Letters | Nov. 7, 2019


The elusive ‘J’

Your obituary “Harold Bloom, legendary literary critic, dies at 89” (Oct. 24) observes that Bloom’s 1990 work “The Book of J” identifies one of the principal authors of the Pentateuch as a woman who lived at the time of King Solomon.

It bears clarifying that Bloom’s analysis was based on the “documentary hypothesis,” which holds that the Torah was written primarily by four authors, conventionally named J, E, P and D, whose works were later edited together into a single narrative. Bloom argued that J, the earliest author, was a woman, an idea previously floated in Richard Elliott Friedman’s “Who Wrote the Bible?” (1987). However, whereas Friedman placed J between 848-722 B.C.E., Bloom believed J lived at least a century earlier and was a daughter
or granddaughter of King David. In Bloom’s subsequent work “The Western Canon” (1994), he adopted a book reviewer’s suggestion identifying J as David’s wife and Solomon’s mother Bathsheba.

San Francisco



The photo captions in “Fairfax candidates argue county issues” (Oct. 31) incorrectly credited the photos. The photographer was Bob Watts.

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