Friday, August 17, 2007

Origin of Genesis

There is a theory, known as the document hypothesis, claiming that the book of Genesis (and the rest of the Pentateuch) was put together from various sources. While my heresy detector is in the shop, my internal senses are not really going off in any huge way.

The concern is, does it matter if Moses himself wrote Genesis? We know from Jesus that Moses did write the law:

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. - John 1:17"

But there is no 'law' that was given explicitly in Genesis, other than "you shall not eat of the tree in the midst of the Garden". The law existed back then, but it was never explicit. We know the law existed because people knew to give sacrifices (Cain and Abel). Other examples of law in Genesis include the murder of Abel results in the punishment of Cain (why punish if there is no law?) and God punishing people for adultery, even if it is unwitting (Genesis 12:17).

My concern is with Moses himself. No matter how you think the bible got to us, we were not there when it was written. We cannot go and see it. Now apparently the document hypothesis is trying to claim that it was stupid people who wrote the bible. AiG claim that it is because of the evolutionary background. I beg to differ, albeit slightly 1.

Evolutionists hate us anyway. They have no respect for scripture, regardless of the author. I suppose that Theistic evolutionists might want to say that evolution fits into scripture, but they do not refute it's divinity2. So we need to know why the document hypothesis was brought about. Evolutionists would be silly, theistic evolutionists would not want to destroy the book and the conservatives say Moses.

You see, evolutionists would say that Moses is stupid either way, he existed thousands(possibly millions) of years ago. According to them we are getting smarter and stronger. I do not see how going to the book to prove anything from their perspective is going to help. If they look in to the book, they are admitting a certain amount of authority. Then just because they use the bible, does not mean they are right:

"...There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. " - 2 Peter 3:16(b)

This seems like one of those "side-winder" attacks. You attack something that has little to no weight anyway but get people to question it all the same. So you say "Did Moses really write that book." And just because you ask that question you throw people into this doubting pit. Just remember that Satan did it to Eve and he will do it to you too. I am not saying Moses wrote Genesis, but consider this: we do not know who wrote Hebrews, yet it is still scripture. The fact is it is here and it is scripture. Will you remove from scripture just because you do not know the earthly vessel God used to bring it to us? Then you may as well throw away all of scripture, because we do not have a single original text of the bible. Nothing in the OT and nothing in the NT. That means the only one we can give glory to for the book is God!

I believe Moses is the author, not that this is essential to salvation. AiG provides good evidence that Genesis had one author:

"‘After feeding the 20,000 Hebrew words of Genesis into a computer at Technion University in Israel, researchers found many sentences that ended in verbs and numerous words of six characters or more. Because these idiosyncratic patterns appear again and again, says project director Yehuda Radday, it seems likely that a sole author was responsible. Their exhaustive computer analysis conducted in Israel suggested an 82 percent probability that the book has just one author.’"

Those odds for single authorship are better than if life evolved from a rock!

I would really like to see the same analysis done on the whole Pentateuch. The main element I have noticed is people say: "Moses wasn't there." This is rather foolish. My God is so big he creates universes by speaking but He cannot tell a human what He did and get them to write it down? Moses was not there at creation, nor was he able to record the details of his birth. Why would Moses write in the third person? Sure, all of these are valid questions, but what does it have to do with the divine nature of scripture? The bible is infallible and inerrant, unlike the document hypothesis. There is a nice review identifying some of the problems [HERE]

[HERE] Is a nice summary of the two views, probably slightly more well put than me. I fall into the conservative category and would happily go through each of the

"clues that Moses didn't write the Pentateuch, according to liberal theologians"

and show that they do not affect inerrancy or single-authorship. I love the whole "two creation stories" argument. Even when I was liberal I could prove it was one story. One thing I will maintain: My argument is as good as the next person, but we have to use scripture to interpret scripture. I breezed over the other 'clues' as well and some I have not really thought of, but I think it would be an interesting topic. If anyone is interested, let me know.

In summary I would say that I will not die on the hill that says Moses wrote Genesis. It is one of my pre-understandings but I do not even know when in his life he wrote Genesis, if he did. The fact is we have to trust that God has preserved his word for us, and that he will correct mistakes and errors in the text. I would say that it is more than likely that Moses did write it.

1 Answers in Genesis, Russell Grigg Did Moses really write Genesis?, accessed 17 August 2007

2 Answers in Creation, Greg Neyman, Old Earth Creation Science, Word Study: Yom accessed 17 August 2007

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great essay, really thought-provoking. I just recently read through the Pentateuch, and it seemed obvious to me that there was one author.

I'd agree with you that it's not necessarily heresy, but it seems to be paving the way.