Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FacePalm of the Day - #99 - Debunking Christianity: Harry McCall: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch is Unfounded

Several weeks ago, John Loftus recently posted the following quote from Harry McCall. McCall makes quite a few claims. It doesn't hold up.

 The belief that either Moses wrote the Pentateuch or that it predates the Deuteronomistic History (DeuteronomyII Kings) is unfounded by the Biblical facts themselves:
I'm going to grant that Deuteronomistic History as a fact because most scholars seem to agree to it even though I'm not completely sold  on it. Instead let's look at  McCall's claims that Moses did not write Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, or Numbers.

(Yet it is clear that Jesus thought Moses gave Israel the Law: “Did not Moses give you the Law,…” John 7: 19). Thus, if the modern critical view of the Bible is correct, then Jesus himself is subject to error.)

I'm glad that McCall is willing to grant the John 7:19 accurately recounts  Jesus' words. It's nice to have a point of agreement to start with. I don't agree with the modern view  but this post is about McCalls' alleged contradiction which he says show that Moses did not write those first books of the New Testament.

Point A: Why do latter books of the Bible totally ignore early Mosaic Laws - such as when Elijah is commanded by God to eat what unclean ravens brought (1 Kings 17:6) - especially when the Law clearly forbids eating that which has been torn by beasts?

 The latter books of the Bible do not ignore the Mosaic Laws.  Now a few important points: 
1. Who said that the ravens brought Elijah brought meat that had been torn by beasts?
2.  Does McCall really think that no one else has thought of this question?
3.  There is a long tradition offering alternatives other that what McCall suggests. For Example.

1. "You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs." Exodus 22: 31

2. "Also the fat of an animal which dies and the fat of an animal torn by beasts may be put to any other use, but you must certainly not eat it." Lev. 7: 24

3. "He shall not eat an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, becoming unclean by it; I am the LORD." Lev 22: 8)

These three examples actually misrepresents what the Bible says. 
1. Doesn't conflict with the raven because the Bible does not say that the meat came  from torn animals.
2. Fat and Meat are not necessarily the same thing. The Hebrew words used for "flesh" in Exodus 22:31 and "fat" in Lev 7:24; 22:8 are not the same words at all. Again, it doesn't conflict with ravens bringing Elijah food wither.
3. Leviticus 22:8 is in context of the Levitcal priesthood. Which would have applied to Elijah. But not in context with the raven because of the aforementioned reasons.

Some more Biblcial[sic] proofs of the LATE creation of the “Mosaic Law” (Pentateuch) is listed below:

Let's see if  McCall's arguments improve.

Point B: Why did Samuel hesitate to anoint a king over Israel (1 Samuel 8) when Samuel already had Deuteronomy 17: 15?

No improvement here.  We just agreed that Deuteronomy may not have been written by Moses. I'll save that for another post. The passage is clear for why Samuel did not think there should be a king.

Point C: Why did Elijah build an altar to Yahweh away from the legitimate central sanctuary?

Where does the Torah say that it's wrong to build an altar away from the central sanctuary. A reference would have been nice. At the time the Torah came down there was only the Tabernacle and no Temple.  There is a tradition that was certainly around in Jesus' time that Jerusalem was the only legitimate place to worship God, but Jerusalem did not come under Jewish control until David's time and we know they were worshiping Yahweh way before that. And Jesus shot down this idea in John 4.

Point D: Why can Hezekiah quote no “Mosaic Law” for his reform, whereas Josiah does (2 Chronicles 31 to 2 Kings 23)?
Who said Hezekiah couldn't? Hezekiah's reforms were in line with the Mosaic Law, just because the passages does not quote the Law doesn't mean they didn't have it.Also keep in mind that a  lost book was found in the temple during Josiah reign. If the Law had not been written down, what were they reading? See

 8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
 11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” - 2 Kings 22:8-13

Point E: Why does Deuteronomy permit Levites to come to the altar where as Leviticus does not? Link.
Again, after McCall says he's dealing with the books before Deuteronomy, he brings up another conflict between Deuteronomy and Leviticus. So again his  further arguments deteriorate. 

Harry McCall even further posted the following anecdote.

Twenty-three years ago (while I was president of our humanistic discussion group here in Greenville The Lion‘s Den) I debated a young ministerial student over the truth of the Bible (one of a number of debates I did back in the 80’s). This nice young ministerial student published very well written a monthly apologetic newspaper he entitled: The Bible Trumpet.

With regard to our debate, he asked me if his wife could help in defending his conservative position on Biblical truth... one point being that Moses wrote Pentateuch. I told him I would welcome her input, however the debate did not fare well for them and they left disappointed.

A year later, he excitedly told me that he was going to attend an Apologetic Bible conference where the famed Late Gleason Archer, PhD; ThD; the renowned conservative Old Testament scholar and the editor of “The International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties” along with the conservative Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser would be leading a major conference on the defense of the Bible.

Dr. Archer's topic was: What Proof Do We have That Moses Wrote the

Dr. Walter Kaiser’s topic was: The J E D P Documentary Hypothesis Exploded

(I still have the audio tape somewhere in my library.)

After both apologetic lectures, Drs. Archer and Kaiser would then debate several Moslem scholars in order to exposed the Qu’ran as a false historical record (A debate I thought was like the pot calling the kettle black!).

My young friend told me he had been in touch with Dr. Archer who challenged him to have me write down any facts which I felt proved Moses did not write the Pentateuch. My friend said he would personally give them to Dr. Archer at the conference and claimed that Dr. Archer “…would put me in my place”.

My young ministerial friend told me that he was very excited about Dr. Archer’s challenge to me and he could not wait to give me my irrefutable apologetic proofs that Moses did write the Pentateuch. So I wrote down five hard facts which I felt proved Moses did, in fact, not write the Pentateuch.

A week later my ministerial friend returned, but seemed very disappointed. After all, he had used his short vacation time off from his night job (as he was a full time college Bible student during the day), plus he paid all his expenses to and at the conference with his credit card.

When I asked him what irrefutable evidence Dr. Archer provided so as to prove my facts wrong, he told me he didn’t know what had happened.

He said he gave Dr. Archer my questions, who studied them for a short time, then Archer threw them on the conference table and exclaimed: “Whose this nut?” before walking off.

That’s right! Yours truly has been declared an official declared a “nut” by the editor / author of The International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (sounds a lot like JP Holding).

However, I had the last laugh since (the funny thing is) it only took a “nut” to stump the great Gleason Archer!
I found this anecdote extremely sad. McCall seems to be willing to think that Dr Archer calling him a "nut" and not even dignifying his silly ideas with a rebuttal is the same as not being able to offer counter arguments. Further it's interesting how atheists are more than willing to see Richard Dawkins' dismissal of Christians as a "win" but think that if a Christian scholar does the same of arguments that they think are not worth their time equates to the Christian "loosing". Why would McCall think that Archer was stumped. I think Archer just didn't want to waste his time. I mean he couldn't just let McCall think he had worthy arguments.I mean that is what Dawkins says.  Total fail here.

Debunking Christianity: Harry McCall: Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch is Unfounded
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