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Who Wrote The Bible? Paperback – Mar 25 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harperone; New edition edition (March 25 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060630353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060630355
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.6 x 1.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Customer Reviews

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Ohebsion on July 16 2004
Format: Paperback
I am surprised that there have not been more books written on Biblical authorship. However, the term Bible in this book is used loosely, because almost the entire book is about only the Torah portion of the Bible (aka the Pentatuech or the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deutoronomy)
In this book, the author plays the role of Bible detective and tries to piece together a theory on who wrote (or edited or compiled) the various parts of the Torah, when they wrote it, where they wrote it, and why they wrote what they wrote.
He concludes that there are several distinct sources (from wither individuals or groups) that are pieced together to form the Torah. He identifies them and tries to desribe them.
However, keep in mind that we are dealing with some very old texts here, and it is very difficult to determine anyhting about their authorship. Don't get me wrong, the author does a fine job in his investigation, but still, these are more like educated guesses than they are near conclusive conclusions.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who is interested in religion. The Torah directly or indirectly forms a major part of the foundation of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is definitely worth knowing where the Torah comes from, and this book is clearly one of the best on this subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David Dressler on May 11 2001
Format: Paperback
This book was so fascinating, I couldn't put it down. It was so gripping, I kept reading it, even though I was supposed to be attending a Bible class at that very moment. This book is easy to read, and provides a wonderfully coherent theory as to the authors of various parts of the bible.
The only problem is that most biblical scholars don't believe in it any more.
After reading it, I approached a number of my professors (I am a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College) to ask them about this book, and had to duck to avoid the vitriol that was unloaded against it. The Documentary Hypothesis doesn't have too many adherents there.
It is definitely worth reading; it needs a huge grain of salt to go with it, though, so be careful.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Bold on Feb. 12 2003
Format: Paperback
First, note that Friedman's "Bible" is the Christian "Old Testament." For equally good books about the New Testament, look up the works of Hyam Maccoby and Burton L. Mack.
Second, "Who Wrote the Bible?" took me back to my undergraduate classes in the Old Testament, refreshing my memory regarding such issues as the Documentary Hypothesis, but going beyond with the latest scholarship (a lot has happened in the last twenty plus years!) I can't say enough good things about this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Zeeshan Hasan on May 10 2004
Format: Paperback
If you want to learn all about the fascinating Old Testament scholarship of the 20th century, you can either spend a few years in divinity school or read this book. Of course, reading the book is a whole lot cheaper. =)
Actually, Friedman does not discuss the entire Old Testament, but only the first five books (the Torah, or Pentateuch), which are traditionally held to have been written by Moses. He outlines how modern scholarship has in fact identified several different authors, usually referred to as the Yahwist, Elohist, Priestly and Deuteronomist sources, as well as a final Redactor or editor. Brilliant stuff, and Friedman makes it read like the greatest bit of historical detective work ever.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An excellent readable account of the Bible's development.
A must read for anyone interested in history and theology through human eyes.
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By Dave_42 TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 6 2012
Format: Paperback
For those who are interested in a scholarly discussion of a question which most people (at least most have wondered at some point or another) "Who Wrote The Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman is a book you should read. Friedman uses history as well as uses the contact to first build the case for multiple authors of the Books of Moses, and then put forward a plausible hypothesis for the authorship for the different sections. Of course, he is not attempting to name specific authors, but rather focused on where the authors were from, and what their position was in the society.

The core of the book is less than 250 pages, but the appendices, bibliography and notes bring it closer to 300 pages. That being said, while Friedman does an excellent job of presenting his subject in a concise matter, it is his references that make "Who Wrote The Bible?" such a great work by itself, as well as be a tremendous reference to do further reading on the subject.

Friedman opens with a discussion of the traditional authors of the Bible and why those were clearly not accurate, and then moves into an overview of the world which produced the first books of the Bible. He then goes into the two different authors of the events and how their accounts are different, and how they are the same. The authors are given the names J and E based on the words they use to refer to God. Friedman then goes into more detail on who these writers were, i.e. where they were from, when did they live, and what were their roles in society. Note that Friedman doesn't rule out the possibility that J and E each have multiple writers, but rather than whether they do or not doesn't have an impact on the overall viewpoint of the texts.

Of course, the authorship doesn't end with J and E.
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