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In the January 30th edition of the Kamloops This Week Faith Column, you contributed an article entitled, "Who wrote the Torah? It wasn't Moses." Mr. Fenemore, I greatly appreciated your thoughtful interaction with the original languages, and your willingness to quote significant portions of the Scripture in order to make your point. Too often I find that Christians like to argue about their particular beliefs with little to no reference to the Scriptures. It is quite alarming, at times, how many base their lives upon ideas that sometimes have no basis in Scripture. In this vein I enjoyed your article.
However, I must disagree with your conclusions, and I would like to draw your attention to two aspects of your argument which I found to be rather wide of the mark. The first claim that you make is that since Moses had help in putting the Pentateuch together, it can't be considered the Word of God. The second claim you make is that because there appears to be a contradiction between Genesis and Exodus, it proves that there must have been an editor involved which proves Moses did not write the Pentateuch. You make the assertion that,
"An essential component of the claim the Bible is the divinely inspired 'Word of God' is the uninformed belief Moses wrote the Torah, the Bible's first five books."
You then claim,
"The words Moses wrote may have been the basis for some of it, but substantial editing has taken place. This destroys any notion we are reading the unadulterated Word of God."
Mr. Fenemore, your desire to possess the 'unadulterated Word of God,' is very commendable. I completely share your passion for knowing the pure truth and owning up to nothing but the pure truth. However, the assertion that the Pentateuch's having received editing somehow reduces it to less than divine is a non-sequitur. It simply does not follow, logically, that belief in the singular authorship of Moses with regards to the Pentateuch is "essential" to the claim that the Bible is divinely inspired.
I believe we need look no further than our own modern publishing industry to see clear examples of this type of behavior. Take any book from the New York Time's best seller list and ask yourself the question, "Did any of these authors rely upon the services of an editor to arrive at the final product?" Or ask yourself this question, "Did any of these authors rely upon a fact-checker to make sure all of their information and data is completely correct?" You will find that in the modern publishing industry these practices are regular occurrences, and yet whose name is the one printed on the cover? Is it not the author's name? Is it not the name of the one who did the bulk of the work? It simply does not follow, as you insist, that because Moses may have had some assistance in the compilation of the Pentateuch or that there may have been editors involved in the task that he did not write it. It further does not follow, as you insist, that with the use of editors in the authorship and compilation of the Pentateuch that God did not divinely inspire all parties involved during the assembly of His divine Word.
Your premise subtly alleges that it is necessary for Moses to be the singular author of the Pentateuch to the exclusion of editors or other minor contributions, otherwise it cannot be the inspired Word of God. May I ask, why? Why must this be the case?
Furthermore, your assertion relies upon evidence that the name "Yahweh" was used throughout the books of Genesis and Exodus, yet God tells Moses in Exodus 6:2-3, "I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name 'The Lord' I did not make myself known to them." You suggest that since Yahweh was used throughout Genesis this contradicts the account given in Exodus. Somehow this proves your assertion that Moses couldn't have written both books. Again, I find myself asking the question, how? How does this prove your assertion?
It does not logically follow that Moses couldn't have written both books when the author of both books uses a name for God which the author claims wasn't revealed until it was revealed to the author. This actually strengthens the argument that Moses must have written both books. The name Yahweh wasn't revealed until it was revealed to Moses, right? Since we find the name Yahweh throughout both Genesis and Exodus, does this not cohere with the assertion that Moses was the author of both books? I think it does.
You then pose this question to Christians:
"Wouldn't it be better... to just start being honest about all of this?"
Mr. Fenemore, this is clearly an ad hominem attack against Christians. Are you suggesting that Christians are dishonest in acknowledging these things? Where have you noticed Christians lying about this? As I glance over at my bookshelf, I have several books from informed believing Christian scholars who discuss the idea that Moses had some assistance in putting together the Pentateuch. This discussion dates back to the early 1600's, and it has been widely acknowledged for many centuries before this. Early and reliable tradition ascribes general authorship to Moses. Indeed, Moses explicitly is mentioned as recording the details of the battle with the Amalekites (Exodus 17:14). Also, most, if not all, of the laws recorded in the Pentateuch were written down by Moses as they were dictated to him by the Lord (Exodus 20:1).
Yet later Biblical texts also speak of the literary contribution of others such as Joshua 8:31-32. However, nowhere in the Bible is it explicitly mentioned that Moses wrote the Pentateuch in its entirety without any assistance. Nowhere does the Bible deny that editing took place. Nowhere are we told that Moses wrote the Pentateuch without editing it himself, and it does not follow logically that in order to embrace the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God Christians believe that nobody touched the Pentateuch besides Moses.
If I may be so bold, Mr. Fenemore, I'd like to take the further step of arguing to the contrary that the Bible indeed is the inspired Word of God. Consider the dozens of prophecies in the book of Isaiah which clearly foretell the coming Assyrian and Babylonian invasions of Israel. These historical events unfolded exactly as Isaiah promised they would. What about the prophet Daniel? Daniel saw the sweep of World Empire and accurately predicted the rise and fall of every major World Empire from the days of Babylon to the arrival of the Romans. How about the hundreds of prophecies scattered throughout which tell of the coming of Jesus Christ? Did you know that Jesus fulfills hundreds of Old Testament prophecies perfectly? Only God can make known the end from the beginning. Only someone of divine knowledge can know all things before they happen. We see clearly that the Bible demonstrates the truth of the living God.
Mr. Fenemore, you conclude your article by posing this question to Christians:
"...why live in a fantasy world in fear of facing reality?"
Faith is never easy, Mr. Fenemore. It is always a struggle. I know of Christians who struggle with the truth of a God who loves them so much that He sent His Son to die in their place, on their behalf, for the atonement of their sins, for the salvation of their souls. How could Somebody so perfect and so amazing love people like us so much that He would give His perfect life for ours? It boggles the mind, and we are tempted not to believe it. However, we simply can't deny it, because it is true. We have, by God's grace with fear and trepidation, faced the unnerving reality of God's love.
Why live in a fantasy? Why fear facing reality? Indeed. I couldn't have asked the same question any better myself. Do you fear facing the truth of God's Word and the love of His Son, Jesus Christ?