One problem with religious fanatics of any stripe is that they start off any debate with the assumption: "Given that I'm correct and you're wrong..." Certainly many traditional religious types are like that but now that atheism has gradually morphed into a religion itself its proponents have developed the same intolerance. Indeed, most of Dickie Dawkins' and Chris Hitchen's arguments are only successful if one first accepts that they are correct because they say they are. Honest critical analysis tends to lead one in other directions.
It was with this in mind that I read Rav Umberto Cassuto's The Documentary Hypothesis recently. Nothing anyone could say will change my mind about the unity of the Torah's authorship or that the author is God Himself. I was interested, however, in Cassuto's response to the classic arguments of the so-called Biblical Scholars. Would the book be one full of apologetics or would the arguments for a unified text come across as reasonable?
Now one must remember that this book itself is only a summary of a much larger text containing a far more exhaustive treatment of Biblical Criticism and its various failures. Unfortunatley my Italian is limited to the names of popular dishes and the phrase Gli atei sono un branco di idioti che hanno davvero bisogno di avere una vita. This meant I would have to rely on The Documentary Hypothesis itself for Cassuto's arguments.
On the whole I was impressed with the book. Cassuto has an organized approach in which he breaks down the multiple arguments against unity of the Torah into a smaller group of generalities. He then proceeds, chapter by chapter, to show how each of these generalities is based on a superficial knowledge of the text based on untenable assumptions that ignore multiple contradictions to them.
I don't expect anyone who refuses to believe in the truth of Torah to accept Cassuto's book. Those who insist on misunderstanding the revealed word of God will ignore, discredit or claim to have countered his arguments. However, for myself the book was valuable in providing an interesting and deep look at the structure of the text. For instance, in his treatment of the difference between the divine names YKVK and Elokim, one can use the principles he provides to gain a deeper appreciation of the message different parts of the Torah are trying to get across. Looking at word usage similarly adds to one's understanding of the text in ways simply reading through the pshat doesn't provide.
I highly recommend this book especially for those with an interest in grammer and language structure who would benefit from Cassuto's incisive analysis. On the whole, a good read.