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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 9081  
Subject: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch Date: 6/13/2012 8:31 PM
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Got into an interesting discussion with a priest recently on the Mosaic authorship of the Torah/Pentateuch. This was in response to a powerpoint presentation for elementary school children which included that Moses was the author of the Torah.

I questioned this, particularly after reading the introduction to the Catholic Study Bible, as well as the book, Who Wrote the Bible.

http://www.amazon.com/Wrote-Bible-Richard-Elliott-Friedman/d...

While I realize that this isn't a Catholic source and may need to be taken with a grain of salt, it doesn't seem to be saying much that is different than what I found in the introduction to the Pentateuch in my Catholic Study Bible (NAB, page RG 38).

The priest pointed to New Advent Catholic Encylclopedia,

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11646c.htm

(start with the section on Ecclesiastical Decisions)

and also with the St. Jerome Biblical Guild:

http://stjeromebiblicalguild.org/pbc062706.pdf

which are essentially the same decision/source.

Yet, I have reservations. This decision is dated 1906. There's a HUGE amount of archaeology and study that has happened since then, in fact, probably the bulk of it. So I wonder if there are any more recent decisions which address the Mosaic authorship of the Torah?

Does the Catholic Church still teach that Moses authored the Torah/Pentateuch or is the teaching now more nuanced, e.g., that Moses began the Torah, but that other authors in his school completed it, in order to take into account that some of the laws are from a later time period, Moses can't write about his own death, etc.

P.S. I realize that this is probably a bit more nuanced than an elementary school child might be able to absorb, but I'm nevertheless curious for myself...

P.P.S. FYI, just completed my training to become a Basic Catechist for my diocese. :)

CCSand

Hopefully, Norm will still be reading this board...
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Author: Wradical Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9024 of 9081
Subject: Re: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch Date: 8/20/2012 3:31 PM
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I guess I haven't looked at this board for quite a while.

Here's what NAB has to say, from the USCCB website.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?src=_intros/pentate...

Who wrote the Pentateuch, and when? Up to the seventeenth century, the virtually unanimous answer of Jews and Christians was “Moses.” Moses wrote the Pentateuch as David wrote the Psalter and Solomon wrote the wisdom literature. Though scholars had noted inconsistencies (compare Ishmael’s age in Gn 16:16 and 21:5, 14) and duplications (Gn 12, 20, and 26), they assumed Mosaic authorship because of the prevalent theory of inspiration: God inspired authors while they wrote. With the rise of historical criticism, scholars began to use the doublets and inconsistencies as clues to different authors and traditions.

...In the last three decades, the above consensus on the composition of the Pentateuch has come under attack. Some critics are extremely skeptical about the historical value of the so-called early traditions, and a few doubt there ever was a preexilic monarchy of any substance. For such scholars, the Pentateuch is a retrojection from the fourth or third centuries B.C. Other scholars postulate a different sequence of sources, or understand the sources differently.

How should a modern religiously minded person read the Pentateuch? First, readers have before them the most significant thing, the text of the Pentateuch. It is accurately preserved, reasonably well understood, and capable of touching audiences of every age. Take and read! Second, the controversies are about the sources of the Pentateuch, especially their antiquity and character. Many details will never be known, for the evidence is scanty. Indeed, the origin of many great literary works is obscure.

The Pentateuch witnesses to a coherent story that begins with the creation of the world and ends with Israel taking its land. The same story is in the historical Ps 44, 77, 78, 80, 105, 114, and 149, and in the confessions Dt 26:5–9, Jos 24:2–13, and 1 Sm 12:7–13. Though the narrative enthralls and entertains, as all great literature does, it is well to remember that it is a theopolitical charter as well, meant to establish how and why descendants of the patriarchs are a uniquely holy people among the world’s nations.

The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and deportation of Israelites in the sixth century B.C. seemed to invalidate the charter, for Israel no longer possessed its land in any real sense. The last chapter of the ancient narrative—Israel dwelling securely in its land—no longer held true. The story had to be reinterpreted, and the Priestly editor is often credited with doing so. A preface (Gn 1) was added, emphasizing God’s intent that human beings continue in existence through their progeny and possess their own land. Good news, surely, to a devastated people wondering whether they would survive and repossess their ancestral land. The ending of the old story was changed to depict Israel at the threshold of the promised land (the plains of Moab) rather than in it. Henceforth, Israel would be a people oriented toward the land rather than possessing it. The revised ending could not be more suitable for Jews and Christians alike. Both peoples can imagine themselves on the threshold of the promised land, listening to the word of God in order to be able to enter it in the future. For Christians particularly, the Pentateuch portrays the pilgrim people waiting for the full realization of the kingdom of God.


Bill

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Author: CCSand Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9025 of 9081
Subject: Re: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch Date: 10/28/2012 1:19 AM
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Thanks Bill,

I did already read the blurb in the Catholic Study Bible which is much the same as what you posted. Unfortunately, it doesn't actually answer my question.

But thanks!

CCSand

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Author: rev2217 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 9027 of 9081
Subject: Re: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch Date: 11/20/2012 12:30 PM
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CCSand,

Hopefully, Norm will still be reading this board...

Yes, I'm reading this board, when I get a chance to get onto the site. The last two months, unfortunately, have been absolutely crazy so I'm now in the process of catching up.



Does the Catholic Church still teach that Moses authored the Torah/Pentateuch or is the teaching now more nuanced, e.g., that Moses began the Torah, but that other authors in his school completed it, in order to take into account that some of the laws are from a later time period, Moses can't write about his own death, etc.


The Pentateuch has long been called the "books of Moses" but this term was never intended as an attribution of actual authorship. The reality is that these books were handed on orally for several centuries from the time of Moses until scribes of a much later era actually wrote them down. The same is true of the earlier historical books after the Pentateuch. The only thing documented as being written at the time of Moses was the pair of tablets containing the Decalog.

Norm.

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