In the first post of this series (see Part 1 – Examining the Documentary Hypothesis), I explored and discussed the evidence for the Documentary Hypothesis or JEDP, a model for the development of the Pentateuch or first five books of the Bible, which states that the Pentateuch is constructed of multiple documents largely written during or around the time of the Babylonian exile of the Israelite people. The Documentary Hypothesis thus removes much of the historicity and accuracy of the accounts within the Pentateuch due to the time of writing being during a time of political chaos and turmoil. Also within the first post, I showed the many evidences against this same Hypothesis, restoring the accuracy and historicity it thouroughly removes. In this following post, I will continue my exploration of the Pentateuch within the topic of Mosaic Authorship. I will show the evidence for and against the traditional view of the Pentateuch being written by the person of Moses. I will then defend this traditional view.

Moses of the Bible

The person of Moses, according to the accounts within the Bible, was a Hebrew man who was born during the time of slavery for the Israelite people. Through a series of events, recorded in the book of Exodus, Moses becomes a prophet and leads the Israelites, via God’s instruction and guidance, out of Egypt and out of slavery. Moses then leads the people through the wilderness relaying statutes, laws, and the word of God to the Israelite people for 40 years. Traditionally, it has been thought that this Moses was the person who wrote, or at least most of, the Pentateuch or Torah.

No Statement of Authorship?

A common statement about this issue is that there is not an occurrence throughout the Pentateuch that states Moses is the author. This statement is partially true in that Moses does not specifically state that he is the author of the “Pentateuch” or even the specific scrolls. However, there are several occurrences throughout the accounts that record Moses writing details down. For example:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven’” (Exodus 17:14)


“Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points…” (Num. 33:2)

Part of this argument also seems rather moot since it is doubtful that Moses had in mind a five book or five scroll work as an end goal which he would then stamp his official authorship on. He was merely writing down the words of God as they were given to him and as the events occurred. I would argue that, Moses, as a prophet of God and the leader of the infant nation of Israel, seemed more interested in recording the laws and words of God, as he was being commanded to do so, than claiming authorship. Indeed, Moses was hesitant in the beginning of God’s calling on him to become the leader of the Israelites. Such a character probably wasn’t too keen at drawing immense attention to his name. (Of course, this is just my own thought). Interestingly enough, other Old Testament accounts provide this stamp of authorship: Josh.1:8; 8:31–32; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 21:8; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Dan. 9:11–13; and Mal. 4:4. (1) The New Testament also has similar claims, but I will not list those references here.

Out of Place, Out of Time

Scholars and many other individuals have studied the Pentateuch, the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy especially, and come across several instances, statements, or details that supposedly challenge the view of Moses as author of the these accounts. Many of these references are called anachronisms, this meaning that certain statements, names of places, details, etc. contain information that is out-of-place in time. Within the Pentateuch, there are many times where names of locations are given when such locations would not have been known by that name at the time of Moses. Some examples of these would be references to the Canaanites (Genesis 12:6) and the references to the Israelite territory of Dan during the time of Abraham. Both of these examples seem to show details that would have occurred after the time of Moses. The removal of the Canaanites and the designation of the Israelite territory of Dan both occurred during or after the time of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and thus after the death of Moses (2). They are details that are out of place in time. Therefore, the argument follows, Moses could not have written the Pentateuch due to such anachronisms.

Further examples of similar phenomena in the Pentateuch include details that Moses  could not have written or at least most likely would not have written. One of these being the account of Moses’s own death and burial in Deuteronomy 34:5. The account states:

“So Moses the Servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor;”

Again, another example is that of the first verse of Deuteronomy:

“These are the words Moses spoke on the other side of the Jordan”

camel-shadows-1370980The Biblical account states that God prevented Moses from entering the Promised Land and thus Moses never crossed the Jordan river. Indeed, the account of his death cited above places the location of his death outside the Promised Land. Therefore, Moses could not have written this statement (3). JEDP advocates would continue with such examples and state that the presence of these kind of anachronisms and statements removes Moses from authorship altogether.

They back up this claim with further references from Deuteronomy which use the phrase “to this day.” Such a phrase seems to state that much time has passed since the referenced event had occurred. For example:

“But no one know the place of his (Moses) burial to this day.” (Deut. 34:7)

One interpretation is that the inclusion of such a phrase, at the date of writing of Deuteronomy, suggests a significant time had passed since the actual occurrence of the event. Another example is similar:

Since then no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses.” (Deut. 34:10).

“Since then” also seems to show that it has been a very long time since Moses. Again, the argument follows that Moses would not have written this, therefore he wasn’t the author of Deuteronomy (4).

The last example I will provide is the argument of third person statements that Moses most likely wouldn’t have written about himself:

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth. (Numbers 12:3)

It seems unlikely that Moses would write such a statement about himself and in the third person perspective. It just seems out-of-place and more likely that someone else wrote this reference. Therefore, Moses didn’t write the Pentateuch.

So, how do these statements and arguments of the text affect the idea of Moses as author of the Pentateuch? How do the presence of anachronisms and out-of-place details change the idea of Mosaic authorship? They don’t affect or change it at all. The reason I say this is such: I would agree these examples can be interpreted as evidence of a later editor who added or edited certain details. They show that a later editor modernized the names and locations of places. However, even though anachronisms and edits exist within the text, it doesn’t mean that Moses didn’t write the overall whole of the text.

Many of these examples, possibly even all of them, could have been added by later hands to the text. This would make sense in the instances of Moses’s death and burial. Most likely, Aaron or even more likely Joshua, wrote this specific account. In fact, it is possible that the account of Moses’s death was actually supposed to be the beginning of the book of Joshua instead of the end of Deuteronomy. In some manuscripts, one account or “book” continues straight into the next without much pause.

Additionally, some of these tensions and supposed “edits” can also be explained in another way. For example, the city/town of Dan mentioned within Genesis is more likely referencing a different town that also claimed the name of “Dan.” The article “The Documentary Hypothesis: Moses, Genesis, and the JEDP” sums this up quite well:

“However, Dan in this context is not the region of Dan, that Israelite tribe’s inheritance given when the Jews took the Promised Land, but a specific ancient town of Dan, north of the Sea of Galilee. It was in existence long before the Israelites entered the land.” (5).

They go on to quote the historian Josephus who calls it “the other spring of Jordan.” Therefore, these references to Dan within the Pentateuch need not be the Dan of the later Israelite nation. In addition to this, there are several cities that have the name “Dan” in their full title. For example: Dan Laish and Dan Jaan. Since there are other possibilities and explanations available, it would make more sense to explore them to find an answer that makes sense within the context of the account instead of just assuming a contradiction or issue with the writing (6).

Similarly, the issue of the Canaanite references in Genesis can be solved without invoking an authorship issue:

“…Moses could have easily written this without knowing that the Canaanites would be removed after his death because, due to warring kingdoms or other factors, people groups did get removed from territories. So it was just a statement of fact about who was living in the land at the time of Abraham.” (7)

commandmentsContinuing with the above examples, what about the phrases such as “to this day” or “since then”? I would agree that by looking at the verses out of context one might easily determine the passages are out-of-place and hint at later authorship. However, once put in context of the surrounding passage, the tension fades. This is the case with the passage from Deuteronomy 34:7. The passages just prior to this verse, it is stated that Moses went up on a mountain alone and that God himself buried Moses. Therefore, it would make sense that no one would know the exact location of Moses’s burial place at any time. It wouldn’t matter if a long time had passed or not; No one knew.

The second statement surrounding Moses’s death and burial is similar.

“10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

When we look at the rest of the passage (literally two more verses), we see that the phrase “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses” carries some additional points. Indeed, if this had been written around the time of Moses or recently after his death, no prophet who knew the Lord “face to face” or “who did all those signs and wonders the lord sent him to do in Egypt.” In fact, no other prophet ever did such signs. These seem more like a title of Moses’s or a sort of list of his accolades as a prophet of God.

As for the example of the passage referring to Moses as a humble man, it is more likely that this sentence was added later. Indeed, this sentence is normally placed in parentheses to show this. Interestingly enough, if this statement was actually added later, it shows that such an editor held the idea of Moses as author of the Pentateuch in high regard. Despite the existence of edits or a change of name for locations in order to fit the time of reading, Moses need not be removed from the position of author of the Pentateuch. Another statement from the previously cited article states this well:

“…it could also be a comment added by a later editor working under divine inspiration. The editorial comment would in no way deny the Mosaic authorship of the Book of Genesis. Editors sometimes add to books by deceased authors and no one then denies that the deceased wrote the book.” (8) (Emphasis added)

So, the traditional view of Moses as author of the Pentateuch should not be threatened by references such as these.

Internal Evidence for Mosaic Authorship

great-sphinx-of-giza-3-1230010Those who take issue with the idea of Mosaic authorship are normally keen to point out the above examples, but rarely make mention of examples from within the text that only make sense in the tradition of Moses as author of the Pentateuch. In his Biblical commentary, The Genesis Account, Jonathan Sarfati lists seven evidences that point directly to Moses writing the Pentateuch:

  1. Climate and weather are quite Egypt-centered, not Palestinian or Babylonian, e.g. the crop sequence in connection with the plague of hail (Exodus 9:31-32).
  2. Geography is compared with Egypt, e.g. in Genesis 13:10 the Jordan valley is compared with “the land of Egypt”. There would be no need to describe this valley to people who had lived in the land for generations, or were now in Babylonian exile. But it makes perfect sense if Moses was describing a land to refugees from Egypt, as the Pentateuch says. Also, the founding of Kirjath-arba (later renamed Hebron) was referenced to “seven years before the founding of Zoan in Egypt” (Numbers 13:22). Again, the author expected his readers to be familiar with this Egyptian city, but not with the founding of Hebron. Israelites many generations later would know Hebron as the leading city it became, and use this as a reference point, not somewhere in Egypt. Similarly, in Genesis 33:18, Shechem is said to be “in the land of Canaan”, but well established Israelites would hardly need this explained about what became a major city.
  3. Fauna and flora mentioned in the Pentateuch are also common in Egypt. For animals, there was Ostrich (ya’anah) in Leviticus 11:16 and wild antelope (te’o) in Deuteronomy 14:5. In particular, the outer covering of the tabernacle was to be skins of dugongs (te hashim), found in the seas next to Egypt and Sinai. For plants, the acacia tree, used for the tabernacle furniture, is native to Egypt and Sinai, but is hardly found in Canaan, except around the dead sea.
  4. More Egyptian loan words are found in the Pentateuch than anywhere else in the Bible, as would be expected if the author was Moses, “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts 7:22). The very name Moses is Egyptian, not Hebrew (Exodus 2:10). (9)
  5. The customs are appropriate for a fledgling nation, still worshiping in tabernacles. There is no mention of the Temple, the centre of Jewish religious life for centuries before the Exile, but commencing only many centuries after Moses, in Solomon’s time. Also, there is no mention of a class of temple servants called the Nethinim (‘those who have been given’, i.e. to temple service). This was such an important class that 392 of them joined the 42,000 returnees from Babylon in 538 B.C. (Ezra 2:58). This is another conspicuous absence.
  6. Jerusalem had long been the religious and political capital of the Hebrew Commonwealth by the time of the exile, though this become prominent only under David. But in the Pentateuch, references to it are very minor: Melchizedek is just the “King of Salem”, not “Jerusalem”, in Genesis 14.
  7. The Samaritan Pentateuch was written in an ancient form of Hebrew that pre-dates the Babylonian Exile. And its most ancient manuscript has over 2,000 corrections of the Jewish manuscript. This implies that the original was far earlier still to accumulate so many copyist errors. (10).

I know that reading lists isn’t always the most interesting thing to read, however Sarfati’s list is detailed and provides the evidence to make the point. From his list, I found the first four of Sarfati’s list to be the most compelling (Climate, references to locations, animals and plants, and inclusions of Egyptian language). Each of these would seem very peculiar to be contained within the Pentateuch if it was written and compiled around or during the Babylonian exile as the Documentary Hypothesis claims. But, Sarfati states, “these features make perfect sense of Mosaic Authorship.” (11).

A Missing Name

Another detail that seems to be missing if the Pentateuch was written during the time of the Babylonian exile is one of God’s names. Within the Biblical literature of the Prophets, which was written during this time of exile, God is often referred to as Yahweh Tsevaot or Yahweh Sabaoth. This name means the Lord of Hosts or Lord of Armies. Sarfati states that this name “occurs about 67 times in Isaiah (late 8th century BC), 83 times in Jeremiah (turn of the 7th and 6th centuries), and 51 times in the 14 chapters of Zechariah (turn of 6th and 5th century). That is, this title for God was used the whole time that the Documentarians claim the Pentateuch was written. But this title is not in the Pentateuch at all, most strange for redactors. This suggests that the Pentateuch was completed before this title came into vogue” (12). More evidence that speaks against a later author for the Pentateuch.

Genesis Based on Myths?

rainbow-1404328Another argument often used to refute Mosaic authorship is the claim that the accounts within Genesis, such as the creation account, are purely adaptions or just copies of other ancient Near Eastern Myths with monotheistic elements thrown in. Since many other nations also possess a creation or flood tradition, the Bible is immediately placed in dependence of these foreign accounts. This approach, called syncretism, is quite common among scholars and those in Biblical studies or archaeology. Such a view of Scripture completely removes any historical accuracy, truth, or even originality from Biblical accounts. Proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis often cite Babylonian accounts as one of the main influences and possible origins for the Biblical accounts since the Israelites were exiled to Babylon. If this is the case, then not only is the historicity of the Biblical accounts called into question, but it also means that Moses was indeed not the author. If this argument is to be valid, there must be strong similarities between the Biblical and Babylonian accounts and evidence that the Bible is the dependent source. As I compare some of the accounts of ancient Near Eastern cultures with those of the Bible, we shall see that they are actually quite different and even opposite from each other.

The Babylonian creation account has been named the Enuma Elish. The story begins with the divine being of Apu as a river flowing into the divine, chaotic being of Tiamat who embodies the ocean or abyss. As these two beings combine, they begin to form the many other gods of the Babylonian paragon. Eventually, one of the created gods, Ea, gets angry and kills Apu in response. Tiamat, enraged at the death of her consort, gives birth to many monstrous creatures and goes to war with Ea and the other gods. Ea’s son, Marduk, fights Tiamat, killing her and her general. He then takes her body and splits it into two pieces, forming the heavens and the earth out of these pieces. (13). The comparison between Genesis and the Enuma Elish is drawn between the beginnings of the accounts: Chaotic waters that are conquered by a divine being. Indeed, both accounts do begin with waters or oceans. However, the adjective of “chaotic” being applied to the waters within the Biblical account seems like an exaggeration. Genesis 1:1-2 states:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” (NASB)

I cannot see where “chaotic” fits the creation account within Genesis. The account shows God creating Earth as basically a blank canvas. It was without form and was covered in waters called “the deep.” These waters are not described as roaring or tossing about violently. They are especially not described as deities who are in a divine war against God where he eventually wins out and forms creation from its corpse. Instead, the Spirit of God moves, or hovers, over the “surface” of the waters. The waters seem pretty calm. God then speaks and creation does as it is commanded. Again, there is no cosmic war. There actually seems to be a lack of “Chaos.” Instead, it seems as though God places the Earth before him as a blank canvas or a pile of clay, ready to be shaped and formed into his idea and plan for creation.

Others state that the “chaos” is the lack of boundaries or borders within the beginning chapter of Genesis. When God separates the waters from each other and forms boundaries, He is conquering “chaos.” Again, I don’t see a lack of borders as chaos. Does a painter tame chaos by putting paint on a canvas or does a potter conquer the disorder of a pile of clay? No, rather they are creating something where there is nothing.

Another Babylonian comparison comes from the account known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. This account records a Babylonian story that greatly resembles the Biblical account of Noah and the great flood. In the story of the Epic, the Babylonian gods decide to send a flood to destroy all of mankind. One of the gods, however, warns a single man , a sort of Babylonian Noah, of the flood and tells him to construct a large boat in order to survive this catastrophe. The account records that this single man “sealed his ark with pitch, took all kinds of land animals, and his family members, plus some other humans.” The flood then lasted only a week and the man sends out a raven to see if the flood had indeed dissipated. When it did not return, the man exits the boat and gives a sacrifice of an animal to the gods (14).

Looking at these two accounts, there are some details that are almost verbatim as the Biblical account. But there are also some details that are drastically different. For example, there are multiple gods in the Babylonian account and they are “squabbling” as they decide to kill the humans because the humans are being too loud. These same gods then “cower” at the might of the great flood and require the man to provide a sacrifice because they are in desperate need of food. (15). These gods are immoral, weak, and even dependent upon man. This is exactly the opposite of the Biblical flood which depicts God, singular, as an all-powerful judge who enacts justice upon the wickedness of man, yet mercifully saves the only righteous person alive, Noah.

Also, as Sarfati argues, the shape of the boats/arks in the stories points towards the Biblical account not only coming first but being historical. The shape of the boat in the Babylonian account was a cube. This shape “would roll over in all directions at even the slightest disturbance.” (16) Sarfati states:

However, the story is easy to explain if they [the Babylonians] distorted Genesis, and found that one dimension is easier to remember than three – “its dimensions must measure equal to each other”, and it seems a much “nicer”, more symmetrical shape. The pagan human authors didn’t realize why the real Ark’s dimensions had to be what they were. (17).

As most scholars believe, early accounts or records of such stories were most likely remembered and told orally, even if there was a written account. This is because most individuals probably wouldn’t have been able to read or write. So, smoothing out a detail, three dimensions to one, would be easier to remember and thus repeat in an oral story. Sarfati continues:

But the reverse is inconceivable: the Jewish scribes, hardly known for naval architectural skills, took the mythical cubic Ark and turned it into the most stable wooden vessel possible! (18).

bible-1411636Indeed, it makes more sense for a historical account with solid details to deteriorate over time into a myth than a myth to be taken and altered so that the details, such as the dimensions of a ship or boat, made more sense! As Sarfati states, the dimensions and size of the Biblical Ark do in fact make it the most stable vessel possible. Several studies have been completed that show that even if the Ark would have been tipped to over 60 degrees, it still could have righted itself. In a previous article, I wrote a detailed description of the dimensions of the ark and its sea-worthiness (See Noah, Builder of the Lost Ark).

Some have argued against these details, saying that if the Babylonian account had indeed come from the Biblical narrative, there should be more accounts that share similar details. Well, there are hundreds of such accounts that span across the globe. These accounts are found in Native American legends, Australian Aboriginals, Ancient Near Eastern areas such as Persia and Syria, and even isolated Amazonian tribes which have never had contact with the modern world or Judeo-Christian beliefs! (19). Still, some individuals would argue that every civilization on the planet would have a flood narrative because of some local river flood event. This argument might be valid if the hundreds of accounts didn’t share exact details. Many, if not most, of these accounts share details such as a single surviving man or family, an ark or boat of wood, a massive destructive flood, animals aboard and saved, landing on a mountain, and the sending out of a bird(s). In some accounts, there are even more similarities such as the closeness of names with the Biblical account. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the Biblical account of a global flood did indeed come first.

What About the Parallels Though?

I think I can easily make the claim that the Biblical accounts and narratives are in absolute contrast to those of other ancient Near Eastern nations. Not only are the details of events such as creation and the flood differ largely, but the accounts of the Bible are wholly monotheistic in nature and God’s character is not like that of humanity. Therefore, the argument of syncretism, copying, or plagiarism does not hold when the narratives are compared. Scholars such as John Currid, though, would still suggest that there is some significance to the similarities and parallels between the accounts. Although Currid takes a much less extreme view than syncretism when interpreting Biblical narratives, he still puts more emphasis on polemic or polemical theology; this meaning that the Biblical accounts were written as a defense/attack against the opposing pagan beliefs of surrounding peoples and nations. I agree with him on some details of this argument. There are obvious details within Biblical accounts that are polemics. One blatant example is from the book of Exodus when God sends ten plagues to Egypt in order to free the Israelites from slavery and from Pharaoh. These plagues often attack elements of nature that reflect the domain of Egyptian gods, such as the Nile river and the sun. Both of these plagues can easily be interpreted as polemics and attacks on Egyptian beliefs.

Also, in Currid’s book “Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament”, he provides several more examples from Exodus and the story of Moses to show its polemical nature. A few of these examples can be seen in the first confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh in Exodus 7. In this account, Moses, commanded by God, tells Aaron to throw down his staff, which then turns into a snake. Pharaoh’s magicians likewise turn their staves into snakes. The magicians’ staves are then “swallowed up” by Aaron’s snake/staff (v. 8-12). Currid points out that the symbol of a staff or rod was powerful in Egyptian culture. Pharaoh himself would’ve carried one or more royal staves that were considered to be imbued with magic or deity-like power from one or more gods. One of these would’ve been the recognizable “crook” staff, which symbolized Pharaoh’s power and deity (20). Currid summarizes the polemical nature here:

“The irony of the matter is that two Hebrew leaders possessed a rod, a highly esteemed Egyptian emblem, in order to humiliate and defeat the Egyptians. That is to say, the very physical symbol that rendered glory to Egypt, authority to Egypt, power to Egypt, was the very object the Hebrews used to vanquish them.” (21).

Indeed, Moses would go on to use the same staff to split the Red Sea and bring the end of the Egyptian army. Currid also explains a further detail of the staff in pointing out that Moses and Aaron brought shepherds’ staves to perform their miracles instead of the more royal, godly staves of Pharaoh and his magicians. Currid states “Egyptians clearly despised the lowly occupation of shepherding: Joseph is portrayed as separating the Hebrews from the Egyptians in Genesis 46” (22). Moses and Aaron’s use of the shepherd’s staff was an obvious attack towards Pharaoh and the “magic” of his magicians. Diving further into this specific account, Currid explains that the fact the staff turned into a snake is also polemical in nature. He states that on the front of Pharaoh’s crown and headdress was an “enraged female serpent/cobra called a uraeus. The Egyptians believed this serpent was energized with divine potency and sovereignty. It was considered the very emblem of Pharaoh’s power; it symbolized his deification and majesty.” (23). Pharaoh’s claim to deity and the so-called power of the Egyptian gods were likewise “swallowed up” by Yahweh.

the-pharaoh-1553787.jpgAll of these specific and detailed features of Egyptian customs and religion hint at an author whom was very familiar with or well versed in such topics. Currid says exactly this: “The writer was quite knowledgeable of Egyptian culture and religion” (24). While Currid seems to remain within the camp of thought that places an author from around the time of the exile, I think that the evidence, especially in light what has already been presented above, points directly towards Moses as author. Indeed, the Exodus account records Moses being adopted into the royal Egyptian family and the book of Acts in the New Testament states “Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians…” (Acts 7:22). If this is true, then Moses would have been in the perfect position to write such polemics against the Egyptian belief system. However, it wouldn’t make sense that a Jewish scribe or Levite priest from around the time of the exile to write such polemics against Egyptian culture. Such priests dedicated their lives to their duties, not worrying about attacking pagan beliefs. In addition, if proponents of the Documentary Hypothesis are correct, one of the main reasons that the Biblical accounts were even written when they were was to remind the Israelites of their identity. If their were any polemics within these accounts it would make sense for it to be against the beliefs of Babylon, the nation that exiled the Israelites. But, as we have already seen, Biblical accounts are in great contrast to those of the Babylonians.

I do think that Biblical accounts such as creation and the flood within Genesis are polemical in nature, but not because they were directly written as a polemic. Rather, they are polemics and defenses against pagan beliefs because they are truth. The Biblical creation account speaks against the origin stories of other cultures because it is historical and accurate. Sarfati writes about this, “So the truth will automatically be a polemic against falsehood. Conversely, it would be useless to argue against a pagan using Genesis if it were just a story – one must show that the pagan belief is contradicted by what God actually did.” (emphasis original). (25).

Moses, Author of the Pentateuch

So, it seems that Moses is a likely candidate for the authorship of the Pentateuch. Most individuals, including other Biblical authors, thought so for over a millennia. The Biblical accounts include locations, names, language, and specific details about Egypt that make perfect sense for Moses as the writer. Details such as anachronisms have only shown that an editor has “modernized” certain names of places and locations. This doesn’t pose a problem for Moses. Other details are missing or don’t fit with the idea of a writer from a later date from around the time of the Babylonian exile. So, upon a relatively short and narrow study of different accounts, details, and arguments, it can already be seen that Moses does seem to be a viable candidate for authoring the Pentateuch.

Works Cited

  1. Mortenson, T., Hodge, B. 2016. The Documentary Hypothesis: Moses, Genesis, the and JEDP? Retrieved from:
  2. Enns, P. When was Genesis Written and Why Does it Matter? A Brief Historical Study. Retrieved from:
  3. R.J.S. 2012. When Was Genesis Written… And Why? Retrieved from:–3Jvgx3txht2oixAYDS3eyyg_SiC9W1KU
  4. Enns, P. When was Genesis Written and Why Does it Matter? A Brief Historical Study. Retrieved from:
  5. Mortenson, T., Hodge, B. 2016. The Documentary Hypothesis: Moses, Genesis, the and JEDP? Retrieved from:
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Lambdin, T. O. 1953. Egyptian loan words in the Old Testament. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 73, 3. 145-155. doi:10.2307/595204
    • This source provides a large number of Egyptian loan words found within the Biblical texts, specifically Exodus.
  10. Sarfati, J. 2015. The Genesis Account: a theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Ministries International. (p. 24-26).
  11. Ibid. (p. 24).
  12. Ibid. (p. 31)
  13. Ibid. (p. 62-63).
  14. Currid, J. D. (2013). Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.
  15. Sarfati, J. 2015. The Genesis Account: a theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Ministries International.
  16. Ibid. (p. 508).
  17. Ibid. (p. 508).
  18. Ibid. (p. 508).
  19. Ibid. (p. 509).
  20. Currid, J. D. (2013). Against the Gods: The Polemical Theology of the Old Testament. Wheaton, IL: Crossway. (p 114-117).
  21. Ibid. (p. 117).
  22. Ibid. (p. 119).
  23. Ibid. (p. 28-29).
  24. Ibid. (p. 119).
  25. Sarfati, J. 2015. The Genesis Account: a theological, historical, and scientific commentary on Genesis 1-11. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Ministries International. (p. 60).