Can we believe in “Mosaic Authorship”?

In our Mangano commentary, a very conservative commentary, Randall Bailey suggests a 3rd alternative to the authorship of Genesis. The first two options presented are:

1. Moses wrote it.

2. Moses did not write it.

He proposes a third option:

3. The book is one of “Mosaic Authorship”.

This solution provides that the work of Genesis is inspired by and preserved by God, but that Moses could have used other sources to write Genesis, and that editors/compilers of a “Mosaic” school may have completed some of the books of the Pentateuch.

Bailey says on page 101, “…Authorship, sources, and inspiration are separate issues. Moses may have used sources to write the Pentateuch and other authors may have added to the Pentateuch. Similarly, one may believe in the inspiration of the original autographs and acknowledge the evidence that points to additions to Moses’ work…”.

As I read this I breathed a sigh of relief. Can I really choose option 3? It sounds good, but does it really hold up in the wash? Can I have my cake (The Bible is the inspired word of God.) and eat it too (Yes, it really is a little weird for Moses to report on his own death.)?

Maybe I have been to quick to give myself the same answer that I give my children when they ask me things like,

“Mommy, if a baby is in its mommy’s tummy when Jesus comes back, will it stay in her tummy in heaven?”, or

“Mommy, if Jesus is God, and Jesus was dead when he came off the cross, was God dead for that day?”, or

“Mommy, where EXACTLY is heaven?”.

I always tell them, “Hmmm, great question. Let’s remember to ask God that one when we get there!” (Does this qualify as teaching your children Torah when you rise up, lie down, and walk along the path?)

Maybe I shouldn’t be scared to think about these seemingly scary issues of authorship? Maybe there are other answers out there or maybe it would be okay to really look and still not have them answered?

Is anyone else struggling with this? Has anyone else resolved it for themselves? I would love your insight.



2 Responses

  1. I find it difficult to balance the divine nature of the bible…that is that God could do whatever he wanted with the authorship; and, the human factor.

    so for genesis, could God cause Moses to write his own death…yes. Did he…who knows. Are we trying to explain mosaic authorship at all costs, or are we just not exercising enough faith

  2. I think you raise some great points but I think you can have your cake and eat it too because that is what I also think. I believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God so if Moses wrote most of the Pentateuch and some other people added things in, okay. That is how God wanted it to happen. I do not think there is anything in the Bible that is not supposed to be in there. So if it took five different authors to write Genesis, then that’s what it took. Maybe I am just taking the easy way out so I don’t have to get into a debate about authorship, but that is my opinion.

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