Pentateuch, in Greek Greek: pentateuchos, is the name of the first five books of the Old Testament.
Though it is not certain whether the word originally was an adjective, qualifying the omitted noun Greek: biblos, or a substantive, its literal meaning “five cases” appears to refer to the sheaths or boxes in which the separate five rolls or volumes were kept. At what precise time the first part of the Bible was divided into five books is a question not yet finally settled. Some regard the division as antedating the Septuagint translation; others attribute it to the authors of this translation; St. Jerome was of opinion (Ep. 52, ad Paulin., 8; P.L., XXII, 545) that St. Paul alluded to such a division into five books in I Cor., xiv, 19; at any rate, Philo and Josephus are familiar with the division now in question (“De Abrahamo”, I; “Cont. Apion.”, I, 8). However ancient may be the custom of dividing the initial portion of the Old Testament into five parts, the early Jews had no name indicating the partition. They called this part of the Bible hàttôrah (the law), or tôrah (law), or s?phér hàttôrah (book of the law), from the nature of its contents (Jos., viii, 34; i, 8; I Esdr., x, 3; II Esdr., viii, 2, 3, 14; x, 35, 37; II Par., xxv, 4); they named it tôràth Moshéh (law of Moses), s?phér Moshéh (book of Moses), s?phér tôràth Moshéh (book of the law of Moses) on account of its authorship (Jos., viii, 31, 32; xxiii, 6; III Kings, ii, 3; IV Kings, xiv, 16; xxiii, 25; Dan., ix, 11; I Esdr., iii, 2; vi, 18; II Esdr., viii, 1; xiii, 1; etc.); finally, the Divine origin of the Mosaic Law was implied in the names: law of Yahweh (I Esdr., vii, 10; etc.), law of God (II Esdr., viii, 18; etc.), book of the law of Yahweh (II Par., xvii, 9; etc.), book of the law of God (Jos., xxiv, 26; etc.). The word law in the foregoing expressions has been rendered by Greek: nomos, with or without the article, in the Septuagint version. The New Testament refers to the Mosaic law in various ways: the law (Matt., v, 17; Rom., ii, 12; etc.); the law of Moses (Luke, ii, 22; xxiv, 44; Acts, xxviii, 23); the book of Moses (Mark, xii, 26); or simply, Moses (Luke, xxiv, 27; Acts, xv, 21). Even the Talmud and the older Rabbinic writings call the first part of the Bible the book of the law, while in Aramaic it is simply termed law (cf. Buxtorf, “Lexicon Chaldaicum Talmudicum Rabbinicum”, 791, 983; Levy, “Chaldaisches Worterbuch”, 268, 16; Aicher, “Das Alte Testament in der Mischna”, Freiburg, 1906, p. 16).
The Greek name pentateuchos, implying a division of the law into five parts, occurs for the first time about A.D. 150-75 in the letter to Flora by the Valentinian Ptolemy (cf. St. Epiphan., “Haer.”, XXXIII, iv; P.G., XLI, 560). An earlier occurrence of the name was supposed to exist in a passage of Hippolytus where the Psalter is called Greek: kai auto allon pentateuchon (cf. edition of de Lagarde, Leipzig and London, 1858, p. 193); but the passage has been found to belong to Epiphanius (cf. “Hippolytus” in “Die griechischen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte”, Leipzig, 1897, t. I, 143). The name is used again by Origen (Comment. in Ev. Jo., t. II; P.G., XIV, 192; cf. P.G., XIII, 444), St. Athanasius (Ep. ad Marcellin., 5; P.G., XXVII, 12), and several times by St. Epiphanius (De mensur. et ponderib., 4, 6; P.G., XLIII, 244). In Latin, Tertullian uses the masculine form Pentateuchus (Adv. Marcion., I, 10; P.L., II, 257), while St. Isidore of Seville prefers the neuter Pentateuchum (Etym., VI, ii, 1, 2; P.L., LXXXII, 230). The analogous forms Octateuch, Heptateuch, and Hexateuch have been used to refer to the first eight, seven, and six books of the Bible respectively. The Rabbinic writers adopted the expression “the five-fifths of the law” or simply “the five-fifths” to denote the five books of the Pentateuch.
Both the Palestinian and the Alexandrian Jews had distinct names for each of the five books of the Pentateuch. In Palestine, the opening words of the several books served as their titles; hence we have the names: berèshïth, we’?lleh shemôth or simply shemôth, wàyyíqra, wàyedhàbb?r, and ?lleh hàddebƒÅrïm or simply debƒÅrïm. Though these were the ordinary Hebrew titles of the successive Pentateuchal books, certain Rabbinic writers denote the last three according to their contents; they called the third book tôràth kohƒÉnïm, or law of priests; the fourth, homésh hàppïqqàdhïm, or book of census; the fifth, mishn?h thôrah, or repetition of the law. The Alexandrian Jews derived their Greek names of the five books from the contents of either the whole or the beginning of each division. Thus the first book is called Greek: Genesis kosmou or simply Genesis; the second, Eksodos Aiguptou or Eksodos; the third, Leveitikon or Levitikon; the fourth, `Arithmoi; and the fifth, Deuteronomion. These names passed from the Septuagint into the Latin Vulgate, and from this into most of the translations of the Vulgate. `Arithmoi however was replaced by the Latin equivalent Numeri, while the other names retained their form.
The contents of the Pentateuch are partly of an historical, partly of a legal character. They give us the history of the Chosen People from the creation of the world to the death of Moses, and acquaint us too with the civil and religious legislation of the Israelites during the life of their great lawgiver. Genesis may be considered as the introduction to the other four books; it contains the early history down to the preparation of Israel’s exit from Egypt. Deuteronomy, consisting mainly of discourses, is practically a summary repetition of the Mosaic legislation, and concludes also the history of the people under the leadership of Moses. The three intervening books consider the wanderings of Israel in the desert and the successive legal enactments. Each of these three great divisions has its own special introduction (Gen., I, 1-ii, 3; Ex., i, 1-i, 7; Deut., i, 1-5); and since the subject matter distinguishes Leviticus from Exodus and Numbers, not to mention the literary terminations of the third and fourth books (Lev., xxvii, 34; Num., xxvi, 13), the present form of the Pentateuch exhibits both a literary unity and a division into five minor parts.
The Book of Genesis prepares the reader for the Pentateuchal legislation; it tells us how God chose a particular family to keep His Revelation, and how he trained the Chosen People to fulfill its mission. From the nature of its contents the book consists of two rather unequal parts; cc. i-xi present the features of a general history, while cc. xii-1 contain the particular history of the Chosen People. By a literary device, each of these parts is subdivided into five sections differing in length. The sections are introduced by the phrase ‘?lléh thôledhôth (these are the generations) or its variant all, zéh s?phér tôledhôth (this is the book of the generations). “Generations”, however, is only the etymological meaning of the Hebrew tôledhôth; in its context the formula can hardly signify a mere genealogical table, for it is neither preceded nor followed by such tables. As early Oriental history usually begins with genealogical records, and consists to a large extent of such records, one naturally interprets the above introductory formula and its variant as meaning, “this is the history” or “this is the book of the history.” History in these phrases is not to be understood as a narrative resting on folklore, as Fr. von Hummelauer believes (“Exegetisches zur Inspirationsfrage, Biblische Studien”, Freiburg, 1904, IX, 4, pp. 26-32); but as a record based on genealogies. Moreover, the introductory formula often refers back to some principal feature of the preceding section, thus forming a transition and connection between the successive parts. Gen., v, 1, e.g., refers back to Gen., ii, 7 sqq.; vi, 9 to v, 29 sqq. and vi, 8; x, 1 to ix, 18, 19; etc. Finally, the sacred writer deals very briefly with the non-chosen families or tribes, and he always considers them before the chosen branch of the family. He treats of Cain before he speaks of Seth; similarly, Chain and Japhet precede Sem; the rest of Sem‘s posterity precedes Abraham; Ismael precedes Isaac; Esau precedes Jacob.
Bearing in mind these general outlines of the contents and the literary structure of Genesis, we shall easily understand the following analytical table.
Introduction, Gen., i, 1-ii, 3, consists of the Hexaëmeron; it teaches the power and goodness of God as manifested in the creation of the world, and also the dependence of creatures on the dominion of the Creator.
(I) General History, ii, 4-xi, 26.—Man did not acknowledge his dependence on God. Hence, leaving the disobedient to their own devices, God chose one special family or one individual as the depositary of His Revelation.
(a) History of Heaven and Earth, ii, 4-iv, 26.—Here we have the story of the fall of our first parents, ii, 5-iii, 24; of the fratricide of Cain, iv, 1-16; the posterity of Cain and its elimination, iv, 17-26.
(b) History of Adam, v, 1-vi, 8.—The writer enumerates the Sethites, another line of Adam‘s descendants, v, 1-32, but shows that they too became so corrupt that only one among them found favor before God, vi, 1-8.
(c) History of Noe, vi, 9-ix, 29.—Neither the Deluge which destroyed the whole human race excepting Noe’s family, vi, 11-viii, 19, nor God‘s covenant with Noe and his sons, viii, 20-ix, 17, brought about the amendment of the human family, and only one of Noe’s sons was chosen as the bearer of the Divine blessings, ix, 18-29.
(d) History of the Sons of Noe, x, 1-xi, 9.—The posterity of the non-chosen sons, x, 1-32, brought a new punishment on the human race by its pride, xi, 1-9.
(2) Special History, xi, 27-1, 26.—Here the inspired writer describes the special Providence watching over Abraham and his offspring which developed in Egypt into a large nation. At the same time, he eliminates the sons of Abraham who were not children of God‘s promise. This teaches the Israelites that carnal descent from Abraham does not suffice to make them true sons of Abraham.
(b) History of Ismael, xxv, 12-18.—This section eliminates the tribes springing from Ismael.
What has been said shows a uniform plan in the structure of Genesis, which some scholars prefer to call “schematism”. (i) The whole book is divided into ten sections. (ii) Each section is introduced by the same formula. (iii) The sections are arranged according to a definite plan, the history of the lateral genealogical branches always preceding that of the corresponding part of the main line. (iv) Within the sections, the introductory formula or the title is usually followed by a brief repetition of some prominent feature of the preceding section, a fact duly noted and explained by as early a writer as Rhabanus Maurus (Comment. in Gen., II, xii; P.L., CVII, 531-2), but misconstrued by our recent critics into an argument for a diversity of sources. (v) The history of each Patriarch tells of the development of his family during his lifetime, while the account of his life varies between a bare notice consisting of a few words or lines, and a more lengthy description. (vi) When the life of the Patriarch is given more in detail, the account usually ends in an almost uniform way, indicating the length of his life and his burial with his ancestors (cf. ix, 29; xi, 32; xxv, 7; xxxv, 28; xlvii, 28). Such a definite plan of the book shows that it was written with a definite end in view and according to preconceived arrangement. The critics attribute this to the final “redactor” of the Pentateuch who adopted, according to their views, the genealogical framework and the “schematism” from the Priestly Code. The value of these views will be discussed later; for the present, it suffices to know that a striking unity prevails throughout the Book of Genesis (cf. Kurtz, “Die Einheit der Genesis“, Berlin, 1846; Delattre, “Plan de la Genese” in “Revue des quest. hist.”, July, 1876; XX, pp. 5-43; Delattre, “Le plan de la Genese et les generations du ciel et de la terre” in “La science cath.”, October 15, 1891, V, pp. 978-89; de Broglie, “Etude sur les genealogies bibliques” in “Le congres scientif. internat. des catholiques de 1888”, Paris, 1889, I, pp. 94-101; Julian, “Etude critique sur la composition de la Genese”, Paris, 1888, pp. 232-50).
After the death of Joseph, Israel had grown into a people, and its history deals no longer with mere genealogies, but with the people’s national and religious development. The various laws are given and promulgated as occasion required them; hence they are intimately connected with the history of the people, and the Pentateuchal books in which they are recorded are rightly numbered among the historical books of Scripture. Only the third book of the Pentateuch exhibits rather the features of a legal code. The Book of Exodus consists of a brief introduction and three main parts:
(I) First Part, i, 8-xiii, 16.—It treats of the events preceding and preparing the exit of Israel from Egypt.
(b) xv, 22-xvii, 16.—The route of Israel is passing through Sur, Mara, Elim, Sin, Raphidim. At Mara the bitter waters are made sweet; in the Desert of Sin God sent quails and manna to the children of Israel; at Raphidim God gave them water from the rock, and defeated Amalec through the prayers of Moses.
(c) xviii, 1-27.—Jethro visits his kinsmen, and at his suggestion Moses institutes the judges of the people.
(3) Third Part, xix, 1-xl, 38.—Conclusion of the Sinaitic covenant and its renewal. Here Exodus assumes more the character of a legal code.
(b) xx, 22-xxiv, 8.—Moses promulgates certain laws together with promises for their observance, and confirms the covenant between God and the people with a sacrifice. The portion xx, 1-xxiii, 33, is also called the Book of the Covenant.
(d) xxxii, 1-xxxiv, 35.—The people adore the golden calf; at this sight, Moses breaks the divinely given tables of the law, punishes the idolaters, obtains pardon from God for the survivors, and, renewing the covenant, receives other tables of the law.
(e) xxxv, 1-xl, 38.—The tabernacle with its appurtenances is prepared, the priests are anointed, and the cloud of the Lord covers the tabernacle, thus showing that He had made the people His own.
Called by Rabbinic writers “Law of the Priests” or “Law of the Sacrifices”, contains nearly a complete collection of laws concerning the Levitical ministry. They are not codified in any logical order, but still we may discern certain groups of regulations touching the same subject. The Book of Exodus shows what God had done and was doing for His people; the Book of Leviticus prescribes what the people must do for God, and how they must render themselves worthy of His constant presence.
(1) First Part, i, 1-x, 20.—Duties of Israel towards God living in their midst.
(a) i, 1-vi, 7.—The different kinds of sacrifices are enumerated, and their rites are described.
(b) vi, 8-vii, 36.—The duties and rights of the priests, the official offerers of the sacrifices, are stated.
(c) viii, 1-x, 20.—The first priests are consecrated and introduced into their office.
(2) Second Part, xi, 1-xxvii, 34.—Legal cleanness demanded by the Divine presence.
(a) xi, 1-xx, 27.—The entire people must be legally clean; the various ways in which cleanness must be kept; interior cleanness must be added to external cleanness.
(b) xxi, 1-xxii, 33.—Priests must excel in both internal and external cleanness; hence they have to keep special regulations.
(c) xxiii, 1-xxvii, 34.—The other laws, and the promises and threats made for the observance or the violation of the laws, belong to both priests and people.
at times called “In the Desert” by certain Rabbinic writers because it covers practically the whole time of Israel’s wanderings in the desert. Their story was begun in Exodus, but interrupted by the Sinaitic legislation; Numbers takes up the account from the first month of the second year, and brings it down to the eleventh month of the fortieth year. But the period of 38 years is briefly treated, only its beginning and end being touched upon; for this span of time was occupied by the generation of Israelites that had been condemned by God.
(1) First Part, i, 1-xiv, 45.—Summary of the happenings before the rejection of the rebellious generation, especially during the first two months of the second year. The writer inverts the chronological order of these two months, in order not to interrupt the account of the people’s wanderings by a description of the census, of the arrangement of the tribes, of the duties of the various families of the Levites, all of which occurrences or ordinances belong to the second month. Thus he first states what remained unchanged throughout the desert life of the people, and then reverts to the account of the wanderings from the first month of the second year.
(a) i, 1-vi, 27.—The census is taken, the tribes are arranged in their proper order, the duties of the Levites are defined, the regulations concerning cleanliness in the camp are promulgated.
(b) vii, 1-ix, 14.—Occurrences belonging to the first month: offerings of the princes at the dedication of the tabernacle, consecration of the Levites and duration of their ministry, celebration of the second pasch.
(c) ix, 15-xiv, 45.—Signals for breaking up the camp; the people leave Sinai on the twenty-second day of the second month, and journey towards Cades in the desert Pharan; they murmur against Moses on account of fatigue, want of fleshmeat, etc.; deceived by faithless spies, they refuse to enter into the Promised Land, and the whole living generation is rejected by God.
(2) Second Part, xv, 1-xix, 22.—Events pertaining to the rejected generation.
(a) xv, 1-41.—Certain laws concerning sacrifices; Sabbath-breaking is punished with death; the law of fringes on the garments.
(b) xvi, 1-xvii, 13.—The schism of Core and his adherents; their punishment; the priesthood is confirmed to Aaron by the blooming rod which is kept for a remembrance in the tabernacle.
(c) xviii, 1-xix, 22.—The charges of the priests and Levites, and their portion; the law of the sacrifice of the red cow, and the water of expiation.
(3) Third Part, xx, 1-xxxvi, 13.—History of the journey from the first to the eleventh month of the fortieth year.
(a) xx, 1-xxi, 20.—Death of Mary, sister of Moses; God again gives the murmuring people water from the rock, but refuses Moses and Aaron entrance to the Promised Land on account of their doubt; Aaron dies while the people go around the Idumean mountains; the malcontents are punished with fiery serpents.
(c) xxvi, 1-xxvii, 23.—A new census is taken with a view of dividing the land; the law of inheritance; Josue is appointed to succeed Moses.
(d) xxviii, 1-xxx, 17.—Certain laws concerning sacrifices, vows, and feasts are repeated and completed.
(f) xxxiii, 1-49.—List of encampments of people of Israel during their wandering in the desert.
(g) xxxiii, 50-xxxvi, 13.—Command to destroy the Chanaanites; limits of the Promised Land and names of the men who are to divide it; Levitical cities, and cities of refuge; laws concerning murder and manslaughter; ordinance concerning the marriage of heiresses.
is a partial repetition and explanation of the foregoing legislation together with an urgent exhortation to be faithful to it. The main body of the book consists of three discourses delivered by Moses to the people in the eleventh month of the fortieth year; but the discourses are preceded by a short introduction, and they are followed by several appendices.
Introduction, i, 1-5.—Brief indication of the subject matter, the time, and the place of the following discourses.
(I) First Discourse, i, 6-iv, 40.—God‘s benefits are enumerated, and the people are exhorted to keep the law.
(a) i, 29.—The main occurrences during the time of the wandering in the desert are recalled as showing the goodness and justice of God.
(b) iv, 1-40.—Hence the covenant with God must be kept. By way of parenthesis, the sacred writer adds here (i) the appointment of three cities of refuge across the Jordan, iv, 41-43; (ii) an historical. preamble, preparing us for the second discourse. iv, 44-49.
(2) Second Discourse, v, 1-xxvi, 19.—This forms almost the bulk of Deuteronomy. It rehearses the whole economy of the covenant in two sections, the one general, the other particular.
(a) The General Repetition, v, 1 –xi, 32.—Repetition of the decalogue, and reasons for the promulgation of the law through Moses; explanation of the first commandment, and prohibition of all intercourse with the gentiles; reminder of the Divine favors and punishments; promise of victory over the Chanaanites; God‘s blessing on the observance of the Law, His curse on the transgressors.
(b) Special Laws, xii, 1-xxvi, 19.—(i) Duties towards God: He is to be duly worshipped, never to be abandoned; distinction of clean and unclean meats; tithes and first-fruits; the three principal solemnities of the year. (ii) Duties towards God‘s representatives: towards the judges, the future kings, the priests, and Prophets. (iii) Duties towards the neighbor: as to life, external possessions, marriage, and various other particulars.
(3) Third Discourse, xxvii, 1-xxx, 20.—A renewed exhortation to keep the law, based on diverse reasons.
(a) xxvii, 1-26.—Command to inscribe the law on stones after crossing the Jordan, and to promulgate the blessings and curses connected with the observance or non-observance of the law.
(b) xxviii, 1-68.—A more minute statement of the good or evil depending on the observance or violation of the law.
(4) Historical Appendix, xxxi, 1-xxxiv, 12.
(a) xxxi, 1-27.—Moses appoints Josue as his successor, orders him to read the law to the people every seven years, and to place a copy of the same in the ark.
(b) xxxi, 28-xxxii, 47.—Moses calls an assembly of the Ancients and recites his canticle.
(c) xxxii, 48-52.—Moses views the Promised Land from a distance.
(d) xxxiii, 1-29.—He blesses the tribes of Israel.
(e) xxxiv, 1-12.—His death, burial, and special eulogium.
The contents of the Pentateuch furnish the basis for the history, the law, the worship, and the life of the Chosen People of God. Hence the authorship of the work, the time and manner of its origin, and its historicity are of paramount importance. These are not merely literary problems, but questions belonging to the fields of history of religion and theology. The Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is inseparably connected with the question, whether and in what sense Moses was the author or intermediary of the Old-Testament legislation, and the bearer of pre-Mosaic tradition. According to the trend of both Old and New Testament, and according to Jewish and Christian theology, the work of the great lawgiver Moses is the origin of the history of Israel and the basis of its development down to the time of Jesus Christ; but modern criticism sees in all this only the result, or the precipitate, of a purely natural historical development. The question of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch leads us, therefore, to the alternative, revelation or historical evolution; it touches the historical and theological foundation of both the Jewish and the Christian dispensation. We shall consider the subject first in the light of Scripture; secondly, in the light of Jewish and Christian tradition; thirdly, in the light of internal evidence, furnished by the Pentateuch; finally, in the light of ecclesiastical decisions.
A. Testimony of Sacred Scripture
It will be found convenient to divide the Biblical evidence for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch into three parts:
(1) Testimony of the Pentateuch; (2) Testimony of the other Old-Testament books; (3) Testimony of the New Testament.
(1) Witness of the Pentateuch.—The Pentateuch in its present form does not present itself as a complete literary production of Moses. It contains an account of Moses‘ death, it tells the story of his life in the third person and in an indirect form, and the last four books do not exhibit the literary form of memoirs of the great lawgiver; besides, the expression “God said to Moses” shows only the Divine origin of the Mosaic laws, but does not prove that Moses himself codified in the Pentateuch the various laws promulgated by him. On the other hand, the Pentateuch ascribes to Moses the literary authorship of at least four sections, partly historical, partly legal, partly poetical.
(a) After Israel’s victory over the Amalecites near Raphidim, the Lord said to Moses (Ex., xvii, 14): “Write this for a memorial in a book, and deliver it to the ears of Josue.” This order is naturally restricted to Amalec‘s defeat, a benefit which God wished to keep alive in the memory of the people (Deut., xxv, 17-19). The present pointing of the Hebrew text reads “in the book”, but the Septuagint version omits the definite article. Even if we suppose that the Massoretic pointing gives the original text, we can hardly prove that the book referred to is the Pentateuch, though this is highly probable (cf. von Hummelauer, “Exodus et Leviticus“, Paris, 1897, p. 182; Idem, “Deuteronomium”, Paris, 1901, p. 152; Kley, “Die Pentateuchfrage”, Münster, 1903, p. 217).
(b) Again, Ex., xxiv, 4: “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.” The context does not allow us to understand these words in an indefinite manner, but as referring to the words of the Lord immediately preceding or to the so-called “Book of the Covenant”, Ex., xx-xxiii.
(c) Ex., xxxiv, 27: “And the Lord said to Moses: Write thee these words by which I have made a covenant both with thee and with Israel.” The next verse adds: “and he wrote upon the tables the ten words of the covenant.” Ex., xxxiv, 1, 4, shows how Moses had prepared the tables, and Ex., xxxiv, 10-26, gives us the contents of the ten words.
(d) Num., xxxiii, 1-2: “These are the mansions of the children of Israel, who went out of Egypt by their troops under the conduct of Moses and Aaron, which Moses wrote down according to the places of their encamping.” Here we are informed that Moses wrote the list of the people’s encampments in the desert; but where is this list to be found? Most probably it is given in Num., xxxiii, 3-49, or the immediate context of the passage telling of Moses‘ literary activity; there are, however, scholars who understand this latter passage as referring to the history of Israel’s departure from Egypt written in the order of the people’s encampments, so that it would be our present Book of Exodus. But this view is hardly probable; for its assumption that Num., xxxiii, 3-49, is a summary of Exodus cannot be upheld, as the chapter of Numbers mentions several encampments not occurring in Exodus.
Besides these four passages there are certain indications in Deuteronomy which point to the literary activity of Moses. Deut., i, 5: “And Moses began to expound the law and to say”; even if the “law” in this text refer to the whole of the Pentateuchal legislation, which is not very probable, it shows only that Moses promulgated the whole law, but not that he necessarily wrote it. Practically the entire Book of Deuteronomy claims to be a special legislation promulgated by Moses in the land of Moab: iv, 1-40; 44-9; v, 1 sqq.; xii, 1 sqq. But there is a suggestion of writing too: xvii, 18-9, enjoins that the future kings are to receive a copy of this law from the priests in order to read and observe it; xxvii, 1-8, commands that on the west side of the Jordan “all the words of this law” be written on stones set up in mount Hebal; xxviii, 58, speaks of “all the words of this law, that are written in this volume” after enumerating the blessings and curses which will come upon the observers and violators of the law respectively, and which are again referred to as written in a book in xxix, 20, 21, 27, and xxxii, 46, 47; now, the law repeatedly referred to as written in a book must be at least the Deuteronomic legislation. Moreover, xxxi, 9-13 states, “and Moses wrote this law”, and xxxi, 26, adds, “take this book, and put it in the side of the ark… that it may be there for a testimony against thee”; to explain these texts as fiction or as anachronisms is hardly compatible with the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. Finally, xxxi, 19, commands Moses to write the canticle contained in Deut., xxxii, 1-43.
The Scriptural scholar will not complain that there are so few express indications in the Pentateuch of Moses‘ literary activity; he will rather be surprised at their number. As far as explicit testimony for its own, at least partial, authorship is concerned, the Pentateuch compares rather favorably with many other books of the Old Testament.
(2) Witness of other Old-Testament Books. (a) Josue.—The narrative of the Book of Josue presupposes not merely the facts and essential ordinances contained in the Pentateuch, but also the law given by Moses and written in the book of the law of Moses: Jos., i, 7-8; viii, 31; xxii, 5; xxiii, 6. Josue himself “wrote all these things in the volume of the law of the Lord” (xxiv, 26). Prof. Hoberg maintains that this “volume of the law of the Lord” is the Pentateuch (“Über den Ursprung des Pentateuchs” in “Biblische Zeitschrift”, 1906, IV, 340); Mangenot believes that it refers at least to Deuteronomy (Dict. de la Bible, V, 66). At any rate, Josue and his contemporaries were acquainted with a written Mosaic legislation, which was divinely revealed.
(b) Judges; I, II Kings.—In the Book of Judges and the first two Books of Kings there is no explicit reference to Moses and the book of the law, but a number of incidents and statements presuppose the existence of the Pentateuchal legislation and institutions. Thus Judges, xv, 8-10, recalls Israel’s delivery from Egypt and its conquest of the Promised Land; Judges, xi, 12-28, states incidents recorded in Num., xx, 14; 13, 24; xxii, 2; Judges, xiii, 4, states a practice founded on the law of the Nazarites in Num., vi, 1-21; Judges, xviii, 31, speaks of the tabernacle existing in the times when there was no king in Israel; Judges, xx, 26-8, mentions the ark of the covenant, the various kinds of sacrifices, and the Aaronic priesthood. The Pentateuchal history and laws are similarly presupposed in I Kings, x, 18; xv, 1-10; x, 25; xxi, 1-6; 6 sqq.; xxiii, 6-9; II Kings, vi.
(c) III, IV Kings.—The last two Books of Kings repeatedly speak of the law of Moses. To restrict the meaning of this term to Deuteronomy is an arbitrary exegesis (cf. III Kings, ii, 3; x, 31); Amasias showed mercy to the children of the murderers “according to that which is written in the book of the law of Moses” (IV Kings, xiv, 6); the sacred writer records the Divine promise of protecting the Israelites “only if they will observe to do all that I have commanded them according to the law which my servant Moses commanded them” (IV Kings, xxi, 8). In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josias was found the book of the law (IV Kings, xxii, 8, 11), or the book of the covenant (IV Kings, xxiii, 2), according to which he conducted his religious reform (IV Kings, xxiii, 1-24), and which is identified with “the law of Moses” (IV Kings, xxiii, 25). Catholic commentators are not at one whether this law-book was Deuteronomy (von Hummelauer, “Deuteronomium”, Paris, 1901. pp. 40-60, 83-7) or the entire Pentateuch (Clair, “Les livres des Rois”, Paris, 1884, II, p. 557 seq.; Hoberg, “Moses and der Pentateuch”, Freiburg, 1905, p. 17 seq.; “Über den Ursprung des Pentateuchs” in “Biblische Zeitschrift”, 1906, IV, pp. 338-40).
(d) Paralipomenon.—The inspired writer of Paralipomenon refers to the law and the book of Moses much more frequently and clearly. The objectionable names and numbers occurring in these books are mostly due to transcribers. The omission of incidents which would detract from the glory of the Israelite kings or would not edify the reader is not detrimental to the credibility or veracity of the work Otherwise one should have to place among works of fiction a number of biographical or patriotic publications intended for the young or for the common reader. On their part, the modern critics are too eager to discredit the authority of Paralipomena. “After removing the account of Paralipomena”, writes de Wette (Beiträge, I, 135), “the whole Jewish history assumes another form, and the Pentateuchal investigations take another turn; a number of strong proofs, hard to explain away, for the early existence of the Mosaic books have disappeared, the other vestiges of their existence are placed in a different light.” A glance at the contents of Paralipomenon suffices to explain the efforts of de Wette and Wellhausen to disprove the historicity of the books. Not only are the genealogies (I Par., i-ix) and the description of worship traced after the data and laws of the Pentateuch, but the sacred writer expressly points out their conformity with what is written in the law of the Lord (I Par., xvi, 40), in the law of Moses (II Par., xxiii, 18; xxxi, 3), thus identifying the law of the Lord with that written by Moses (cf. II Par., xxv, 4). The reader will find similar indications of the existence and the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch in I Par., xxii, 12 seq.; II Par., xvii, 9; xxxiii, 4; xxxiv, 14; xxv, 12. By an artificial interpretation, indeed, the Books of Paralipomenon may be construed to represent the Pentateuch as a book containing the law promulgated by Moses; but the natural sense of the foregoing passages regards the Pentateuch as a book edited by Moses.
(e) I, II Esdras.—The Books of Esdras and Nehemias, too, taken in their natural and commonly accepted sense, consider the Pentateuch as the book of Moses, not merely as a book containing the law of Moses. This contention is based on the study of the following texts: I Esd., iii, 2 sqq.; vi, 18; vii, 14; II Esd., i, 7 sqq.; viii, 1, 8, 14; ix, 3; x, 34, 36; xiii, 1-3. Graf and his followers expressed the view that the book of Moses referred to in these texts is not the Pentateuch, but only the Priestly Code; but when we keep in mind that the book in question contained the laws of Lev., xxiii, and Deut., vii, 2-4; xv, 2, we perceive at once that the book of Moses cannot be restricted to the Priestly Code. To the witness of the historical books we may add II Mach., ii, 4; vii, 6; Judith, viii, 23; Ecclus., xxiv, 33; xlv, 1-6; xlv, 18, and especially the Preface of Ecclus.
(f) Prophetic Books.—Express reference to the written law of Moses is found only in the later Prophets: Bar., ii, 2, 28; Dan., ix, 11, 13; Mal., iv, 4. Among these, Baruch knows that Moses has been commanded to write the law, and though his expressions run parallel to those of Deut., xxviii, 15, 53, 62-4, his threats contain allusions to those contained in other parts of the Pentateuch. The other Prophets frequently refer to the law of the Lord guarded by the priests (cf. Deut., xxxi, 9), and they put it on the same level with Divine Revelation and the eternal covenant of the Lord. They appeal to God‘s covenant, the sacrificial laws, the calendar of feasts, and other laws of the Pentateuch in such a way as to render it probable that a written legislation formed the basis of their prophetic admonitions (cf. Osee, viii, 12), and that they were acquainted with verbal expressions of the book of the law. Thus in the northern kingdom Amos (iv, 4-5; v, 22 sqq.) and Isaias in the south (i, 11 sqq.) employ expressions which are practically technical words for sacrifice occurring in Lev., i-iii; vii, 12, 16; and Deut., xii, 6.
(3) Witness of the New Testament.—We need not show that Jesus and the Apostles quoted the whole of the Pentateuch as written by Moses. If they attributed to Moses all the passages which they happen to cite, if they ascribe the Pentateuch to Moses whenever there is question of its authorship, even the most exacting critics must admit that they express their conviction that the work was indeed written by Moses. When the Sadducees quote against Jesus the marriage law of Deut., xxv, 5, as written by Moses (Matt., xxii, 24; Mark, xii, 19; Luke, xx, 28), Jesus does not deny the Mosaic authorship, but appeals to Ex., iii, 6, as equally written by Moses (Mark, xii, 26; Matt., xxii, 31; Luke, xx, 37). Again, in the parable of Dives and Lazarus (Luke, xvi, 29), He speaks of “Moses and the prophets”, while on other occasions He speaks of “the law and the prophets” (Luke, xvi, 16), thus showing that in His mind the law, or the Pentateuch, and Moses are identical. The same expressions reappear in the last discourse addressed by Christ to His disciples (Luke, xxiv, 44-6; cf. 27): “which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me”. Finally, in John, v, 45-7, Jesus is more explicit in asserting the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch: “There is one that accuseth you, Moses… for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” Nor can it be maintained that Christ merely accommodated himself to the current beliefs of his contemporaries who considered Moses as the author of the Pentateuch not merely in a moral but also in the literary sense of authorship. Jesus did not need to enter into the critical study of the nature of Mosaic authorship, but He could not expressly endorse the popular belief, if it was erroneous.
The Apostles too felt convinced of, and testified to, the Mosaic authorship. “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith to him: We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write.” St. Peter introduces a quotation from Deut., xviii, 15, with the words: “For Moses said” (Acts, iii, 22). St. James and St. Paul relate that Moses is read in the synagogues on the Sabbath day (Acts, xv, 21; II Cor., iii, 15). The great Apostle speaks in other passages of the law of Moses (Acts, xiii, 33; I Cor., ix, 9); he preaches Jesus according to the law of Moses and the Prophets (Acts, xxviii, 23), and cites passages from the Pentateuch as words written by Moses (Rom., x, 5-8; 19). St. John mentions the canticle of Moses (Apoc., xv, 3).
B. Witness of Tradition
The voice of tradition, both Jewish and Christian, is so unanimous and constant in proclaiming the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch that down to the seventeenth century it did not allow the rise of any serious doubt. The following paragraphs are only a meagre outline of this living tradition.
(1) Jewish Tradition.—It has been seen that the books of the Old Testament, beginning with those of the Pentateuch, present Moses as the author of at least parts of the Pentateuch. The writer of the Books of Kings believes that Moses is the author of Deuteronomy at least. Esdras, Nehemias, Malachias, the author of Paralipomena, and the Greek authors of the Septuagint Version consider Moses as the author of the whole Pentateuch. At the time of Jesus Christ and the Apostles friend and foe take the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch for granted; neither our Lord nor His enemies take exception to this assumption. In the first century of the Christian era, Josephus ascribes to Moses the authorship of the entire Pentateuch, not excepting the account of the law-giver’s death (“Antiq. Jud.”, IV, viii, 3-48; cf. I Prooem., 4; “Contra Apion.”, I, 8). The Alexandrian philosopher Philo is convinced that the entire Pentateuch is the work of Moses, and that the latter wrote a prophetic account of his death under the influence of a special Divine inspiration (“De vita Mosis”, 11. II, III in “Opera”, Geneva, 1613, pp. 511, 538). The Babylonian Talmud (“Baba-Bathra”, II, col. 140; “Makkoth”, fol. IIa; “Menachoth”, fol. 30a; cf. Voguë, “Hist. de la Bible et de l’exegese biblique jusqu à nos jours”, Paris, 1881, p. 21), the Talmud of Jerusalem (Sota, v, 5), the rabbis, and the doctors of Israel (cf. Furst, “Der Kanon des Alten Testaments nach den Überlieferungen im Talmud and Midrasch”, Leipzig, 1868, pp. 7-9) bear testimony to the continuance of this tradition for the first thousand years. Though Isaac ben Jasus in the eleventh century and Abenesra in the twelfth admitted certain post-Mosaic additions in the Pentateuch, still they as well as Maimonides upheld its Mosaic authorship, and did not substantially differ in this point from the teaching of R. Becchai (thirteenth cent.), Joseph Karo, and Abarbanel (fifteenth cent.; cf. Richard Simon, “Critique de la Bibl. des aut. eccles. de E. Dupin”, Paris, 1730, III, pp. 215-20). Only in the seventeenth century, Baruch Spinoza rejected the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, pointing out the possibility that the work might have been written by Esdras (“Tract. theol.—politicus”, c. viii, ed. Tauchnitz, III, p. 125). Among the more recent Jewish writers several have adopted the results of the critics, thus abandoning the tradition of their forefathers.
(2) Christian Tradition.—The Jewish tradition concerning the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch was brought into the Christian Church by Christ Himself and the Apostles. No one will seriously deny the existence and continuance of such a tradition from the patristic period onward; one might indeed be curious about the interval between the time of the Apostles and the beginning of the third century. For this period we may appeal to the “Epistle of Barnabas” (x, 1-12; Funk, “Patres apostol.”, 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1901, I, pp. 66-70; xii, 2-9; ibid., pp. 74-6), to St. Clement of Rome (I Cor., xli, 1; ibid., p. 152), St. Justin (“Apol. I”, 59; P.G., VI, 416; I, 32, 54; ibid., 377, 409; “Dial.”, 29; ibid., 537), to the author of “Cohort. ad Graec.” (9, 28, 30, 33, 34; ibid., 257, 293, 296-7, 361), to St. Theophilus (“Ad Autol.”, III, 23; ibid., 1156; 11, 30; ibid., 1100), to St. Irenaeus (Cont. haer., I, ii, 6; P.G., VII, 715-6), to St. Hippolytus of Rome (“Comment. in Deut.”, xxxi, 9, 31, 35; cf. Achelis, “Arabische Fragmente etc.”, Leipzig, 1897, I, 118; “Philosophumena”, VIII, 8; X, 33; P.G., XVI, 3350, 3448), to Tertullian of Carthage (Adv. Hermog., XIX; P.L., II, 214), to Origen of Alexandria (Contra Cels., III, 5-6; P.G., XI, 928; etc.), to St. Eusthatius of Antioch (De engastrimytha c. Orig., 21; P.G., XVIII, 656); for all these writers, and others might be added, bear witness to the continuance of the Christian tradition that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. A list of the later Fathers who bear witness to the same truth may be found in Mangenot’s article in the “Dict. de la Bible” (V, 74 seq.). Hoberg (Moses and der Pentateuch, 72 seq.) has collected the testimony for the existence of the tradition during the Middle Ages and in more recent times.
But Catholic tradition does not necessarily maintain that Moses wrote every letter of the Pentateuch as it is today, and that the work has come down to us in an absolutely unchanged form. This rigid view of the Mosaic authorship began to develop in the eighteenth century, and practically gained the upper hand in the nineteenth. The arbitrary treatment of Scripture on the part of Protestants, and the succession of the various destructive systems advanced by Biblical criticism, caused this change of front in the Catholic camp. In the sixteenth century Card. Bellarmine, who may be considered as a reliable exponent of Catholic tradition, expressed the opinion that Esdras had collected, readjusted, and corrected the scattered parts of the Pentateuch, and had even added the parts necessary for the completion of the Pentateuchal history (De verbo Dei, II, i; cf. III, iv). The views of Genebrard, Pereira, Bonfrere, a Lapide, Masius, Jansenius, and of other notable Biblicists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries are equally elastic with regard to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. Not that they agree with the contentions of our modern Biblical criticism; but they show that today’s Pentateuchal problems were not wholly unknown to Catholic scholars, and that the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch as determined by the Biblical Commission is no concession forced on the Church by unbelieving Bible students.
C. Voice of Internal Evidence
The possibility of producing a written record at the time of Moses is no longer contested. The art of writing was known long before the time of the great lawgiver, and was extensively practiced both in Egypt and Babylon. As to the Israelites, Flinders Petrie infers from certain Semitic inscriptions found in 1905 on the Sinaitic peninsula, that they kept written accounts of their national history from the time of their captivity under Ramses II. The Tell-el-Amarna tablets show that the language of Babylon was in a way the official language at the time of Moses, known in Western Asia, Palestine, and Egypt; the finds of Taanek have confirmed this fact. But it cannot be inferred from this that the Egyptians and Israelites employed this sacred or official language among themselves and in their religious documents (cf. Benzinger, “Hebräische Archäologie”, 2nd ed., Tübingen, 1907, p. 172 sqq.). It is not merely the possibility of writing at the time of Moses and the question of language that confronts us here; there is the further problem of the kind of written signs used in the Mosaic documents. The hieroglyphic and cuneiform signs were widely employed at that early date; the oldest inscriptions written in alphabetical characters date only from the ninth century B.C. But there can hardly be any doubt as to the higher antiquity of alphabetic writing, and there seems to be nothing to prevent our extending it back to the time of Moses. Finally, the Code of Hammurabi, discovered in Susa in 1901 by the French expedition funded by Mr. and Mrs. Dieulafoy, shows that even in pre-Mosaic times legal enactments were committed to, and preserved in, writing; for the Code antedates Moses some five centuries, and contains about 282 regulations concerning various contingencies in the civic life.
Thus far it has been shown negatively that an historic and legal document claiming to be written at the time of Moses involves no antecedent improbability of its authenticity. But the internal characteristics of the Pentateuch show also positively that the work is at least probably Mosaic. It is true that the Pentateuch contains no express declaration of its entire Mosaic authorship; but even the most exacting of critics will hardly require such testimony. It is practically lacking in all other books, whether sacred or profane. On the other hand, it has already been shown that four distinct passages of the Pentateuch are expressly ascribed to the authorship of Moses. Deut., xxxi, 24-9, is especially to be noted; for it knows that Moses wrote the “words of this law in a volume” and commanded it to be placed in the ark of the covenant as a testimony against the people who have been so rebellious during the lawgiver’s life and will “do wickedly” after his death. Again, a number of legal sections, though not explicitly ascribed to the writing of Moses, are distinctly derived from Moses as the lawgiver. Besides, many of the Pentateuchal laws bear evidence of their origin in the desert; hence they too lay an indirect claim to Mosaic origin. What has been said of a number of Pentateuchal laws is equally true of several historical sections. These contain in the Book of Numbers, for instance, so many names and numbers that they must have been handed down in writing. Unless the critics can bring irrefutable evidence showing that in these sections we have only fiction, they must grant that these historical details were written down in contemporary documents, and not transmitted by mere oral tradition. Moreover, Hommel (Die altisraelitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung, p. 302) has shown that the names in the lists of the Book of Numbers bear the character of the Arabian names of the second millennium before Christ, and can have originated only in the time of Moses, though it must be admitted that the text of certain portions, e.g., Num., xiii, has suffered in its transmission. We need not remind the reader that numerous Pentateuchal laws and data imply the conditions of a nomadic life of Israel. Finally, both the author of the Pentateuch and its first readers must have been more familiar with the topography and the social conditions of Egypt and with the Sinaitic peninsula than with the land of Chanaan. Cf., e.g., Deut., viii, 7-10; xi, 10 sqq. These internal characteristics of the Pentateuch have been developed at greater length by Smith, “The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation”, London, 1868; Vigouroux, “La Bible et les decouvertes modernes”, 6th ed., Paris, 1896, I, 453-80; II, 1-213, 529-47, 586-91; Idem, “Les Livres Saints et la critique rationaliste”, Paris, 1902, III, 28-46, 79-99, 122-6; Heyes, “Bibel and Aegypten”, Münster, 1904, p. 142; Cornely, “Introductio specialis in histor. Vet. Test. libros”, I, Paris, 1887, pp. 57-60; Poole, “Ancient Egypt” in “Contemporary Review”, March, 1879, pp. 757-9.
D. Ecclesiastical Decisions
In accordance with the voice of the triple argument thus far advanced for the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, the Biblical Commission on June 27, 1906, answered a series of questions concerning this subject in the following way:
(1) The arguments accumulated by the critics to impugn the Mosaic authenticity of the sacred books designated by the name Pentateuch are not of such weight as to give us the right, after setting aside numerous passages of both Testaments taken collectively, the continuous consensus of the Jewish people the constant tradition of the Church, and internal indications derived from the text itself, to maintain that these books have not Moses as their author, but are compiled from sources for the greatest part later than the Mosaic age.
(2) The Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch does not necessarily require such a redaction of the whole work as to render it absolutely imperative to maintain that Moses wrote all and everything with his own hand or dictated it to his secretaries; the hypothesis of those can be admitted who believe that he entrusted the composition of the work itself, conceived by him under the influence of Divine inspiration, to others, but in such a way that they were to express faithfully his own thoughts, were to write nothing against his will, were to omit nothing; and that finally the work thus produced should be approved by the same Moses, its principal and inspired author, and published under his name.
(3) It may be granted without prejudice to the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch, that Moses employed sources in the production of his work, i.e., written documents or oral traditions, from which he may have drawn a number of things in accordance with the end he had in view and under the influence of Divine inspiration, and inserted them in his work either literally or according to their sense, in an abbreviated or amplified form.
(4) The substantial Mosaic authenticity and integrity of the Pentateuch remains intact if it be granted that in the long course of centuries the work has suffered several modifications, as: post-Mosaic additions either appended by an inspired author or inserted into the text as glosses and explanations; the translation of certain words and forms out of an antiquated language into the recent form of speech; finally, wrong readings due to the fault of transcribers, which one may investigate and pass sentence on according to the laws of criticism.
The post-Mosaic additions and modifications allowed by the Biblical Commission in the Pentateuch without removing it from the range of substantial integrity and Mosaic authenticity are variously interpreted by Catholic scholars. (I) We should have to understand them in a rather wide sense, if we were to defend the views of von Hummelauer or Vetter. This latter writer admits legal and historical documents based on Mosaic tradition, but written only in the times of the Judges; he places the first redaction of the Pentateuch in the time of the erection of Solomon‘s temple, and its last redaction in the time of Esdras. Vetter died in 1906, the year in which the Biblical Commission issued the above Decree; it is an interesting question, whether and how the scholar would have modified his theory, if time had been granted him to do so. (2) A less liberal interpretation of the Decree is implied in the Pentateuchal hypotheses advanced by Hoberg (“Moses and der Pentateuch; Die Pentateuch Frage” in “Biblische Studien”, X, 4, Freiburg, 1907; “Erklärung der Genesis“, 1908, Freiburg, I—L), Schöpfer (Geschichte des Alten Testamentes, 4th ed., 226 sqq.), Höpfl (Die höhere Bibelkritik, 2nd ed., Paderborn, 1906), Brucker (“L’eglise et la critique”, Paris, 1907, 103 sqq.), and Selbst (Schuster and Holzammer’s “Handbuch zur Biblischen Geschichte”, 7th ed., Freiburg, 1910, II, 94, 96). The last-named writer believes that Moses left a written law-book to which Josue and Samuel added supplementary sections and regulations, while David and Solomon supplied new statutes concerning worship and priesthood, and other kings introduced certain religious reforms, until Esdras promulgated the whole law and made it the basis of Israel’s restoration after the Exile. Our present Pentateuch is, therefore, an Esdrine edition of the work. Dr. Selbst feels convinced that his admission of both textual changes and material additions in the Pentateuch agrees with the law of historical development and with the results of literary criticism. Historical development adapts laws and regulations to the religious, civil, and social conditions of successive ages, while literary criticism discovers in our actual Pentateuch peculiarities of words and phrases which can hardly have been original, and also historical additions or notices, legal modifications, and signs of more recent administration of justice and of later forms of worship. But Dr. Selbst believes that these peculiarities do not offer a sufficient basis for a distinction of different sources in the Pentateuch. (3) A strict interpretation of the words of the Decree is implied in the views of Kaulen (Einleitung, n. 193 sqq.), Kley (“Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte and ihre Systeme”, Münster, 1903), Flunk (Kirchenlexicon, IX, 1782 sqq.), and Mangenot (“Lauthenticité mosaïque du Pentateuque”, Paris, 1907; Idem, “Dict. de la Bible“, V, 50-119). With the exception of those portions that belong to the time after the death of Moses, and of certain accidental changes of the text due to transcribers, the whole of the Pentateuch is the work of Moses who composed the work in one of the ways suggested by the Biblical Commission.
Finally, there is the question as to the theological certainty of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch. (I) Certain Catholic scholars who wrote between 1887 and 1906 expressed their opinion that the thesis in question is not revealed in Scripture nor taught by the Church; that it expresses a truth not contained in Revelation, but a tenet which may be freely contested and discussed. At that time, ecclesiastical authority had issued no pronouncement on the question. (2) Other writers grant that the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is not explicitly revealed, but they consider it as a truth revealed formally implicitly, being derived from the revealed formulae not by a syllogism in the strict sense of the word, but by a simple explanation of the terms. The denial of the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is an error, and the contradictory of the thesis maintaining the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch is considered erronea in fide (cf. Mechineau, “Lorigine mosaique du Pentateuque”, p. 34). (3) A third class of scholars considers the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch neither as a freely debatable tenet, nor as a truth formally implicitly revealed; they believe it has been virtually revealed, or that it is inferred from revealed truth by truly syllogistic deduction. It is, therefore, a theologically certain truth, and its contradictory is a rash (temeraria) or even erroneous proposition (cf. Brucker, “Authenticite des livres de Mose” in “Etudes”, March, 1888, 327; ibid., January, 1897, p. 122-3; Mangenot, Lauthenticite mosaique du Pentateuque”, pp. 267-310).
Whatever effect the ecclesiastical decision concerning the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch may have had, or will have, on the opinion of students of the Pentateuchal question, it cannot be said to have occasioned the conservative attitude of scholars who wrote before the promulgation of the Decree. The following list contains the names of the principal recent defenders of Mosaic authenticity: Hengstenberg, “Die Bücher Moses and Aegypten”, Berlin, 1841; Smith, “The Book of Moses or the Pentateuch in its Authorship, Credibility, and Civilisation”, London, 1868; C. Schöbel, “Demonstration de lauthenticite du Deuteronome”, Paris, 1868; Idem, “Demonstration de lauthenticite mosaïque de l’Exode”, Paris, 1871; Idem, “Demonstration de lauthenticite mosaïque du Levitique et des Nombres”, Paris, 1869; Idem “Demonstration de l’authenticite de la Genese’l, Paris, 1872; Idem, “Le Moise historique et la redaction mosaïque du Pentateuque”, Paris, 1875; Knabenbauer, “Der Pentateuch and die ungläubige Bibelkritik” in “Stimmen aus Maria-Laach“, 1873, IV; Bredenkamp, “Gesetz and Propheten”, Erlangen, 1881; Green, “Moses and the Prophets”, New York, 1883; Idem, “The Hebrew Feasts”, New York, 1885; Idem, “The Pentateuchal Question” in “Hebraica”, 1889-92; Idem, “The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch”, New York, 1895; Idem, “The Unity of the Book of Genesis“, New York, 1895; C. Elliot, “Vindication of the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch”, Cincinnati, 1884; Bissel, “The Pentateuch its Origin and Structure”, New York, 1885; Ubaldi, “Introductio in Sacram Scripturam”, 2nd ed., Rome, 1882, I, 452-509; Cornely, “Introductio specialis in historicos V. T. libros”, Paris, 1887, pp. 19-160; Vos, “Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes”, London, 1886; Böhl, “Zum Gesetz and zum Zeugniss”, Vienna, 1883; Zahn, “Ernste Blicke in den Wahn der modernen Kritik des A. T.”, Gutersloh, 1893; Idem, “Das Deuteronomium”, 1890; Idem, “Israelitische and jüdische Geschichte”, 1895; Rupprecht, “Die Anschauung der kritischen Schule Wellhausens vom Pentateuch”, Leipzig, 1893; Idem, “Das Räthsel des Fünfbuches Mose and seine falsche Lösung”, Gütersloh, 1894; Idem, “Des Räthsels Lösung oder Beiträge zur richtigen Lösung des Pentateuchräthsels”, 1897; Idem, “Die Kritik nach ihrem Recht and Unrecht”, 1897; “Lex Mosaics.; or the Law of Moses and the Higher Criticism”) (by Sayce, Rawlinson, Trench, Lias, Wace, etc.), London, 1894; Card. Meignan, “De l’Eden à Moïse”, Paris, 1895, 1-88; Baxter, “Sanctuary and Sacrifice“, London, 1896; Abbé de Broglie, “Questions bibliques”, Paris, 1897, pp. 89-169; Pelt, “Histoire de l’A. T.”, 3rd ed., Paris, 1901, I, pp. 291-326; Vigouroux, “Les Livres Saints et la critique rationaliste”, Paris, 1902, III, 1-226; IV, 239-53, 405-15; Idem, “Manuel biblique”, 12th ed., Paris, 1906, I, 397-478; Kley, “Die Pentateuchfrage, ihre Geschichte and ihre Systeme”, Münster, 1903; Höpfl, “Die höhere Bibelkritik”, Paderborn, 1902; Thomas, “The Organic Unity of the Pentateuch”, London, 1904; Wiener, “Studies in Biblical Law“, London, 1904; Rouse, “The Old Testament in New Testament Light”, London, 1905; Redpath, “Modern Criticism and the Book of Genesis“, London, 1905; Hoberg, “Moses and der Pentateuch”, Freiburg, 1905; Orr, “The Problem of the Old Testament considered with reference to Recent Criticism”, London, 1906.
E. Opponents of the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch
A detailed account of the opposition to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is neither desirable nor necessary in this article. In itself it would form only a noisome history of human errors; each little system has had its day, and its successors have tried their best to bury it in hushed oblivion. The actual difficulties we have to consider are those advanced by our actual opponents of today; only the fact that the systems of the past show us the fleeting and transitory character of the actual theories now in vogue can induce us to briefly enumerate the successive views upheld by the opponents of the Mosaic authorship.
(1) Abandoned Theories
The views advanced by the Valentinian Ptolemy, the Nazarites, Abenesra, Carlstadt, Isaac Peyrerius, Baruch Spinoza, Jean Leclerc are sporadic phenomena. Not all of them were wholly incompatible with the Mosaic authorship as now understood, and the others have found their answer in their own time.—With the work of John Astruc, published in 1753, began the so-called Hypothesis of Documents which was further developed by Eichhorn and Ilgen. But the works of the suspended priest, Alexander Geddes, published in 1792 and 1800, introduced the Hypothesis of Fragments, which in its day was elaborated and championed by Vater, de Wette (temporarily at least), Berthold, Hartmann, and von Bohlen. This theory was soon confronted by, and had to yield to the Hypothesis of Complements or Interpolations which numbered among its patrons Kelle, Ewald, Stähelin, Bleek, Tuch, de Wette, von Lengerke, and for a brief period also Franz Delitzsch. The theory of interpolations again had hardly found any adherents before Gramberg (1828), Stähelin (1830), and Bleek (1831) returned to the Hypothesis of Documents, proposing it in a somewhat modified form. Subsequently, Ewald, Knobel, Hupfeld, Noldeke, and Schrader advanced each a different explanation of the documentary hypothesis. But all of these are at present only of an historical interest.
(2) Present Hypothesis of Documents
A course of religious development in Israel had been proposed by Reuss in 1830 and 1834, by Vatke in 1835, and by George in the same year. In 1865-66 Graf took up this idea and applied it to the literary criticism of the Hexateuch; for the critics had begun to consider the Book of Josue as belonging to the preceding five books, so that the collection formed a Hexateuch instead of a Pentateuch. The same application was made by Merx in 1869. Thus modified the documentary theory continued in its development until it reached the state described in the translation of the Bible by Kautzsch (3rd ed., with Introduction and Annotations, Tübingen, 1908 sqq.). In itself there is nothing against the assumption of documents written by Moses; but we cannot ascribe with certainty anything of our literary remains to the hands of the Hebrew lawgiver. The beginning of written accounts must be placed towards the end of the time of Judges; only then were fulfilled the conditions which must precede the origin of a literature properly so called, i.e., a general acquaintance with the art of writing and reading, stationary settlement of the people, and national prosperity. What then are the oldest literary remains of the Hebrews? They are the collections of the songs dating from the heroic time of the nation, e.g., the. Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num., xxi,14), the Book of the Just (Jos., x, 12 sqq.), the Book of Songs (III Kings, viii, 53; cf. Budde, “Geschichte der althebr. Literatur”, Leipzig, 1906, 17). The Book of the Covenant (Ex., xx, 24-xxiii, 19) too must have existed before the other sources of the Pentateuch. The oldest historical work is probably the book of the Yahwist, designated by J, and ascribed to the priesthood of Juda, belonging most probably to the ninth century B.C.
Akin to this is the Elohim document, designated by E, and written probably in the northern kingdom (Ephraim) about a century after the production of the Yahweh document. These two sources were combined by a redactor into one work soon after the middle of the sixth century. Next follows the law-book almost entirely embodied in our actual Book of Deuteronomy, discovered in the temple 621 B.C., and containing the precipitate of the prophetic teaching which advocated the abolition of the sacrifices in the so-called high places and the centralization of worship in the temple of Jerusalem. During the Exile originated the Priestly Code, P, based on the so-called law of holiness, Lev., xvii-xxvi, and the program of Ezechiel, xl-xlviii; the substance of P was read before the post-exilic community by Esdras about 444 B.C. (II Esd., viii-x), and was accepted by the multitude. History does not tell us when and how these diverse historical and legal sources were combined into our present Pentateuch; but it is generally assumed that there was an urgent call for a compilation of the tradition and preexilic history of the people. The only indication of time may be found in the fact that the Samaritans accepted the Pentateuch as a sacred book probably in the fourth century B.C. Considering their hatred for the Jews, one must conclude that they would not have taken this step, unless they had felt certain of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch. Hence a considerable time must have intervened between the compilation of the Pentateuch and its acceptance by the Samaritans, so that the work of combining must be placed in the fifth century. It is quite generally agreed that the last redactor of the Pentateuch completed his task with great adroitness. Without altering the text of the older sources, he did all within man’s power to fuse the heterogeneous elements into one apparent (?) whole, with such success that not only the Jews after the fourth century B.C., but also the Christians for many centuries could maintain their conviction that the entire Pentateuch was written by Moses.
(3) Deficiencies of the Critical Hypothesis
As several Pentateuchal critics have endeavored to assign the last redaction of the Pentateuch to more recent dates, its placement in the fifth century may be regarded as rather favorable to conservative views. But it is hard to understand why the patrons of this opinion should not agree in considering Esdras as the last editor. Again, it is quite certain that the last edition of the Pentateuch must have notably preceded its acceptance on the part of the Samaritans as a sacred book; but is it probable that the Samaritans would have accepted the Pentateuch as such in the fourth century B.C., when the national and religious opposition between them and Jews was well developed? Is it not more probable that the mixed nation of Samaria received the Pentateuch through the priest sent to them from Assyria? Cf. IV Kings, xvii, 27. Or again, as this priest instructed the Samaritan population in the law of the god of the country, is it not reasonable to suppose that he taught them the Pentateuchal law which the ten tribes carried with them when they separated from Juda? At any rate, the fact that the Samaritans accepted as sacred only the Pentateuch, but not the Prophets, leads us to infer that the Pentateuch existed among the Jews before a collection of the prophetic writings was made, and that Samaria chose its sacred book before even Juda placed the works of the Prophets on the same level with the work of Moses. But this natural inference finds no favor among the critics; for it implies that the historical and legal traditions codified in the Pentateuch, described the beginning, and not the end, of Israel’s religious development. The view of Israel’s religious development prevalent among the critics implies that the Pentateuch is later than the Prophets, and that the Psalms are later than both. After these general considerations, we shall briefly examine the main principles, the methods, the results, and the arguments of the critical theory.
(a) Principles of the Critics.—Without pretending to review all the principles involved in the theories of the critics, we draw attention to two: the historical development of religion, and the comparative value of internal evidence and tradition.
(i) The theory of the historical evolution of Israelitic religion leads us from Mosaic Yahwehism to the ethical monotheism of the Prophets, from this to the universalist conception of God developed during the Exile, and from this again to the ossified Phariseeism of later days. This religion of the Jews is codified in our actual Pentateuch, but has been fictitiously projected backwards in the historical books into the Mosaic and preprophetic times.
The idea of development is not a purely modern discovery. Meyer (“Der Entwicklungsgedanke bei Aristoteles”, Bonn, 1909) shows that Aristotle was acquainted with it; Gunkel (“Weiterbildung der Religion“, Munich, 1905, 64) maintains that its application to religion is as old as Christianity, and that St. Paul has enunciated this principle; Diestel (“Geschichte des A. T. in der christlichen Kirche”, Jena, 1869, 56 sqq.), Willmann (Geschichte des Idealismus, 2nd ed., II, 23 sqq.), and Schanz (Apologie des Christentums, 3rd ed., II, 4 sqq., 376) find the same application in the writings of the Fathers, though Hoberg (“Die Forschritte der bibl. Wissenschaften”, Freiburg, 1902, 10) grants that the patristic writers often neglect the external forms which influenced the ideas of the Chosen People. The Fathers were not fully acquainted with profane history, and were more concerned about the contents of Revelation than about its historical development. Pesch (“Glaube, Dogmen and geschichtliche Thatsachen” in “Theol. Zeitfragen”, IV, Freiburg, 1908, 183) discovers that St. Thomas, too, admits the principle of development in his “Summa” (II-II, Q. i, a. 9, 10; Q. ii, a. 3; etc.). But the Catholic conception of this principle avoids two extremes: (a) the theory of degeneracy, based on the teaching of the early Lutheran theologians (cf. Giesebrecht, “Die Degradationshypothese and die altl. Geschichte”, Leipzig, 1905; Steude, “Entwicklung and Offenbarung”, Stuttgart, 1905, 18 sqq.); (b) the theory of evolution which dissolves all truth and history into purely natural development to the exclusion of everything supernatural.
It is this latter extreme that is advocated by the Biblical critics. Their description of the early religion of Israel is contradicted by the testimony of the oldest Prophets whose authority is not questioned by them. These inspired seers know of the fall of Adam (Osee, vi, 7), the call of Abraham (Is., xxix, 23; Mich., vii, 20), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha (Osee, xi, 8; Is., i, 9; Amos, iv, 11), the history of Jacob and his struggle with the angel (Os., xii, 2 sqq.), Israel’s exodus from Egypt and dwelling in the desert (Os., ii, 14; vii, 16; xi, 1; xii, 9, 13; xiii, 4, 5; Am., ii, 10; iii, 1; ix, 7), the activity of Moses (Os., xii, 13; Mich., vi, 4; Is., lxiii, 11, 12), a written legislation (Os.; viii 12)) and a number of particular statutes (cf. Kley, “Die Pentateuchfrage”, Münster, 1903, 223 sqq.). Again, the theory of development is more and more contradicted by the results of historical investigation. Weber (“Theologie and Assyriologie im Streit urn Babel and Bibel”, Leipzig, 1904, 17) points out that the recent historical results imply decadence rather than development in ancient oriental art, science, and religion; Winckler (“Religionsgeschichtler and geschichtl. Orient”, Leipzig, 1906, 33) considers the evolutionary view of the primitive state of man as false, and believes that the development theory has, at least, been badly shaken, if not actually destroyed by recent Oriental research (cf. Bäntsch, “Altorientalischer und israelitischer Monotheismus”, Tübingen, 1906). Köberle (“Die Theologie der Gegenwart”, Leipzig, 1907, I, 2) says that the development theory has exhausted itself, reproducing only the thoughts of Wellhausen, and deciding particular questions not in the light of facts, but according to the postulates of the theory. Finally, even rationalistic writers have thought it necessary to replace the development theory by another more in agreement with historical facts. Hence Winckler (“Ex Oriente lux”, Leipzig, 1905-6; Idem, “Der Alte Orient”, III, 2-3; Idem, “Die babylonische Geisteskultur in ihren Beziehungen zur Kulturentwicklung der Menschheit” in “Wissenschaft and Bildung”, Leipzig, 1907; cf. Landersdorfer in “Historisch-Politische Blätter”, 1909, 144) has originated the theory of pan-Babelism according to which Biblical religion is conceived as a conscious and express reaction against the Babylonian polytheistic state religion. It was not the common property of Israel, but of a religious sect which was supported in Babylon by certain monotheistic circles irrespective of nationality. This theory has found powerful opponents in Budde, Stade, Bezold, Köberle, Kugler, Wilke, and others; but it has also a number of adherents. Though wholly untenable from a Christian point of view, it shows at least the weakness of the historical development theory.
(ii) Another principle involved in the critical theory of the Pentateuch supposes that the internal evidence of literary criticism is of higher value than the evidence of tradition. But thus far the results of excavations and historical research have been favorable to tradition rather than to internal evidence. Let the reader only remember the case of Troy, Tiryns, Mycenae, and Orchomenos (in Greece); the excavations of the English explorer Evans in Crete have shown the historical character of King Minos and his labyrinth; Assyrian inscriptions have reestablished the historical credit of King Midas of Phrygia; similarly, Menes of Thebes and Sargon of Agade have been shown to belong to history; in general, the more accurate have been the scientific investigations, the more clearly have they shown the reliability of even the most slender traditions. In the field of New-Testament criticism the call “back to tradition” has begun to be heeded, and has been endorsed by such authorities as Harnack and Deissmann. In the study of the Old Testament too there are unmistakable signs of a coming change. Hommel (“Die altisraelitische Überlieferung in inschriftlicher Beleuchtung”, Munich, 1897) maintains that Old-Testament tradition, both as a whole and in its details, proves to be reliable, even in the light of critical research. Meyer (“Die Entstehung des Judentums”, Halle, 1896) comes to the conclusion that the foundations of the critical Pentateuchal theory are destroyed, if it can be proved that even part of the impugned Hebrew tradition is reliable; the same writer proves the credibility of the sources of the Books of Esdras (cf. “Grundriss der Geographie and Geschichte des alten Orientes”, Munich, 1904, 167 sqq.). S. A. Fries has been led by his critical studies, and without being influenced by dogmatic bias, to accept the whole traditional view of the history of Israel. Cornill and Oettli express the conviction that Israel’s traditions concerning even its earliest history are reliable and will withstand the bitterest attacks of criticism; Dawson (cf. Fonck, “Kritik and Tradition im A. T.” in “Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie”, 1899, 262-81) and others apply to tradition the old principle which has been so frequently misapplied, “magna est veritas, et praevalebit”; Gunkel (“Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbiicher”, II, Tübingen, 1906, 8) grants that Old-Testament criticism has gone a little too far, and that many Biblical traditions now rejected will be reestablished.
(b) Critical Method.—The falsehood of the critical method does not consist in the use of criticism as such, but in its illegitimate use. Criticism became more common in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; at the end of the eighteenth it was applied to classical antiquity. Bernheim (“Lehrbuch der historischen Methode”, Leipzig, 1903, 296) believes that by this means alone history first became a science. In the application of criticism to the Bible we are limited, indeed, by the inspiration and the canonicity of its books; but there is an ample field left for our critical investigations (Pesch, “Theol. Zeitfragen”, III, 48).
Some of the principal sins of the critics in their treatment of Sacred Scripture are the following: (i) They deny everything supernatural, so that they reject not merely inspiration and canonicity, but also prophecy and miracle a priori (cf. Metzler, “Das Wunder vor dem Forum der modernen Geschichtswissenschaft” in “Katholik”, 1908, II, 241 sqq.). (ii) They seem to be convinced a priori of the credibility of non-Biblical historical documents, while they are prejudiced against the truthfulness of Biblical accounts. (Cf. Stade, “Geschichte Israel’s”, I, 86 seq., 88, 101.) (iii) Depreciating external evidence almost entirely, they consider the questions of the origin, the integrity, and the authenticity of the sacred books in the light of internal evidence (Encyl. Prov. Deus, 52). (iv) They overestimate the critical analysis of the sources, without considering the chief point, i.e., the credibility of the sources (Lorenz, “Die Geschichtswissenschaft in ihren Hauptrichtungen and Aufgaben”, ii, 329 sqq.). Recent documents may contain reliable reports of ancient history. Some of the critics begin to acknowledge that the historical credibility of the sources is of greater importance than their division and dating (Stärk, “Die Entstehung des A. T.”, Leipzig, 1905, 29; cf. Vetter, “Tübinger theologische Quartalschrift”, 1899, 552). (v) The critical division of sources is based on the Hebrew text, though it is not certain how far the present Massoretic text differs from that, for instance, followed by the Septuagint translators, and how far the latter differed from the Hebrew text before its redaction in the fifth century B.C. Dahse (“Textkritische Bedenken gegen den Ausgangspunkt der heutigen Pentateuchkritik” in “Archiv für Religionsgeschichte”, VI, 1903, 305 sqq.) shows that the Divine names in the Greek translation of the Pentateuch differ in about 180 cases from those of the Hebrew text (cf. Hoberg, “Die Genesis“, 2nd ed., p. xxii sqq.); in other words and phrases the changes may be fewer, but it would be unreasonable to deny the existence of any. Again, it is antecedently probable that the Septuagint text differs less from the Massoretic than from the ante-Esdrine text, which must have been closer to the original. The starting point of literary criticism is therefore uncertain.
(vi) It is not an inherent fault of literary criticism that it was applied to the Pentateuch after it had become practically antiquated in the study of Homer and the Nibelungenlied (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 303, 306 sqq.), nor that Reuss considered it as more productive of difference of opinion than of results (cf. Katholik, 1896, I, 304 seq.), nor again that Wellhausen thought it had degenerated into childish play. Among Bible students, Klostermann (“Der Pentateuch”, Leipzig, 1893), König (“Falsche Extreme im Gebiete der neueren Kritik des A. T.”, Leipzig, 1885; “Neueste Prinzipien der alt. Kritik”, Berlin, 1902; “Im Kampfe um das A. T.”, Berlin, 1903), Bugge (“Die Hauptparabeln Jesu”, Giessen, 1903) are sceptical as to the results of literary criticism, while Orelli (Der Prophet Jesaja, 1904, V), Jeremias (Das alte Testament im Lichte des Alten Orients, 1906, VIII), and Oettli (Geschichte Israels, V) wish to insist more on the exegesis of the text than on the criss-cross roads of criticism. G. Jacob (“Der Pentateuch”, Göttingen, 1905) thinks that the past Pentateuchal criticism needs a thorough revision; Eerdmans (“Die Komposition der Genesis“, Giessen, 1908) feels convinced that criticism has been misled into wrong paths by Astruc. Merx expresses the opinion that the next generation will have to revise backwards many of the present historico-literary views of the Old Testament (Religionsgeschichtliche Volksbücher, II, 1907, 3, 132 sqq.).
(c) Critical Results.—Here we must distinguish between the principles of criticism and its results; the principles of the historical development of religion, for instance, and of the inferiority of tradition to internal evidence, are not the outcome of literary analysis, but are its partial basis. Again, we must distinguish between those results of literary criticism which are compatible with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch and those that contradict it. The patrons of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, and even the ecclesiastical Decree relating to this subject, plainly admit that Moses or his secretaries may have utilized sources or documents in the composition of the Pentateuch; both admit also that the sacred text has suffered in its transmission and may have received additions, in the form of either inspired appendices or exegetical glosses. If the critics, therefore, can succeed in determining the number and the limits of the documentary sources, and of the post-Mosaic additions, whether inspired or profane, they render an important service to the traditional tenet of Pentateuchal authenticity. The same must be said with regard to the successive laws established by Moses, and the gradual fidelity of the Jewish people to the Mosaic law. Here again the certain or even probable results of sane literary and historical criticism will aid greatly the conservative commentator of the Pentateuch. We do not quarrel with the legitimate conclusions of the critics, if the critics do not quarrel with each other. But they do quarrel with each other. According to Merx (loc. cit.) there is nothing certain in the field of criticism except its incertainty; each critic proclaims his views with the greatest self-reliance, but without any regard to the consistency of the whole. Former views are simply killed by silence; even Reuss and Dillmann are junk-iron, and there is a noticeable lack of judgment as to what can or cannot be known.
Hence the critical results, in as far as they consist merely in the distinction of documentary sources, in the determination of post-Mosaic material, e.g., textual changes, and profane or inspired additions, in the description of various legal codes, are not at variance with the Mosaic authenticity of the Pentateuch. Nor can an anti-Mosaic character be pointed out in the facts or phenomena from which criticism legitimately infers the foregoing conclusions; such facts or phenomena are, for instance, the change of the Divine names in the text, the use of certain words, the difference of style, the so-called double accounts of really, not merely apparently, identical events; the truth or falsehood of these and similar details does not directly affect the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. In which results then does criticism clash with tradition? Criticism and tradition are incompatible in their views as to the age and sequence of the documentary sources, as to the origin of the various legal codes, and as to the time and manner of the redaction of the Pentateuch.
(i) Pentateuchal Documents.—As to the age and sequence of the various documents, the critics do not agree. Dillmann, Kittel, König, and Winckler place the Elohist, who is subdivided by several writers into the first, second, and third Elohist, before the Yahwist, who also is divided into the first and second Yahwist; but Wellhausen and most critics believe that the Elohist is about a century younger than the Yahwist. At any rate, both are assigned to about the ninth and eighth centuries B.C.; both too incorporate earlier traditions or even documents.
All critics appear to agree as to the composite character of Deuteronomy; they admit rather a Deuteronomist school than single writers. Still, the successive layers composing the whole book are briefly designated by D¬?, D¬?, D¬?, etc. As to the character of these layers, the critics do not agree: Montet and Driver, for instance, assign to the first Deuteronomist cc. i-xxi; Kuenen, König, Reuss, Renan, Westphal ascribe to D¬?, iv, 45-9, and v-xxvi; a third class of critics reduce D¬? to xii, 1-xxvi, 19, allowing it a double edition: according to Wellhausen, the first edition contained i, 1-iv, 44; xii-xxvi; xxvii, while the second comprised iv, 45-xi, 39; xii-xxvi; xxviii-xxx; both editions were combined by the redactor who inserted Deuteronomy into the Hexateuch. Cornill arranges the two editions somewhat differently. Horst considers even cc. xii-xxvi as a compilation of preexisting elements, gathered together without order and often by chance. Wellhausen and his adherents do not wish to assign to D¬? a higher age than 621 B.C., Cornill and Bertholet consider the document as a summary of the prophetic teaching, Colenso and Renan ascribe it to Jeremias, others place its origin in the reign of Ezechias or Manasses, Klostermann identifies the document with the book read before the people in the time of Josaphat, while Kleinert refers it back to the end of the time of the Judges. The Deuteronomist depends on the two preceding documents, J and E, both for his history and his legislation; the historical details not found in these may have been derived from other sources not known to us, and the laws not contained in the Sinaitic legislation and the decalogue are either pure fiction or a crystallization of the prophetic teaching.
Finally, the Priestly Code, P, is also a compilation: the first stratum of the book, both historical and legal in its character, is designated by P¬? or Pg; the second stratum is the law of holiness, H or Lev., xvii-xxvi, and is the work of a contemporary of Ezechiel, or perhaps of the Prophet himself (H, P¬?, Ph); besides, there are additional elements springing rather from a school than from any single writer, and designated by Kunen as P¬?, P4, P5, but by other critics as P8 and Ph. Bertholet and Bantsch speak of two other collections of laws: the law of sacrifices, Lev., i-vii, designated as P°; and the law of purity, Lev., xi-xv, designated as Pr. The first documentary hypothesis considered P¬? as the oldest part of the Pentateuch; Duston and Dillmann place it before the Deuteronomic code, but most recent critics regard it as more recent than the other documents of the Pentateuch, and even later than Ezech., xliv, 10-xlvi, 15 (573-2 B.C.); the followers of Wellhausen date the Priestly Code after the return from the Babylonian Captivity, while Wildeboer places it either after or towards the end of the captivity. The historical parts of the Priestly Code depend on the Yahwistic and the Elohistic documents, but Wellhausen’s adherents believe that the material of these documents has been manipulated so as to fit it for the special purpose of the Priestly Code; Dillmann and Driver maintain that facts have not been invented or falsified by P, but that the latter had at hand other historical documents besides J and E. As to the legal part of P, Wellhausen considers it as an a priori program for the Jewish priesthood after the return from the captivity, projected backwards into the past, and attributed to Moses; but other critics believe that P has systematized the pre-exilic customs of worship, developing them, and adapting them to the new circumstances.
What has been said clearly shows that the critics are at variance in many respects, but they are at one in maintaining the post-Mosaic origin of the Pentateuchal documents. What is the weight of the reasons on which they base their opinion? (a) The conditions laid down by the critics as prerequisites to literature do not prove that the sources of the Pentateuch must be post-Mosaic. The Hebrew people had lived for, at least, two hundred years in Egypt; besides, most of the forty years spent in the desert were passed in the neighborhood of Cades, so that the Israelites were no longer a nomadic people. Whatever may be said of their material prosperity, or of their proficiency in writing and reading, the above-mentioned researches of Flinders Petrie show that they kept records of their national traditions at the time of Moses. (b) If the Hebrew contemporaries of Moses kept written records, why should not the Pentateuchal sources be among these documents? It is true that in our actual Pentateuch we find non-Mosaic and post-Mosaic indications; but, then, the non-Mosaic, impersonal style may be due to a literary device, or to the pen of secretaries; the post-Mosaic geographical and historical indications may have crept into the text by way of glosses, or errors of the transcribers, or even inspired additions. The critics cannot reject these suggestions as mere subterfuges; for they should have to grant a continuous miracle in the preservation of the Pentateuchal text, if they were to deny the moral certainty of the presence of such textual changes.
(g) But would not the Pentateuch have been known to the earlier Prophets, if it had been handed down from the time of Moses? This critical exception is really an argument e silentio which is very apt to be fallacious, unless it be most carefully handled. Besides, if we keep in mind the labor involved in multiplying copies of the Pentateuch, we cannot be wrong in assuming that they were very rare in the interval between Moses and the Prophets, so that few were able to read the actual text. Again, it has been pointed out that at least one of the earlier Prophets appeals to a written Mosaic law, and that all appeal to such a national conscience as presupposes the Pentateuchal history and law. Finally, some of the critics maintain that J views the history of man and of Israel according to the religious and the moral ideas of the Prophets; if there be such an agreement, why not say that the Prophets write according to the religious and moral ideas of the Pentateuch? (d) The critics urge the fact that the Pentateuchal laws concerning the sanctuary, the sacrifices, the feasts, and the priesthood agree with different stages of post-Mosaic historical development; that the second stage agrees with the reform of Josias, and the third with the enactments enforced after the time of the Babylonian Exile. But it must be kept in mind that the Mosaic law was intended for Israel as the Christian law is intended for the whole world; if then 1900 years after Christ the greater part of the world is still un-Christian, it is not astonishing that the Mosaic law required centuries before it penetrated the whole nation. Besides, there were, no doubt, many violations of the law, just as the Ten Commandments are violated today without detriment to their legal promulgation. Again there were times of religious reforms and disasters as there are periods of religious fervor and coldness in the history of the Christian Church; but such human frailties do not imply the non-existence of the law, either Mosaic or Christian. As to the particular laws in question, it will be found more satisfactory to examine them more in detail.
(ii) Pentateuchal Codes.—The critics endeavor to establish a triple Pentateuchal code: the Book of the Covenant, Deuteronomy, and the Priestly Code. Instead of regarding this legislation as applying to different phases in the forty years’ wandering in the desert, they consider it as agreeing with three historical stages in the national history. As stated above, the main objects of this triple legislation are the sanctuary, the feasts, and the priesthood.
(a) The Sanctuary.—At first, so the critics say, sacrifices were allowed to be offered in any place where the Lord had manifested his name (Ex., xx, 24-6); then the sanctuary was limited to the one place chosen by God (Deut., xii, 5); thirdly, the Priestly Code supposes the unity of sanctuary, and prescribes the proper religious rites to be observed. Moreover, the critics point out historical incidents showing that before the enforcement of the Deuteronomic law sacrifices were offered in various places quite distinct from the resting place of the ark. What do the defenders of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch answer? First, as to the triple law, it points to three different stages in Israel’s desert life: before the erection of the tabernacle at the foot of Mt. Sinai, the people were allowed to erect altars and to offer sacrifices everywhere provided the name of the Lord had been manifested; next, after the people had adored the golden calf, and the tabernacle had been erected, sacrifice could be offered only before the tabernacle, and even the cattle killed for consumption had to be slaughtered in the same place, in order to prevent a relapse into idolatry; finally, when the people were about to enter the promised land, the last law was abolished, being then quite impossible, but the unity of sanctuary was kept in the place which God would choose. Secondly, as to the historical facts urged by the critics, some of them are caused by direct Divine intervention, miracle or prophetic inspiration, and as such are fully legitimate; others are evidently violations of the law, and are not sanctioned by the inspired writers; a third class of facts may be explained in one of three ways: (Œ±’) Poels (“Le sanctuaire de Kirjath Jeraim”, Louvain, 1894; “Examen critique de lhistoire du-sanctuaire de larche”, Louvain, 1897) endeavors to prove that Gabaon, Masphath, and Kiriath-Jarim denote the same place, so that the multiplicity of sanctuaries is only apparent, not real. (Œ?) Van Hoonacker (“Le lieu du culte clans la legislation rituelle des Hébreux” in “Muséeon”, April-October, 1894, XIII, 195-204, 299-320, 533-41; XIV, 17-38) distinguishes between private and public altars; the public and national worship is legally centralized in one sanctuary and around one altar, while private altars may be had for domestic worship. (Œ?) But more commonly it is admitted that before God had chosen the site of national sanctuary, it was not forbidden by law to sacrifice anywhere, even away from the place of the ark. After the building of the temple the law was not considered so stringent as to bind under all circumstances. Thus far then the argument of the critics is not conclusive.
(b) The Sacrifices.—According to the critics, the Book of the Covenant enjoined only the offering of the first-fruits and the first-born of animals, the redemption of the first-born of men, and a free-will offering on visiting the sanctuary (Ex., xxii, 28-9; xxiii, 15, [Heb., xxiii, 19]); Deuteronomy more clearly defines some of these laws (xv, 19-23; xxvi, 1-11), and imposes the law of tithes for the benefit of the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the Levites (xxvi, 12-5); the Priestly Code distinguishes different kinds of sacrifices, determines their rites, and introduces also incense offering. But history hardly bears out this view: as there existed a permanent priesthood in Silo, and later on in Jerusalem, we may safely infer that there existed a permanent sacrifice. The earliest prophets are acquainted with an excess of care bestowed on the sacrificial rites (cf. Amos, iv, 4, 5; v, 21-2, 25; Osee, passim). The expressions of Jeremias (vii, 21-3) may be explained in the same sense. Sin offering was known long before the critics introduce their Priestly Code (Osee, iv, 8; Mich., vi, 7; Ps., xxxix [xl], 7; I Kings, iii, 14). Trespass offering is formally distinguished from sin offering in IV Kings, xiii, 16 (cf. I Kings, vi, 3-15; Is., liii, 10). Hence the distinction between the different kinds of sacrifice is due neither to Ezech., xlv, 22-5, nor to the Priestly Code.
(g) The Feasts.—The Book of the Covenant, so the critics tell us, knows only three feasts: the seven-days’ feast of the azymes in memory of the exodus from Egypt, the feast of the harvest, and that of the end of the harvest (Ex., xxiii, 14-7); Deuteronomy ordains the keeping of the feasts at the central sanctuary, adds the Pasch to the feast of the azymes, places the second feast seven weeks after the first, and calls the third, “feast of tabernacles”, extending its duration to seven days (Deut., xvi, 1-17); the Priestly Code prescribes the exact ritual for five feasts, adding the feast of trumpets and of atonement, all of which must be kept at the central sanctuary. Moreover, history appears to endorse the contention of the critics: Judges, xxi, 19 knows of only one annual feast in Silo; I Kings, i, 3, 7, 21 testifies that the parents of Samuel went every year to Silo to the sanctuary; Jeroboam I established in his kingdom one annual feast similar to that celebrated in Jerusalem (III Kings, xii, 32-3); the earliest Prophets do not mention the names of the religious feasts; the Pasch is celebrated for the first time after the discovery of Deuteronomy (IV Kings, xxiii, 21-3); Ezechiel knows only three feasts and a sin offering on the first day of the first and the seventh month. But here again, the critics use the argument e silentio which is not conclusive in this case. The feast of atonement, for instance, is not mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch; only Josephus refers to its celebration in the time of John Hyrcanus or Herod. Will the critics infer from this, that the feast was not kept throughout the Old Testament? History does not record facts generally known. As to the one annual feast mentioned in the early records, weighty commentators are of opinion that after the settlement of the people in the promised land, the custom was gradually introduced of going to the central sanctuary only once a year. This custom prevailed before the critics allow the existence of the Deuteronomic law (III Kings, xii, 26-31), so that the latter cannot have introduced it. Isaias (xxix, 1; xxx, 29) speaks of a cycle of feasts, but Osee, xii, 9 alludes already to the feast of tabernacles, so that its establishment cannot be due to the Priestly Code as the critics describe it. Ezechiel (xlv, 18-25) speaks only of the three feasts which had to be kept at the central sanctuary.
(d) The Priesthood.—The critics contend that the Book of the Covenant knows nothing of an Aaronitic priesthood (Ex., xxiv, 5); that Deuteronomy mentions priests and Levites without any hierarchical distinction and without any high priest, determines their rights, and distinguishes only between the Levite living in the country and the Levite attached to the central sanctuary; finally, that the Priestly Code represents the priesthood as a social and hierarchical institution, with legally determined duties, rights, and revenues. This theory is said to be borne out by the evidence of history. But the testimony of history points in the opposite direction. At the time of Josue and the early Judges, Eleazar and Phinees, the son and nephew of Aaron, were priests (Num., xxvi, 1; Deut., x, 6; Jos., xiv, 1 sqq.; xxii, 13, 21; xxiv, 33; Judges, xx, 28). From the end of the time of Judges to Solomon, the priesthood was in the hands of Heli and his descendants (I Kings, i, 3 sqq.; xiv, 3; xxi, 1; xxii, 1) who sprang from Ithamar the younger son of Aaron (I Par., xxiv, 3; cf. I Kings, xxii, 29; xiv, 3; ii, 7 sqq.). Solomon raised Sadoc, the son of Achitob, to the dignity of the high priesthood, and his descendants held the office down to the time of the Babylonian Captivity (II Kings, viii, 17; xv, 24 sqq.; xx, 25; III Kings, ii, 26, 27, 35; Ezech., xliv, 15); that Sadoc too was of Aaronic descent is attested by I Par., vi, 8. Besides, the Books of Josue and Paralipomenon acknowledge the distinction between priests and Levites; according to I Kings, vi, 15, the Levites handled the ark, but the Bethsamites, the inhabitants of a priestly city (Jos., xxi, 13-6), offered sacrifice.
A similar distinction is made in II Kings, xv, 24; III Kings, viii, 3 sq.; Is., lxvi, 21. Van Hoonacker (“Les prètres et les lévites dans le livre d’Ezéchiel” in “Revue biblique”, 1899, VIII, 180-189, 192-194) shows that Ezechiel did not create the distinction between priests and Levites, but that supposing the traditional distinction in existence, he suggested a division into these classes according to merit, and not according to birth (xliv, 15-xlv, 5). Unless the critics simply set aside all this historical evidence, they must grant the existence of an Aaronitic priesthood in Israel, and its division into priests and Levites, long before the D and P codes were promulgated according to the critical theory. It is true that in a number of passages persons are said to offer sacrifice who are not of Aaronitic descent: Judges, vi, 25 sqq.; xiii, 9; I Kings, vii, 9; x, 8; xiii, 9; II Kings, vi, 17; xxiv, 25; III Kings, viii, 5, 62; etc. But in the first place, the phrase “to offer sacrifice” means either to furnish the victim (Lev., i, 2, 5) or to perform the sacrificial rite; the victim might be furnished by any devout layman; secondly, it would be hard to prove that God committed the priestly office in such a way to Aaron and his sons as not to reserve to himself the liberty of delegating in extraordinary cases a non-Aaronite to perform the priestly functions.
(iii) Pentateuchal Redaction.—The four documentary sources of the Pentateuch thus far described were combined not by any one individual; critics require rather three different stages of combination: first, a Yahwistic redactor Rie or Ri combined J and E with a view of harmonizing them, and adapting them to Deuteronomic ideas; this happened either before or after the redaction of D. Secondly, after D had been completed in the sixth century B.C., a redactor, or perhaps a school of redactors, imbued with the spirit of D combined the document with JE into JED, introducing however the modifications necessary to secure consistency. Thirdly, a last redactor RP imbued with the letter and the spirit of P, combined this document with JED, introducing again the necessary changes. The table of nations in Gen., xiv was according to Konen added by this last redactor.
At first sight, one is struck by the complex character of this theory; as a rule, truth is of a more simple texture. Secondly, one is impressed by the unique nature of the hypothesis; antiquity has nothing to equal it. Thirdly, if one reads or studies the Pentateuch in the light of this theory, one is impressed by the whimsical character of the redactor; he often retained what should have been omitted, and omitted what should have been retained. The critics themselves have to take refuge, time and time again, in the work of the redactor, in order to save their own views of the Pentateuch. A recent writer does not hesitate to call the complex redactor ein genialer Esel. Fourthly, a truth-loving, straightforward reader is naturally shocked by the literary fictions and forgeries, the editorial changes and subterfuges implied in the critical theory of the Pentateuchal documents and redaction. The more moderate critics endeavor to escape this inconvenience: some appeal to the difference between the ancient and the modern standard of literary property and editorial accuracy; others practically sanctify the means by the end. Oettli considers the dilemma “either the work of Moses or the work of a deceiver” as the expression of sheer imprudence; Kautzsch unctiously points to the depth of the wisdom and the knowledge of God whose ways we cannot fathom, but must admire. The left wing of criticism openly acknowledges that there is no use in hushing up matters; it actually is the result of scientific research that both form and contents of a great part of the Old Testament are based on conscious fiction and forgery.
IV. STYLE OF THE PENTATEUCH
In Some general introductions to the Pentateuch its Messianic prophecies are specially considered, i.e., the so-called proto-evangelium, Gen., iii, 15; the blessing of Seim Gen., ix, 26-7; the patriarchal promises, Gen., xii, 2; xiii, 16; xv, 5; xvii, 4-6, 16; xviii, 10-15; xxii, 17; xxvi, 4; xxviii, 14; the blessing of the dying Jacob, Gen., xlix, 8-10; the Prophecy of Balaam, Num., xxiv, 15 sqq.; and the great Prophet announced by Moses, Deut., xviii, 15-19. But these prophecies belong rather to the province of exegesis than introduction. Again, the text of the Pentateuch has been considered in some general introductions to the work. We have seen already that besides the Massoretic Text we have to take into account the earlier text followed by the Septuagint translators, and the still earlier readings of the Samaritan Pentateuch; a detailed investigation of this subject belongs to the field of textual or lower criticism. But the style of the Pentateuch can hardly be referred to any other department of Pentateuchal study.
As Moses employed no doubt pre-existent documents in the composition of his work, and as he must have made use too of the aid of secretaries, we expect antecedently a variety of style in the Pentateuch. It is no doubt due to the presence of this literary phenomenon that the critics have found so many points of support in their minute analysis. But in general, the style of the work is in keeping with its contents. There are three kinds of material in the Pentateuch: first, there are statistics, genealogies, and legal formularies; secondly, there are narrative portions; thirdly, there are parenetic sections.
No reader will find fault with the writer’s dry and simple style in his genealogical and ethnographic lists, in his table of encampments in the desert, or his legal enactments. Any other literary expression would be out of place in records of this kind. The narrative style of the Pentateuch is simple and natural, but also lively and picturesque. It abounds in simple character sketches, dialogues, and anecdotes. The accounts of Abraham‘s purchase of a burying-ground, of the history of Joseph, and of the Egyptian plagues are almost dramatic. Deuteronomy has its peculiar style on account of the exhortations it contains. Moses explains the laws he promulgates, but urges also, and mainly, their practice. As an orator, he shows a great deal of unction and persuasiveness, but is not destitute of the earnestness of the Prophets. His long sentences remain at times incomplete, thus giving rise to so-called anacolutha (cf. Dt., vi, 10-12; viii, 11-17; ix, 9-11; xi, 2-7; xxiv, 1-4). Being necessarily a popular preacher, he is not lacking in repetitions. But his earnestness, persuasiveness, and unction do not interfere with the clearness of his statements. He is not merely a rigid legislator, but he shows his love for the people, and in turn wins their love and confidence.