Many people don’t know the real history behind the Genesis story.
It’s one of the most commonly mentioned bible stories, but most people get it wrong.
School teaches most children that Moses wrote the early stories in the Bible.
Let’s dive into why that is the case and why that also might be wrong.
What We Know
Most Christian’s are taught that Moses wrote the first five books in the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, which comprised of the following books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy).
Today we’ll explore why experts now don’t completely subscribe to this age old theory.
The Genesis story is the first book that make up the Pentateuch or also known as the Torah. This much is accepted as true amongst Christians.
These books are heavily researched by Theologians and it’s origins are still unknown.
Experts have studied these books heavily to decipher who wrote them, when they were written and where they first came into existence. It’s amazing that there isn’t complete consensus, even between experts as to first origin of the Genesis story. It’s mostly agreed upon that the Genesis story has multiple authors, as do most books in the Bible.
The Genesis story mentions the Kings of Israel, which we know didn’t exist until approximately 1000 B.C., which pokes a hole in the hypothesis below.
Most experts also agree that the stories of the Bible were passed on through the generations via oral traditions, so many of the stories weren’t written down on paper until much later.
There is even some evidence to suggest now that the earlist source of the Bible was written around the time of King Solomon, which was much much earlier.
Julius Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis
Julius Wellhausen is a famous theologian who has dedicated a large part of his professional career into the origin story, of the books in the Bible.
In Wellhausen’s research – he arrived at a Documentary Hypothesis. The Documentary Hypothesis rejects the notion that Moses wrote the first 5 books in the Bible. Instead it states that the books were written by multiple different authors.
These authors are commonly refered to as the Yahwist, the Elohist and the Priestly Source.
The Three Authors
The Yahwist made his contribution in Judah, possibly close to 800 BCE. ‘YHWH’ was commmonly used as the name for God with humanly traits. God created agreements and decisions amongst his followers.
The Elohist originally drafted his writings near the northern kingdom of Israel likely later than the Yahwist, but absolutely before 722 BCE. The Elohist commonly used ‘Elohim’ as the name when refering to God, who demanded the divine obedience of his followers. People were not able to physically see Elohist’s God in the flesh, which is why God was commonly seen only came in memories, dreams or visions. This God was also known to be resurrected in symbols similar to a cloud, fire or a flame.
Due to the Priestly Source’s writing style being most similar to both Middle Biblical Hebrew and Late Biblical Hebrew, this allowed experts to arrive at a date range for the writings. This time period is referred to as the Babylonian Exile. The Priestly Source referred to God with the names Elohim and El Shaddai. The Priestly Source’s writings are also commonly scattered with numbers, more so than the other 2 sources.
The Three Authors theory is a more modern approach to the authors – but not everyone is comfortable with this.
There is still much debate in theology circles about the origins of the first five books in the Bible.
This is mostly speculation with most or all documents being impartial at this point in time.
What do you think the origin story of the first five books in the Bible are?