"It is a strange fact that we have never known with certainty who produced the book that has played such a central role in our civilization," writes Friedman, a foremost Bible scholar. From this point he begins an investigation and analysis that reads as compellingly as a good detective story. Focusing on the central books of the Old TestamentGenesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomyhe draws upon biblical and archaeological evidence to make a convincing argument for the identities of their authors. In the process he paints a vivid picture of the world of the Bibleits politics, history, and personalities. The result is a marvel of scholarship that sheds a new and enriching light on our understanding of the Bible as literature, history, and sacred text.
Friedman carefully sifts through clues available in the text of the Hebrew Bible and those provided by biblical archaeology searching for the writer(s) of, primarily, the Pentateuch. He does so with clarity and engaging style, turning a potentially dry scholarly inquiry into a lively detective story. The reader is guided through the historical circumstances that occasioned the writing of the sources underlying the Five Books of Moses and the combining of these diverse sources into the final literary product. According to Friedman, the most controversial part of his case is the identification of the writer and date of the Priestly source. This book is neither comprehensive nor unduly complex, making it a good introductory text for beginners and nonspecialists. Recommended for all academic libraries. Craig W. Beard, Harding Univ. Lib., Searcy, Ark.