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Who wrote the book of Exodus? Who was the author of Exodus?

author of Exodus

The book of Exodus is the second book in the Pentateuch, or the Torah, in the Hebrew Bible. It forms a part of what Christians call the Old Testament. The title “Exodus,” derived from the Greek Septuagint, alludes to the pivotal event in the book: the Israelites’ departure from Egypt to become a nation of God’s people. The narrative contained in Exodus also encompasses the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, laying the foundation for Israel’s theocratic nationhood. The theme of redemption in Exodus foreshadows elements of the New Testament.

Like the other books in the Torah, Exodus was written by Moses. God chose to meet with Moses and instruct him face to face. After the meeting, “Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said” (Exodus 24:4).

Testimony from both the Old Testament and the New attributes the Torah, including Exodus, to Moses. For example, 1 Kings 2:3 references the “Law of Moses.” Similar references in the Old Testament include Joshua 1:7, Ezra 6:18, 2 Kings 14:6, Nehemiah 13:1, and Daniel 9:11. Identifying the law as being “of Moses” clearly suggests Mosaic authorship. The Torah was treated as a unified collection; thus, any mention of the writings of Moses covers the first five books of the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, the best case for the Mosaic authorship of Exodus is from Jesus Himself, who quoted Exodus 20:12 and 21:17 and attributed the passages to Moses with the words “for Moses said” (Mark 7:10). Other New Testament citations include Luke 24:27, 24:44, Romans 10:5, and 2 Corinthians 3:15.

Despite the scriptural support for the Mosaic authorship of Exodus, challenges to the traditional view emerged during the 19th century. Many scholars now consider Exodus to be a composite work of many authors and contributors who lived during the Babylonian exile and used oral tradition as their main source. These liberal scholars propose different theories to explain the formation of the Pentateuch, the most influential being the document hypothesis, or the JEDP hypothesis. The name “JEDP” refers to four source documents believed to have inspired the Torah: the J document (Yahwist), the E document (Elohist), the D document (Deuteronomist), and the P document (Priestly). The JEDP hypothesis has been criticized for its lack of direct evidence (no copy of a J, E, D, or P document has ever been found, and the documents remain theoretical), complex speculations, and issues with dating the so-called source documents. Other hypotheses include the supplementary hypothesis and fragmentary hypothesis.

While acknowledging the possibility that Moses collaborated with ancient scribes in the formation of the Torah (plausible in a collective society), the traditional view of the authorship of Exodus remains valid. Denying the Mosaic authorship of Exodus and the rest of the Pentateuch raises doubt about Scripture as a whole, including the words of Jesus. We can trust the Holy Spirit-inspired testimony of other biblical authors.

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Who wrote the book of Exodus? Who was the author of Exodus?
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This page last updated: February 27, 2024