Volgens tradisie is die Joodse Torah (Pentateugh), wat bestaan uit die eerste vyf Boeke van die Bybel deur Moses geskryf. Daarom staan die Torah in die algemeen bekend as die Boeke van Moses.

Dit is egter bekend dat Moses nie die skrywer kon wees nie. Die volgende artikel ontleed hierdie aangeleentheid.

Who Wrote the Torah

John W Loftus

Genesis makes reference to the city of Dan (Gen 14:14) and uses the phrase “unto this day” (Gen 22:14). These sections could not have been authored by Moses. Genesis also mentions the Chaldeans and several Edomite kings, none of which existed anytime near Moses’ lifetime. The Edomite king list from Genesis 36, in fact, lists known historical figures who lived well after Moses’ lifetime. Genesis was not written by Moses or anyone who lived close to his lifetime.

The evidence also indicates Genesis and the rest of the Torah was not written by a single individual. The text is convoluted and conflicting. For instance, the internal timeline of Genesis (Gen 12:4; 16:3; 17:1; 21:5) would indicate that when Hagar was expelled by Sarah, Ishmael was fifteen years old. This makes the story of him later being put on Hagar’s shoulder and then being cast under some shrubs to die, only to cry until being saved by an angel, quite silly. Ishmael is clearly presented as an infant in that story.

The chronology of Genesis also makes Isaac a grown man of about 30 when he is almost sacrificed by Abraham. The sacrifice pericope, however, clearly treats Isaac as a child.

The two creation accounts from Genesis 1–3 conflict, as do the two versions of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

In Exod 6:2–3 God tells Moses that he appeared to Abraham but was not known by the name Yahweh to him, but in Gen 15:7 God tells Abraham, “I am Yahweh.”

In the flood story cattle and fowls were supposed to be gathered by twos, but a couple verses later fowls and “clean animals” (cattle are clean animals) are supposed to be gathered by sevens.

For one author Amorites inhabit the Promised Land and Horeb is the mountain where the law was received. For another author Canaanites inhabit the Promised Land and Sinai is the name of the mountain where the law was received.

These conflicting accounts show multiple authorship and lead to certain conclusions. First, single authorship is absolutely precluded. Second, redaction of the text is absolutely unquestionable. Other evidence supports that conclusion. For instance, the kings that fought in the battle of the kings in Gen 14:2 have names like “His Name is Lost,” and “His Name is Unknown.” These aren’t names anyone would actually be given, but are names someone far separated from the events would come up with to fill in gaps in information, and revelation is precluded. Elsewhere names have been similarly changed. Eshbaal (Man of Baal), Saul’s son, is so named in Chronicles (1 Chr 8:33), but in Samuel (2 Sam 4:8) his name has been edited to Ishbosheth (Man of Shame). This was not his name, but a name provided by a redactor who did not want to write about the son of Israel’s king having a theophoric Baal name. During Saul’s day Baal was not a particularly offensive epithet, and by the time of the Chronicler the significance of it had been lost. Mephibosheth, Molech, and Ashtoreth are other examples of the bošet (“shame”) consonants and/or vocalization interpolated into a name to indicate “shame.”

These are clear indications of late redaction, and they preclude a pristine text. Errors also indicate a lengthy transmission history. For instance, 1 Sam 13:1 claims that Saul was one year old when he began to rule (ben šānāh šâűl bĕmālḵô). The text is actually just corrupt, the number of years of Saul’s age having been lost over time. Third, specific traditions can be isolated in the text and can be shown to appeal to specific ideologies, which form the basis of the JEDP theories.

My Own Perspective

While these facts preclude a theory of single authorship or a pristine text, I’m not fully convinced by much of the contemporary JEDP scholarship. I don’t think D and P are conceptually distinct enough to be able to accurately delineate between the two in every instance. I also don’t believe variation in style or nomenclature necessarily indicates unique authorship, nor do I think the Pentateuch preserves enough distinction between Yahweh and El to detect authorship in every instance. An early distinction is detectable, however, and is a very important part of the Hebrew Bible. I’ll discuss that briefly.

Yahweh and El were originally conceived of as different deities. [3] Exodus 6 introduces the question. Why would God tell Moses in Exodus 6 that he had revealed himself to Abraham and others previously, but never by the name Yahweh? It only makes sense if this name were new or unknown. The fact that the received text of the Hebrew Bible previous to Exodus 6 repeatedly refers to God as Yahweh, and even has God telling Abraham “I am Yahweh” leads to the inescapable conclusion that something has been added that wasn’t there before, specifically the name Yahweh. Someone retrojected Yahweh into a text that originally lacked mention of him.

The Kuntillet ‘Ajrud inscriptions refer to El and Yahweh as distinct individuals, Yahweh coming from Teman in the south, and later from Samaria. [4] Deut 32:8–9 presents Yahweh as one of the sons of El/Elyon. Verse 8 originally finished, “according to the number of the sons of El.” [5] The Septuagint and more clearly the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that reading. The MT changed it to avoid reference to El’s children. Yahweh is given Israel as his inheritance of the nations, which number seventy (see Genesis 10, specifically v. 32, which references Deut 32:8–9). This identifies him as one of the “sons of El,” since they were the ones being given this inheritance. This is a reminiscence of the seventy sons of El from the Ugaritic literature. In Ps 82 those other gods are condemned for their negligence, and Elohim (identified with Yahweh, but still distinct from El/ Elyon [6]) is commanded to take over stewardship of the remaining nations. [7]

The manipulation of Genesis to include Yahweh indicates El was originally the only name of God mentioned. The lack of Yahwistic theophoric names in early Israel, combined with the sole use of the name “El” in the name “Israel” indicates El was originally the national God, not Yahweh. The divine council type scenes that present El as the leader of the council and Yahweh as one of the members supports that understanding. The later emphatic identification of Yahweh with El (for example, Exod 6:2–3), and the addition of the name Yahweh to Genesis indicate an attempt was made by a subsequent editor to replace Elohistic ideologies with a conflated ideology that identified Yahweh with El. Later other titles were conflated, including Elyon, El Shaddai, and so on. While I don’t believe all the original Elohistic texts can be recovered, large portions of Genesis are conspicuously reticent when it comes to using the name “Yahweh,” indicating it was unknown or avoided by a redactor. All these fact support the conclusion that an editor with a Yahwistic prioritization was redacting a text with an initially Elohistic perspective. This supports the Newer Documentary Hypothesis.

1 - A good introduction to source criticism is found in Pauline A. Viviano, “Source Criticism,” in Steven L. McKenzie and Stephen R. Haynes, ed., To Each Its Own Meaning: An Introduction to Biblical Criticisms and Their Application, Revised and Expanded (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox, 2000), 35–57. A good history of the Documentary Hypothesis is included in that article, but an important supplement to that is John Van Seters, “The Pentateuch,” in Steven L. McKenzie and M. Patrick Graham, ed., The Hebrew Bible Today: An Introduction to Critical Issues (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 3–52.

2 - R. N. Whybray, The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study (JSOTSup 53; Sheffield: Sheffield University Press, 1987). Whybray makes the most respectable argument against DH.

3 - Recently this has been argued by Mark S. Smith, The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 49; the argument has been made many times before. See, for instance, O. Eissfeldt, “El and Yahweh,” JSS (1956): 25–37 and John Day, Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan (JSOTSup 265; Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 13–41. Michael S. Heiser is the only scholar of which I know to argue against this interpretation (see Heiser, “Are Yahweh and El Distinct Deities in Deut 32:8-9 and Psalm 82?” Hiphil 3 [2006]), although his refutations only refute specific interpretations of Deut 32:8 and Psalm 82, and he does not recognize the redaction of Deuteronomy or the importation of literary motifs.

4 - See J. A. Emerton, “New Light on Israelite Religion: The Implications of the Inscriptions from Kuntillet ‘Ajrud,” ZAW 94 (1982): 2–20 (3–9).

5 - See I. Himbaza, “Dt 32, 8, une correction tardive des scribes. Essai d’interprétation et de datation”, Biblica 83 (2002): 527–48. A good bibliography accompanies that article. For an interesting recent theory, see J. Joosten, “A Note on the Text of Deuteronomy xxxii 8,” Vetus Testamentum 57 (2007): 548–55. Joosten holds that the text originally read bny šr ’el, which would become bĕnē yisra’el through dittography of the yod. Joosten’s theory is one of the only ones that views the variant as an accident.

6 - Yahweh/Elohim is not the head of the council, but merely one of the members. Elyon is the head of the council. See Simon B. Parker, “The Beginning of the Reign of God – Psalm 82 as Myth and Liturgy,” RB 102 (1995): 534–35.

7 - Several things need to be said about these verses. First, ’ĕlohîm can never refer to human judges. The genesis of that interpretation is a small collection of rabbinic paraphrases of scripture that are refuted not only by other contemporary rabbinic commentaries, but by the Hebrew language itself. LXX never translates ’ĕlohîm as anything other than theos, or sometimes kurios. The traditional interpretation also ignores the evidence from Ugaritic literature, which uses the phrase “sons of El” (bn ‘ilm in Ugaritic) numerous times exactly as it is used in the Hebrew Bible. It never refers to humans in Ugaritic. For a comprehensive evaluation of the term, see Joel S. Burnett, A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim (SBLDS 183; Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2001). Second, their quotation in the New Testament tells us how they were interpreted during New Testament times, which is consistent with general Second Temple Jewish ideologies. It does not tell us what the authors originally intended. Third, bĕnē ’ĕlohîm does not refer to angels. This is a Second Temple Period interpretation of the term that relies exclusively on the conclusion that it cannot refer to children of God. The cognate literature as well as an internal evaluation absolutely precludes this interpretation. Angels are always obedient messengers in the Hebrew Bible. The “sons of God” are rarely obedient and are never messengers (see Genesis 6 and Psalm 82). Angels were originally on the bottom level of a four tiered pantheon of divine beings. El occupied the top tier and his seventy sons occupied the second tier. Yahweh was originally part of the second tier. Craftsmen deities occupied the third. The Hebrew Bible rarely references these deities. The bottom tier was angels, seraphim, cherubim, and so on. During the eighth century BCE these tiers were collapsed. Yahweh and El were conflated, and everyone else was demoted to the bottom tier and conflated with angels. This is why Lucifer, originally presented as one of the “sons of El,” is described as an angel in the Second Temple Period literature, and why rebellious angels were such a large part of that literature despite their utter absence from literature prior to that time period.

8 - Joel S. Baden, “Rethinking the Supposed JE Document” (PhD Dissertation, Harvard University, 2007).

9 - For a full discussion of this emendation, see Carmel McCarthy, The Tiqqune Sopherim (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1981), 198–205.


Vir JEPD sien Julius Wellhausen.