An Israeli team of scholars are trying to find the answer to the age-old question of who wrote the Bible, and are releasing their findings to the interest of Christians and non-Christians around the world.
The team of scholars includes a computer science doctoral student, Navot Akiva, Tel Aviv University computer scientist Nachum Dershowitz and his son, Idan Dershowitz, who is a Bible scholar at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. They believe that a certain software can reveal the scribes of the Bible.
The software works by examining style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors.
The program which is part of a subfield of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution is used for a range of tasks that includes helping law enforcement agencies develop new computer programs for writers.
When the team of theological scholars applied the program to the Bible, it was revealed that an algorithm showed distinct voices in the Book.
The program recognizes repeated word selections, like uses of the Hebrew equivalents of “if,” “and” and “but.”
Also, in some places the Bible gives the word for “staff” as “makel,” while in others it uses “mateh” for the same object. The program separates differences in the text like this into strands it believes to be the work of different people.
Since the inception of modern biblical theology, many academic researchers have believed that the text was written by different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas, linguistic styles and the names they used for God.
Most theologians today generally split the text into two main strands. One is believed to have been written by a group known as the “priestly” author due to connections to the temple priests in Jerusalem. The remaining are “non-priestly.” Bible scholars have continued to thoroughly go over the text to ascertain which parts belong to which section.
When the new software was run on the Pentateuch, the same division was found.
The new software is said to have brought forward different findings to what scholars had previously supposed for certain parts of the Bible. The first chapter of Genesis which was thought to have been written by the “priestly” author was identified as being “non-priestly” by the software.
The book of Isaiah also has caused controversy. The book was presumably thought to have been written by two distinct authors, with the second author taking over after Chapter 39. The software’s results reveal similar findings, but suggested that the second author’s section actually began in Chapter 33.
Man’s knowledge and analysis are of course of limited effect; the advanced program is unable to prove to atheists whether the Bible is human or divine, and this remains something Christians will accept by faith.
“No amount of research is going to resolve that issue,” Bible scholar Moshe Koppel told the Washington Times.