Intellectual attacks on the Bible

Until the 18th century, there never was any question about the historical validity of the Bible.  Both Protestants and Catholics took it for granted that whatever the Bible said happened, actually happened.  The only dispute was as to the meaning and significance of the stories.  A new historical skepticism from the French Enlightenment and the German Rationalism began to question whether the events as described in the Bible ever took place.  First there were questions about events in the Old Testament, about Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses.  Then in the 19th century, the problem of Jesus and his miracles came into question.

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The four-source theory

Originally, many thought Moses wrote all the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.  Bible scholars of the last century have been able to locate four distinct strands, the Jahwist (J) the oldest from around 950 BCE, the Elohist (E) from around 850 BCE, the Deuteronomist (D) from around 650 BCE, and the later Priestly (P) sources around 600-400 BCE.  The Priestly source put it altogether after the exile around 450 BCE, long after the death of Moses.  Some scholars have developed more elaborate documentary hypothesis within this source theory.

Gradual development of the Bible

The books of the Bible were formed gradually.  They are the product of Jewish and Christian religious communities that was 95% illiterate.  These stories were first word of mouth, then later put into writing.  Moses did not write all the books of the Pentateuch.  Paul did not write all the letters ascribed to him.  Matthew and Luke partially rewrote Mark with other sources.  There were additions and deletions, but we have what God wanted us to have.

Pseudo epigrams or anonymous writings

The question of authorship or attribution is important.  Like many of the books of the Old Testament, some of the books attributed to some authors in the New Testament writings are not the persons mentioned.  Moses did not write all the Torah.  Paul did not write all the letters attributed to him.  The technical scholarly name for this is pseudo epigrams.  Sometimes, they are forgeries.  These false attributions exist for a number of biblical books.  Since we do not know the names of many of the writers of these books in the Bible, we can say that anonymous people wrote these works.  However, I have decided to use the traditional attributed names that have been associated with these pseudo epigram works to better identify them.

The wider meaning of prophet

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites, since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some so-called historical books are often called the early prophets.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.  The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although some Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

Sentimental Bible interpretations

When you ask young people what they know about the Bible, they might be able to sing the little Bible song, “How do you know that Jesus loves you?  I know that Jesus loves me, because the Bible tells me so.”  Most of us have this sentimental approach to the Bible as a book with a lot of nice stories about Adam and Eve, Moses, and Jesus, but very little else.

Yahweh recalls his saving action from Egypt (Mic 6:3-6:4)

“O my people!

What have I done

To you?

In what have I wearied you?

Answer me!

I brought you up

From the land of Egypt.

I redeemed you

From the house of slavery.

I sent before you

Moses,

Aaron,

Miriam.”

Yahweh, via Micah, recalled his saving action from Egypt.  He had saved his people, Israel from slavery.  He had done so much for the Israelites.  He wanted them to remember that he had weaned them as a new country.  He had sent 3 great leaders like Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, all from one family in Egypt.