The Authenticity and Authorship of the Old Testament

The Old Testament is hereafter divided into its three major sections:

I- The Pentateuch
II- The Prophets
III- The Hagiographa



Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are the first five books of the Bible. Collectively called the Pentateuch, they are the most important books of the Old Testament. They provide for the creation of Humanity, and describe the Fall of Man, and establish the foundation of god's law. Tradition asserts that these books were written by Moses at least in the year 1,450 BCE. Believers assert that Moses delivered the Pentateuch completely finished into the hands of the Hebrews sometime before his death. Is this an historical fact? Is there any way that biblical scholars can know this with any certainty? Of course not.

In the King James and other modern versions of the Bible, the first five books are each labeled as having been written by Moses, and the authority of these books rests upon that assertion. But how do we know this for certain? To disprove the claim that Moses wrote those books is to greatly impair (if not entirely destroy) the bible's authority as a religious foundation.

And this is exactly what modern criticism has done. It has been shown that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses, and that those books are not as old as they are claimed to be. They were written centuries later by unknown writers.

What is the main argument used to prove that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch? The following verses: "And it came to pass, that when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, which bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it inside of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee." (Deu 31:24-26).

This passage was written for a purpose-- the conclusion to it appears in 2nd Kings. During the reign of Josiah, Hilkiah the high priest discovered a "book of the law" in the temple. "And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord." (2 Kings 22:8) This book was the book of Deuteronomy-- but it was not written in the time of Moses, but in the time of Josiah, more than eight centuries later. Hilkiah needed the book and he "found" it... he simply "found it in the temple", lying around, presumably unnoticed until then. Honesty forces us to admit that either he wrote it, or it was written for him.

Holland's great 19th century critic, Dr. Kuenen, wrote: "There is no room to doubt that the book was written with a view to the use that Hilkiah made of it." [Kuenen's Hexateuch, p. 216]. Dr. Oort, another able Dutch scholar of the time, professor of ancient languages at Amsterdam, wrote: "The book was certainly written about the time of its discovery. It is true that it introduces Moses as uttering the precepts and exhortations of which it consists, just before the people enter Canaan. But this is no more than a literary fiction. The position of affairs assumed throughout the book is that of Judah in the time of Josiah." [Bible for Learners, vol. 2, p, 331]

In support of this unanimous conclusion of the critics, Dr. Briggs presents the following list of arguments [The Hexateuch, p. 261]: The reasons for the composition of Deuteronomy in the time of Josiah are:

1) Expressions which indicate a period prior to the Conquest (2:12; 19:14)
2) the law of the king, which implies the reign of Solomon (17:14-20)
3) the one supreme judicatory of the time of Jehosaphat (17:8)
4) the one central altar of the times of Hezekiah (12:5)
5) the return to Egypt in ships not conceivable before the time of Manasseh (28:68)
6) the forms of idolatry of the middle period of the monarchy (4:19; 17:3)
7) no trace of Deuteronomy in writings prior to Jeremiah
8) the point of view indicates an advanced style of theological reflection
9) the prohibition of Mazzebah (16:22) regarded as lawful in Isaiah (19:19)
10) the style implies a Iong development of the art of Hebrew oratory, and the language is free from archaism, and suits the times preceding Jeremiah
11) the doctrine of the love of God and his faithfulness with the term ‘Yahweh thy God ' presuppose the experience of the prophet Hosea
12) the humanitarianism of Deuteronomy shows an ethical advance beyond Amos and Isaiah and prepares the way for Jeremiah and Ezekiel
13) ancient laws embedded in the code account for the penalties for their infraction in 2 Kings 22
14) ancient laws of war are associated with laws which imply the wars of the monarchy, and have been influenced by Amos

No book had been placed inside the ark as the writer of Deuteronomy stated. At the dedication of Solomon's temple the ark was opened, but it contained no book. "There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb." (1 Kings 8:5-9)

It has been argued that Christ and some of the writers of the New Testament recognize Moses as the author of the Pentateuch. Such expressions as "the law of Moses," "the book of Moses," "Moses said," etc., occur a few times. This argument answered by the following:

1) It is not denied by critics that Moses was the legislator of the Jews and instituted certain laws.
2) An anonymous book is usually named after the leading character of the book.
3) At this time of the writing of the New Testament material, the tradition that Moses was the author of the Pentateuch was generally accepted.

Arguments Against Mosaic Authorship

The position that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses-- that it is an anonymous work belonging to a later age-- is clearly proven by the following points:

1. Moses never claimed to be the author of the Pentateuch. There is nothing in the work, neither is there anything outside of it, to indicate that he was its author.
2. The ancient Hebrews did not believe that he wrote it. Renan says: "The opinion which attributes the composition of the Pentateuch to Moses seems quite modern; it is very certain that the ancient Hebrews never dreamed of regarding their legislator as their historian. The ancient documents appeared to them absolutely impersonal, and they attached to them no author's name" [History of Semitic Languages, Book 2, Chapter 1].
3. The Pentateuch was written in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew of the Bible did not exist in the time of Moses. Language takes centuries to develop. It took a thousand years to develop the English language. The Hebrew of the Bible was not brought from Egypt, but grew in Palestine. Referring to this language, De Wette says: "Without doubt it originated in the land [Canaan] or was still further developed therein after the Hebrew and other Canaanitish people had migrated thither from the Northern country" (Old Testament, Part 2). Gesenius says that the Hebrew language scarcely antedates the time of David.
4. Not only is it true that the Hebrew language did not exist, but it is urged by critics that no written language, as we understand it, existed in Western Asia in the time of Moses. Prof. Andrew Norton says: "For a long time after the supposed date of the Pentateuch we find no proof of the existence of a book or even an inscription in proper alphabetical characters among the nations by whom the Hebrews were surrounded." (The Pentateuch, p. 44) Hieroglyphs were then in use, and it cannot be imagined that a work as large as the Pentateuch was written or engraved in hieroglyphics and carried about by this wandering tribe of ignorant Israelites.
5. Much of the Pentateuch is devoted to the history of Moses; but excepting a few brief compositions attributed to him and quoted by the author he is always referred to in the third person. The Pentateuch contains a biography, not an autobiography of Moses.
6. It contains an account of the death and burial of Moses which he could not have written: "So Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab. . . . And he buried him in a valley of the land of Moab" (Deut. 34:5-6). "And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days." (34:8) Orthodox commentators attempt to remove this difficulty by supposing that the last chapter of Deuteronomy belongs to the book of Joshua, and that Joshua recorded the death of Moses. The same chapter, referring to the appointment of Joshua as the successor of Moses, says: "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom." (Deut. 34:9) If Joshua wrote this, however full of the spirit of wisdom he may have been, he certainly was not full of the spirit of modesty. Joshua did not write this chapter.
7. "No man knoweth of his [Moses'] sepulchre unto this day." (Deut. 34:6) That this chapter could ever have been attributed to either Moses or Joshua is unbelievable. The language plainly shows that not just one, but many generations had elapsed between the time of Moses and the time that verse was written.
8. While the advocates of the Mosaic authorship have, without proof, asserted that Joshua wrote the book of Joshua and the conclusion of Deuteronomy, the Higher Critics have demonstrated the common authorship of Deuteronomy and a large portion of Joshua. As all the events recorded in Joshua occurred after the death of Moses, he could not have been the author of Deuteronomy.
9. "They [the Israelites] did eat manna until they came unto the borders of Canaan." (Ex. 16:35) This passage was written after the Israelites settled in Canaan and ceased to subsist on manna. And this was not until after the death of Moses.
10. "The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the Lord gave unto them." (Deut. 2:12) This refers to the conquest of Canaan and was written after that event.
11. "And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day." (Num. 15:32) When this was written the Israelites were no longer in the wilderness. Their journey there is referred to as a past event. As Moses died while they were still in the wilderness, before they had entered the promised land, it could not have been written by him.
12. "Thou shalt eat it within thy gates." (Deut. 15:22) The phrase, "within thy gates," occurs in the Pentateuch about twenty-five times. It refers to the gates of the cities of the Israelites, cities which they did not inhabit until after the death of Moses. What gates did the Israelites have in the wildnerness?
13. "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, . . . that the land spew not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you." (Lev. 18:26-28) When Moses died the nations alluded to still occupied the land and had not been expelled.
14. "And Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen." (Gen. 22:14) This is one of the passages adduced by the critics of the seventeenth century against the Mosaic authorship of these books. It implies the conquest and a long occupancy of the land by the Israelites.
15. "And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan." (Gen. 23:2) "And Jacob came . . . unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron." (35:27) Moses' uncle was named Hebron, and from him the Hebronites were descended. After the Conquest this family settled in Kirjath-arba and changed the name of the city to Hebron.
16. "And Rachel died and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem." (Gen. 35:19) The Hebrew name of Bethlehem was not given to this city until after the Israelites had conquered and occupied it.
17. "For only Og, king of Bashan, remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Amman?" (Deut. 3:11) This is another passage relied upon by the early critics to disprove the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. The writer's reference to the bedstead of Og, which was still preserved as a relic at Rabbath, indicates a time long subsequent to the conquest of Bashan.
18. "Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance." (Deut. 19:14) This refers to the ancient landmarks set by the Israelites when they obtained possession of Canaan, and was written centuries after that time.
19. "And Jair the son of Manasseh went and took the small towns thereof, and called them Havoth-jair." (Num. 32:41) The above is evidently a misstatement of an event recorded in Judges: "And after him [Tola] arose Jair, a Gileadite, and judged Israel twenty and two years. And he had thirty sons, . . . and they had thirty cities, which are called Havoth-jair unto this day." (Jud. 10:3-4) Jair was judge of Israel from 1210 to 1188 BCE, or from 241 to 263 years after the date assigned for the writing of the Pentateuch.
20. "And Nobah went and took Kenath, and the villages thereof, and called it Nobah, after his own name." (Num. 32:42) Referring to this and the preceding passage, Dr. Oort says: "It is certain that Jair, the Gileadite, the conqueror of Bashan, after whom thirty places were called Jair's villages, lived in the time of the Judges, and that a part of Bashan was conquered at a still later period by a certain Nobah." [Bible for Learners, vol. 1, p. 329]
21. "Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Qeshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair, unto this day" (Deut. 3:14). Even if Jair had lived in the time of Moses, the phrase "unto this day" shows that it was written long after the event described.
22. "And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan" (Gen. 14:14). This passage could not have been written before Dan existed. In Judges (18:26-29) the following account of the origin of this place is given: "And the children of Dan went their way; . . . and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. . . . And they built a city, and dwelt therein. And they called the name of the city Dan." This is placed after the death of Samson, and Samson died, according to Bible chronology, 1120 BCE-- 331 years after Moses died.
23. "And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel" (Gen. 36:31). This could not have been written before the kingdom of Israel was established; for the writer is familiar with the fact that kings have reigned in Israel. Saul, the first king of Israel, began to reign 356 years after Moses.
24. "And his [Israel's] king shall be higher than Agag" (Num. 24:7). This refers to Saul's defeat of Agag. "And he [Saul] took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword" (1 Sam. 15:8). The defeat of Agag is placed in 1067 BCE, 384 years after Moses.
25. "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, . . . until Shiloh come" (Gen. 49:10). These words are ascribed to Jacob; but they could not have been written before Judah received the sceptre, which was not until David ascended the throne, 396 years after the death of Moses.
26. "And the Canaanite was then in the land" (Gen. 12:6). When this was written the Canaanite had ceased to be an inhabitant of Palestine. As a remnant of the Canaanites inhabited this country up to the time of David, it could not have been written prior to his time.
27. "The Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land " (Gen. 13:7). This, like the preceding passage, could not have been written before the time of David. The Perizzites, also, inhabited Palestine for a long period after the conquest. In the time of the Judges "the children of Israel dwelt among the . . . Perizzites " (Jud. 3:5).
28. "The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God" (Ex. 23:19). This was not written before the time of Solomon; for God had no house prior to the erection of the temple, 1004 BCE, 447 years after Moses. When David proposed to build him a house, he forbade it and said: "I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle" (2 Sam. 7:6). The tabernacle itself was a tent (Tent of Meeting). During all this time no house was ever used as a sanctuary.
29. "One from among the brethren shalt thou set king over thee. . . . But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses. . . . Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold" (Deut. 17:15-17). "And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses" (1 Kings 4:26). " And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt" (10:28). "And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart " (11:3). "The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred three score and six talents of gold" (10:14). "And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones" (10:27). Nothing can be plainer than that this statute in Deuteronomy was written after Solomon's reign. The extravagance and debaucheries of this monarch had greatly impoverished and corrupted the kingdom, and to prevent a recurrence of such excesses this law was enacted.
30. "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, . . . thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment" (Deut. 17:8-9). This court was established by Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 19:8-11). Jehoshaphat commenced his reign 914 BCE-- 537 years after Moses.
31. "But in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there shalt thou do all that I command thee" (Deut. 12:14). "Is it not he [the Lord] whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?" (Is. 36:7). Up to the time of Hezekiah the Hebrews worshiped at many altars. Hezekiah removed these altars and established the one central altar at Jerusalem. This was in 726 BCE-- 725 years after Moses.
32. "And the Lord shall bring thee into Egypt again with ships" (Deut. 28:68). This, critics affirm, was written when Psameticus was king of Egypt. He reigned from 663 to 609 BCE
33. "Neither shalt thou set thee up any image [pillar] " (Deut. 16:22). This proves the late origin of the Pentateuch, or at least of Deuteronomy. Isaiah (19:19) instructs them to do the very thing which they are here forbidden to do, and as he would not have advised a violation of the law it is evident that this statute could not have existed in his time. Isaiah died about 750 years after Moses died.
34. The worship of the sun, moon, and stars by the Jews, is mentioned and condemned (Deut. 4:19; 17:3). This nature worship was adopted by them in the reign of Manasseh, 800 years after Moses.
35. "Wherefore it is said in the book of the Wars of the Lord, what he did in the Red Sea, and in the brooks of Arnon." (Num. 21:14) The author of the Pentateuch here cites a book older than the Pentateuch, which gives an account of the journeyings of the Israelites from Egypt to Moab-- from the Exodus to the end of Moses' career.
36. "And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly." (Deut. 27:8) "And he [Joshua] wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses." (Josh. 8:32) Christians affirm that the Law of Moses and the Pentateuch are one. That this Law of Moses was not the one hundred and fifty thousand words of the Pentateuch is shown by the fact that after the death of Moses it was all engraved upon a stone altar.
37. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). No writer would bestow upon himself, especially the meekest man on earth. This was admirer of Moses, not Moses.
38. "And this is the such fulsome praise written by a devout was not written by blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death." (Deut. 33:1). There are three reasons for rejecting the Mosaic authorship of this: Moses is spoken of in laudatory terms; he is spoken of in the third person; his death is referred to as an event that is already past.
39. "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses." (Deut. 34:10) Not only is the highest praise bestowed upon Moses, a thing that he would not have done, but the language clearly shows that it was written centuries after the time he lived.
40. The religious history of the Hebrews embraces three periods of time, each covering centuries. During the first period the worship of Jehovah was confined to no particular place; during the second it was confined to the holy city, Jerusalem; during the third it was confined not merely to Jerusalem, but to the temple itself. There are writings in the Pentateuch belonging to each of these periods. The Encyclopedia Britannica declares that this fact alone provides overwhelming disproof of Mosaic authorship.
41. The religion of the Pentateuch was not a revelation, but an evolution. The priestly offices, the feasts, the sacrifices, and other religious observances underwent many changes, these changes representing different stages of development in Israel's religion and requiring centuries of time to effect.
42. The legislation of the pentateuch was also the growth of centuries. Some of the minor codes are much older than the documents containing them. There is legislation older than David, probably as old as Moses. There is legislation belonging to the time of Josiah, of Ezekiel, of Ezra. Wouldn't it be absurd to claim that all the laws of England from Alfred to Victoria were the work of one mind, Alfred? And is it less absurd to claim that all the laws of the Jews from Moses to Ezra were instituted by Moses?
43. The Pentateuch abounds with repetitions and contradictions. The first two chapters of Genesis contain two accounts of the Creation differing in every important detail. In the sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters of Genesis, two different and contradictory accounts of the Deluge are intermingled. Exodus and Deuteronomy each contain a copy of the Decalogue, the two differing as to the reason assigned for the institution of the Sabbath. There are several different versions of the call of Abraham; different and conflicting stories of the Egyptian plagues; contradictory accounts of the conquest of Canaan.

The Work of Various Authors and Compilers

The four next arguments comprise the final and most important disproof. The character of the writings of the Pentateuch preclude the possibility of unity of authorship, and consequently the Mosaic authorship of the work as a whole. The books of the Pentateuch were not all composed by one author. The book of Genesis is not the work of one author. The first two chapters of Genesis were not written by the same writer. The Pentateuch was written by various writers and at various times. The Pentateuch comprises four large documents known as the Elohistic and Jehovistic documents, and the Deuteronomic and Priestly Codes. They are distinguished by the initial letters E, J, D, and P.

E and J include the greater portion of Genesis and extend through the other books of the Pentateuch, as well as through Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. D includes the greater portion of Deuteronomy, fragments of the preceding books, and a large portion of Joshua. P includes the greater portion of the middle books of the Pentatench and smaller portions of the other books. The author of each of these doclumenta incorporated into his work one or more older documents. These four works were afterwards united by successive editors or redactors. E and J were first fused into one. A subsequent redactor united D with this, and still later another united this compilation with P. In addition to these principal documents there are several minor codes, chief of which is the Holiness Code comprising ten chapters of Leviticus, 17-26. There are also several poems written by various authors; Thus the Pentateuch instead of being the product of one mind is the work of many writers and compilers, probably twenty or more; These documents, especially the principal ones, notwithstanding the intermingling of their contents, are easily distinguished and separated from each other by Bible critics.

The thoughts of the human mind, like the features of the human face, exhibit variation and assume different forms. We who are familiar with faces have no difficulty in distinguishing those people that we know. No two faces are alike. Critics who have devoted their lives to literature can distinguish the writings of individuals almost as readily as we distinguish the faces of individuals: There are certain idioms of language, certain peculiarities of style, belonging to each writer. The language and style of the books of the Bible are quite dissimilar. To quote Dr. Briggs: "There is as great a difference in style between the documents of the Hexateuch as there is between the Four Gospels."

The principal documents are thus described by this critic: "E is brief, terse, and archaic; graphic, plastic, and realistic; written in the theocratic interest of the kingdom of God. J is poetical and descriptive, the best narrative in the Bible, giving us the history of the kingdom of redemption. D is rhetorical and hortatory, practical and earnest, written in the more theological interest of the training of the nation in the fatherly instruction of God. P is annalistic and diffuse, fond of names and dates, written in the interest of the priestly order, and emphasizing the sovereignty of the Holy God and the sanctity of the divine institutions" [Hexateuch, p. 265].

Each document abounds with characteristio words and phrases peculiar to that document. Holzinger notes 108 belonging to E and 125 belonging to J. Canon Driver gives 41 belonging to D and 50 belonging to P. One of the chief distinguishing marks is the term used to designate the Deity. In E it is Elohim, translated God; in J, Jehovah (Yahweh) Elohim, translated Lord God. In D the writer continually uses the phrase "The Lord thy God," this phrase occurring more than 200 times. "I am Jehovah" is a phrase used by P, including the Holiness Code, 70 times. It is never used by E or D. "God of the Fathers" is frequently used by E and D ; never by P.

Bishop Colenso's analysis of Genesis is as follows: Elohist, 336 verses; Jehovist, 1,052 verses; Deuteronomist, 39 verses; Priestly writer, 106 verses. The Pentateuch was chiefly written and compiled from seven to ten centuries after the time claimed. The Elohistic and Jehovistic documents, the oldest of the four, were written at least 300 years after the time of David and 700 years after the time of Moses. They were probably written at about the same time. E belongs to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, J to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The unanimous verdict of critics is that Deuteronomy was written during the reign of Josiah, about 626 BCE, 825 years after Moses died. The Holiness Code belongs to the age of Ezekiel, about fifty years later. The Priestly Code was written after the Exile, in the time of Ezra, 1,000 years after Moses. Important changes and additions were made as late as the third century BCE, so that with the exception of variations and interpolations made in later years, the Pentateuch in its present form appeared about 1,200 years after the time of Moses.

The Higher Criticism- Its Triumph and its Consequences

The certainty and the consequences of Higher Criticism regarding the first books of the bible are expressed by Hupfeld: "The discovery that the Pentateuch is put together out of various sources, or original documents, is beyond all doubt not only one of the most important and most pregnant with consequences for the interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament, or rather for the whole of theology and history, but it is also one of the most certain discoveries which have been made in the domain of criticism and the history of literature. Whatever the anti-critical party may bring forward to the contrary, it will maintain itself, and not retrograde again through anything, so long as there exists such a thing as criticism, and it will not be easy for a reader upon the stage of culture on which we stand in the present day, if he goes to the examination unprejudiced, and with an uncorrupted power of appreciating the truth, to be able to ward off its influence."

The claim of biblical authenticity was demolished a hundred years ago. The work of these brave men is hard to find, at best. Their names are largely unknown. Their books don't appear on library shelves or online in the many intenet bookstores. The critical labors of Hobbes, Spinoza, Peyrerius, Simon, Astruc, Eichorn, Paine, Bauer, (G. L.) De Wette, Ewald, Geddes, Vater, Reuss, Graf, Davidson, Colenso, Hupfeld, Wellhausen, Kuenen, Briggs, Oort, and others, have overthrown the old notions concerning the authenticity of the Pentateuch. There is not one eminent Bible scholar in Europe, and scarcely one in America, who any longer maintains that Moses wrote this work. The pioneers in the field of the Higher Criticism were the Rationalists, Hobbes and Spinoza, and the Catholic Peyrerius, Simon, and Astruc. More than two hundred years ago, Benedict Spinoza, one of the subtlest human minds, with his fellow Jews and the entire Christian church against him, made this declaration, which the scholarship of the whole world now accepts: "It is as clear as the noonday light that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses" [Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Chap. 8, Sec. 20].

A century passed, and Thomas Paine in France, in the most potent volume of Higher Criticism ever penned, laid bare the baseless claims of the traditionalists. He examined the Pentateuch and concluded: "Those books are spurious." "Moses is not the author of them." "The style and manner in which those books are written give no room to believe, or even to suppose, they were written by Moses." "They were not written in the time of Moses, nor till several hundred years afterwards." [The Age of Reason].

About the same time German scholars, ever foremost in the domain of critical analysis, took up the work. The writings of Eichorn, Bauer, Vater, and De Wette, "swept the field in Germany." De Wette, one of her greatest theologians, thus presents the conclusion of German critics: "The opinion that Moses composed these books is not only opposed by all the signs of a later date which occur in the work itself, but also by the entire analogy of the history of Hebrew literature and language." [Books of Moses, Sec. 163]

Fifty years or more elapsed and Davidson and Colenso studied and wrote, and British scholarship was soon arrayed against the old in favor of the new. Dr. Davidson, in the following words, voices the opinion of England's scholars: "There is little external evidence for the Mosaic authorship, and what little there is does not stand the test of criticism. The succeeding writers of the Old Testament do not confirm it... The objections derived from internal structure are conclusive against the Mosaic authorship." [Introduction to the Old Testament]

At last, in America at the end of the 19th Century, Dr. Briggs and others attacked the Mosaic theories, and, in spite of the efforts of resistant clergy, the intelligence of the nation acknowledges the force of reason. The Higher Criticism has triumphed. Spinoza's judgment is confirmed, and the American critic pronounces the verdict of the intellectual world: "In the field of scholarship the question is settled. It only remains for the ministry and people to accept it and adapt themselves to it." [Hexateuch, p. 144]

But this is not the end. A victory has been achieved, but its full results remain to be realized. The clergy, against their will, and the laity, who are subservient to the clergy's will, are yet to be enlightened and convinced. Even then, when the facts revealed by the Higher Criticism have gained popular acceptance, another task remains-- the task of showing the real significance of these facts. The critics themselves, many of them, do not seem to realize the consequences of their work. The Rationalistic critics, like Hobbes, Spinoza, Paine, Reuss, Wellhausen, Euenen and others, have measured the consequences of their criticisms and accepted them. The orthodox critics have not. Some of them, like Dr. Briggs, while denying the Mosaic authorship and great antiquity of the Pentateuch and proving its anonymous and fragmentary character, and even conceding its contradictions and errors, are yet loath to reject its divinity and authority. These also must be given up. The idea that the bible is a divine revelation and authentic record must go. Its chief theological doctrine, the Fall of Man, is a myth. With this doctrine falls the Atonement, and with the Atonement orthodox Christianity. This is the logical sequence of the Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch. To these critics, and to all who are intelligent enough to discern the truth and courageous enough to meet it, I would repeat and press home the admonition of Dr. Briggs, "to accept it and adapt themselves to it."


Next to the Pentateuch, the most important books of the Old Testament are the Prophets. They are divided into two divisions, Earlier and Later. The Earlier prophets comprise Joshua, Judges, First Samuel, Second Samuel, First Kings, and Second Kings. The Later Prophets are divided into Greater and Minor. The Greater Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel; the Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

The book of Joshua, it is claimed, was written by Joshua just before his death, which occurred, according to the accepted chronology,in 1426 BCE This book for a time formed a part of the Pentateuch (or Hexateuch). In later times, to increase its authority, the Pentateuch was ascribed to Moses. A recognition of the fact that Moses could not have written a history of the events that happened after his death caused that portion now known as Joshua to be detached and credited to Joshua. Many of the arguments adduced against the Mosaic authorship of the preceding books apply with equal force against the claim that Joshua wrote the book which bears his name. The book contains no internal evidence of his authorship; he does not claim to be its author; the other writers of the Old Testament do not ascribe its authorship to him; he is spoken of in the third person; it is clearly the work of more than one writer; the language in which it was written was not in existence when he lived; much of it relates to events that occurred after his death.

"And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being a hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah. . . . And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua" (Josh. 24:29-31). As the Pentateuch gives an account of the death and burial of Moses, so the book of Joshua gives an account of the death and burial of Joshua. "And Eleazer the son of Aaron died" (24:33). The death of Eleazer occurred six years after the death of Joshua.

"But the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day" (15:63). The children of Judah did not dwell in Jerusalem until nearly 400 years after Joshua. The phrase "unto this day" is frequently used in the book, and this shows that it was written long after the events it describes. In his account of the miracle of Joshua causing the sun to stand still, the writer appeals to the book of Jasher in support of his statement: "Is not this written in the book of Jasher?" (10:13) This could not have been written until after the book of Jasher was written or compiled. When was Jasher written? We do not know, but in his history of David the author of Samuel thus refers to it: "He [David] bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow; behold, it is written in the book of Jasher" (2 Sam. 1:18). This proves that the book of Jasher was not written before the time of David. If the book of Joshua was not written until after the book of Jasher was written, then it could not have been written until the time of David or later.

The book of Joshua consists of two parts. The first, which originally formed a part of, or sequel to, Deuteronomy, was probably written before the Captivity; the latter part was written after the captivity-- 900 years after the time of Joshua. Sudfies. The authorship of this book has been ascribed to Samuel. In disproof of this I quote the following: "Now the children of Judah had fought against Jerusalem and taken it" (1:8). Jerusalem was taken by Judah 1048 BCE; Samuel died 1060 BCE, twelve years before it was taken. "In those days there was no king in Israel" (xviii, 1; xix, 1; xxi, 25). This passage, which is repeated several times, was written after Israel had become a kingdom, and evidently long subsequent to the time of Saul and Samuel. "And they forsook the Lord, and served Baa1 and Ashtaroth" (2:13). This was probably written as late as the reign of Hoshea, 730 BCE The chapters relating to Samson indicate a date as late as Manasseh, 698 to 643 BCE During the reign of this king the Hebrews became sun-worshipers. Samson was a sun-god-- the name signifies "sun-god." All the stories related of him in Judges are solar myths. "He and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land" (xviii, 30).

The above passage denotes a date as late as the Captivity. Smith's "Bible Dictionary" says: "It is probable that the books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, and Kings originally formed one work" (art. Ruth). If these books originally formed c,ile work, Samuel was not the author of any of them, for Kings, it is admitted, was written as late as the time of Jeremiah, and possibly as late as the time of Ezra, from 450 to 600 years after Samuel. Judges, like the Pentateuch and Joshua, is the work of several writers. It can scarcely be called even a compilation. It is a mere collection of historical and mythological fragments, thrown together without any regard to logical arrangement or chronological order. First and Second Samuel. It is popularly supposed, and many Christian teachers affirm, that Samuel wrote the books which bear his name. And yet the writer says, "Samuel died," and seven chapters of the first book follow this announcement. The second book in no way pertains to him; his name is not once mentioned; the events narrated occurred from four to forty-four years after his death. Others claim that the books were written by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad, basing their claim on a passage in Chronicles, which says that the acts of David "are written in the book of Samuel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer" (1 Chron. xxix, 29). As Samuel died while David was yet a young man-- four years before he became king-- he did not record the acts of David. Nathan and Gad are referred to in the books, but in a manner that forbids the supposition of their authorship. These books were not written by Samuel; neither were they written by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. Their authorship is unknown.

Concerning the books of Samuel, Dr. Oort writes: "There is no book in the Bible which shows so clearly that its contents are not all derived from the same source. . . Two conflicting traditions relating to the same subject are constantly placed side by side in perfect simplicity, and apparently with no idea that the one contradicts the other" (Bible for Learners, vol. 1, pp. 433, 434). First and Second Kings, in the Catholic version, and in the subtitles of our versions of the Bible, First and Second Samuel and First and Second Kings are called the First, Second, Third, and Fourth books of Kings. They are properly one book. The division of the work into four books is not only artificial, but illogical.

Regarding the authorship of the last two, Smith's "Bible Dictionary" says: "As regards the authorship of the books, but little difficulty presents itself. The Jewish tradition, which ascribes them to Jeremiah, is borne out by the strongest internal evidence" (Kings). Is this true? The date assigned for Jeremiah's composition of the books is 600 BCE And yet a considerable portion of the work is devoted to a presentation of the forty years of Jewish history subsequent to this date. It records the death of Jehoiakim, the first siege and taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the elevation of Zedekiah to the throne, his eleven years' reign, the second siege and capture of Jerusalem, and a long list of events that followed. It records the reign of the Babylonian king, Evil-Merodach. This, according to the popular chronology, and according to the "Bible Dictionary," was from 561 to 559 --forty years after the date assigned, and long after the time of Jeremiah.

These books are a mixture of history and fiction. They profess to be a history of the Hebrew kings; and yet a dozen chapters are devoted to a fabulous account of the sayings and doings of two Hebrew prophets, Elijah and Elisha. First and Second Chronicles, which give a history of the same kings, refer to Elijah but once, and make no mention of Elisha. The confused character of their contents, especially their chronology, has often been referred to. They are simply a compilation of ancient documents, written at various times, and by various authors. The Encyclopedia Britannica expresses the almost unanimous verdict of critics respecting the authorship of the four principal historical books of the Old Testament: "We cannot speak of the author of Kings or Samuel, but only of an editor or successive editors whose main work was to arrange in a continuous form extracts or abstracts from earlier books."


Isaiah, the chief of the prophetic books, and, next to the Pentateuch and the Four Gospels, the most important book of the Bible, purports to be a series of prophecies uttered during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. Uzziah's reign began BCE 810, and ended BCE 758; Hezekiah's reign began BCE 726 and ended BCE 698. Isaiah's ministry is supposed to have extended from about 760 to 700 BCE, and toward the close of this period, the book of Isaiah, as it now appears, is said to have been written. In support of Isaiah's authorship of the entire work the following arguments have been advanced:

1. Its various prophecies exhibit a unity of design.
2. The style is the same throughout the work.
3. Messianic prophecies abound in both its parts.
4. No other writer claimed its authorship.
5. The ancient Jews all ascribe it to him.

The above arguments for the authenticity of the work are partly true and partly untrue. So far as they conflict with the following arguments against its authenticity as a whole they are untrue:

1. The work is fragmentary in character.
2. The style of its several parts is quite unlike.
3. Many of its events occurred aftier Isaiah's death.
4. Much of it relates to the Babylonian captivity.
5. It records both the name and the deeds of Cyrus.

Isaiah might very properly be divided into two books, the first comprising the first thirty-nine chapters; the second, the concluding twenty-seven chapters. Impartial critics agree that while Isaiah may have written a portion of the first part he could not have written all of it nor any of the second. This is the conclusion of Cheyne, Davidson, De Wette, Eichorn, Ewald, Gesenius, and others. That he wrote neither the first nor the second part of the book, as it now exists, is proven by the following passages taken from both: "Babylon is fallen, is fallen" (xxi, 9). "Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and Book them" (xxxvi, 1). "So Sennacherib king of Assvria departed, and went and returned and dwelt in Nineveh. "And it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nishrock his god, that Addram-melech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia; and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead" (xxxvii, 37, 38). Sennacherib ascended the throne 702 BCE and died 680 BCE Isaiah lived in the preceding century. "That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid". "Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus" (xlv, 1). "He shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives " (xlv, 13). Cyrus conquered Babylon BCE 538, and released the Jews from captivity and permitted them to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the temple BCE 536, nearly two centuries after the time of Isaiah.

Regarding these passages, Dr. Lyman Abbott, in a sermon on "The Scientific Conception of Revelation," says: "If you take up a history and it refers to Abraham Lincoln, you are perfectly sure that it was not written in the time of George Washington. Now, if you take up the book of Isaiah and read in it about Cyrus the Great, you are satisfied that the book was not written by Isaiah one hundred years before Cyrus was born." Prof. T. E. Cheyne of Oxford University, the leading modern authority on Isaiah, says : "That portion of the Old Testament which is known as the book of Isaiah was, in fact, written by at least three writers- and possibly many more- who lived at different times and in different places." Nearly all of the ninth chapter, which, on account of its supposed Messianic prophecies, is, with Christians, one of the most valued chapters of the Bible, Professor Cheyne declares to be an interpolation. That four of the middle chapters, the thirty-sixth, thirty-seventh, thirty-eighth, and thirty-ninth, originally formed a separate document is evident. Concerning these four chapters, Paine truthfully observes: "This fragment of history begins and ends abruptly; it has not the least connection with the chapter that precedes it, nor with that which follows it, nor with any other in the book." [The Age of Reason, p. 129]

If Isaiah wrote this book, and Jeremiah wrote the books of Kings, as claimed; then either Isaiah or Jeremiah was a plagiarist; for the language of the four chapters just mentioned is with a few slight alterations, identical with that of a portion of the second book of Kings. The integrity of this book cannot be maintained. It is not the product of one writer, but of many. How many, critics may never be able to determine; certainly not less than five, probably more than ten. The prophecies of Jeremiah, it is affirmed, were delivered at various times between 625 and 686, and a final redaction of them was made by him about the latter date. The book, as it now appears, is in such a disordered condition that Christian scholars have to separate it into numerous parts and rearrange them in order to make a consecutive and intelligible narrative. Dr. Hitchcock, in his "Analysis of the Bible" (p 1,144), says: "So many changes have taken place, or else so many irregularities were originally admitted in the arrangement of the book, that Dr. Blayney, whose exposition we chiefly follow, was obliged to make fourteen different portions of the whole before he could throw it into consecutive order. n The following is Dr. Blayney's arrangement of the book: Chapters i-xii; xiii-xx; xxii, . . . xX111; xxv, xxvi; xxxv, xxxvi; xlv-xlviii; xlix (l-33); xxi; xxiv; xxvii-xxxiv; xxxvii-xxxix; xlix (34-39); 1, li; xl-xliv. This disordered condition of Jeremiah indicates one of two things: a plurality of authors, or a negligence, if nothing worse, on the part of the Bible's custodians that Christians will be loath to acknowledge. The book, as a whole, was not written by Jeremiah. He did not write the following: "And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, in the five and twentieth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah, and brought him forth out of prison" (lii, al). The release of Jehoiachin by Evil-Merodach occurred 562 or 561 BCE Jeremiah had then been dead twenty years. This book is not the work of one author. The thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth chapters were not written by the same person. Much of the thirty-eighth is a mere repetition of the thirty-seventh; and yet the two are so filled with discrepancies that it is impossible to accept both as the writings of the same author. Jeremiah, it is declared, wrote both Eings and Jeremiah. He could not have written the concluding portion of either. The last chapter of 2 Kings and the last chapter of Jeremiah are the same, and were written after the time of Jeremiah.


The period assigned for Ezekiel's prophecies is that beginning BCE 595 and ending BCE 573. Christians assert that the first twenty-four chapters of the work were written before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The whole work was undoubtedly written after this event. The Talmud credits its authorship to the Great Synagogue. If this be correct, Ezekiel had nothing to do with its composition; for he was not a member of the Great Synagogue. Ewald, while cIaiming for him the utterance of its several prophecies, believes that the book in its present form is not his work, but that of a later author. Referring to Ezekiel, Dr. Oort says: "In his case, far more than in Jeremiah's even, we must be on our guard against accepting the written account of his prophecies as a simple record of what he actually said" (Bible for Learners, vol. ii, p. 407). Zunz, a German critic, not only contends that the book is not authentic, but declares that no such prophet as Ezekiel ever existed. While it must be admitted that the internal evidence against the integrity and authenticity of Ezekiel is weaker than that of the other books thus far examined, it can be confidently asserted that Bible apologists have been unable to establish either. One damaging fact they concede: no other writer of the Bible ever mentions the book or its alleged author.

Minor Prophets.

The twelve Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, require but a passing notice. Compared with the other Prophets, or even with the principal books of the Hagiographa, they are of little importance. A part of them may be genuine -- the writings of those to whom their authorship has been ascribed -- but there is no external evidence, either in the Bible or elsewhere, to support the claim, while the internal evidence of the books themselves is not convincing.

The date assigned for the composition of Jonah, the oldest of the Later Prophets, is 856, according to some, 862 BCE. He is said to have prophesied during the reign of one Pul, "king of Assyria." But unfortunately Pul's reign is placed in 770 BCE, ninety years after the date assigned for the book. Jonah is named in the Four Gospels, named by Christ himself. This is adduced as proof of its authenticity and in support of a literal instead of an allegorical interpretation of its language. But Christ's language, even if his divinity be admitted, proves neither the authenticity nor the historical character of the book; He taught in parables, and certainly would have no hesitancy in using an allegorical figure as a symbol. No scholar now contends for its authenticity, and no sane person believes its stories to be historical. Luther rejected the book.

Four other books, Hosea, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi, are quoted or supposed to be quoted, by the Evangelists, and two, Joel and Amos, are mentioned in Acts. This proves no more than that these books were in existence when the New Testament was written-- a, fact which none disputes. Matthew (ii, 6) cites Micah (v, ii) as a Messianic prophecy. Micah lived during the reign of Hezekiah and wrote, not of an event 700 years in the future, but of one near at hand, the expected invasions of the Assyrians. The passage quoted by Matthew (ii, 15) from Hosea (xi, 1) refers to the exodus of the Israelites which took place 700 years before the time of Hoses. Zechariah is the work of at least three writers. Davidson says: "To Zechariah's authentic oracles were attached chapters ix-xiv, themselves made up of two parts (ix-xi, xii-xiv) belonging to different times and authors" (Canon, p. 33). The passage quoted by Matthew (xxi, 5) is not from the authentic portion of Zechariah, but from one of the spurious chapters, ix, 9..The Prophets. 91 Mark (i, 2,3) quotes a prophecy whioh he applies to John the Baptist. The passage quoted contains two sentences, one of which is found in Malachi (iii, l), the other in Isaiah (xl, 3). Whiston declares that both sentences originally belonged to Isaiah. If Whiston is correct the Evangelist has not quoted Malachi. This, the last book of the Old Testament, is an anonymous . work, Malachi being the name of the book and not of the author. The period assigned for the prophecies of Amos is from 808 to 785 BCE The book contains the following: "In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old" (ix, 11). "And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them" (14). Amos was not written until after the captivity. This commenced 588 BCE and continued fifty years. Joel, it is asserted, was written 800 BCE That this writer also lived after the captivity is shown by the following: "I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem" (iii, 1). This passage, it is claimed, was a prediction made centuries before the event occurred. Joel's ability to predict future events, however, is negatived by his next effort: "But Judah shall dwell forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation" (20). "Nineveh is laid waste : who shall bemoan her?" (Nahum iii, 7). The composition of Nahum is placed between 720 and 698 BCE Nineveh was destroyed 606 BCE, a century later.

The first verse of Zephaniah declares that the book was written "in the days of Josiah," in the seventh century BCE; the last verse shows that it was written in the days of Cyrus, in the sixth century B c. Every chapter of Habakkuk and Obadiah's single chapter show that these books were written after the dates assigned. The book of Haggai is ascribed to Haggai, the last person in the world to whom it can reasonably be ascribed. It is not a book of Haggai, but about Haggai. Excepting a few brief exhortations, of which it gives an account, it does not purport to contain a word from his tongue or pen. This argument applies with still greater force to Jonah. The greater portion of the Minor Prophets are probably forgeries. The names of their alleged authors are attached to them, but in most cases in the form of a superscription only. Each book opens with a brief introduction announcing the author. These introductions were not written by the authors themselves, but by others. The only authority for pronouncing the books authentic, then, is the assurance of some unknown Jewish scribe or editor. A damaging argument against the authority, if not against the authenticity, of the Prophets is the fact that while the historical records of the Old Testament cover the time during which all of them are said to have flourished, only a few of them are deemed worthy of mention.

The Hagiograhia

The Hagiographs comprises the remaining thirteen books of the Old Testament. It was divided into three divisions: 1. Psalms, Proverbs, Job. 2. Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther. 3. Daniel, Ezra and Nehemiah, First and Second Chronicles. The Jews considered these books of less value than those of the Law and the Prophets. The books belonging to the third division possess little merit; but the first two divisions, omitting Esther, together with a few poems in the Penateuch and the Prophets, contain the cream of Hebrew literature.

Psalms. The collection of hymns and prayers used in public worship by Jews and Christians, and called the Psalms, stands first in importance as a religious book in the Hagiographa. Christians accept it not only as a book of praise, but as a prophetic revelation and doctrinal authority. It is popularly supposed that David wrote all, or nearly all, of the Psalms. Many commentators attribute to him the authorship of one hundred or more. He wrote, at the most, but a few of them. The Jews divided them into five books: 1. Chapters i-xli; 2. xlii-lxii; 3. lxiii-lxxxix; 4. xc -cvi; 5. ovii-cl. Smith's "Bible Dictionary," a standard orthodox authority, claims for David the authorship of the first book only. The second book, while including a few of his psalms, was not compiled, it says, until the time of Hezekiah, three hundred years after his reign. The psalms of the third book, it states, were composed during Hezekiah's reign; those of the fourth book following these, and prior to the Captivity; and those of the fifth book after the return from Babylon, four hundred years after David's time. There are psalms in the third, fourth, and fifth books ascribed to David, but they are clearly of much later origin. The "Bible Dictionary" admits that they were not composed by him, and attempts to account for the Davidic superscription by assuming that they were written by Hezekiah, Josiah, and others who were lineal descendants and belonged to the house of David. But there is nothing to warrant the assumption that they were written by these Jewish kings. They were anonymous pieces to which the name of David was affixed to add to their authority. The second book concludes with these words: "The prayers of David, the son of Jesse ended." This is accepted to mean that none of the psalms following this book belong to David. The Eorahite psalms, assigned to David's reign, belong to a later age. Twelve psalms are ascribed to Asaph, who lived in David's reign. This passage from one of them was written at least 430 years after David's death: "0 God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled: they have laid Jerusalem on heaps" (lxxix, 1).

In the second and third books the word God occurs 206 times, while Jehovah, translated "Lord God," occurs but 44 times; in the remaining three books, God occurs but 23 times, while Jehovah occurs 640 times. Psalms xlii and xliii are merely parts of the same psalm. Psalm xix consists of two distinct psalms, the first eleven verses constituting one, the last three another. Psalms xiv and liii are the same; lx and cviii, omitting the first four or five verses, are also the same. The Septuagint version and the Alexandrian manuscript contain 161 psalms, the last one being omitted from other versions. Some of the more conservative German critics credit David with as many as thirty psalms. Dr. Lyman Abbott contends that he did not write more than fifteen. The Dutch scholars, Kuenen and Oort, believe that he wrote none. And this is probably the truth. While collections of these psalms doubtless existed at an earlier period, the book, in its present form, was compiled during the Maccabean age, about one hundred and fifty years before the Christian era. Many of these psalms are fine poetical compositions; but the greater portion of them are crude in construction, and some of them fiendish in sentiment.


The authorship of Proverbs has been ascribed to Solomon. He could have written but few of these proverbs, and probably wrote none. It is a compilation of maxims made many centuries after his time. Tradition represented Solomon as the wisest of men, and every wise saying whose origin was unknown was credited to him. Dr. Oort says: "The history of Solomon's wisdom resembles that of David's music. In either case the imagination of posterity has given a thoroughly religious character to what was in reality purely secular; and just as David was made the author of a number of psalms, so various works of the so-called sages, or proverb-makers, were ascribed to Solomon" (Bible for Learners, vol. 2, p. 75). The book consists of seven different collections of proverbs, as follows: 1. i, 7-ix; 2. x- xxii, 16; 3. xxii, 17-xxiv; 4. xxv-xxix; 5. xxx; 6. xxxi, l-9 ; 7. xxxi, 19-31. The first six verses are a preface. The first collection, it is admitted, was not the work of Solomon. These proverbs were composed as late as 600 BCE. The second collection is presented as "The Proverbs of Solomon." If any of Solomon's proverbs exist they are contained in this collection. The third collection is anonymous. The fourth begins as follows: "These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out" (700 BCE). The fifth contains "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh." The sixth, comprising the first nine verses of the last chapter, are "The words of King Lemuel." The seventh, comprising the remainder of the chapter, is a poem, written after the Captivity. It is remarkable that the book which, from a literary point of view, occupies the first place among the books of the Bible, should be the only one in the collection that was not written by a believer in the religion of the Bible. It is almost universally conceded that the book of Job was not written by a Jew, but by a Gentile. Most Christians ascribe its authorship to Job himself; but there is no more authority for ascribing it to Job than there is for ascribing the Pentateuch to Moses. Job is the name of the leading character of the book, not the name of its author. Its authorship is unknown. The Talmud asserts, and probably correctly, that Job was not a real personage-- that the book is an allegory. Luther says, "It is merely the argument of a fable."

Regarding its antiquity, Dr. Hitchcock says: "The first written of all the books in the Bible, and the oldest literary production in the world, is the book of Job." The date assigned for its composition is 1520 BCE Had Job been written a thousand years before the time claimed, it would not be the oldest literary production in the world. But it was probably written a thousand years after the time claimed. Luther places its composition 500 years after this time; Renan says that it was written 600 years later, Ewald and Davidson 900 years later. Grotius and DeWette believe that it was written 1000 years after the date assigned, while Hartmann and others contend that it was written still later. While its exact date cannot be determined, there is internal evidence pointing to a much later age than that named. " Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south" (ix, 9). The use of these Greek astronomical names proves a later origin. So, too, does the following passage: "The Chaldeans made out three bands" (i, 17). Of this people Chambers' Encyclopedia says: "The Chaldeans are first heard of in the ninth century before Christ as a small Accadian tribe on the Persian Gulf." This was seven centuries after the date assigned for Job, while the same authority states that Chaldea did not exist until a still later period. The poem of Job, as originally composed, comprised the following: Chapters i-xxvii, 10; xxviii-xxxi; xxviii-xli, 12; xlii, 1-6. All the rest of the book, about eight chapters-- nearly one fifth of it-- consists of clumsy forgeries. The poet is a radical thinker who boldly questions the wisdom and justice of God. To counteract the influence of his work these interpolations which controvert its teachings were inserted. Nor is this all. Our translators have still further mutilated the work. Its most damaging lines they have mistranslated or glossed over. Thus Job (xiii, 15) says: " He [God] will slay me; I have no hope." Yet they make him say the very reverse of this: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

The Five Rolls

The second division of the Hagiographa, known as the Five Rolls, or Megilloth, contains five small books-- The Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Ruth, and Esther.

The Song of Solomon, Song of Songs, or Canticles, as it is variously called, and Ecclesiastes, or The Preacher, are said to be the works of Solomon-- the former a product of his youth, the latter of his old age. It is quite certain that the same author did not write both, and equally certain that Solomon wrote neither. The Song of Solomon, Ewald affirms, is an anonymous poem, written about the middle of the tenth century after Solomon's time. It is doubtless of much later origin. It belongs to Northern, and not to Southern Palestine. This alone proves that Solomon did not write it. The Talmud says, "Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs." Hengstenberg, one of the most orthodox of commentators, says that Ecclesisates was written centuries after the time of Solomon. Davidson believes that it was written as late as 350 BCE; while Hartmann and Hitzig, Uerman critics, contend that it was written still later. Solomon's Song is an amorous poem, beautiful in its way.

The Preacher of Ecclesiastes is something of a Freethought preacher. He is a skeptic and a philosopher. Lamentations, it is claimed, was composed by Jeremiah. There is little evidence either for or against this claim. Oort affirms that its ascription to Jeremiah is a "mistaken tradition," that its five poems were written by five different authors and at different times. The habit of ascribing anonymous writings to eminent men was prevalent among the Jews. Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Daniel, and probably Jeremiah, have been declared the authors of books of which they never heard, Ruth is the only book of the Bible whose authorship is generally conceded by Christians to be unknown. Dr. Hitchcock says: "There is nothing whatever by which the authorship of it can be determined." Many orthodox scholars admit that Esther's authorship, like that of Ruth, is unknown. Some credit it to Mordecai. It was written as late as 300 BCE, 150 years after Mordecai's time. The Vulgate and modern Catholic versions include six chapters not found in our authorized version. There are many books in the Bible devoid of truth, but probably none so self-evidently false as Esther. It has been described as "a tissue of glaring impossibilities from beginning to end." Luther pronounces it a "heathenish extravagance."


Christians include Daniel with the Greater Prophets, and assign the authorship of this book to the sixth century BCE. It belongs to the Hagiographa and was one of the last books of the Old Testament to be written. A large part of the book relates to Belshazzar. Twenty times in a single chapter is he referred to as the king of Babylon, and five times is he called the son of Nebuchadnezzar. Yet Belshazzar was not the son of Nebuchadnezzar, and neither was he king of Babylon. Again the author devotes several chapters to Darius "the Median," who, he says, defeated the Chaldeans and conquered Babylon. Now, nearly everybody, excepting this writer, supposed that it was Cyrus the Persian who conquered Babylon. Darius "the Median" was never king of Babylon. This book was written by one ignorant of Babylonian history, and could not have been written by Daniel-- who lived in Babylon, and who is said to have been next to the king in authority. Prof. A. H. Sayce, Professor of Assyriology at Oxford University at the turn of the 19th Century, and who was considered by many the greatest archaeologist of the time (and a believer in the divinity of the Bible and an opponent of Higher Criticism), was compelled to reject Daniel. In an article, he wrote: "The old view of the old Book is correct excepting the book of Daniel, which is composed of legends. . . . The historical facts as we know them from the contemporaneous records are irreconcilable with the statements found in the historical portions of Daniel." [Quoted in The Bible, by John E. Remsburg]

This statement, aside from its rejection of Daniel, is significant. Here was a man whose lifelong study and researches made him preeminently qualified to judge of one book's authenticity and credibility. This book he rejected. The books he accepted were those concerning which he was not specially qualified to judge. Dr. Arnold said: "I have long thought that the greater part of the book of Daniel is most certainly a very late work, of the time of the Maccabees" (Life and Correspondence, Vol. II., p. 188). This conclusion of Dr. Arnold's, made seventy years ago, is confirmed by the later critics who place its composition in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, about 165 BCE A part, if not all of the book, was written in Aramaic. In the Greek version the three small Apocryphal books, History of Susannah, Song of the Three Holy Children, and Bel and the Dragon, are included in it. The fact that the Jews placed Daniel in the Hagiographa, instead of the Prophets, is fatal to the claims regarding its authorship and date.

Ezra and Nehemiah

Ezra and Nehemiah for a time constituted one book: Ezra. This was afterwards divided into two books and called The First and Second books of Ezra. Both were ascribed to Ezra. Subsequently the names were changed to those by which they are now known, and the authorship assigned respectively to Ezra and Nehemiah. That both were not composed by the same author is shown by the fact that each contains a copy of the register of the Jews that returned from Babylon. Critics agree that Ezra did not write all of the book which now bears his name-- that it is the work of various authors and was written, for the most part, long after Ezra's time. A portion of it was written in Hebrew and the remainder in Aramaic.

Nehemiah wrote, at the most, but a part of the book ascribed to him. He did not write the following: "The Levites in the days of Eliashib, Joiada, and Johanan, and Jaddua, were recorded chief of the fathers; also the priests to the reign of Darius the Persian" (xii, 22). Darius the Persian, began to reign 336 BCE; Nehemiah wrote 433 BCE "There were in the days of . . . Nehemiah the governor " (12:26). "In the days of Nehemiah" (47). These passages show that the book, as a whole, was not only not written by Nehemiah, but not until long after the time of Nehemiah. Spinoza says that both Ezra and Nehemiah were written two or three hundred years after the time claimed. The later critics are generally agreed that neither Ezra nor Nehemiah had anything to do with the composition of these books.

First and Second Chonicles

The concluding books of the Hagiographa, and of the Old Testament, if arranged in their proper order, are First and Second Chronicles. Theologians tell us that they were written or compiled by Ezra 456 BCE.

By carefully comparing the genealogy given in the third chapter of 1 Chronicles with that given in the first chapter of Matthew, it will be seen that the records of Chronicles are brought down to within a few generations of Jesus. These books are a compilation of documents made centuries after the time that Ezra and Nehemiah are supposed to have completed the canon of the Old Testament, and a hundred years after the date assigned for the Septuagint translation.

The fragmentary character of many of the books of the Bible, and particularly of Chronicles, is shown in the conclusion of the second book. It closes with an unfinished sentence, as follows: "The Lord his God is with him and let him go up-." The concluding words may be found in another book of the Bible: Ezra (1:3): "To Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel," etc. The first verses of Ezra are identical with the last verses of Chronicles. The compiler of Chronicles had seemingly begun to copy the document which now forms a part of the book of Ezra, and in the middle of a sentence was suddenly called away from his work, never to resume and complete it.

We have now reviewed the books of the Old Testament. We have seen that the claims made in support of their authenticity are, for the most part, either untrue or incapable of proof. When and by whom Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Jonah, Haggai, and Malachi were written is unknown. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah wrote, at the most, but portions of the books ascribed to them. The few remaining books may have been written by those whose names they bear, though even these are veiled in doubt. There is not one book in the Old Testament whose authenticity, like that of many ancient Greek and Roman books, is fully established.