Why do some assert that the Pentateuch books were not written by Moses?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Pentateuch means “five books” and is often used to represent the first 5 books of the Bible and Torah.


In 1753, a French court physician, Jean Astruc, published a book, Conjectures, in which he stated that the different names of the Godhead occurring in Genesis show that the book is merely a collection of various source materials and that Moses was the collector and compiler of these sources not the author. Critical theologians have worked for more than two centuries to separate the supposed sources of Genesis and assign them to different authors. But because of the great difference in their views their hypotheses were seen as not valid.


Here are few of the reasons some say the Pentateuch was not written by Moses and the response of the Christian conservatives that don’t agree with them:

  • The use of three different names of God allegedly shows that more than one author was involved.
  • The many repetitions of stories show that parallel sources were used and formed together into one narrative by a later writer.
  • Conditions reflected in the stories of Genesis allegedly do not fit into the periods described, but into much later times.
  • Place names of a much later period are given to localities when their earlier names had been different.
  • The traditions about the Creation, the Flood, and the patriarchs as they existed in ancient Babylon are similar to the Biblical record that most modern theologians believe the Hebrew writers borrowed these stories from the Babylonians during the Exile.


The conservative Christians don’t agree with the previous points for the following reasons:

  • They see that the sacred names for God, Lord, and Jehovah are used indiscriminately throughout the Hebrew Bible and do not indicate different authors, as the critics maintain. The LXX and the most ancient Hebrew Bible manuscripts, including the recently discovered Isaiah scroll, show that the name “God” found in a certain passage in one copy is given in another manuscript as “Lord” or “Jehovah,” and vice versa.
  • Repetitions frequently found in narratives are certainly not an indication of different sources for a given literary work because many non-Biblical examples have similar repetitions.
  • An increased knowledge of ancient history and conditions has revealed that the author of Genesis was well informed about the times he describes, and that the account of the patriarchs fits exactly into the setting of their time.
  • Place names have been modernized in certain cases by copyists to enable their readers to follow the narrative.
  • The fact that the Babylonians had traditions to some extent similar to the Hebrew records is not an evidence that one nation borrowed from the other. It simply means they had a common origin for both records. Also the inspired book of Genesis carried divine information in a pure form, whereas the Babylonian accounts presented the same events in a pagan setting.


The good news is that the Lord didn’t leave us to wonder about who the author of Genesis or the Pentateuch was for Jesus Himself confirmed that the Law was given by Moses (Mark 10:3; Luke 24:27; John 1:17). The context of the narrative (Mark 10:2–9) relating Jesus’ dispute with the Pharisees about the divine sanction of divorce makes it clear that He attributed to Moses the quotations taken from the first book in the Bible – Genesis.

When His antagonists asked Him whether they had a right to divorce their wives, Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you?” In their reply, the Pharisees referred to a provision made by Moses, found in Deuteronomy 24:1–4, a passage from the fifth book of the Pentateuch. To this, Christ replied that Moses had given them this precept because of the hardness of their heart, but that the earlier provisions had been different, and supported His statement by two other quotations from Moses (Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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