Following the Disciple's Trail

Following the Disciple's Trail

Monday, March 25, 2013

Defending Genesis

The Question of Authorship and Dates of Writing

It has been traditionally believed that the first five Books of the Bible are the Torah (or Pentateuch) of the Jewish Faith which were written by Moses. The belief is that Moses was the Author of the Book of Genesis, as well as all of the Books of the Law, that was at least, until the Enlightenment period (from approximately 1650-1800). This period saw a number of criticism about Biblical text, as to whether or not they were factual accounts and could be taken as truth. One of the criticism's was that the Book of Genesis was not written by Moses, but was the creation of a number of scribes the critics have identified as J=Jahwist, E=Elohist, D=Deuteronomistic, History, P=Priestly Code. 

Here is the problem with J.E.D.P. Theory.

There has never been any kind of evidence given or provided to prove the theory true. The critics main argument is based on literary analysis, that the style of writing does not match with the other Books of the Pentateuch, but no one can say without a doubt that Moses did not write the book of Genesis or the entire Pentateuch. More traditional scribes believe Moses likely used records handed down from previous Patriarchs, such as Abraham and others. This would account for some of the difference in the writing style and scholarship of the Book of Genesis in comparison to other books of the Pentateuch. Again, no one has been able to dispute, without a doubt, that Moses was not the author of Genesis. Until proof can be provided to say otherwise, the traditionally held view of Moses authorship stands.

Another argument of the Book of Genesis is that it has been rewritten numerous times, losing its original textual structure and meaning. With the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now only have to look to them to prove this argument completely invalid. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, we found they were hundreds of years older than any text we had available to us at the time of their discovery. When the books of the Bible found in those clay jars were laid side by side with the scripture we had on hand, they read word for word, almost identical except for a few grammatical errors. This attests to the practice of the Jewish scribes who were meticulous in their work in copying manuscripts throughout the centuries. They prove that the Genesis of antiquity, we believe to be written by Moses, is the Genesis we have today.

Not far behind the
criticism of the authorship of Genesis by Moses is the argument that earlier followers of God, such as Abraham, could not have left written records for Moses because they did not the ability to read or write. They say writing had not been invented at the time of Abraham. What was believed, until very recently, is that writing was not developed by ancient man until the Sumerians in Mesopotamia around 3100 BC.

A newer discovery, however, makes this old news, and the critics haven't keep track of recent developments and discoveries in Archeology. That, or else they knowingly ignore the facts because they don't want to believe the Bible could be true...or both.

The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed in Pakistan in 1999. Fragments of pottery were found with markings that could be a much older language than that of the Sumerians. The symbols and writing discovered dated back 5500 years, or 400 to 500 years, before the Sumerians. It should be noted that a year before the finding in Pakistan, another discovery was made in Egypt, which was shown to be from around the same time period, or just slightly before the time of the Sumerian writings, by about 200 years.

I bring this to light because of the creation and flood story that the Sumerians wrote about. Many critics of the Bible have tried say the writers of Biblical scripture copied, and took for their own records and beliefs, the stories of the Sumerians. They say the Sumerian writings prove the book of Genesis is a copied story. But now, with the writings found in Pakistan and Egypt, we know that earlier man did have systems of writing and it is very possible that the Sumerians copied their story from another source and not the other way around. Perhaps the Sumerians got their story from Biblical sources. With these new discoveries, that isn't a far fetched theory.

Even if those findings just mentioned do not change the mind of those who believe the Sumerian theory, even older writings have been discovered called the Tartaria Tablets. These tablets were found in Romania and may be up to 1,000 years older than the Sumerian and Egyptian writings. To make it even more impressive, they were found in a location of the world where it was believed writing did not come into existence until around 1,000 B.C.

Accurately knowing when ancient man had the ability to read or write, or even pass on written history, is not really possible. So much of what was known in the ancient world has been lost through the centuries. This is because much of the materials used for writing at that time was made on natural substances that may not have survived to present day to be found, such as wood, leaves, etc. The Tartaria Tablets were found inscribed on stone, and the findings in Pakistan were in pottery. This may be the only reason those writings now survive.

No matter what they were written on, these findings clearly shows the Sumerians were not the first to read or write or to even have a written record. The Biblical Patriarchs could have kept written records of their history, and these discoveries in Pakistan, Egypt and Romania prove it. Until proven otherwise, I choose to believe Moses wrote Genesis and may have possibly used older manuscripts himself, from men such as Abraham, to write the record of the beginning of time, that was given to them from the God of Heaven Himself.

BBC News "Earliest Writing Found"

Tataria Tablets, The Possibility of Neolithic Writing

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