The Historicity Of Moses

The JEDP hypothesis is a classic example of how a false premise can lead to catastrophic results. If we commence with an idea that began in the seventeenth century, asserting Moses could not have written the first five books of the Bible, and build upon this unprovable premise, we end up in the twenty-first century with mass confusion.

Dorling Kindersley

What constitutes a valid historical record for a person, is determined by an extant record from antiquity. When an entire nation holds a particular historical figure in great esteem, and honors them by preserving their life, words, and works through literature or art, this becomes a method for validation of this person.

Moses presents us with one of the largest extant historical records of any person, during the entire history of the world. Every extant record which describes the first five books of the Bible, places Moses squarely as the only author of these texts.

The Documentary Hypothesis has never presented any evidence that proves Moses is not the only author of the Torah—only highly biased, conjectured opinions, from atheist and progressive scholars. When we examined the essay’s and books  of men such as, Joel Baden and Josh Bown, It is a short work to discover their complete lack of accurate exegesis in all of their conclusions. Essentially these men are guessing when the make their allegations of inconsistencies and contradictions, as evidence for non-Mosaic authorship of the Torah.

The idea That Moses’ Name Must be Found in Secular Records in Order to Validate Him as a Genuine Historical Person, is without Precedent

The Torah was only written to the Jews. God did not first reveal Himself to the world; He revealed who He is, what He requires, only to the Jews, only through Moses. Why would we expect that any other culture or nation would record Moses?

The extant manuscript evidence of the Old Testament, particularly in the records of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is an immense Primary Source, that requires no Secondary Sources to confirm reliability or accuracy for these texts.

We do not need secular confirmation of the Torah to validate it as a true and reliable source. There is no rule in literary criticism that stipulates secular sources as verification for religious documents. Only in the minds and comments of atheists and progressive critics of the Bible do we find this demand being made.

Today atheists and critics of the Bible have established standards for religious-based sources that are higher than those required for secular questions.[1] Co-founder of the Harvard School Of Law, Simon Greenleaf, argued then, and this remains true today: “the burden of disproving evidence lies squarely on the shoulders of the objector.“[2] Greenleaf argued that the reader of any texts of a historical source should be approached with “a mind free from all pride of opinion, not hostile to the truth sought for, willing to pursue the inquiry, and impartially to weigh the arguments and evidence, and to acquiesce in the judgment of right reason.”[3]

There is no stipulation in literary criticism that a person must be found in both secular and religious records of history in order to be a genuine historical person. The criteria for acceptance as a historical event is the same for both secular and religious events. Every event of history is validated by methods that help us have confidence in past events as genuine and reliable. Regardless of whether they are religious or secular, all history is validated by the same processes

  1. When was the source written or produced?
  2. Where was it produced?
  3. By whom was it produced?
  4. From what pre-existing material was it produced?
  5. In what original form was it produced?
  6. What is the evidential value of its contents?

The first four are recognized by historical experts as higher criticism; the fifth, as lower criticism; and, together, they are recognized as external criticism.

With the above six in mind, the following eight are the basic principles for determining whether any narrative is historical and Reliable:

  1. Human sources may be relics or narratives that consist of statements or a letter.
  2. Any source may be forged or corrupted. For this reason, there is a preeminent need to verify the originality of the source.
  3. The closer the source is to the event for which it alleges to describe, the greater the trust that is given for an accurate historical description of what actually happened.
  4. An eyewitness is more reliable than secondhand testimony or hearsay.
  5. If there are several independent sources while telling the same story, the credibility of the narrative is increased exponentially.
  6. The tendency of a source which has a clear bias, is motivation for the creation of false narratives. Internal evidence within the narrative that would detract from the story and make it less attractive are indications of balance and truthfulness.
  7. If the witnesses to a story have no personal benefit or direct interest in proving the story other than to tell the truth, the narrative is more credible.
  8. If the witnesses recall slightly different details of the events, even placing them in a different order, while telling the same story, this is evidence of truthful narratives.

When we apply these methods to any event of ancient history, we may be able to determine if the events are genuine events of history or contrived. When we apply these rules for analysis to the extant Old Testament manuscript copies, we find that they meet and exceed every requirement for valid historical events.

  • We have an earlier historical record of Abraham, Moses, and the events of the early Hebrews in Mesopotamia, Haran, Egypt, and Canaan, in the books of the Old Testament.
  • We have a later confirmation of these same events in the narratives of the New Testament.

When we compare what Stephen said to the high priests about Abraham and Moses, his recitation matches the Torah precisely

In chapter 7 from the book of Acts, Stephen is called before the high priests of Israel to give an answer to witnesses who said he spoke against the Temple and Moses. Stephen begins his answer by citing the historical record of all the major events from the time of Abraham, to Moses, by reciting the entire history in the oral tradition, with tremendous accuracy.

  1. v.2: Abraham at Mesopotamia
  2. v.4: Abraham leaves the Chaldeans to live in Haran until his father dies. Abraham moves to Canaan.
  3. v.6: God tells Abraham his descendants will live in Egypt for 400 years as slaves.
  4. v.8: Isaac became the father of Jacob, and when Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs of the Israelite nation.
  5. v.9: hese patriarchs were jealous of their brother Joseph, and they sold him to be a slave in Egypt.
  6. v.10: God gave him favor before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. God also gave Joseph unusual wisdom, so that Pharaoh appointed him governor over all of Egypt.
  7. V.11: A famine came upon Egypt and Canaan.
  8. v.12: Jacob sent his sons to buy grain in Egypt.
  9. v.13: Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers.
  10. v.14: Joseph sent for his father, Jacob, and all his relatives to come to Egypt, seventy-five persons.
  11. v.15: Jacob went to Egypt. He died there, as did their ancestors.
  12. v.16: Their bodies were taken to Shechem and buried in the tomb Abraham purchased from Hamor’s sons in Shechem.
  13. v.17: As the time drew near when God would fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of Hebrews in Egypt greatly increased.
  14. v.18: A new king came to the throne of Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph.
  15. v.19: This king exploited our people and oppressed the Hebrews forcing parents to abandon their newborn babies so they would die.
  16. v.20: Moses was born, His parents cared for him at home for three months.
  17. v.21: They had to abandon Moses, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and raised him as her own son.
  18. v.22: Moses was taught all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was powerful in both speech and action.
  19. v.23-24: When Moses was forty years old, he visited his relatives, the people of Israel. He saw an Egyptian mistreating an Israelite.
  20. v.25: Moses assumed his fellow Israelites would realize that God had sent him to rescue them, but they didn’t.
  21. v.26: Moses visited them again and saw two men of Israel fighting. He tried to be a peacemaker.
  22. v.27-28: The man in the wrong pushed Moses aside. ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ he asked. Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’
  23. v.29: Moses fled the country and lived as a foreigner in the land of Midian. There his two sons were born.
  24. v.30: Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush.
  25. v.31-32: Moses went to take a closer look, the voice of the LORD called out to him, ‘I am the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look.
  26. v.33-34: The LORD said to Moses, ‘Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their groans and have come down to rescue them. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’
  27. v.35-36: God sent Moses back to the people had rejected him. God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. By many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.
  28. v.37-38: Moses told the people of Israel, ‘God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people.’ Moses was with our ancestors, the assembly of God’s people in the wilderness, when the angel spoke to him at Mount Sinai. And there Moses received life-giving words to pass on to us.
  29. v.39-40: Stephen said: “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’

How is it that Stephen could recite from memory the entire early history of the Israelites, with Moses as a principle leader, naming him 19 times, over an 80 year period of time? It was because Stephen and every citizen in Israel in the first century, knew that Moses was the only author of the Torah.

If Moses was not the sole author of the Torah, how could preeminent Hebrew scholar, Paul in the New Testament, cite Moses as the author of these five books, ten times, in his letters to various churches?

How is it that all of the Pharisees, the Doctors of the Law, as they were called in the first century, the high priests, and the common citizens of Israel, knew, believed, relied upon, and based their entire lives, upon the writing of Moses in the Torah, yet twenty-first century scholars say Moses did not write the Torah?

This historical record says these modern scholars are liars.

The high priests were ready to stone Stephen to death because witnesses came forward who spoke against Moses. These leaders of Israel who were holding Stephen accountable for his testimony, understood that Moses was the writer of the Torah. They held these five books in such high regard, they were about to stone to death a citizen of Israel because it had been reported that Stephen had mocked and blasphemed Moses.

Does This Sound to You Like These Men Doubted or Disputed the Mosaic Authorship of the Torah?

Moses wrote the Torah near 1,450 BC; these men are ready to kill Stephen for blaspheming Moses and the Torah in about 32 AD. In this wide expanse of history, there was no record anywhere that any Hebrew scholar had written that Moses was not the singular writer of the Torah.

The Septuagint And Moses

When Alexander the Great was conquering the world, he wanted his citizens to be united under one language. As the Greeks were the world power at that time, it was the Greek language that was spoken by a majority of people. The Hebrew language was forgotten, and fell into disuse. The Jews who were living in a province of Alexander’s kingdom, who wanted to read their Hebrew scriptures in Greek, requested that their ancient Hebrew scriptures would be translated into the Greek language. Between 285 and 246 B.C., Ptolemy II Philadelphus commissioned seventy Hebrew scholars to translate the Five Books of Moses into Koine Greek. This translation became known as the “Septuagint Version” (from the Latin septuaginta, “seventy”).

This completed translation of the entire Hebrew Bible—known today as LXX—contained the entire text of the first five books of the Bible. This Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint was widely used during the time Jesus was here on the earth.

This explains why Stephen, Paul, Jesus, and every person in the first century, knew for certain that Moses was the singular writer of the Torah. 

If the JEDP theory is correct, how is it that when these seventy Hebrew scholars translated the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, into Koine-Greek, they didn’t know that Moses was not really the author of these texts? If there were four unknown men who wrote the Torah, and not Moses, why didn’t these seventy scholars correct this false view and tell us there were actually four unknown persons who authored these texts?

In order to believe this new twenty-first century idea of atheist and progressive scholars—that the JEDP theory is correct—this would mean that the most preeminent Hebrew Scholars in the world, who did the painstaking task of translating Hebrew into Koine-Greek, made a mistake.

The answer is obvious: It is modern scholars who are wrong. These seventy scholars commissioned to translate the Hebrew texts of the Torah,  were certain Moses was the only author of the Pentateuch.

This is the historical evidence that proves the JEDP hypothesis is false and has no evidence to prove it is true. This is the historical evidence that proves Moses wrote the Torah. The matter is settled!

A Long Historical Confirmation Of Moses As The Only Author Of The Torah

Modern scholars today would have us believe that the Jews in Israel in the first century; the scribes, Pharisees, chief priests, and every citizen of Israel, were all deceived. Moses didn’t write the Torah, four other unnamed men wrote these five books.

Can you see how preposterous this hypothesis is?

In order to accept that the first century Jews were wrong, and scholars in the twenty-first century are right; Moses is not the author of the Torah, we would have to believe that a great global conspiracy has been perpetrated against us.

We would have to believe that 40 authors of the Old and New Testaments, penned 66 books, over a 1,500 year period of time, and all conspired together to deceive the world into believing that Moses was the author of the Torah.

Of course this idea is absurd.

The historical record that has been preserved for us in the 66 books of the Bible, prove that Moses was always known as the exclusive author of the Torah during the entire history of the Jews in Israel. Only in the seventeenth century did this assertion begin that Moses could not have written the Torah, and this hypothesis resides upon conjecture and speculation alone, with no evidence whatsoever to prove it is actually true.

The historical argument for the Documentary Hypothesis began with the idea that no alphabet or usable writing system existed when Moses allegedly wrote the Torah. By archeological discoveries, we know today this is not true. The first alphabet and writing system was created by the Semitic people, the early Hebrews. There was a usable writing system in place when Moses wrote the Torah.

See this archeological evidence

The Documentary Hypothesis abandoned, there was no push to assert this false idea for about 40 years. In 2012, Yale Professor, Joel Baden, published a book that asserts a new claim against the Mosaic authorship of the Torah.

Baden writes that there are inconsistencies in the Torah that indicate that more than one person wrote these texts. Baden states that the existence of these inconsistencies is an indication that Moses may have written some of the texts, but others came after and added or amended the texts of the Torah, and this is why we see the inconsistencies in the narratives of the Torah.

The average person who reads Baden’s commentary on these alleged inconsistencies, does not know that he is simply misreading the texts, and asserting problems that do not exist. Anyone who is trained in the texts of the Bible can immediately discern that Baden has taken liberties with the texts and inserted false assumptions into the text, that are not there.

See how Yale Professor, Joe Baden has made numerous errors in the texts of the Torah, he says, proves Moses could not be the author

Atheists and Progressive Christians—Love The Claims of Modern Scholars

I am always struck by the ignorance of people who listen to unproven claims by people, simply because their views fits a personal cognitive bias.

The Documentary Hypothesis exists as a hypothesis that requires us to, accept as facts, things that are not in evidence.

  1. Moses could not have written the Torah because there was not usable writing system at that time.
  2. Moses could not have written the Torah because there are inconsistencies in the text of the Torah that indicate multiple writers and styles.
  3. There is no confirmation of Moses outside of the Bible, rendering his existence as a real person, tenable.

People have built their entire career on the idea that the Torah is not reliable because we don’t know who wrote it.

The majority of people in the world today do not understand the importance of a Mosaic authorship. Not until a person become a genuine student of the Bible, do they understand that everything that is written after the Torah, depends upon the truthfulness of the Torah.

Moses is cited as a real person who wrote the Torah, throughout the New Testament. Jesus cited Moses as having written about Him in the Torah. We must ask how Moses could be cited by Jesus  as the only writer of the Torah, if He is asserted as not writing the Torah by modern scholars?

Jesus said: “Yet it isn’t I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don’t believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” ~John 5:45-47

Where did the Jews believe that Moses wrote about the promised Messiah? Genesis 3:15 and Deuteronomy 18:15, two principle Prophecies of the Messiah, that the Hebrew prophets recorded.

The Jews living in the first century were well acquainted with what Moses said about the Messiah, and there was widespread anticipation that He would arrive at Jerusalem at any moment.

The disciples of John the Baptist, asked Jesus: “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” ~Matthew 11:3

 “Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah.” ~Luke 3:15

The texts of the New Testament are historical evidence that the Torah was written only by Moses. According to the principles of literary criticism, using both lower and higher standards, finding such a large body of historical references to Moses in the New Testament, serves to fully validate that the first century Jews, were certain Moses wrote the Torah.[4]

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[1] TESTIMONY, supra note 5, §§ 3, 27, 48.
[2} SIMON GREENLEAF, A TREATISE ON THE LAW OF EVIDENCE (16th ed. Little, Brown & Co. 2001) (1842). TESTIMONY, supra note 5, §§ 3, 27, 48. Id. §§ 28, 33, 41.
[3] Ibid 9. Id. § 1.
[4] See the literary standards that confirm both the Old and New Testament extant manuscript copies, as valid, legal, representations of historical events, verified by the literary evidence preserved for us in the 24,593 manuscript copies of the New Testament.

Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Apologetics, Common errors of Atheists, Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Historical Moses, Jesus is the Messiah, Joel Baden, Josh Bowen, Old Testament Apologetics, Robert Clifton Robinson

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1 reply

  1. Seeing the Pentateuch as an interleave of 4 independent sources makes the most sense.


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