documentary hypothesis  
The belief that the PENTATEUCH was composed from different documentary sources. Traditionally Jews maintained that the Five Books of Moses were_composed in their entirety by MOSES, and this has remained a central tenet of the faith. However, the 19th-century German biblical scholar Wellhausen argued that different strands within the text can be discerned. He identified them as J (because God is called YHWH), E (God is Elohim), D (the writer of Deuteronomy), and P (the Priestly source). Most non-ORTHODOX Jews have accepted the documentary hypothesis in at least a modified form.   

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Reprinted with permission from A Concise Encyclopedia of Judaism,
by Dan Cohn-Sherbok. Oneworld Publications