A Non-Mosaic Torah

“From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”  Of course God was not lying to Adam.  The price for sin is blood.  When Paul said, “According to the law almost everything is purified by blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness,” he was not presenting new information to the Jews, he was simply emphasizing what they already knew to be true.  Getting there was a long road though.  The first time God purified the world was in Noah’s Flood.  Shortly after Noah’s flood God brought Abram into the world and promised him to make a great nation of him because of his faith.  Three generations later He saved Abraham’s family from starvation by placing one of the children in a position of authority in Egypt, where he had knowledge of the coming famine and the prudence and position to prepare for it.  Four hundred years later the Israelites needed salvation from their gracious hosts of old.  With the night of the Passover, the political nation of Israel was born and the people who had found God’s favor found themselves being brought to the foot of Mount Sinai, where they were to receive the Law of Moses and a formal system of restitution and forgiveness.
For the first time in history man and God had an opportunity to share in a bond never experienced on Earth outside the Garden of Eden – that of mans’ sins covered over in the blood of restitution.  This was very specific and many requirements had to have been met in order for the sacrifice to be a valid offering to God.  The sacrifices had to be in the right place, performed by the right people with the right animals.  The priests had to be ordained ministers and wear the right clothes.  God’s decision on who were to fulfill all these “rights” rested on Abraham’s faithfulness.  The unique relationship the Israelites shared with the Lord through the Law bore many fruits.  It put them in a place of moral, spiritual, physical and mental superiority to the rest of the world.  This was God’s family.  They were His people and it was the Law that was the vehicle that brought them to this exalted position.  Without the opportunity to stand before God without the burden of sin on their persons, they would not have been able to achieve anything more than mediocrity.
This was the stage the Christ stepped out onto.  In the fullness of time, God come down from Heaven and made His dwelling among us.  If Jesus is truly the manifestation of God then Mary is the personification of the perfect Jewish society, but that is also a different discussion.  Because the blood of goats and lambs did not remove the stain of sin and completely restore man to God, a better sacrifice was called for.  God wanted a better relationship, one made perfect.  While the Law was perfect, the sacrifice did nothing more than cover the sins of the people and they had to make the same sacrifice over and over again.  “For this I was born and for this I came into the world,” is what Jesus told His disciples.  With the backdrop of salvation history, the world was ready to move on to the perfection of the person and work of Christ Jesus the Lord through the framework given to the Israelites in the Law.  This would be a valid sacrifice made in the right place, by the right people who wore the right clothes in a perfect framework for the forgiveness of sins once and for all.
If the Torah is not an historical set of documents that was not written by Moses but was written by several authors and redactors over the course of four hundred years (or so) finally finding completion a thousand years after the death of Moses, as the skeptical, liberal critics suggest, the religion of the Hebrews is nothing more than any pagan religion coming out of the Ancient Orient and it holds no more weight with God than any of the contemporary religions of its day. 
The Documentary Theory asserts that four major documents make up the Torah as we know it today, namely the Elohist and the Yahwist Documents which were written to explain the history of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms respectively which were married by the Deuteronomic Code and later completed by the Priestly Code which was devised by the priesthood to consolidate power and finally completing the first five books of the Bible.  Many even deny the actual existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as historical figures but flippantly explain them away as national myth.  This all has very serious consequences for the faithful believer of Judaism and Christianity because it presupposes a piecemeal compilation of the Law of Moses under which the restitution of sins is obtained.  If this was not given to Moses on Mount Sinai in its entirety then the claim that it is from God is false!  That would mean it does not truly cover mans’ sin in any way shape or form.  How then is it different than the cult worship of Inanna in Ancient Sumer?  How is it different than the worship of Osiris in Egypt, Dionysius in Greece or Apollo in Rome?
The difference between the ancient religion given to Moses and the surrounding pagan cults is exactly that is was supposed to have been given by the true and living God. How is this religion different if the practice of Temple worship was never instituted in Jerusalem until 621 BC?! if monotheism was never part of Judaism until the Babylonian Exile?! The pillar that holds up the structure of the practice of the religion given to Moses is its ability to restore man’s relationship to God. It allows man to stand before God with his sins covered in the blood of restitution. No other religion has that capability. There is no washing away of sins without a complete law coming down from Mount Sinai in the hands of Moses. Suppose there were no Tabernacle, no Ark of the Covenant and no Lavitical Priesthood upon Israel’s exit from bondage in Egypt. Suppose there were no Commandments and no prescribed liturgical practice by which the Hebrews were to live. That would mean God had no direct intervention in the course of human events, that He had no desire to restore man to Himself and that the world Jesus was born into was completely devoid of religious validity in the eyes of God.

31 Responses to A Non-Mosaic Torah

  1. Michael says:

    Dear Joel

    Some time ago, we debated these matters after the post had been published in this Blog about that Dutchman’s construction of the “Ark”. I have said that “it doesn’t seem to me that the Bible asserts the historicity of the Noah’s account”. In answer to FR. J. in the same comment I have elaborated: “It doesn’t seem to me that the inspired author(s) meant to give us an account of events, but wrote a story, which might have had some vague historical background… the real aim of which story was to put across a message along the lines described above” (see the comment for details).

    You then introduced the subject of Moses authorship and historicity of the whole Pentateuch, Documentary theory, Higher criticism, historicity of the Gospels, writings of Ratzinger, etc.; and in the end the evidence: the “Ark” “is still on display and being visited to this very day”. Finally: “It does look to me that we will never come to agreement on the things we have been discussing, so I will leave it at that.”

    As for any debate between two friends, both have to be enthusiastic for it, I took your words seriously and did not want to press. But now, you are back. Am I to take it as an invitation to continue?

  2. Joel says:

    Dear Michael,

    Thanks for asking, and I do invite you to a friendly debate.

    Please do not take this post as something personally directed towards you. It is directed towards the entire camp of those who believe the Torah was not written by Moses. My main goal was to look at the implication of what Judaism really is without the direct intervention of God in the authorship of the Pentateuch and while that may lead to points and counter-points regarding the scholarship involved in formulating the Documentry Theory which leads to Higher Criticism of the Gospels, my question with this post remains: Is Judaism (and by defaulf Christianity) a valid religion in the eyes of the True and Living God or is it a piecemeal compilation of rituals that do not do what they perport to do?

  3. Michael says:


    Do not worry: it will be friendly. We both love our Holy Church. I do not take the Post personally, but I am very interested in the subject. Hope we will both learn something, particularly if others join.

  4. Michael says:

    JOEL, Greeting in Christ

    I think I understand what is your concern, but I’d rather put it in my words for your confirmation or amendments, or scrap if applicable. Whatever you do, rest assured that I will take no offence. You are the author of the Post, i.e. you are its sole authentic interpreter.

    – Your concern is neither the Mosaic authorship, nor Documentation Theory, nor Higher Criticism – all as such,
    – but you are worried that the denial of Christ’s divinity by the latter,
    – which in your view logically follows from the denial of Mosaic Authorship and the acceptance of the Documentation Theory.
    – would, if scholarly proved succesful,
    – undermine the Faith,
    – including your Faith
    – both being essentially dependant on the proof of the Divinity from the NT.

    Am I right ?

  5. Dr. Eric says:

    Even worse, on PBS it was suggested that the Hebrews never went to Egypt and made the whole thing up to distance themselves from their Canaanite neighbors after breaking free from Egyptian imperialism.

  6. Joel says:


    You are correct in your understanding of my concern, for the most part. I do believe the Documentry Theory undermines the divinty of Christ because I believe Jesus explicity attributes the Torah to Moses, but it also denies divine intervention in the institution of the religion of the Hebrews. It is this second point that is the lynch pin because if there is no divine institution of the liturgical practice of the descendants of Abraham then by default Christianity is not what it purports to be. The Hebrews enjoyed a special place in the world solely because of their relationship with the Creator and His intervention in their community. When the Egyptian Exile, journey through the desert and reception of the Torah is challenged (as it is with the Documentry Theory) the very thing that seperated the Hebrews from the rest of the ancient world evaporates. In my opinion, the person and work of Jesus Christ depends entirely on the validity of the Torah.

    My own faith is not challenged by the Documentry Theory because I feel the scholarship is out there to disprove it, including hundreds of thousands of clay tablets that crumble the primary arguments that the Documentry Theory rests upon. Supposing the Documentry Theory were true (which I feel I can demonstrate that it is not), Christianity would change dramatically.

    Dr Eric,

    The denial of the account of the Patriarchs is fundamental to the Documentry Theory. It is disappointing to see this so prevalent in the Church today.

  7. Michael says:

    “Supposing the Documentry Theory were true (which I feel I can demonstrate that it is not), Christianity would change dramatically.”

    Do you mean that the Catholic Faith would change dramatically ?

  8. Joel says:


    All of Christianity, including Catholicism, Orthodoxy and all of their descendants claim to be restored to God by virtue of what Jesus did on Calvary. Jesus was able to accomplish that is because of the unique relationship the Hebrews had with God. If what we were given in the Torah is not what it claims than neither what we given on Calvary is what it claims.

  9. Michael says:


    I agree, but that is not answer to my question.

  10. Joel says:

    Yes, I believe the Catholic Faith would change dramatically, along with all other denominations of Christianity.

  11. Michael says:

    JOEL, thanks. Please, sincerely I am trying to find out your line of thinking, because I wouldn’t like to comment on what might eventualy turn our to be my misunderstanding of your line of thinking – no other reason is involved.

    Now to return to your earlier statement: “My own faith is not challenged by the Documentry Theory because I feel the scholarship is out there to disprove it, including hundreds of thousands of clay tablets that crumble the primary arguments that the Documentry Theory rests upon.”

    Fair enough, but surely I cannot assume that your conclusion from this evidence is infallible; i.e. your conclusion, however much you think to be right, can be wrong, and if it were proved to be the case, would you loose your faith?

  12. Joel says:


    As a matter of fact, if the Documentry Theory were true I would loose all faith I have in Christianity, and that would be the way it should be. The entire aim of the Documentry Theory is to destroy the faith of the Church. Here is exactly where the problem is, if the liturgical practice of the Hebrews was not given to them by God (which is central to the Documentry Theory of the Pentateuch) then it has no redemptive authority in Heaven or on Earth. If the Hebrew religion has no redemptive power then what happened at the command of the Father through the Son on Calvary likewise has no redemptive power. That would mean our faith is empty and we are not restored to the Father and we never were and we have no hope for the salvation of our souls!

    My faith, as well as the faith of all Christians, is dependant on the truth of God that was brought to us by the Apostles, recorded in the scriptures. How empty that faith would be if the primary tenants were false.

  13. Michael says:

    Before responding to your last post I have to divert the subject because the whole debate might turn out useless if both of us do not know our respective starting positions.

    The reason is that you, inadvertently or not, keep using the term “Christianity” or its equivalent, and on one occasion you referred to the “Catholicism” as if were some kind of subdivision of Christianity, and not as the Christianity properly so called, others being, in one way on another, defective forms of it.

    While I respect you whatever you are, if our starting positions differ, I would communicate with you in different way if you were not a Catholic than I would if you are. I am a cradle Catholic, or at least I believe I am, brought up in a Catholic family and the Catholic community in which I received the Faith and in which that Faith was sustained throughout my life. In no way has this Faith ever been Bible-dependant, nor is it now; and the Documentary Theory, while interesting and making sense as a sort of curiosity, has really nothing to do with my Faith. If what you attribute to all Christians were really attributable to all, I am not a Christian.

    So, it would be helpful in the debate if I knew where you stand, but you might have your own reason not to tell me, and again, I would respect it.

  14. Joel says:

    I am Roman Catholic.
    I have to respectfully disagree that Catholics are the only Christians, but I really prefer not to get onto that subject right now.

  15. Michael says:

    I did not say that “Catholics are the only Christians.” but, to paraphrase: Catholicism is the only Christianity in a full sense of that word. So, we have clarified this “diversion”. Now to the subject:

    My faith is primarily dependant on what the living Magisterium of the Catholic Church teaches us here and now (10/1), as received in her “doctrine, life and worship” (DV 8/1). That is how I received it in the Catholic community. It goes beyond saying that it ultimetely goes back to God’s self-revelation in Christ (DV 4/1 and 7/1), communicated to the Apostes (7/1), passed on to the early Church (7/1), which adopted the OT, wrote the NT (7/1), canonized both (8/3) etc., but we know all this through the Faith of the living Church.

  16. Michael says:

    JOEL, sorry, I clicked inadvertently. To continue:

    The Scripture is neither over nor under the Church, but the Word entrusted to the Church (10/1), that lives and is understood within the Church.

    It “is the utterance of God in so far as it was written down under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, while sacred Tradition hands on in its entirety the Word of God. … In this way it comes about that the Church does not derive from the holy Scripture alone the certainty she possesses on all revealed truths” (9).

    “…sacred Tradition, holy Scripture, and the Church’s Magisterium are by God’s most wise decree so closely connected and associated together that one does not subsists without the other two”(10/3).

    Documentary Theory is completely irrelevant in this context.. Agreed ?

  17. Joel says:


    I think you are missing the point and mistaken when you say, “Documentry Theory is completely irrelevant in this context…”

    My point is exactly this: If the Documentry Theory accuratelty dipslays the history of human events then God had no direct intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Law. If God had no direct involement in the institution of the Mosaic Law the religion of the Hebrews does not in any way, shape or form restore man to God because it holds no more authority than any other pagan religion coming out of the Ancient Orient. If the Hebrew religion does not restore man to God then Christianity does not restore man to God and we have no hope for the salvation of our souls. That is a dramatic change in faith!

  18. Michael says:

    I apologize: in yesterday’s first post, the first reference should be 10/2 not 10/1

    I do not think I miss the point for the following reasons:
    (1) If the Magisterium had so serious objection to the D(ocumentary) T(heory) it would have seriously reacted by now. On your account, it is the to-be-or-not-to-be of the whole Faith, while no reference to it is given in the CCC.
    (2) Catholic Faith is not derived from the Bible as it is the case with the Protestantism, or as the Islam depends on Quran, although the Church uses the Bible; it is the living Message received from Christ personally.
    (3) Divinity of Christ can’t be undisputably proved from the NT without Tradition, only illustrated.
    (4) DT doesn’t claim to display the history; it is only an attempt to explain the process of composition of the P(entateuch). I wouldn’t start with my own idea of how it was composed, and apply it to God. As we have no direct information how this process took place, all that is left to scholars is to propose the most reasonable theory on the basis of available evidence. It is not an attempt to deny the Divine authorship, but to explain how it took place. This is the main point: if THAT is how the P WAS produced, then THAT is the way HOW God produced it.
    (5) While God’s “direct” intervention in establishment of Mosaic Law is not disputable, the Church has made no pronouncement as to how this intervention actually took place.
    (6) The Church refers to the “Mosaic Law” frequently, but has never determined its scope. Usually it is applied to the Decalogue only, or few other laws, not the whole lot as recorded mostly in the Leviticus. In any case, much of the P covers other things, not Law.
    (7) One must not confuse “direct” intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Law with His intervention in writing the text of the P, and this is what worries you mostly, if not only.
    (8) If the Moses’authorship of the P were so essential for the Faith, it would certainly feature in the 700 pages of the CCC.

    With respect, and no disrespect implied: “If the DT accurately displays the history of human events then God had no direct intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Low.” See 4-8 above, but for the sake of argument I will ignore all that. Even so:

    From “If the DT accurately displays the history” it doesn’t follow that “God had no direct intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Low”; but the DT displays HOW God had directly intervened in the establishment of the Mosaic Low. The issue is NOT WETHER God has intervened, but how He has intervened.

    The two “if” assertions that follow stand regardless of whether or not the DT is proved or not, although the second one is the statement of fact but not a theological necessity: God could have restored mankind to himself by the Incarnation alone.

  19. Joel says:


    (1) My problem is exactly that the Magisterium does not have a problem. I believe they take DT too lightly, not because DT is the to-be-or-not-to-be of our faith but because the Torah, as portrayed in the P, is the to-be-or-not-to-be of our faith. The silence of the CCC is no argument for the validity of DT because the CCC does not address what is not revealed, it only addresses what IS revealed.
    (2) I agree to an extant. The NT comes out of the faith but the faith rests upon the OT. That is stated in the CCC in numbers 120-123.
    (3) Irrelevant to this discussion.
    (4) The DT DOES claim to display the historical events. Statements like this make me think you have never read anything about DT, but I know you have because you know it inside out. We DO have direct evidence of how the P was produced. The P tells us how it was produced.
    (5) The CCC does unequivically explain that Moses gave us the Mosaic Law (CCC 62).
    (6) The Church has no need to determine the scope of the Law, it is already spelled out in P. Jesus speaks to this seveal times.
    (7) My point is exactly that if the P is wrong in the way it presents the Law then it was not instituted by God because the P is very certain as to how it was derived. If it lies, then God lies.
    (8) Again, see CCC 62-64.

  20. Michael says:

    “Catholic Faith would change dramatically” and “I would loose all faith I have in Christianity” if the DT were true. By way of explanation there are, in your previous post, three if clauses (Nov. 27, at 7,17 am; hate retyping, can’t select and move for some reasons) which purport to depend one on another in sequence.

    I believe to have shown (27 Nov. 5.13 pm, last two paragraphs) that the second one would follow even if the DT were true. So there is not reason to make the Faith DT dependent either way. And the third one is not a logical condition for the restoration of humankind to God. Could you comment?

    I noted also previously what appeared odd:

    “Jesus was able to accomplish that is because of the unique relationship the Hebrews had with God” (Nov. 25 at 4,04 pm). Isn’t He God who was able to do it differently? OR

    “If what we were given in the Torah is not what it claims than neither what we given on Calvary is what it claims” (ibid.). The second, about Calvary, doesn’t logically follow from the first (about Torah). They are two providential events in sequence, the former being preparation for the latter, but not an intrinsic condition for it.

    And the DT doesn’t affect what “Torah… claims” anyway; or we have to establish what we, or each one of us, mean by the DT and the Torah’s claim respectively.

    I’ll come back to the points 1-8 later.

    Please, do not misunderstand me: I am neither a DT fan nor hostile to the Torah.

  21. Anonymous says:


    First let me explain the DT as I understand it then explore its consequences on salvation history. It denies the existence of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as historical figures and explains that they were national myth. It casts doubt on the figure of Moses and denies the state of slavery the Isrealites experienced in Egypt. It claims that the flight from captivity never happened and that Moses never come down from Mt. Sinai with the Law. Instead it claims that the Hebrews never left the land of Canaan and after conquering the rest of the native peoples and establishing the Northern and Southern Kingdoms they fabricated the events in order to validate their claim on the land. The Northern Kingdom generated the Elohist Document and the Southern Kingdom generated the Yahwist Document. The Duternomic Code was written shortly before the return from the Babylonian Exile and revealed by King Josiah upon the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Some time later, in order to consolidate power, the priest wrote the Priestly Code and imposed it upon the people.

    The testimony of the Torah could not be further from this account. According to what we have been left as the inspired, infallible, word of God in Holy Scripture, the Hebrews enjoyed special favor with God because of Abraham’s faithfulness. It purports that the Isrealites were able to cover their sins with the blood of goats and sheep (and other animals) in order to restore man’s relationship to God. I can not stress St. Paul’s statement enough, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” That was true the day Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, it is true today and it has been true on every day from that one to this one. This is the construct under which the Christ obtained our salvation, so the statement you made that God could have obtained our salvation through the Incarnation alone may be true in theory, it is not true in practice. Jesus is the Lamb of God. By His blood we have been restored.

    If God truly did reveal the Torah to the Hebrews the way the DT claims, then why didn’t God give us that account? The DT makes God a liar and a fraud and it reduces the religion of the Hebrews to nothing more than any pagan religion. Why can’t God be straight forward with us? Why all the cloak and dagger antics? Why can’t He find better agents than power hungry and deceitful priests to reveal Himself to us?

  22. Joel says:

    This last post is from me, I did not realize I was not signed in.

    What I was trying to demonstrate is that the work of Jesus in His life, death, resurrection and ascention into Heaven is entirely dependant on the Mosaic Law as it is given to us in the Torah.

  23. Michael says:

    I’d like this to be a dialogue rather that permit it to turn into series of unrelated monologues.

    I mean, that we should try to understand one another, and when one says something that another responds on the same subject until we reach a conclusion about which we both agree or disagree; and then go further.

    My main aim is to learn something, and would benefit from both being right and realising a mistake. If can pass what I know, if anything, to you and others I would be happy, because it is in one way or another related to our Faith, in no way do I wish to win an argument that would be detrimental to the truth. even it I had a skill to do it.

    To be more specific, in my post before the last one, I listed eight points to which you replied, and added two paragraphs at the end, to which you did not reply.

    Now, because the those last two points are crucial from my view point, I returned to them in the first two paragraphs of my last post, and related them to your previous statements about the relevance/irrelevance of the DT to your Faith and to the Faith in general. Would it be possible for you to address this matter?

    Furthermore, because I saw no logic in your third “if”close, I recalled two earlier assertions, which did not make sense to me either. I skipped them at the time, because it would have diverted the subject, but now they can be put together with that third problematic “if” close. Could you refer to them?

    Had I got your views on what is now here in the two paragraphs above, I would have taken your previous points 1-8 as I had promised, but there is now no point.

    So, I’d rather have your comments on these two paragraphs and what is related to them in previous posts, before taking up the points 1-8. Once we have cleared this backlog I can take up what you have posted today.

    Bur just to give you a hint, not to comment but to what I will elaborate:

    AFAIK the DT is an attempt to explain the genesis of P – nothing else. I have never come accross with the P commentary based on DT.

    Much of your second paragraph implies that you might have a view of inspiration, truth and interpretation of the scripture which is not in line with what is in the Encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu, Vat. II document Dei Verbum and the corresponding paragraphs of the CCC as I understand these articulations of Faith.

    If this procedure doesn’t suit I can go along with any other, if you so wish.

  24. Joel says:


    I thought I did address your comments in the two paragraphs following your eight points. That is entirely what my last post was about. I was trying to demonstrate how different the P is from the DT in what they assert as God’s intervention in the course of human events. Can we agree that the DT and P report vastly different histories?

    I thought I did show the Christ as the Lamb of God offered as a sin offering for the salvation of mankind. He operated under the Mosaic Law. If the DT reports accurate history then anything that was done under the Mosaic Law is not a valid sin offering in the eyes of God because the DT repudiates things that the Mosaic Law absolutely depends on to be true for its validity. That is why my third “if ” logically follows my second.

    I hope that clears things up. If you still feel I have not sufficiently answered your quests please let me know.

  25. Michael says:


    No, it doesn’t clear the things up.

    I have addressed the question exactly as you had stated earlier. These are your words: “If the DT accurately displays the history of human events then God had no direct intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Law.”

    Although DT is about the composition of the P and not about the history of human events (this is what I intended to deal with in point 4), I conceded your claim for the sake of argument. I presume it is incontestable that the DT does not tamper with the text itself of the P, and that the text of the P is inspired. So,

    “If the DT accurately displays the history of human events” then that is how the events took place, i.e. – the P being inspired by God – the DT displays exactly how God intervened “in the establishment of the Mosaic Law.”

    Instead of addressing this my reply to your initial “if”, you now try to show how the DT isn’t true. Supposing it isn’t true, then that would be how God intervened “in the establishment of the Mosaic Law”.

    In either case God’s intervention is not in dispute, and this is the reason why the DT doesn’t matter.

    So, the issue is not whether God intervened but how He intervened. If He intervened differently from what you envisage, then you have to admit that you misconceive His intervention, OR, to repeat my earlier assertion:

    “From ‘If the DT accurately displays the history of human events’ it does not follow that ‘God had no direct intervention in the establishment of the Mosaic Law’; but the DT explains HOW God had directly intervened in the establishment of the Mosaic Law.’ And fearing that you might overlook this “HOW”, I added: “The issue is NOT WHETHER God has intervened, but how He has intervened.

    I do not see why Moses couldn’t have kept a diary of some events he personally experienced, and that this material, together with other diaries and materials from other sources, was used by the compilers of more comprehensive documents, which were eventually put together by the final redactor, and that this whole process was divinely inspired, directly inspired for that matter. As Moses was the central figure in the events, and the events were a background in which the Law was given, the whole book was called “Moses” or “Law”. I really do not see what is your problem.

    Could you comment on all this before we go to points 1-8, and then to your two recent posts?

  26. Joel says:

    If the DT is true then God had no direct intervention in the institution of the Mosaic Law because DT IS about the history of human events. Maybe you do not know as much about the DT as I originally thought. According to DT there were no Patriarchs in reality. It flipantly explains them as national myth. That explains the course of human events. Can we agree on that? When Moses led his people out of Egypt and was given the Law it was because of the faithfulness of Abraham. The only reason the Hebrews were given their freedom and given the land of Canaan is because of the faithfulness of Abraham. God told Abraham, “I will make of you a great nation.” The foundations of Isreal’s greatness is Abraham’s faithfulness to God. They found their greatness through the exercise of the Mosaic Law. DT claims that all this was made up.

    When someone claims the foundations of Judaism are myths, or any religion for that matter, they are making a comment of a historical nature. Without Abraham the claims of the Hebrews are not true and neither is their favor with God and niether is their Law. DT goes through all sorts of claims, as I have stated previously, which are historical in nature. It directly challenges what the P, Joshua, 1&2 Samuel claim to be true. It even denies that Isaiah wrote the book that shares his name. That is all of a historical nature and dire in its consequences.

    As I said before DT claims that the Hebrews never left Canaan until the Assyrian and Babylonian Exiles. Some proponets even claim their religion was not monotheistic until the Babylonian Exile. These are comments of a historical nature. Can we agree on that? All these books report the intervention of God that is in direct opposition to DT. If either of them reports history, only one of them reports history. They can not both be correct.

  27. Michael says:

    We are back to square one. You are producing evidence, for the third time, that the DT is not true; while my question was about if it is true, because that is how you started. If it is true then that is how God intervened in human history – we can’t argue with God, even at the price of giving up the patriarchs if the DT really denies them. Otherwise the DT wouldn’t be true. Isn’t it clear?

    If we can agree about this then we could discuss what is DT, and about history, which I had conceded for the sake of argument, but we have yet to deal with it under point 4.

  28. Joel says:


    Square one with me is that if DT is true then Christianity is a false religion. That has been my point all along. In my opinion, you have not offered any evidence to contradict that conclusion nor have you presented any arguments that validates the intervention of God in the formation of the Mosaic Law while staying within the confines of DT. My point has been that the two can not be reconciled with each other.

    It is clear to me that we can not argue with God. It is also clear that the patriarchs must be abandoned in view of DT. If you can demonstrate that God interviened in the course of human events while abandoning the patriarchs I would like to hear your argument and I would be open to changing my view of the P, were that the case. Be aware though that I will try to demonstrate to you that it is not possible.

  29. Michael says:

    I think you should agree that it would inappropriate of me to repeat the same question yet again. On the other hand, it makes no sense to me to discuss other points without having that question answered directly and clearly. So, I have to leave the matter at that, and explain my position to others who might be interested.

    Documentary theory as such is a harmless attempt to explain how the Pentateuch was produced. From the Catholic viewpoint it can be objected only by those who fail to distinguish between the FACT that God had inspired the process of writing of the Pentateuch from the WAY how He had inspired that process. An example are those who insist that God has produced it by inspiring Moses alone, and do not allow the possibility that the Almighty God could have chosen another way, e.g. the way as proposed by the Documentary Theory.

    There is some parallelism with the “Creationists” who fail to distinguish between the fact that God has created the world and the way how He has done it; rule out the possibility that the Almighty God could have created through the process of evolution, and insist that He did it in an instant or in “seven days”.

    Underlying both is the mistaken notion of the truth of the Bible, and the belief that this truth is compromised by these theories (I mean, the Documentation Theory and the theory of evolution). The truth of the Bible is not what an individual makes out of the text, but what the Sacred Author asserts, because what he asserts is what the Holy Spirit, who inspired him, asserts (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum 11/2, 107). Vatican II has laid down the principles how this has to be established (ibid. 12, CCC 109-114). What is, in a particular instance, the case, is ultimately judged by the Magisterium, to whom exclusively, in the name of Jesus Christ, is entrusted to interpret the text (ibid. 10/2, CCC 85).

    We do not know how the inspired process of composition of the Pentateuch took place. For centuries, the writing had been attributed to Moses. The question is whether this generally held view is to be taken as normative, or as something that was generally held for granted, never challenged, and thus never directly addressed because the scholars in the past did not have at their disposal an adequate apparatus, and nobody argued against generally held view. Interpretation of this Tradition is, like interpretation of the Scripture and of the whole Tradition, entrusted exclusively to the Magisterium (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum 10/2, CCC 85). The Pontifical Biblical Commission addressed the issue in 2006, found the arguments that “these books are not of Mosaic authorship, but were put together from sources mostly of post-Mosaic date” unjustified, but refrained from ruling out better arguments in the future (details in my comment of Oct. 11, Post on the Noah’ Ark). In the meantime, new discoveries were made of the history, script, language, literature, religion, law, etc. of ancient civilizations surrounding the Israelites, and encyclical Divino Afflante Spiritu encouraged the research along these lines. This enabled the scholars to provide better arguments for the Documentation Theory, so that it became generally accepted bu scholars, taught in seminanries, and never objected by the Magisterium.

    A Catholic doesn’t have a “problem” with the Magisterium. He takes as his moral obligation to give at least the “Religious Assent” to what the Magisterium proposes. And he doesn’t make of his own interpretation of the biblical text, however much he might be convinced it is correct, the yardstick of credibility of the Catholic Faith, or of his own faith for that matter.

    Granted that God inspired the writing of the Pentateuch, the question arises as to how this inspired writing took place. So, if it can be established that Moses wrote the whole book, then that is how God inspired its writing. If it can be established that the Pentateuch was produced as proposed by the Documentary Theory, then that is how God has inspired its production: all the stages of writing, starting from first fragments, their collection in large documents, all that had been transmitted orally, until compilation by the final redactor, including the redactor himself…all that was inspired. As, in point of fact, no conclusive evidence is available either way, it is perfectly safe to say: God might have inspired Moses alone; and equally: God might have inspired all those involved in the production of the Pentateuch as proposed by the Documentation Theory. And what is important: no doctrine may be proposed that would be intrinsically linked with either theory, still less may one suggest that Documentary Theory, if true, would jeopardize the Catholic Faith, although it would affect the faith of many fundamenalist sects.

    The Documentary Theory as such is about the process of composition of the Pentateuch, nothing else. It doesn’t tamper with the text, doesn’t dispute its inspiration and its truth. Various interpretations of the Pentateuch, whether proposed at the same time, earlier, or later, stand or fall on their own merits, and are not intrinsically dependant on the Documentation Theory, nor is the latter intrinsically dependant on them. And this Theory has nothing to do with the theories of composition of the New Testament, still less with various false interpretations of the latter.

    I understand that, in recent times, the previous four-documents consensus, has been broken, and other possibilities are considered, but there is still a consensus about the multiplicity of sources, written or oral, from which the Pentateuch was composed; and that, although Moses as the central figure in the history of Jewish people, is the source to which many of these fragments, written or oral, can be traced, there is no suggestion that he could have been the author of the whole book.

  30. Michael says:

    Correction: the PBC judgement was in 1906, not 2006.

  31. Joel says:


    I thought I did answer your question directly and clearly. I understand your position is that God may have inspired the writing of the Torah through the hands of many authors and editors and you maintain it is possible for them to deliver to us the truth of God’s word under such constructs. I would have no problem with that if what you proposed was entirely inclusive of what DT claims, but it is not. DT is much further in scope and I will not allow you to reduce the significance and scope of the Documentry Theory. Of course the way you present it is fine, harmless, but you leave out so much of what it asserts like the denial of the patriarchs, the Egyptian captivity and antiquity of the Isrealite monotheism, Lavitical Priesthood and alter sacrifice for the atonement of sin.

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