Analysis of traditions concerning Mosaic authorship

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Introduction

The Christian Holy Bible is not one book, but a library of sixty six books recorded over many centuries. Within its pages are literary genres that include Law, History, Wisdom, Poetry, Gospel, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic Literature. The Bible can be likened to other literature in that it is made up of many types or kinds of language, however it can distinguish itself from other books known to man, in that it claims to be a written revelation of mans creator.[1] The Bible as used in Christianity is made up of the Old and New Testaments, these are combined and intended to compliment each other and form the canon of the Christian church. It is the first five books of the Bible and their authorship that will be of concern to this thesis. The first five books of the Bible include Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. These volumes narrate the story of Israel from the creation of the world through the period of the flood and the patriarchs, to the Exodus from Egypt, wanderings in the desert, and the giving of the law at Sinai. The books conclude with Moses’ farewell to the people of Israel.[2] McDowell and Stewart (1980) assert that, ‘Christianity believes and teaches that the Bible alone is the revealed ‘word of God”, it is an anthology composed of His words and deeds; and as a result views itself as ‘God’s word'[3]. McDowell emphasises that evidence for this claim can be found within the Bible itself, he quotes directly from scriptures such as; 2 Peter 1:21[4] and uses clauses like, “And God spoke to Moses”, as suggested evidence to back up the Bibles claim.[5] The first five books are known by several pseudonyms, some more common than others and often dependent on the religion one follows. Expressions include; the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, the Torah and the Book of the Law…for the purpose of this thesis the scriptures will be referred to as ‘The Pentateuch.’ The contents of the Pentateuch can be seen as a partly historical, legal and narrative portrayal; the five books cover the history of the ‘chosen people’ from chronicles concerning the creation of the world to the death of Moses and also enlighten us with the civil and religious legislation of the Israelites during the life of their great lawgiver.[6] This literary account is also a story…a story that conveys the history of Israel. Pfeiffer (1957) describes the Old Testament as, ‘the meagre surviving portion of the literature of the Israelites’.[7] Therefore the authorship of these works, the time and manner of their origin and historicity are of great importance; the belief of Mosaic authorship or lack of it can affect the building blocks on which religion itself is structured. The books are not just of fundamental importance to one religion but have recognition in others…Christians put their faith in both the Old and New Testaments; whilst Judaism holds the first five books of the Old Testament as the most important division of their Hebrew canon.[8] Although Islam believes the Qur’an is Gods last word to the world;

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