First I want to thank you for your article Did Moses Write the Pentateuch?. Would you please elaborate on, or provide scriptural references or other reference sources that would identify the "basis" upon which Baruch Spinoza suggests that Ezra may have been the author. I know who Ezra was and I have read this in several commentaries but it has not been made clear as to how this conclusion is reached.
Spinoza was ejected from synagogue teaching because of his pantheistic world view and naturalistic approach to Biblical criticism. His scientific criticism of the Bible made him an early leader in the modern movement of higher criticism.
In his 1670 work Tractatus Theologico-Politicus he argued that since the Pentateuch refers to Moses in the third person and includes an account of his death it could not have been written by Moses. By appointing Ezra as the author (which is later accepted in the documentary hypothesis promoted by Graf, Kuenen, and Wellhausen in the 19th century) it helps to push the composition date of the Old Testament into a later time frame. This has been a goal of many liberal theologians who have sought to debunk prophetic revelation by proving the authorship to be after the fact of events being predicted.
Gleason Archer, in his survey of the Old Testament, notes that ancient authors commonly referred to themselves in the third person. Xenophon and Julius Caesar both wrote in this manner and conservative scholars have long acknowledged that Joshua probably wrote the account Moses death.
I hope that this is helpful.
About the Author
Don Closson served as Director of Administration and a research associate with Probe for 26 years, until taking a position with the same title at the Centers of Church Based Training (ccbt.org) in 2013. He received the B.S. in education from Southern Illinois University, the M.S. in educational administration from Illinois State University, and the M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He has served as a public school teacher and administrator before joining Probe and then the CCBT. He is the general editor of Kids, Classrooms, and Contemporary Education.
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