The Voice of God

Did you know that most biblical scholars think that there are four different “voices” in the Pentateuch (that’s the first five books of the Old Testament)?

The first voice is “J” or the “Jahwehist” voice.  This stands for Jahweh, which is the sacred and holy name for God.  In this voice, God is relatively simple.  God appears, speaks and leaves.  God engages in only a few discussions with humans and there are not long explanations or angels/messengers from God.  This voice also feels responsible to explain the human and natural world—why things happen the way they do.  The theology is simple: You do good; you get good.  You do bad; you get bad.

The second voice is “E” or the “Elohist” voice.  Elohim means God in Hebrew.  In this voice, God is more complicated.  God speaks longer monologues and even engages in dialogue with humans.  God also uses angels and dreams to communicate with humans.

The third voice is “P” or the “Priestly” voice.  The agenda of the priestly voice is to promote the priesthood, holiness and cleanliness.  This voice describes ritual in detail and is also responsible for the laws in Leviticus.  The laws are important because they promote the purity of the Hebrew society.

The fourth and final voice is “D” or the “Deuteronomist” voice.  The primary theme of this voice is that the Hebrews’ sins will one day land them in hot water with God who will then allow the fall of their state along with their enslavement to heathen outsiders as punishment.  This is the doom and gloom voice: “Repent now, or else!”

These different voices are the reason that we have two distinct stories of creation.  The first is found in Genesis 1-2:4.  The second is found in Genesis 2:5ff.  Which voice do you think is responsible for each story?  Email me or post your ideas on our Facebook page!


Rev. Jill