Who Wrote the Bible?

For many years, the traditional view about the authorship of the Torah is that God imparted words to Moses, who wrote them down directly. See, for instance, Deuteronomy 31:

When Moses had put down in writing the words of this Teaching to the very end, Moses charged the Levites who carried the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, saying: Take this book of Teaching and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, and let it remain there as a witness against you (v. 24-26)

On Friday, we will discuss Brettler’s chapter, “With Scissors and Paste” and a chapter from Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible?, “J and E.” These articles are crash course introductions to source criticism of the Old Testament, and they will help us make sense of some contradictions and redundancies that occur throughout the text.

A graphical representation of the sources in the Torah

For those interested in more information about the composition of the Torah, the Wikipedia article on the Documentary Hypothesis is not a bad read.

As you read, try to conceive of the possibilities for interpretation that would emerge once we realize that the Torah is a composite of multiple sources.

Also, consider what is at stake to say that multiple sources, not Moses, are the authors of the Torah? You may want to read up on the tradition of Mosaic authorship.

About Andrew Battista

Andrew Battista is Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University
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