Friday, May 19, 2006

Could Moses Pass the Spelling Bee?

I beg forgiveness for no blogs this week. Exams, papers, grading--all the things I live for (well, not quite). But light is dawning on a distant horizon And I thought I'd better contribute something. And it occurred to me to add something by way of a comment to Wednesday evening's Prayer Meeting address on whether Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (the Pentateuch). I had the temerity to address (because big boss Ligon asked me to) the so-called documentary hypothesis of Jean Astruc and Julius Wellhausen, and others, suggesting that at least four different authors are involved (called J, E, D and P) stretching from around 1200 to 450 B.C.

Who cares? Quite! That's what a little voice is saying in my head, too. Would the world come to a halt if we discovered some sixth-century B.C. priest named Rabbi Schmo benHilkiah (I made that up!) pieced it together from various documents and oral traditions that were around, adding some comments more geared to address issues of his time and ensure political favor for his cause than anything to do with historical accuracy?

Before you answer that question, consider this: that Jesus believed in the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (yes, he said so in Matthew 19:7 citing Moses on divorce of all things). Now, imagine if Jesus was, well, wrong? Ignorant of the how the first five books had come together over a period of 800 years, ignorant of the spiritual evolution of Isreal's faith from polytheism to monotheism, ignorant of the fact that the patriarchs worshipped tribal deities and so on. Would you want to put your trust in such a person for life and death matters? True, believing someone about life and death matters is one thing; about who wrote Exodus another. But if he could be wrong about the one, how do you know that he wasn't wrong about the other, too?

You see, for me at least, it's all about what Jesus said. That's good enough for me.

In any case, JEDP doesn't even spell anything!

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