Priestly Writers, Pentateuchal

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Term applied to those responsible for one of the main traditions in Israel that was gradually edited to become the "Priestly Code" and conflated with the yahwist and elohist traditions and with Deuteronomy to form the Pentateuch. The Priestly Code (abbreviated P) contains a story of creation, genealogies, a story of the flood, patriarchal narratives, an account of the Exodus and Covenant and a large number of laws. Because of its interest in laws and in the cult and because of the liturgical cast of its narratives, it is attributed to the priests of Judah. It is recognizable by its more didactic and redundant style, its numerical symbolism, chronological precision, and liturgical and legal emphases. P developed over a long period of time, many of its laws reflecting a primitive milieu. Probably in the postexilic period it incorporated the originally independent Holiness Code (or "H," Leviticus ch. 1726; see holiness, law of) and other material and, in the middle of the 5th century b.c. was conflated with the Yahwistic, Elohistic, and Deuteronomic traditions (J, E, D). P now provides the chronological and ethnological framework for the Pentateuch. (see pentateuch for details and bibliography.)

[e. h. maly]