Authorship of the Hebrew Bible
Number of pages: 4 (Double Spaced)
Number of sources: 5 Style: APA
This paper does not need to be long; it just needs to answer the question. It needs to be about 4 pages. The question is `Explain the difficulties involved in determining authorship of the Hebrew Bible. Include a discussion of the critical linguistic analysis/multiple author’s theory. `
The Hebrew Bible or ‘Old Testament’ is the traditional Holy Book followed by the Jews and the Christians. The recording of events in the Hebrew Bible had begun several of centuries before Christ. The Hebrew Bible was written in Hebrew language, the ancient language of the Jews. After the Jews had settled down in Judah around 539 BC, their language was replaced with Aramaic. The religious leaders continued to use Hebrew language in the writings for the Bible. The Muslims consider the Hebrew Bible to be incomplete and have developed their own religious book known as the Quran. The Christians do consider the Hebrew Bible as a Holy Book, but have added another portion to it known as the ‘New Testament’ (WSU, 1998).
There were a lot of issues regarding the authoring of the Hebrew Bible. There were a lot of inconsistencies in the Hebrew Bible, and in several places the statements in the Hebrew Bible contradicts the earlier statements.
Eg. A. In GE 10:5, 20, 31 – There were many languages before the Tower of Babel.
In GE 11:1 – There was only one language before the Tower of Babel.
B. In EX 3:20-22 – God instructs the Israelites to despoil the Egyptians, to plunder their enemies.
In EX 20:15, – God prohibits stealing, defrauding, or robbing a neighbor.
This goes on to show that the inconsistencies existed because the facts were not correctly observed by the writers or were drawn from various sources that gave different versions. This may have been due to the fact that the Hebrew Bible was written without much hardcore evidence (Morgan, 2008).
In several portions of the Hebrew Bible, there could be problems in assuming or interpretation what is given. Such problems could not exist in which God himself had inspired. In Genesis 1: 29, it says that each and every plant and tree that grows on earth provides us with seeds to eat. Now several of the plants are poisonous and eating them would result in death. In the 2nd KI, 6: 5 to 7, it says that an iron axe head swims or floats in water, which is practically not possible as iron is denser than water (Morgan, 2008). These kinds of problems that existed were due to difficulties in authoring. The credentials of the authors of the Hebrew Bible need to study further. A learned person would try to study further what can be interpretated out of his statement including assumptions. However, a poorly learned person would assume whatever comes to his mind and would author without much research and methodology. This was one of the major issues as to why the Hebrew Bible has so many inconsistencies and interpretation issues (Morgan, 2008).
Some of the matter in the Hebrew Bible may be totally unpractical or not possible due to various practical issues. For example, in Genesis 1: 28, God tells man and woman, to be fruitful and multiply, and have domination over other living things. However, this has resulted in a serious environmental and ecological crisis today. Man has multiplied in an uncontrollable manner and has abused other forms of life that are existing on earth. In Genesis 3: 16, man has to rule over his wife, is quoted. However, if man was to have uncontrollable power over his wife, then he could go on to abuse her (Morgan, 2008). From these kinds of unpractical statements, it cannot be understood if there was a problem in what the authors of the Hebrew Bible had interpretated or if they did not have proper sources which provided them with primary information (Morgan, 2008).
However, I do feel that such problems could have existed in authoring the Hebrew Bible, as several quotes mentioned in it were from God himself and issues such as getting information from the original sources or interpreting the word of God would have existed. In the Hebrew Bible, mistakes, duplications, modifications, etc, have existed. There may be a lot of differences in various versions and translations of the Bible. However, in such cases, it should be the traditional beliefs that have stood the test of time which should be believed. Today the people in the world are becoming more and more educated and hence the authors of the Hebrew Bible are facing a greater amount of criticism than before (Wolpe, 2006).
Evidence present at the moment suggests that the Hebrew Bible was written by multiple authors. It can be considered to be divine in nature because several statements and quotes are often from God himself. However, to certain extents modifications and mistakes exist in these quotes and statements. Most part of the Hebrew Bible was written by Human beings. Humans were involved in collecting information, putting it together and authoring the information. Some people argue that the Hebrew Bible was a collaborative effort between God and man. The words utilized in the Hebrew bible were that of Prophets and religious men. As narrators were often utilized in the Hebrew Bible, it strongly suggests that somebody other than God was involved in its authorship. Some people even argue that the Hebrew Bible is a response to the work and words of God. Human beings through the Hebrew Bible describe what God is and also demonstrate his work. The Hebrew Bible can also be considered to be a response to what human beings have obtained in their search for God (Wolpe, 2006).
In the critical linguistic analysis of the Hebrew Bible, several software programs are utilized in assisting in this analysis. These software programs help to determine the linguistic characteristics of the language utilized in the Hebrew Bible. Even the translation techniques utilized in the Hebrew Bible is studied closely. The manner in which the language was generated and the syntax utilized was studied closely using software programs. One of the few software programs utilized to closely study the Hebrew Bible was Computer Assisted Linguistic Analysis of the Peshitta (CALAP). In this software program, the language of one translation of the Hebrew Bible can be compared and contrasted to the other translations. A bottom-up linguistic analysis was conducted. Words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, clauses, text and synoptic was analyzed by using this CALAP program. The software provides several results of the Hebrew Bible including critical –text analysis and text-historical analysis (Leiden University, 2008).
Leiden University (2008). “Computer Assisted Linguistic Analysis of the Peshitta (CALAP).” Retrieved on April 28, 2008, from Leiden University Web site: http://www.leidenuniv.nl/gg/onderzoek/calap.html
Morgan, D. (2008). “Introduction to the Bible and Biblical Problems.” Retrieved on April 28, 2008, from Infidels Web site: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/
Wolpe, D. (2006). “Did God Write the Bible?” Retrieved on April 28, 2008, from My Jewish Learning Web site: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/bible/What_is_the_Bible/BibleAuthorship570.htm