwiki.com/documentary-hypothesis-jedp


[9] Neighbouring Faiths, Pg. 38-40.