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The Authorship of Genesis
Is the book of Genesis real or fiction? This is an age-old question. There are many thousands of Christians, who believe that Genesis is the absolute word of God. Many of these people believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis, and believe that God himself told him what to write. Those who believe Moses wrote it really believe that God created the heaven and earth as well as all living things including man.
Then there are those who believe Genesis is nothing more than fiction. They do not believe that Moses or anyone else wrote Genesis. They do not believe that God created the heaven or earth. They believe we evolved from either fish or monkeys. They believe Genesis is nothing more than a fairytale written a long time ago. That is why when we look at the age-old question about the authorship of Genesis. We most look at three very important perspectives about, which may or may not have written Genesis. The first perspective we will look at is the belief that Moses is the author of Genesis. The second perspective we will look at, is the belief that Moses and many other authors wrote the book of Genesis. The third perspective is that Moses didn’t write Genesis at all, many historians and theologians believe that different writers contributed to the writings of Genesis.
When looking at that perspective that Moses was the sole author of Genesis. We must understand that this belief is deeply held by many conservative scholars and most of the Christian world. Those who believe that Moses was the author of Genesis, believe there are three ways which Moses transmitted Genesis. The first method was by direct revelation from God. Those who believe this believe that God spoke and told Moses what to write. These people believe that, "All scripture is given by the inspiration of god," (II Timothy 3:16). They also believe the Bible is infallible word of God and cannot lie, so when Jesus Christ himself stated, " And at the beginning Moses and all prophets he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in all the psalms concerning me" (Luke 24:27,44).
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Oral tradition as well as stories writes down the second way, in which they believe Moses transmitted the book of Genesis, on tablets of stone. They believe that Genesis was retold from father to son, which they then collected and wrote down. They again believe Moses was guided by the holy sprit when he wrote Genesis. (Morris 25) They also believe Moses took actual written records of the past and collecting them put them together to form the fished book of Genesis.
The second perspective states that although Moses wrote some of the book of Genesis, he did not all of it. Many believe that toke writings handed down from father to son via the line of the Patriarchs listed in Genesis, Adam, Noah, Sham, Korah, and others. Each patriarch wrote down individual accounts of events. These events occurred in his lifetime and he had direct knowledge of the event. Moses then selected writings, which were relevant to his purpose. Many people believe Moses main purpose for writing Genesis is because God wanted the Jewish people and the world to have a record of creation.
The last perspective is that Moses didn’t write Genesis at all. Those who believe this perspective believe that many unknown writers and editors wrote Genesis. They believe that ancient scribes of Israel compiled and edited several old legends and traditions. They believe these oral legends not only came from their elders, but also Egyptians, Babylonians, and others. This perspective is also called the "J, E, D, P hypothesis." The J tradition is the earliest discernable tradition in the Pentateuch (the name given to the first five books of the Bible). The J tradition is known as the "yahwist" tradition because this was one of the first names of God given in the Old Testament. This tradition covers a remarkable wide sweep of history, beginning with the first man and showing the relevance of all early history to God’s specific plan for the chosen people of God Israel. The E tradition is called the "Elohist" because of its careful use of "Elohim" in pre-Sinai material. Elohim is also another name given for God in the Old Testament and pre- Sinai refers to the children of Israel before Moses received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. The E tradition begins with Abraham who is presented as a prophet. ( Genesis 20:7) The E tradition is the great climax history for God’s chosen people. The D tradition is the deuteronomic tradition. This tradition is marked with great oratory style and is expressed through distinctive vocabulary. This tradition points to a period of religious crisis, for god’s chosen. The last tradition is the P or priestly tradition. The final contribution to the formation of that Pentateuch which is gives us the P tradition. It is believed that was written around the time of Ezra a Prophet in Israel. It is believed that the historical books, Jos-Kgs were separated from the rest of history, thus isolating the Pentateuch, which became the basic Law or Torah for later Judaism. [Brown, Fitzmyer, Roland, Jerome Biblical Commentary].
In this paper I have given three different perspectives on the authorship of Genesis. In doing my research I found that each perspective has many varied opinions about who wrote Genesis. I have tried to give as much information to the reader as possible so that you can decide which perspective best fits your beliefs on the authorship of Genesis.