That’s a summary of this long incoherent gibberish that I just read on CNN’s belief blog. It’s by a guy called David Hazony, whose credentials in the matter of who wrote the Bible are that he himself wrote an opus called “The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life”.
Hazony tells us :
My Jewish faith tells me that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, known as the Torah or the Pentateuch. Reason tells me to be open to the idea that somebody else had a hand in it.
And there are definitely a few glitches in the text that back up those suspicions – notably the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, which describe Moses’ own death.
But try as I might, I just can’t believe that the Five Books of Moses were written by J, E, P and D – the four main authors whose oral traditions, biblical scholars say, were cobbled together to make the Torah. (The letters stand for the Jahwist, the Elohist, the Priestly source and the Deuteronomist. Those, we may assume, were not their real names.)
Hazony is referring to the Documentary Hypothesis of who wrote the Bible, and in particular the Pentateuch.
Now, here’s a painful example of an argument from personal incredulity if I’ve ever seen one ! The religion I was indoctrinated in says otherwise, and I can’t follow the argument, therefore I won’t believe the evidence. The saddest part is really, that he confuses this attitude with being sceptic.
He then goes on to argue that maybe, it doesn’t really matter who wrote the Bible, or the Ten Commandments, or any other fable :
After all, isn’t it enough to know that the book is really important, that it has inspired love and hate and introspection and war for thousands of years, that it is full of interesting stories and wisdom, poetry and song, contradiction and fancy and an unparalleled belief in the importance of human endeavor – in the possibility of a better world – despite the enduring and tragic weaknesses that every biblical hero carries on his or her back? That it is an indelible part of who we are?
Isn’t that enough to make you just read the thing and hope for the best, forever grateful to Moses, or that other fellow by the same name?
Well, it’s the Christians, and in particular the biblical literalists, who are trying to convince people of the inerrancy of the word of god as written in the Bible, who argue for the USA being a Christian nation and all the rest of it. I’m not a bible scholar, but to me it seemed blatantly obvious, when presented with the arguments, that, say, the flood story in Genesis is 2 different stories edited together. And this matters, so does the story of the 10 commandments; was Moses up on the mountain on his own, was Aaron with him, why did he smash the tablets ? Did it happen at all ? What’s up with the golden calf that Aaron makes, according to the E story ?
It does matter who wrote the stories that became the Bible, and who didn’t. Because the only possible conclusion from biblical scholarism, in whichever details and nuances the scholars might disagree, is that what goes for the Bible these days is a badly transcribed, heavily edited, and often and imprecisely translated bunch of stone age goatherder myths, that are a lot of things to a lot of people, a historical document, in parts nice poetry or fiction. But one thing they are certainly not : the inerrant word of any god being. And that’s kind of the whole point here.
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