Who Wrote the Bible? Paperback – Aug 25 2009
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"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Readers need to be aware that this book first came out in the 1980s. With that in mind, parts of the book are very helpful, parts seem a bit naive. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Carolyn Snipes-Hoyt
A must read if anyone is really interested in this questionPublished 20 months ago by ernest reinhart
This is an excellent book! The research, by the author, that went into this subject is truly a labour of love. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Dave1947
This is a captivating analysis of the first five books of the bible which is backed up by comparisons of the different styles of the authors. Read morePublished on July 27 2014 by Suze Bootz
An excellent readable account of the Bible's development.
A must read for anyone interested in history and theology through human eyes.
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? Read morePublished on July 6 2012 by Dave_42
As a lay person I had absolutely no problems whatsover following Friedman's writing. It was clear and stated easily, and frankly a joy to read.Published on May 3 2004