I fail to see why everyone is fixated on when it was written and not on the redaction. An Orthodox Jew focuses on the finished redacted text. Knowing the source critical literature he sees how these texts are combined to make up a composite picture of God that is complex and religiously challenging. It works equally well if at Sinai Hashem gave us a text that WE would say is composed of different scrolls. What is revealed in the text we have are the different partzufim of Hashem...God the creator, the destroyer,the warrior, the personal God of a particular family, but now seen as One God instead of different beings at war with each other. Whatever conflicts occur are internal to God himself, with only a few exceptions (Rahab, Leviathan, Yamm);what chazal and kabbalah call the confrontation between midas hadin and midas harachamim.It is this confrontation that drives the narrative of the bible.I think JEPD talk maps pretty nicely onto aspects talk. One is more old fasioned and post redaction, the other more modern and reductionist.Hmm,
As for what really happened...chazal have an expression...mah dehavei ,havei, what was, was.
This seems like a fine argument for shalom bayis among orthodox jews, but it feels a little circular. The Chazal were the culmination of a certain school of Biblical interpretation which we inherited as Orthodox Judaism. Of course they have the expression "what was, was" because their goal was to promote their particular interpretation of "what was". What is striking to me is that this is very similar to the argument Kugel proposes at the end of his book:
The texts that make up the Bible were originally composed under whatever circumstances they were composed. What made them the Bible, however, weas their definitive reinterpretation, along the lines of the Four Assumptions of the ancient interpreters-a way of reading that was established in Judaism in the form of the Oral Torah. Read the Bible in this way and you are reading it properly, that is, in keeping with the understanding o f those who made and cannonized the Bible. Read it any other way and you have drastically misconstrued the intentions of the Bible's framers.
So this is almost precisely in sync with evanstonjew's first point. But here is the irony - in some ways this feels less a point of religion than literary criticism. HEY - there is a bigger question at stake here - are we doing the will of God? We have commited ourselves to a particular interpretation of God's will, one that survived among many that were around. If God has an idea of how a Jew should behave, and if this idea happens to be different from the ideas of Rabbinic Judaism, we may not get "credit" for being "Orthodox". Hell, if you are a believer in theodicy, and how can we not be given that it is the main theme of the Bible, we, as jews, haven't had it so good, since the rise of Chazal. Who knows, maybe God wanted us to be Sadducees?
Of course, the other side of the coin is that focusing on the redaction is pointless if by digging deep enough you uncover enough evidence that shows that there is no God of the Old Testament, that none of the events described in the Bible actually happened. Then the notion of an Orthodox Jew becomes kinda rootless, doesn't it? Sure you can keep going and you can trumpet all the wonderful benefits of an Orthodox lifestyle, but it's a bit of a sham, isn't it? It's kinda like the Roadrunner cartoons; as soon as the Coyote realizes that he is running through the air, and looks down, he falls into the gorge.