Who Wrote the Torah?

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I wrote this essay over four years ago and there is much I would change in it if I were to rewrite it. Nevertheless, it is essentially taken from Torah Shelemah, vol. 19 addenda ch. 33. Its main thesis is that the Patriarchs wrote scrolls which were incorporated by God into the Torah. When I wrote this, I showed it to two rabbis, neither of whom are Modern Orthodox. One didn’t like it and the other thought it was obvious and correct. I have since discovered that Prof. Yehudah Kil takes the same approach in his Da’as Mikra commentary to Genesis. In his introduction, he even labels different sections as different scrolls as follows:

(Introduction [1:1-2:3])
1. The Creation Scroll (2:4-4:26)
2. The Scroll of the Generation of the Flood (5:1-6:8)
3. The Scroll of Noah (6:9-9:29)
4. The Scroll of Noah’s Sons (10:1-11:9)
(Generations [11:10-32])
5. The Scroll of Abraham (12:1-25:11)
6. The Scroll of Ishmael (25:12-18)
7. The Scroll of Isaac (25:19-35:29)
8. The Scroll of Esau (36)
9. The Scroll of Jacob and His Sons (37:1-50:13)
(Conclusion [50:14-26])

Let me add that I am not saying that any of this is necessarily correct. I don’t know if it is. But it is certainly an interesting possibility.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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