[b-hebrew] Author of the torah

Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Sat Jul 30 15:45:26 EDT 2005

On Saturday 30 July 2005 12:50, Yitzhak Sapir wrote:
> James C Read wrote:
> > I have read many 'scholarly theories' which attack the authorship
> > of the torah but my conclusions are.
> You have not read anything substantial if you are unaware of the
> relative dates that modern scholarship assigns to the various books.
> Let me suggest on this issue that in order to be properly aware of the
> various theories for the various books of the Bible, you read the
> entries in the Anchor Bible Dictionary for the various books of the
> Bible.

It is possible to have read something but not accept its conclusions.  You 
seem to assume that if James had read these things, he would naturally agree.  
That is not the case.  I've read them as well, and likewise reject their 
conclusions for reasons of my own.

> > a)people change constantly. And if *I* wrote a book over a 40
> > year period, it would most certainly exhibit different styles
> > as my personality continued to change and adapt.
> You present these as your conclusions, yet they sound more like
> a personal security certificate to protect your beliefs from criticism.

Actually, he presented a common demonstrable phenomenon of people's writing 
over extended periods of time.  How is that a "personal security 


> > e)the 'scholarly assumption' that scribblings on the wall of empires
> > whose kings frequently invented their own history and deleted their
> > defeats and deified themselves are of more historic worth than the
> > tanak are completely biased and cannot be taken seriously.
> The only thing that cannot be taken seriously are statements that
> "scribblings on the wall of empires" cannot be taken seriously.  By
> saying such a statement, you both show your lack of knowledge in
> this area and also attempt to protect yourself from criticism by
> saying any such argument "cannot be taken seriously."  You don't
> have any reasons which can be analyzed and provide none.  You
> simply refuse to argue the validity of "scribblings."

Excuse me?  We know that several pharaohs altered monuments and records to 
make themselves look good or to discredit their predecessors; similar things 
happened further east as we well know.  Why should such records be held in 
higher esteem than the Hebrew writings?  You show your own bias here, a bias 
that apparently has no basis.

 > I am, of course, open minded and would welcome any *constructive*
> > arguments against Moses as the author of the Torah, as long as we agree
> > to keep the discussion on an equal level of respect and give proofs
> > based on the primary sources rather than resorting to insulting comments
> > to prove a point.
> It is good to see that you claim to be open minded because in light of
> some of the above statements ("cannot be taken seriously", "is
> completely unscholarly") I would think otherwise.  The fact of the matter
> is, most of the Bible is not a primary source.  

No, the fact of the matter is that this is a theory, nothing more.  The texts 
themselves claim to be primary sources, whereas "modern scholarship" has come 
up with various theories and hypotheses to try and show that they aren't.  
None of these theories can legitimately be elevated to the level of 
established fact, and it is more than a little unscholarly to claim that they 
can or have been.

> If we want to keep 
> ourselves on an "equal level of respect" we must agree to match up primary
> sources against primary sources and secondary sources against secondary
> sources and give proper weight to various sources based on how far removed
> they are from the event.

Agreed.  But is a monument altered and/or defaced by Raameses so we don't know 
what it originally said a "primary source"?  We can toss out theories about 
sources, transmission, blah blah blah, all day long, but the fact remains 
that we *know* such things happened in other ANE places, but we have no hard 
evidence to suggest that the Hebrew documents in our possession are anything 
but primary sources.  You may favor some of the theories that claim they 
aren't, but trying to say that the matter is settled beyond dispute is 
anything but showing an "equal level of respect."


Beyond that, James is perfectly capable of speaking for himself.

Dave Washburn
"Well, if I'd wanted a safe life, I guess I wouldn't have 
married a man who studies rocks." - Betty Armstrong (Fay Masterson)

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