Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch

The Pentateuch was basically completed before Moses died. So the original audience was Israel BEFORE entering the land of Canaan. Moses’ purpose was teaching Israel of their covenant-keeping God.

Genre of the Pentateuch:

  • Gen.-Exod. 19: primarily narrative
  • Exod.20-Deut.: primarily law

But the laws of the Pentateuch have a narrative context. Therefore the primary genre of the Pentateuch as a whole is historical narrative with a didactic function. The law is only understood in the context of the narrative.

Poetry is also used infrequently throughout Genesis to reflect back on some aspect of redemptive history. But toward the end of the Pentateuch there are three major poetic texts (Gen. 49, Num. 24; Deut. 32-33) that look forward to events to occur in the future. All the poems in the Pentateuch reflect on the Messiah.

Though the Pentateuch never identifies Moses as author, it attests to his authoring key portions. Bits that he wouldn’t have known about are likely due to his delegating authority for preserving legal materials to the priests (Deut. 31). Scribes came from the line of priests, so the likely updated references as they preserved the text. By “Mosaic authorship” we don’t mean that Moses wrote every word, but he was the fundamental author of the text.


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