Authorship of the Hebrew Bible
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Authorship of the Hebrew Bible

Although, traditionally, authorship of the Torah, is ascribed to Moses, and the various books of the prophets (NeviÂ’im) to the prophets themselves or in some cases to scribes working directly with them, the Genesis-Kings core of the Hebrew Bible does not actually make a point as to who wrote its parts.

Although, traditionally, authorship of the Torah, is ascribed to Moses, and the various books of the prophets (Nevi’im) to the prophets themselves or in some cases to scribes working directly with them, the Genesis-Kings core of the Hebrew Bible does not actually make a point as to who wrote its parts. Even Deuteronomy, which is framed in the Torah as a recounting of Moses’ own words, is presented from the perspective of a narrator writing prose around poetic speeches attributed to Moses. As numerous people have observed throughout the centuries, Deuteronomy even describes Moses’ death and speaks of him as the humblest man who ever lived. This is not something that the humblest man who ever lived would have written about himself.

Many centuries prior to the emergence of the Documentary Hypothesis, Jewish scholars had observed this conflict with the assumption that Moses’ had written the Torah. Thus, in medieval Spain, Ibn Ezra advised those who “understood” to “remain silent”.

Richard Ellior Friedman’s books, particularly Who Wrote the Bible?, but also The Hidden Book on the Bible, are works of source criticism, but are fairly weak on historical criticism. Thus, while Friedman puts a lot of effort into which groups likely authored which source texts, his conclusions regarding the periods are based on relatively superficial analysis, assumptions that the united monarchy was completely historical, and ends of with a fairly wide window as to the time period for J and E (though he suggests that he began some research that would have narrowed the writing of E to the last 25 years of the of the kingdom of Samaria). Furthermore, other scholars in Friedman's cohort don't agree with him on the dates. Baruch Halpern, who like Friedman did his doctoral work at Harvard under Frank Moore Cross in the 1970s, places the P author around 600 BCE. Additionally, using the evolution of the tribal structure of the branches of Judah as well as linguistic arguments, Halpern suggests that the CH had to proceed J by a century or so. Of course, this implies that Friedman cannot be right that J and the CH were the same man or woman, as he posits in The Hidden Book in the Bible.

Focusing on the intriguing possibility that Judahite palace women may played an important role in transcribing many oral traditions to written documents, Axel Knauf hypothesizes a court history evolving in stages with stories being told and rehashed under the guidance of the Queen-mothers Bathsheba, Maacah, and perhaps most importantly, Athalia, daughter of Ahab. While many scholars take at face value the contention by editors at least one point in the evolution of Kings that Athalia was an unpopular queen, Knauf essentially makes her a key figure in the creation of the official memory of David’s reign.

 

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Comments (3)
Ranked #11 in Archaeology

Your shares all year round are amazing and great help, thank you so much. I wish you and your love ones the best and good health in 2011 and plus years.

Ranked #18 in Archaeology

Interesting stuff

I love Biblical history, Sir and have enjoyed and learned from this article. Thank you for sharing.

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