Did Moses Author the
Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677)
S He was a Jewish pantheist
S The laws of nature are immutable.
S Miracles are impossible.
S Prophecy is evidence of God supernaturally intervening.
S Therefore, nothing is truly prophetic in the Pentateuch.
S Moses did not write the Pentateuch.
S Ancient Jewish testimonies to Mosaic authorship
S History of the Documentary Hypothesis
S Some critiques of the Documentary Hypothesis
S A defense of Mosaic authorship
Exodus 24:4:
S “And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.”
Deuteronomy 31:9:
S “Then Moses wrote down this law, and gave it to the priests,
the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of
the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel.”
Deuteronomy 31:24-26:
S “When Moses had finished writing down in a book the
words of this law to the very end, Moses commanded the
Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord,
saying, ‘Take this book of the law and put it beside the ark
of the covenant of the Lord your God; let it remain there as
a witness against you.”
Joshua 1:7-8:
S “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to act in
accordance with all the law that my servant Moses
commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to
the left, so that you may be successful wherever you go. This
book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you
shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be
careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it.”
Joshua 8:30-31:
S “Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the
God of Israel, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had
commanded the Israelites, as it is written in the book of the
law of Moses, ‘an altar of unhewn stones, on which no iron
tool has been used’; and they offered on it burnt-offerings to
the Lord, and sacrificed offerings of well-being.”
Joshua 23:6:
S “Therefore be very steadfast to observe and do all that is
written in the book of the law of Moses, turning aside from
it neither to the right nor to the left…”
1 Kings 2:3:
S “And keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his
ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his
ordinances, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of
Moses, so that you may prosper in all that you do and
wherever you turn.”
Mark 12:26-27:
S “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the
book of Moses, in the story about the bush, how God said
to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the
living; you are quite wrong.”
S Exodus 3:6: “He said further, ‘I am the God of your father,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of
Luke 24:44:
S “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to
you while I was still with you—that everything written
about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms
must be fulfilled.’”
Josephus, Against Apion 1.8.38-39:
S “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books
among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another
[as the Greeks have] but only twenty-two books, which
contain the records of all the past times; which are justly
believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses,
which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of
mankind until his death.”
Philo of Alexandria, On the Creation
S “Moses says also, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven
and the earth’”.
Reasons for Rejection of Mosaic
S The Pentateuch contains information Moses “could not
possibly have written”
S Parallel accounts or “doublets”
S Different literary styles
S Different divine names for God
The Documentary Hypothesis:
J,E,D, and P Dates
S J (around 850 B.C.)
S E (around 750 B.C.)
S D (around 622 B.C.)
S P (around 570 B.C.)
Jean Astruc (1753 )
S He argued that Moses had combined two documents in the
creation account in Genesis since Astruc observed Gen. 1
called God Elohim and Gen. 2 mostly called God Jehovah.
Johann Gottfied Eichhorn
S In his Introduction to the Old Testament Eichhorn applied J
and E to the rest of Genesis in addition to chapters 1 and 2.
S He also attributed different sections of the first two chapters
in Exodus to J and E.
Willem Martin Lebrecht De
S He equated Deuteronomy with the “D source”.
S He speculated that Deuteronomy was the legal code that the
high priest Hilkiah discovered in the Jerusalem Temple
during King Josiah’s reform (2 Kings 22).
Heinrich Ewald (1823)
S In The Critical Investigation of the Composition of Genesis he argued that
many idioms and expressions recur throughout Genesis, illustrating
a general unity of perspective and style within Genesis.
S Ewald promoted the Supplementary Hypothesis, which is different
from Eichhorn’s old Documentary Hypothesis
S Ewald argued that only one original document, E, emerged between
1050 and 950 B.C.
S J’s author made additions and supplements to E, but J’s author also
left the E content mostly unaltered when he combined his work with
Hermann Hupfeld (1853)
S He challenged the Supplementary Hypothesis
S He proposed the Modified Documentary Hypothesis instead: a
hypothetical redactor rearranged J and E material found in Genesis
through Numbers.
S Hupfeld also divided E into E1 and E2.
S E2 consisted of material that closely resembled J and E1 included
content that did not match elements in J.
S The E1 document later became known as the P document.
Karl Heinrich Graf (1866)
S Argued that P (Priestly Code) contained legal material that postdated
D since D allegedly betrays no familiarity with P’s legal code.
S Graf thought P did display knowledge of J and E.
S Graf dated P’s legal material to the time of the Exile (587-539 B.C.),
but he considered the historical sections of P to be much earlier.
S He placed the documents in the following chronological order:
historical P, E, J, D and lastly, the legal aspects of P.
Abraham Kuenen
S Contended that P’s legal content could not be severed from its
historical portions.
S Kuenen concluded that all of P was post-exilic.
S The new order resulting from Kuenen’s revision was: J, E, D, and
Julius Wellhausen (1876,1878)
S Developed the New Documentary Hypothesis.
S His version of the Documentary Hypothesis was rooted in
both Darwinian evolutionary-based philosophy and George
Hegel’s philosophy of history.
S Wellhausen applied evolutionary thinking to the Hebrew
religion by believing animism was the earliest form of
religion that gradually evolved into monotheism by the postexilic period.
Julius Wellhausen Continued…
S He also tried to prove there was a progression from simple
legal codes and religious rituals to more complex legal codes
and rituals.
S He concluded that the portions of the Pentateuch that
convey elements of monotheism, complex legal code and
complex religious rituals must date to a considerably later
George Hegel’s View of History
S Hegel was well-known for his philosophical view of
S Allan MacRae summarizes Hegel’s philosophical view of
history by explaining Hegel’s dialecticism is:
S “the idea that you find a certain force active in history and then
an opposing force arises and this will result in a synthesis
between the two.”—Allan A. MacRae, JEDP: Lectures on the
Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch (Hatfield, Pennsylvania:
Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute, 1994), 112.
Hegel’s Philosophy and the
S This principle was applied to the Pentateuch by supposing
that the J document was authored by someone living in
Judah, who was writing in opposition to the kingdom north
of Israel’s establishment.
G. Herbert Livingston Explains:
S “The purpose of J, then, was to provide Judah with a
‘historical’ document that would justify Judah’s and
Jerusalem’s claim to be the governmental center of all
Israel. Likewise, E would be the antithetical production of
the kingdom of north Israel, led by the tribe of Ephraim, to
show that there were historical antecedents in the Patriarchs
and in Joshua for the governmental center to be located in
the north.”—G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch In Its
Cultural Environment (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book
House, 1974), 228.
Assuming Hegel’s Philosophy is
Applicable to the Pentateuch:
S Some unknown individuals around 650 B.C. decided to
combine the J document with the E document, because they
believed E was too useful to lose.
S The JE document was the result, and the D document was
believed to have been the JE’s opposition.
S Eventually, the D document’s views emerged victorious and
some priests in the Babylonian exile purportedly produced
the P around 400 B.C.
Wellhausen’s Views Concluded
S Finally, the P document was used as the framework for
creating the entire Pentateuch.
S Wellhausen arranged the documents in the same
chronological order as Graf: J, E, D, and P.
S Many Old Testament scholars persist in relying on
Wellhausen’s ideas.
20th Century Scholars Express
Doubts About Wellhausen’s Ideas
S Hans Heinrich Schmid and John Van Seters argue that J
needs to be redated
S Although Wellhausen believed J was the earliest source,
these scholars contend that J was probably written during
the exilic period or even later.
—Ernest Nicholson, The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century: The
Legacy of Julius Wellhausen (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998),
Was “P” a Real Source?
S In his monograph Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (1973) Frank Moore
Cross argues that P should be viewed as more of a redaction than a
source.—Antony F. Campbell & Mark A. O’ Brien, Sources of the
Pentateuch: Texts, Introductions, Annotations (Minneapolis: Fortress Press,
1993), 10.
S Cross makes his case by claiming P omits key narrative material that is
found within Genesis (humanity’s rebellion against God before the
Flood), and that these omissions should not occur if P was a separate
source.”—Ernest Nicholson, The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century,
Was “P” a Real Source?
S Erhard Blum concurs with Cross that P was not an
independent source, but Blum did not consider P to have
been a source or a redaction.
—Ernest Nicholson, The Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century:
The Legacy of Julius Wellhausen (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1998), 202.
The Documentary Hypothesis’s
Faulty Presuppositions and
John Van Seters Concludes:
S “The use of the term redactor in the discussion of the creation or
production of new literary works in antiquity is an
anachronism.”—John Van Seters, The Edited Bible: The
Curious History of the “Editor” in Biblical Criticism (Winona
Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 21.
S In other words, the mechanism of textual development that
higher critics rely on for their treatment of the Pentateuch is
an anachronism.
Wellhausen’s Faulty Evolutionary
S “His evolutionary presuppositions have been largely rejected
as has his supposition that the documents reflect more the
times of their writing than the time they were writing
about.”—Henry J. Flanders, Jr., Robert W. Crapps, David
A. Smith, People of the Covenant: An Introduction to the Hebrew
Bible. Fourth Edition (New York: Oxford University Press,
1996), 87.
Was the Israelite Religion
Really “Primitive”?
S Archaeologist and Near Eastern scholar C. H. Gordon
challenged the Wellhausen assumption that Israelite religion
and culture were initially primitive.
S In lieu of his study of Ugaritic material, Gordon realized
that the residents of Canaan prior to the Hebrews possessed
a considerably advanced culture.
S Thus, Gordon’s findings revealed that advanced culture was
not the product of a gradual movement from primitive to
more complex religions and cultures.
Was the Israelite Religion
Really “Primitive”?
S Wellhausen and his followers assumed that the laws within
the Pentateuch were far too advanced for a group of
wandering nomads to have contrived.
S Consequently, they reasoned that later, more sophisticated
authors living during the Israelite kingdom and exiles
compiled the legal material.—G Herbert Livingston, The
Pentateuch In Its Cultural Environment, 175.
Higher Critics’ Anti-Supernatural
S Higher Critics a priori reject the possibility that God was the
original author of the Mosaic laws.
S The ancient Hebrews’ ability to develop a complex law code
system is irrelevant if one grants that God could have been
the true author.
—R. J. Thompson, Moses and the Law in a Century of Criticism
Since Graf (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1970), 41.
Other Ancient Law Codes
S Archaeology has revealed that law codes resembling the law
content in the Pentateuch were prevalent among ancient
civilizations scattered throughout Mesopotamia and that at
least some of the law codes predated the time of Moses.
S The Code of Hammurabi (circa. 1728 B.C.), which was
discovered in 1901, manifests laws similar to the laws within
the Pentateuch.—G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch In
Its Cultural Environment,173.
Other Ancient Law Codes
S King Urukagina of Lagash’s fragmentary laws (circa. 2380
S The code of Bilalama of Eshnunna (circa. 1925 B.C.)
S Hittite laws.
—G. Herbert Livingston, The Pentateuch In Its Cultural
Environment, 174.
The “Impossibility” of Mosaic
S Josephus, Philo, the Talmud, the Mishnah, and Jesus all
believed Moses wrote the Pentateuch.—R. K. Harrison,
Introduction to the Old Testament, 497.
Egyptian Cultural Elements in
the Pentateuch
S If Moses and the Israelites were in Egypt prior to an exodus,
one would expect to find traces of Egyptian culture
preserved in the Pentateuch.
S Egyptian practice of embalming the dead is referenced in
Genesis 50:2.
S There is an allusion to the Egyptian practice shaving in Gen.
—David MacDill, The Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch,
The Pentateuch Contains Some
Egyptian Names
S Asenath, Moses, and Potipherah.
S Asenath, Joseph’s wife’s name, has an Egyptian origin.
S The name Moses contains the Egyptian word for son, mes or
S Potipherah, the name of Joseph’s father-in-law, translates as
gift of the sun.
—David MacDill, The Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch,
Moses Couldn’t Have Written
Numbers 12:3?
S Richard Friedman highlights Num. 12:3, which states:
“Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than
anyone else on the face of the earth.”—Richard E.
Friedman, The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the
Five Books of Moses (New York: Harper Collins Publishers,
2003), 261.
S William H. Green pointed out that if Paul could write “I
labored more abundantly than they all,”:
. . . it is altogether insupposable that Moses, who frankly relates
his own backwardness towards to obey God’s call (Ex. iv. 10
ff.), his neglect to circumcise his child (vers. 24-26), and the
sin which excluded him from the Promised Land (Num. xx.
12), should refer with equal impartiality and in no boastful
spirit to the unexampled meekness displayed by him under
circumstances of extraordinary provocation . . .”
Date of Green’s Response:
S William Henry Green, Moses and the Prophets: The Old
Testament in the Jewish Church, by Prof. W. Robertson Smith;
The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, by Dr. A. Kuenen; and The
Prophets of Israel, by W. Robertson Smith, LL. D. Reviewed by
William Henry Green (New York: Robert Carter and
Brothers, 1883), 61.
“Moses Wouldn’t Have Written
in Third Person”
S “It is well known that many of the classical authors, both
Greek and Roman,—Xenophon, Thucydides, Julius Caesar,
and others,—speak of themselves in the third person.”—
David MacDill, The Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch:
Defended Against the Views and Arguments of Voltaire, Paine,
Colenso, Reuss, Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen (Dayton, Ohio:
W. J. Schuey, Publisher, 1896), 31.
S The first century AD Jewish historian Josephus wrote in the
third person in his work The Jewish War.
Jeremiah and Isaiah Wrote in
the Third Person
S All the way back in 1883 William Henry Green emphasized
that even other Biblical authors, such as Jeremiah and
Isaiah, wrote in the third person.
S D.H. proponents acknowledge that historical figures named
Isaiah and Jeremiah wrote at least some portions of the
books bearing their names.
Isaiah Wrote in the Third Person
S Critics such as Henry J. Flanders, Robert W. Crapps, and
David A. Smith all concur that the historical Isaiah wrote
chapters 1-12, 13-23, and 28-31.—Henry J. Flanders, Jr.,
Robert W. Crapps, David A. Smith, People of the Covenant,
S Isaiah, therefore, wrote in the third person in:
S Isaiah 1:1
S Isaiah 2:1
S Isaiah 7:3
S Isaiah 13:1
S Isaiah 20:2.
Isaiah 1:1:
S “The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw
concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah,
Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”
Isaiah 2:1:
S “The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah
and Jerusalem.”
Isaiah 7:3:
S “Then the Lord said to Isaiah, Go out to meet Ahaz, you
and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the
upper pool on the highway to the Fuller’s Field…”
Isaiah 13:1:
S “The oracle concerning Babylon that Isaiah son of Amoz
Isaiah 20:2:
S “At that time the Lord had spoken to Isaiah son of Amoz,
saying, ‘Go, and loose the sackcloth from your loins and
take your sandals off your feet’, and he had done so,
walking naked and barefoot.”
The Jewish War 3.7.193:
S “At this point Josephus realized that the town could not
hold out long and that his own survival was doubtful if he
stayed, so he discussed with the leading citizens how they
could escape.”
S If Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Josephus could have written in the
third person, then why reject the possibility that Moses,
another Jewish author, could have written in the third
God’s Different Names =
Different Sources?
S Gleason Archer notes that Elohim occurs in passages that
are reportedly based on the J source.
S Specifically, Elohim appears in Gen. 3:1-5; 16:13; and 32:28-
S Conversely, Yahweh appears in the E source-related
passages such as Gen. 7:16; 14:22; 17:1; 22:11, 14; and
28:17-22.—Gleason L. Archer, A Survey Of Old Testament
Introduction. Revised and Expanded (Chicago: Moody Press,
1985, 1994), 129.
Richard Friedman Admits:
S “The mere fact that different stories in the first books of the
Bible call God by different names of course proves nothing
in itself.”—Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (New
York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1987), 61.
Diverse Literary Styles?
S Why couldn’t Moses have utilized a variety of writing
S An Egyptian writer named Khety combined poetry with
political propaganda in his text Satire of the Trades.
S Khety preceded Moses by approximately seven centuries.
—R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, 538.
Richard Friedman Observes:
S “The question remains as to why so many similarities exist
between J and E . . . Their styles are sufficiently similar that
it has never been possible to separate them on stylistic
grounds alone.”—Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the
Bible?, 83-84.
S Thus, stylistic differences are not always appropriate criteria
for determining the existence of distinct documents.
“Doublets” and “Repetitions” =
Non-Mosaic Authorship?
S “As C. H. Gordon has pointed out, such repetitions were
typical of ancient Near Eastern literature, as illustrated
profusely by Babylonian, Ugaritic, and even Greek
S Moses may have simply adopted this literary device for his
own use.
—R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, 538.
An “Only-begotten” Son:
S Carried the wood he would be sacrificed on as a sin offering
S Bore the wood as he walked up the mountain of the LORD.
Isaiah 46:9-10:
S “I am God, and there is no one like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My purpose shall stand,
and I will fulfill my intention..’”
God “Declaring the End from the
Was offered up as a sacrifice
Was offered up as a sacrifice
Carried wood that he would be
sacrificed upon
Carried wood that He would be
sacrificed upon
Walked up a mountain in Moriah Walked up a mountain in
to the place of sacrifice
Jerusalem to the place of sacrifice
Where was Isaac Taken to be
S “And Abraham named that site Adonai-yireh, whence the
present saying, ‘On the mount of the LORD there is
S “Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in
Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared
to his father David, at the place that David had designated,
on the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite.”—2
Chronicles 3:1
In Summary:
S There are no historical references to any of the purported
redactors’ existence.
S The dates for each of the sources are not fixed, but are in
S Even Documentary Hypothesis proponents doubt that at
least one source (P) existed.
S These proponents continue pontificating upon arguments
that had been addressed back in the 1880s.
S It is entirely possible that Moses himself could have used
earlier sources.
S Even if there were other sources, this fact alone does not
negate the possibility of Moses incorporating them into his
S Luke does this throughout Acts.