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Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard Elliott…

Who Wrote the Bible? (1987)

by Richard Elliott Friedman

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Excellent book. Wonderfully researched. Can be enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike. ( )
  jameshold | Jul 22, 2017 |
The contemporary classic the New York Times Book Review called “a thought-provoking [and] perceptive guide,” Who Wrote the Bible? by Richard E. Friedman is a fascinating, intellectual, yet highly readable analysis and investigation into the authorship of the Old Testament. The author of Commentary on the Torah, Friedman delves deeply into the history of the Bible in a scholarly work that is as exciting and surprising as a good detective novel. Who Wrote the Bible? is enlightening, riveting, an important contribution to religious literature, and as the Los Angeles Times aptly observed in its rave review, “There is no other book like this one.”
  tony_sturges | Jul 18, 2017 |
“The question, after all, is not only who wrote the bible, but who reads it.”

In “Who Wrote the Bible” by Richard Elliott Friedman

Some of the texts date to 400 AD or later, such as the second half of Matthew, the whole of John and the whole of Revelation. I would consider a "complete, unabridged Bible" to consist of all texts either used by, or referenced by, any Abrahamic sect whatsoever from 2,200 B.C. through to 1,400 A.D., plus the Book of Mormon (it is as legitimate as any other sect, which isn't saying much). In other words, a document from which you could reconstruct the actual founding of the original sect by Babylonian or Sumerian priests amongst the Canaanite animists and magi, all travels by all the differing groups, and the root causes of every schism, through to the present day. No such book has ever been compiled, but the word "Bible" means "The Book". Singular. The only true singular book you could ever have that can be true to every Abrahamic group (and if it can't be, it's not singular) is a book that includes everything that has ever been relevant to any of them. This is the same way the Saxon Chronicles are treated. There are (ok, were) many versions (a fire destroyed a great number of them), but the Saxon Chronicles as a unified concept refers to the compilation of this material. The abstract concept of the "complete" Saxon Chronicles refers to all of the versions, whether they survive or not, as an entity. Not a physical entity but what a computer scientist or mathematician would call a logical entity. A set is a logical entity, it exists but it doesn't exist in any physical sense. In this aspect I’m siding with Friedman. I can't quite accept that all Bibles are equal, as we can identify authors and therefore can identify later forgeries, material that doesn't belong in a unified collection, etc. We can define a logical entity that truly is The Book, the superset of all material that has ever existed, organized into logical subsets by some means. The Old Testament is a logical subset. It's a collection of material that has enough commonality to be a distinct grouping. But it does not exist, in any sense. Different Old Testaments use different books, so the Old Testament is the superset of all the different books that fit in this grouping. All of the real Old Testaments are subsets of this master set. The universal set, the set that contains all the material ever used in any Bible by ANY Abrahamic sect, contains a great deal of material that no longer exists. So what? The universal set still exists, the fact that we can't establish what's in it would still be true even if all the material survived and all records preserved. It's a limitation of logic. But there has been only one history. At time “t”, person “p” only held specific things to be true. If they had held any other beliefs, we would have a different history. The infinity of possibilities doesn't apply because only one of them happened. Time is sequential, so only a finite number of intervals have ever existed. These produced a finite number of different belief systems. Even if everyone had their own, it was still finite. If you imagine everything ever thought or said by these people as being written down (with duplication removed), you'd have a lot of writing but it would be finite.

A lot of these events are of no consequence, so we can imagine those removed as well. For similar beliefs, you only need the common bit once and the differences noted. Keep going and you end up with a stupendous theoretical book, but one which is not only finite but well within human capacity to both imagine and, indeed, record. Bigger volumes of data are handled all the time.

The information is lost to humanity, but so what? In order to understand why the Iraqi followers of John the Baptist regard Jesus as a Satanist, you have to have knowledge that doesn't exist. But we still know that we need that information to understand the big picture and therefore we still know we need to have place markers for where the information would have been. The need doesn't vanish because some scroll got burned.

Circumstantial evidence cannot scientifically prove that an unobserved phenomenon is true. How did life on earth form? Living cells consist of a number of molecules including proteins and nucleic acids (DNA, RNA). Proteins are chains of amino acids which are linked together with the aid of RNA. There are 20 amino acids which can be linked together to form any number of combinations which in turn determines the type and function of the protein. How were the first amino acids created in the primordial seas without the assistance of RNA? Or maybe RNA was created first? As you can see, a single protein is outrageously complicated (just look up the structure of a protein molecule if you still don't believe me), but nucleic acids, DNA and RNA are even more complicated. DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates are not molecules that randomly come into existence in a chaotic, torrential environment (this is called spontaneous generation, proven wrong by Louis Pasteur), they are the products of an omniscient/omnipresent being. A single prokaryotic cell (bacteria) is more complicated than a space shuttle yet are we to believe the space shuttle was designed but not life? Science tells me that spontaneous generation is impossible. If you want to know how a cult that practiced snake-charming in tombs with saucers of milk acquired a belief that handling snakes was the way to Heaven or that the dead would rise from their graves, you’ll have to read this. Nevertheless, relativism is only true if an objective observer is capable of absolutism. ( )
  antao | Feb 24, 2017 |
About the author: quoting from the book's back cover, " Richard Elliott Friedman is a professor on the faculty of the University of California, San Diego. He earned his doctorate in Hebrew Bible at Harvard University and served as a visiting scholar at Oxford and Cambridge in England." About the book, the reviewer for "U. S. News & World Report, said of this work, "Friedman has gone much further than other scholars in analyzing the identity of the Biblical authors. [It is] provocative [and] promises to rekindle heated debate about the Good Book's origins." This work has an appendix, chapter notes, a selected bibliography and is well indexed.
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  uufnn | Feb 14, 2017 |
I should not be reading such things. ( )
  MartinBodek | Jun 11, 2015 |
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Information from the Russian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
This book is dedicated to
Reva A. Friedman and Laraine Friedman Linn,
with love.
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People have been reading the Bible for nearly two thousand years.
La questione della paternità della Bibbia è menzionata in quasi tutte le introduzioni all'Antico e al Nuovo Testamento, in centinaia di commentari al testo e nella maggior parte dei corsi sulla Bibbia tenuti presso le università e i seminari. Tuttavia, se sono in molti ad avere quanto meno sentito nominare le teorie evoluzionistiche e le scienze geologiche in relazione al problema dell'età della terra, non si può dire lo stesso a proposito del dibattito sugli autori biblici. Il fenomeno si spiega, almeno in parte, con la mancanza in questo campo di scoperte sensazionali paragonabili a quelle di Darwin alle Galapagos o al ritrovamento nelle grotte di Qumran dei cosiddetti "rotoli del Mr Morto". Il progresso degli studi si deve piuttosto a lunghe e pazienti ricerche che nel corso di molti secoli hanno man mano giustapposto i tasselli di un grande mosaico, pochi dei quali hanno fatto notizia. Ma la parte di mosaico oggi ricostruita rivela finalmente la fisionomia degli artefici della Bibbia, e credo che sia importante mette a parte di questa scoperta un pubblico più vasto.
In qualunque modo si voglia interpretare la Bibbia - come opera letteraria, testo religioso, fonte storica, raccolta di massime morali (una scelta che già comporta una selezione di pubblico) - l'assenza dell'autore ci sottrae il nostro principale interlocutore.
L'insegnamento della letteratura prevede di norma alcune notizie biografiche e, se si escludono le analisi teoriche più avanzate, il rapporto tra la vita di un autore e la realtà descritta nelle sue opere è ritenuto un elemento di rilievo. [...]
È sorprendente che nel caso della Bibbia queste informazioni siano sempre state largamente deficitarie, anche a prezzo dell'intelligibilità del testo. Se, ad esempio, non siamo in grado di attribuire un certo racconto biblico a un secolo preciso, come dovremo interpretare quelle espressioni che assumono significati diversi a seconda del periodo. L'autore è stato testimone oculare dei fatti che racconta? Se non è così, come si è formato un'idea di ciò che è accaduto: attraverso fonti scritte, per rivelazione divina, creando egli stesso la storia o in quale altro modo? In che misura gli avvenimenti della vita contemporanea hanno influenzato la narrazione? La storia doveva avere fin dall'inizio il valore di Libro, sacro e autoritativo?
Rispondere a queste domande è importante per comprendere il significato del testo all'interno del suo stesso mondo, ma risalire all'identità degli autori e alle forze che l'hanno prodotto apre la via a una nuova e più ricca interpretazione moderna, di grande interesse per i credenti come per i non-credenti.
... il conflitto tra re e sacerdoti e tra pretendenti al trono che si prospetta già durante il primo stadio della storia israelitica, avrebbe assunto un ruolo decisivo nel processo di scrittura del testo biblico.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060630353, Paperback)

"J," "P," "E," and "D" are the names scholars have given to some authors of the Bible, and, as such, they are very important letters to a lot of people. Churches have died and been born, and millions of people have lost faith or found it, because of the last two centuries of debate about who, exactly, wrote the canonical texts of Christianity and Judaism. Richard Elliott Friedman's survey of this debate, in Who Wrote the Bible?, may be the best written popular book about this question. Without condescension or high-flown academic language, Friedman carefully describes the history of textual criticism of the Bible--a subject on which his authority is unparalleled (Friedman has contributed voluminously to the authoritative Anchor Bible Dictionary). But this book is not just smart. Perhaps even more impressive than Friedman's erudition is his sensitivity to the power of textual criticism to influence faith. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:03 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"It is a strange fact that we have never known with certainty who produced the book that has played such a central role in our civilization," writes Friedman, a foremost Bible scholar. From this point he begins an investigation and analysis that reads as compellingly as a good detective story. Focusing on the central books of the Old Testament-Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy - he draws upon biblical and archaeological evidence to make a convincing argument for the identities of their authors. In the process he paints a vivid picture of the world of the Bible - its politics, history, and personalities. The result is a marvel of scholarship that sheds a new and enriching light on our understanding of the Bible as literature, history, and sacred text.… (more)

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