For much of the history of both Judaism and Christianity, the Pentateuch—first five books of the Bible—was understood to be the unified work of a single inspired author: Moses. Yet the standard view in modern biblical scholarship contends that the Pentateuch is a composite text made up of fragments from diverse and even discrepant sources that originated centuries after the events it purports to describe. In Murmuring against Moses, John Bergsma and Jeffrey Morrow provide a critical narrative of the emergence of modern Pentateuchal studies and challenge the scholarly consensus by highlighting the weaknesses of the modern paradigms and mustering an array of new evidence for the Pentateuch’s antiquity. By shedding light on the past history of research and the present developments in the field, Bergsma and Morrow give fresh voice to a growing scholarly dissatisfaction with standard critical approaches and make an important contribution toward charting a more promising future for Pentateuchal studies.
John S. Bergsma, Ph.D. is Professor of Theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is the author of The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran (VTSup 115; Brill, 2007); A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: Old Testament (Ignatius, 2018), and Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Penguin Random House, 2019). His peer-reviewed scholarship on Old and New Testament topics and the Dead Sea Scrolls have appeared in the journals Biblica, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Dead Sea Discoveries, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vetus Testamentum, and in essay collections, festschrifts, dictionaries, and encyclopedias published by Brill, Continuum/T&T Clark, Eerdmans, Eisenbrauns, Harrassowitz, Kohlhammer, Oxford, and Westminster/John Knox Press.
Jeffrey L. Morrow, Ph.D. is Professor of Theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University. He is also the author of Pretensions of Objectivity and Alfred Loisy and Modern Biblical Studies.
“Meticulously researched, this work recovers academic voices long silenced by the reigning paradigms in Pentateuch study and adds refreshing new evidence to argue for the unity and antiquity of the Pentateuch. Members of all faiths holding a high view of Scripture will find in it a treasured resource.”
“A fascinating book that combines in a unique way an overview of dissident Pentateuchal research in the last 150 years, a revelation of the major shortcomings of Pentateuch models (especially the very obvious absence of any Zion theology in the Pentateuch that urgently asks for a convincing explanation), and a research history on Pentateuchal research from antiquity to the classic formulation of the Documentary Hypothesis by Julius Wellhausen. Students and colleagues will benefit greatly from it and will be encouraged to break new ground in their own Pentateuchal studies.”
Staatsunabhängige Theologische Hochschule, Switzerland
“This is exactly the sort of book I was looking for when I was teaching graduate student seminars and expositional courses on the books of the Pentateuch. The authors discuss in great detail not only the history of critical scholarly ‘murmurings against Moses’ but also the ‘inconvenient facts’ that proponents of Wellhausenian versions of the Documentary Hypothesis of the origins of the Pentateuch have overlooked or intentionally refused to admit to the discussion for more than a century. . . . If this volume gets the reading it deserves, the paradigm shift we currently observe in Pentateuchal studies will gain momentum.”
“A thoroughly researched and well-argued presentation. . . . If the authors are correct, which I believe they are, then there should be no ‘future’ to this long-lived hypothesis in Pentateuchal studies.”
Edwin M. Yamauchi