Bible Review 18:2, April 2002

Bible Books: The Bible as a Whole

In this era of specialization, it is remarkable that any one individual would set out to write a commentary on the entire Torah, or the Five Books of Moses. Richard Elliott Friedman of the University of California at San Diego is uniquely suited to the task, having previously written on a wide variety of biblical texts from multiple perspectives. He has produced a remarkable commentary.

Friedman is best known for his book Who Wrote the Bible? (1987), which summarized and developed the standard scholarly theory of source criticism. This theory suggests that the Torah (Pentateuch) is a complex, composite work that brings together several separate documents or sources, each reflecting a different time-period and ideology. To understand the Torah, one must first disentangle the sources, which were combined in ancient times by editors (redactors), and then interpret these documents in relation to their historical background.

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