Just recently I was asked to write and contribute to these blog posts. As I began to pray and think about where to start, the only thought which came to mind was to begin at the beginning. Therefore, I have decided to consider a walk through the book of Genesis.
When starting a new study or series, it is always wise to consider who authored the book. This is true today and it is true when considering any book of the Bible. As we consider Genesis, there is the scholarly question as to its authorship. For some in liberal academia, they claim many authors or many sources. This is typically called the JEDP view of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The “J” stands for those passages which use God’s covenantal name, Jehovah, or YHWH is used. “E” stands for those passages which uses the name for God, Elohim. The “D” represents the author who wrote Deuteronomy. Finally, the “P” stands for those passages lining up with a priestly tradition. While JEDP is a theory spreading through the first five books of the Bible, we see the main issue is with Moses and against the inspiration of Scripture. They argue that Moses could not have written these books, and that they were written much later in the history of Israel. The reason for holding to this position is due to their anti-supernatural theology. They do not believe a man (prophet) can predict future events.
Yet, a former colleague of mine at a different seminary informed me of a recent study which used a computer program to see just how many authors wrote Genesis through Deuteronomy. The program would consider the use of vocabulary, syntax, and so much more to determine how many authorial voices are found. To the surprise of many, especially those conducting the study, the computer responded with only one voice, meaning Genesis through Deuteronomy had only one author.
Those of us coming from an orthodox, confessional position already know who this author is-Moses. While we did not need a computer to affirm Moses’ authorship of Genesis, it sure does not hurt our faith in God’s Holy Word. It does matter to say Moses wrote Genesis for many reasons. First, having this knowledge helps us to understand the historical context for the book. This book is written to the church and it is written for our edification in the Lord. Secondly, this book is written to point us to our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. From this book we are able to confess with the saints of old, I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. In other words, Moses has given to the church the beginning of our Confession, the beginning of God’s holy and inspired Word, and the historical, reliable account of how all things came into being. All things, including the Christian faith, find their beginning with the pen of Moses.
Knowing that Moses wrote Genesis only begins the discussion. The next question to consider is: why did Moses write Genesis?
Dr. J.P. Mosley, Jr., is the Academic Dean and Registrar as well as Heidelberg Theological Seminary’s Professor of Biblical Studies and Systematic Theology.