See especially Baruch Halpern, “Erasing History: The Minimalist Assault on Ancient Israel,” BR 11:06.


Moreover, there is a concentration of key words in the Genesis 22 story that begin with the consonants yod and resh, the same letters that begin the word “Jerusalem.” Most prominent are the phrases ’elohim yir’eh, [“God will see”] (v. 8); YHWH yir’eh; Adonai yir’eh (v. 14); and behar YHWH yir’eh, “on the mount of the Lord [there is vision]” (v. 14). All of these words evoke the name Jerusalem. Note also “the land of Moriah” (v. 3). This word occurs in the Bible in only one other place, 2 Chronicles 3:1: “Solomon began to build the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, which appeared to David his father, and which David had prepared as the place, at the threshing floor of Ornan [variant of Araunah] the Jebusite.” This passage comes from a late book; it indicates that by the Persian period Jewish readers of the Torah had identified Moriah with Jerusalem. Unfortunately, we have no independent confirmation, especially from an earlier period, that Moriah was in the vicinity of Jerusalem.


For one attempt to find the Pishon, see James A. Sauer, “The River Runs Dry: Creation Story Preserves Historical Memory,” BAR 22:04.


For more on the city and the Temple as Paradise, see Lawrence E. Stager, “Jerusalem as Eden,” BAR 26:03; and Victor Hurowitz, “Inside Solomon’s Temple,” BR 10:02.



The best treatment is Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (New York: Prentice Hall, 1988). For a more detailed discussion of the Yahwist source, see Friedman, The Hidden Book of the Bible (San Francisco: Harper, 1998).


This approach originates with the Israeli scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann (The Religion of Israel, trans. Moshe Greenberg [Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1960], pp. 175–200), and is favored today by, among others, Jacob Milgrom (Leviticus 1–16, Anchor Bible 3 [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1991], pp. 3–35).


This view has been proffered by scholars such as Niels Peter Lemche. His most recent book is The Israelites in History and Tradition (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998).


This view is associated with the name of Israel Finkelstein. Note his plenary talk at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Nashville, November 2000, entitled “Archaeology and the Biblical Text 2000: The View from the Center.” And now see the coauthored volume: Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, The Bible Unearthed (New York: Free Press, 2001), p. 14 and passim.


For a detailed survey, see Gordon J. Wenham, “Pondering the Pentateuch: The Search for a New Paradigm,” in David W. Baker and Bill T. Arnold, eds., The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), pp. 116–144.


See Gary A. Rendsburg, The Redaction of Genesis (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1986); and Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative (New York: Basic Books, 1982), chap. 7.


See Meir Sternberg, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative (Bloomington, IN: Indiana Univ. Press, 1985).


See further Jon D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible (Minneapolis, MN: Winston Press, 1985), pp. 129–131.


The use of the phrase “the Agagite” in Esther (3:1, 10, 8:3, 5, 9:24) as an epithet of Haman is a literary construct used to set Haman against Mordecai, for the latter is introduced as a descendant of Kish (like Saul!) (Esther 2:5).


For material attributed to the P source, see the many works of Avi Hurvitz, the most comprehensive of which is A Linguistic Study of the Relationship Between the Priestly Source and the Book of Ezekiel (Paris: Gabalda, 1982). In addition, see Rendsburg, “Late Biblical Hebrew and the Date of ‘P’,” Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society (JANES) 12 (1980), pp. 65–80; and Ziony Zevit, “Converging Lines of Evidence Bearing on the Date of P,” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 94 (1982), pp. 481–511. For material attributed to the J source, see Richard M. Wright, “Linguistic Evidence for the Pre-Exilic Date of the Yahwist Source of the Pentateuch” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell Univ., 1998).


The typology of literary style established by Frank Polak, based on a detailed analysis of the biblical narrative corpus, also indicates that the Torah is essentially an early work. See Polak, “Development and Periodization of Biblical Prose Narrative,” Bet Miqra 43 (1997), pp. 30–52, 142–160 (in Hebrew); and “The Oral and the Written: Syntax, Stylistics, and the Development of Biblical Prose Narrative,” JANES 26 (1998), pp. 59–105.


This article is based on a previous study: Rendsburg, “Biblical Literature as Politics: The Case of Genesis,” in Adele Berlin, ed., Religion and Politics in the Ancient Near East (Bethesda, MD: Univ. Press of Maryland, 1996), pp. 47–70, which, in turn, is greatly indebted to a seminal article by the late doyen of Israeli biblical scholars, Benjamin Mazar: “The Historical Background of the Book of Genesis,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 28 (1969), pp. 73–83.