A kind Christian gentleman recently wrote our offices at A.P. inquiring about a brief article we published regarding the Mosaic authorship of Genesis 36:31 (see Lyons, 2010). In his note, the brother wondered if “any number of unnamed inspired authors may have written the Pentateuch.” Though “tradition says Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament,” allegedly “in none of the books does he sign his name nor does anyone (within the Bible) confirm this.”
Although it has become increasingly popular over the past 200 years to believe that Moses was not the inspired penman of the first five books of the Bible, the fact is, God repeatedly testifies in Scripture that he was. Within the Pentateuch itself, one can read numerous times how Moses wrote the law of God. “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord” (Exodus 24:4). “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write these words...’ ” (Exodus 34:27). “Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the Lord” (Numbers 33:2). Etc. Bible writers throughout the Old Testament credited Moses with writing Genesis through Deuteronomy. Joshua 8:32, for example, says: “There in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he [Moses—EL] had written” (NIV, emp. added). Notice also that 2 Chronicles 34:14 states: “Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” (emp. added; cf. Ezra 3:2; 6:18; Nehemiah 13:1; Malachi 4:4). As Josh McDowell noted in his book, More Evidence that Demands a Verdict, these verses “refer to an actual written ‘law of Moses,’ not simply an oral tradition” (1975, pp. 93-94).
The New Testament writers also showed no hesitation in affirming that Moses wrote the Pentateuch. John wrote: “The law was given through Moses” (John 1:17). Luke recorded of the resurrected Jesus: “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them [His disciples—EL] in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). James also affirmed Mosaic authorship: “For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21). With this Paul concurred: “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them’ ” (Romans 10:5, emp. added; cf. Leviticus 18:5).
Finally, Jesus Himself claimed “the Law” came from Moses. In Mark 7:10 Jesus quoted from both Exodus 20 and 21, attributing the words to Moses. Later in the Gospel of Mark, we read where Jesus asked the Sadducees, “Have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” (12:26, emp. added). But, perhaps the most convincing passage of all is found in John 5:46-47 where Jesus said: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47, emp. added; cf. Deuteronomy 18:15-18).
We may not have Mosaic autographed copies of the Pentateuch today, but we do have numerous inspired statements throughout Scripture, including the Pentateuch, which declare that God inspired Moses to write down the first five books of the Old Testament. No one is claiming that Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is the most important truth that a Christian should come to know and believe, but it most certainly is a biblical truth that should be respected and not compromised.
Lyons, Eric (2010), “Did Moses Write Genesis 36:31?” Reason & Revelation, 9:8-R, February, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/240311.
McDowell, Josh (1975), More Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA: Campus Crusade for Christ).
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