Any of the original oral or written materials compiled as the Bible. While authorship of many biblical books is anonymous or pseudonymous, scholars have used internal evidence and the tools of biblical criticism to identify sources and arrange them in chronological order of composition. There are four sources for the Pentateuch: J (sources in which God is called YHWH, German JHVH), eastern (sources in which God is called Elohim), D (sources in the style of Deuteronomy), and P (for sources with priestly style and content). Parts of lost books have also been identified in the Old Testament. New Testament sources include original writings and oral traditions. The first three (synoptic) Gospels have a common source, Matthew and Luke being based on Mark and a lost source called Q; John conveys an independent tradition. Biblical sources are studied to uncover the history of the scriptures and to restore texts as closely as possible to their original content. Scholars may also analyze biblical sources in an effort to reconstruct the oral tradition behind them.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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