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Who Wrote the Bible? Paperback – Aug 25 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; New edition edition (Aug. 25 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060630353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060630355
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

"J," "P," "E," and "D" are the names scholars have given to some authors of the Bible, and, as such, they are very important letters to a lot of people. Churches have died and been born, and millions of people have lost faith or found it, because of the last two centuries of debate about who, exactly, wrote the canonical texts of Christianity and Judaism. Richard Elliott Friedman's survey of this debate, in Who Wrote the Bible?, may be the best written popular book about this question. Without condescension or high-flown academic language, Friedman carefully describes the history of textual criticism of the Bible--a subject on which his authority is unparalleled (Friedman has contributed voluminously to the authoritative Anchor Bible Dictionary). But this book is not just smart. Perhaps even more impressive than Friedman's erudition is his sensitivity to the power of textual criticism to influence faith. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Library Journal

Friedman carefully sifts through clues available in the text of the Hebrew Bible and those provided by biblical archaeology searching for the writer(s) of, primarily, the Pentateuch. He does so with clarity and engaging style, turning a potentially dry scholarly inquiry into a lively detective story. The reader is guided through the historical circumstances that occasioned the writing of the sources underlying the Five Books of Moses and the combining of these diverse sources into the final literary product. According to Friedman, the most controversial part of his case is the identification of the writer and date of the Priestly source. This book is neither comprehensive nor unduly complex, making it a good introductory text for beginners and nonspecialists. Recommended for all academic libraries. Craig W. Beard, Harding Univ. Lib., Searcy, Ark.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

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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6 of 6 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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5 of 5 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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3 of 3 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marc Riese on March 5 2004
Format: Paperback
This excellent book focuses exclusively on who wrote the first five books of the Bible, also known as the Pentateuch or Torah. The title is thus unnecessarily misleading and an explanatory subtitle would have been a simple fix. Such a fix would not compromise sales and would nullify any suspicions that the misleading is partially intended for lucrative purposes. The author's aim is to synthesize his and related research, to give an overview for experts, and to make the topic accessible for a wide audience. The aims are amply achieved, the author is clearly competent, and his writing is a pleasure to read. For me as an amateur novice, it was tantalizing to be lead through some chapters like a whodunit, and surprising to see how advances continue steadily in the field. As a non-expert I got the feeling that the research has matured beyond simply dissecting fragments and has moved towards constructive synthesis. Presumably, this book can be taken more seriously than the many, many books on this or related topics by authors who have no serious credentials. The topic is obviously important for all people of the Western and Middle Easter world, including agnostics like me, because the Bible has defined much of who we are and the first five books are seminal. Yes, most people will say to themselves that only the contents are important, but by understanding the history of how the contents came about, one can get MUCH better understanding of the contents. The second edition includes significant changes and a substantial new preface.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Scott Miller on April 5 2004
Format: Paperback
The Christian Church originally believed the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. Through the centuries, a few people were unconvinced that Moses wrote every single word (such as the account of his death). All were called heretics. Only in the past hundred years or so has the idea of multiple authors gained wide acceptance. That idea is called the Documentary Hypothesis, and in "Who Wrote the Bible", Richard Elliot Friedman turns it into one of the greatest historical mysteries of all time.
Written as a whodunit with suspense on every page, Friedman paints a picture of an ancient civilation racked by inner turmoil and bitterness between rival factions. We see the anger and betrayal, and then the indescribable grief when the nation finally fell. And the one man who sought to heal these wounds creating the most influential book in history. Who was this man? I wouldn't dream of telling you because it would deprive you of the thrill of reading one of the most entertaining non-fiction books ever written. If you are at all curious about the history of the Old Testament, you will love this book.
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