The Origin of the Bible, Part II: The Torah
by Ed Vasicek
In my previous article, I addressed how every part of the Bible is locked into all the other parts. If you believe one section, this more or less leads you to the rest. This is called "the colophon principle." If you believe in Jesus, for example, you must logically accept and revere the Old Testament because He did. You would also expect to see the apostolic writings included as Scripture, because Jesus trained the apostles as His fully authorized representatives in ways that no one else has ever been trained or authorized.
This same colophon principle makes it clear that the apocryphal books included in the Roman Catholic Bible should not be included in our Old Testament for they are not quoted as Scripture. There are a few issues to clean up (the quotation from Enoch in Jude and the authorship of 2 Peter, for example), but I will address such residual matters later.
Today's focus is the Torah, the first five books of the Bible—also known as "the Law" or "the Pentateuch." We already demonstrated that archaeologists have discovered evidence of writing which may be traced back to perhaps 3,000 B.C., a full 1,500 years before the time of Moses. Since liberal* scholars can no longer argue that Moses could not have written the Torah because writing had not yet been invented, they have proposed other theories that circumvent his authorship. You must understand that skeptics will never accept the supernatural inspiration of Scripture because they have ruled that out beforehand (This is called a priori reasoning.). So when one attempt at demythologizing does not work, they simply invent another one. It is not intellectually chic in scholastic circles to believe God inspired the Scriptures; those who do are often humiliated or viewed with disbelief and contempt. (Who said peer pressure is a teen thing?) Even Christian students in secular universities know the sting of a liberal professor's greatest weapon: intimidation by sarcasm.
One popular theory that has been well received by liberals—even though there is no real evidence to support it—is the JEDP theory. This is a theory that the Torah was constructed from four different religious traditions, each with their unique emphasis. Others believe that the Torah was put together by Ezra or evolved in the 6th century B.C., rather than being written by Moses about 1450 B.C.
Although we cannot prove that the Torah was actually written by Moses (even if we found the Ark of the Covenant with the tablets of the Law inside), Christians believe that such is the case because the rest of the Bible attributes the Torah to Moses (Matthew 8:4, 19:7-8, Mark 7:10, Luke 24:27 for just a few examples). For the Christian, the assertions by Jesus that Moses wrote the Torah settles the matter. But is there other evidence to make it reasonable to believe that Moses wrote the Torah?
Yes, in a way. Throughout the Torah, we read of historical events and cultural behaviors that a 6th century author could not have known. And we have some significant archaeological evidence. We know, for example, that Solomon built the Temple about 1,000 B.C., and that it was constructed based on the Tabernacle description in the Torah. We have evidence that the Hebrews indeed were enslaved in Egypt at one time. We know that Sodom and Gomorrah were indeed destroyed by fire. We know that the Hittites did actually exist.
We have recently discovered the route of the Exodus and the "shelf" in the Red Sea that allowed the children of Israel (about 2 million people) to cross without having to ascend down one mile into the seabed and then up a steep mile to the other side. We have evidence of calcified chariot wheels in the seabed along this shelf (the Egyptian army was drowned). We have a videotape with footage documenting this in our church library (The Exodus Revealed). This is a relatively late-breaking discovery (early 1990s).
The 1990s discovery of The Real Mount Sinai (as documented in the DVD/Video of the same name, also in our church library) traces the entire path of the Exodus and the events of the Book of Numbers. One summary of the video found on the Internet puts it more succinctly than I could. Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams engaged—and videotaped—the adventure of a lifetime, sneaking into Saudi Arabia. We pick up the action midstream:
Nevertheless, slipping past the guards at night and digging under the fence, Bob and Larry continued their adventure. Just south of the mountain, they found what they believe may have been the battlefield of Rephidim (Exodus 17:1,8; 19:2; Numbers 33:14-15), a dozen football fields in size.
They also found a large altar made up of extremely large, stacked boulders. On one of them they found pictographs of cattle, not sheep native to Arabia. These pictographs resembled the Apis bulls of Egypt. Could this have been the altar for the Golden Calf? (Cf. Exodus 32.)
As one reaches the higher elevations of Jabal al Lawz, the ground turns black, dark like obsidian; the rocks look almost like coal. (Yet when they're broken, they were actually granite.) They were not volcanic; they appeared as if scorched from above (Exodus 19:18). They even found an unusually large crevice in which a man could hide (Exodus 33:22?). They also found an old stream bed; "the brook that descended out of the mount" (Deuteronomy 9:21?).
At the base of the mount, they also found two huge rocks—perhaps 60 ft. long—wedged together, with a flat stone in the middle; possibly the altar of the Bible? (Exodus 20:24-26). Nearby, they also found the remains of the 12 pillars, all in a row, each one about 18 ft. in diameter, spaced 5 ft. apart (Exodus 24:4). Around the mountain, about 400 yards distant, they also found what appeared to be the boundary markers, the bounds set by Moses at the base of the mountain (Exodus 19:12,21-23) (source and more details: www.khouse.org/articles/1998/153/).
This video/DVD is so important, we have viewed it twice in Sunday School and twice on Sunday nights.
There are many, many evidences that the Torah goes back to the time of Moses. Although Genesis may have been compiled by Moses from preexisting sources, and although Deuteronomy was probably finished up by Joshua, everything is in place to make it reasonable to believe that Moses did indeed pen the Torah, just as Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the apostles believed—and as Orthodox Jews likewise believe.
Indeed, the Apostle John labels Moses and Jesus as the initiators of distinct eras: "For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17).
And when it comes to Christian Apologetics, this is where we must always leave matters. We cannot prove that our beliefs are correct beyond a shadow of a doubt. We can only make the argument that our beliefs are reasonable. Faith does not run contrary to reason, but it always exists with the option to doubt. So I leave you with this conclusion: it is reasonable to believe that Moses wrote the Torah.
(*Note: In this article, the term "liberal" does not refer to political liberalism, but theological liberalism, which is basically a denial of Biblical miracles, supernaturalism, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, deity of Christ, or inspiration of the Bible.)
Reprinted from the August 2006 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
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