1. Evidence for:
This word, formed on the analogy of Pentateuch, Heptateuch, etc., is used by modern writers to denote the first six books of the Bible (i.e. the Law and Joshua) collectively. Many critics hold that these six books were composed out of the sources JEP, etc. (on which see PENTATEUCH), and only separated very much later into different works. The main grounds for this belief are: (1) the obvious fact that Josh provides the sequel to the Pentateuch, narrating the conquest and settlement in Canaan to which the latter work looks forward, and (2) certain material and stylistic resemblances. The composition of the respective works is considered in the articles PENTATEUCH and JOSHUA.
2. Evidence against:
Here we must glance at the evidence against theory of a Hexateuch. It is admitted that there is no trace of any such work as the Hexateuch anywhere in tradition. The Jewish Canon places the Pentateuch in a separate category from Joshua. The Samaritans went farther and adopted the Pentateuch alone. The orthography of the two works differs in certain important particulars (see E. Konig, Einleitung, 151 f, 250). Hence, a different literary history has to be postulated for the two works, even by those who adopt theory of a Hexateuch. But that theory is open to objection on other grounds. There are grave differences of opinion among its supporters as to whether all the supposed Pentateuchal documents are present in Joshua, and in any case it is held that they are quite differently worked up, the redactors having proceeded on one system in the Pentateuch and on quite another in Joshua. Arguments are given in the article PENTATEUCH to show the presence of Mosaic and pre-Mosaic elements in the Pentateuch and the unsoundness of the documentary theory in that work, and if these be correct theory of a Hexateuch necessarily falls to the ground.
Harold M. Wiener