Current Research
Hebrew Bible

No, Moses did not write the five books of the Pentateuch. Stylistic analysis confirms what literary study has long suggested: that no one person, neither Moses nor anybody else, wrote all five books. Nor was any one book written by a single person; all are the result of a more or less protracted formation process, where later material was inserted alongside earlier material, usually in order to update or otherwise revise it.

No, Isaiah did not write all of "Isaiah;" Nor did a single person write any one of the three commonly recognized segments of Isaiah (Protero, 1-39; Deutero, 40-55; and Trito, 56-66). Each has been extensively interpolated to keep up with this or that outside doctrine.

Whether we consider the Law, or the Prophets, or the Histories, or such literary pieces as the Psalms, we find this same situation of update and revision. The whole of the Hebrew Bible thus takes a good deal of unscrambling; these are some of the most overwritten texts in the world. As one proceeds with the unscrambling, one begins to get a sense of how the mind of Israel, about its relation to God and its own place in the world, underwent continual growth, and indeed, argument, over a long period. (In the case of the Psalms collection, the formation period lasted for seven centuries, from Ahab to Antiochus Epiphanes). This, to the extent we can still recover it, is one part of the still untold story of Ancient Israel.

Current research is focused especially on Genesis and Exodus, the Psalms, and the Minor Prophets, along with the question of popular stories included alongside the elite versions. In general, we take a post-Documentarian view, and emphasize text growth and interaction as major elements in the rise and modification of the Biblical texts. Ongoing discussions of these and other matters are hosted on the Project's dedicated E-list Biblica, with publication possibilities in our journal Alpha. Interested persons are welcome to join in.

Here are a few topics which seem to us to offer attractive possibilities for future study:

Hebrew Bible Topics

  • The Septuagint Challenge
  • The Two Creations
  • Joseph between Abraham and Jacob
  • Agrarian Origins of the Canaanite Religion
  • David the Moabite
  • God as King
  • Popular Tradition in the Canon
  • Women Warriors: Deborah and Judith
  • Priestly Factions (Aaron, Levi, Zadok)
  • Prophecy as Covert History
  • Micah in Isaiah (Cheyne)
  • Intimations of Universality

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