Book: The Bible for the Curious
Chapter: 2. Who Wrote the Old Testament and How?
Here, we look at the people and processes that created the individual
Jewish scriptures. We start with the processes because these point us to
the authors. This includes not only initial composition or collection, but
copying and recopying that always involved redrafting. (Only after these
writings became ‘sacred scriptures’ were they retained in a fixed form.)
The frequency and extent of these re-draftings can be deduced by comparing
the surviving Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and analysing their
structure and language. Such processes can also be directly observed
within the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of biblical and non-biblical Jewish
manuscripts, mostly in Hebrew, dating from the third century bce to the
first century ce. Among these writings we find multiple copies of the same
composition preserved together, demonstrating how rapidly and frequently
texts could sometimes evolve.