For these reasons I have used the symbols J and E in the commentary, to distinguish the two chief sources from which the narratives appear to be derived, though I am fully aware that the question of their identity is by no means beyond controversy. Those of my readers who are not convinced of this identity may regard the letters J and E as equivalent to X and Y, two otherwise unknown sources, of which X (J) is almost everywhere manifestly the older and historically the more valuable. The author who united them and composed the pre-Deuteronomic Book of Judges was probably one of that school of prophetic historians
Jud. 1, J's account of the conquest and settlement of Canaan, is certainly not the end of his work; 21a, 5b here also lead over to the following period. It is antecedently more probable that these books furnished the author of Judges with his material than that they altogether disappear at the beginning of this period, their place being taken by two unrelated sources having a certain resemblance to J and E respectively. It must be acknowledged that the resemblances are less marked than might be expected, and are accompanied by noticeable differences. But it should be observed, first, that the ultimate sources, the popular traditions from which the tales of the judges are drawn, naturally had a different origin and character from the legends of the patriarchs in Genesis or the narratives of the Mosaic age; and, second, that the symbols J and E represent, not individual authors, but a succession of writers, the historiography of a certain period and school. The differences upon which Kittel and König have laid stress are, it appears to me, critically of less significance than the admitted resemblances. Moreover, the problem of the sources in Judges cannot be separated from the same question in Samuel, and in the latter the indicia point to J and E more clearly, perhaps, than in Judges.
- Cf. also J's part in 223–36.
- It is methodologically an unreasonable demand that it should first be proved that J and E included the history of the times of the judges, before we endeavour to identify them in the Book of Judges. What other proof can we have than that we can trace them in its narratives?
- In E, for example, there is a well-defined secondary stratum (E2).
- We have seen reason to believe that a considerable part of 1 Sam. was contained in the pre-Deuteronomic Judges.