Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Torah is an incredible book no matter which way you look at it. It has been on the hearts and minds of billions of people throughout thousands of years. This book has given people hope and encouragement and has been used by others to do some of the greatest atrocities of history. It was believed by nearly all of humankind for millennia to be divinely authored but that has been the subject of much debate in more recent years.

Many of the influential Biblical scholars that developed Biblical Criticism and the Documentary Hypothesis were not interested in disproving it's Divine authorship. They were out to discover the real bible, what it was before the ancient anonymous editors had defiled it. Their research led them to some personally disturbing findings but they persevered and let their reason and research take them where it would.

Over the past hundred years or so, the Documentary Hypothesis has come to dominate Biblical Scholarship. It is an elegant theory that answers age old questions as well as more recent ones raised from archeology, history etc.

In light of the Documentary Hypothesis and other recent Biblical scholarship it has become impossible to posit Divine authorship without a giant leap of faith and a conscious decision to ignore the evidence. The Documentary Hypothesis is not perfect and subject to much debate. We may perhaps never know for certain that the Bible is a composite document from authors JEPD etc. But the important thing is, we now have a very strong theory as to the authorship of the Bible and it will take some very hard work and boatloads of evidence to completely upset it.

Those that are still clinging to the belief that the Torah was in fact Divinely authored may claim to have evidence for their claim but it has not been forthcoming.

The problems for those that make the claim of Torah MiSinai are heaped up for all to see. Besides the inconsistencies and blatant contradictions, there are serious historical and moral issues with the Bible. Bereshit 1-11 have been clearly shown to be false by science and natural history. There has been no forthcoming evidence for major events like the Ten Plagues and the mass exodus of millions of slaves leaving Egypt through the desert into the land of Canaan. The list goes on. Chauvinism, genocide, brutality and plain old cruelty fill its pages. It is difficult for any 21st Century morally sensitive person to read it without flinching. Most believers today have faith in an all knowing, merciful and just God. Yet many insist on their God having written such a book. If I were a modern day believer I would be greatly comforted to know that it's highly unlikely that such falsehoods and cruelty were written by God.