Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–Deuteronomy


By David Bokovoy

  • “A much-needed introduction.” — Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Understanding, BYU
  • “This is precisely the type of discourse that is needed among Latter-day Saints.”Studies of the Bible in Antiquity
  • “This book should be basic reading for serious LDS students of the Bible.” — Eric D. Huntsman, Brigham Young University


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Part of our Contemporary Studies in Scripture series

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Book Description:

For the last two centuries, biblical scholars have made discoveries and insights about the Old Testament that have greatly changed the way in which the authorship of these ancient scriptures has been understood. In the first of three volumes spanning the entire Hebrew Bible, David Bokovoy dives into the Pentateuch, showing how and why textual criticism has led biblical scholars today to understand the first five books of the Bible as an amalgamation of multiple texts into a single, though often complicated narrative; and he discusses what implications those have for Latter-day Saint understandings of the Bible and modern scripture.

Comprehensive Table of Contents:


Foreword by John W. Welch

1. Reading the Bible Critically

The Bible as “Privileged” Text
Moses as Biblical Author
The Legal Collections

2. Documentary Sources in the Pentateuch

The Documentary Hypothesis
The Flood Story as Composite Narrative
Chapter 8
Challenges to the Theory
Joseph as Redacted Narrative

3. Identifying the Sources

The Priestly Source (P)
The Holiness School (H)
The Yahwistic Source (J)
The Elohist Source (E)
Yahweh versus Elohim
The Deuteronomic Source (D)

4. Dating the Sources

Dating the Sources through Biblical Hebrew
Ancient Israelite Literacy
Assyrian Influence On Scribalization

5. Mesopotamian Influence on the Pentateuch

Genesis 1 and Enūma Elish
J’s Creation Narrative and Mesopotamian Mythology
Genesis and the Sumerian King List
Genesis and the Mesopotamian Flood
Tower of Babel
The Covenant Code and the Laws of Hammurabi
Deuteronomy as Assyrian Vassal Treaty
Sargon of Akkad and Moses

6. Reading the Pentateuch Critically as a Latter-day Saint

An Intellectual/Spiritual Reading of the Text
The School of the Prophets
Joseph Smith as Guide
LDS Scripture

7. Higher Criticism and the Book of Moses

The Book of Moses
The Book of Moses as Pseudepigraphy
The Book of Moses as Temple Text
Near Eastern Connections

8. Higher Criticism and the Book of Abraham

Pagan Connection to Scripture
The Joseph Smith Papyri
P and J in the Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham as Inspired Pseudepigraphon
Theological Connections with Ancient Israel

9. Higher Criticism and the Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon Versus Biblical Narrators
Book of Mormon Narrators as Genunine Authors
The Book of Mormon and the Brass Plates
Historical Criticism: Questions And Answers
The Book of Mormon as Modern Expansion

10. Conclusion

Recommended Readings for Further Study
Scripture Index

Old Testament
New Testament
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants
Pearl of Great Price



Praise for Authoring the Old Testament:

Authoring the Old Testament is a welcome introduction, from a faithful Latter-day Saint perspective, to the academic world of Higher Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. . . . [R]eaders will be positively served and firmly impressed by the many strengths of this book, coupled with Bokovoy's genuine dedication to learning by study and also by faith.” — John W. Welch, editor, BYU Studies Quarterly

“David Bokovoy is a solid scholar of the Hebrew Bible whose goal is to help Latter-day Saints as they step out of the ark into the broad daylight of serious scriptural engagement. His new book Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis—Deuteronomy is the first part of a much-needed introduction for Mormons to the academic world of historical criticism. . . . Members of the Church will be introduced to some of the results of over a century of biblical scholarship they’ve likely never heard about as they emerge from the protective ark to enjoy discussing things in the sunshine.” — Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

“Bokovoy provides a lucid, insightful lens through which disciple-students can study intelligently LDS scripture. This is first rate scholarship made accessible to a broad audience—nourishing to the heart and mind alike.” — Fiona Givens, co-author, The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life

Authoring the Old Testament opens up a much-needed dialog on the historical-critical approach for Latter-day Saints. It demonstrates, in insightful and meaningful ways, how the historical-critical method can be faithfully applied to the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham. In my view, this book is a must for those seeking to incorporate the best of biblical scholarship in their personal or professional scripture study.” — Brian Hauglid, author, A Textual History of the Book of Abraham: Manuscripts and Editions

“Bringing fresh insights to the Old Testament, a book like this for a Latter-day Saint audience is long overdue. Bokovoy skillfully weaves together biblical scholars with LDS leaders and texts to demonstrate the religious benefits of confronting post-Enlightenment readings of the Bible, clarifying long-standing questions. Charting a middle path between conservative inerrancy and secular dismissal of biblical texts, this book refreshingly expounds on the nature of ancient and modern scripture.” — Taylor G. Petrey, Lucinda Hinsdale Stone Assistant Professor of Religion, Kalamazoo College

“The reader cannot get more than a few pages through this book without feeling Bokovoy’s love and passion for his faith, for the world of academic scholarship, and for the reader. For Bokovoy, these tensions are 'challenges to learn, not contradictions to avoid,' and it is this spirit of honest inquiry that makes his book such a delight to read. This is precisely the type of discourse that is needed among Latter-day Saints.” — Alex Douglas, Studies of the Bible in Antiquity

“As clear an introduction to historical and source criticism as Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible and Baden’s The Composition of the Pentateuch, Bokovoy’s Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis—Deuteronomy provides an important resource in making many of the intricacies of higher criticism available to Latter-day Saint readers in an accessible fashion. Because Bokovoy has geared it to an LDS audience, he has also been able to make interesting suggestions for critically reading Restoration texts. Regardless of one’s final position on the Documentary Hypothesis, this book should be basic reading for serious LDS students of the Bible.” — Eric D. Huntsman, Coordinator of Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Brigham Young University

Authoring the Old Testament is not only a work of scholarship, but one of passion. And it is brimming with charity toward his readers.... David and Greg Kofford Books have done Latter-day Saints a great service with this publication. I hope to see its influence in future Sunday School, Institute, and Seminary classes Church wide.” — Walker Wright, Worlds Without End

“I highly recommend the book.... If you don’t know anything about the DH and would like to learn, this is the way to do it. The book is simply outstanding in this regard.... I would like to congratulate both David and Kofford Books on the publication of this landmark study, which should become a foundational resource for serious LDS students of scripture.” — Kevin Barney, By Common Consent

“I repeat: this is one of the most important books on Mormon scripture to be published recently. . . . [Authoring the Old Testament] has the potential to radically expand understanding and appreciation for not only the Old Testament, but scripture in general. It’s really that good. Read it. Share it with your friends. Discuss it.” — David Tayman, The Improvement Era: A Mormon Blog

See additional reader reviews at Goodreads.

Other Volumes in this Series:

Authoring the Old Testament: The Prophets
Authoring the Old Testament: The Writings

Podcast and Interview Links:

Interview on the Mormon Studies Podcast.

About the Author:

David Bokovoy holds a PhD in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East and an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies both from Brandeis University. He received his BA from Brigham Young University, majoring in History and minoring in Near Eastern Studies. In addition to his work in Mormon studies, David has published articles on the Hebrew Bible in a variety of academic venues including the Journal of Biblical Literature, Vetus TestamentumStudies in the Bible and Antiquity, and the FARMS Review. He is the co-author of the book Testaments: Links Between the Book of Mormon and the Hebrew Bible. The father of four children Kate, Rebekah, Joshua, and Madelyn, David is married to the former Carolyn Bird. He currently teaches courses in Bible and Mormon Studies at the University of Utah.

More Information:

272 Pages
ISBN 978-1-58958-588-1 (Paperback); 978-1-58958-675-8 (Hardcover)
Published March 2014

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