We were reading the Bible as a family the other day.
The passage was Genesis 1:1–2:3, the story of creation.
We read about each of the days of creation, stopping to discuss what happened on each particular day. This led to a discussion about time and where time came from. My daughters were quick to observe that since we measure time in days and months and years that we couldn’t really have time without creation:
- a day is one rotation of the earth on its axis,
- a month is one revolution of the moon (the “lesser light” in Gen. 1) around the earth,
- a year is one revolution of the earth around the sun (the “greater light”).
Pretty interesting stuff.
But things got a little testy when my wife asked the question, “So who wrote this part of Genesis?”
All eyes, for some reason, were turned on me.
I began to answer that it is traditionally ascribed, along with the rest of the Pentateuch (meaning “five scrolls” referring to Genesis through Deuteronomy) to Moses. “However,” I continue, “scholars in the last two centuries have challenged the notion that Moses was the author.” I cite the possibility of multiple author composition, over a long period of time. I mention the “documentary hypothesis,” a theory developed by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1912), a German scholar and theologian, that suggests it may be a compilation of several different texts from several different traditions.
There certainly are at least parts that Moses may not have written, such as in Numbers 12:3 where it says, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” How humble can you be to write that about yourself?
Or what about the last chapter of Deuteronomy that reads in part:
“So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD, 6 and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no one knows the place of his burial to this day. 7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deut 34:5–7 ESV).
I believe in predictive prophecy but this is ridiculous!
Welcome to family devotions at the Meares’ house!
My wife, not flattered by my Introduction to the Old Testament lecture exclaimed, “But how could the writer, or writers – whoever they were – have known that this is what happened if they weren’t there to witness it?!”
“Well…” I started to say before pausing momentarily to collect my thoughts.
That’s when my youngest, Ariana, jumped into the fray.
Standing up from the couch and with dramatic 9-year old gestures, and requisite sarcasm inquired,
“Has any of those ‘scholars’ ever thought that maybe God told Moses what happened?! I mean, God told Moses a bunch of other stuff! Why couldn’t he tell him about creation?”
Man, Julius, you got told by a 9-year old!