Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?

Moses wrote Genesis from conversations he had with God, so the author is technically God. The story is of a spiritual Eden where Adam existed (and then Eve) in eternity past before creation. The story makes zero sense if you look at it in respect to physical and natural law, Eden is not in the world and not accessible to humans (guarded from re-entry). Then Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out so that they would not have eternal life. There are strong similarities between Eden in Genesis and Heaven in Revelation. They were immortal before they entered the world through sin. The bible presents that God gives us a way back to eternal life through Jesus. Jews are descendants of Adam and are God’s chosen people, but all humans gained access to eternal life once Jesus was crucified.

That’s my quick snapshot…there is only incoherence when you impose natural law on Eden, or on Heaven or hell for that matter. Natural law clearly cannot be applied in Spirit driven conversations, though I notice that we often try.

That’s a naive view not supported by the text.

That’s one I’ve never heard before. You certainly didn’t get that from Genesis.

That doesn’t fit the story either. Recall that they were expelled quickly lest Adam reach out his hand, eat from the tree of life, and become immortal. (Unaccountably he had forgotten to do so earlier.) That shows that he hadn’t been immortal previously.

Only Jews?

There’s only incoherence if you actually read the story. You can save it by making up a different story, I suppose.


OK, rough crowd…it is widely accepted that Moses wrote Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. With biblical references at Exodus 24, Numbers 33 and Deuteronomy 31. In the New Testament, Jesus makes the statement, “Moses therefore gave you circumcision…” in John 7:22 confirming that Moses wrote Genesis because circumcision is first mentioned in Genesis 17 (see also Acts 15). Jewish and Christian biblical scholars agree that Moses wrote the Pentatuch, the first five books of the bible while in the wilderness in Sinai.

The spiritual truth of the bible comes by believing…If you choose to deny that the bible is the Word of God, you will always find fault. If you choose to believe the bible is the infallable Word of God, you will find truth…which does not always align with fact as humans tend to believe. Scientists deal with fact not truth, so there is often disconnect.

The purpose of the geneaology of the bible is to connect Jesus to Adam through David…Mary and Joseph both descended from David, Jesus had legal right through Joseph and blood right through Mary to be King of the Jews to fulfill prophecy. In Revelation 22:16 Jesus says that He is “the root and offspring of David” with the purpose of declaring that He was in the beginning with God. Also that He was the Jewish messiah that was prophesied from the Old Testament. Some argue that Adam may have also been Jesus, both Adam and Jesus were direct Sons of God. And yes, all Jewish people descended from Abraham, who was in covenant with God and descended from Adam.

The trendsetter thing was a joke…but feel free…maybe Unapologetic Scripture Apologist…nah, bad acronym…acronym is key…

Not exactly. There a few different camps on this. I think Sailhammer has it right (help us out here @jongarvey?).

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Sure. But it’s much more widely accepted that he didn’t. There are of course some conservative Christian and Jewish scholars who think he did, and I suppose those are the only ones you listen to. But they’re by no means in the majority.

That’s a problem right there. You believe because you believe. Not a great reason. I don’t think your distinction between fact and truth is useful.


He probably got that from the book of Ezekiel.

As per the bible, every nation is a descendant of Adam.

Including Deuteronomy 34:5-6 where it says that

Wrote that himself, did he?


Obviously not, seems reasonable that someone finished his work seeing as it is the last chapter.

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It’s even more widely accepted that Moses didn’t write the last part of Deuteronomy.


Therein lies the complexity of the whole critical OT studies project of the last 200 years, and its influence on the Evangelical mindset. That influence remains, but the confident “liberal” consensus has gone forever.

However, it’s probably fair to say that the last few years (for good reasons) has seen a lot of Evangelical scholars rehabilitating Moses both as an historical figure and as a source behind the Pentateuch. I won’t discuss all the reasons, but one important one is along the lines that if Moses wasn’t behind the Torah, somebody of equal genius and influence was, at around the same time. That is, if not William Shakespeare, then someone else of the same name.

Sailhamer is an example of a good body of scholars who see the best explanation of the Pentateuch as an original set of works by Moses, which was re-worked somewhere in the context of the Exile. His key argument, with which I concur, is that even in “Torah 1.0” there was a strong theme of national failure and Messianic hope, and this element was clarified (not invented) in v2.0 as the major prophets began to speak about a New Covenant coming through Messiah, around the time of the Fall of Jerusalem.

The different camps to which Joshua alludes would be those who take that line, arch traditionalists who attribute it all to Moses, those trained in the old critical paradigm who won’t talk much about Mosaic authorship, the “liberal Evangelicals” who prefer the old jigsaw-puzzle sources and treat Moses as a myth - and now, of course, the post-moderns who have soaked up deconstructionism from French philosophers and don’t actually care about the historical issue, but only how the text fits into intersectional theory.

To the last it often seems Moses is more important as a white male patriarch than as a flesh-and blood person. That way of doing history is, however, internally unstable in my view: at some stage we will have to return to studying history in terms of the real past, and not as fodder for fashionable ideology.

My own interpretive rule is that I will not be judged by God for my grasp on whatever human philosophy is the zeitgeist during my short life, but on my trust in what Jesus says about things.


If you do a search on Michael Heiser’s website (drmsh.com) for Pentateuch you’ll find a good series of articles on the subject of its authorship. There are in fact good reasons right from the Bible text to doubt simple Mosaic authorship, and comparatively poor reasons to accept it.

Edit: the search function on Heiser’s site isn’t great, so here are links to the relevant blog posts.


Amen to that…1 Peter 1:24-25:

24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all [a]the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the [b]word of the Lord endures forever.”

A google search of “Who wrote the Pentateuch?” comes up clearly as Moses…and google and wikipedia can’t possibly be wrong, right? (that’s a joke, easy…)

I work out of a Nelson study bible, edited by about 50 doctors of theology. I am in bible college, and this is what is taught. So, I am not just guessing, I am relaying what the current teaching is.

…the current teaching in your bible college. Don’t confuse that with the views of scholars in general. This is like claiming Answers in Genesis as representative of science.


Fair enough, my point is that I am immersed in Christian scholarly pursuit. You arguing principles of theology is like me arguing that DNA is irrelevant. I would argue that “scholars in general” believe that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. Both Jewish and Christian scholars. Some may disagree, but the “general consensus” is that Moses wrote the books.

I ran restaurants for many years, it is common that 5% of the people make 95% of the complaints. So, just because someone objects loudly, it doesn’t make that the norm.

On what basis do you argue for this point?

Well, if we actually look at the Wikipedia article for the Torah:

The Talmud holds that the Torah was written by Moses, with the exception of the last eight verses of Deuteronomy, describing his death and burial, being written by Joshua.[30] Alternatively, Rashi quotes from the Talmud that, “God spoke them, and Moses wrote them with tears”.[31][32] The Mishnah includes the divine origin of the Torah as an essential tenet of Judaism.[33] According to Jewish tradition, the Torah was recompiled by Ezra during Second Temple period.[34][35]

By contrast, the modern scholarly consensus rejects Mosaic authorship, and affirms that the Torah has multiple authors and that its composition took place over centuries.[[6]](Torah - Wikipedia) The precise process by which the Torah was composed, the number of authors involved, and the date of each author remain hotly contested, however. Throughout most of the 20th century, there was a scholarly consensus surrounding the documentary hypothesis, which posits four independent sources, which were later compiled together by a redactor: J, the Jahwist source, E, the Elohist source, P, the Priestly source, and D, the Deuteronomist source. The earliest of these sources, J, would have been composed in the late 7th or the 6th century BCE, with the latest source, P, being composed around the 5th century BCE.

The consensus around the documentary hypothesis collapsed in the last decades of the 20th century.[36] The groundwork was laid with the investigation of the origins of the written sources in oral compositions, implying that the creators of J and E were collectors and editors and not authors and historians.[37] Rolf Rendtorff, building on this insight, argued that the basis of the Pentateuch lay in short, independent narratives, gradually formed into larger units and brought together in two editorial phases, the first Deuteronomic, the second Priestly.[38] By contrast, John Van Seters advocates a supplementary hypothesis, which posits that the Torah was derived from a series of direct additions to an existing corpus of work.[39] A “neo-documentarian” hypothesis, which responds to the criticism of the original hypothesis and updates the methodology used to determine which text comes from which sources, has been advocated by biblical historian Joel S. Baden, among others.[40][41] Such a hypothesis continues to have adherents in Israel and North America.[41]

The majority of scholars today continue to recognize Deuteronomy as a source, with its origin in the law-code produced at the court of Josiah as described by De Wette, subsequently given a frame during the exile (the speeches and descriptions at the front and back of the code) to identify it as the words of Moses.[42] Most scholars also agree that some form of Priestly source existed, although its extent, especially its end-point, is uncertain.[43] The remainder is called collectively non-Priestly, a grouping which includes both pre-Priestly and post-Priestly material.[44]

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Am I not understanding it? Seems there was a modern consensus that was proved wrong? I’ll just use scripture:

Exodus 24:3-4
3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Leviticus 26:46 - 46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws which the Lord made between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

Numbers 33:2 - Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord. And these are their journeys according to their starting points:

Deuteronomy 31:9 So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel.

John 1:17 - For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 5:41-47 (Jesus speaking) - 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. 43 I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. 44 How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

John 7:21-22 - 21 Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath.
(This establishes Moses as author of Gensis because the covenant of circumcision is established in Genesis 17)
Genesis 17:10 - 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised

Ultimately, authorship is less important than content, and it is “the general consensus” that God is the author through the Holy Spirit working in men. There are many books that have unknown or contested authors. Hebrews most notably as it is the best response to Jews regarding Jesus. I will end with this:

2 Timothy 3:16 - All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

3 Peter 3:15-17 - 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

Also that…