William Foxwell Albright, the son of missionary parents, eagerly pursued his college education as a young man of faith. Finally, he received the coveted Ph.D.—but at a significant cost. His faith had been destroyed by the 19th-century German school of higher criticism. The leading exponents of this school of higher criticism, Julius Wellhausen and Franz Delitzsch, were out to prove that the Old Testament history of the Bible was mere fiction. Why?
The reliability of the Gospels has long been questioned because of pseudo-scholarship. Were the Gospel writers plagiarists? Did the synoptic Gospel (Matthew, Mark & Luke) writers merely copy from one another? Is there a document called Q? Was the Gospel of Mark written first? Are the Gospels authentic and reliable?
It was in the latter half of the nineteenth century that higher criticism began to be taken seriously. These critics rejected Moses as the writer of the Pentateuch, arguing instead that the accounts in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were based on four other sources [writers] written between the 10th and the 6th centuries B.C.E. To differentiate these sources one from the other, they are simply known as the “J,” “E,” “D,” and “P” sources.