Thursday, June 30, 2011

Israeli Team Uses Software To Determine Bible Authorship

When I read the headline "An Israeli Algorithm Sheds Light on the Bible," I  throught I was having deja vu experience. Why? Despite the new software this team of Israeli scholars used to shed light on the scriptures, the conclusions they've reached are outdated and have already been disproven by conservative scholars.

To be fair, here is what the startling new discovery is all about: "The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book."

Matti Friedman, API writer for the article gives the gist of what new insights this sleuth software has uncovered:
For millions of Jews and Christians, it's a tenet of their faith that God is the author of the core text of the Hebrew Bible — the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. But since the advent of modern biblical scholarship, academic researchers have believed the text was written by a number of different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas and linguistic styles and the different names they used for God.
In light of running the biblical text through this advanced software we now know almost 3500 years after the biblical text was written, that Moses did not act on his own when he wrote the Torah - the Five Books of Moses. Unfortunately, this "new" viewpoint gained from digital research is as old as a long list of late nineteenth century biblical scholars who developed what is known as the Documentary Hypothesis (DH)

The Documentary Hypothesis states the Pentateuch was a compilation of selections from several different documents, composed at different places and times over a period of five centuries, long after Moses.  And they came to these conclusions without computers!

According to proponents of this theory, Moses did not write the Torah. The ramification of this claim by the modern team of Israeli researchers is less than flattering for Jewish and Christian believers in the authenticity of the biblical text.

We are now forced to question the text when it says in Exodus 17:14 that "the Lord said to Moses  . . . Write this for a memorial in a book." Other similar statements supporting Mosaic authorship can be found in Exodus 24:4, 34:27 and Numbers 33:1-2.  Did Moses write the Torah or did a collection of writers claim Moses wrote the Five Books? Weren't they compromising the integrity of Moses and the text he allegedly wrote when we find out he didn't write it all of it after all?

This means that the Bible - a book of truth - is built on a fabrication of false claims and statements.

Other books in the Torah state that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. Joshua 8:31 claims, "as it is written in the book of the law of Moses . . " Now the  so-called deception has leaked beyond the Pentateuch and into the historical books of the Bible.

The New Testament also witnesses to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.  In John 7:19 Jesus asked, "Did not Moses give you the law . . ?  So even Jesus was implicated in this fraudulent claim that Moses himself wrote the first five books of the scriptures.

If we are going to determine the authorship of the Bible using computer software, we can't help but start with an assumption. It doesn't take a wiz to figure out computer research starts with assumptions that are already in alignment with what the researchers input into the computer.  The same assumptions that gave birth to the Documentary Hypothesis aka the Graf-Wellhausen Theory still hold true today.

First, most scholars who set out to improve on our knowledge of the compilation of the Bible start with the premise the Bible was not given by supernatural revelation. Starting with this premise, then the conclusion will always demonstrate that the Bible was not supernaturally revealed by God to humans.

Regardless of the claim of the Bible that the text came through God speaking to men, this statement is rejected from the start by scholars who refuse to believe it.  This is commonly known as circular reasoning.  Of course the software used by the Israeli team will reach the conclusion God did not speak to one man, Moses, and give him the Torah.  This is the presupposition under which the Israeli team started with and inputted into the computer.

Second, the team ignores the references to Moses authorship found in later books of the Bible.  They would have to reject the later claims of Mosaic authorship in Joshua or in the New Testament and call them "later insertions," in order to hold to their position.

Third, the Israeli team starts with the belief that the writer of the Pentateuch was incapable of using more than one name for God and more than one style of writing regardless of the subject matter.

API writer Friedman substantiates this belief in his article:
Today, scholars generally split the text into two main strands. One is believed to have been written by a figure or group known as the "priestly" author, because of apparent connections to the temple priests in Jerusalem. The rest is "non-priestly." Scholars have meticulously gone over the text to ascertain which parts belong to which strand.
The priestly school is concocted by the appearance of the name Elohim for God and the non-priestly school is based on the appearance of the tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the biblical text. For some reason, to these students of the Scriptures, Moses was incapable of using both terms in one chapter and so there must be two different writers of the biblical text who may have been separated by hundreds of years.

in his excellent book, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Christian scholar Gleason Archer observes:
According to these theorists, a single author like Milton could not possible have written merry poems such as L'Allegro, lofty epic poetry such as Paradise Lost and scintillating prose essays such as Areopagitica. If he had been an ancient Hebrew, at least, he would have been speedily carved up into the ABC multiple-source hypothesis (pg. 97). 
The bottom line for these scholars is their desire to demonstrate that the Jewish faith was not revealed by God but evolved throughout many centuries of human editing of the biblical text.  Still we cannot be sure another computer software program will be used again in later years to disprove the Bible and merely prove the obvious - if you start with the premise the Scriptures are not the Word of God, you will reach that same conclusion whether you're living in the late nineteenth century or the year 2012.

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