Who wrote the bible

by Richard Elliot Friedman

I had written a post in the past where I said Moses didn’t write the first five books of the OT and I referred you good friends to my friend’s website where he has covered this matter in detail than I would do in the space of this blog.

In this book that I just finished reading, the author tells the same story but much better than I plan to do here. The thing that I found most interesting from this book is not who wrote the bible, I already had an idea of the J, E, P and D authors, but the creativity with which they combined the different narratives to form a coherent book.

Friedman shows, the bible was the first attempt to write history. He says, and I find it persuasive, that these authors writing at their own times concerning the particular events did not for a moment imagine their works would have such a tremendous effect generations later. One is able, after reading this book, to better appreciate the political and religious climate the different authors wrote their histories.

It is a few hundred pages and one can read it one sitting.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

13 thoughts on “Who wrote the bible

  1. john zande says:

    Did you mean to say first attempt to “re-write” history?

    I’d say many peoples have made similar efforts, its just that the OT was adopted in Western culture so we know it far better than, say, some Indonesian tale.

    The Babylonians did it in a BIG way. As the power of Sumer slowly bled into the Akkadian Empire which then dulled and that of Babylon rose some serious adjustments needed to be made to the heavenly order established in the original pantheon to better reflect this new earthly reality. The solution the Babylonians found was brazen, if not perfectly straightforward: they simply wrote the Enuma Elish which literally catapulted their capital cities patron God, Marduk, way up the order in the existing creation story. Without care or concern for script continuity they made him a son of the Sumerian Lord Enki who, the new version of events reads, ceded power leaving the one-time fairly lowly Babylonian God to rule all of mankind. In the new edition it is Marduk who slaughters the pre-time chaos embodied in the demon Tiâmat and splits the giant’s body to create heaven and earth.

    Re-writing history is easy…. selling it is a little more tricky.


    • makagutu says:

      I accept the correction and we can do with re-write history.


      • john zande says:

        No, seriously, was it meant to be ‘write’ history? If it is i’d be interested to hear how he arrived at that conclusion.


        • makagutu says:

          Unfortunately yes. He says that was the first attempt to write history which couldn’t have been true either way since we have the Hindoo texts of creation written earlier than that among different other stories.


          • john zande says:

            That’s odd, but Friedman is a bit of Hebrew nut. Still, he should be more scholarly in his outlook to make such a wild claim. Is he trying to imply the Sumerians (who invented writing and predate Abraham by 2,500 years) didn’t write a single account of their own history? Bullocks. The Sumerian King List is (probably) the first “history” and it starts its chronology from 3,500 BCE.

            Anyway, how’s things there with the election? I watched parts of the Presidential debate last night. I liked the PM’s jibe, “Would he conduct his government via Skype from inside The Hague?” Classic 🙂


            • makagutu says:

              The campaigns aren’t too heated but as it is, it’s a tight race and has several implications some of which I have written here.
              The implication of the story in 1984 which archy recommended talks of Big Brother erasing old history then people forced to believe that what they currently have is a correct representation of history and I think this is what the bible authors were doing and that christians have tried to push around for the last 2 millenia.


  2. Mak, you know you are my friend, and I hope you know i would never criticize your conclusions without cause. I also know you to be an avid reader. I suggest you read George Orwell’s “1984,” a fictional account, of what Orwell, based on the trajectory of his observations, believed that his (then) future held in store for humanity. Once you’ve read this, and knowing you, that shouldn’t take long, we can better discuss the “history” bequeathed to us by the authors of the Pentateuch – or as John Zande beat me in phrasing it, “rewritten history.”

    pax vobiscum,


    • makagutu says:

      Now that you very well mention, I have read 1984 and I welcome your comments. They are usually a great opportunity for me to learn and to be corrected where I have made erroneous assumptions or conclusions


  3. As you will see, as I continue exploring the Bible on my own site, the early Hebrews believed in a god from Assyria, “Amurru,” or, “El Shaddai.” As proof of this, this god reveals himself to Abraham as exactly that, “El Shaddai,” and it is clearly present in the original Hebrew, in the Torah. Later translations, beginning with the Greek Septuagint, have tried to conceal that Mesopotamian connection by claiming their god is original, not a Mesopotamian inheritance, thus they replace the term, “El Shaddai,” with, “God Almighty,” and so through the Latin Vulgate, all the way to the KJV, although The New American Bible (the Catholic version) also uses, “God almighty,” it admits in a footnote that this is a mistranslation of the actual term, “Shaddai.” El Shaddai, or Amurru, only became Yahweh after the Israelites became associated with the Hittites, descendants of a nomadic tribe known as the Shasu (mentioned in Egyptian annals, yet Moses was not), who followed a desert god they called YWH. By the time of the Hittites, YWH had evolved into YHWH, whom the Israelis became convinced was the same as their old god, El Shaddai, and thus the cult was born.

    El Shaddai had a wife, Asherah, and you will find her mentioned 40 times in the Bible, but after the total defeat of the Israeli’s in the 6th century BCE, Israel’s Religious Right, in exile in Babylon, rewrote Jewish history, which is why I find it difficult to consider any of the Old Testament an actual “history” of the Jewish people.

    Here is a fascinating video I will try to embed, but as it may not work on a WordPress blog, I’ll leave the URL as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYD0LzmilE8

    pax vobiscum,


  4. Liberty of Thinking says:

    Leo Cohen said in one of his songs that: “I’m the little Jew who wrote the Bible”
    So he did it, if he was talking about himself:-D


  5. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Wow, Steve, I have no idea where you’re getting your information:


    Matthew A.D. 70
    Mark A.D. 55
    Luke between A.D. 59 and 63
    John A.D. 85
    Acts A.D. 63

    “Mark,” as nearly everyone who studies the Bible knows, was an anonymous author to whom the name “Mark” was given well into the second century CE, as were “Matthew,” “Luke,” and “John” anonymous authors. First century Christians had nothing except the letters of Paul and that of Peter, and the majority of the worshippers were illiterate, as likely was Peter as well.

    Pseudo-Mark wrote his gospel after the fall of Jerusalem in 72 CE, pseudo-Matthew about five years after that, pseudo-Luke five or ten years after that, and pseudo-John near the end of the century. The Acts of the Apostles was written by the same pseudo-Luke, based entirely on the letters of Paul and NOT his own observations, well into the 2nd century CE.


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