Who wrote the Book of Genesis?
The majority of biblical academics regard Moses as the author of Genesis, but this has not been universally accepted, particularly among proponents of the “Documentary Hypothesis”.
So, did Moses really write Genesis?
Genesis talks about the creation of the world, the beginning of God’s nation of Israel, and the beginning of the story of humanity’s salvation as a whole.
Because it contains numerous accounts of the most well-known biblical figures, this book is no doubt, one of the favorites of many Bible readers.
As previously said, the majority of experts believe Moses is the author of Genesis.
However, since none of us lived during the beginning of creation, so how would we know if Moses really wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch, which of course includes Genesis?
The Pentateuch is also known as the Torah in Jewish tradition.
Genesis’ stories precede Moses’ existence, therefore how did he write them?
The Pentateuch, or “Pentateuchos” in Greek, is the collective name for the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
Genesis, however, is the only one of these five books that came before Moses.
Criticisms and Other Opinions
Not only has the theory of Moses being the author of Genesis become the target of scrutiny during the last few hundred years, but the Bible itself has come under intense criticism from skeptics of every stripe in philosophy and science.
Genesis has perhaps been the most criticized Bible book in the scientific age. This is because there are numerous individuals who have their own beliefs related to some scientific theories.
There are critics who support secular archaeology, liberal theology, and philosophy who heavily criticize the biblical miracles and who argued that the Bible is untrue and, as a result, cannot be relied upon.
Thus, they came up with the Documentary Hypothesis. Let’s dive deeper into what this hypothesis is all about.
The Documentary Hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis states that an unknown author, writing in around 400BC, blended three main source texts—one of which was itself a mixture of two earlier sources to create the Torah.
Christian academics established this theory between the early 17th and the late 19th centuries. At that time, there were many proposals as to who wrote Genesis, and where and when it was written.
Furthermore, the hypothesis disclaimed Moses’ authorship or compilation of the Genesis narrative. It claimed that the first five books of the Bible were written and edited by unidentified editors much later than Moses’ time.
By the end of the 19th century, they did, however, arrive to a consensus: J.E.D.P.
What is J.E.D.P.?
J.E.D.P. is a development of the Documentary Hypothesis that asserts that up to 900 years after Moses’ life—if, in this interpretation, he really lived—a number of anonymous authors assembled these five volumes, along with other Old Testament passages, from centuries of oral tradition.
Those who support this study believe that there are four primary authors of the Pentateuch or Torah. Each letter in the acronym stands for its corresponding authors.
“J” is for Yahweh (Jehovah). In other words, this author chose to refer God as Yahweh or Jehovah. In his portrayal of God, he also attributed human traits to God. This author is thought to have written in the time of Solomon between 900 and 850 B.C.
“E” stands for Elohim. This writer purportedly penned the chapters in which the word Elohim is used to refer to God while he was in the northern kingdom or in Israel around 750–700 BC.
“D” is for Deuteronomy. The majority of Deuteronomy was composed by a different author or group of authors, possibly around the time of King Josiah’s reforms in 621 B.C.
“P” stands for Priest. It designates the verses in Leviticus and elsewhere in the Pentateuch that were composed by a priest or priests during the exile in Babylon after 586 B.C.
Jean Astruc and Julius Wellhausen were the minds behind this hypothesis.
Jean Astruc first introduced this idea of several authors for these publications in Paris in 1753.
However, “Wellhausenism” is another name for the Documentary Hypothesis. He was a German scholar who reaffirmed this idea, which gained widespread acceptance for majority of the 20th century.
According to some experts who believe Moses wrote Genesis, the J.E.D.P. theory has no or little support and is merely the product of its proponents’ imagination.
What’s more, it completely ignores the divine element of the Bible and historical references from the remainder of the Old and New Testaments.
Moses Wrote Genesis as the Bible Teaches
Let us examine some of the verses in the Bible – both in the Old and New Testaments – which confirm Moses’ authorship of Genesis.
Exodus 17:14 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven”.
Numbers 33:2 – Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points…
Joshua 1:7–8 – Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
Joshua 8:31 – As Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.
Joshua 23:6 – Therefore be very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left.
1 Kings 2:3 – And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.
2 Kings 14:6 – But the children of the murderers he did not execute, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, in which the Lord commanded, saying, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; but a person shall be put to death for his own sin.”
1 Chronicles 22:13 – Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.
Ezra 6:18 – They assigned the priests to their divisions and the Levites to their divisions, over the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.
Nehemiah 13:1 – On that day they read from the Book of Moses in the hearing of the people, and in it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever come into the assembly of God.
Daniel 9:11 – Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him.
Malachi 4:4 – Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Matthew 8:4 – And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
Mark 12:26 – But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”?
Luke 16:29 – Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
Luke 24:27 – And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Luke 24:44 – Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”
John 5:46 – For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.
John 7:22 – Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
Acts 3:22 – For Moses truly said to the fathers, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.”
Acts 15:1 – And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
Acts 28:23 – So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.
Romans 10:5 – For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”
Romans 10:19 – But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: “I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.”
1 Corinthians 9:9 – For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?
2 Corinthians 3:15 – But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart.
The authorship of Genesis is frequently contested by contemporary scholars. However, since the Pentateuch is credited to Moses by many authors throughout the Bible, we have extra-biblical evidence for this claim. Thus, we believe Moses is the author of Genesis.
Raised by an Egyptian princess, Moses was educated by the Egyptian royal family as it is written in Acts 7:22, “When he could be hidden no longer, he was put outside—and immediately rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter, who mothered him as her own son. Moses was educated in the best schools in Egypt. He was equally impressive as a thinker and an athlete.”
That’s why there is no question that he was eloquent both in speaking and writing, and so he could write well.
How about the stories in the Bible before Moses came, how could he possibly have written them?
Henry Morris, a Genesis commentator, asserts that Moses collated all the writings dating back to Adam and Eve. He began writing at God’s direction after he obtained divine instruction from the Lord Himself.
Moses was a prophet of God, and as such, his writings were completely accurate and held infallible power.
As it says in the Bible in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. And why? Because it’s not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God’s Word.”
The Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and what is written in the Bible is true as it is not only about the history and stories of Adam and Eve and their descendants, but also it is about the salvation of mankind.
So the answer is, Moses is the author of Genesis and by God’s command he did it, whether many accept it or not.
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