Historical Christadelphian Approaches - 9

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Index of Early Genesis, A review of historical Christadelphian approaches

by Bro Ken Chalmers, January, 2016

9. Authorship

Recent publications have drawn attention to authorship of the early chapters of Genesis. Interestingly, our early brethren were aware of possibilities associated with authors, other than Moses, being responsible for documents which Moses, or other possible editors, may have used in formulating the book, under God’s guidance. Our early brethren’s views are expressed in the following:

“Besides the use of pre-Mosaic documents in the composition of the writings of Moses, there are at least two cases where matter written after his death (in one case centuries afterwards) is inserted. The one is chap. xxxvi. 31-43, where the genealogy of Esau is completed by an addition concerning later times from 1 Chron i.43, and the other is the account of the death of Moses, probably inserted by Eleazer by the direction of Joshua.”[1]

More recently, new thought has been given to authorship and editorial responsibility for the book of Genesis, as follows:

“The evidence within the book of Genesis points to the fact that the so-called higher critics were right in their conclusion that Genesis consists of a series of manuscripts, written by different authors, brought together and completed by an editor . . .  There are clear evidences of ‘editorship’ within the text of Genesis . . .  There is a sense in which the traditional view that ‘Moses wrote Genesis’ is correct; but the fullness of the matter is that Moses took ‘the Scriptures’ (Gal. 3:8; Jas. 2:23; ‘the Testimony’ of Ex. 16:34) which the children of Israel had brought out of Egypt, and brought them together in the book of Genesis we have today, adding by the Spirit such details as he was directed to do.”[2]

Almost concurrently, questions have been raised about the authorship of the first eleven chapters of Genesis demonstrated in the follow abstract:

“Inter-textual analysis of the Pentateuch demonstrates that Moses did not write Genesis 1-11, and that these chapters were written during or very shortly after the Babylonian exile by another inspired writer, most likely Daniel. This conclusion is supported by inter-textual analysis of the rest of the Old Testament, and references in the New Testament. Socio-historical data from Mesopotamian texts which would have been available to Daniel during the Babylonian captivity, provides strong evidence for the conclusion.” [3]

The above writer draws evidence from a range of sources including references to the early chapters of Genesis in later Scripture, similarities in language in these chapters to later Babylonian documents etc, to suggest that an exilic or post-exilic authorship is suggested. This would point to not just later authorship for some parts of Genesis, but also further opportunity for a divinely inspired author and/or editor, to make further late changes resulting in what is in our Bibles.

  1. Roberts, R The Christadelphian, v12, p82 (1875)
  2. Burt, B, Gems from early Genesis, in The Testimony, v85, p5 (2015)
  3. Burke, J, Evidence that Moses did not write Genesis 1-11, in Defence and Confirmation, v2, p87 (June 2015)

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