Skip to main content

Pentateuch Authorship

           Some people question the authorship of the Bible and more specifically the first five books of the Bible called the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch being the first five books of the revelation about God. The Bible does not give authorship to man, but to God, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”1
            This word inspired is translated from the Greek word theopneustos; which means God-breathed.2 Therefore the words of the Bible come from God, and are written by men.  There are varying theories on how this is accomplished; neo-orthodoxy, dictation theory, limited inspiration theory, and plenary verbal inspiration theory. “Plenary verbal inspiration asserts the Holy Spirit interacted with human writers to produce the Bible.”3
            It is traditionally held that the Pentateuch was authored by Moses, source criticism has noted some difficulties with the entire authorship being attributed to Moses.4 The Bible itself does not give authorship to any man since the Bible is written by God through man. The main theory developed as an alternative to Mosaic authorship is Documentary Hypothesis (DH), “also called the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis after two of its most significant propenents.”5 The Documentary Hypothesis says that there are four sources for the Pentateuch; Yahwist (J) from the tenth to ninth century, Elohist (E) from the eight century, Priestly (P) from the sixth to fifth century, and Deuteronomy (D) from the fifth century accredited to Josiah’s reform.6
            There are several problems with DH.  One problem is that the main academic assumptions behind the documentary hypothesis is that the Pentateuch uses two different names for God; Yahweh and Elohim.  The assertion is that the Yahwist (J) tenth to ninth century used Yahweh, while the Elohist (E) from the eight century used Elohim. In order for this hypothesis to hold together Yahwist (J) would always have to use Yahweh and Elohist (E) would always have to use Elohim, but that is not what occurs in the text. Genesis 2:4-3:24 use both Yahweh and Elohim side by side, and other passages like Genesis 21 use both Yahweh and Elohim in the text.7  Scripture gives credit to God for the Scriptures, therefore let us continue in His word so that we may know the truth.




Notes
1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB).
2. NASB Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, g2315 (The Lockman Foundation, 1977), 1655.
3. Arnold and Byer, What is the Old Testament and Why Study It? 25.
4. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, “Dictionary of The Old Testament: Pentateuch” Source Criticism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 798.
5. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, “Dictionary of The Old Testament: Pentateuch” Source Criticism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 801.
6. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, “Dictionary of The Old Testament: Pentateuch” Source Criticism (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 802.
7. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, “Dictionary of The Old Testament: Pentateuch” God, Names of (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 366.



Bibliography

Arnold, and Byer. "What Is the Old Testament and Why Study It?" n.d.
Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, (2003).
NASB Exaustive Concordance of The Bible. The Lockman Foundation, (1998).

The Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Bible. The Lockman Foundation, (1995).