Talk:Authors of the Bible

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 Definition Individuals who have authored or co-authored literature that has appeared in the various scriptural canons of Judaism and of Christianity. [d] [e]
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I have started this article, which is suggested by the Books of the Bible article. It is very much in draft stage and is open to input by anyone. My first goal is to give a brief summary of support for the most popular author of each book, then to go back over it in more detail with more research. Suggestions are welcome. Michael Yates 23:19, 21 June 2007 (CDT)

Nature of claims -- organization of entry

There are a number of questions raised by this entry.

First off, is this going to be a list of what historical scholarship into the origins of the Bible has produced? If so, rather than organizing it by all the books of the most commonly accepted Christian Biblical canon, it would seem to make much more sense to organized it by the authors as historically adduced. Thus, we should have sections on the Elohist, the Yahwist, and other Old Testament authors, along with the same treatment of the New Testament, with sections on the Q document and so forth.

Or, is this going to be a summary of the authors of Biblical texts as believed in by Jews or Christians? That is, are we to imagine that Moses wrote the books of Moses, Solomon wrote the Song of Solomon, and so forth. If so, then, we have an important CZ:Neutrality_Policy issue, as it will take a great deal of time and effort to craft neutral statements about what different faiths believe.

Or will this just be a catalog of popular notions about the authors of the Bible? That wouldn't, by itself, be to my mind a useful entry for an encyclopedia, unless under a different title such as "Popular conceptions of the Bible." Russell Potter 11:01, 24 June 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for your analysis. It is my hope that this will be a summary of historical scholarship on the books that Jews or Christians have at least in some part accepted as canonical. Based on that, I don't think I would include the Q document, etc. as it was never recovered as such, and has never appeared in any "canonical" collection.
Changes on the arrangement are always possible. You are wise in suggesting an arrangement by authors/cultures. I would not be so simple as to assume the traditional authorship of each book as believed by many Jews or Christians. What has been written already was merely what I recall top-of-the-mind on each book. Ultimately I would love a scholarly but simplified analysis of the authorship of each book, ideally no more than 300 words each. Michael Yates 16:02, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
Thanks for your reply. Well, I was concerned at first that there's a sub-header for each and every book -- that's going to be hard for readers to scroll through, and leads to an auto-generated Table of Contents that's very long. Whereas, if we have fewer sections, each one with a header for the author(s) -- "Elohist," "Yahwist," etc. -- there will be many fewer headers, and a much easier article to consult. Some books, such as the Song of Songs, are anomalous enough that they may deserve their own section, I suppose, but why not treat the books of Moses, the Prophets, etc. as groups? The other word that concerned me a bit was "popular" -- there are so many popular notions, that made me think the article would have to be too exhaustive to be really useful. Russell Potter 17:02, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Organization by author or category of book seems much more natural. Thus, Wisdom Literature, Pauline Epistles, General Epistles, etc. Stephen Ewen 17:03, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Position with regard to Q

I find it a little concerning that you dismiss the synoptic sayings source (Q) out of hand. I won't say too much because critical scholarship isn't my field, but given that there is a considerable amount of scholarship favoring an independent Q source, not even acknowledging it hardly seems a neutral approach. Greg Woodhouse 17:21, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Yes, I was a bit concerned about this as well. Here, though, I suppose a distinction could be made between "authors" per se and "sources" -- but the two issues are much entangled. Russell Potter 18:38, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
My qualm with including Q et al, is that it does go back into sources. It becomes quite troublesome to determine the author of a work that we don't have in any present form. One must first assume that it existed in a written form (which is admittedly possible/probable) and that we can know anything about the author. Furthermore, if we include Q, must we include Egyptian Love Poetry that is sourced in the Song of Songs, etc.? Hammurabi's Code for Deuteronomy? Michael Yates 18:53, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
Well, if we can't talk about Q, I don't see how we could talk about the textual history of the Gospels in any way. The whole point about Q is that it may very well have existed as an oral tradition prior to having been written down, and that such a history does not diminish its value as a witness. It's clear that the synoptic Gospels had some prior source, and that whoever "Matthew," "Mark," and "Luke" were, they were none of them the sole authors of the Gospels which bear their names. Russell Potter 18:56, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
I agree that the authorship of Matthew and Luke (maybe Mark) are very much indebted to Q, and this should receive attention in the article. However, venturing to find the author of Q is probably going too far for the scope of this article. If we are discussing "Authors of the Bible", then Q must be included in the Bible as a work independent of other Gospels to warrant independent inclusion in this article. Michael Yates 19:06, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
Of course the authorship of Q is at best conjectural -- but then again so are the authors of the canonical Gospels! -- if we are talking about any sort of historical analysis of authorship. If we can talk about the "author of Luke" we can surely talk about the "author of Q, a source of Luke," with no more, and no less, uncertainty. Russell Potter 20:05, 25 June 2007 (CDT)


I have recategorized the article, which certainly makes it look cleaner. Thanks for the suggestion. I did it quickly, so it could definitely need reworking. Also, I have noticed that the titles I have used are a bit presumptive, though maybe necessarily so (e.g. "Petrine Epistles"). As always, I'm open to suggestions and changes.Michael Yates 18:48, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Looks much better! For the first section, I reshaped it a bit to give both the traditional religious views and the modern views of textual scholarship -- not sure if this is an ideal solution, but it at least gives both. Russell Potter 18:50, 25 June 2007 (CDT)
I appreciate the JEPD addition. I have not studied it much but have heard much about it, so it is certainly worthy of inclusion. Thanks Michael Yates 18:59, 25 June 2007 (CDT)

Early Church Writings

I'll throw this out there, because I know the question will be raised at some point. Do we want to include Early Church writings as part of this article or another article? For example, should the Gospel of Thomas or Barnabas be in this list? Should we quickly deal with them all in the same category (i.e. "Early Church Writings")? Michael Yates 18:56, 25 June 2007 (CDT)


Hey-- this is just an organizational thing-- there's no meat on the bones as yet-- but I made a separate section for Ephesians because of the opinion of many modern scholars that it is not an authentically Pauline epistle. Brian P. Long 05:12, 1 May 2008 (CDT)

That's fine for now. Whoever writes that section may modify it later. Thanks. Michael Yates 12:28, 1 May 2008 (CDT)

J- and E-lumping out of fashion?

As I was working on putting more detail in the section about the Documentary Hypothesis, I thought about adding a few lines about the hypothesis that J and E are really the same source. However, I held back because I noticed that this theory is only mentioned in books from a few years ago. It seemed to me that perhaps this signals that scholars in the field have definitively rejected this hypothesis. Does anyone else know-- is this the case, or am I shadowboxing, once again? Thanks, Brian P. Long 11:39, 3 May 2008 (CDT)

No Sources?

A change was made recently at the Genesis page linking to this one and stating that "Mainstream scholarship today, however, based on research since the nineteenth century, has put the dates of its writing (by various authors) and compilation into its current form at a period stretching from the tenth to fifth centuries BCE, long after the time of Moses, although the material may have been transmitted orally before then."

However, not only did the author making this change fail to include a source with their change, but I notice this page itself is almost completely devoid of sources. I happen to know there's a LOT of disagreement with the Documentary Hypothesis and such claims, and that whether they're even close to being mainstream is highly debatable. I am confident I can provide a number of proofs to show this, would those claiming there is evidence these mainstream please show theirs as well?

I do not like seeing the page I was recently working on adjusted with such a change, if there is no sourcing to back up what are statements of opinion. If such statements are to stand, they must be reliably sourced, given their highly dubious nature. --Joshua Zambrano 03:19, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

I will work on getting some sources together to show both sides. Right now, it's only showing one side and absolutely nothing about the opposing criticism of the hypothesis. The whole page needs sources BADLY. It doesn't even mention that this hypothesis was used by the Nazis, for example, a key omission when clarifying exactly what the popularization of the belief involved.[1] --Joshua Zambrano 03:57, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I ("the author" Joshua mentions) did not, in fact, "fail to include a source"; I cited the highly authoritative Encyclopedia of Religion, edited and written by eminent scholars of religious studies;'the late author of the article in question was a professor at such mainstream institutions as Brandeis College and Columbia University. For an article in a nonsectarian encyclopedia such as Citizendium, such a source is (to say the very least) somewhat more authoritative as to the findings of the "mainstream scholarship" than citations from highly dubious sectarian websites such as the one calling itself "Creation Ministries International," whose very name announces that it is outside the mainstream of serious human thought and research, whether Christian or otherwise.
The "Authors of the Bible" article does, I agree, need some footnotes. Although I was not the author of that article, I will be providing some citations soon. And not from any proselytizing sectarian website, but from serious scholarly sources.
And as to the claim that there is "disagreement with the Documentary Hypothesis," sure, that's true, but that smacks of the frequently-yammered fundamentalist claim that there's disagreement with Darwin's theory. There's disagreement as to the details, but not as to the fact of evolution, in the one case, or as to the fact of the post-Mosaic authorship Genesis, in the other.
And "" --oh, that website name sounds quite honorable, but despite its claims to have a multicultural administration, it is obviously just as sectarian as the others previously discussed, and has content that is (to put it charitably) not peer-reviewed.
Citizendium's Editorial Council, of course, has the final say on such things, and you are welcome to appeal to them, but my understanding of this project is that its articles summarize the prevailing academic discourse on any given topic (which may of course include contentious issues). Fringe beliefs may warrant a mention or even an (encyclopedically-written) article on their own, but, as I understand CZ's purpose, not the bulk of the main article on a subject. Bruce M. Tindall 04:44, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the EC has the final say. However,before even considering going there, get a religion editor's opinion.
As I see it, Bruce's emphasis on scholarly sources is entirely correct. 05:07, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
There are only 2 "active" religion editors listed, neither of whom has ever made a single contribution on the site. Peter Jackson 11:30, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
While User: Robert H. Stockman is listed as inactive, he was very responsive to a request for help on Satanic ritual abuse in 2009 -- has it really been that long? -- and might be worth contacting.
It's fair to say that there is a difference in opinion, about EC members, about the level of article detail in which the EC should engage. As an individual member, I tend to prefer the EC to create fundamental policies and style guides, where the front line on individual articles should be the Editors. Where it is a matter of clear positions, the Ombudsman may be helpful in trying to reach compromise, and the Managing Editor may make interim rulings.
I have no special expertise in these topics. Possibly, I have a resource, a Unitarian-Universalist minister with a particular interest in this subject, who continues to work on it with Harvard Divinity School. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:48, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
I've just seen the replies. The problem with the Documentary Hypothesis is it doesn't seem to be falsifiable, just to point what it claims are inconsistencies in the Bible, ditching those proven false and looking for new ones, and ultimately, there's no evidence their theory ever occurred. There's zero actual evidence for the Q document, just what is called 'circumstantial evidence' that relies on their interpretation of the documents.
This is by no means established as fact by mainstream scholarship as there's definitely criticism of the theory and divergent views. What the creators of the theory also fail to take into account, ironically, is that if the document were in fact inspired by God, it would potentially, by the theory of the Trinity, have multiple personalities at work in its writing. So it is ironic the theory uses terms like Jahwist (J) and Elohist (E) relating to names of God, since the authors if supernatural would very well be separate personalities - just 3, not 4.
I made the reference to the Nazis because the reason so many of the names involved are German is because it's been a primarily German theory from its beginnings, and gained popularity due to the Nazis who used it to create a faux, German-pagan Christianity while martyring German Christians, per the ReligiousTolerance source.
As for the point about Darwin's theory not being debatable, I would point out he himself recognized on pages 16-17 of On the Origins of Species that a common ancestor was just one of two alternate possibilities, the other being parent species; i.e. evolution occurring only within species, not between them.[2] That it's been framed as fact has been ironic, since a full century later the supposedly objective scholars terming it such have yet to even consider the opposing theory he presented. If you refuse to even consider alternatives, it's hard to say you've definitively proven something as fact. --Joshua Zambrano 12:08, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
At any rate, I'll try putting together a section that summarizes the Documentary Hypothesis better, so that sources and views from both sides can be presented, rather than just the VERY one-sided, and utterly un-sourced approach that's been applied here. There ought to be presentation of both sides for a serious approach, and most particularly, sourcing to back up claims of fact. I very much disagree with the claim this is the only 'mainstream' view or even that it's held by the majority of scholars.
There is an explanation of the hypothesis' details here by a scholarly source, which states it relates to form criticism, which has been dismantled by Josh McDowell's famous work, "More Than A Carpenter", among others, forcing them to wrap it in another guise:
But of course, many of these fall apart just at first glance. It states 'inconsistencies' between Genesis 11:26, 11:32, and 12:4, where it says Terah was age 70 when having Abraham, and died at age 205, and Abraham left at age 75. The extremely obvious mistake made by the author of the article is in concluding Abraham left only after his father died, which is never said. This is the same principle as in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, the first chapter describes a general story of the creation account, the second chapter describes specifics about mankind. In the same way, chapter 11 told an overview of the genealogies surrounding Abraham and his father, then went into detail about Abraham's life. The same exact pattern was used with Noah! It says in chapter 5 in the genealogies that Noah's father bore Noah, and how long Noah lived until the flood, and gives the date of his father's (Lamech's) death. In other words, the previous chapter mentions the father's death only as part of the genealogies in both places, for both Abraham and Noah, even though it begins a detailed account of both Abraham's and Noah's life in the next chapter where neither father has yet died. It's not that hard to figure out...
The next example given as an 'inconsistency' is in 1 Samuel chapters 8-12, where the writer suggests it's contradictory that the following occurs: The people dislike the behavior of Samuel's sons and demand that Samuel give them a king. (8:4-6) God tells Samuel to listen to the people, and that they're not rejecting Samuel, but rejecting God, so He won't reign over them, in the same way they've forsaken Him and served other gods since he brought them out of Egypt. Nevertheless, God tells Samuel to warn the Israelites what their king will be like. (8:7-9) The people are told this and say they want a king anyway, so God tells Samuel to listen to them, they will have their king. (8:18-22)
Just to summarize, there's no contradiction here. The people were sinfully in rebellion in asking for a king. God did warn them. Then he gave them what they wanted anyway. Because of this, the author calls this an 'inconsistency', saying "The simplest explanation is that the compiler of the books of Samuel used more than one already existing account of the origins of the monarchy, and that these accounts did not agree among themselves.".
I'm sure I could keep going, but my point is, this is just shoddy scholarship and poor reading comprehension skills. And I'm sure these alleged controversies that prove the basis for claiming such a hypothesis will likewise be refuted elsewhere as well. Unfortunately, this is what I find almost all 'contradictions' to consist of, merely poor reading skills and an inability to evaluate all alternatives with an open mind. The 'Documentary Hypothesis' is merely a recent claim by the critics that they can call these alleged contradictions, i.e. bad reading ability, a 'hypothesis' for the documents having external authorship, which is patently ridiculous. --Joshua Zambrano 12:48, 12 March 2011 (UTC)--Joshua Zambrano 12:48, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
Again, there's zero evidence for any of their hypothesizing about such fictional documents. Not one iota of evidence any of them ever existed. They used to criticize that a code as complex as the Mosaic Law couldn't have been written so early, but then we found the Code of Hammurabi, which silenced that particular criticism. And they just use the generic claim of 'inconsistencies', generally which revolve around easily debunked examples of poor reading comprehension - and I put that kindly, if not deliberate bias - which when inevitably debunked are just replaced with a new set - to claim the documents had authorship; a claim which has zero grounding in actual fact, and revolves around the interpretation of people with bad reading comprehension.
What makes it more problematic is I could just show how easily debunked all the inconsistencies are, but will they still just claim the hypothesis should still be considered mainstream? And that they should be able to claim it's mainstream or widely supported, without providing a source for this claim? It's very frustrating. --Joshua Zambrano 12:59, 12 March 2011 (UTC)
If this is to be claimed as science or a true hypothesis, it must be readily falsifiable. The problem is that debunking any amount of the inconsistencies will just result in more being presented, with no accountability for the related 'hypothesis'.
And I'm ultimately being asked to disprove a negative, to show that documents which never existed, didn't exist, and which have no evidence to show they ever did exist. I can't disprove evidence that doesn't exist. What I can disprove are the alleged 'inconsistencies' that are said to give basis for the hypothesizing; the problem is that when done, they'll just be replaced and the hypothesis not held accountable. There's zero evidence for the hypothesis. It's just an accusation leveled at the Bible itself based on those intent on finding fault, and who will keep looking for inconsistencies to replace those disproved.
The whole thing might as well be called the Interpretive Dance Hypothesis, because it revolves around the interpretation of those claiming the Bible is unreliable, and their dancing around the fact that their last set of alleged contradictions got debunked, to go look for more each time; and it gets tiring going through this.
From everything I can see, the Documentary Hypothesis is basically a bunch of critics coming together, saying, "We don't think the Bible is consistent enough", based on their own arbitrary interpretations, and then fabricating a myth about authorship that has zero basis of historical evidence. They don't show the reading comprehension to even figure out what are and aren't contradictions as their basis for hypothesizing, yet assert the ability to recognize multiple authors at work in the document. Then this whole thing gets boxed up in the guise of being an officially-recognized hypothesis, and is dishonestly represented as a well-established fact opposed only by the fringe. --Joshua Zambrano 13:11, 12 March 2011 (UTC)--Joshua Zambrano 13:11, 12 March 2011 (UTC)


I should have made clear that my reference to the EC was because it appeared there were no currently active Religion Editors. But if one or both of the listed editors is actually still around and willing to serve in that capacity then, yes, a question about a Religion article should go to them first. Bruce M. Tindall 15:19, 12 March 2011 (UTC)

"It states 'inconsistencies' between Genesis 11:26, 11:32, and 12:4, where it says Terah was age 70 when having Abraham, and died at age 205, and Abraham left at age 75. The extremely obvious mistake made by the author of the article is in concluding Abraham left only after his father died, which is never said."
See Acts 7.4, which explicitly says Abram left Haran after his father died. Archbishop Ussher's explanation for the inconsistency (I don't know whether he originated it) was that Terah had two sons named Abram. Peter Jackson 11:13, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
Just saw this. It's a good point. I came across another alternate explanation here by Norman Geisler that Terah had the first of the 3 sons at age 70, and thus was younger than age 135. Geisler points out the verse may just be saying Terah began having sons at age 70, since otherwise all 3 would've had to be triplets, something that never occurs elsewhere in the Bible. Geisler also notes that Haran was the first to die, and the eldest usually dies first, while Nahor isn't mentioned when Abram leaves, by which Geisler infers he died as well, and thus assumes Abram to be the youngest of the 3. --Joshua Zambrano 22:22, 18 March 2011 (UTC)--Joshua Zambrano 22:22, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Proposed Documentary Hypothesis Section

The following is my attempt to write a section on the Pentateuch and Documentary Hypothesis. It may take me a while so I'll post what I have here as I'm making it, so others can provide feedback as it's being completed:


Traditionally, Moses was considered the author of the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Christian Bible and Jewish Tanakh. Jewish tradition held that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch.[1] In Deuteronomy 31:24-26 it says Moses wrote the words of the Law in a book, that was then put in the Ark of the Covenant. In 2 Chronicles 34:14 it says Hilkiah found a book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses and the book of Nehemiah[2] says the Law was given by Moses, a claim repeated in the New Testament's Gospel of John.[3] However, in the latter half of the 19th century, criticism of this claim began, with what is known as the Documentary Hypothesis, or Wellhausen Hypothesis.

Documentary Hypothesis

The Documentary Hypothesis was originated by Julius Wellhausen in 1876, with his work, Die Komposition Des Hexateuch in Der Jungsten Diskussion.[4] The hypothesis is based upon the belief that that the Pentateuch is inconsistent in its writing,[5] and shows signs of multiple authors, rather than one. This has in turn led to the theory that the Pentateuch is the result of four different authors, who supposedly wrote the book centuries later than the Biblical Moses. As a general framework, the proposed authors are:

  • J: Yahwist source
  • E: Elohist source
  • D: Deuteronomist source
  • P: Priestly source:

Like the Q Source hypothesis claimed by critical scholars to have been used as a basis by the authors of the Mark and Luke Gospels, (see Johannes Weiss, Christian Hermann Weisse and Friedrich Schleiermacher), the Documentary Hypothesis found its roots in 19th century Germany, where it would ultimately be popularized by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, as noted by author Ken Collins:

"The Nazis, borrowing from the growing scholarly consensus that the Torah consisted of myth and legend, used this scholarly climate to invalidate both Judaism and the Old Testament. The Nazis promoted a revised form of Christianity called Deutsches Christentum, in which they replaced the Old Testament with Germanic myths and legends. Deutsches Christentum never caught on with the public, but since it epitomized the beliefs of the leadership of the Nazi party, it contributed to the martyrdom of a number of famous German Christians."[6]


  1. Hirsch, E.G., & Jacobs, Pentateuch.
  2. The Bible. Nehemiah 8:14; 9:29.
  3. The Bible. John 8:17.
  4. McKim, D. (2007). Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters. pp. 130-131.
  5. Cheyne, T., & Black, J. (Eds.). (1899). "Hexateuch." In Encyclopaedia Biblica (Vol. II, pp. 2045-2058).
  6. Collins, Ken (1993). The Torah in Modern Scholarship. Retrieved on 2011-03-12.Robinson, B.A. (2007-08-21). [ The Documentary Hypothesis on the identity of the Pentateuch's authors]. Retrieved on 2011-03-12.

--Joshua Zambrano 02:08, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Hmm - maybe I should just make a subpage on the Documentary Hypothesis, put this there, and provide a summarized version for this page. --Joshua Zambrano 04:17, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
I just made an article for the Documentary Hypothesis that I'll update. I want to provide an in-depth view of the hypothesis' claims, both inconsistencies and methods used, as well as a subsection for the criticisms of them. --Joshua Zambrano 04:33, 13 March 2011 (UTC)


Martin's changes certainly move things in the right direction, though the article still seems to me to give too much space to fundamentalists as against genuine scholars. My understanding is that "conservative scholarship" is no more scholarship than "creation science" is science. But I've got no qualifications in this field. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:30, 29 February 2016 (UTC)