Re: Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”?

This is in response to: Does Higher Criticism Attempt to “Destroy the Bible”? First off, that’s a little presumptuous. Satan has been working on it for 3000 years and the Bible is still the best seller of all time.  Some, like UNC’s own Bart Ehrman, certainly do all they can to undermine it.  We actually do pray for Bart here in NC. Others, like the author of the above, enjoy patronizing sincere believers by presenting ridiculous beliefs that the average Sunday school kid would know better than, as the general consensus of us poor uneducated fundamentalists.  Wow who would have thunk the Bible had authors?

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ” (Hebrews 4:12, ESV)

What is Higher Criticism?

Criticism falls into two categories. First, lower criticism, also called textual criticism, deals with the actual text with a view of determining the original manuscript. The second is higher criticism, dealing with the area of authorship, sources, dates, and historical matters. Both conservative and liberal theologians deal with lower and higher criticism. There is nothing inherently wrong with either. I am very grateful for critical scholars like: Daniel B WallaceDr. John Sailhamer and Dr. Micheal Heiser of Logos bible software. The presuppositions a person brings to the Bible and their conclusions will determine their theological position.

Despite the claims of both Moses and Jesus Christ concerning the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, it is widely accepted among liberal higher critics today that the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the OT) is the product of four or more writers. A German scholar, Julius Wellhausen, concluded that the five books of the Pentateuch could not have been written by Moses because writing did not exist at that time. This foundational assumption has been completely disproven by archeology. Wellhausen also worked  from the assumption that repetition or duplication of similar accounts shows separate sources and that different names for God in the text indicate different authors. Good scholars have refuted these assumptions.

Wellhausen was a product of the 18th century and heavily influenced by Hegelian philosophy. This philosophies edict was “the rational alone is real,” completely denying the possibility of miracles or the supernatural. Hegel’s dialectic approach went hand in hand with Charles Darwin’s evolutionary model set forth in his The Origin of Species. Riding on the coat tails of Darwin, Wellhausen’s view met with almost immediate acceptance. This view is called the Documentary Hypothesis (or Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis). It theorizes that the Torah is a composite of four documents (JEDP). The order and dates of the documents were established

  • the Yahwist source: written c. 950 BCE in the southern kingdom of Judah.
  • the Elohist source: written c. 850 BCE in the northern kingdom of Israel.
  • the Deuteronomist: written c. 600 BCE in Jerusalem during a period of religious reform.
  • the Priestly source: written c. 500 BCE by Aaronid priests in exile in Babylon.
  • The Redactors: first JE, then JED, and finally JEDP, producing the final form of the Torah c.450 BCE.

(Redact means to put a literary work into appropriate form for publication)

Where Do They Get This Stuff From Anyway?

Basically from thin air. There are no source documents representing these alleged authors, it’s pure speculation. They are basing their argument on their own ability to read a Hebrew document that is 3000 years old, divide it up into vocabulary groups for each source, they slice up the concealed divisions into the different documents literally line by line and then they conjure up the mysterious unknown authors. These guys must be able to astrally project through time, see through walls and read minds! Of course, I’m kidding (just a little).  Seriously, I am not a language scholar but  it looks arbitrary to me.  Dr Heiser doesn’t buy it Many scholars don’t buy it either. But you would never get that impression, the elite critics really aren’t tentative about it. To claim to authoritatively extrapolate four different authors by brute force opinion is high theater. At best this is not an exact science and necessarily has a wide margin of error.

I have no problem with the idea that Ezra and scribes redacted writings made by Moses. Deuteronomy records Moses death so obviously Joshua or someone else recorded that incident. Contrary to the Grand Wazoo of higher critics, nobody is actually arguing for the Jewish legend “that an angel dictates to him the books of Moses from the heavenly tablets that have existed for eternity in heaven” and Sunday school kids understand that the bible has different genres. That post is a disingenuous attempt to patronize people that actually believe and take the text at face value. Moses never makes such a claim and conservative scholars do not either.  Still yet, Moses did not attempt to hide the source of his writing, but readily acknowledged that it came from God. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).

Should Christians Believe It?

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8, ESV)

If you accept the authority of Jesus Christ then you really need to look at Mark 10:4-8, where Jesus quoted Gen. 2:24, which would be attributed to J, as “What did Moses command you”. Mark 7:10, Jesus quoted the Ten Commandments, which fall into the E category, as “For Moses said,”. In Mark 10:3, Jesus refers to Deut. 24:1f,  allegedly written by D, as being from Moses. In Matt. 8:4, Jesus quoted Lev. 14, which would be attributed to P, as “Moses commanded.”  In addition, before the higher critic can achieve any credibility in the eyes of a Christian who recognizes the Lordship of Christ, the following verses must be explained.

Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; cf. Luke 4:4, 8, 12. Luke 4:16-27. Matt. 5:17, 18, 21-43. Matt. 6:29. Matt. 8:4; cf. Mark 1:44; Luke 5:14. Matt. 8:11; cf. Luke 13:28. Matt. 9:13. Luke 16:29-31. Matt. 10:15; cf. Mark 6:11. Matt. 11:10; cf. Luke 7:26, 27. Matt. 12:3-8; cf. Mark 2:24-28; Luke 6:3-5. Matt. 12:40-42; cf. Luke 11:29-32. Matt. 13:14, 15. Matt. 15:1-9; cf. Mark 7:8-12. Matt. 16:4. Matt. 17:11; cf. Mark 9:11-13. Matt. 19:3-9; cf. Mark 10:2-12. Matt. 19:18-19; cf. Mark 10:19; Luke 10:26-27; 18:20. Luke 18:31. Matt. 21:13-16; cf. Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46. Matt. 21:42; cf. Mark 12:10, 11; Luke 20:17. Matt. 22:28-33; cf. Mark 12:24-31; Luke 20:37-39, Matt. 22:36-40. Matt. 22:34, 44, 45; cf. Mark 12:35-57; Luke 20:41-44. Matt. 23:1-3, 23, 35; cf. Luke 11:51. Matt. 24:15-16; cf. Mark 13:14. Luke 17:26-31. Matt. 24:24, 31. Mark 14:21, 27. Luke 22:37. Matt. 26:53-56. Mark 14:49. Matt. 27:46; cf. Mark 15:34. Luke 23:46. Luke 24:25-32, 44-47. John 3:14; 5:39, 45-47; 6:32, 45; 7:19-23, 38, 39; 8:39-40, 44, 56-58; 10:33-36; 13:18, 26; 17:12, 17; 19:28.

It’s abundantly clear to me (and I hope it is to you) that Jesus believed and taught that Moses wrote the Torah. Now if you have a problem with believing Jesus Christ, I regrettably submit that you have a much bigger problem than the authorship of the Pentateuch. Please choose wisely.


Slick, Matt. Answering the Documentary Hypothesis. (accessed 04 17, 2010).

Towns D.Min, Elmer. Theology for Today. Mason, OH: Cenage Learning, 2008.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.


  1. blop2008 says:

    The last sentence sounds a bit like Chuck Missler 🙂

  2. Shelley Huisman says:

    Very well thought out and very needed in today’s times. So many people our out to destroy the church. I am thankful for people like you who choose to fight the good fight. I enjoyed reading your work and I encourage you to continue the good work.

    God bless!

  3. Cris Putnam says:

    Thanks Shelley, it’s amazing to me that someone can say they are a Christian while teaching theories that are demonstrably antichristian. According to these guys Jesus doesn’t even know who wrote the OT but of course they can sit in their ivory towers and get the right answer 3000 years later. The arrogance is mind boggling!

  4. Shelley Huisman says:

    Sin makes the heart hard and the and the eyes blind. But if people do not believe the Scriptures its all foolishness to them anyway.

    God help them see their foolish ways so that they can repent before its too late!

  5. Cris Putnam says:

    They make a choice between their intellectual pride and believing Jesus.The law of non contradiction is merciless, you just can’t believe the documentary hypothesis and Jesus simultaneously.

  6. Brian says:

    Good article!

    I appreciate Cris’ ability to summarize the discussions and then cut directly to the relevant issue. If you haven’t personally dealt with the authority (Lordship) of Jesus Christ, then you have not adequately interacted with the content of the work to offer reliable insights.

    If you claim affiliation with those who recognize (and submit to) the authority of Jesus Christ, then the “Documentary Hypothesis” is a non-starter, for all the reasons Cris mentioned.

  7. brainout says:

    Scholars have to put food on the table, just like anyone else. So don’t expect them to be real scholars, for they first feel the need to cater to whomever will pay them for their ‘expertise’. Many of the ‘scholars’ quickly prove themselves fools, but they have the credentials, and other scholars have this thing about protecting fellow scholars, so the fools among them are only mildly criticized, publically. After all, it’s ‘scholarly’ that ‘all voices’ be heard, lol.

    In short, just because someone with a lot of initials after his name pontificates on a passage, doesn’t mean he’s right. Use 1John1:9, keep learning and living on Bible under your own right teacher, and you’ll be able to prove the right answer, yourself.

    Example: someone very respected among scholars, challenged the pericope adulterae as not being from John, not his style. So I checked out his claims. What rot. In 10 minutes during a train ride I could see the same writing style starting in John 1:1 in Greek, throughout; all of John 8 is on the theme of stoning Him Who Claimed To Be God, so the flourish (real story) beginning (John loves Greek drama) well suits the text of the rest of the chapter. I could say more, but you get the idea: some scholars are not honest, so you have to test them, just as you have to keep testing yourself.

  8. John Houk says:

    This is an excellent post! It is gratifying to read someone counter the relativist rationalism that seeks to disprove rather than harmonize the Scriptures.

  9. brainout says:

    Thank you, John. I would have missed your post if I didn’t return to rant some more. How do I subscribe or something so that I’m notified of new posts? Hmmm. Will have to figure that out.

    Now to my new rant, this time on Book of Daniel. Alleged ‘scholars’ will dismissively treat the text as ‘young’. LOL when you try to find out ‘why’, you always get the silliest of answers: 1) “it’s Aramaic.” As if there were only the LATE kind. Duh, ancient Chaldean comes from the same family but is not the same, don’t they analyse the AGE of the ‘aramaic’? Languages have ages. So their argument is like saying the KJV is ‘young’, because it’s ENGLISH. Sheesh.

    2) “it wasn’t put with the prophetic OT Canon, but was put with the last set of books (called by various names).” As if that meant Daniel was less inspired. Duh again: just because the compilers COLLECT the books in a certain place doesn’t mean it’s less inspired, k? You go by the TEXT, anyway.

    Most damning of all is the fact they can’t read the GREEK text, either. See, even the OT Greek text is older than their claim about the Chaldean and Hebrew of Daniel. So where did the Greek text come from, thin air? And we can date the age of the Greek language from Pericles on and even earlier, so we know for sure that the Greek of the OT is older than 160’s BC.

    Capping this off, is the fact that the Books of Maccabees are written during the very period claimed for the Book of Daniel. Yeah, and in GREEK, because the Jews couldn’t write in Hebrew anymore. So how did the Hebrew in Daniel, get there?

    See: scholars lie. I trust them not at all. They should be respected and listened to — until they prove fools. Then pitch them out just as you’d do some idiot commenter in Youtube. Which means, TEST THE SPIRITS. For Satan loves putting initials after his minions’ names. End rant. Delete this, if you want. Thanks for your time! 🙂

  10. brainout says:

    TO CHRIS — you need a ‘subscribe to feed’ widget on your blog here, in order for people to subscribe and get feeds when you have new posts. I don’t see one on the page. Would you add it and then let me know? Meanwhile, I’ll bookmark the page.

  11. ER says:

    It’s like these JEDP people just invent something to explain away things they can’t accept,
    “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; & he cannot understand them, b/c they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Cor 2:14)

  12. Dan says:

    Its interesting that the more you look into The Bible historically the MORE it holds up, not less. People believed for the longest time even minor figures like Pontius Pilate were fabrications…until a corner stone was discovered with his seal. Then they called out him being called ‘Procurator’…until that was proven true as well.
    You’ll notice the modern arguments usually begin with ‘Well, no one believes it anyway!’ a clear fallacy.
    The irritating aspect of criticism is that its so centered on Christians. Practicers of Islam are given a free pass on criticism, observances of other holidays (such as Chinese new year) are encouraged as expression of multiculturalism. This would seem to fly in the face of American freedom from promotion of interference in religion to me.
    I appreciated the thoughtful and well sited article. Certainly Christians do not need to engage in battle with, rational or nihilistic philosophers to justify their religion, but its a good thing there’s intellectuals out there who at least point out the flaws in their arguments.

  13. JAMES says:


  14. Baurakale7 says:

    You make some solid points, but if someone wants to believe that the bible was made up or doctored by wicked scribes, they will, regardless of how hard it is to believe that.

  15. Axel Renneke says:

    All the interesting facts around and from the bible cant convince someone, who dont wants to believe. The bible and all revelations are a matter of faith . Biblical prophets spoke about their revelations from GOD, they told their audience about the faith in JHWH and to follow his commandments. In our times we also have to follow Jesus Christ and his commandments if we want to know, whether his words are true or if the bible is gods word. Those, who dont want to follow gods ways, will find the truth on the last day, whe our lord will come back. That is soon and we all should repent and prepare for that day.

  16. davymatheny says:

    the bible is layed out in differ levels.for some just to read the surface brings some confusion and really it should.when you start reading it and digging you will see why it says what it does.the best thing for either Christians or the unbelievers is to study it and even go to the greek or hebrew helps alot.just to read something and dont understand it doesnt mean its fake.for example,100 years ago people had a hard time to believe a new world order would be set up,let alone back in johns time,i think in 95 AD.or even earthquakes and nature would get worse and so on.these things alone deserves attention and should the whole if these”surface readers”doesnt have an open mind,then they are up to discredit it.

  17. Shelley Huisman says:

    “2 “Can a man be profitable to God?
    Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.” Proverbs 22:2

    “7 Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Proverbs 3:7

    “12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” Proverbs 9:12

    These are just a few verses that I found regarding those who get too caught up in there own man made logic…its not a new thing!!

  18. davymatheny says:

    thanks shelley!you are right its not a new thing,but it is getting to be THE THING.with the catholic claiming they are christians and doing all of their bad sins,and these luke warm churches,to even laws being pass,we are the enemy.the greatest thing is our leader is undefeatable.who can make war with God?

    • Robert WIlson says:

      Catholics not only “claim” to be Christians- they WERE THE Christians- the ONLY Christians, up until the Eastern Schism. It is quite obvious to an objective mind that the early Church was not Protestant in any way shape or form.

      Catholics, rather charitably, no NOT deny that Protestants who originated in the 16th Century are Christians. We believe in “God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord. Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the VIrgin Mary, was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate….. etc”

      Stop reading Lorraine Boettner, or Jack Chick and try reading actual theology from the Church, like the Catechism of the Catholic Church- then at least what you say might have a ring of truth to it.

  19. Greg S says:

    Cris I think your response here is an excellent & timely refutation. Thanks again for staying on the cutting edge of this battle. It seems I was in another debate with a collage student from YouTube when I got these articles. They where right on time & I directed my debater here. These higher critics to me are almost looking & saying things like the Pharisees in that they are taking on the appearance of “a form of Godliness”. For instance this one openly calls Jesus a false prophet & rejects not only the message of the KJV but he also says its mistranslated. Then he will hint that he respects some other Bible versions as having some validity.

  20. ZuzannaM says:

    There is so much to learn from the Bible. I wished I read the Bible on a regular basis. Born in Europe under Communism rules the spiritual life suffered, have discovered the Bible on a new Continent and then I had the opportunity to learn more. I like your post, the way you presenting with an explanation how the Bible survived for 3000 thousand years. Yes, it survived and it will always be alive because it is a Word from God. Nobody shall attempt to destroy a Word of God. What puzzles me is that there are different types of Bibles out there and a true Christian has to look for the right book. The Bibles varies with their content, as some verses been changed. This is why I am saying, that we the readers, ought to know which Bible to buy, thank you.

  21. John Hoben says:

    Great work, Cris! Thanks for sharing the link (and referencing Chuck!)