"The Bible is filled with discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable contradictions. Moses did not write the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament)..." (Bart Ehrman, 'Jesus, Interrupted, p. 5).
A noted Bible scholar, Jesus, says that Moses did write the Pentateuch, frequently prefacing His comments on the law with the phrase, 'Moses said...;" for example, Mark 7:10: "For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother..." Jesus is uniquely positioned
to know such things, having a personal interest in the matter:
"Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently,
who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what,
or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify,
when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that
should follow." (1 Peter 1:10-11).
It is surprising how many people claim to follow Jesus, and indeed claim
to have devoted their lives to Him, who will not take His word on this
point. Years ago there was a story in the paper about a sports star, to
my best recollection Larry Byrd, who kept getting interrupted when he sat
down to dinner in a local restaurant. People just had to have his autograph
because, they said, 'My wife will never believe me when I tell her I saw
you in the restaurant.' He in his turn inquired, rather grumpily, 'What
kind of a relationship do you have with your wife that she wouldn't even
believe you if you told her you saw me in a restaurant?' Some people have
that kind of a relationship with Jesus.
Far from being one of the brightest pearls in the atheist tiara, the 'Documentary
Hypothesis' is one of the most unsightly kludges anyone has ever inherited
and had to drag around. This theory proclaims,— I'm not making this up,—
that every time there is a different name for God, there's a different
author. Try out that theory with more recent works of theological literature
and see how brilliantly it works. The old atheist objections to Mosaic
authorship of the Pentateuch, for instance that Moses could not have authored
this law because the Hebrews did not then have a written alphabet, have
been cleared away. A great advantage of the theory of Mosaic authorship
is that it explains why the law of Moses was called the law of Moses:
"But the children of the murderers he slew not: according unto that which is written in the book of the law of Moses, wherein the LORD commanded, saying, The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, nor the children be put to death for the fathers; but every man shall be put to death for his own sin." (1 Kings 14:6).
"On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;..." (Nehemiah 13:1).
"And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel." (Joshua
"And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself..." (1 Kings 2:3).
"As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth." (Daniel 9:13).
Yet people like Bart Ehrman still think they are being clever when they
deny Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.
Ignore the Testimony
Bart Ehrman must convince his readers to discount the ancient testimony
that the church's four gospels were written by two apostles and two associates
of the apostles, or the game is up. To accomplish this, he points out that
Matthew talks about himself in the third person:
"Moreover, Matthew' Gospel is written completely in the third person,
about what 'they' --- Jesus and the disciples -- were doing, never about
what 'we' -- Jesus and the rest of us -- were doing. Even when this Gospel
narrates the event of Matthew being called to become a disciple, it talks
about 'him,' not about 'me.'" (Bart Ehrman, 'Jesus, Interrupted,'
By this line of reasoning we can prove that Caesar never wrote 'The Gallic
War,' because he is continually saying things like, "When Caesar observed
this he gave orders for the warships, which were of a type less familiar
to the barbarians and more maneuverable at need, to be moved a short distance
from the transport vessels..." (Julius Caesar, The Gallic War, 4.25).
No doubt this will be Bart Ehrman's next great discovery, that 'The Gallic
War' was written by 23 different persons, most of them concealing their
identities. Centuries earlier is was Xenophon who said, “'And now,
gentlemen,' he went on, 'let us not delay; withdraw and choose your
commanders at once, you who need them, and after making your choices
come to the middle of the camp and bring with you the men you have
selected; then we will call a meeting there of all the troops.' . .
Thereupon the commanders were chosen, Timasion the Dardanian in
place of Clearchus, Xanthicles the Achaean in place of Socrates,
Cleanor the Arcadian in place of Agias, Philesius the Achaean in
place of Menon, and Xenophon the Athenian in place of Proxenus.”
(Xenophon, Anabasis, Book III, Chapter 1). Who is our author?
"Xenophon the Athenian"! Was this the style preferred for military
dispatches, with its apparent modesty and objectivity? In the most
dramatic scene in this exciting, fast-paced story of a band of Greek
mercenaries breaking out from deep in the depths of a hostile
Persian empire, when they scale a hill and catch sight of the sea, we hear
again about "Xenophon:"
“But as the shout kept getting louder and nearer, as the
successive ranks that came up all began to run at full speed toward
the ranks ahead that were one after another joining in the shout,
and as the shout kept growing far louder as the number of men grew
steadily greater, it became quite clear to Xenophon that here was
something of unusual importance; so he mounted a horse, took with
him ahead to lend aid; and in a moment they heard the soldiers
shouting , 'The Sea! The Sea!' and passing the word along.”
(Xenophon, Anabasis, Book IV, Chapter 7).
Polybius the historian, who uses both formats, explains that it can
be offensive to talk about one's self:
"For as I was much personally involved in the
transactions about to be related, it becomes necessary to vary the
methods of indicating myself; that I may not weary by continual
repetition of my own name, nor again by introducing the words 'of
me,' or 'through me,' at every turn, fall insensibly into an
appearance of egotism. I wished, on the contrary, by an
interchangeable use of these terms, and by selecting from time to
time the one which seemed most in place, to avoid, as far as could
be, the offensiveness of talk about one's self; for such talk,
though naturally unacceptable, is frequently inevitable, when one
cannot in any other way give a clear exposition of the subjects."
(Polybius, The Histories, Book XXXVII, Chapter 4).
Whatever the reason, use of the third person does not carry with
it the implications Bart Ehrman imagines. The early testimony Bart Ehrman must make disappear includes Papias:
"Mark, having become Peter's interpreter, wrote down accurately everything
he remembered, though not in order, of the things either said or done by
Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but afterward,
as I said, followed Peter...So Matthew composed the oracles in the Hebrew
language and each person interpreted them as best he could." (Fragments
of Papias, p. 316, The Apostolic Fathers, J. B. Lightfoot, J. R. Harmer,
Michael W. Holmes).
Incidentally, 'interpret' means 'translate,' as in "And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise." (Mark 5:41). Bart Ehrman disposes
of this valuable historical information by his usual method. He understands
it in accordance with the hyper-literalism of a two year old child. Papias
says that Mark wanted to leave nothing out. Can this be true?:
"The Gospel of Mark takes about two hours to read out loud. After
Peter had spent all those months, or years, with Jesus, and after Mark
listened to Peter preach about Jesus day and night, are we to imagine that
all Mark heard was two hours' worth of information?" (Bart Ehrman,
'Jesus, Interrupted,' p. 109).
It's true indeed that Mark never wrote a book like 'Remembrance of Things
Past;' by that standard, he did leave a lot out, but then people did not
write books like that then. We have wandered into absurdity here, but let's
wander further. Papias tells a story about branches with ten thousand shoots
that doesn't make much sense. So people discount it. This perplexes Bart
Ehrman: "Why do these scholars accept some of what Papias said but
not all of what he said?" (Bart Ehrman, 'Jesus, Interrupted,' p. 110).
There you have it, the pearl of great price, 'scholarship' the Bart Ehrman
way: accept everything Papias said, or none of it. Who ever says this about
Suetonius or Josephus, or any other witness to history? And what jury has
ever been instructed, 'you may ignore the unanimous consent of the witnesses,
if you prefer to believe something else?' There is no substitute for testimony
from people in a position to know. Why toss it out for no reason?