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Pentateuch: What Biblical And Extra-biblical Evidence (Term Paper Sample)




Q1. Despite being anonymous, the Pentateuch has traditionally been attributed to Moses. Why this and what biblical and extra-biblical evidence is has informed this sentiment?
Despite being viewed as synonymous, Pentateuch has largely been traditionally attributed to Moses as the author. This is illustrated by the following evidence as enumerated below. In Exodus 24:4, it is recorded “And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD”. In this instance, the chapter records that Moses was commanded by God to record in a manner of writing all that the Lord had told him. Similarly, Deuteronomy 31:9 records that Moses wrote down the laws given to him by God and he gave them to the priests to read out to the people (Campbell, 2004).
But Biblical evidence of Moses being the author of Pentateuch is not limited to Old Testament only; we find instances of references of ‘The Laws of Moses` in the New Testament as well. 1Corinthians 9:9, “For it is written in the laws of Moses…..” Other instances in the Bible that refers to Moses as being the author of Pentateuch include, Romans 10:5 and 2Corinthians 3:15. In John 5:46, Jesus as he was speaking to the Jews, he urged them to believe in him because ‘Moses wrote about him`. This point to an evidentiary fact that Moses had a hand in writing of the Pentateuch. Paul writes in Romans 10:5, “For Moses writes that for the man that practices righteousness based on law shall live by that righteousness” (Romans 10:5)..
Evidence of Moses being the author of Pentateuch is not only found from the Old Testament and New Testament only, there has been other extra-biblical evidence pointing to that fact Moses is the most likely author of the Pentateuch. A few tenable examples are enumerated here. The code of Hammurabi has distinct similarities to the Laws in the Pentateuch. If the Two are looked at closely, they put the origin of the laws at a time much closer to Moses than any documentarian would claim otherwise. It conclusively gives a time frame in which Moses would have written.
Archeology is another platform that has brought forth hints and facts pointing to Moses being associated with Pentateuch. The amount paid to Josephs’ brothers when they sold him for 20 Shekel reflects the average selling price of slaves during the first half of the second millennium BC and this period is closer to the time of Moses than any other individual who could have authored Pentateuch.
(b) Give a synopsis of the basic tenants of the Documentary Hypothesis in its final summation as espoused by Julius Wellhausen?
Documentary Hypothesis is an alternative source that attempts to explain the Pentateuch. Wellhausen espouses that this is basically a document that was formed over many centuries ago from various sources and was redacted or edited to form what it is today. This hypothesis has had some variations for example dating, number of sources and the extent to which redaction happened. However, Julius Wellhausens theory in the 19th century is the most commonly known version. His sources were organized under four main sources characterized by the letters JEDP. Wellhausen came to this hypothesis as a result of what he termed inconsistencies in the Old Testament as the sole pointer to Moses being the author of Pentateuch (Wellhausen, 1897). For example he talks of duplication and even triplication of text or material in Pentateuch which are in contradiction with each other. A good example is the Law in Deuteronomy and the Law codes of Leviticus. Another example that Wellhausen points out is the variations in the names Yahweh and Elohim which seem to have differing theological standpoints. These technicalities are what made scholars in the 19th and 20th century among them Wellhausen to critically try and understand Pentateuch.
Primarily, Wellhausen came up with the four letters JEDP as the lead sources of Pentateuch. These are J for Yahwist from the word Jahwist in German, E stands for Elohist, D for Deutronomist and P standing for Priestly. Documentary Hypothesis claims to find evidence of redactional history from early religious mythology to organized priestly institutions. Jahwist comprises some of the earliest sources emanating from between the 10th and 18th BC. Elohist source goes in tandem with time frame associated with Jahwist; however, it is believed to have come slightly later than Jahwist. Elohist during this period is believed to refer to the name of God. In contrast, Deutronomist sources occurred in the 7th century BC. Naturally, it emanates from the book of Deuteronomy. It emphasizes worship. Lastly, Priestly brings forth sources pertaining to organized and centralized worship in Israel. It puts stress on such issues as Sabbath, covenant, cultic laws and procedures for sacrificial ceremonies. What Wellhausen stresses as the basic idea of this theory is all these sources compacted together, were revised and redacted over time. What started slowly as a tribal religion grew overtime into an organized institutionalized religion in Israel. As religion in Israel advanced with time, other sources and pieces came together to form a final form that points to redactors having a hand in the creation of Pentateuch. While Wellhausen hypothesis seems simple and clear enough, it is not without controversy. There is no universally agreed upon form that can be said to be conclusive.
(C). Explain your own view on Pentateuch origins both in positive and negative terms with recourse to the biblical text. That is to say, what are the weaknesses of other views that have informed your position as well as the strengths of your view?
Pentateuch remains the most accepted source associating Moses with its authorship. Pentateuch plays an important role in the creation theory. Outside the evolution theory by Charles Darwin, Pentateuch is another important theory that gives a chronological account of the creation in a clear understandable manner (Bible, 1982). Pentateuch remains an important scripture for billions of Christians worldwide majorly because it is seen as a record of Gods’ instructions to mankind in the following manner.
* Genesis, the first book of the Pentateuch, describes in details the creation story of Adam and Eve. This book delves deeply into the creation phenomena and the divine intention God had for human. As a result of free-will, man rebelled against God and hereon began the story of mankind when Adam and Eve gave birth to the generations to follow.
* Exodus is a story of descendants of Adam and Eve. Their journey through slavery in Egypt and their liberation from their captors. This is the book where we see Gods-handpicked and chosen spokesperson, Moses.
* Leviticus is a book majorly concerned with the rules, regulations and laws which was given to the Hebrews and was meant to guide them to live a life of holiness.
* Numbers. In this book, the first human census in the world is recorded to have taken place. Before the census, God first instructed Moses to group people either according to tribe or family. After much disobedience due to free-will, God punished the sinners. After this, God ordered Moses to recount the people.
* Deuteronomy is the last book of the Pentateuch. It focuses on devotion and faithfulness to the Lord. As they are about to enter the Promised Land, Moses strongly urges the people not forget what God has done for them and what he expects of them. He further urges them to teach their children the way of the Lord.
As seen above, Pentateuch shows the reader what God has done for mankind and will continue to in future for men if they remain obedient. The spiritual message that is passed from reading the books of Pentateuch include a message of hope, living a righteous life, repentance and his promises to mankind. For one to get a good reading out of the Pentateuch, all the five books should be read together and not separately because together they constitute the story of origins in a chronological order.
As with most things, the Pentateuch does seem to have a few negatives as has been pointed out by scholars worldwide. One of the negatives espoused by opposers of the Pentateuch theory is that the events listed in the first five books of the Old Testament is that there is duplication and triplication of material for example the two different names of God at the time, Elohim and Yahweh seem to be contradictory and confusing. Another example of duplication espoused by scholars is the issue of 2nd King: 22 which were thought to be the book of Law is in fact the book of Deuteronomy.
The argument about repetition espoused by Wellhausen is also a bit vague. Just because something has been repeated does not make it fake. The repetition does not in any show that the event did not occur. This is one major negative factor in Wellhausens theory because he does not attempt to show how duplication of text or chapters in the Old Testament makes the events enumerated thereof fake. In my view, the negative side of the Pentateuch is that there seem to be some unexplained gaps in some stories. A good example is the lack of chronological order illustrating the origin of human species from day one to present day human. Some phenomena also seem to come out vaguely and not clearly explained and so this might have some negative attribute to it though it is so small that it is almost negligible.
Q2 (a) Give the biblical rationale typically espoused for supposing that the Earth is young (i.e., thousands of years old), critiquing the merits and difficulties therein.
Both Christian and Jewish histories have always held that the earth is only a few thousand years old. Indeed, following the creation story in Genesis, the one is able to deduce that the earth cannot be more than 10,000 years old. The supporters of the young- earth...
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