The Tyranny of Precedence: Why the 1919 Bible Conference “Punted”

I’d love to, but HOW?

Have you considered that those who “disbelieve the existence of Santa Clause” become parents who continue to perpetuate the existence of Santa Claus? I was one of them. Were you one of us?

Perhaps the reason lies behind this strange innate behavior. There is a limit to projection. At some point in time we will have to admit to our own faults.

1 Like

In regards to the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy and Mosaic authorship- what is being taught

Here is what is stated in the Andrews Study Bible on the Genesis introduction:

Author and Date

While the book of Genesis has no explicit author, it is closely associated with the figure of Moses, as references in the New Testament suggest (e.g., Acts 15:1 referring to circumcision as “the custom of Moses”; see also John 7:22). Throughout history, most Jewish and Christian interpreters have understood Moses to be the author/editor of the Pentateuch. However, over the past two centuries and paralleling the rise of rationalism, this understanding was questioned, and scholars using the literary method of higher criticism of the Bible suggested that the Pentateuch is the result of a complex editorial history, drawing on at least four different sources that were written by anonymous authors between the tenth and fifth centuries B.C.
Considering biblical chronology and the internal evidence of Genesis, it is more likely that the book (together with the rest of the Pentateuch) was, indeed, written sometime in the fifteenth century B.C. by Moses. Since he could not have been an eyewitness to the events described in Genesis (creation, fall, flood, patriarchs), it is most likely that—apart from having received divine guidance and visions—he also made use of collected stories and genealogical notes, records, and traditions.

In the introduction to Deuteronomy it states:

Author and Date

Deuteronomy is the last of the five books of the Bible collectively called the Pentateuch (see Introduction to Genesis, “Title”). The introduction to the book identifies its words as being those of Moses with his explanation of the law (see 1:1 and 1:5). Chapter 31 (vv. 9, 24–26) likewise identifies Moses as being the writer of the law (see also Josh. 8:32–35; 2 Chr. 34:14; Neh. 8:1). Several texts in the New Testament refer to words from Deuteronomy as being those of Moses (compare Matt. 19:7 to Deut. 24:1; Matt. 22:24 to Deut. 25:5; Acts 3:22 and 7:37 to Deut. 18:15–16; and Heb. 12:21 to Deut. 9:19). Sometimes authorship of Deuteronomy is questioned because the book describes the death and burial of Moses. While Moses is clearly presented as the speaker and law-giver in Deuteronomy, the story framework (1:1–5; 5:1; 27:1, 9, 11, etc.), and especially chapter 34, which speaks of Moses’ death, come from another author/editor, perhaps Joshua.

From evangelical perspectives, here is part of the NIV Study Bible on the Genesis introduction:
Author and Date of Writing

Historically, Jews and Christians alike have held that Moses was the author/compiler of the first five books of the OT. These books, known also as the Pentateuch (meaning “five-volumed book”), were referred to in Jewish tradition as the five fifths of the law (of Moses). The Bible itself suggests Mosaic authorship of Genesis, since Ac 15:1 refers to circumcision as “the custom taught by Moses,” an allusion to Ge 17. However, a certain amount of later editorial updating does appear to be indicated (see, e.g., notes on 14:14 ; 36:31 ; 47:11 )…
During the last three centuries many interpreters have claimed to find in the Pentateuch four underlying sources. The presumed documents, allegedly dating from the tenth to the fifth centuries B.C. , are called J (for Jahweh/Yahweh, the personal OT name for God), E (for Elohim, a generic name for God), D (for Deuteronomic) and P (for Priestly). Each of these documents is claimed to have its own characteristics and its own theology, which often contradicts that of the other documents. The Pentateuch is thus depicted as a patchwork of stories, poems and laws. However, this view is not supported by conclusive evidence, and intensive archaeological and literary research has tended to undercut many of the arguments used to challenge Mosaic authorship.

And on Deuteronomy, it states:
The book itself ascribes most of its content to Moses (see 1:1,5; 31:24 and notes ). For that reason, the OT elsewhere ascribes the bulk of Deuteronomy and other Pentateuchal legislation to Moses (see, e.g., Jos 1:7-8; 23:6; 1Ki 2:3; 8:53; Mal 4:4). Similarly Jesus attributed Dt 24:1 to Moses ( Mt 19:7-8; Mk 10:3-5), Peter attributed Dt 18:15,18-19 to Moses ( Ac 3:22-23), as did Stephen (see Ac 7:37-38 and note on 7:38 ), and Paul attributed Dt 32:21 to Moses ( Ro 10:19). See also Mt 22:24 and note ; Mk 12:18-19 and note on 12:18 ; Lk 20:27-28. At the same time, it seems clear that the narrative framework within which the Mosaic material is placed (e.g., the preamble [ 1:1-5 ] and the conclusion [ch. 34]; see also 5:1; 27:1,9,11; 29:1-2; 31:1,7,9-10,14-25,30; 32:44-46,48; 33:1-2) comes from another—and unknown—hand.

Another popular study Bible- the ESV Study Bible has an article on the Pentateuch which states the following:


For more than 2,000 years, readers of the Pentateuch assumed that Moses was its author (cf. Mark 7:10). This was a natural conclusion to draw from its contents, for most of the laws are said to have been given to Moses by God (e.g., Lev. 1:1), and indeed some passages are explicitly said to have been written down by Moses (see Deut. 31:9, 24). The account of his death could have been recorded by someone else, though some held it was a prophetic account by Moses himself (Deuteronomy 34).
But in the late eighteenth century, critical scholars began challenging the assumption of Mosaic authorship. They argued that several authors were responsible for writing the Pentateuch. These authors supposedly wrote many centuries after Moses, and were separated from each other in time and location. Complicated theories were developed to explain how the Pentateuch grew as different authors’ accounts were spliced and adjusted by a series of editors. According to these critical scholars, it was likely that the Pentateuch reached its final form in the fifth century B.C., nearly a millennium after Moses.
In the late twentieth century this type of critical theory was strongly attacked, not just by conservative scholars but also by those brought up on such theories. They argue that the theories are too complicated, self-contradictory, and ultimately unprovable. It is much more rewarding and less speculative to focus interpretative effort on the final form of the text. So there is a strong move to abandon the compositional theories of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for simpler hypotheses. Thus some critical scholars would see the Pentateuch being an essentially fifth-century B.C. creation. Others suggest earlier dates. But none of these suggestions can really be proven.
The Pentateuch does undoubtedly claim to be divine in origin, mediated through Moses. Thus Moses should be looked to as the original human author. Indeed, as stated above, the Pentateuch looks like a life of Moses, with an introduction. But this need not mean that he wrote every word of the present Pentateuch. It seems likely that the spelling and the grammar of the Pentateuch were revised to keep it intelligible for later readers. Also, a number of features in the text look like clarifications for a later age. But this is quite different from supposing that the Pentateuch was essentially composed in a later age. Rather, it should be seen as originating in Moses’ time but undergoing some slight revision in later eras so later readers could understand its message and apply it to their own situations.


Well, I could not retrieve it from the “archive,” so to speak. One can get to the author’s name on the main page, but I could not get to his articles. The editorial office might know. I have a copy from the SAU library collection of the Journal.

@JXLB See this link (article starts on pg 10)

Here is wiki on the documentary hypothesis:

The consensus around the documentary hypothesis collapsed in the last decades of the 20th century. Three major publications of the 1970s caused scholars to seriously question the assumptions of the documentary hypothesis: Abraham in History and Tradition by John Van Seters, The So-Called Yahwist by Hans Heinrich Schmid, and The Tradition-Historical Problem of the Pentateuch by Rolf Rendtorff. These three authors shared many of the same criticisms of the documentary hypothesis, but were not in agreement about what paradigm ought to replace it.

Genesis is a masterpiece of literature. Usually such masterpieces are written by a single individual, though they may uses sources, as Luke did. I agree with post 23 above. Not unreasonable.

The documentary theory collapsed because it was unprovable and silly. Great literature is not put together that way. My two cents.

I think our church would be much healthier today if, from the beginning, we had used the word “accusations” rather than “reproofs”.

A crafty way to libel someone?


Pride in affectation of “peculiarity” also fits, becoming itself defacto self-fulfilling, self-proving prophecy.

John is also a masterpiece in literature. It is also anonymous but external and internal evidence points to the Apostle John, as the author.
Recently, I just finished reading through Grant Osborne’s commentary on the book (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 13, 2007). After examining the external and internal evidence for the Apostle John’s authorship, he addresses the popular notion of the “Johannine Circle as ‘Author:’”

It has been common for critical scholars in recent decades (e.g., Bultmann, Brown, Schnackenburg, Culpepper [1975], Zumstein) to posit that this Gospel was written by a circle or community of disciples of John rather than by John himself. The reason they do so are the many “aporias,” the clumsy transitions that make them think a later editor has inserted material. They point out, for example, the different style of [1:1-18]; Jesus going from Judea to Galilee, back to Judea, and then back to Galilee again in [chapters 2-4]; a similar movement from Samaria to Galilee to Jerusalem to Galilee and back to Jerusalem in [chapters 5-6]; the mention of Mary anointing Jesus in [11:2] before the event; and so on. The best known reconstruction came from Brown (1966:xxxiv-xxxix), who has five stages: (1) tradition stemming from the apostle himself; (2) elaboration on that tradition with preaching from the Johannine community; (3) the first collection in a Gospel form; (4) further editing from an anonymous disciple; and (5) a final reworking from a later editor. The speculative nature of such reconstructions is startling, and Carson (1991:42-43) speaks of it as “the uncontrolled pursuit of sources and traditions” in a manner that cannot be tested. Is the fourth Gospel really that clumsy? Culpepper wrote a later volume, The Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel (1983), which demonstrated the remarkable unity and precision of the plot development. He did not realize that his second book made his first ( The Johannine School, 1975) unnecessary; if John fits together perfectly, there is no need to posit successive redactions. There are no truly clumsy transitions in John. In short, John is a whole Gospel written by a single person (cf. Hengel 1989:80-83), John the apostle and disciple of Jesus.
I cannot agree with him more.


i’m not so sure this is any more incredulous that peter’s vision of his own death, 2 Peter1:14, the account of which can be read either in terms of an imminent death, or the details of that death, or both…

certainly paul’s vision of the things he would suffer would likely have included his beheading at the end of his ministry, Acts 9:16…perhaps common knowledge of all of this helped the early disciples to accept paul’s ministry, given his past…that is, perhaps the prophet agabus had more things to say about paul’s demise than recorded in Acts 21:11…

and let’s not forget that jesus was intimately familiar with the details of his own death ahead of time, e.g., Matt 20:17-19, Luke 18:31-34, etc…

this may be overstating the case…i don’t think mature adults in our church are affected by anything church administration says or does when it comes to what is believed…in the case of the inspiration of the bible and egw, and what that means, i don’t think anyone is looking for guidance from administrators, or even theologians…church members aren’t sheep that administrators need to lose any sleep over worrying about…

1 Like

Jeremy I agree with that last paragraph and to be honest I don’t spend very much time being concerned about SDA theology. I have long ago come to terms with most everything the leadership has done or will do.

Make no mistake, while I support fully WO. It’s not from a theological position, it’s from a secular position and that is that it meets all the requirements for being DISCRIMINATION plain and simple.


i agree that this practical, rubber-meets-the-road approach is where most people are at…it’s quite unusual to see a lay person concerned about theology, or anything theoretical…

1 Like

I am not sure that theology doesn’t play a role for many Christians, simply because they have a desire to want to please God and seek for guidance through the Scriptures in order to discern the will of God. Having said that, one would hope that in the face of flagrant discrimination, it would cause the latter to reexamine their understanding/interpretation of Scripture- in this particular case a headship theology that is actually not supported by the teachings of the NT.

1 Like

if by theology you mean the will of god, and what can enhance one’s experience in him, i agree…

but there is much about theology that only specialists find interesting or relevant…the endless discussion about the authorship of deuteronomy and other biblical books is an example…worse is the implication that such discussion is relevant, when it clearly is not, and that we, as non-theologians, need to hang on every word uttered by theologians, when we clearly do not…

Yes, I meant seeking the will of God. I agree with your statement.

I would add that sometimes, if one is interested in such things, that for instance, information on a structure of a book like Revelation can help in understanding the author better. I remember when I first got the books “God Cares” and marveled at chiastic symmetry depicted. It increased my appreciation for John’s artistic composition.
The repeated themes John interweaves in his gospel certainly communicate his message. I wouldn’t have been aware of such, unless someone pointed out such things to me. Of course, I happen to be someone who enjoys reading about this stuff, which I understand is not the case for many.

The question of relevance, when discussing theology, is a double edged sword. All scriptural religions live and die by their understandings of the contents of their scriptures. And these understandings are not self evident. If they were there will be no fragmentation within Christianity, for example, or Islam or Judaism, for that matter. Believers come to these understandings by adopting certain approaches and suppositions which enable them to cobble together positions that identify them as Methodists, Catholics, Adventist’s etc. What informs the positions that all Christian groups take, they argue, are their “correct” interpretations of the same common scripture. And how do they arrive at their “right” interpretation? —Endless discussions—which you dismiss as “irrelevant.”

I suspect that the positions you currently hold, either about Christianity or Adventism or Ellen White, did not come to you by magic, but by painstaking study, deliberation and “proving all things.” No two people within any religious community necessarily share every single position within that community exactly alike. Some are further along in their understandings and acceptance of the contemporary group positions. And that is ok. It doesn’t make them better or worse members of the group. They engage in the “endless discussions” because they believe these beliefs are neither perfect nor settled and by continuing the discussions others might find encouragement in ideas they might have entertained themselves.

There is always the temptation by those who are more settled in their understandings of gropup beliefs to think that everyone in the group should be at their stage in their journey, and consequently think of these discussions as a waste of time. I plead for patience when we’re so tempted.


It needs to be said that these descriptions of a virtually all or nothing decision about the writings in the Bible are not the way in which conservative yet critical scholars think about them or make their scholarly decisions. There are a number of scholars, including Adventists, who often read papers at scholarly meetings defending traditional view UNTIL they can be unquestionably falsified or made very highly improbable. Even if it can be “shown” (whatever that means) that Moses did not write the Pentateuch but that it is based, as are the gospels, on the life and teachings of Moses to an oral people who memorized large sections of them, so what? And furthermore, if we take the position that regardless of the many contributors to the canon, the canon is the norm that Jesus adopted and the norm that the early church adopted. That norm is what led us to Jesus and we give it authority not because it’s perfect but because it is the reason we exist as Christ-followers. If one needs a “perfect Bible” because it comes from a “perfect God” who would not bring one into being without it being perfect, then you may find your faith built on shifting sand.


I am grateful for the proliferation of “study” Bibles today which are meant to educate, enlighten, and help the believer/reader in understanding the biblical message, its background, culture, geography, with introductory information to the sections and books- including authorship, dates of composition, themes and messages, etc. As such, they introduce the believer/reader to these issues, which they would otherwise be unaware of.
Just one example-the NIV Study Bible has apparently sold more than 9 million copies.
I remember watching a promotion video for a different study Bible- the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible- by the general editor D. A. Carson, who stated that a good commentary might sell 50 to 100000 copies, but a good study Bible, can sell in the millions.
I wish more people would buy them, they would find them quite informative and may lead them to further in-depth studies.

1 Like

The Bible is the word of God, but we need to remember it was written, not by a clerical staff via dictation, rather by men who wrote about God. It should not be surprising that there may be errors and contradictions and if they are found it doesn’t negate that the OT pointed to Jesus and the NT upheld this same Jesus our Savior.