God's Word?

Believers find various ways to reconcile modern biblical scholarship with their faith in the Bible as God's word

BY: Rabbi David Wolpe

 

Q. Did God write the Bible?



The Bible as a whole makes no claim for divine authorship. Although many passages are quoted in God's name, the five books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy) never assert that their entire content is divine. Nonetheless, due to various interpretations and doctrines, the belief has grown up in Judaism that the whole Torah (and to a certain extent, the subsequent biblical books and even the rabbinic tradition) is divine.

One engine of this belief is the existence of a fascinating intellectual problem. In modern times, the problem is called "the slippery slope." Essentially, it points up the difficulty with drawing lines. Opponents of abortion use the slippery-slope argument very effectively: If a fetus is considered a human being at, say, eight months, what about eight months minus 30 seconds? Minus one minute? Five minutes? One day? At each step, it is hard to defend the absolute distinction between the point one defends and a point just marginally prior to it.

Similarly, the slippery slope wreaks havoc with arguments about biblical authorship. If one word, just one word, of the Bible is in fact of human origin, then how can one defend the divinity of any of it? If one word, why not two, or 10, or the whole book?

So it is intellectually neater to hew to a hard line. If it is all from God, then that's the end of it. For centuries, Jewish exegetes (those who interpret texts) argued that this was the simple truth.

Unfortunately, the evidence does not always cooperate with our intellectual convenience. Once various other academic disciplines began to be developed--literary criticism, comparative religion, archaeology, and so forth--the divinity of the Bible seemed less secure.

Continued on page 2: »

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

DiggDeliciousNewsvineRedditStumbleTechnoratiFacebook