View Chapters

Book: The Bible for the Curious

Chapter: 2. Who Wrote the Old Testament and How?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35683


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.

Chapter Contributors

  • Philip Davies ( - philipdavies) 'University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)'