Vatican Library

Eyewitness in Eden. A camel, elephant, lion and other beasts gather around Moses as he writes the Bible, in this manuscript illumination, which served as the frontispiece to Genesis in a mid-tenth-century Byzantine Bible. According to tradition, Moses himself wrote the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch. Since the Enlightenment, however, scholars attempting to establish the historical truths surrounding the authorship of the Bible have attributed the Pentateuch to at least four different sources.

In so doing, Rolf Rendtorff argues in the accompanying article, scholars have sometimes forgotten that the Bible is a sacred document written to serve a religious community. While recognizing the value of critical study, Rendtorff asks scholars also to read and understand the message of the Bible as a whole, as it has come down to us.