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THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE BOOK OF GENESIS Pt 1 B.Burt

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 Over the next few weeks, we will be serialising a paper by Bro B.Burt (Cov West) for those who did not see it when it was first published.

We will reproduce this in short ‘snippets’ to make it easier to digest and comment upon should you wish to do so.

CONFLICTING VIEWS

In response to the question “Who wrote the Book of Genesis?” the average Christadelphian would probably reply “Moses”.  This view is of course firmly held by the Jews, the primary meaning of the word ‘Torah’ being the first five books of the Bible, the contents of which, they believe, were given to Moses by God, either at Mt. Sinai or in the Tabernacle.

In 1878 the German theologian Dr Julius Wellhausen published his ‘Documentary Hypothesis’ in which he argued that the material in the first six books of the Bible was originally written between 950BC and 500BC (time of Solomon to the Babylonian captivity) by four different authors (the Yahwist, the Elohist, the Deuteronomist and the Priestly source) and that their writings were subsequently combined and revised by editors with a final editor or redactor (thought to be Ezra) being responsible for the completion of the books.  Wellhausen’s Higher Critical views have been challenged in recent years, but only in the direction of more source documents (the fragmentary theory) and more editors.  Critics of the Bible are in favour of these theories because they underpin the basic (humanistic) assumption that the religion of the Hebrews evolved over the centuries, changing from original  animism through Babylonian & Egyptian type polytheism into Jewish monotheism.  We would, of course utterly reject such a view, believing that the Genesis record was “wholly given by inspiration of God in the writer(s)” – BASF Foundation Clause.

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This article will show that actually the considerable labours of the Higher Critics are not without profit, providing we firmly reject their conclusions and seek Biblical solutions to the question of the authorship of Genesis – solutions which are in harmony with our belief in the verbal inspiration of the text and of the way in which that text is quoted and commented upon by Jesus and his apostles in the New Testament.

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1 Comment

  1. pdavenport

    You’re right to reject a view that Hebrew monotheism is a late evolution from Babylonian polytheism, but recent scholarship also rejects this. However it isn’t accurate to say that the view “firmly held by the Jews, [is that] the primary meaning of the word ‘Torah’ being the first five books of the Bible, the contents of which, they believe, were given to Moses by God”. Torah means instruction and although it is used to refer to the 5 books, Jewish interpretation has for a long time recognised that Moses could not have been the author of the entire 5 books. This is evident from the Jewish Study Bible commentary as follows:

    “The view that the Torah is the divine word mediated by Moses was the standard view through the Renaissance. This view is explicitly contradicted by the Torah’s narrative, as was sometimes (though rarely) recognized in the Middle Ages. Thus, Abraham Ibn (son of) Ezra, a 12th-century CE exegete, noted that Gen. 12:6 states that “The Canaanites were then in the land.” The word “then” suggests that when the author of this passage wrote it, the Canaanites were no longer in the land. In other words, the text must have been written after the time of Moses, because during Moses’ time the Canaanites were still in the land. With the rise of rationalism, particularly as associated with figures such as Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) and Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632–1677), the view that the Torah was a unified whole, written by Moses, began to be questioned. (For additional information on this development, see “Modern Jewish Interpretation,” pp. 1908–19, and “Modern Study of the Bible,” pp. 2084–96.)”

    The proposal that Moses used pre-existing oral or written material and that later editors up to the time of Ezra may have had a hand in the final shaping of the Penteteuch does not contradict the unique monotheism of Israelite religion or the Divine inspiration of Scripture.

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