Luke 24:27, Moses wrote the Torah

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

//Moses did not write the first five books of the Bible. The Documentary Hypothesis in one form or another is nearly undisputable, as I described a few days ago in a book review: The Bible With Sources Revealed. Moses died three hundred years before the first verse of the Torah was written. These five books reflect multiple strands of material that were put together over a period of at least five hundred years. One of these books even contains the account of Moses’ death and burial; a remarkable thing for Moses to write about!

Yet, Jesus himself makes the traditional claim for Mosaic authorship of the Torah in several places. Here are two, each found in multiple Gospels:

Mark 1:44, “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Matthew 19:7-8, “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

What can we conclude? That Jesus didn’t really say these things? That Jesus was wrong about the Torah’s authorship? That Jesus knew better but found no reason to contradict popular belief? Or could current scholarship be wrong, and Moses did write the Torah?


  1. My opinion is not very novel in liberal Christian circles, but I think the writers wrote things that reflected their own beliefs. They believed Moses wrote the Torah, and so the Jesus of their literature believed it, too. Just my two cents.

  2. Thanks, Crystal! Love your site, by the way.

    Here is another opinion, posted in reply to my feed onto

    You make good points, Lee, but it’s even simpler than that…

    We think of the biblical texts as “books.” But in the ancient world—particularly outside and preceding the Hellenized world—there actually was no such thing as a “book.” There were no book shops. There was no book market. The average citizen didn’t own a book and probably never read a book in their life.

    And one thing we take for granted in a “book” culture is the concept of an “author.” In the ancient world, where there is no “book” as we know it, there is no “author” as we know it either. When ancient Jews talked about “Moses,” they did not speak of authorship, but of a select grouping of scrolls like “Prophets” or “David” (for Psalms) or “Solomon” (for folk wisdom texts) etc.

    “Moses” is another way of saying “legal codes.”

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