[b-hebrew] Author of the Torah

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Jul 29 21:21:45 EDT 2005

On Jul 29, 2005, at 4:40 PM, Read, James C wrote:
> What do you take issue with?

Of course, I will let Jim West speak for himself. (As if anybody else  
could do it for him.) But I think there are a couple of points here  
worthy of my comment, at the risk of some repetition.

[James R.]
> You also do well to remember that it is you who is going against
> hundreds of years of Jewish tradition and not I,
[/James R.]

Reminder: Jewish tradition is not univocal on this issue. Baba Bathra  
assigns part of Deuteronomy to Joshua. Ibn Ezra doubted Mosaic  
authorship of at least some parts of Genesis. Baruch de Spinoza  
entertained the notion that Moses had only written those parts of the  
Torah that the Torah explicitly says Moses wrote (the Book of the  
Covenant, the Ritual Decalogue, the Deuteronomic Code, the itinerary  
in Numbers). And quite a few Jewish scholars today accept the  
Documentary Hypothesis (although ironically, in my opinion,  
Wellhausen championed it for anti-Jewish reasons). It is an  
overgeneralization to say that "Jewish tradition" holds to Mosaic  
authorship of the canonical form of the Torah.

[James R.]
> Do you believe that two warring kingdoms contributed in a conspiracy
> to fool two opposing nations into believing that Moshe wrote a scroll
> that he did not?
[/James R.]

I take it that you are referring to Rehoboam's Judah and Jeroboam's  
Israel. The problem here is that you have erroneously assigned the  
existence of the Samaritan Pentateuch to Jeroboam's Israel, when all  
the textual/manuscript evidence indicates that the pre-Samaritan text- 
type originated in the fifth century BCE at the earliest. That's the  
key flaw in your question: you presume the existence of the canonical  
form of the Torah at a stage where it cannot be demonstrated to have  
existed, and the evidence you cited earlier (the overwhelming  
agreement of the SP and MT) pertains to a much later period. I have  
addressed this at more length in another post.

However, what I forgot to add in that post was that your  
characterization of Judah and Israel as "warring kingdoms" is a gross  
overgeneralization. According to the Former Prophets, Judah and  
Israel were *sometimes* at war. But sometimes they were so at peace  
that one king could say to the other, "I will do what you do; my  
troops shall be your troops and my horses shall be your horses" (1  
Kings 22:4). According to the Former Prophets, at times these royal  
families married into each other. It's a mistake to think that the  
two kingdoms were so at odds that they could not cooperate on  
anything. Now I am not saying that the canonical form of the Torah  
was some sort of grand Judeo-Ephraimite literary conspiracy, for I  
think such a scenario would be nonsense, but an overgeneralized image  
of Judah and Israel as "warring kingdoms" is not good evidence for  


R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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