Thursday, August 30, 2007

Torah or Pentateuch (Part 2)

Author: Moses.
Both the Old and New Testaments credit Moses with authorship of this body of literature. (Exodus 17:14; 24:3-4, 7; 34:27; Deuteronomy 31:9, 24, 26; Joshua 1:7; 8:32; Daniel 9:11-13; Malachi 4:4; Mark 7:10; 12:26; Luke 16:29; 20:37; 24:27; John 1:45; 5:46-47; 7:19-23; Acts 7:22, 37-38; 26:22; Romans 10:5, 19). Ancient Jewish scholar Philo of Alexandria mentions Genesis as the “first of the five books of Torah and this name was given by Moses himself.”

Location & Date:
Not until the 18th century did general agreement on Moses’ authorship come into question. Scholars proposed what is called the Documentary Hypothesis, which claims that the Pentateuch instead comes from four separate periods of writing and editing called by the letters JEDP -- J (for Yahwist-Jahwist), E (Elohist), D (Deuteronomist), and P (Priestly). These four “documents” were edited into one document, they say, late in the Old Testament era.

Much of the JEDP theory owes its soul to a rejection of the supernatural (called naturalism) and to evolutionary prejudices about history and the development of human society. The problem is that scholars who hold to JEDP cannot really agree on which texts were written at what time, to what extent, by whom, and from what source. In the end, if their own positions do not make sense to them, they credit (or blame!) a final editor for smoothing out the wording to his taste.

Today some liberal scholars even discredit the 250-year old theory, but because no one has come up with something better, most of the liberal Biblical academic community still teaches this antiquated, discredited, out-dated, error-filled, and integrity-stricken theory. Further, some of the textual and cultural features of the Torah which seemed so strange two centuries have been shown to be quite typical of other pagan literature discovered in the ancient papyri discovered since then. Not every question has been fully answered yet, but the more that is unearthed and researched, the more evidence outside the Bible points to a common sense fact: There are no compelling reasons to abandon Mosaic authorship.

Moses’ authorship of the Torah is backed by the unanimous testimony both of Jewish and Christian tradition as well as the internal character of the literature itself. Moses himself attests by his own expression that he kept a written record of the important transactions of Israel (Exodus 17:14: “write this for a memorial in the book”). The Torah is a journal already in progress in the wilderness, and various circumstances prove that Moses was writing a continuous history of God’s special goodness to Israel along with proof of the Torah’s antiquity.

For example,
1. Repeated assertions by Moses himself that the events that he was writing as events occurred (Exodus 24:4-7; 34:27; Numbers 33:2, etc.).
2. Testimonies in the historical books that the Pentateuch was a well-known work familiar to all the people (Joshua 1:8; 8:34; 23:6; 24:26; 1 Kings 2:3, etc.)
3. Frequent references in the prophets to the facts recorded in the books of Moses
a. Compare Isaiah 1:9 with Genesis 19:1; Isaiah 12:2 with Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 51:2 with Genesis 12:2; Isaiah 54:9 with Genesis 8:21-22;
b. Compare Hosea 9:10 with Numbers 25:3; Hosea 11:8 with Genesis 19:24; Hosea 12:4 with Genesis 32:24-25; Hosea 12:12 with Genesis 28:5; 29:20
c. Compare Joel 1:9 with Numbers 15:4-7; 28:7-14; Deuteronomy 12:6-7; 16:10-11;
d. Compare Amos 2:9 with Numbers 21:21; Amos 4:4 with Numbers 28:3; Amos 4:11 with Genesis 19:24; Amos 9:13 with Leviticus 26:5;
e. Compare Micah 6:5 with Numbers 22:25; Micah 6:6 with Leviticus 9:2; Micah 6:15 with Leviticus 26:16, etc.)

4. The testimony of Christ and the Apostles is repeatedly borne to the books of Moses (Matthew 19:7; Luke 16:29; 24:27; John 1:17; 7:19; Acts 3:22; 28:23; Romans 10:5).

Indeed the references are so numerous, and the testimonies so clear to the existence of the Mosaic books throughout the whole history of Israel, as well as the unity of character, design, and style pervading these books is so clearly perceptible, despite the incongruous ideas of JEDP, that it may safely be said, “there is immensely stronger and more varied evidence in proof of their being the authorship of Moses than of any of the Greek or Roman classics being the productions of the authors whose names they bear."

But what about the genuineness and integrity of the documents? Didn’t all the copying for several thousand years introduce significant errors into the text that makes it untrustworthy? There are three remarkable facts, one occurred before and the other after the captivity, afford conclusive evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of the Pentateuch. The first is the discovery in the reign of Josiah of the autograph copy which was deposited by Moses in the ark of the testimony, and the second is the schism of the Samaritans, who erected a temple on Mount Gerizim, and who, appealing to the Mosaic law as the standard of their faith and worship equally with the Jews, watched with jealous care over every circumstance that could affect the purity of the Mosaic record. The third is the discovery in 1947 of the Qumran Scolls which took our extant manuscript copies from AD 1008 back to 250 BC! When compared, no consequential difference was found in any document. In fact, the Qumran documents were found to be more sloppily copied than the ones we were using from 1008!

Robert Jamieson (JFB Commentary): “There is the strongest reason, then, for believing that the Pentateuch, as it exists now, is substantially the same as it came from the hands of Moses. The appearance of a later hand, it is true, is traceable in the narrative of the death of Moses at the close of Deuteronomy, and some few interpolations, such as inserting the altered names of places, may have been made by Ezra, who revised and corrected the version of the ancient Scriptures. But, substantially, the Pentateuch is the genuine work of Moses, and many, who once impugned its claims to that character, and looked upon it as the production of a later age, have found themselves compelled, after a full and unprejudiced investigation of the subject, to proclaim their conviction that its authenticity is to be fully relied on.”