[b-hebrew] Author of the Torah

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Jul 29 18:21:30 EDT 2005

[Me, 12:38 PM PDT 7/29/05]

Well, the burden of proof ought to be borne by those making the claim.


[Begin Dave, 2:25 PM PDT 7/29/05]

Get real.  Those who deny Mosaic authorship are the Johnny-come-lately
said authorship has been accepted since at least the time of Jesus, and
likely at least several centuries before.  So you're the one making the
claim, not I.  Hence, the burden of proof is on you by your own


Just to clarify, I would say that my statement above applies to anybody
who makes any claim. Any claim, whether I make it, or you (Dave), or the
Pope, or whoever, is by the making of the claim obligated at some level
to be prepared to answer the question "Why do you say that?" I think it
is not arrogant for me to say that my behavior on this thread
demonstrates my willingness to shoulder the burden of offering specific
on-point evidence for any claims I make.

Questioning Mosaic authorship of the canonical form of the Torah is not
at all a "Johnny-come-lately" or a product of modern skepticism. It is a
product of reading the text, at least for some. Baba Bathra assigns
authorship of Deut 34:5-12 to Joshua. In the 12th century CE, Ibn Ezra
questioned Mosaic authorship of Genesis 12:6 because of the way in which
the Canaanite presence in "the land" is described. In the 1500s and
1600s, at least half a dozen writers questioned Mosaic authorship of the
canonical form of the Pentateuch--though not Mosaic contributions in the
form of sources. Some scholars in this period argued that the canonical
Torah was compiled by a later author using Moses' notes and memoirs,
while Hobbes and Spinoza were perfectly happy to attribute Mosaic
authorship to those parts of the Torah that the Torah says Moses wrote,
but thought the other parts came from a different hand. Note well that
the "youngest" of these sources, Spinoza, dates to c. 85 years *before*
Astruc's _Conjectures_, and some 200 years before Wellhausen's
_Prolegomena_! No "Johnny come latelies" here; the tradition of
ascribing at least some of the Torah to a hand other than Moses' is at
least as old as the earliest documentable tradition *that I know of* of
a ascribing the entire Pentateuch to Moses' stylus (viz., Baba Bathra).


Obviously it hasn't in the present thread; however, the weight of
exegesis as well as the testimony of those who were MUCH closer to the
in question than we, is quite uniform in asserting that 1) Moses did
the Pentateuch, 


Again I repeat: Where are these claims? Where is this evidence? And what
is the warrant for giving credence to it? There is no such claim
internal to the Torah. I would daresay, exegetically, that there is no
such claim internal to the Bible. I am not aware when the first such
claim can be documented; the earliest I know of for certain is Baba
Bathra, but I imagine that such claims can be documented earlier than
that in patristic sources. I don't know the Hellenistic Jewish sources
or the DSS well enough to know if such a claim is made there, and I
would be happy to learn whether such claims are made there. But even if
they were, mere "proximity in time"--e.g., removed by only 1,000 years
from Moses instead of 3,000--would not be enough in my mind to overcome
the internal indicators from the text of the Torah itself.


and 2) the references to the Law of Moses in the other books 
do indeed refer to the Pentateuch.  


As of yet, I have seen no exegetical demonstrations of this, nor even
citations of specific "traditional interpretations" that would support
this claim.


And of course, it also needs to be 
*demonstrated*, not *assumed*, that those references to NOT refer to the

Pentateuch.  I haven't seen any demonstration of that on this thread,
Bear in mind that arguments from silence always cut both ways.


I would respectfully suggest that if you will re-read my post
time-stamped around 12:37-12:38 PDT today (7/29/05), you will find that
I gave several reasons for doubting that the references to "the book of
the law of Moses" in Joshua 8, 2 Kings 22-23, and Ezra-Nehemiah refer to
the canonical Torah as we know it. My reasons may be right, wrong, weak,
or just plain stupid, but they are most definitely *there*. I have
certainly not made any claims that rely entirely on an "argument from
silence." I have indeed made the observation that the Torah does not
claim that Moses wrote it, only that Moses wrote *parts* of it, or
better yet, some documents that served as sources for it, but I hardly
left it at that. In particular, the alternation between the third-person
narrative framework and the first-person speeches of Moses needs some
sort of explanation if Moses wrote the canonical form of Deuteronomy as
we have it, as does the consistent use of third-person narration from
Moses' birth onward in the other books of the Pentateuch. That certainly
is not an "argument from silence."


As for the Josiah thing, that is a fine bit of circular reasoning.  It 
couldn't be the whole Pentateuch, we are told, because chunks of it
been written yet.  So it must have only been Deuteronomy, which MAY have
written at that time (i.e. fabricated for the specific purpose of
reforms).  But we know that those other chunks hadn't been written yet 
because Josiah's story doesn't refer to them.  Therefore it wasn't the
Pentateuch because those parts hadn't been written yet, which we know
they're not referred to, which we know because they hadn't.....


Again, let me respectfully suggest that if you will re-read my earlier
post on this subject (today 7/29/05 time-staped around 12:38 PM ), you
will find that my comments on Josiah's "book of the law of Moses" bear
no resemblance to the "circular reasoning" that you (Dave) critique in
the paragraph quoted above. I made no such arguments. Rather, what I
said was that the specific "reforms/innovations" that 2 Kings 22-23 says
Josiah implemented strongly resemble provisions of the Deuteronomic
Code, and the emphasis on blessings/curses in that law book also bears
strong echoes of Deuteronomy. *That* is the basis upon which the
identification of that "book of the law" with some edition (not
necessarily the present canonical form) of the book of Deuteronomy is
based, not _a priori_ decisions about the dating of other discrete law

The propensity of modern "scholarship" for this type of approach
continues to 
amaze and amuse me..................

To be frank, I'm finding it hard to maintain my composure and aplomb in
the face of such jibes. I am not sure what you mean by "this type of
approach," Dave. If you mean the "type of approach" you described in
your paragraph on Josiah, I once again recommend you re-read my earlier
comments on that topic, where you will find that my comments do not run
in that vein. As far as I can tell, my "approach" on this thread has
been to (a) cite relevant textual data; (b) interpret that data; (c) ask
exegetical questions; and (d) ask after the data and reasoning
supporting views that don't agree with mine. If you find *that* approach
"amaz[ing] and amus[ing]," then by all means yuk it up, but I will
certainly continue to use it, as I know of no other way to do
responsible interpretive work.


R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352
http://www.iTanakh.org <http://www.iTanakh.org> 

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