Copyright © By Dr. Adel Elsaie, Book Title: "History of Truth, The Truth about God and Religions"
5.1 The Old Testament
Dr. Adel Elsaie
It important to
start with that the Bible admits its own corruption by the scribes who wrote
down and copied the different chapters of the Old Testament. First Moses warns
the people of
"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.”
The Holy Bible, Easy to Read Version makes it even clearer:
“You keep saying, ‘We have the Lord’s teachings! So we are wise. But that is not true. Why? Because the scribes have lied with their pens.”
This is an obvious statement from Prophet Jeremiah that the scribes corrupted the Bible. They claim that the Bible says that they are wise, but they are liars.
term Bible is derived through Latin from the Greek biblia, or “books,” the
diminutive form of
The order and the number of books differ between the Jewish Bible and the Protestant and Roman Catholic versions of the Bible. The Jewish Bible is the Hebrew Scriptures. It consists of 39 books originally written in Hebrew, except for a few sections in Aramaic. The Bible of Judaism consists of three distinct parts:
1. The Torah, or Law, also called the books of Moses.
2. The Nebiim, (plural for Nebi, “Prophet”) or Prophets, divided into the earlier and latter Prophets.
3. The Ketubim, (plural for Ketub, “book”) or Writings, including Psalms, wisdom books, and other diverse literature.
The Christian Old Testament organizes the books according to their type of literature:
1. The Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, corresponding to the Torah.
2. The historical books.
3. The poetical or wisdom books.
4. The books of the Prophets.
The Protestant and Roman Catholic versions of the Old Testament place the books in the same sequence, but the Protestant version includes only those books found in the Bible of Judaism. Christians and Jews have been reading the Bible for over two thousand years. In the present time Christians go to Sunday classes after a full week of work to attain spiritual doses. They hear good lessons about the importance of moral values and the message of Jesus or Isaiah to be righteous and to love thy neighbor and all the uplifting speeches according to the Bible. After all, the Bible is the heart of Christianity and Judaism. Biblical scholars are preaching and studying it in churches, synagogues, and seminaries. People read it, study it, appreciate it, write about it, scrutinize it, and argue about it. And no one knows who actually wrote it. No one knows when or where it was written.
However, the layman accepts the hypothesis that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses, half of the Psalms by David, the Gospel of Mark by Mark, and the Revelation by John and so on. After all in Exodus, , God told Moses “Write this for a memorial in a book.” John in his Gospel, -47, makes Jesus say the following ”For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote for me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words.” Paul, in his letter to the Romans, 10:5, referring to Leviticus, affirms “Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law.” John wrote in the Revelation, 1:9, “. For the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” So, everything was fine, and everyone believes that the whole Bible is the authentic Word of God.
In the third century AD the Christian
scholar Origen responded to objections to the authenticity of the Torah by
suggesting that contradictions are only apparent contradictions. They can be
explained after very complex interpretation that the Bible did not include. For
example Moses described his own death and where he was buried because God had told
Moses this would happen. He also knew that
In the fifteenth century other scholars
came to the same conclusions as those of Ibn Yashush.
In the sixteenth century, van Maes, a Flemish
Catholic scholar, suggested that later writers expanded the original text of
Moses. They achieved that by making the
text more current and more understandable. Later the Catholic Church classified
this book as a Prohibited Book. In the seventeenth century, Isaac de la
Peyrere, a French Calvinist, published a book that categorically said that
Moses was not the author of the Pentateuch. He referred to the first verse of
Deuteronomy, when “Moses spake to all
Joseph, the son
of Jacob, brought his parents and brothers to
1. The first group,
included the tribes of Reuben, Simon, Levi, and Judah, settled in the south.
Later, they formed the
second group, included Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin,
Dan, Asher, Gad, Nephtali, and the descendants of Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh,
settled in the north. Later, they formed the
After the first generation of the
Israelites died, many of the people of
After Solomon’s death, his son king
Rehoboam did not have the skills to keep the country united. The tribal feud expanded,
and the unified
The choice of priests by Jeroboam for his
new kingdom was crucial to the authorship of the Old Testament. In order to
strengthen his hold on the people, he changed the way they worship God. He
built two temples for worshipping golden calves, one at Dan and the other at
The existence of the
The two Jewish kingdoms existed side by side for two hundred years. They had common language and history, but they had many tribal hostilities and feuds. The priests of the Levi tribe became extremely bitter and frustrated from the tribes of the north who revived pagan religions. With this picture of the early years of the biblical world, the writers of the Old Testament can be identified.
During the eighteenth century three independent investigators discovered that the Old Testament has two or three versions of the same story. They are: the German minister H. B. Witter in 1711, the French Physician Jean Astruc in 1753, and the German professor J. H. Eichhorn in 1780. Some of these versions have different details to the extent that careful studying of the Bible should raise serious challenges to the issue of the divine inspiration. It was Eichhorn who discovered that the two versions of many of the Biblical stories were written by J and E who referred to the deity as Yahweh and Elohim respectively. This step paved the way to further criticism of the Pentateuch. Even in the English translation of the Bible, it is easy to observe that biblical stories often appear with variations of details in two different places in the Bible. In one version, the deity was referred to as “God”. In the second version God was referred to as “Lord God.”
1. There are two stories of the creation of the world.
2. There are two stories of the flood.
3. There are two stories of the covenant between God and Abraham.
4. There are two stories of the naming of Abraham’s son Isaac.
5. There are two stories of Abraham’s claiming to a foreign king that his wife Sarah was his sister.
are two stories of Jacob making a journey to
are two stories of a revelation to Jacob at
are two stories of God’s changing Jacob’s name to
9. There are two stories of Jacob’s giving birthright.
The assumption that the two earliest biblical writers, J and E, developed the whole Pentateuch lasted only eighteen years. Biblical researchers used the same technique of separating the Pentateuch into J and E to perform further separation of E. They discovered that there was a third source that appeared interested in the priests. This source was called P for the priestly interest. P had a dignified and distinguished belief of God. For example P did not believe that anyone could actually see God. When Moses beseeched God to see Him, God responded: “You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). However, P believed that humans could have spiritual experiences as a sign to His existence, which is not to be confused with God Himself. While J and E consider any Levite could be a priest, P recognized only the descendants of Aaron as priests over those of Moses. J and E were hostile to P.
The criterion of having three writers of the whole Pentateuch did not apply to the fifth book, Deuteronomy. Again there were major differences in the interest and style of the three writers and that of the Deuteronomy. The differences were obvious even in the translation. There are different expressions and favorite sentences. Biblical stories were different from those of the first four books. Deuteronomy appeared to be an independent fourth source, called D. There are blatant contradictions of details between D and the others. For example, D has different Ten Commandments! D was hostile to P since both fought for the priestly advantages.
At the end of the nineteenth century, Julius Wellhausen established the new critical model of discerning the four sources (JEPD) of the Pentateuch. Up to the present time, this theory goes by his name. It constitutes a solid foundation that any further work should be developed upon it. This study draws the ultimate conclusion of suggesting a new position instead of the prevailing one of divine revelation to Moses. This criticism downgraded the historical authenticity of the Biblical traditions. This critical analysis has extended beyond the five books of Moses and has touched every book in the Old and New Testament. There is hardly a biblical scholar in the world actively working on the problem that would claim that the Pentateuch was written only by Moses - or by one single person. No serious biblical researcher can ignore it, and no other explanation of the evidences has opposed it.