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Who Wrote the Bible? Paperback – January 1, 1987
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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
A contemporary classic that is a "thought-provoking [and] perceptive guide [to the Bible's authorship]."--"New York Times Book Review""Brilliantly presented: There is no other book like this one. It may well be unique."--"Los Angeles Times""Remarkable. Friedman has written that most rare of books: a legitimate intellectual contribution that is also a good read. The field of biblical studies will be enriched by this book."--"Dallas Times Herald""It is an event to have a book as readable and exciting as "Who Wrote the Bible? "It has about it the resounding smack of solid truth."--"Harvard Magazine"
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Since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Biblical scholarship has concluded that the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), as well as the books which follow them, are the products of numerous authors writing at various times in the history of the Hebrew Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. What Friedman has done here is to use his own years of research to analyze the work of earlier scholars and explain his agreements or dissents from their theories. The most fascinating sections are those in which Friedman presents sections of the Bible which are familiar to studious Jews and Christians, explaining which were written by early priests, which were produced in either Israel or Judah, and which came from the period after the Babylonian Exile. It makes for an intriguing read that depicts the Old Testament as the outcome of years of study and thought by numerous men (and sometimes women) who worked to understand what God intended for His people.
It's an unfortunate fact that many people regard Biblical studies such as this one as in some way blasphemous, as if using humanity's intellect and imagination to better understand the world could in some way be offensive to God. Rest assured that, while Friedman's readers will be challenged and informed by his scholarship, their faith will not be weakened unless they want it to be.
As a student of ANE languages, as well as a student of understanding the Jewish background and geography of the Bible, I thought I had a firm foundation for approaching the scriptures and understanding them from a scholarly point-of-view. However, I was mistaken. Without the material presented here by Dr. Friedman, I dare say the student misses a treasure of nuance and humor. Yes, I say humor because you can't help but smile when you see the underlying motivations for stating half of the doublet one way and the other half another way.
Can this knowledge shake the faith of the some? I imagine so. The idea that a writer's own biases went into producing these contributing JEPD documents will be contrary to those who think the authors of the Bible were simply sitting there taking dictation. But, hopefully, what comes out of all of this is a stronger, informed faith that is not plagued by childish notions.
This book helps turn Christian children into Christian adults. Bravo!
J and E were combined when Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was overtaken by the Assyrians around 722 BC. Refugees fled into Judah, and an editor ( the author says that Ezra was the redactor) combined the refugees' E manuscript with their J manuscript. That's the reason for 2 creation stories and 2 flood stories. Ezra also redacted the entire Pentateuch, according to the author.
This was a great book, and I really learned a lot!
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However, I bought this copy used, and it smelled terrible.Read more