The Instigator
daley
Pro (for)
Winning
27 Points
The Contender
GMDebater
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Moses did not write the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy)

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
daley
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/4/2011 Category: Religion
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,375 times Debate No: 17346
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (16)
Votes (4)

 

daley

Pro

round 1 acceptance
round 2, opening arguments
round 3, rebuttals
round 4, rebuttals
round 5, final rebuttals and closing statements

Con must be a Christian, and needs to show evidence that Moses was the writer of these five books, while showing the weakness of my arguments against his authorship.
GMDebater

Con

I accept this debate. I thank the instigator for this challenge. I will be arguing that Moses wrote MOST of the Pentateuch. All what I need to do to fulfill my BoP is to give evidence that he wrote at least part of the 1st 5 books.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
daley

Pro

I was hoping that Con would defend that Moses wrote all of the Pentateuch, but since he claims he only wrote MOST of it, I'll look forward to his criteria for how he diffrentiates which parts Moses wrote, and which ones he didn't. Now I'll present some of my evidence that Moses is not the author; Con must not only tear down this evidence, but present a convincing case for his authorship that withstands careful scrutiny.

(1) The Presence of Anachronisms
Allusions to names or things in the wrong historical setting argues against the authorship of Moses. The example I will use is that used by Thomas Paine in his book The Age of Reason (1796). The city of New York, before 1664 was called New Amsterdam. Should we discover an undated document that discussed events of, let us say, mid-seventeenth century New England, which called the city New York, we can immediately conclude that it was written after 1664. For no one could have known before 1664 that New Amsterdam would be called New York after that year.

Now, the city in the Bible that went through a similar kind of name change was the city of Dan. The old name for this city was Laish, and the account of its conquest and change of names is given in the book of Judges.

Judges 18:27-29
And taking what Micah had made, and the priest who belonged to him, the Danites came to Laish, to a people quiet and unsuspecting and smote them with the edge of the sword, and burned the city with fire. And there was no deliverer because it was far from Sidon. It was in the valley which belongs to Bethrehob. And they rebuilt the city and dwelt in it. And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor who was born in Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first.

This account of the conquest of Laish and the changing of its name to Dan is placed in the Bible, immediately after the death of Samson. Now Samson was the twelfth, and last, Judge. The Judges were the rulers of Israel after the death of Joshua. Moses died more than two hundred years before Samson. Thus, the name of the city of Laish was changed to Dan only some two to three centuries after the death of Moses. Keep this in mind as you read this passage from Genesis below:

Genesis 14:14
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

As we have reasoned earlier, this allusion to Dan, is an anachronism, and could not have been written by Moses. The passage could only have been written by someone who lived after the period of the Judges, when Laish had become Dan, more than two hundred years after the death of Moses.

We find another anachronism in Genesis 23:2 which provided an explanatory note that Kirjath-arba, the town where Rachel died is Hebron. The city of Kirjath-arba was not called Hebron until the time of the conquest when Joshua gave it to Caleb (Joshua 14:13-15).

Another passage which shows that the books were written after Moses' day:

Genesis 36:31
And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.

Now how could Moses have known that there would be kings that reigned over the Israelites? This passage must therefore have been written, at the very earliest, after the first Jewish King, Saul, began to rule over the Israelites which was around three centuries after the death of Moses.

Genesis also mentions the Chaldeans and several Edomite kings, none of which existed anytime near Moses' lifetime. The Edomite king list from Genesis 36, in fact, lists known historical figures who lived well after Moses' lifetime. Genesis was not written by Moses or anyone who lived close to his lifetime.

(2) The Account of Moses' Death and Burial

Deuteronomy 34:5-8
So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-pe'or; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

It should be obvious, even to the most hard headed fundamentalist, that no one could write an account of his own death, burial and mourning. Furthermore the presence of the phrase to this day implies that a long time has elapsed between the death of Moses and the writing of the passage.

(3) There are passages about Moses within the five books that simply could not have been written by Moses himself. One example:

Numbers 12:3
Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.

As Richard Friedman, Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University California, San Diego mentioned in his book Who Wrote the Bible?:

[N]ormally one would not expect the humblest man on earth to point out that he is the humblest man on earth. (p.18)

We find references to Moses that spoke of him as though he was a long gone prophet. Some examples:

Exodus 11:3
Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 34:10
And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses…

When we take into consideration Moses' reputed humility, such passages could only have been written by another who held Moses in high regard.

There is no direct claim of Mosaic authorship in any of the five books. Although there are passages that said that Moses made specific written records (Exodus 17:14, 24:4, 34:27, Numbers 33:2, Deuteronomy 31:9,24), nowhere in any of these books is there any allusion to itself being written by the Jewish prophet. In fact, we find that references to Moses are always in the third person (see for example Numbers 2:1, 5:1, 31:1, Deuteronomy 33:1). While it may be possible that Moses chose to write in that sort of a fashion, this supposition adds no weight whatsoever to the assertion of Mosaic authorship.

I have more to add, but for now I'll see how Con responds to the above, and makes his own case for Mosaic authorship.
GMDebater

Con

Thank you for your informative opening argument. Due to the rules of the debate, this is just my opening argument.

Fact 1: There are verses in the Pentateuch that have Moses' authorship

Verse 1: Exodus 17:14

After the victory, the LORD instrucyted Moses, "Write this down on a scroll as a permament reminded, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

Verse 2: Exodus 24:4

Then Moses carefully wrote down all the LORD's instructions. Early the next morning Moses got up and built an alter at the foot of the mountain. He also set up twelve pillars, one for each of the tribes of Israel.

Verse 3: Deuteronomy 31:24-26 (Most damaging to your case)

When Moses had finished writing this entire body of instructions in a book, he gave this command to the Levites, who carried the Ark of the LORD's Covenant: "Take this Book of Instruction and palce it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, so it may remain there as a great witness against the people of Israel.

I think this verse is clear that he [Moses] wrote the book of instructions (i.e. the law) as G-d commanded him.

Fact 2: Elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures, Moses is given credit



Verse 1: Joshua 1:7-8 "...Obey all the laws Moses gave you."
Verse 2: Joshua 8:31-34 "He followed the instructions that Moses the Lord's servant had written in the Book of the Law..."
Verse 3: Joshua 22:5 "...obey all the commands and the laws that Moses gave to you."
Verse 4: 2 Chronicles 34:14 "...Hilkiah the high priest...found the book of the Law of the Lord as it had been given through Moses."

Fact 3: The Gospel's give record to Moses' authorship

  • Matthew 19:7-8 "...why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?", they asked. Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted divorce...'"
  • Matthew 22:24 "Moses said, 'If a man dies without children...'"
  • Mark 7:10 "For instance, Moses gave you this law from God..."
  • Mark 12:24 "...haven't you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush..."
  • Luke 24:44 "...I told you that everything written about me by Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must all come true."
  • John 1:17 "For the law was given through Moses..."
  • John 5:46 "But if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me because he wrote about me. And since you don't believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?"
  • John 7:23 "...do it, so as not to break the law of Moses..."
Fact 4: Elsewhere in the NT is authorship credited to Moses


  • Acts 26:22 "...I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen..."
  • Romans 10:5 "For Moses wrote..."

Conclusion


Nowhere in the Bible does the entire Pentateuch say that he [Moses] wrote the ENTIRE Torah; however, the evidence is clear that he wrote at least part of the Torah and a good chunk of the law. That is the reason I am arguing from the perspective that he wrote only some of the Torah and not all of it.

Thank you, and I egerly await your response.

Debate Round No. 2
daley

Pro

Let's first take a look at Con's 4 so-called "facts."

"Fact 1: There are verses in the Pentateuch that have Moses' authorship." To support this claim he uses Exo 17:14, but the book of Exodus is merely saying that God told Moses to write a statement in a book, the book of Exodus is not claiming to be the very scroll itself that Moses wrote this statement in. Exodus 17:14 says, "After the victory, the LORD instrucyted Moses,'Write this down on a scroll as a permament reminded, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.'" From this we can conclude that Moses wrote the statement "I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven;" what Moses did not write was the beginning of the verse which says "After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses,'Write this down on a scroll as a permament reminded, and read it aloud to Joshua.'" So Exo 17:14 was not written by Moses, but by someone else recording the fact that Yahweh told Moses to write a brief statement in a scroll; this verse does not even identify the scroll itself as the book of Exodus.

To illustrate, lets say that the Watchtower magazine (published by Jehovah's Witnesses) quoted the statement, "I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven;" does the fact that God told Moses to write that on a scroll, and the fact that the Watchtower quotes it, prove that Moses wrote SOME of the Watchtower magazine? No, it doesn't! Moses wrote non of the Watchtower because he wasn't alive when this magazine bagan to be published. Nor did he write part or some of any book today that quotes him. The book of Exodus is quoting certain statements written by Moses in certain scrolls, but the book of Exodus never identifies itself as one of these scrolls written by Moses. If I wirte a book tomorrow which records how God told Moses to write something in a book, does it mean that part of my book was written by Moses? No; so too, Exodus quotes certain things Moses wrote without any of it at all being written by Moses himself.

Note also, that at Exo 17:14 it is ONLY the satement "I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven" that God tells Moses to write, he doesn't tell him to write all the information recorded in verses 1-16. These verses speak of Moses in the third person as someone other than the author of Exodus 17, and if verses 1-16 were not written by Moses, why suppose verse 17 was?

As for Exodus 24:4, what Moses wrote was actually a long scroll comprised of the many laws God had given him, it certainly was not the summation of what Moses did as we have in this verse. It is more likely that Exo 24:4 is someone briefly mentioning that Moses wrote a long list of laws, but this statement is not the same thing as that list of laws Moses wrote. Exodus 24:4 is saying that Moses wrote down the laws mentioned in the book of Exodus that are commented on before this verse beginning from chapter 20; but Exo 24:4 shows that the book of the law was now complete, and so nothing more need be added at that time; therefore, we have no reason to think that this scroll which contained the law also contained what happened after he wrote the law as recorded in verses 5-8. Verse 8 shows Moses talking to the people about the book of the covenant which already had the covenant written out in full; not, Moses could not have written what he was now saying to the people, or what they replied to him, before he completed the book could he? This is a record by someone else showing that Moses wrote a book (scroll) but this record itself is not written by Moses.

Quoting Moses in Exodus doesn't prove that Mose wrote part of Exodus anymore than quoting Isaiah in Matthew proves that Matthew wrote parts of the book of Isaiah. (Matt 1:22-23; Isa 7:14) Isaiah does not have Matthean authorship either in whole or in part, even though Matthew quotes Isaiah. So Con is incorrect to conclude that Moses wrote some of Exodus just because it quotes some of his writings. So Con hasn't shown that Moses wrote ANY, not even some of the Pentateuch; he merely proved that it quotes him; but even the Newspaper can quote Moses without any of it being written by Moses.

Deuteronomy 31:24-26, which Con claims most damaging to my case, is most damaging to his! It says:

When Moses had FINISHED WRITING this entire body of instructions in a book, he gave this command to the Levites, who carried the Ark of the LORD's Covenant: "Take this Book of Instruction and palce it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, so it may remain there as a great witness against the people of Israel.

So if Moses gave the Levites this instruction AFTER he had completed writing the book, then these word he spoke to the Levites were obviously not in the book itself which he wrote. This is nothing more than another writer documenting the fact that there was a book which Moses wrote, and after writing it he gave the Levites certain instructions on what to do with the book, but none of this record about what Moses did was written by Moses himself. If it were, then why does he not say, "When [I] had finished writing this entire body of instructions in a book, [I] gave this command to the Levites, who carried the Ark of the LORD's Covenant: "Take this Book of Instruction and palce it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, so it may remain there as a great witness against the people of Israel." Why speak of himself as a third person if he's recording his own work?

"I think this verse is clear that he [Moses] wrote the book of instructions (i.e. the law) as G-d commanded him."

I agree, he did write the book of the law, but Exodus is not the book of the law which Moses wrote; it merely quotes from that book of the law which Moses wrote. The book of Isaiah identifies itself as being written by Isaiah from verse 1, John identifies himself as the author of Revelation in Rev 1:4, 9-20, and Paul and Sosthenes identify themselves as authors of 1 Corinthians. (1 Cor 1:1) Why does Moses have a problem doing the same?

"Fact 2: Elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures, Moses is given credit"

Joshua 1:7-8; 8:31-34; 22:5 and Chronicles 34:14 all show that Moses wrote "the book of the law," it does not call this book "Exodus." Con is assuming without proof that Exodus is the book of the law just because it quotes the book of the law extensively, but Romans also quotes from Isaiah, that doesn't make these two books synonymous, nor prove they had the same author. Even today there are many books that quote Moses extensively, and yet not one chapter or verse in these books was authored by Moses for he was long dead! To illustrate again, in 1 Cor 5:9 Paul mentions a previous letter he wrote the Corinthians. Could 1 Corinthians be that letter? No, cause 1 Corinthians was referring to that erliar letter just as Exodus refers to the earlier book of the law Moses wrote.

"Fact 3: The Gospel's give record to Moses' authorship"

Matthew 19:7-8 talks about a law Moses gave, not a book he wrote. The fact this law is quoted in Exodus doesn't prove Moses wrote part of Exodus anymore than the fact that it is quoted in Matthe prove that Moses wrote part of Matthew. The same goes for Matthew 22:24; Mark 7:10; John 1:17 etc. Luke 24:44 mentions the law of Moses; this cannot include Genesis because this book contains no giving of the law. The law isn't given till we reach the book of Exodus, which just calls into question if "the law of Moses refers to these 5 books in the first place. If the law of Moses includes Gensis, why does it not include the law? I agree with John 7:23 that Moses gave the law, I don't agree with Con that he wrote some of Exodus.

"Fact 4: Elsewhere in the NT is authorship credited to Moses"

Yes, it does credit Moses with authorship, of the law of Moses, not the book of Exodus. Since Con didn't rebut any of my evidence against Mosaic authorship but I rebuted all of his, vote Pro.
GMDebater

Con

vote pro. I am begining to get ill and do not want to waste pro's time if I can't be on DDO. I'd like to continue this debate one day if that is okay.
Debate Round No. 3
daley

Pro

wow; suddenly Con get's ill. ok.
GMDebater

Con

vote pro!
Debate Round No. 4
Debate Round No. 5
16 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by daley 5 years ago
daley
First of all, I never argued that different names was the only evidence, secondly, why should I reply to evidence you did not present in the debate? All of a sudden you have all this proof now? You should have mentioned those things in the debate; and for your information, I am well aware of all these weak and fake lines of evidence Friedman brings on this issue. But since you are so sure of the strength of his arguments for JEPD, why don't you present a case for this hypothesis in a debate and lets see how strong it really is? What are you afraid of? I'm challenging you to bring me a challenge in defense of the documentary theory as it relates to the Bible. I promise you, it will be demolished. You have lots of guts when it comes to the comments section, but not much by way of the debate thread. Put your money where your mouth is!

I get the impression you are more comfortable debating in the comments section! So what's it gonna be? Are you posting the argument are not? Resolved: The Pentateuch was written in accord with the documentary hypothesis. You are pro, I am con; what do you say?
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
you quoted from a book that is all about the documentary hypothesis. Its hilarious that you have read friedman's arguments but in my debate only seemed to know wellhausen's arguments and thought the only evidence for it was different names lol. You are a sad sad individual. The evidence is vast, from us knowing that the language used is from different eras, to being able to break up certain parts of the bible into 2 different stories, to the contradictory dublets. To deny it is the only starting point in research of authorship of the 5 books is to admit ignorance of biblical scholarship.
Posted by daley 5 years ago
daley
Ohhhh please, let me clarify, that just because I quote from someone does not mean I agree with every single thing that person says, ok? My opponent is free to disagree with Friedman if he wants once he presents a good argument. I simply think Friedman is wrong on the documentary hypothesis, and my challenge to you izbo10, is to post me one good argument for it; I'm sure that you can quote alllllll the Friedman you want and you still can't give a sound argument for JEDP.

It's not like I argued that I'm write just because Friedman agrees with me; no, I actually presented the arguement, which is something you need to learn to do. Don't tell me the doucmentary hypothesis is correct just because Friedman says so; show me HIS argument for it. I don't find it convincing. I'm fine with relying on him when I know he's correct, I don't think he's correct about everything, who is? We can't be right all the time, can we? Humans make mistakes. Now, post your arguement for the documentary hypothesis, the strongest you can build, and I'll show you how weak it really is...I've read Friedman's arguments for it, and I'm not convinced.
Posted by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
I find it interesting daley that you quote Friedman one of the best known proponents of Biblical scholarships best explanation for the sources of the 5 books of Moses, the documentary hypothesis, the very hypothesis you attacked earlier in a debate with me. Did you learn something there or were you just attacking the hypothesis for fun in the earlier debate.
Posted by GMDebater 5 years ago
GMDebater
es bueno
Posted by daley 5 years ago
daley
let me apologise for my hastiness, as round 2 was for opening arguments i shoul not expect u to rebut my arguments till round 3 which is for rebuttals.
Posted by GMDebater 5 years ago
GMDebater
"there seems no good reason to believe that he even wrote ONE VERSE of it! But I'd love to see you try; being a Christian, I would prefer to be convinced that he is the author, but no one has persuaded me so far...I'd love to believe my Christian brothers are correct on this matter, but I don't find the evidence compelling; so if you have proof that Moses wrote SOME of it, please present it..."

I have given you really good evidence that he wrote way more than ONE VERSE.
Posted by daley 5 years ago
daley
Its not enough to show that he wrote SOME, because if you wrote a 634 page book, but I edited a 10 verses and inserter twenty more, the SOME that I wrote would not make me the author, would it? To prove your case that Moses is the author, that he wrote the Pentateuch, you must show that he wrote all or at least MOST of it. In fact, in your original argument, you claim to prove that he wrote MOST of it; are you changing your position?

In any case, I don't believe you can prove that Moses wrote ANY of the five books at all; so even if you want to try, be my guest, there seems no good reason to believe that he even wrote ONE VERSE of it! But I'd love to see you try; being a Christian, I would prefer to be convinced that he is the author, but no one has persuaded me so far...I'd love to believe my Christian brothers are correct on this matter, but I don't find the evidence compelling; so if you have proof that Moses wrote SOME of it, please present it...
Posted by GMDebater 5 years ago
GMDebater
okay, what if I can show internal support that he wrote at least some of the pentateuch?
Posted by daley 5 years ago
daley
no, i don't affirm the JEDP hypothesis
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
daleyGMDebaterTied
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Total points awarded:70 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro changed my views and forfeit.
Vote Placed by SkepticsAskHere 5 years ago
SkepticsAskHere
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Reasons for voting decision: forfeits
Vote Placed by izbo10 5 years ago
izbo10
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Reasons for voting decision: obvious winner by forfeit.
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 5 years ago
ReformedArsenal
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Reasons for voting decision: Kohai needs to stop taking debates he can't/won't finish.