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Name (abbreviated "J" from its German form) given to what the literary critics consider the oldest of the Pentateuchal traditions. It received its definitive form (s) in the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the early period of the monarchy. After the destruction of the Northern Kingdom in 721 b.c., J was conflated with the elohist (E) tradition to the benefit of the former. J is characterized by its anachronistic use of the name yahweh for God from the beginning of its history (whence its name). Its theological outlook, its style, and much of its vocabulary are all distinctive. Its history includes: the creation of man and woman, the Fall, the religious decline of mankind, the patriarchs and their descent into Egypt, the Exodus, and the wandering in the desert. J's history provides the basic narrative framework for the Pentateuch. Many critics think that the history continued with a description of the conquest and other events until the time of the monarchy, but there is no agreement concerning the precise identification of J in the later books. For more details and bibliography, see pentateuch.

[e. h. maly]

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Yahwist. The supposed editor of one of the hypothetical sources of the Jewish Pentateuch. According to Wellhausen, the Pentateuch was compiled from four separate sources. The oldest source, known as J because it uses the tetragrammaton to refer to God, was composed by the Yahwist, and is thought to date from the 9th cent. BCE. However, in recent years the documentary hypothesis has come under question once more.

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Yahwist the postulated author or authors of parts of the first six books of the Bible, in which God is regularly named Yahweh. Compare with Elohist.