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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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Histories Natural and Unnatural

Histories Natural and Unnatural

The Documentary Hypothesis and Other Developmental Theories

(p.101) Chapter Three Histories Natural and Unnatural
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines nineteenth-century developmental theories that explain the origin of the Jews, including the Documentary Hypothesis formulated by biblical scholar Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918). It considers Wellhausen's use of source criticism to demonstrate the developmental process that transformed the Israelites into the Jews, resulting in a kind of evolutionary account of Jewish origins that spanned several hundred years. It also situates Wellhausen's theory within later developmental theories, such as Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, to better understand what exactly he was arguing about the origin of the Jews. Finally, it discusses Wellhausen's claim that Judaism began in the postexilic/Persian period.

Keywords:   developmental theories, Jews, Documentary Hypothesis, Julius Wellhausen, source criticism, Israelites, Judaism, Jewish origins, Charles Darwin, evolution

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