We should trust the Bible, says Timothy Paul Jones, because it is ‘grounded in the words of a man who died and rose again’ (p.111). Jones’s basic presupposition is this: ‘If we live in a world where it is possible…
- Publisher: Wipf & Stock
- ISBN: 978-1-61097-417-2
- Pages: 172
- Price: 14.12
The Books of Moses Revisited
Wipf & Stock,
This book challenges an entrenched academic, liberal proposition called the ‘Documentary Hypothesis’ (also known as the ‘JEDP Hypothesis’). This proposal rejects the idea that Moses is the author of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Since the 18th Century its proponents have suggested a combination of various sources and authors for these books, with an editor (redactor) who put it together in the First Millennium BC. These issues cannot be ignored by evangelicals. Such views are contrary to the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul and Peter (Mark 7:10; Acts 3:22-23; and 1 Cor. 9:9). Furthermore, historical sources such as the Apocrypha, the Mishna and Flavius Josephus (AD 37/38 -ca.100) uphold that Moses wrote these canonical books (pp 7-12). The crux of the matter concerns questions relating to the authority, inerrancy and the reliability of Scripture.
Paul Lawrence contends that Moses wrote the Pentateuch in the ‘second half of the Second Millennium BC’ (p xv, 17). This research does not lead to blind or unfounded assertions and Lawrence does not naïvely imagine that liberals will easily abandon their assumed tradition. However, this book offers nine chapters of fruitful engagement relating to the historical background of the Old Testament scriptures. Therefore, serious minded Christians should be prepared to think through these arguments. This is in order that their confidence in God’s word is strengthened, their ability to defend the inspiration of Scripture is buttressed, and so that their love of ‘all Scripture’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17) gives eager attention to the Old Testament, as well as the New.
The opening chapter maps out the overall direction of the book; chapter 2 focuses on ‘The World of Moses’; and chapter 3 zooms in upon ‘Genesis’. For those readers who are interested in covenant theology, they will particularly enjoy chapter 4 which handles the patterns in the biblical covenant documents which lie at the heart of Exodus/ Leviticus and Deuteronomy. The author observes that late Second Millennium Hittite treaties and the pentateuchal covenants have a common treaty format, one peculiar to that time period and not found later. This negates a First Millennium composition as espoused by JEDP hypothesis proponents (p 63-64). Chapter 5 is by far the most technical in the whole book where Lawrence spells out the details of these Near-Eastern treaties. Thankfully there is a chapter conclusion that helpfully summarises the matter (p 93-94).
The conclusion of the matter, according to Lawrence in his final chapter, is that ‘there is no compelling reason to reject the traditional view, that Moses was the “author” of the Pentateuch’ (p 123). He helpfully asserts that ‘nothing in ancient literature resembles the “documentary hypothesis” ’and that ‘simplicity is a sign of truth’; the latter statement cannot be said of JEDP studies (p 124). Some conservative Old Testament scholars may differ with Lawrence’s precise dating in the late Second Millennium, but this subject is not the main thrust of the book. The question remains: ‘Who was the author of the first five books of the Bible?’. The title of this monograph declares that it was Moses and to this conclusion all biblical evangelicals should agree.