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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 26 March 1998
I borrowed this book years ago, and now am finally buying my own copy. Although it may not have been the main goal of the book, I really enjoyed it because it gave me insight into the historical realities of bible times. Although there may be 'purists' who feel threatened because it debunks the claims that Moses wrote much of the old testament, I found it enthralling because it 'made real' many of the figures from the bible in their historical context. (For those who like this, MS Encarta actually has an interesting writeup of the history of the christian church that I also found interesting)
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on 23 May 2016
Excellent readable serious exposition of the origins of the Old Testament. I have read it through and will now read it again making careful notes. The title is somewhat misleading as the book focusses almost entirely on the OT and excludes the prophets and the wisdom literature. The case for this author's "integrated multi-document origins" hypothesis could have been better supported by providing more examples of the technical [linguistic, stylistic and historiographic] evidence used.

CONTENT WARNING: Many church-goers who rely only on fundamentalist evangelical preachers for their Christian education will find this disturbing!
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on 14 September 2013
A well researched and well presented book giving the scientific view on the origins and editing process of what we know today as the "Old Testament". A very worthwhile and thought-provoking book with lots of information, presented in a factual and very accessible way. I can thoroughly recommend it.
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on 6 July 2012
For those who are interested in a scholarly discussion of a question which most people (at least most have wondered at some point or another) "Who Wrote The Bible?" by Richard Elliott Friedman is a book you should read. Friedman uses history as well as uses the contact to first build the case for multiple authors of the Books of Moses, and then put forward a plausible hypothesis for the authorship for the different sections. Of course, he is not attempting to name specific authors, but rather focused on where the authors were from, and what their position was in the society.

The core of the book is less than 250 pages, but the appendices, bibliography and notes bring it closer to 300 pages. That being said, while Friedman does an excellent job of presenting his subject in a concise matter, it is his references that make "Who Wrote The Bible?" such a great work by itself, as well as be a tremendous reference to do further reading on the subject.

Friedman opens with a discussion of the traditional authors of the Bible and why those were clearly not accurate, and then moves into an overview of the world which produced the first books of the Bible. He then goes into the two different authors of the events and how their accounts are different, and how they are the same. The authors are given the names J and E based on the words they use to refer to God. Friedman then goes into more detail on who these writers were, i.e. where they were from, when did they live, and what were their roles in society. Note that Friedman doesn't rule out the possibility that J and E each have multiple writers, but rather than whether they do or not doesn't have an impact on the overall viewpoint of the texts.

Of course, the authorship doesn't end with J and E. Next up is D, the author of Deuteronomy and the next 6 books, and this is followed by a discussion of the author referred to as P. Friedman also discusses the importance of the redactor or editor who put all these works together and the obvious control this person had over the current work. While controversial in some respects, this book is certainly not a case of science and religion in conflict. The difficulties were not a scientific discovery, but rather this has been an area of religious debate and discussion. Certainly some of the evidence that Friedman presents is scientific, but this is not a book discussing the validity of the work, but rather the authorship, so unless one's faith is dependent on the specific author of these works, it should not be one which fans the flames between religion and reason.
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on 9 August 2010
I borrowed Wellhasuen's Prolegomena of the History of Ancient Israel from my local library. And my, its words are not my level, neither are its information. I guess Prolegomena assumes that its reader already possesses the foundational knowledge of the Documentary Hypothesis, such as Graf's Hypothesis.

Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible presents the Documentary Hypothesis to anybody who at least has a Bible and read it. It is readily understandable, guiding its reader from zero-knowledge of Documentary Hypothesis, climbing up to certain level. Its words are not too difficult to understand, as Friedman admitted to have used for all levels of his readers.

I give this a high five.
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on 15 July 1998
This is a book worth buying, keeping, underlining, citing, and re-reading. Richard Friedman is obviously a devout man of God who requires a logical understanding of where our roots of Christianity came from. I spent some time discussing his proposals with several fundamentalist friends and found their final rebuff to Friedman's ideas, "Well I guess you just have to take some things on faith alone." God gave us brains, and quite extrordinary ones at that, to think with. The contradictions of the Old Testament both within the text and within the world as we know it today drove me away from Christianity for 15 years. Now, as I read and learn more about Christian reality and Hebrew history, I find my faith, belief, and reason coming together at a point that gets closer and closer to God, which I claim to be synonymous with The Truth.
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on 15 July 1998
This is a book worth buying, keeping, underlining, citing, and re-reading. Richard Friedman is obviously a devout man of God who requires a logical understanding of where our roots of Christianity came from. I spent some time discussing his proposals with several fundamentalist friends and found their final rebuff to Friedman's ideas, "Well I guess you just have to take some things on faith alone." God gave us brains, and quite extrordinary ones at that, to think with. The contradictions of the Old Testament both within the text and within the world as we know it today drove me away from Christianity for 15 years. Now, as I read and learn more about Christian reality and Hebrew history, I find my faith, belief, and reason coming together at a point that gets closer and closer to God, which I claim to be synonymous with The Truth.
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on 24 July 2010
This is a great book; it is well written and easy to read. It shines light on a hazy period of history that had such a major impact on humans- the period that resulted in the production of the old testament.
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on 14 March 2013
It may sound like an odd or dry book, but is very interesting and quite convincing.
It's not going anywhere as I'm sure I'll pick it up again.
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on 18 December 2013
Worthwhile to learn of the uncertainties of the authors of the book (and of the book itself) that has informed the beliefs of so many.
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