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OTHER ARTICLES BELOW have traced the development of the theories of Liberal scholarship as to the authorship of the Pentateuch. Beginning with the triumph of deism in the 1790s and continuing through the age of Hegelian dialecticism and Darwinian evolutionism in the nineteenth century, the verdict has been against Mosaic authorship. The earliest written portions of the literary hodgepodge known as the books of Moses did not antedate the ninth or eighth century b.c In the present century some concessions have been made by various scholars as to possible Mosaicity of certain ancient strands of oral tradition, but so far as the written form is concerned, the tendency has been to make the whole Pentateuch post-exilic. By and large, however, Mosaic authorship has not even been a live option for twentieth-century Liberal scholarship; that battle was fought and won back in the early 1800s, and it was principally the architects of the Documentary Theory who deserved the credit for banishing Moses into the illiterate mists of oral tradition. On the basis of the brief description of the rise of the Documentary Hypothesis given in the two preceding chapters, we are in a position to indicate, at least in cursory fashion, the most obvious weaknesses and fallacies which have vitiated the whole Wellhausian approach from its very inception.
History of the Documentary Theory of the Pentateuch
Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch in the Twentieth Century
Weakness and Fallacies of the Wellhausian Theory
- The Documentary Theory has been characterized by a subtle species of circular reasoning; it tends to posit its conclusion (the Bible is no supernatural revelation) as its underlying premise (there can be no such thing as supernatural revelation). That premise, of course, was an article of faith with all Western intelligentsia back in the eighteenth century Enlightenment (Encyclopedistes in France, die Aufklarung movement in Germany; it was implicit in the prevailing philosophy of deism. Unfortunately, however, it rendered impossible any fair consideration of the evidences presented by the Scripture of supernatural revelation. Furthermore, it made it absolutely obligatory to find rationalistic, humanistic explanations of every miraculous or God-manifesting feature or episode in the text of Scripture. But this attempt to deal objectively with literary data from an antisupernaturalistic bias was foredoomed to failure. It is like the attempt of persons who are color blind to judge the masterpieces of Turner or Gainsborough. The first fallacy, then, was petitio principii (begging the question).
- The Wellhausen theory was allegedly based upon the evidence of the text itself, and yet the evidence of the text is consistently evaded whenever it happens to go counter to the theory. For example, the Documentarians insisted, “The historical books of the Old Testament show no recognition of the existence of P legislation or a written Mosaic code until after the exile.” When in reply to this claim numerous references to the Mosaic law and P provisions were discovered in the historical books, the reply was made, “Oh well, all those references were later insertions made by priestly scribes who reworked these books after the exile.” This means that the same body of evidence which is relied upon to prove the theory is rejected when it conflicts with the theory. Or to put it in another way, whenever the theory is opposed by the very data it is supposed to explain, the troubleshooting team of Redactor and Interpolator, Inc. is called to the rescue. Elusive tactics like these hardly beget justifiable confidence in the soundness of the result.
- The Documentarians assume that Hebrew authors differ from any other writers known in the history of literature in that they alone were incapable of using more than one name for God; more than one style of writing, no matter what the difference in subject matter; or more than one of several possible synonyms for a single idea; or even more than one theme-type or circle of interest. According to these theorists (to use an illustration from English literature), a single author like Milton could not possibly have written merry poems such as L’Allegro, lofty epic poetry such as Paradise Lost, and scintillating prose essays such as Areopagitica. If he had been an ancient Hebrew, at least, he would have been speedily carved up into the ABC multiple-source hypothesis! The whole structure of source division has been erected upon exclusivist assumptions demonstrable for the literature of no other nation or period.
- Subjective bias was shown in the treatment of the Hebrew Scriptures as archaeological evidence. All too frequently the tendency has been to regard any biblical statement as unreliable and suspect, though the very antiquity of the Old Testament (even by the critics’ own dating) should commend it for consideration as an archaeological document. In case of any discrepancy with a pagan document, even one of a later age, the heathen source has been automatically given the preference as a historical witness. Where there happens to be no corroborative evidence at hand from non-Israelite sources or archaeological discoveries of some sort, the biblical statement is not to be trusted unless it happens to fall in with the theory. It makes no difference how many biblical notices, rejected as unhistorical by nineteenth-century pundits, have been confirmed by later archaeological evidence (such as the historicity of Belshazzar, the Hittites, and the Horites), the same attitude of skeptical prejudice toward the Bible has persisted, without any logical justification. (It would be naive to suppose that pagan Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian records—in contrast to the Hebrew Scriptures with their lofty ethical standards—were free from propagandistic Tendenz or party bias.) It is to the credit of W. E Albright that much of his scholarly endeavor was directed toward rehabilitating the reputation of the Old Testament as a reliable record of the past. In numerous books and articles, he showed again and again that the biblical record has been vindicated against its critics by recent archaeological discovery.
- The Wellhausen school started with the pure assumption (which they have hardly bothered to demonstrate) that Israel’s religion was of merely human origin like any other religion, and that it was to be explained as a mere product of evolution. It made no difference to them that no other religion known (apart from offshoots of the Hebrew faith) has ever eventuated in genuine monotheism; the Israelites too must have begun with animism and crude polytheism just like all the other ancient cultures. The overwhelming contrary evidence from Genesis to Malachi that the Israelite religion was monotheistic from start to finish has been evaded in the interests of a preconceived dogma—that there can be no such thing as a supernaturally revealed religion. Therefore all the straightforward accounts in Genesis and the rest of the Torah relating the experiences of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses have been subjected to a cynical re-analysis intended to show that a monotheistic veneer has been applied to those old polytheistic worthies by so-called Deuteronomists or the late priestly school.
- Whenever by ingenious manipulation of the text a “discrepancy” can be made out by interpreting a passage out of context, no reconciling explanation is to be accepted, but the supposed discrepancy must be exploited to “prove” diversity of sources. (Cf. Pfeiffer’s imagined discrepancy [IOT, p. 328] between the “two accounts” of the slaying of Sisera. Judges 5:25–27 is alleged to represent Jael as having slain him with her hammer and tent peg while he was drinking milk; Judg. 4:21 says she did it while he was asleep. Actually, 5:25–27 does not state that he was drinking at the moment of impact; but it would be useless to point this out to Pfeiffer, for he has already divided up the “discrepant accounts” between J and E.)
- Although other ancient Semitic literatures show multiplied instances of repetition and duplication by the same author in their narrative technique, Hebrew literature alone cannot show any such repetitions or duplications without betraying diverse authorship. It is instructive to study the sectarian literature from the Qumran caves and see how long the Israelites continued to employ repetition for purposes of emphasis. For example, compare Plate I and Plate IV of the Manual of Disciplines6 where the requirements for entering the monastic community are set forth in such a way as to invite the attention of the Documentarian source divider. The same would be true for Ugaritic epics such as Keret and Homer’s Iliad and the Odyssey. Compare the extensive use of repetition in the chancery style of Daniel who wrote as a lawyer or civil servant who employed the style of precise repetition found in statutory law today.
- With highly questionable self-confidence, the Wellhausen school has assumed that modern European critics, who have no other ancient Hebrew literature with which to compare (for the biblical period, at least), can with scientific reliability fix the date of composition of each document. They also assume that they can freely amend the text by substituting more common words for the rare or unusual words preserved in the MT but which they do not understand or do not expect in the given context. As foreigners living in an entirely different age and culture, they have felt themselves competent to discard or reshuffle phrases or even entire verses whenever their Occidental concepts of consistency or style have been offended.
- They have also assumed that scholars living more than 3,400 years after the event can (largely on the basis of philosophical theories) more reliably reconstruct the way things really happened than could the ancient authors themselves (who were removed from the events in question by no more than 600 or 1000 years, even by the critics’ own dating).
To sum up, it is very doubtful whether the Wellhausen hypothesis is entitled to the status of scientific respectability. There is so much of special pleading, circular reasoning, questionable deductions from unsubstantiated premises, that it is absolutely certain that its methodology would never stand up in a court of law. Scarcely any of the laws of evidence respected in legal proceedings are honored by the architects of this Documentary Theory. Any attorney who attempted to interpret a will or statute or deed of conveyance in the bizarre and irresponsible fashion of the Source Critics of the Pentateuch would find his case thrown out of court without delay. Compare for example this statement by Judge William Dixon of Pasadena, California, relative to a proposed constitution for a new church merger in the United Church of Christ: “It is elementary that in the interpretation of a written contract all of the writing must be read together and every part interpreted with reference to the whole, so that each provision therein will be effective for its general purpose.” Surely this principle has a relevance even for the non-legal portions of the works of Moses. Had it been followed in Pentateuchal analysis, the JEDP hypothesis would have been an impossibility.
Positive Evidence of Mosaic Authorship
When all the data of the Pentateuchal text have been carefully considered, and all the evidence, both internal and external, has been fairly weighed, the impression is all but irresistible that Mosaic authorship is the one theory which best accords with the surviving historical data. For the purposes of a convenient survey, and without elaborate demonstration or illustration at this point, we shall list the various areas of evidence which point to this conclusion.
THE WITNESS OF THE SCRIPTURES TO MOSES’ AUTHORSHIP
- The Pentateuch itself testifies to Moses as having composed it. We find these explicit statements (ASV): Exodus 17:14: “And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book … that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek.” Exodus 24:4: “And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah”; and verse 7: “And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people.” Exodus 34:27: “And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.” Numbers 33:1–2: “These are the journeys of the children of Israel.… And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys.” Deuteronomy 31:9: “And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests”; and verse 11: “When all Israel is come to appear before Jehovah thy God … thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.” It is interesting to observe that Wellhausen, in his Prolegomena, nowhere (according to the index to the English edition, at least) discusses any of these five explicit references in the Torah to Moses’ writing of these portions of the Pentateuch. Where passages are found that conflict with Wellhausen’s theory, he simply passes them over in silence. Apparently he never even entertained the possibility of Moses contributing a single word to the Pentateuch; certainly not the Ten Commandments nor Moses’ fashioning of the brazen serpent in Num. 21:9 (Prolegomena, p. 439), which for Wellhausen proved Moses was idolatrous.
- In other Old Testament books we find such references as these: Joshua 1:8: “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon … that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein.” (In v. 7 this was described as “the law which Moses my servant commanded thee.”) Joshua 8:31: “As it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of unhewn stones—” (i.e., Ex. 20:25). In verse 32: “And he [Joshua] wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses.” First Kings 2:3: “And keep the charge of Jehovah … according to that which is written in the law of Moses” (David being the speaker here). Second Kings 14:6 (referring to King Amaziah): “But the children of the murderers he put not to death; according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, as Jehovah commanded” (quoting Deut. 24:16). (The date of this episode was ca. 796 B.C.) Second Kings 21:8 (referring to the reign of Manasseh, 696–642 B.C.): “If only they will observe to do … according to all the law that my servant Moses commanded them.” Other references are found in the Old Testament record from the time of Josiah onward (when, of course, Deuteronomy had been published, and possibly also JE, according to the Wellhausen hypothesis). The authorship of the Torah is always attributed personally to Moses. Such references are: Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Dan. 9:11–13; Mal. 4:4.
- The New Testament also strongly affirms Mosaic authorship. Apart from the numerous references to the Torah as “Moses,” we select the following quotations which emphasize the personality of the historical Moses. Matthew 19:8: “Moses for your hardness of heart suffered you to put away your wives.” John 5:46–47: “For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?” John 7:19: “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you doeth the law?” Acts 3:22: “Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you” (quoting from Deut. 18:15). Romans 10:5: “For Moses writeth that the man that doeth the righteousness” (quoting Lev. 18:5). It is hard to see how anyone can embrace the Documentary Theory (that Moses wrote not a word of the law) without attributing either falsehood or error to Christ and the apostles. Mark 12:26 states that God uttered to the historical Moses the words of Ex. 3:6.
OTHER INTERNAL EVIDENCE
But now we pass from the direct statements of Scripture itself concerning Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch to another line of evidence which is more indirect, but nonetheless almost as compelling. The most objective method of dating the composition of any written document is to examine its internal evidences. That is to say, by taking note of the incidental or casual allusions to contemporary historical events, to current issues, geographical or climatic conditions, to the prevalent flora and fauna, and to indications of eyewitness participation, it is possible to come to a very accurate estimate of the place and date of composition. Judging therefore by the internal evidences of the Pentateuchal text, we are driven to the conclusion that the author must have been originally a resident of Egypt (not of Palestine), a contemporary eyewitness of the Exodus and the wilderness wandering, and possessed of a very high degree of education, learning, and literary skill. No one else conforms to these qualifications as closely as Moses the son of Amram. We submit a brief summary of these evidences.
- Eyewitness details appear in the account of the Exodus which suggest an actual participant in the events, but which would be altogether beyond the ken of an author who lived centuries after the event. For example, in Ex. 15:27 the narrator recalls the exact number of fountains (twelve) and of palm trees (seventy) at Elim. Numbers 11:7–8 gives the appearance and taste of the manna with which Jehovah fed Israel (no doubt for the benefit of coming generations in conquered Canaan, where Moses knew no manna would fall).
- The author of Genesis and Exodus shows a thorough acquaintance with Egypt, as one would expect of a participant in the Exodus. He is familiar with Egyptian names, such as Ōn as the native name (hieroglyphic ʾwnw) for Heliopolis; Pithom for Pt-;tm (“The House of Atum”—a god); Potiphera’, for P;-dʾ-p;-R˓ (“The Bowman of Ra’ ” or the “sun-god”); Asenath for Ns-Nʾt (“The Favorite of Neith”—a goddess), Joseph’s wife; Moses for Mw-s (“Water-son”), or possibly a short form of Thutmose of Ahmose (since Egyptian subjects were often named after the reigning Pharaoh); the special title of honor bestowed on Joseph by Pharaoh: Zaphenathpa˓nēaḥ (Gen. 41:45), which probably represents the Egyptian df nt p ˓nḫ is the way it would have been in hieroglyphic Egyptian—“Nourisher of the land of the Living One [Pharaoh].” (This explanation by Sayce and Yahuda, similar to that of Lieblein, accounts perfectly for all the Hebrew consonants: ṢPNTP˓NḤ. Furthermore, names compounded with this same ḏf; are known to have been common in Joseph’s period. The interpretation favored by Mallon, Steindorff, Barton, and Albright: ḏd p; nṯrʾ w∙f ˓nḫ—“The god speaks, he lives”—involves major deviations from the Hebrew consonants and does not make as good sense in the context of the situation.)
He also uses a greater percentage of Egyptian words than elsewhere in the Old Testament. For examples: the expression ʾabrēk (Gen 41:43—translated, “bow the knee”) is apparently the Egyptian ʾb rk (“O heart, bow down!”), although many other explanations have been offered for this; weights and measures, such as zeret (“a span”) from drt—“hand”; ʾephah (tenth of a homer) from ʾpt; hɩ̄n (about five quarts volume) from hnw; gōmeʾ (“papyrus”) from ḳmyt; qemaḥ (“flour”) from ḳmḥw (a type of bread); šēš (“fine linen”) from sšr (“linen”); yeōr (“Nile, river”) from ʾtrw—“river” (which becomes eioor in Coptic).
One of the most ambitious modern works discussing the Egyptian background of the portion of the Pentateuch which deals with Joseph and Moses in Egypt is Abraham S. Yahuda’s Language of the Pentateuch in Its Relationship to Egyptian. Not confining himself to mere loanwords, Yahuda discusses a large number of idioms and turns of speech which are characteristically Egyptian in origin, even though translated into Hebrew. Thus in the strange expression of Gen. 41:40 which the KJV renders, “According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled,” but which literally says, “According to thy utterance all my people shall kiss” (nāšaq, Hebrew)—Yahuda finds a clarification in the Egyptian use of sn (“to kiss”) which is used before “food” to indicate eating the food. The titles of the court officials, the polite language used in the interviews with Pharaoh, and the like, are all shown to be true to Egyptian usage.
Another writer, Garrow Duncan, devotes several pages to a demonstration of the minute accuracy and authentic local coloring of the author of the Torah. He remarks, “Thus we cannot but admit that the writer of these two narratives [i.e., of Joseph and of the Exodus] … was thoroughly well acquainted with the Egyptian language, customs, belief, court life, etiquette and officialdom; and not only so, but the readers must have been just as familiar with things Egyptian.”
Some eminent Egyptologists of Wellhausian persuasion have appealed to Egyptian evidence to prove a late date for the Hebrew narrative. For example, Georg Steindorff (Aufenthalt Israels, p. 15) has argued that a more contemporary author would surely have known and mentioned the names of these various Egyptian kings. But Yahuda furnishes a plausible explanation for the fact that the Hebrew records do not mention the names of the Pharaohs until the time of Solomon and thereafter. While the Israelites resided in Egypt, they simply followed the usual custom of New Kingdom Egyptian official language by referring to the king simply as pr-˓; (“Pharaoh,—Great House”) while refraining from mentioning his personal name in proximity to that particular title (however often they may have mentioned it in connection with other royal titles). Hence instead of being an evidence of lateness, this conformity to Eighteenth Dynasty Egyptian usage turns out to be strong evidence of an authentic Mosaic date of composition.
On the other hand, it should be noted that in the later period, for example in the tenth century, the name of the king of Egypt is given in the Old Testament without the title of Pharaoh preceding it—still conforming to Egyptian usage. An example is the reference to Shishak (Sheshonq, in Egyptian) in 1 Kings 11:40. Not until the late seventh century and early sixth century does the Hebrew historiographer depart from correct Egyptian usage enough to append to the title Pharaoh the actual name of the king (e.g., Pharaoh-Neco in 2 Kings 23:29 and Pharaoh-Hophra in Jer. 44:30).
- The author of the Torah shows a consistently foreign or extra-Palestinian viewpoint so far as Canaan is concerned. The seasons and the weather referred to in the narrative are Egyptian, not Palestinian. (Cf. the reference to crop sequence in connection with the plague of hail, Ex. 9:31–32. Delitzsch states that this information pinpointed the incident as occurring late in January or early in February.)
The flora and fauna referred to are Egyptian or Sinaitic, never distinctively Palestinian. Thus, the shittim or acacia tree is indigenous to Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, but not to Palestine (except on the lower shore of the Dead Sea); it is a distinctive desert tree. Out of this material the wood for the tabernacle furniture was to be made. The skins to be used as the outer covering of the tabernacle were to be skins (Ex. 25:5; 36:19), the taḥash being a dugong which is found in seas adjacent to Egypt and Sinai but foreign to Palestine. The lists of clean and unclean birds and animals contained in Lev. 11 and Deut. 14 include some which are peculiar to Sinai (such as the pygarg or dishōn of Deut. 14:5 and the ostrich of Lev. 11:16), but none of which are peculiar to Canaan. The wild ox or antelope (teʾō, Hebrew) of Deut. 14:5 is a native of Upper Egypt and Arabia but not of Palestine. (Yet it has been reported in Syria, according to The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, p. 30a.) In this connection the coney, hyrax, or rock badger (shāphān, Hebrew) of Lev. 11:5 has often been cited as peculiar to Sinai and Arabia. This is, however, disputed by H. B. Tristram, who claims to have found them as far north as North Galilee and Phoenicia. In all these specific instances, of course, it should be remembered that the distribution of animals tends to become restricted in the course of time. Thus, lions were fairly abundant in the Near East in ancient times, but are in the present day restricted to India and Africa (although a few lions have been spotted in the Palestinian Ghor). Bears were also dangerous predators in O.T. times (cf. 1 Sam. 17:34; 2 Kings 2:24; Amos 5:19).
The Documentary Hypothesis—Defending Moses’ Authorship of the Pentateuch
Both Egypt and Sinai are very familiar to the author from the standpoint of geography. The narrative of the Exodus route is filled with authentic local references which have been verified by modern archaeology. But the geography of Palestine is comparatively unknown except by patriarchal tradition (in the Genesis narratives). Even in Gen. 13, when the author wishes to convey to his audience some notion of the lush verdure of the Jordan plain, he compares it to “the land of Egypt as thou goest unto Zoar” (v. 10), referring to a locality near Mendes, midway between Busiris and Tanis in the Delta. (Cf. Budge, Egyptian Dictionary, 2:1058, which refers to it as a fortress in the Delta, a district near Mendes.) Obviously the audience for which Genesis was written knew what it was like in Egypt but were unfamiliar with the appearance of the Jordan Valley. Similar is the reference to Shalem (ASV marg.), “a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan” (Gen. 33:18)—a type of reference impossible to explain if the writer had lived in a post-exilic generation, after Israel had already been settled in the land of Canaan for nine centuries or more with Shechem as one of the most prominent cities north of Jerusalem. After Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, what Hebrew reader would have to be told that Shechem was in the land of Canaan? In general, the author of the Pentateuch seems to regard Palestine as a new, comparatively unknown territory into which the Israelites are going to enter at a future time.
THE MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP OF THE PENTATEUCH
- The atmosphere of Exodus through Numbers is unmistakably that of the desert, not of an agricultural people settled in their ancestral possessions for nearly a thousand years (as Wellhausen supposed). The tremendous emphasis upon a tabernacle or large tent as the place of worship is altogether out of place for authors living centuries after the cedar-timbered temple of Solomon had been built (a temple which differed from the appointments of the tabernacle in several important details). But it would be altogether relevant for a nomadic people constantly on the march through the desert. The materials of which it was to be made are most carefully specified over a large number of chapters. Its central location in the midst of the encampment and the exact location of the twelve tribes on the four sides of it (Num. 2:1–31) have a perfect appropriateness to the generation of Moses, but none whatsoever to any later generation. The references to the desert crop up everywhere. For example, the scapegoat is to be sent off into the desert (Lev. 16:10). Sanitary instructions are given for desert life (Deut. 23:12–13). The exact order of march is specified in Num. 10:14–20 in a way that would have significance only while the entire population of Israel was concentrated into one large group and was in a process of migration.
- Particularly in the book of Genesis there are references to archaic customs which are demonstrable for the second millennium B.C., but which did not continue during the first millennium. Notably in the legal documents discovered at Nuzi and dating from the fifteenth century, we discover references to the custom of begetting legitimate children by handmaidens (as Abraham did with Hagar); to the validity of an oral, deathbed will (like Isaac’s to Jacob); to the importance of the possession of the family teraphim for the claiming of inheritance rights (which gives point to Rachel’s theft of Laban’s teraphim in Gen. 31). From other sources comes confirmation of the historical accuracy of the transaction in Gen. 23 whereby Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah.
- There are significant archaisms in language, as well. For example, the word for the pronoun “she” is frequently spelled HWʾ instead of the regular HYʾ. There are only three occurences of this spelling h-w , for ḥ-y-ʾ in the rest of the O.T. (1 Kings 17:15, Isa. 30:31, Job 31:11). We also meet with N˓R instead of the feminine form N˓RH for “young girl.” Occasionally (i.e., twice in Genesis) HLZH (hallāzeh) appears for the demonstrative “that” instead of hallaz, the form used in Judges, Samuel, and thereafter. The verb for “laugh” is spelled ṢḤQ (in Genesis and Exodus) instead of ŚḤQ; “lamb” is KŚB instead of the later KBŚ (kebeś). By some scholars it has been argued that there is too little difference between the Hebrew of the Torah and that of eighth-century authors like Amos, to allow for the passage of over five centuries. Two factors must be borne in mind here.
First, the possible changes in pronunciation and form are greatly obscured by the unvoweled, consonantal alphabet in which the Old Testament was preserved until Masoretic times. After all even Old English would not look so very different from Elizabethan English if both were written in consonants only! Second, the central importance of the Torah in the education of post-Mosaic youth must have exerted as decisive an influence upon the Hebrew they used as the Qur’an has had upon thirteen centuries of literary Arabic (which even today is still the same language essentially as that of Muhammed in a.d. 620). In both cases the ancient document was taken as a unique divine revelation and an all-comprehensive constitution upon which the entire culture was built. Such a situation makes for extreme conservatism in the development of the literary language.
As for the objection that the Mosiac period was too early for the use of the definite article ha- (since other Semitic languages did not develop a word for “the” as early as that), this is easily explained from Israel’s exposure to Egyptian influence. It was precisely during the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt that the definite article (p;, t;, n;) began to make its appearance even in literary texts, although sporadic occurrences appear even in Twelfth Dynasty texts such as the Eloquent Peasant. Undoubtedly this reflected the customary usage in colloquial Egyptian during the age of Moses, and the Hebrews could hardly fail to have felt the need for a similar article in their own language. It is therefore not surprising to find full-fledged use of the article in the prose sections of the Torah (although the poetic passages used it very sparingly indeed—as was true of later Hebrew poetry).
All these features (1–6) are easily reconcilable with Mosaic authorship; they are virtually impossible to harmonize with the Wellhausen theory of stage-by-stage composition from the ninth to the fifth centuries. The laws of evidence would seem to demand a rejection of the Documentary Hypothesis as clearly inadequate to account for the actual data of the Pentateuchal text.
- There is a most remarkable unity of arrangement which underlies the entire Pentateuch and links it together into a progressive whole, even though successive stages in revelation (during Moses’ writing career of four decades) result in a certain amount of overlapping and restatement. By implication even the Documentarians are forced to concede this unity by resorting to a hypothetical redactor to explain the orderliness and harmony of arrangement evident in the final form of the Torah as it has come down to us.
From all that has been recorded concerning Moses himself, it is evident that he had every qualification to be the author of just such a work as the Pentateuch. He had the education and background for authorship, since he received from his ancestors that wealth of oral law which originated from the Mesopotamian cultures back in the time of Abraham (hence the remarkable resemblances to the eighteenth century Code of Hammurabi), and from his tutors in the Egyptian court he received training in those branches of learning in which Eighteenth Dynasty Egypt excelled the rest of the ancient world. From his forebears he would naturally have received an accurate oral tradition of the career of the patriarchs and those revelations which God had vouchsafed to them. He would have a personal knowledge of the climate, agriculture, and geography of Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula such as the author of the Pentateuch so patently displays. He would have had every incentive to compose this monumental work, since he was the founding father of the commonwealth of Israel, and it was upon these moral and religious foundations that his nation was to fulfill its destiny. He certainly had plenty of time and leisure during the slow, tiresome forty years of wandering in the Sinai desert to compose a book several times the size of the Torah. Moreover, he had just come from a culture in which the art of writing was so widely cultivated that even the toilet articles employed by the women in the household contained an appropriate inscription. Writing in both hieroglyphic and hieratic characters was so widely prevalent in the Egypt of Moses’ day that it seems absolutely incredible that he would have committed none of his records to writing (as even the twentieth-century critics contend), when he had the grandest and most significant matters to record which are to be found in all of human literature. At a time when even the unschooled Semitic slaves employed at the Egyptian turquoise mines in Serabit el-Khadim were incising their records on the walls of their tunnels, it is quite unreasonable to suppose that a leader of Moses’ background and education was too illiterate to commit a single word to writing. Thus it turns out that the modern theories which reject Mosaic authorship put more of a strain upon human credulity than can reasonably be borne.
 Gleason Archer Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, 3rd. ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 113–126.