Richard Elliott Friedman's "Hidden Book in the Bible"

The basic thesis of this book rests on the JEDP hypothesis and argues that the author of the "J" portion of the Pentateuch is also responsible for other parts of the OT history from Joshua to Kings.

Friedman's tone is not that of a hostile critic; his tone is rather breathless at times as he reports what he thinks is a great discovery, but is actually no more than overstatements mixed with presumption.

What Friedman has done is found an indeed large number of words and phrases that are found only in "J" passages from Genesis to 1 Kings. In a few cases the data is so meager as to be meaningless: A word or phrase is found only twice in this span. For example, "coat of many colors" is found twice, but in the context of Bible times, when this would be a special gift, would this mean any more than finding the words "leather jacket" twice in a multi-authored book on motorcycle gangs?

In other cases the data is a mountain made of a molehill. Words like "hate" found five or seven times don't mean anything statistically; one may as well use the words "the" or "and" as markers of authorship. The term for animal feed is used five times in this span, but are we expecting references to animal feed in the Deuteronomy covenant, or in the annals of Kings? "And Rehoboam ordered a pile of animal feed placed in the middle of the throne room..." In yet other cases, mimesis by a later author is an even better explanation than Friedman's.

Friedman does offer a service in arguing for an early date for the J material. Nevertheless, Hidden Book in the Bible is little more than literary contrivance at work.

-JPH