The Yahwist and Elohist traditions are often so intermingled that it is difficult to distinguish them, and many scholars speak of the combination as the ‘Jehowist tradition’.
Elohist writings can be discerned by their perspective of being part of the northern Israelite kingdom when it was a prosperous and (regionally) powerful vassal of Assyria.
Yahwist writings can be distinguished by their rewriting of history to claim that David was once a grand overking over both Judah and the northern Israelite kingdom.
The Priestly writer’s re-interpretation of the tradition is much more clear-cut.
That's because they were the final editors.
All these 'authors' and traditions based on the stories written in the 7th century.
The Deuteronomist authors wrote in the 7th century BC (court of King Josiah). The Elohist authors wrote early in the eighth century BC (when the northern kingdom began writing all their stories down). The Yahwist authors wrote late in the eighth century BC (just after the destruction of the northern kingdom).
Some of the stories had been passed down verbally for centuries before they finally started writing things down (the stories of King Saul for example, and the stories about the escape from Egypt).
Apart from the history of the Kings in the Bible, ( greatly exaggerated) the rest is merely stories.
The history of the kings is immensely valuable all by itself. It is also the history of the kingdoms that were ruled by those kings.
There are no references to any Exodus apart from the Hyksos being thrown out by Ahmose I, and a few disgruntled citizens being thrown out by his wife while he was away conquering elsewhere.
I wouldn't expect the escape of a small band of slaves to be such major news to the slaveholders that it would show up in their national records.
Neither is there any evidence that slaves were ill treated. Egyptians knew their value.
I expect that I'd be unhappy to be an Egyptian slave, and would seek to escape.
The scribes of the 7th century merely concocted the commandments and all the varies health, marriage, food regulations from those already practised in the earlier civilisations.
It must have been a heady time in the court of King Josiah. The Assyrians had collapsed as a power and King Josiah had true independence for the first time since the Omrides.
Archaeology proves only that certain things happened. Jericho was destroyed - not how. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed - not how. Why not earthquakes? They're both close and in an earthquake area. Jericho had been destroyed several times in 9000 years of history.
I've no objection to the idea that they were destroyed by earthquakes. In one of these threads there was just a conversation about Sodom and Gomorrah if you're interested.
Ancient history shows the ancient stories are just that. The story of Abraham is just that. He could not have met the Hittites, he could not have come from Ur 'of the Chaldees' and probably never have met the Pharaoh. And 'Moses', who is supposed to have written the story, should have known this.
Well Moses clearly didn't write Abraham's stories. If the leader of the escaped slaves (regardless of what his name was) composed any part of the Bible at all, it was only that small bit of extra-ancient language used to describe the escape from Egypt. And we don't even know that he was the one to compose that.
The trouble with the stories of the patriarchs is, they were politically unremarkable individuals. History and archaeology deal with cultures as a whole (or with the leaders of those cultures). This means the patriarchal stories didn't have a lot of historical content to begin with.
Not only that, but we don't even have accurate versions of Abraham's stories. When the oral stories of Abraham and King David were finally written down by the Yahwist authors, the northern Israelite kingdom had just been destroyed and Judah had suddenly absorbed a huge number of refugees. King Hezekiah needed to represent himself as the legitimate ruler over both populations while not contradicting the memories that the refugees had of the northern kingdom being much more powerful than Judah had been. The result was recasting King David as an ancient former overking over both countries before the time of the northern kingdom's independent history. And Abraham (the ancient hero of Judah) was recast as the grandfather of Jacob (the ancient hero of the northern Israelite kingdom).
Later during the Babylonian captivity Abraham was recast again by the Priestly authors as having been born in a prominent Babylonian city. The result is a pretty garbled version of the stories of Abraham compared to how they were originally passed down verbally.
I suspect that if we could somehow access the original stories of Abraham and Jacob, we'd find that the stories would say that they were morally righteous guys who lived in very early iron age Israel, before even King Saul, and that there would be little more to the stories than examples of their moral righteousness.
But who knows.
The'religion' changed from Polytheism to Monotheism
I think I agree, but just to be clear, the Hebrew deity was always a single deity. Early Israeli culture was polytheistic in that people also worshiped other deities in addition to their worship of the Hebrew deity.
There was also a period of transition, when hardliners for the Hebrew deity felt that things should be monotheistic and chafed against those who kept worshiping "rival deities". It is hard to date exactly when this attitude first occurred because some of the earlier prophets' condemnation of idolatry could have been written into the story centuries after the fact. King Hezekiah clearly tried to do away with rival deities though, so this viewpoint was established in the minds of the hardliners by the time of his reign.
You mentioned the Omrides dynasty which lasted only about 40-50 years.
The other 'dynasties' were almost irrelevant in terms of achievements.
Omri and Ahab were a high point for Israeli power and independence, but under Jehoash and Jeroboam II the northern Israelite kingdom was prosperous and exercised quite a bit of regional power as a vassal of Assyria.
After the northern Israelite kingdom was destroyed, under King Manasseh Judah also was prosperous and exercised regional power as a vassal of Assyria. After Assyria collapsed, Judah experienced prosperity and independence under King Josiah.
Interesting to talk to you
I'm enjoying this conversation too.