The Torah, Archaeology, & Anonymity

Old Testament Problem Number 2: Mosaic Authorship

The Gospels are highly criticized by scholars for being anonymous works. Fact is, the Gospels do not claim to be written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, respectively. The books were given those names near the end of the Second Century. This is not a huge deal for me. I don’t judge books by their covers. I judge them by their content. Nevertheless, when this is pointed out to Christians, they quickly respond with a question asking about the validity of the Torah’s author, Moses. The difference between the Torah and the Gospels is, the Torah names its author. The Gospels do not.

Even still, just because a book claims to be written by someone, does not mean it actually was. So I began looking for evidence of Moses and the Exodus account as a whole.

I found none.

There is no evidence of a Hebrew-Egyptian Prince by the name of Moses. There is little, if any, evidence of a mass exodus of people from Egypt. And there is no evidence of such people wandering the desert for 40 years. Admittingly, the absence of evidence does not equate with evidence of absence. I mean, who cares if there is no record of Moses? He was just one person. And just because they have not found a shred of evidence of ONE POINT EIGHT MILLION (at a minimum) Hebrews fleeing Egypt does not mean that they won’t ever. They could find something, someday. Yet it is interesting at the things archaeologists HAVE found! And that brings me to problem number 3.

Other Ancient Mesopotamian Stories

One of the earliest known written languages is Sumerian Cuneiform. This ancient method of pressing a stylus into clay tablets was used in evolving forms from around 3100 BCE to 400 BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh is dated at 2100 BCE and was written in Cuneiform. In a portion of this literary tale, the gods hold a meeting and decided to drown all of humanity. But one god wanted man to be spared. So Uta-Napishtim was instructed to build a ship that would ultimately save him and his family from the deluge. Once the rains stopped and the waters began to recede, the boat came to rest on a mountain. Uta-Napishtim sends out a raven to search for land. Upon the family’s exit of the boat, Uta-Napishtim offers a sacrifice to the gods.

epic of gilgamesh

Now, you may be thinking that whoever wrote the Epic of Gilgamesh could have heard about Noah and the Flood orally, and as the story was told and retold, facts were changed. That is quite possible. We cannot prove who copied the story from whom. All we know is that the Epic of Gilgamesh predates Moses’ revelation on Mount Sinai. Interestingly enough, a very similar law code from ancient Mesopotamia also predates the Mount Sinai experience. It is called “The Code of Hammurabi.

This Code of Hammurabi dates back to 1754 BCE and is one of the oldest writings of great length in the world. The writing is on a seven-foot tall rock stele and includes punishments such as “eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” slavery regulations, family issues, contractual instructions, sexual conduct laws and the like totaling 282 laws. This is not the only earlier Mesopotamian law code which the Torah parallels. Others are the Code of Ur-Nammu, the Laws of Eshnunna, and the codex of Lipit-Ishtar.

hammurabi 450x441

Still, these facts alone are not enough to shatter one’s faith outright. The dating of ancient literary texts may or may not be that accurate. Even so, we can only go by the Bible as a date for the giving of the Ten Commandments, since the Ark of the Covenant, which houses them, has yet to be found! (Problem Number 4).

 

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