ONE AUTHOR Monotheism was: "admittedly syncretistic..

Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at
Sun Jan 27 03:16:38 EST 2002

Shoshanna Walker wrote:>
> The question of author(s)/unity of the Torah is a very interesting one.
> I know of a computer assisted study in ZAW 1982 by Yehuda Radday et. al
> called Genesis and the computer (something like this anyway)who found,
> that in Genesis P was the only "source" that differed. According to the
> study there was no justification for the discreteness of J and E.

Indeed, many scholars today argue for the difficulty, if not impossibiity,
of separating J and E, and prefer to use the terms "JE" or "the ancient
traditions", as opposed to D and P. That's assuming, of course, that P is a
unified source and all late. And D is not a source, it's a book. No one has
successfully demonstrated, IMHO, the presence of D elsewhere in the Torah.
The discussion flares up again every few years, but then dies down again.
Redford argued against the traditional source division in the Joseph
Narratives, and the present author (unpublished MA thesis, 1975, Sturdy
(Numbers, CBC, 1976) and Rofe (The Book of Balaam, 1978) in the Balaam

 I think
> later Radday argued for the unity of Isaiah, at least that was what the
> computer "thought"


> Even traditional Jewish scholarship recognized that the Torah as well as
> other books of the Hebrew Bible were composite and had redactors.
> They did this, however, from a very different perspective than Wellhausen.
> So here is the question posed by Kugel: given that already in the middle
> ages scholars had come to this realization why did "Wellhausen" not
> flourish in 11th century Spain? Any thoughts?

Perhaps you are refering to Ibn Ezra's citation of  Rabbi Yitzhaq the
Karaite, who commented on the Edomite King List in Gen. 36 that it dated
from the time of Jehosophat. Ibn Ezra, outraged, railed that his books
should be burnt.
This didn't stop Ibn Ezra from voicing his own doubts as to the Mosaic
authorship of 12 vewrses in the Torah - in a veiled fashion. He called them
"the Secret of the 12".
12th century Spain, which is when and where Ibn Ezra lived, wasn't exactly a
time or place of freedom of religion or speech. Ibn Ezra could also have
been excommunicated by his own fellow Jews.

Incidentally, the Rabbis of the Mishnaic Period had their own doubts as to
the Mosaic authorship of the whole Torah. Witness the Beraitha (external
Mishna) cited in BT Baba Bathra 14b-15a, in which it is stated that Moses
wrote "his own Book, the Book of Balaam, and the Book of Job". This can only
mean that doubts had been expressed as to the Mosaic authorship of the
Balaam Narrative.
Further on in the same Baraitha, there is the controversy between R. Shimon
and R. Yehuda as to the Mosaic authorship of the last 8 verses of the Torah.
How can one argue about authorship, unless one doesn't really know about the
authorship? Each side ventures a guess, and the guess that Moses wrote the
last 8 verses "in tears" (as prophecy" won out and became accepted Jewish
Reminds me by the decision taken by the Church Council of Nicaea in 325 that
Jesus had been born on December 25.
Today, we would not (I hope) decide such momentous matters as the Mosaic
authorship of the Torah or the birthday of Jesus by majority vote, but by
checking the evidence.

BTW, there's an excellent discussion of Rabbinic and traditional
expressionsa of doubt as to the unity andMosaic authorship of the Pentateuch
in the classic Hebrew-language _History of Biblical Criticism_, by Rubashov
and Soloveitchik, Berlin, 1936, I believe.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College

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