My last post on the authorship on Genesis was originally a response to a question posed by another blogger I read often, Uri Brito of Ad Majorum Dei Glorium. He was originally concerned with James Jordan’s argument against the Mosaic authorship of Genesis. I am going in an entirely different direction with this. I am not so much concerned with Jordan as I am with the idea of a book in the Biblical canon lacking a pedigree. Moses had to be the author of the five books of Moses.
Uri then comments:
Concerning point 3, remember that the death of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy. Jordan does not believe Joseph had anything to do with the authorship of Deuteronomy. As for your question, who wrote about Moses’ death-your guess is as good as mine. To me, however, it is obvious that it was not Moses and I think church history bears that skepticism as well.
I use that passage about Joseph’s bones as an example of the skepticism that Moses was the author of the “five books of Moses.” It is possible that Moses composed the five books as we know them today. However, it would not do violence to inerrancy to say that a later prophet, such as Joshua, redacted the Pentateuch.
It is also possible that Ezra or one of the prophets after Moses edited some of the books of the Old Testament. As a prophet, he would have had the authority to do so.
If Jesus and the Apostles taught the five books were the books of Moses, then they were the books of Moses. It is useless to conjecture what that meant. We can speculate as to whether Moses received it from an earlier source. For instance, I can hypothesize that Moses compared the story of Joseph in the Egyptian libraries with the story of Jethro in the wilderness. But this is a thesis that can never be proven — however likely it may sound. The problem is that this is the type of wild fancy that Higher Critics engage in. Conservative evangelicals follow their lead and reject almost every established tradition about authorship.
For instance, virtually every Christian has been taught that Mark was the first Gospel written and the ancient tradition that Matthew was very early (37 to 40 A.D.) is now thought to be a mistake. All the church fathers who wrote on the topic of priority believed that the order is exactly as we have in now in the canon.
The idea that the other Gospels followed Mark is based on the attempt of liberals to date the writing of the synoptic Gospels in the late first or even the second century. They posit the “Q” source or a “two sources” theory and reason that pseudonymous writers — not the Apostles — wrote the Gospels later on. Evangelicals swallow their conclusions hook, line and sinker when they reject the Markan priority, which has no basis in evidence unless we accept the late writing of the four Gospels and an earlier fifth Gospel that has been lost to us.
The bottom line is that the New Testament authors quoted from Genesis thinking that Moses was the author. We should too.