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Mosaic Authorship

Moses and the origins of the Torah

Is the Divine Origin of the Torah Really Incompatible with Maimonides’ Philosophical Principles?

Some contemporary scholars have argued that Maimonides only meant to claim for the masses that God revealed to Moses the Torah as we have it today, that he himself could not have accepted the Divine authorship of Torah since it is incompatible with his philosophical principles. Yet, a correct understanding of Maimonides yields no such incompatibility, and, indeed, there is to no reason not to take him at his word.

Prof.

Charles H. Manekin

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When Moses Placed Ephraim Before Manasseh

R. Judah HeḤasid, in his comment on Jacob’s blessing asserts that the subject of Genesis 48:20b, “he placed Ephraim before Manasseh,” and 48:22, “I have given you [=Joseph] an extra portion…,” is not Jacob but Moses, referring to when Moses put Ephraim before Manasseh in the tribal listings in Num 2:18-21. This further leads him to conclude that Moses could not be the author of v. 20b.[1]

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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Moses’ Commandments: The Secret of R. Nissim of Marseilles

In the 14th century, R. Nissim of Marseilles suggested that God told Moses only the general command for the Mishkan and the laws in the Torah, and Moses himself wrote the details and attributed them to God as a way of glorifying God. A close look at many passages in Deuteronomy suggests that this was an early conception of Moses’ role in commanding the mitzvot.

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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How the Concept of Mosaic Authorship Developed

In the Persian period, the Torah, which is made up of various law collections, was ascribed to Moses as revealed by YHWH. A parallel development was taking place in Achaemenid Persia that sheds light on this process: The sacred texts called the Avesta, that contain the law​​ (dāta) and tradition (daēnā) of Zoroastrianism​, were being collectively ascribed to Zarathustra (Zoroaster) as revealed by Ahuramazdā.

Dr.

Yishai Kiel

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The Ancient Practice of Attributing Texts and Ideas to Moses

Ancient scribes would write as if Moses was the author, or they would claim that a tradition was originally stated by Moses, but they did not intend to convey a historical fact with this description. Instead, they meant that a given tradition was “authentically” Jewish, or God’s will and that Moses would have approved. I call this phenomenon “Mosaic Discourse.”

Prof.

Hindy Najman

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Channeling the Divine

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Torah min haShamayim: Conflicts Between Religious Belief and Scientific Thinking

Dr.

Daniel Jackson

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Torah Min Ha-Shamayim: A Guide to the Four Questions

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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What Is Prophecy?

An Exploration of the Views of Sa’adia Gaon, Judah Halevi, Ibn Ezra, and Maimonides

Prof.

Haim (Howard) Kreisel

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Understanding Deuteronomy on Its Own Terms

Sefer Devarim describes itself as Moses’ only account of God’s one revelation, and its opening passage, הואיל משה באר את התורה הזאת, means that he wrote it down (and not that he expounded on the rest of the Torah in Deuteronomy).

Dr.

Itamar Kislev

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What Was the Book of the Wars of the Lord?

And what can we learn by comparing it to another ancient book mentioned in the Bible, Sefer HaYashar (The Book of the Upright)?

Prof.

Edward L. Greenstein

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The Song of the Well, Psalm 136, Was Removed from the Torah

R. Yehudah HaChasid Radical Suggestion

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Who Wrote the Torah According to the Torah?

Jewish and Christian tradition ascribes authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses in the 13th century B.C.E. Is this what the Pentateuch itself implies about who wrote it and when?

Prof.

Christopher A. Rollston

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