The Christian Holy Bible is not one book, but a library of sixty six books recorded over many centuries. Within its pages are literary genres that include Law, History, Wisdom, Poetry, Gospel, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic Literature. The Bible can be likened to other literature in that it is made up of many types or kinds of language, however it can distinguish itself from other books known to man, in that it claims to be a written revelation of mans creator. The Bible as used in Christianity is made up of the Old and New Testaments, these are combined and intended to compliment each other and form the canon of the Christian church. It is the first five books of the Bible and their authorship that will be of concern to this thesis.
The first five books of the Bible include Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. These volumes narrate the story of Israel from the creation of the world through the period of the flood and the patriarchs, to the Exodus from Egypt, wanderings in the desert, and the giving of the law at Sinai. The books conclude with Moses' farewell to the people of Israel. McDowell and Stewart (1980) assert that, 'Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed 'word of God'', it is an anthology composed of His words and deeds; and as a result views itself as 'God's word'. McDowell emphasises that evidence for this claim can be found within the Bible itself, he quotes directly from scriptures such as; 2 Peter 1:21 and uses clauses like, "And God spoke to Moses", as suggested evidence to back up the Bibles claim. The first five books are known by several pseudonyms, some more common than others and often dependent on the religion one follows. Expressions include; the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, the Torah and the Book of the Law...for the purpose of this thesis the scriptures will be referred to as 'The Pentateuch.'
The contents of the Pentateuch can be seen as a partly historical, legal and narrative portrayal; the five books cover the history of the 'chosen people' from chronicles concerning the creation of the world to the death of Moses and also enlighten us with the civil and religious legislation of the Israelites during the life of their great lawgiver. This literary account is also a story...a story that conveys the history of Israel. Pfeiffer (1957) describes the Old Testament as, 'the meagre surviving portion of the literature of the Israelites'. Therefore the authorship of these works, the time and manner of their origin and historicity are of great importance; the belief of Mosaic authorship or lack of it can affect the building blocks on which religion itself is structured. The books are not just of fundamental importance to one religion but have recognition in others...Christians put their faith in both the Old and New Testaments; whilst Judaism holds the first five books of the Old Testament as the most important division of their Hebrew canon. Although Islam believes the Qur'an is Gods last word to the world; it considers the Old and New testaments to also be divinely inspired.
The aim, therefore of this dissertation is to provide a critical analysis of traditions that surround Mosaic authorship. It will discuss the debate from its infancy and will pass through, albeit briefly, three centuries, culminating in its relevance and status in the modern world. This work is not an attempt to 'prove' or indeed 'disprove' Mosaic authorship, it is however an endeavour to take a glimpse into the dispute whilst attempting to understand its relevance in an historical, biblical and theological context.
This work does not intend to uncover or discover new knowledge per se, but intends to discuss contemporary contributions and hypothesis. Sources to be used and accessed will include primary and secondary sources such as the Bible, journal articles and a myriad of published works scholarly, religious and secular in nature. A historical survey will include a review of relevant literature, some of which is dated, but still relevant in placing the debate in an historical setting. Much of the literature and indeed the hypotheses surrounding Mosaic authorship tend to remain in scholarly and academic distribution, it is within these circles that the primary interest has remained.
As we shall see, scriptural translations have been proven to be less than exact and it is this that provides the background for the continuing debate. A 'breakthrough' in authorship identity was put forward in the eighteenth century and came to be known as the Documentary Hypothesis. This hypothesis was and is however, simply a theory of evolution not of man, but of man's recorded dealings with God.
Mosaic Authorship called into question
History recognizes that there were a few problems with the traditional view of Moses as author. Walton and Hill (2000) explain that although the early church fathers challenged the integrity and antiquity of the Mosaic Pentateuch their methods were deemed as 'pre-critical'. Furthermore they observe that, 'it was not until much later, that the Age of Reason spurned an era of critical study of the Bible and allowing traditional understanding of the Old and New Testaments to be questioned' Challenges to Mosaic authorship were often explained as interpretation or the introduction of additional narrative details that did not appear in the text. Other explanations included the fact that Moses was God's prophet and so was in receipt of His divine word. However as biblical expertise grew so did the challenges and new answers to old questions began to emerge.
As early as the eleventh century, allusions and suggestions were being tentatively voiced. Abraham Ibn Ezra, a twelfth century Spanish rabbi held the belief that the language used in several passages of the Pentateuch reflected another time and place than that of Moses, views that he was unwilling to say outright. In references to his own views of the passages he wrote, 'If you understand, then you will recognise the truth'...'And he who understands will keep silent.' In the following century's scholars such as Bonfils, Tostatus, Bishop of Avila, Andreas Van Maes and Thomas Hobbes put forward their own evaluations that questioned the authorship of the Pentateuch. Their findings ranged from citing a few sentences, to Thomas Hobbes' declaration that the majority of the Pentateuch could not have been penned by Moses. In the seventeenth century, Deuteronomy, which reports the death of Moses, and also describes Moses as 'the most humble man who ever lived' was critically assessed by Benedict Spinoza, who concluded that, "It is clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, but by someone who lived long after Moses." Many of these scholars had attempts made on their lives, their works were placed on the Catholic index of Prohibited books or burned; others were arrested and forced to recant their views.
The history of this dispute therefore shows that many renowned writers, philosophers and historians succumbed to the enticing plethora of hypothesis concerning Mosaic authorship. Josephus, the Jewish historian, states, 'He (Moses) also set down in writing the form of their Government, and those laws...the laws he ordained were such as God suggested to him'. When looking more closely at the sacred books of the Jews he further declares: "And of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the origins of mankind till his death" These words echo down from centuries past, representing the view and opinion of Jewish Scholars in attributing the Pentateuch to Moses. Further along in time, Luther's translations of each of the five books of the Pentateuch are entitled 'a book of Moses' thus showing an acceptance of this belief in the historic Christian Church. Opposing Josephus' view and in contrast to Luther, the nineteenth century German critic Hartmann denied Mosaic authorship on the grounds that it was quite literally impossible because writing had not yet been invented. MacDonald (1995), disagrees and asserts that, 'Archaeological discoveries of the past 100 years have proven once and for all that the art of writing was known not only during Moses' day, but also long before Moses came on the scene.' These facts do not help prove or disprove Mosaic authorship, however it does provide us with a time frame within which the debate became anthropomorphized. An historic timeline in this debate is important in that it can be used as a reference point to work forwards or backwards from, particularly as disputes over the chronological timeline concerning events from the Pentateuch remain relevant today.
Genesis as the foundation of Israel
As the first book of the Pentateuch, Genesis' purpose is to tell how and why God came to choose Abraham's family and make a covenant with them. A covenant that is significant in that it is the foundation of Israelite theology and identity. Genesis also introduces us to the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the three patriarchs of the people of Israel. The patriarchal stories depicted in Genesis are important in that they, 'lent expression to the fundamental importance of the family for all other forms of society in the period when the tribes were developing into a people and state.' However, controversy surrounds them, many Biblical scholars and archaeologists' debate about whether or not the Patriarchs actually lived. Placing the Patriarchs on an Old Testament timeline depends closely on one's dating (if any) of the Exodus event. Hendel (2001) believes that every kind of religious literature in the Hebrew Bible celebrates the Exodus as a foundational event; it is seen as the main historical warrant for the religious bond between Yahweh and Israel  W. F. Albright was confident that the Exodus was an historical event and assigned a date of ca. 1297 BCE. In comparison the renowned source critic Julius Wellhausen asserted that the Pentateuch conveys no historicity for the Patriarchs but merely reflects patriarchal 'stories' retold in later age. In contrast, Claus Westermann asserts that, 'Storytelling is the predecessor of all history.'  He explains further:
Storytellers recounted what took place, what they observed, in order to share it with others. The original purpose of the stories was to allow new generations to share in the experiences and knowledge of their ancestors.
Many biblical scholars and theologians would agree that Mosaic authorship is relevant, however for others it is seen to be irrelevant and convey a 'Does it really matter?' attitude. Yet there are references made within the Bible itself that attribute the authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses. These are often drawn upon in defence of Mosaic authorship...there are about two dozen verses in the Hebrew Scriptures and one dozen in the Christian Scriptures which state or strongly imply that Moses was the author. 
Old and New Testament Scriptures
The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is intrinsically connected to the question of Moses as the author or intermediary of Old Testament legislation. A Mosaic link between the Old and New Testaments can be found within the texts themselves. New Testament writers use references and quotes from the Old Testament just as Moses within the Old Testament prophesises of what was to come...thus enabling an affiliation of the Old with the New, creating a volume that merges into one complete tome. The books of the Bible can be likened to any group of books that share the same subject; they express a similarity in their subject roots and yet provide a contrast that is inherited from their author. As one writes in the contemporary world - ideas and words need to have references to back them up, evidence and proof that others perhaps have considered your own words. The same could therefore be said of the New Testament writers, following the same pattern allow the different expressions of writers to be expressed.
The burden of proof
If the authorship of the Pentateuch were ever to be unequivocally disproved the consequences could be devastating for the religions involved, DeHaan (1982) explains,
Prove that Moses did not write the books of the Pentateuch and you prove that Jesus was totally mistaken and not the infallible Son of God he claimed to be. Upon your faith in Moses as the writer of the five books attributed to him rests also your faith in Jesus as the Son of God. You cannot believe in Jesus Christ without believing what Moses wrote.
DeHaan's view is made clear by this simple paradigm, however, closer inspection of the words and their implied significance opens up a chasm of queries and insinuations that require further investigation. When considering this statement one finds that the overarching subliminal message that appears within the text is the necessity of proof. Fundamentally this is a statement about the assumed relationship between Moses as author of the five books, and Jesus who within the New Testament attributes the Law to Moses. These words resound as a modern day echo of Jesus' words as described by New Testament Gospel writer John, 'For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?  Moreover, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes the following statement;
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfil. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
These words, ascribed to Jesus, show that Jesus himself acknowledges Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. Furthermore He is sending out a strong message by stating that, in not believing what Moses wrote about Him, we will not believe anything He has to say either. What then is the bearing of the words spoken by Jesus upon the question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch? In the New Testament Jesus' references to Moses are ample...Moses commands, Moses said, Moses wrote...are all used within its context by the authors of the Gospels. Stevens (1889), an early 'Old Testament authorship' writer, suggests that Jesus speaks of the Pentateuch using popular designations of the time and was not in fact confirming authorship.
Enlightenment and the influence of Source criticism
It was not too long ago that Jews and Christians held the universal view that Moses alone wrote the Pentateuch. A delve into the history of the debate shows that although numerous attempts were made to credit or discredit its composition and authorship, Mosaic authorship and its credibility remained stagnant for many years.
The 'authorship' debate first became apparent in the aftermath of what is known as the 'period of enlightenment'. The Enlightenment is held to be the source of critical ideas and provided the cultural shift necessary for the emergence of a new confidence in the power of human reason. Immanuel Kant (1784) in his essay 'What is Enlightenment?' simply describes it as 'freedom to use ones own intelligence'. Clarke (1997) describes Kant's view of Enlightenment 'as the point at which a human being recognizes his or her autonomy'. Whereas Ames (1925) depicts religion for Kant as being 'something a man lived and did not merely think about.' Many scientists and religionists alike would gladly accept such a simplification of their problems,  nevertheless the Enlightenment period was marked by increasing empiricism, scientific rigor, and reductionism along with increasing questioning of religious orthodoxy. Questions regarding Pentateuchal authorship had led to rumblings and critical analysis by past Biblical Scholars, however it was French physician Jean Astruc who initiated modern literary or source analysis of the Old Testament. According to Pfeiffer (1957) when the Pentateuch was canonized in 400 BCE, it was firmly believed that Moses was its author. He explains further that Biblical investigations and critical analysis passed through different stages; here he cites Astruc (1753), Geddes (1798) and De Wette (1806) as principle theorists.  The Enlightenment thus created a significant shift that resulted in the historical-critical method which suggested that we should accept as true only that which can be empirically proven. As a result by the 19th century, traditional views on Mosaic authorship had ceased to be entertained by mainstream scholars and by the closing decades of the 19th century, a theory by Julius Wellhausen became a theoretical forerunner, with the majority of critics coming to view his theory with accord.
In 1895 Julius Wellhausen gave an explanation of Pentateuchal origin, his hypothesis became known as the documentary or JEDP hypothesis. This hypothesis explains that the Pentateuch was compiled from four original "source documents"—designated as J, E, D, and P. These four documents supposedly were written at different times by different authors, and eventually were compiled into the Pentateuch by a redactor (editor). The 'J' is characterized by its author's use of the divine name Yahweh. Elohim is the divine name that identifies the 'E' or Elohist document. The D, or Deuteronomist, document contained most of the book of Deuteronomy. The last section to be written was the P, or Priestly, document, which would have contained most of the priestly laws. We are told these documents were then redacted (edited) into one work about 300 years later in 200 B.C.
Wellhausen's timing was perfect, the public were open to new theories as religiosity began to be questioned; textual criticism was able to find ground from which its roots could take hold and grow. Goshen-Gottstein explains, 'the rise of textual criticism depended on preconditions and on certain attitudes and dispositions, beyond the basic linguistic capabilities. Wellhausen attained his results by a faithful application of the uses of evidence; he assembled relevant facts and built a reasoned construction upon them, this became the characteristic of the subsequent critical movement. Oswald T. Allis (1943) explains Wellhausens method further,
The slightest variations in diction, style, viewpoint or subject matter were seized upon as indicative of difference in author, date, and source. The miraculous element is viewed with suspicion and regarded either as evidence of the late date and unreliability of a narrative, or as proof that it represents a primitive and unscientific account of phenomena in which a modern writer would see only the operation of natural processes.
The analysis of the written word became paramount in defining Mosaic authorship as well as adding to the longevity of the debate. Hill and Walton (2000) affirm, 'the multiplicity and complexity of these literary forms that have been directly responsible for the ongoing debate over the composition of the Pentateuch.' Furthermore they argue that the literature of the Pentateuch is considered to be a collection of 'rich and literary genres that enhance both the artistic nature and key theological themes that unify it'.
This new 'modern' world saw the naissance of an innovative period of science and technology; this opened the door for a myriad of explanations to be proposed concerning Mosaic authorship. McDowell suggests that the 'very origin of modern science rests upon the truth of the scripture' he goes further to explain that there is a 'God that created and designed an ordered universe - this prompted men like Newton to search for certain scientific laws to explain this order'. It can be said then that science and the scriptures do not cancel each other out; they simply look at the world from different perspectives, but are not finally contradictory.
Merrill Unger expresses concern about rejecting Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in favour of the Documentary theory - he suggests that conservative scholarship should 'realise anew the essential unsoundness of critical hypothesis and cease trying to reconcile its potent unbelief with the tenets of historic evangelical Christianity and conservative Judaism' William Henry Green (1895) disagrees with this hypothesis and claims that the 'books of the bible have nothing to fear from investigations into its genuineness and credibility' he goes on to suggest that thorough searching can only result in establishing more firmly the truth of the claims, which the Bible makes for itself, 'The bible stands upon a rock from which it can never be dislodged.'  Hill (2000) explains that the source analysis approach, which gained prominence during the nineteenth century, not only affected the way scholars viewed the Pentateuch as a literary composition, but also had far reaching implications for the historicity of the patriarchal narratives. Furthermore he states that, 'Julius Wellhausen, the most influential of the 'source critics' asserted that the Pentateuch conveys no historicity for the patriarchs, but merely reflects patriarchal stories retold in a later age.'
Towards the contemporary world: a look at archaeology
Scholarship can sometimes become stagnant, however in the case of Pentateuchal studies the debate between different points of view continues to ebb and flow. As yet, no new consensus has emerged about the composition of the Pentateuch. Publications over the past one hundred years show that many other theories or indeed modifications of theories have arisen. The Wellhausen theory itself has come under much criticism and though it still has its proponents, it is no longer a 'universal agreement' of authority in critical scholarship. The subject then remains an enigma and is no closer to a solution now, than it was when first queried. Yet the debate does continue to thrive, aided because, with the passage of time the earth unleashes its hidden treasures and technological inventions are created that allow us to peel back the centuries and glimpse into the past. Fresh discoveries it seems wield new evidence that scholars pounce upon to argue their case.
One area in contemporary society that has emerged in favour of biblical accuracy is the field of archaeology. Archaeology is defined by Muncaster (2000) as the 'systematic study of things that cultures have left behind.' W. F. Albright the great archaeologist concludes that the past 100 years has seen archaeology verify some of the history contained in the bible, he states: 'There can be no doubt that archaeology has confirmed the substantial historicity of Old Testament tradition.'  Finkelstein and Silberman (2002) attest that, 'Archaeology has helped us to reconstruct the history behind the bible.'
More recent publications aim to verify the historicity of the Old Testament using archaeological evidence, Muncaster (2000) suggests that the accuracy of the Old Testament is vital to the Bible's message and that archaeology provides one means of confirming the historical accuracy. To confirm or prove the historical accuracy of the Bible one needs to consider the implications of 'proof'. Does proof relate to disproving the facts of the Bible and the account held within it, does this mean that the words spoken by Jesus in the New Testament and the history of the Israelite nation is condemned to hearsay? Archaeology offers some answers, but is it concrete? Gnuse (1994) expresses the opinion that, 'Who or what Moses was ultimately is irrelevant; for he stands as a symbol of process. The traditional figure of Moses symbolizes the initiation of the religious journey'. McDowell stresses a cautionary note in relation to archaeology, as he says, all too often the phrase 'Archaeology proves the Bible' arises, in answer to this he uses the word 'prove' to stress the interpreters' usage that could cause incorrect assumptions,
'Archaeology cannot 'prove' the Bible, if by that you mean "prove it to be inspired and revealed by God." If by prove, one means, "Showing some biblical event or passage to be historical." Then it would be a correct usage. 
The world within which we now live is far removed from the world of Wellhausen and even further removed from the era of scribes and patriarchs. In a time where archaeology has uncovered scripts that peel back time and allow modern technology to wield its power...there is still no right or wrong answer that appears as a forerunner. Using science and technology as an aid, scholars, theologians and archaeologist are still embroiled in a quest to answer the questions that revolve around Bible authorship. Scrolls retrieved from the caves in Qumran are being drawn on by scholars to provide scriptural evidence and possible explanations of Mosaic authorship. Cook (1994) explains that the Old Testament prophets, 'Foresaw a golden age for Israel when her various trials, punishments, exiles and tribulations were over' This 'Golden Age' includes the arrival of a 'messiah' one who would reign 'by peace and blessings of every kind'. Verification of these prophecies can be established and linked to Moses; in Deuteronomy Moses speaks of a coming prophet like himself. Further, Isaiah describes the one who 'brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings good tidings, who proclaims salvation.' Qumran, harbour of the Dead Sea Scrolls, held within cave four a scroll that refers to Moses as 'God's anointed,' Strugnell cited in Cook (1994);
Cursed is the man who does not arise and observe and do according to all the commandments of the Lord in the mouth of Moses His Anointed One, and to walk after the Lord, the God of our fathers, who commands us from Mount Sinai.
Could this then be seen as Proof that Moses was a prophet, an anointed one who prophesized the coming of another like him? A prophet who was himself to foretell all that was to come... If so then is this proof that Moses also wrote the Pentateuch? One could argue that if Moses' words are proven to be reliable through the fulfilled prophecies within the Bible and the archaeological findings that appear to corroborate them. McDowell's admonitory note on archaeological evidence re-surfaces in Bartlett (2002), when he states that, 'There are still major problems between the relationship of the archaeological findings to the fact and contents of the scrolls.' However, he also professes a hope that, 'subsequent research will throw light on them.' Scholarly differences of opinion are clearly visible as is the interpretation of related scripture. Bernstein (1997) in reviewing Lawrence Schiffman's work, 'Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls' points out that the narrative and legal Pentateuchal texts found in the caves, 'show the array of exegetical methods ready for the Qumran interpreter.' There is no doubt, declares Bernstein,
That any reviewer will find one or another chapter of the book deficient from some specific perspective; this will always be the case when a broad synthesis of the Dead Sea Scrolls is written by virtually any scholar, for no one is equally competent in all the complex fields of Dead Sea Scrolls scholarship. What Schiffman has done is to contextualize these texts for interpretation, and that is more important than his particular interpretation of any specific issue. 
It is this difference in interpretation that allows the debate to continue to thrive. A contemporary scholar in biblical studies, Richard Elliot Friedman equates Mosaic authorship to, 'a detective story spread across the centuries with investigators uncovering clues to the Bible's origins one by one'  Furthermore, he states that, 'There is hardly a biblical scholar in the world who would claim that the Five Books of Moses were written by Moses - or by any one person.' And yet Moses is arguably a leading figure in both religion and history, his words are the foundation of faith for over half the earth's population. Phillips (2003) clarifies that the three great monotheistic religions of the world have derived from the revealed holy laws of the ancient Israelites'. He concurs that Moses' God became not only the God of Judaism but of Christianity and Islam.' For the authors of scripture then, history is a theological tool by which God reveals Himself. Archaeology can authenticate history but it cannot authenticate theology, and from the biblical perspective, history devoid of theology is meaningless.
The Jewish nation believes that history and prophecy are inextricably intertwined, history was recorded by more than one culture and was therefore documented, however for Israel, prophecy was assurance that the writings were from God.  Prophecies detailed in the Old covenant are said to be longer-term prophecies - those fulfilled by Jesus - in the New Testament and ultimately classed as inspiration from God. McGrath (2007) describes the majority position within Christian theology has, 'in one hand emphasized the continuity between the two testaments, while on the other noting the distinction between them.' One of the strongest arguments used by adherents to Mosaic authorship, stems from the predictions it makes within its pages about the future. These events are what give Biblical scholars reason to continue their pursuit of Mosaic verification. Of these 'prophecies' one in particular is used to corroborate Mosaic authorship: the advent of an 'anointed' one who was to arrive in the future.
Often when one reads about the Mosaic Pentateuch one can find statements that refer to the infallibility of scripture, in particular with regards to Jesus Christ. Livingston (2004) claims that Christ knew the scriptures thoroughly, even to words and tenses and that Jesus also believed, 'every word of scripture, the historicity of the Old Testament and that it was spoken by God Himself, thereby affirming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, even thought the pen was held by men.' Furthermore, Livingston states that, 'if we are to believe that his life was guided by prophecy, then he was subject to a life that was written for him, does this limit the choices he had to make or was he just God's tool, there to fulfil God's plan?' However Jesus obeyed God's word and His authority. He came to do God's will and in doing so fulfilled Old Testament He fulfilled Old Testament prophecies about Himself. LangMarch (1995) explains that Jesus places a great amount of emphasis on the fulfilment of scripture; this he maintains 'confirms its veracity'. However this point is one that cannot be overlooked for if Biblical Scholars find the scriptures to be in error then the obvious conclusion would be that Jesus too was in error and could not have been the infallible son of God.
Current views and hypothesis
Throughout the history of this debate scholars have battled in order to propose their own interpretation of scripture. These 'battles' are still relevant and consume the minds of contemporary scholars. Time, it seems has not diminished the pursuit of 'truth', contemporary scholars are just as committed in their attempts to 'solve' the authorship problem as their past contemporaries. In the past four decades there have been numerous publications concerning Pentateuchal authorship and views are still divided. P.N. Benware (1993) states that, 'Moses was the human author of Genesis and the other books of the Pentateuch' he adds,
These five 'books of the law' were written by Moses alone, with the exception of Deuteronomy 34, which records the death of Moses... The Pentateuch, therefore, is an inspired, inerrant, authoritative document written by the man Moses." 
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