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  #1  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:18 am
TheWhoFreak TheWhoFreak is offline
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Default Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Hey all at the CAF,

I'm currently a sophomore in college earning a B.A. in Religious Studies, in hopes of being an apologist I've been learning a lot, but some of what I've been learning is troubling me a little. In my Hebrew Scriptures class, for example, the professor taught us that the Old Testament was not written by Moses (as is traditionally believed) but was instead compiled from four sources known as P,J,D, and E, sometime after 587 BC. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. However, I've also read things that promote Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, such as Introduction to the Bible by Fr. John Laux, M.A. Even though it was published in 1932, the arguments it made against the DH were very interesting. So now I'm wondering, does the Church have an official teaching concerning this? The closest I've seen is a statement from the Pontifical Bible Commission in 1906 reaffirming the traditional belief in Mosaic authorship. Any and all help is appreciated.

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:21 am
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buffalo buffalo is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Yup - that is what they are teaching.

You might consider the toledoths, do some research on them and colophon phrases as well. These would point to Moses being the compiler based on a collection of tablets he had in his possession.
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IDvolution - God "breathed" the super language of DNA into the "kinds" in the creative act. Buffalo

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is a thought of God."

“Science presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the ‘design’ of creation.”

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  #3  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:30 am
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Found the actual Pontifical Biblical Commission statements:

On the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch (June 27, 1906)

I: Are the arguments gathered by critics to impugn the Mosaic authorship of the sacred hooks designated by the name of the Pentateuch of such weight in spite of the cumulative evidence of many passages of both Testaments, the unbroken unanimity of the Jewish people, and furthermore of the constant tradition of the Church besides the internal indications furnished by the text itself, as to justify the statement that these books are not of Mosaic authorship but were put together from sources mostly of post-Mosaic date?
Answer: In the negative.

II: Does the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch necessarily imply a production of the whole work of such a character as to impose the belief that each and every word was written by Moses' own hand or was by him dictated to secretaries; or is it a legitimate hypothesis that he conceived the work himself under the guidance of divine inspiration and then entrusted the writing of it to one or more persons, with the understanding that they reproduced his thoughts with fidelity and neither wrote nor omitted anything contrary to his will, and that finally the work composed after this fashion was approved by Moses, its principal and inspired author, and was published under his name?
Answer: In the negative to the first and in the affirmative to the second part.

III: Without prejudice to the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, may it be granted that in the composition of his work Moses used sources, written documents namely or oral traditions, from which in accordance with the special aim he entertained and under the guidance of divine inspiration he borrowed material and inserted it in his work either word for word or in substance, either abbreviated or amplified?
Answer: In the affirmative.

IV: Subject to the Mosaic authorship and the integrity of the Pentateuch being substantially safeguarded, may it be admitted that in the protracted course of centuries certain modifications befell it, such as: additions made after the death of Moses by an inspired writer, or glosses and explanations inserted in the text, certain words and forms changed from archaic into more recent speech, finally incorrect readings due to the fault of scribes which may be the subject of inquiry and judgement according to the laws of textual criticism?
Answer In the affirmative, saving the judgement of the Church.

Document listed on the Vatican website: 33. De mosaica authentia Pentateuchi (June 27, 1906)
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IDvolution - God "breathed" the super language of DNA into the "kinds" in the creative act. Buffalo

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is a thought of God."

“Science presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the ‘design’ of creation.”

"A man of conscience, is one who never acquires tolerance, well- being, success, public standing, and approval on the part of prevailing opinion, at the expense of truth."
Pope Benedict XVI

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  #4  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:31 am
TheWhoFreak TheWhoFreak is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Buffalo,

Not that I don't believe you or anything, but do you know where I could find that teaching in writing? The reason I ask is because I own a couple Catholic books with an imprimatur and nihil obstat that treat the DH as a given fact (these include A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (1969) and The New American Bible: St. Joseph Edition (1991). If the Church teaches Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, how in the heck did these books get an imprimatur?
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  #5  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:32 am
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship


Clay Tablet with Colophon

  • Tablet 1: Genesis 1:1 - 2:4. The origins of the cosmos Author: (God Himself (?)
  • Tablet 2: Genesis 2:5 - 5:2. The origins of mankind (Adam)
  • Tablet 3: Genesis 5:3 - 6:9a. The histories of Noah(Noah)
  • Tablet 4: Genesis 6:9b - 10:1. The histories of the sons of Noah (Shem, Ham & Japheth )
  • Tablet 5: Genesis 10:2 - 11:10a. The histories of Shem (Shem)
  • Tablet 6: Genesis 11:10b - 11:27a. The histories of Terah (Terah)
  • Tablet 7: Genesis 11:27b - 25:12. The histories of Ishmael (Isaac)
  • Tablet 8: Genesis 25:13 - 25:19a. The histories of Isaac (Ishmael, through Isaac)
  • Tablet 9: Genesis 25:19b - 36:1. The histories of Esau (Jacob)
  • Tablet 10: Genesis 36:2 - 36:9. The histories of Esau (Esau, through Jacob)
  • Tablet 11: Genesis 36:10 - 37:2. The histories of Jacob(Jacob’s 12 sons)
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IDvolution - God "breathed" the super language of DNA into the "kinds" in the creative act. Buffalo

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is a thought of God."

“Science presupposes the trustworthy, intelligent structure of matter, the ‘design’ of creation.”

"A man of conscience, is one who never acquires tolerance, well- being, success, public standing, and approval on the part of prevailing opinion, at the expense of truth."
Pope Benedict XVI

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  #6  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:34 am
TheWhoFreak TheWhoFreak is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Oh wow, lol, OK, thanks! You posted that as I was writing my first reply.
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  #7  
Old Jul 15, '12, 11:37 am
Cyklist Cyklist is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

It's easy to find professors who don't believe in the Documentary Hypothesis. One is Michael D. Coogan, a very well respected author who is being published by Oxford University Press (and therefore not released that much in Bible study software as OUP is hard to negotiate with). Coogan doesn't say they are written by Moses either, he just says the Documentary Hypothesis is starting to be discarded.

The Documentary Hypothesis is being taught to the seminarians studying to be priests of the (former since the turn of the millenia) state Church over here. That's one of the reasons why I'm not going to seminary. I'll just read Gk separately in Uni.

I buy a lot of books, printed as well as e-books in Bible study software.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhoFreak View Post
the professor taught us that the Old Testament was not written by Moses (as is traditionally believed) but was instead compiled from four sources known as P,J,D, and E, sometime after 587 BC. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. However, I've also read things that promote Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, such as Introduction to the Bible by Fr. John Laux, M.A. Even though it was published in 1932, the arguments it made against the DH were very interesting.
This is a very common misconception. The answer is that getting an imprimatur doesn't require that the entire content is in accordance with the teachings of the Church.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhoFreak View Post
If the Church teaches Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, how in the heck did these books get an imprimatur?
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  #8  
Old Jul 15, '12, 12:29 pm
TheWhoFreak TheWhoFreak is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

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Originally Posted by Cyklist View Post
This is a very common misconception. The answer is that getting an imprimatur doesn't require that the entire content is in accordance with the teachings of the Church.
I looked it up, and you're right. But it still strikes me as odd that those books promoting the DH were given the nihil obstat. Since the nihil obstat is a declaration that the work contains nothing damaging to faith or morals, how can a work that promotes something opposed to Church teaching not be considered damaging to faith or morals?
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  #9  
Old Jul 15, '12, 12:33 pm
Cyklist Cyklist is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

My Cathedral priest, a Briton, said that You shouldn't read theological footnotes in Bibles.
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  #10  
Old Jul 15, '12, 12:44 pm
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triumphguy triumphguy is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

The important thing is that scripture is the Word of God.
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  #11  
Old Jul 15, '12, 1:02 pm
meltzerboy meltzerboy is online now
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhoFreak View Post
Hey all at the CAF,

I'm currently a sophomore in college earning a B.A. in Religious Studies, in hopes of being an apologist I've been learning a lot, but some of what I've been learning is troubling me a little. In my Hebrew Scriptures class, for example, the professor taught us that the Old Testament was not written by Moses (as is traditionally believed) but was instead compiled from four sources known as P,J,D, and E, sometime after 587 BC. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. However, I've also read things that promote Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, such as Introduction to the Bible by Fr. John Laux, M.A. Even though it was published in 1932, the arguments it made against the DH were very interesting. So now I'm wondering, does the Church have an official teaching concerning this? The closest I've seen is a statement from the Pontifical Bible Commission in 1906 reaffirming the traditional belief in Mosaic authorship. Any and all help is appreciated.

Thanks!
I don't know the Catholic Church's view of this matter, although I've read some informative comments here. However, from the perspective of Orthodox Judaism, there is no compromising: that is, Moses is believed to have transcribed all five books of the Torah as the inspirational written Word of G-d. (That does not preclude interpretive analysis.) This incorporates the changes in literary style, as well as the passage in Deuteronomy that speaks of Moses' death, which is interpreted as a premonition by the prophet.
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  #12  
Old Jul 15, '12, 2:15 pm
Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by meltzerboy View Post
I don't know the Catholic Church's view of this matter, although I've read some informative comments here. However, from the perspective of Orthodox Judaism, there is no compromising: that is, Moses is believed to have transcribed all five books of the Torah as the inspirational written Word of G-d. (That does not preclude interpretive analysis.) This incorporates the changes in literary style, as well as the passage in Deuteronomy that speaks of Moses' death, which is interpreted as a premonition by the prophet.
What you stated above is exactly what was taught to me by a Catholic priest. I heard his extraordinary talks on Genesis, and he has studied the Hebrew language from an Orthodox Jew. The insights he gave about the Book of Genesis cause me to believe he is correct.
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  #13  
Old Jul 15, '12, 3:18 pm
CalCatholic CalCatholic is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhoFreak View Post
Hey all at the CAF,

I'm currently a sophomore in college earning a B.A. in Religious Studies, in hopes of being an apologist I've been learning a lot, but some of what I've been learning is troubling me a little. In my Hebrew Scriptures class, for example, the professor taught us that the Old Testament was not written by Moses (as is traditionally believed) but was instead compiled from four sources known as P,J,D, and E, sometime after 587 BC. This is known as the Documentary Hypothesis. However, I've also read things that promote Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, such as Introduction to the Bible by Fr. John Laux, M.A. Even though it was published in 1932, the arguments it made against the DH were very interesting. So now I'm wondering, does the Church have an official teaching concerning this? The closest I've seen is a statement from the Pontifical Bible Commission in 1906 reaffirming the traditional belief in Mosaic authorship. Any and all help is appreciated.

Thanks!
This 'Documentary Hypothesis' is also used explain how the Pentateuch was written and compiled in 'The Navarre Bible' commentary (which is by no means a liberal commentary!)
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  #14  
Old Jul 15, '12, 3:28 pm
Gorgias Gorgias is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Umm... a simple question: If Moses wrote (or edited) the Pentateuch, how is it that he wrote (or edited) the account of his death, as found in Deut 34?

Just sayin'...
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  #15  
Old Jul 15, '12, 3:57 pm
Dorothy Dorothy is offline
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Default Re: Does the Catholic Church teach that Moses wrote the Pentateuch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gorgias View Post
Umm... a simple question: If Moses wrote (or edited) the Pentateuch, how is it that he wrote (or edited) the account of his death, as found in Deut 34?

Just sayin'...
Some people are given by God such information.
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