EL'OHIST AND YAHWIST, or JEIIOVIST. Terms adopted by certain modern biblical schol ars to denote the authors of two literary works which they believe to have been used as his torical sources in the composition of the Penta teuch as we have it, and to have been embodied in it. The terms are purely conventional names, assigned because the one source is supposed to be characterized by the use of Elohim (q.v.) as the designation of the national deity of the He brews: the other by the use' of Yahweh, (see Ero HIst, YauwEu), which is the specific. and as it were personal, designation of the national deity. Commonly both the works and their authors are referred to as E (= Elohist) and J(= Jehovist). According to the views of such critics, the work of the Yohwist is, in all probability, the older. In its original form it represented an attempt to give a history of the Hebrew theocracy down to the permanent occupation of the West Jordan district by the Hebrew tribes. It began with the traditions regarding the beginning of the world, related the current stories of early mankind, etc., the narratives of the patriarchs, the op pression in Egypt. and the Exodus, the revelation at Mount Sinai, the wanderings in the wilder ness, the death of Moses, who is succeeded by Joshua, and under the latter the work of con quest is actively taken in hand. While, however, presenting an outline of his people's history, the purpose of the original compiler of the legends, traditions, and historical recollections was to make his work serve as an illustration of Yah weh's relationship to His chosen people, and of His providential guidance as seen in this history. As a religions history, therefore, it begins with creation to show that at the beginning of things Yahweh was already in existence and that it was He who made all things. This Yahwistic com pilation has, however, passed through several hands. Even as traced in the Pentateuch by means of literary criticism, it no longer appears in its original form (though we can still deter mine to a certain extent what that form was), but represents the result of rearrangement and adjustment by several hands, so that it has be come eustomary among scholars to refer the Yahwistie history not to a single writer, but to a school of Yahwistie writers. In its original form the Yahwistie document was a product of the northern kingdom. hut in its revision it has passed through the hands of writers whose point of W was that of the sonthern kingdom. These distinctions manifest themselves in certain tails of the stories of the patriarchs, and in the greater or lesser prominence accorded to the old •anetna ries of the north and south respec tively.
is not possible to assign any definite date to the compilation of the Yahwistie history. The canticsl date assigned is the age of Solomon (c.950 me.) for the oldest sections of the work, though it is safer to bring it down to the ninth century, for its general tone indicates that the struggle between the Yahweh and Baal cults, which reached its climax in the days of Ahab, is past. The relations to the surrounding na
tions are of a friendly character and the outlook hopeful, which points to a time prior to the menaces of the Assyrian period. The Yahwistic history is marked by the easy flow of the narra tive. The stories and traditions are related in a vivid planner and in a style that is full of charm. The piety of the writers is also an im pressive feature. Their confidence in Yahweh is unbounded, and corresponding to this con fidence is the feeling of gratitude and devotion to Yahweh for all the mercies shown to His people.
The second historical compilation which con sistently uses 'Elohim' as the designation of the deity is of a different character. It also is a product of the northern kingdom of about the middle of the eighth century B.C., but is con sidered to have been revised by a Juchean editor. Like the Yahwistie history, the Elohistic compila tion views the past from a religious point of view, but the point is more clearly defined. The gen eral tone indicates a large amount of self-con sciousness, and, in keeping with the avoidance of the personal name of the national deity, we find the relations between Elohim and his worshipers less direct. Elohim does not converse directly with men, but by means of a heavenly or divine voice. The Elohist, moreover, aims to remove some of the features in the old stories which ap peared objectionable to a more advanced view of divine government. There is also an element of sadness in the work which is lacking in the Yah wistie history. The text is full of sombre recol lections which do not augur well for the future. While the outlook is still hopeful, it is the pro found faith of the writer which prompts his optimism; but there is an undercurrent of gloom and there are traces of the depression which be gins to settle upon Jewish history as the roar of the advancing Assyrian power is heard in the distance. The first distinct traces of this his tory are met with in the narrative about Abraham, so that it is not certain whether the Elohist began his work with the creation of the world, but it also extends through the period of the conquest of Canaan.
About the middle of the seventh century the Yahwistie and Elohistie histories were combined by a `Yahwistie editor into a single work whose purpose it was to preserve the variant versions of the old narratives which had assumed by this time a decidedly sacred character. His plan consists in giving a story according to that source which is the most complete, interspersing it or adding to it details derived from the other. It is this combined source, designated convention ally as .TE. which the post-exilie compiler (c.400 n.c.) who combined JE with the various legal codes (see IlExAitucll) into the present Penta teuch had before him.
Consult the Introductions to the Old Testa ment by Driver, Straek, Bleek-Wellhausen, Co llin]; and, especially, Kautseh, Pi/story of Old Testament Literature, translated by Taylor (Lon don. I598).