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I read, what was to me, quite an interesting blog post about different authors' contributing to different parts of the bible measured by analysing "linguistic fingerprints":

For millions of Jews and Christians, it’s a tenet of their faith that God is the author of the core text of the Hebrew Bible – the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. But since the advent of modern biblical scholarship, academic researchers have believed the text was written by a number of different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas and linguistic styles and the different names they used for God.[...]

The places in which the program disagreed with accepted scholarship might prove interesting leads for scholars. The first chapter of Genesis, for example, is usually thought to have been written by the “priestly” author, but the software indicated it was not.[...]

Similarly, the book of Isaiah is largely thought to have been written by two distinct authors, with the second author taking over after Chapter 39. The software’s results agreed that the book might have two authors, but suggested the second author’s section actually began six chapters earlier, in Chapter 33.

I asked a question more related to nature and operationalization of "linguistic fingerprint" on linguistics.SE. Here I would like to know, how many authors are thought to have been contributing to bible according to current state of knowledge. Where do these "old-school" and computer-based techniques of analysing overlap and where not? I assume it's more a graphological way of analysis in biblical hermeneutics. Is the term "linguistic fingerprint" used here at all?

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! I think the question is too broad for the site at the moment and it would be best to narrow the question down to one book or class of books (Torah, New Testament letters, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.). One of your answers, for instance limited itself to just the Torah and if you edited your question to just ask about that, it would be easier to answer. (I'm quite interested in the topic and will look at the Linguistics question too.) –  Jon Ericson Oct 31 '11 at 19:09
    
@JonEricson Feel free to edit, I'm no bible expert and was more interested in this "linguistic fingerprint" phenomenon and if experts in manual exegesis here can back this blog post up. Just replace bible with book you think most research on authorship was done. I would like to know what methods (probably grapholocigal) theologians use to differ authorship, but don't know if on-topic or you mainly concentrate on exegesis and content here. –  Hauser Nov 1 '11 at 0:49
    
I tried editing the question (mostly the title and tags) to narrow the focus a bit. The number of authors question gets complicated quickly, but the "linguistic fingerprints" aspect might be manageably answered. I didn't know exactly what to do with the text of the question, because I don't understand all your terms. If you haven't got the answers you'd like, I suggest providing a bit more detail about what you mean by "graphological" and "old-school" vs. "computer-based techniques". –  Jon Ericson Nov 1 '11 at 21:20
    
I seem to recall an article very much like this being passed around a year or two ago. Now, as then, I'm frustrated by the lack of detail on exactly what the technique entails. Obviously, a news article can't be expected to be heavy on technically details, however. Perhaps someone can dig up a journal article or paper to help us understand what textual markers are being proposed. –  Jon Ericson Nov 1 '11 at 21:24
    
Check out the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method. –  Daи Dec 19 '13 at 1:18
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This answer addresses the five books of Moses (torah), not the whole of tanakh (and nothing from the additional Christian scriptures).

The most popular multi-author theory is the Documentary Hypothesis, which postulates four sources (not authors) -- J, E, P, and D -- and a redactor. Richard Friedman's book Who Wrote the Bible? is an accessible, popular-press explanation. He postulates two D authors and carries the analysis into the earlier subsequent books (Joshua through Jeremiah, if I recall correctly).

Even among scholars who believe the bible wasn't written by God, there is not agreement on the JEPD theory. So "how many sources are there?" isn't definitively answerable. Four plus an editor is popular; Friedman seems to argue five plus an editor, and there are likely other variations out there too. And then, within each source, there may well have been multiple authors involved; I don't think the documentary hypothesis asserts that all the P (priest) texts were written by the same individual, for example, but rather that they formed an early collection.


Please note: This answer was written for a neutral, academic audience and is not intended to be interpreted in the context of a religious belief or doctrine.

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To say that "God is the author" of the Bible is not entirely a correct statement of the Christian position. Christians do not believe that God dictated the words of the Bible, in the way that Islam believes about the Koran. The Catholic and Protestant positions are summarized here.

To induce a person to write is not to take on oneself the responsibility of that writing, more especially it is not to become the author of that writing. If God can claim the Scripture as His own work, it is because He has brought even the intellect of the inspired writer under His command. However, we must not represent the Inspirer as putting a ready-made book in the mind of the inspired person.

Because of this it is not critical to its validity how many authors of the Bible there were. The book of Isaiah can still be inspired, even if it was written by two people. 'Traditional' authorships are sometimes strongly defended, but in the end they are not fundamental to the faith.

I realise this doesn't actually answer the question you asked, and is more suited to the 'Christianity' site, but I thought I'd add it in anyway.

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Welcome to BiblicalHermeneutics.SE! –  Richard Nov 9 '11 at 16:17
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In sensus plenior it is proper to say that God dictated the words of the Bible, but he did it subliminally, not orally. He was so involved in the history of the development of language that all the words that need double meanings have them. He was involved in the genetic makeup, education, circumstances, etc surrounding the human authors that when they wrote the scriptures they could write nothing but what they wrote.

There are authorial fingerprints in the sensus plenior. Genesis appears to be written by the Father, wherein the perspective is always focused on the finished work of the Son. Sin is acknowledged, but the Son has it covered. The second portion, the history of Israel, appears to be written by the Son for whom the Father has chosen a prostitute for a bride, but he loves her and works for and woos her. He goes into great detail concerning his love for her and the anguish she causes him. The third portion, the gospels, seems to be written from the perspective of the best man proclaiming "Behold the bridegroom comes!"

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Do you have a reference to back up this position? It certainly contradicts the Christian viewpoints that I am aware of. And it does not appear to be fundamental to sensus plenior. –  DJClayworth Jan 6 '12 at 17:44
    
What is the contradiction? What Christian viewpoints are you aware of that have an interpretation of sensus plenior that contradict this? What reference would you use to define the fundamentals of sensus plenior? The reason I ask is that the only 'standard' with which I am aware is that sensus plenior does not exists, or if it does, Christians are not permitted to try to understand it since they are not apostles. If there is another standard, I would like to research it. Thanks. –  Bob Jones Jan 14 '12 at 19:50
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"Sensus plenior" means "fuller sense." Your answer deals with allegorical interpretations of the text, not a fuller sense. Also, most Christians I know hold to a "verbal plenary" theory of inspiration. This means that God inspired all (plenary) of the Bible by the very words (plenary). –  Frank Luke Jan 17 '12 at 18:40
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Although sensus plenior means 'fuller sense' literally, it is used in the discussions among evangelicals and Catholics to refer to the meaning intended by God but unknown to the human author, and is closely related to the sod of Pardes. As such, the way I use it is proper. Sensus plenior is a type of allegory but it is not a free-for-all. Also, it does not contradict, but asserts, that God inspired every jot and tittle. –  Bob Jones Jan 21 '12 at 14:29
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