Who Wrote the Book of Exodus?

Kevin Zuber
header for Who Wrote the Book of Exodus?

The liberal and critical view that the Pentateuch is a late (c. 550 BC) compilation of earlier materials from a variety of somewhat incommensurate sources (i.e., the JEDP theory; see Bill T. Arnold, “Pentateuchal Criticism, History of,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003], 622–31; see also Kaiser, “Exodus,” 288, and John J. Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt [Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1986], 45) stands in stark contrast to the view indicated in the text itself that Moses himself was the author of the Pentateuch. Kitchen simply states, “The basic fact is that there is no objective, independent evidence for any of these four compositions (or any variant of them) anywhere outside the pages of our existing Hebrew Bible” (Kenneth A. Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003], 492).

Several lines of evidence support Mosaic authorship of Exodus. First, internal evidence can be found in Exodus in passages where Moses is instructed to write things down (17:14; 34:4, 27-29) and where the text records that “Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord” (24:4; cf. Nm 33:1-2; Dt 31:9). Second, “the great abundance of details reflecting an eyewitness account would seem to support” Mosaic authorship (Davis, Moses and the Gods, 46; note especially the account of Moses’ call [chaps. 3 and 4] when only he and the Lord were present; no one but Moses could know the details of this conversation). Third, other OT books indicate Mosaic authorship of Exodus and the Pentateuch (cf. Jos 1:7; 8:31-32; 1Ki 2:3; 2Ki 14:6; Ezr 6:18; Neh 13:1; Dn 9:1-13; Mal 4:4). Fourth, the NT also clearly affirms Mosaic authorship. “Mark 12:26 locates Exodus 3:6 in ‘the Book of Moses,’ [cf. Mk 7:10] while Luke 2:22-23 assigns Exodus 13:2 to both ‘the Law of Moses’ and ‘the Law of the Lord’” (Kaiser, “Exodus,” 288). John likewise confirms Moses’ authorship of the Law (Jn 7:19; cf. 5:46-47; Ac 3:22; Rm 10:5).

Finally, it is eminently plausible that Moses wrote the books attributed to him, for he “was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians and he was a man of power in words and deeds” (Ac 7:22).

For Further Reading:

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