Moses on the mountain The Exodus was traditionally attributed to Moses, but current historians believe it was composed during the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), based on previous written and oral traditions, with final alterations in the Persian post-exilic period (5th century BCE).
Tradition attributes Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and the majority of Deuteronomy, to Moses, but modern scholars, particularly those from the 19th century onward, believe they were written hundreds of years later, in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, hundreds of years after Moses is said to have lived. They are called "post-Mosaic" writings because they do not appear in any version of the Bible that is accepted by most Christians today.
Genesis: Traditional authorship has been ascribed to many people over time, including Adam, Eve, Enoch, Jared, Mahlon, Nephi, and Solomon. The book itself claims to be written by "Abraham's friend", which many early readers took to be a reference to Enoch. Modern scholars generally agree that someone named Abraham wrote Genesis around 2000 BC, though some suggest a date as early as 3000 BC. The author probably lived in the region of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). He may have been a priest or a prophet who led an exodus out of Egypt. His motives for writing remain a matter of speculation. Some think he wanted to promote his own religion, while others believe he was trying to explain how God worked through humans at the beginning of time or perhaps just record things that had happened.
Exodus: Traditionally attributed to Moses, but like many other post-Mosaic books it appears in a version of the Bible that is now obsolete.
The book of Genesis, as well as the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and the majority of Deuteronomy, are traditionally attributed to Moses, although contemporary scholars, particularly those from the 19th century onward, believe they were written in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The Documentary Hypothesis proposes that the Pentateuch was produced over a period of several hundred years, with each section possibly authored by different authors.
In writing about events that happened almost thirteenth thousand years ago, we rely on scientific evidence to explain what might otherwise be mysterious circumstances. For example, scientists can tell us how rocks are formed through natural processes such as erosion or volcanism, and use this knowledge to interpret fossil remains. The same is true for people who want to know more about the ancient world: They study the facts available today with the aim of understanding what may have been going on thousands of years ago.
Scientists make assumptions about the nature of the past based on what is known today. For example, we assume that heavy objects like stones will always be near the places where they are found because there is no reason to think otherwise. This is called a "correlation rule". It is only an assumption, however, and not all stones find their way back to being placed by their original owners.
Sometimes scientists make conclusions about the past that go beyond what can be supported by the evidence.
As with Genesis, early Jewish traditions identify Moses as the most likely and best suited author of Exodus. A lot of elements provide support to this notion. Moses's unusual education in Egypt's royal courts undoubtedly provided him with the chance and skill to write these masterpieces (Acts 7:22).
Moses could have written these books while he was in exile on Mount Sinai but probably not because he was given strict orders from God not to write anything down until after his death. The Torah was to be passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth.
So who else might have written these books? Many scholars believe that Elihau, the son of Aaron, may have authored parts of Exodus and Leviticus. They point to certain similarities between their writings and those of Moses. For example, both men were instructed by God to take a stick through their hands and then speak directly to Him (see Exod. 4:21; Lev. 10:8). Elihau did not do this but instead asked a question which God answered. This shows that they were writing about the same time period and using a similar style. Also, Moses and Elihau had very similar roles in regard to receiving the Torah from God. He gave them both the same commandments at the same time and also told them to lead the people into the desert for forty years so they would have time to learn them by heart.