[b-hebrew] Author of the torah

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Jul 29 15:47:05 EDT 2005


Please note that I do mean the questions below as serious, not  
rhetorical, questions, though I admit up front that I do not think  
convincing answers can be given to them.

On the first "possibility," is there any manuscript evidence, or any  
reason other than a desire to vindicate Mosaic authorship of the  
entire canonical form of the Torah, that the story of Moses' death  
ever stood at the beginning of the book of Joshua?

On the second "possibility," what possible reason would God have for  
inspiring Moses to write 85-95% of the book of Deuteronomy in the  
form of first-person discourse and the remaining 5-15% of the book as  
third-person discourse with all the hallmarks of an editorial  
framework? What would count as evidence that God did in fact do that  
(readers' felt need for Moses to be the author of the entire  
canonical Torah would not), and does such evidence exist?

On the use of "scare quotes" around "possibility": any speculation  
can be rhetorically labeled a "possibility," but without data,  
evidence, and reasoned argument there is no reason to put stock in  
such "possibilities."

Chris

On Jul 29, 2005, at 12:12 PM, Read, James C wrote:
> Peter wrote:
> And I think even the most conservative interpreters accept
> that at least part of the remaining 5%, especially chapter 34, was not
> in fact written by Moses.
> end quote.
>
> There are two possibilities here. One proposition is that it was  
> originally
> the beginning of the book of Joshua and was kept at the end of the  
> scroll
> as an introduction to the book of Joshua and to recall to the  
> reader that,
> although the two scrolls had two different authors, the true author  
> was yah
> and that the two scrolls should be considered as a the one book by  
> the one
> true author, yhwh.
> Another possibility is that Moshe, as a prophet inspired by Yah,  
> knew that he
> was about to die (and this had in fact been told to him by Yahowah  
> himself)
> and therefore was able to pen the words himself.
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Kirk [mailto:peterkirk at qaya.org]
> Sent: Fri 7/29/2005 8:01 PM
> To: Read, James C
> Cc: Jim West; b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Author of the torah
>
> On 29/07/2005 19:28, Read, James C wrote:
>
>
>> Quote:
>> There are three places where Moses is said to have written  
>> something- Ex
>> 24:4, Dt 31:9, 31:22.  An even not so careful reading will show  
>> that the
>> reference to Moses writing refers only to the present pericope.
>> end quote.
>>
>> Have you read Deouteronomy 31:9 closely?
>> What did he write?
>> The law???
>> How do you say 'law' in hebrew?
>> Isn't it something like 'torah'?
>> And the name of the book attributed to Moshe?
>> The torah???
>>
>> My! What an amazing coincidence!!!
>>
>>
>>
>
> Surely not, James. See also 31:24, which Jim just happens to have
> forgotten, which states that Moses wrote down this law, hattora  
> hazzo't,
> `ad tummam which means something like "completely". In other words,  
> this
> verse seems to be an explicit claim that Moses wrote down the whole of
> the Torah.
>
> But then what was meant by the Torah? Not necessarily all of the five
> books now known as such. But 31:9,24 must be a claim at least that  
> Moses
> wrote down the complete contents of what he had just spoken, also
> referred to as "this law", hattora hazzo't, in 1:5. And this  
> happens to
> be the major part of the book of Deuteronomy, from 1:6 to 30:20 -  
> except
> for 27:1a,9a,11 and 29:1,2, which are the only parts of this which are
> not presented as the words of Moses. Additionally, large parts of
> chapters 31-33 are presented as Moses' words, and in 31:22 it is  
> stated
> that he wrote down his song which is 32:1-43. So, we have about 95% of
> the book presented as Moses' words and 85% explicitly stated as  
> written
> down by him. And I think even the most conservative interpreters  
> accept
> that at least part of the remaining 5%, especially chapter 34, was not
> in fact written by Moses.
>
> Of course some might want to dispute whether the internal claims of  
> the
> book are reliable. But it is necessary to recognise first that these
> claims are being made.
>
> -- 
> Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/
>
>
>
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--
R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352
http://faculty.pepperdine.edu/cheard
http://www.iTanakh.org
http://www.semioticsandexegesis.info



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