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Richard E. Friedman’s Book ‘Who Wrote the Bible’, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Introductory Statement

Richard E. Friedman gives a very strong argument of the Old Testament including the books of “Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy” with respect for the writers of the books. (Friedman 403). The purpose of Friedman’s review is to specifically identify the author’s of the Old Testament and validate their writings. The U.S. News and World Reports states that the author has gone far beyond other scholars to validate the authors of the Bible through sympathetic and provocative text measures. The theology of the Old Testament is based upon what God chose to reveal about himself and what the books teach us about the creations of the heavens and the earth. This commences from the books of Genesis through the books of Revelations. As through John 14:6 and John 1:1-3 states, the word was God and the word was with God.

Literature Review

From the beginning God created Eve from the ribs of Adam because he could not find a helper amongst the animals. Adam is derived from the Hebrew word Adamah. Man and animals were created from the mud of the earth. Eve possesses more intellect than that of Adam and that is the way God wanted it to be. Rebekah teaches Jacob to overreach Isaac with her sly and cunning intelligence.

The Hebrew Scriptures are seen throughout the Bible are incomplete and of factual contradictions. “For example, the question of the number of clean animals on the ark is related to the importance of priests and sacrifice. The flood story is a composite from two sources, “J” and “P”. J wrote the first version, in which there were seven of every clean animal and only two of the others, so that Noah could make a grateful sacrifice to God when he landed. P’s version, coming later, was written by an Aaronid priest, who wanted to emphasize that sacrifice, had only begun when God made Aaron high priest (and hence could only be legitimately performed by his descendents). In P’s account, therefore, Noah did not perform a sacrifice, and only two of each animal were required.” (Who wrote the bible).

There was a constant struggle between the people of Israel and the Judah’s hence the influence of partisan politics is quite discerning because there is always trouble within the realms of who will have the power within the circle of these communes. The Aranoids firmly believed that the power stayed in the courts of Jerusalem but further manifested in the priesthoods of Shiloh with emphasis on laws and sacrifices. “The Aranoids were in primary power hence authorizing power in the streets of Jerusalem. Friedman points out that the research was never intended to prove or disprove the divine inspiration of the Bible, but only to establish which human beings wrote it.  Whether they did so at divine direction, dictation, or inspiration was always a matter of faith,” he says (p. 243). Moreover, the juxtaposition of the sources has led to greater literary and theological depth than any of the sources had alone. For example, God in P is generally depicted as transcendent and just, whereas in JE, God is usually seen as personal and merciful. The tension between these two images has been the source of some of the deepest theological thought in the Western tradition.” (Solomon 1987).

The J source speaks of a real Godlike man of Jesus that can walk on the Earth that speaks with Moses. This is agreeable to the people of today for we worship this Jesus through the divinity of the three spirits and the resurrection of the Holy Spirit. From the kingdom of Israel comes the E source.  God is a symbol of nature. “The D source, or the Deuteronomist, is concerned more with sociological concerns than outright theology.” (Solomon 1987).  The P or Priestly source puts focus on the traditional source of God. The Prophet of Ezra put all of these sources together to unite one God, one Holy Spirit and one Father as worshiped through the sign of the Cross.

Friedman does not agree with the theory of Wellhausen.  “He believes he has evidence to show that the P source was composed during the reign of King Hezekiah (715-687BC) rather than the traditional date of 400BC, after the Babylonian exile.” (Solomon 1987).  There seems to be some validity to this argument by Friedman.  The last source of Deuteronomist is agreed to be given by Josiah during 640-609BC.

On page 17-19 of Friedman’s book he describes objections to views of the book of Moses.  “Friedman includes statements “that Moses was not likely to have said,” – e.g. the statement that Moses was the humblest of all men – and the fact that Moses is referred to in the third person.” (Gottlieb 2009).  Friedman’s objections do not take into considerations the traditional or Priestly views of Moses.  Moses is not telling his own stories but G-b telling the stories to Moses. Friedman does not take this into consideration.

On pages 17-19 Friedman is unaware that it is quite common for a speaker in the Old Testament to refer to himself in the third person. “For example, in Exodus 19,11, G-d is speaking to Moses and says, “… for on the third day HASHEM will descend…” In Joshua 1,9, G-d is speaking to Joshua and says, “…for HASHEM your G-d is with you. Other examples are in Exodus 24,1 and I Samuel 12,11. Given this standard practice, Friedman’s contention that “Moses was not likely to have said” has no validity.” (Gottlieb 2009).

Page 19 of Friedman’s book reveals “there is little suggestion that Joshua wrote the last eight verses of the Torah – the account of Moses death. [NOT BECAUSE it is a future event – Moses as a prophet can refer to future events – but that AS HE WROTE THE WORDS, THEY WERE FALSE until he actually died. Friedman quotes, and approves the objection of Carlstadt that ‘…the account of Moses’ death is written in the same style as texts that precede it. This makes it difficult to claim that Joshua or anyone else merely added a few lines to an otherwise Mosaic manuscript.’ Again, this is irrelevant to the traditional view of divine authorship.” (Gottlieb 2009).

On page 20 of his book Friedman states, “the objection that the phrase ‘until this day’ [for events that occurred in the time of Moses – D.G.] implies that the writer lived at a later time. On p. 21 he says the same for ‘There never arose another prophet in Israel like Moses….’ But again, this ignores the traditional view that the author of the text is G-d Who gave it through Moses for all future generations. Thus it is quite acceptable for there to be passages relating to the time of the later reader.” (Gottlieb 2009).

Page 64 of the book is quite controversial because Friedman states “that J justifies Judah as king by disqualifying his three older brothers – Reuben for having had relations with Jacob’s concubine. But the sentence describing this crime – Gen. 35: 22 – is the last verse in a passage – 35: 9-22 – in which the only name that occurs is E – three times.” (Gottlieb 2009).

According to Friedman on page 71-73 of his book “the story of the golden calf is invented by priests living in the northern kingdom who have been rejected as priests by the northern king. The story is an implied critique of both north and south. But then how did it become the accepted orthodoxy? Why did not the northern priests succeed is quashing it? How did it spread to the south? Indeed, how did a brand new invented story by a small, rejected group, with clear, self-serving political motivation, get any attention at all?” (Gottlieb 2009).

Friedman specifically contends that though the humans authored the Bible it was guided by the spiritual forces of God as we know him to be. All of the authors present different facts including trials and tribulations of the times but they all refer to one true God and one true Salvation through John 14:6 and Acts 4:12. There is not much reference in the books of the Bible that name the particular author but it is believed they lived during the time of transcription or approximate time of authorship. It is still understood that God is the one true authority of the Bible. The Bible was put together by men under the guidance of God as his Ghost or Holy Spirit. It is believed that Adam wrote the first four chapters of Genesis but this is only a theory. Moses is believed to have complied the first five books.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy was written by Moses. Joshua, Judges, and Ruth were written prior to the reign of David. The large portion of the Psalms was written by King David before and during his reign over Israel. Proverbs was written by King Solomon. Ecclesiastes likely finds authorship in the Post-Exilic period and is written in the voice of the character of King Solomon. The prophetical books of Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and Zephaniah were all written during the Kingdom Era by the prophets whose names are borne by the books’ titles. Jeremiah wrote both Lamentations and the book of Jeremiah and wrote over a course of years spanning the periods immediately preceding and succeeding the capture of Jerusalem. Jeremiah wrote both Lamentations and the book of Jeremiah and wrote over a course of years spanning the periods immediately preceding and succeeding the capture of Jerusalem.

As you can see Friedman presents many statements that cannot be truly verified that are quite ambiguous by nature and descent. The motivations by which Friedman presents evidence are of political, economic and personal nature. In some instances the text of the era had not been invented, discussed or even supported or rejected. Friedman’s view casts thoughts and theories of religion with a new modern view and reality. Friedman asserts that some Bible passages present certain texts and some philosophers attest they do not. Philosophers of the Bible state there are other interpretations other than the ones Friedman proposes. It has even been suggested that Friedman does consider realms of counter-evidence. My opinion is that Friedman simply gives a different perspective to the traditional interpretation of the Old Testament Bible and it is very conflicting to what people already believe. People often fight change especially with views to religion and politics.

Works Cited

Friedman, Who wrote the bible 1997. 02 Nov 2009 < http://alford.fastmail.us/bible.html>

Friedman, Richard Who Wrote the Bible New York, NY: Perennial Library, 1989

Solomon, Steve Who Wrote the bible 1987. < http://grammarman.50megs.com/bible.html>

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