2.3 Did mankind tamper with the Old Testament?:
"And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, That Moses commanded the Levites(Jews), which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death? Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt [yourselves], and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands."
"How can you say we (the Jews) are wise and the law of the Lord is with us, when in fact the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie?"
Jeremiah 8:8 (Revised Standard Version)
"And because of their (the Jews) breaking their covenant, We have cursed them and made hard their hearts. They change words from their places and have abandoned a good part of the message that was sent to them. And you will not cease to discover deceit in them, except a few of them. But forgive them and overlook (their misdeed). Verily! Allah loves the kindly."
The noble Qur'an, Al-Maidah(5):13.
"O Messenger!(Muhammad) Do not be grieved by those who vie with one another in the race to disbelief, of such as say with their mouths: "We believe" but their hearts believe not, and of the Jews: of them are those who listen eagerly to lies -listener to others who have not come to you. They change the words from their places; they say: If you are given this then take it, but if you are not given this then beware! He whom Allah dooms unto sin, you (by your efforts) will avail him naught against Allah. Those are they for whom the will of Allah is that He cleanse not their hearts; for them there is a disgrace in this world, and in the Hereafter a great torment."
The noble Qur'an, Al-Maidah(5):41.
For countless ages, the only book of history available to Christians and Jews was the Old Testament. When someone wanted to know what happened in the past, they would go back and study the Old Testament to find the answer. New theories about history literally lived and died by their conformance to what the Old Testament taught. Then the discrepancies began to be noticed.
Once mankind began to study the Old Testament in detail, comparing the various passages which referred to the same topic in order to obtain as much detail as possible, they began to notice conflicting accounts of many matters as well as other problems. For instance, in the eleventh century, it was noticed that the list of Edomite kings in Genesis 36 names kings who lived long after Moses was dead Then people began to notice such statements as "to this day" something is true, which implies that the author was looking back at these matters through history and has seen that they have endured.
After this, it was noticed that in the beginning verses of the OT manuscripts, Deuteronomy says: "These are the words that Moses spoke to the children of Israel across the Jordan...." They noticed that the words "across the Jordan" refers to people who are on the opposite side of the Jordan river to the author. But the alleged author, Moses himself, was never supposed to have been in Israel in his life.
It was also noticed that Moses speaks in detail in Deuteronomy 34:5-10 about how he died and where he was buried. Moses also calls himself the most humble man on earth in Numbers 12:3 (would the most humble man on earth call himself the most humble man on earth?). In Deuteronomy 34:10 we read "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses." This also implies that the author was looking back at Moses through history a long time after Moses's death. Now the flood gates were opened and countless other discrepancies began to show up.
In the beginning, it was claimed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch (Five "books of Moses") and anyone contesting this fact would be severely punished or worse. However, when these matters started to become well known, it became necessary to find explanations. For example, the first explanation presented for the verses referring to the death of Moses was that Moses (pbuh) had written his books, but that later prophets, as well as "inspired" scribes (who could also be considered prophets), had later on added on a couple of lines here and there. In this manner the text remained 100% the "inspiration" of God. This explanation, however, did not stand up to scrutiny because the style and literary characteristics of the verses are the same throughout. For instance, the verses which describe the death and burial of Moses exhibit the same literary characteristics as the verses before and after them.
After this, the trend became to explain any and all discrepancies through abstraction and elaborate interpretations, or through the introduction of additional narrative details that did not appear in the biblical text. Around this time, a startling new discovery was made. It was noticed that the stories in the five books of Moses were made up of doublets. A doublet is a case of one story being told twice. Even in the English translation of the Bible, the doublets are noticeable. These doublets have been masterfully intertwined so that they become one narrative.
For example, there are doublets of the creation of the world, the covenant between God and Abraham, the naming of Isaac, Abraham's claim that his wife Sarah was his sister, the story of Jacob's journey to Mesopotamia, Jacob's revelation at Beth-El,...etc. In many cases these doublets actually contradict one another. The apologists once again jumped up with an explanation in hand. They claimed that the doublets were complementary and not contradictory. It was claimed that they came to teach us a lesson by their "apparent" contradiction. However, this claim did not hold water for long. The reason is that not long after, it was discovered that when the doublets were separated into two separate accounts, each account was almost always consistent about the name of the deity that it used. One would always refer to God as Yahweh/Jehovah. This document was called "J." The other always referred to Him as Elohiym(God). It was called "E." There were various other literary characteristics which were then found to be common to one group or the other. It became obvious that someone had taken two separate accounts of the ministry of Moses (pbuh), cut them up, and then woven them together quite masterfully so that their actions would not be discovered until countless centuries later.
Once this startling discovery was made, the Old Testament was once again placed under the scrutiny of scholars and it was discovered that the Pentateuch was not made up of two major source documents but FOUR. It was discovered that some stories were not only doublets, but triplets. Additional literary characteristics were identified for these documents. The third source was called P (for Priestly), and the fourth D (for Deuteronomy). In the end it was concluded that the first four "books of Moses" were the result of the merging of three separate accounts which were called J, E, and P, and the book of Deuteronomy was found to be a separate account which was called D. The person (or persons) who collected and intertwined these sources was called "The Redactor."
"D (DEUTERONOMIST). The designation of one of the principle literary sources or strata of the PENTATEUCH. The Deuteronomist was the editor or compiler of this source, which is roughly coextensive with the book of Deuteronomy"
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, Vol. 1, p. 756
"E (ELOHIST). One of the principle narrative sources or strata of the PENTATEUCH. The term is derived from a Hebrew word for 'God' ... the use of which is characteristic of this source"
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, Vol. 2, p. 1
"J. One of the principle narrative sources or strata of the PENTATEUCH. The symbol is derived from the personal name of God, Jehovah ... the use of which is characteristic of this source. It is commonly regarded as Judahite in origin, and somewhat earlier than E (tenth-ninth centuries B.C.)"
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, Vol. 2, p. 777
"P. The designation of the so-called Priestly source of the PENTATEUCH. To this source are assigned most of the liturgical, genealogical, legal, and technical materials, connected by a bare minimum of narrative. The Priestly narrative is usually dated after the captivity, in the sixth or fifth century B.C."
The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon Press, Vol. 3, p. 617
"The critical analysis of the Hexateuch [the five 'books of Moses' plus the book of Joshua] is the result of more than a century of profound study of the documents by the greatest critics of the age. There has been a steady advance until the present position of agreement has been reached, in which Jew and Christian, Roman Catholic and Protestant, Rationalistic and Evangelical scholars, Reformed and Lutheran, Presbyterian and Episcopal, Unitarian, Methodist, and Baptist all concur. The analysis of the Hexateuch into several distinct original documents is a purely literary question in which no article of faith is involved. Whoever in these times, in the discussion of the literary phenomena of the Hexateuch appeals to the ignorance or prejudice of the multitude as if they were any peril to faith in these processes of Higher Criticism, risks his reputation for scholarship by so doing. There are no Hebrew professors on the continent of Europe, so far as I know, who deny the literary analysis of the Pentateuch into the four great documents"
Who wrote the Bible, Washington Gladden, Boston: Houghton, pp. 57-58
What exactly does the author mean by the statement "Whoever in these times, in the discussion of the literary phenomena of the Hexateuch appeals to the ignorance or prejudice of the multitude as if they were any peril to faith in these processes of Higher Criticism, risks his reputation for scholarship by so doing" ? Well, he is referring to the practices of men who have a regrettable formula for selling their books which is based upon backing the reader into a corner and then giving them only one way to save their faith. For example, they would say words to the effect "Either the Bible is 100% the inspired, unchanged, and undisputed word of God or else it is the greatest hoax ever foisted upon mankind from the beginning of time." Such authors only allow their readers to accept one extreme or the other. In effect, they are telling their readers "either you accept every word and every syllable as undying inspired truth or else renounce Jesus and become a pagan."
However, the truth lies at neither extreme. Allah Almighty tells us in the Qur'an:
"O people of the book! Do not go to extremes in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth."
The noble Qur'an, Al-Nissah(4):171
The fact that we recognize that mankind has tampered with the Bible does not mean that God, at one point in time, did not send down a revelation upon prophet Moses, or that He did not send down a revelation upon prophet Jesus (peace be upon them both). It only means that "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, " Mark 12:30. The fact that we wish to sift out the words of man from the book of God and only follow the words of God is not by any stretch of the imagination an abandonment of God or Jesus. Quite the contrary, anyone who is not willing to do their utmost in protecting the words of God from the tampering fingers of mankind has indeed forsaken the very first commandment of God.
"For almost two millennia the Pentateuch was attributed to Moses as author by both Jewish and Christian tradition. Although significant questions about his authorship were raised along the way, it was not until the eighteenth century that the question was seriously broached. Today, it is commonplace that he did not write the Pentateuch, but as we shall see the formation of these books is still shrouded in mystery."
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 4
Grolier's encyclopedia, under the heading "Divisions of the Old Testament" states:
"The Pentateuch is based on four principal sources. The oldest, J, was perhaps written in Judah, the southern kingdom, about 950 BC. Between 900 and 750, another version from Israel, the northern kingdom, was woven in; this is called EPHRAIM (E). In the 7th century BC, Deuteronomy, or most of it (D), was compiled. About 550 BC, during the exile, the final edition of the Torah added a priestly source (P), some parts of which are very old."
Encarta's Encyclopedia says:
"Pentateuch (Greek penta, "five"; teuch, "book"), collectively, first five books of the Old Testament, that is, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The term was used by the Christian theologian Origen to denote what the Jews of his time called the "Five-Fifths of Torah (teaching)." Pentateuch is the translation of the Hebrew term for this concept. The Torah is the holiest and most beloved of the sacred writings of the Jews. "The Five Books of Moses," as a designation of the Pentateuch, was first used in the Western church by St. Jerome and the Christian theologian Tyrannius Rufinus. The Mosaic authorship of the work is not directly affirmed in the books themselves, but it became tacitly accepted by Christian orthodoxy. The Pentateuch includes various textual strata of writings, notably the Yahwist (J, which refers to God as Jahwemodern Jehovahor Yahweh) and the Elohist (E, which refers to God as Elohiym). The Hebrew priest and reformer Ezra, whose work is associated with another textual component of the Pentateuch known as the Priestly stratum (P), gave impetus to observance of the regulations of the Pentateuch."
Let us have a look at an example of these doublets from Genesis 6:5 to 8:22. The Jehovah(J) text is in regular type, the Priestly(P) is in bold:
Genesis 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Genesis 6:6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Genesis 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Genesis 6:10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Genesis 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch.
Genesis 6:15 And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
Genesis 6:16 A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.
Genesis 6:17 And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
Genesis 6:18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.
Genesis 6:19 And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.
Genesis 6:20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
Genesis 6:21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them.
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Genesis 7:1 And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.
Genesis 7:2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.
Genesis 7:3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth.
Genesis 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
Genesis 7:5 And Noah did according unto all that the LORD commanded him.
Genesis 7:6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
Genesis 7:7 And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
Genesis 7:8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are not clean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth,
Genesis 7:9 There went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God had commanded Noah.
Genesis 7:10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
Genesis 7:11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Genesis 7:12 And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
Genesis 7:13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;
Genesis 7:14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
Genesis 7:15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.
Genesis 7:16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.
Genesis 7:17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.
Genesis 7:18 And the waters prevailed, and were increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.
Genesis 7:19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.
Genesis 7:20 Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.
Genesis 7:21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:
Genesis 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.
Genesis 7:23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark.
Genesis 7:24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days.
Genesis 8:1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged;
Genesis 8:2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained;
Genesis 8:3 And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated.
Genesis 8:4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
Genesis 8:5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of the mountains seen.
Genesis 8:6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:
Genesis 8:7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.
Genesis 8:8 Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;
Genesis 8:9 But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.
Genesis 8:10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;
Genesis 8:11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
Genesis 8:12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.
Genesis 8:13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.
Genesis 8:14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was the earth dried.
Genesis 8:15 And God spake unto Noah, saying,
Genesis 8:16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.
Genesis 8:17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
Genesis 8:18 And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him:
Genesis 8:19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark.
Genesis 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Genesis 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savor; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
Genesis 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease
Richard Elliot Friedman is a professor in the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Doctorate in Hebrew Bible at Harvard University. He is one of many scholars who have attempted to critically study these "source" documents of the "five books of Moses" in order to arrive at the identity of the authors, the time period when each was written, the motives for writing each narrative, and other information. In his book "Who Wrote the Bible," Prof. Friedman presents strong evidence that each "source document" was written by a person or persons who, while on the face of it seem to narrate the same stories, in actuality had distinctly different goals they wished to achieve.
According to Mr. Friedman's research, each source emphasizes a certain branch of the Jews, their nobility, birth right, and closeness to God. Sometimes at the price of other branches of the Jews. For instance, J was written by descendants of Judah, E came from descendants of Israel, and P was written by a priest from the descendants of Aaron. According to Mr. Friedman, the P (Priestly) source seems to be particularly interested in priests, their lineage, their being the only ones who are allowed to sacrifice to God, the importance of sacrifice to God, and the surprising absence of all stories wherein anyone not of their lineage made a sacrifice that was accepted by God (for instance the sacrifice of the sons of Adam is missing from this narrative). It also contains stories of how all those who attempted to make sacrifices to God without the agency of an Aaronid priest were killed by God.
The author goes on to show how in J and E we can find similar emphasis on one tribe of the Jews over the other. For instance, on pages 64-65 he shows how both the J and E documents attempt to give the birthright of Jacob to their own forefathers. He also shows how in the E version, Joseph is saved by his brother Ruben (the firstborn of Israel), while in the J version it is Judah who saves him. The author presents countless other proofs of these claims.
The JE texts magnify prophet Moses. They depict Aaron as having fashioned the golden calf. They also describe Aaron and his sister Meriam as having criticized Moses and having been chastised by God himself for this. They regularly have God saying "and Yahweh said unto Moses....." On the other hand, the P document (written by Aaronid priests), usually states: "and Yahweh said unto Moses and unto Aaron......" In this document, the staff Moses used to perform his miracles is called "Aaron's staff." In the P document Aaron is also named as the firstborn brother of Moses. Also, as mentioned previously, in the P text no mention is made of any sacrifices to God whatsoever until the last chapter of Exodus wherein we find the story of Aaron's sacrifice when he was consecrated as high priest. After that, all sacrifices are performed by Aaron and his sons. In other words, the author of P gives no precedence for sacrifice for anyone other than an Aaronid priest. There are even a couple of places in this document which denigrate Moses (pbuh). They depicts Moses (pbuh) as sinning and Aaron suffering for Moses' sin.
Well, what about the rest of the Old Testament? Are the remaining books of the Old Testament known to have been preserved from change since the time of their first writing and truly to be the words of the claimed authors? No! Once again, Groliers encyclopedia tells us:
".....Joshua tells of a thorough conquest of Canaan, but Judges contains traditions of the Hebrew tribes in the period before the monarchy that reveal the conquest as partial. The books of Samuel are about the founding of the monarchy under Saul and David and contain a magnificent early source for the life of David, probably written about 961-22 BC. All the above books have been extensively edited by writers who shared the theology of the D source." (emphasis added).
Yale Professor Harold Bloom is the author of the book "Book Of J" His book goes to prove that the author of Pentateuch was not prophet Moses (pbuh), rather, he believes that the Pentateuch, especially the oldest stories of Bible such as stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, Joseph and even Moses were the works of a woman, probably a descendant of King David in 10th century BC. Harold Bloom says that the "second-rate plagiarists" later formed scriptures out of her scripts.
Prof. Richard Friedman has also suggested that a woman contributed the OT which was later formally shaped as part of The Holy Bible. Though other scholars believe it was the work of a group of scholars and Jewish traditions. US NEWS & WORLD REPORT, Dec 10, 1990.
The famous 19th century French scholar, Alfred Loisy says
"To explain the divinity of the sources, the Papal Commission of Biblical Studies declared, in a memorable decree, that Moses had secretaries. The secretaries of Moses! A brilliant discovery, to be sure!"
"..[in the OT] too many sources, both oral and written, have joined together. And much of the tradition was added later: different hands have been at work at different periods combining and editing the various collections and books or parts of books. In many instances a later pen has glossed or interpreted the original text with his own additions, or tried to bring it up to date for his own age. Nowadays less and less attention is paid to the question of authenticity, which previously played a large part in Old Testament research. A new conception has arisen concerned with finding out what was the perpose behind these additions and with understanding the composition as such. Why did the redactor arrange the parts as we now know them - sometimes so unreconciled and so contradictory that the transitions and breaks are imediately recognizable? "
The Old Testament, Its origins and Composition, by Kurt Kuhl, translated by C. T. M. Herriott, p. 299