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Pentateuch - Essay Example

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For every argument, there is a counter-argument, for an intellectual there is a super-intellectual to contest, so the issues…
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Pentateuch
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Introduction:
The essential difference between the mind-level arguments and the divine revelations is that the arguments about the former will not come to an end. For every argument, there is a counter-argument, for an intellectual there is a super-intellectual to contest, so the issues linger on for ever, with no possibility of settlement. Divine revelations emerge from the bliss-level, the conflict-free, duality-free zone.
The claim:
Majority of the Christians have been taught from childhood that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which are referred to as Pentateuch or Torah. “For most of the first eighteen centuries of the Christian era, Pentateuch authorship was considered pretty much settled matter. Most people accepted the view that the Pentateuch was composed by Moses, the great law giver and deliverer of Israel from Egyptian bondage.”(King, 2001)Later intellectuals intervened and did the obvious. Outside the faith based conservative seminaries and churches, the scholars held the view that Moses was not the author of the books and they are compilations of works of many writers over an extended period of time.
Jean Astruc (1684-1766) was a renowned Professor of medicine at Montpellier and Paris. Apart from his treatise on medicine, he wrote a book that was published anonymously relating to a critical textual analysis of works to scripture. He discussed the fundamental part in the origins. According to him, the Genesis was composed by using many sources and manuscript traditions. This approach is known as The Documentary Hypothesis.
Most of the universities teach in the religious studies that Pentateuch is a composite work relating to four literary strands. These strands are identified by letters, J, E, D and P. Each syllable represents a document or the source that has been incorporated in to the Bible. Documentary theory and the Graf-Wellhausen theory, support this approach. According to this view, the letter "J" stands for the Yahwist ("J" from the German Jahweh) narrative, coming from the period of the early Jewish monarchy, about 950 B.C. "E" stands for the Elohist narrative from the region of the Northern Kingdom dating from about 750 B.C. "D" is best represented by the book of Deuteronomy and is said to have originated in the Southern Kingdom about 650 B.C. or later. And finally, "P" is the priestly document that comes from the period after the fall of Israel in 587 B.C.
The composition of Pentateuch reached its consolidated form by about 400 B. C. Some hold the view that Pentateuch is not a supernatural revelation and much of it is folklore and Hebrew storytelling. Problems arise, if Moses is denied the authorship of Pentateuch. The veracity of Bible as a whole stands demolished. The belief of the Christians that Moses is the author of the first books of Bible is two thousand yeas old. The scientific analysis of Jean Astruc, however, merits consideration. He mentions that the first Chapter of Genesis refers to God as Elohim and the second chapter states mostly Jehovah or Yahweh. If the sources are identical, why the names should differ? This is the moot question. Moses’ authorship finds problems in his context. It is reasonable to conclude that Moses could have used two different sources in writing Genesis.
The rebuttal:
But Wellhausen’s argument was powerful, he explained it from a Darwinist perspective and said that the development from primitive animism to the more articulate monotheism, in line with the Monotheism of Jewish culture and religion evolution. He found powerful supporters. Conservatives retaliated with bitter criticism of the documentary hypothesis and defended the Mosaic authorship.
Conclusion—peace at last!
Which is more important? Cross dangling on the neck or Christ raveling in the heart? For the Bible-believing Christians, faith is the issue related to heart. It is “time for them to affirm a more traditional view, one which is in harmony with the perspective of their Lord, with the teachings of scripture itself, and which is consistent with the concept of the divine inspiration of sacred writings.”(King, 2000) The inner world of men of faith remains ever calm and the worst situations can do no harm to their belief systems.
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Woks Cited:

King, Greg A: The Documentary Hypothesis; Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 12/1(2001):22-30 Read More
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