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Who Wrote Genesis In The Bible

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Who Wrote the Book of Genesis?

After the documentary hypothesis was proposed, it quickly gained ground, particularly among Protestant Bible scholars.

Matters were different in Catholic circles. In 1906 the Pontifical Biblical Commission issued a ruling that the arguments then being proposed were insufficient to justify the statement that these books do not have Moses as their author but were compiled from sources for the most part posterior to the time of Moses .

Matters changed over the course of the twentieth century, and in a 2005 speech Cardinal William Levada, then president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, said that the early decisions of the PBC are now viewed as transitory judgments .

Long before this, the documentary hypothesis found increasing approval in Catholic circles, including on the magisterial level, with John Paul II explicitly referring the proposed sources and datings .

Passages That Refer To Moses Writing

Right from the start it is important to note that the Pentateuch is anonymous. Nowhere in the Pentateuch is an author named, not Moses or any other person. However, that said, a number of passages in the Pentateuch mention that Moses wrote things down.

Consider the following:

Exodus 17:14Then the Lord said to Moses, Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it . . .

Exodus 24:3-4When Moses went and told the people all the Lords words and laws, they responded with one voice, Everything the Lord has said we will do. Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

Numbers 33:2At the Lords command Moses recorded the stages in their journey.

Deuteronomy 31:24After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end . . .

And these references are just a sample of a number of other passages that could be cited .

None of these passages concern the writing of the book of Genesis.

Certainly the passages that speak of Moses writing things down do not claim that Moses wrote the entirety of the Pentateuch, but they do imply that Moses wrote material that was incorporated into the Pentateuch.

With this in mind, we turn now to references to the book of the law of Moses or the book of Moses found in biblical books that follow the Pentateuch.

Here are just a few examples:

Nehemiah 13:1On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people . . .

Whats In A Divine Name

One of the main features supposed to distinguish the sources is the divine name or names each uses. Thats one of the main features defining the Yahwist and Elohist sources.

But does the fact that a book shifts from using one divine name to another indicate that the passages come from different sources, or could there be another explanation?

After all, Yahweh is a personal name, whereas Elohim is a descriptive term meaning God. Perhaps the use of these names has more to do with matters of style and the connotations Hebrew speakers felt them to have.

It has been noted for centuries that the two terms have a different feel in Hebrew. In his commentary on Genesis, the great medieval Jewish Scripture scholar Rashi suggested that the generic term Elohim was used to indicate Gods Attribute of Strict Judgment, while Yahweh was used to indicate his Attribute of Mercy .

Others have suggested, along similar lines, that the name Elohim is used when God is being considered in a more general, cosmic way as the creator of the universe and the ruler of all nations, but his more intimate, personal name Yahweh is used in connection with his chosen people.

Twentieth-century Jewish scholar Umberto Cassuto analyzed extensively the way in which these two names are used in the Pentateuch and in other books of the Bible. He discovered that they obey a set of rules that is based on subject matter rather than source .

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Promises To The Ancestors

In 1978 David Clines published his influential The Theme of the Pentateuch influential because he was one of the first to take up the question of the theme of the entire five books. Clines’ conclusion was that the overall theme is “the partial fulfilment which implies also the partial nonfulfillment of the promise to or blessing of the Patriarchs”.

The patriarchs, or ancestors, are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with their wives . Since the name YHWH had not been revealed to them, they worshipped El in his various manifestations. Through the patriarchs, God announces the election of Israel, that is, he chooses Israel to be his special people and commits himself to their future. God tells the patriarchs that he will be faithful to their descendants , and Israel is expected to have faith in God and his promise.

Mysterious Beginnings Of The Bible: Who Wrote Genesis How Old Is The Earth

Who Wrote Genesis? Did Moses Write the First Book of the ...

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The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and often one of the books that most believers know better than many other books within the Bible. Every believer knows about the famous story of Adam and Eve, even the stories of Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Esau, and so on.

Many of such stories are taught to believers early on and serve as moral guidance on what believers of God should live like, apart from being fun stories to think about. I mean, who is placed in paradise by God and receives a command to be fruitful and multiply from God Himself just to end up being deceived by a talking serpent? Who gets commanded to preach for 950 years about an impending flood, builds a huge ark that will host two animals of every kind, and survives a 40-day long flood? These stories are not only pretty fun to read but also a good way to perceive more about Gods power and greatness.

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Who Wrote The Bible Book Of Genesis

Tradition credits Moses as the author of Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and most of Deuteronomy, but modern scholars, especially from the 19th century onward, see them as being written hundreds of years after Moses is supposed to have lived, in the 6th and 5th centuries BC.

Who Wrote The Book Of Genesis

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Moses is traditionally considered the author of Genesis. But for over two centuries, one of the most contested questions in biblical scholarship has been Who wrote the Book of Genesisand when?

Genesis is the first book of the Bible, and one of the five books of the Pentateuch. Several other books of the Pentateuch include passages that mention Moses recording events and writing down what God says. The authors of the New Testamentand even Jesus himselfappear to credit Moses as the author of Genesis.

So why dont scholars agree?

There are passages in Genesis that Moses could not have written, because they describe events that happened after his death, known as postmosaica passages. And there are others that would simply be awkward for Moses to write, which are referred to as amosaica . If these passages were added later, how do we know what Moses did and didnt write?

So the real question is: did Moses write Genesis, or not?

Renowned Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III tackles this question in his video series on the book of Genesis. The following post is adapted from his series.

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Where Is The Original Bible

Bible #1. The oldest surviving full text of the New Testament is the beautifully written Codex Sinaiticus, which was discovered at the St Catherine monastery at the base of Mt Sinai in Egypt in the 1840s and 1850s. Dating from circa 325-360 CE, it is not known where it was scribed perhaps Rome or Egypt.

Development Of The Documentary Hypothesis

Who wrote Genesis?

Ibn Ezra was a very influential Jewish rabbi in the twelfth century AD. While he believed in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, he noticed that a few verses had some phrases that seemed mysteriously out of place.4 But he never pursued these mysteries to resolve them.5

About 500 years later, the famous Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza picked up on what Ibn Ezra had stated and asserted that Ibn Ezra did not believe Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Others disagreed, pointing to other statements by Ibn Ezra that contradicted Spinoza’s conclusion. In his book Tractatus Theologico-Politicus , Spinoza, who was a pantheist and was subsequently excommunicated from the Jewish community and denounced by Christians, argued that Moses did not write the Pentateuch. Besides using the verses noted by Ibn Ezra, Spinoza offered a few other brief arguments against Mosaic authorship which were easily answered by Christian writers in the following few decades.6

Further attacks on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch began taking hold.

Nevertheless, further attacks on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch began taking hold in France through Jean Astruc, whose book Conjectures about the original memoirs which it appeared that Moses used in composing the Book of Genesis with certain remarks which help clarify these conjectures was published in 1753. He believed Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, but he unlocked the door for the skepticism of later scholars.

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Do We Really Know What Moses Did And Didnt Write

No. While some people believe that Moses wrote everything in the Pentateuch except a handful of postmosaica, the postmosaica may only be the tip of the iceberg. These postmosaica establish a principle that later inspired editors/redactors can contribute to the writing of the Pentateuch.

In Genesis, the narrative speaks of events that take place long before the birth of Moses. It is interesting that Moses is never mentioned in the book even as the person writing things down.

Instead, we encounter a formula that appears eleven times in the book . This formula is introduced by the words elleh toledot and a persons name, This is the account of . These sections indicate the use of oral and/or written sources for the writing of the book of Genesis.

Taking seriously the indications within the Pentateuch itself, along with the post-pentateuchal references to the Book/Law of Moses, one might conclude that the Pentateuch finds its origins in Moses, who used other sources particularly in the writing of Genesis.

The postmosaica indicate that there were also editorial additions. These additions may only be the most obvious examples of textual material added after the time of Moses and we cannot determine precisely what was authored by Moses or added by later inspired editors.

So, Who wrote Genesis? Well likely never know with absolute certainty. But based on the evidence available, its fair to attribute its origins to Moses.

The Department Of Redundancy Department

If the divine names are not a sure guide to what source is being used, what about the apparent duplications of events, such as Abraham passing Sarah off as his sister to foreign rulers or Isaac doing the same thing with Rebecca ?

Does this indicate different sources containing the same basic story that got stitched together, creating the duplications?

Not necessarily. It can also that the author means us to understand this as a family tactica kind of scamthat the Patriarchs used to get out of tough situations.

There is evidence for this in the Hebrew text of Genesis 20:2, which is normally translated And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister.

Contemporary Jewish scholar Gary Rendsburg points out, however, that what it says in Hebrew is not that he said this of Sarah his wife but to Sarah his wife .

Abraham and Sarah have already done this once before, and now the text asks us to envision Abraham turning to Sarah and saying to her, She is my sistercueing her to what his plan is. We can see her thinking, Oh, were going to do that one again.

Since the ruse worked twice for Abraham, its not surprising to find his son, Isaac, using it in a similar situation.

And there is another reason why the duplications do not indicate multiple sources.

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Who Wrote The Bible: The First Five Books

Wikimedia CommonsMoses, as painted by Rembrandt.

According to both Jewish and Christian Dogma, the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were all written by Moses in about 1,300 B.C. There are a few issues with this, however, such as the lack of evidence that Moses ever existed and the fact that the end of Deuteronomy describes the author dying and being buried.

Scholars have developed their own take on who wrote the Bibles first five books, mainly by using internal clues and writing style. Just as English speakers can roughly date a book that uses a lot of thees and thous, Bible scholars can contrast the styles of these early books to create profiles of the different authors.

In each case, these writers are talked about as if they were a single person, but each author could just as easily be an entire school of people writing in a single style. These biblical authors include:

Wikimedia CommonsA depiction of the destruction of Jerusalem under Babylonian rule.

Wikimedia CommonsKing Josiah

The Old Testament: Various Schools Of Authors

Who Wrote the Bible?

To explain the Bibles contradictions, repetitions and general idiosyncrasies, most scholars today agree that the stories and laws it contains were communicated orally, through prose and poetry, over centuries. Starting around the 7th century B.C., different groups, or schools, of authors wrote them down at different times, before they were at some point combined into the single, multi-layered work we know today.

Of the three major blocks of source material that scholars agree comprise the Bibles first five books, the first was believed to have been written by a group of priests, or priestly authors, whose work scholars designate as P. A second block of source material is known as Dfor Deuteronomist, meaning the author of the vast majority of the book of Deuteronomy. The two of them are not really related to each other in any significant way, Baden explains, except that they’re both giving laws and telling a story of Israel’s early history.

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Don Stewart : : Who Wrote The Book Of Genesis

The Law Of MosesNew TestamentPentateuchEvidence For Moses’ Authorship1.He Was Qualified

And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, Because I drew him out of the water .

And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds .

2.He Had The Information3.He Had The Time 4.He Wrote Some Of It

Then the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven .

And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel .

Then the Lord said to Moses, Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words, I have made a covenant with you and with Israel .

Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points .

Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel .

5.The Testimony Of The Old Testament

Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses . . . .

Old Testament: The Single Author Theory

The Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible, narrates the history of the people of Israel over about a millennium, beginning with Gods creation of the world and humankind, and contains the stories, laws and moral lessons that form the basis of religious life for both Jews and Christians. For at least 1,000 years, both Jewish and Christian tradition held that a single author wrote the first five books of the BibleGenesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomywhich together are known as the Torah and the Pentateuch . That single author was believed to be Moses, the Hebrew prophet who led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt and guided them across the Red Sea toward the Promised Land.

Yet nearly from the beginning, readers of the Bible observed that there were things in the so-called Five Books of Moses that Moses himself could not possibly have witnessed: His own death, for example, occurs near the end of Deuteronomy. A volume of the Talmud, the collection of Jewish laws recorded between the 3rd and 5th centuries A.D., dealt with this inconsistency by explaining that Joshua likely wrote the verses about Moses death.

Rembrandt van Rijn, painting of Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law, 1659.

That’s one opinion among many, says Joel Baden, a professor at Yale Divinity School and author of The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis. But they’re already asking the questionwas it possible or not possible for to have written them?

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