The Rejection of Pascal's Wager
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The Authorship of the Rest of the Old Testament

What about the rest of the books in the Old Testament? Are the authors all unknown to us? The answer can be found in the table below. This table summarizes the results of critical (i.e. without any theological presuppositions) and scientific scrutiny of the Bible.

The principles used here are no different from those used in other fields of documentary research. The document is scrutinized to find evidences of time of composition, the identity of the author and their general reliability. It is unfortunate to lay Christians, that this field is known by the ugly name: Higher Criticism. The choice of name was most unfortunate, for it gives one the impression of snobbish, ivory tower intellectuals who look down on the Bible to criticize it. With a name like that, it is easy for fundamentalists to launch their attacks on it. It is also significant that the results of this field of research is not normally made known to Christians.

Old Testament Books Traditional Authorship Attribution Conclusion Based on Critical Research Main Reasons Why Result of Critical Research Does no Agree with Tradition
1. Genesis
2. Exodus
3. Leviticus
4. Numbers
5. Deuteronomy
Moses False Among others the presence of the account of Moses' death and burial in Deuteronomy
6. Joshua Joshua False Among others the presence of the account of Joshua's death and burial in Deuteronomy
7. Judges
8. Ruth
9. I Samuel
10. II Samuel
Samuel False Outlook, framework and language is post exilic (circa 550BC). The presence of the account of Samuels' death in I Samuel 25:1 and the narratives of events that occured after the death of Samuel.
11. I Kings
12. II Kings
13. I Chronicles
14. II Chronicles
15. Ezra
16. Nehemiah
17. Esther
18. Job
No firm tradition regarding authorship - -
19. Psalms David False The presence of post-exilic themes in some of the Psalms proves that David could not have written some of them.
20. Provers
21. Ecclesiastes
22. Song of Solomon
Solomon False Presence of word peculiar to post-exilic Hebrew vocabulary and syntax. Presence of Persian and Greek loan words disproves Solomon's authorship.
23. Isaiah Isaiah Partially false Chapters 1-39 by Isaiah (cica 700 BCE), but chapter 40-46 is post exilic
24. Jeremiah
25. Lamentations
Jeremiah False of Lamentations The presence of many views in Lamentations that are in contradiction to those in Jeremiah suggests two different authors.
26. Ezekiel Ezekiel True -
27. Daniel Daniel False The presence of gross historical errors regarding supposedly contemperanoeus events rules out the authorship of a sixth century BCE prophet.
28. Hosea Hosea True -
29. Joel Joel True -
30. Amos Amos True -
31. Obadiah Obadiah ** Nothing is known about the author and Obadiah was a very common name.
32. Jonah Jonah False Jonah was supposed to have lived in the eighth century BCE but the presence of gross historical errors and the language points to the fourth century BCE as the date of composition.
33. Micah Micah True -
34. Nahum Nahum ** Nothing is known about the author.
35. Habakkuk Habakkuk True -
36. Zephaniah Zephaniah True -
37. Haggai Haggai True -
38. Zechariah Zechariah Partially true Chapters 1 to 8 generally accepted to have been written by Zechariah but differences in style from chapters 9 through 14 and presence of reference to Greece points to a later period.
39. Malachi Malachi True -

Comparison between the traditional attribution of authorship of Old Testament books and the results of critical research [1]

What does Higher Criticism tells us? Firstly that the books from Genesis to Esther have anonymous authors. Thus, all the books that purports to narrate about the history of the Jewish nation and their relationship with God have unknown authors. It is precisely with this kind of books that the knowledge of the author's identity is needed to enable a forthright assessment of their reliability. The books attributed to kings David and Solomon were not written or compiled by them. It is only in the book of the prophets that there exists some truths in the traditional attribution of authorship. These books however, are generally just essays on the views and opinions of the individual prophets.

The question naturally arises: why would tradition assign the authorship to people who did not write them? The answer is simple. The books in the Bible, especially the historical books and the Pentateuch, as we have mentioned earlier, are books of testimony. To give it's incredible stories some sort of credibility, the early believers concocted the fiction of Mosaic authorship for Pentateuch, Davidic authorship of the Psalms and so on. In other words, the traditional attribution originated by fraudulent means.

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1.Anderson, A Critical Introduction to the Old Testament
Asimov, Guide to the Bible
Paine, The Age of Reason
Riedel, The Book of the Bible

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