No “Pious Fraud”
MODERN critics of the Bible argue that many books of the Bible are in fact pia fraus, a pious fraud; and this is a theory that is found on every hand. By this they mean, for example, that about four centuries after Moses the book of Exodus was written; a few centuries after Moses the book of Deuteronomy was written, and still later, after the return from Babylon, the book of Leviticus. These critics hold that the ones who wrote these books then attributed them to Moses for the sake of adding the weight of his name to their writings. The critics grant that such men meant well, were sincere, but just did not have sufficient understanding to realize that what they were doing was fraudulent.
What about this theory? It is just that, a theory and nothing more, spawned by the pride and ignorance of men wise in their own eyes. Three lines of testimony completely demolish their faithless theory.
First is the fact that there is absolutely no ground for this theory save in the minds of men critical of the Bible. It is not the result of having discovered certain facts and drawn empirical conclusions from them. No, it is merely a case of having devised a theory that suits one’s philosophy and then looking in vain for something to support it, and preaching it even though finding no support. In proof of this, note the testimony of the leading Palestinian archaeologist of the United States, W. F. Albright:
“The assumption that pious frauds and pseudepigraphy [spurious writing purporting to be by Bible characters—Webster] were common in Israel, is without parallel in the pre-Hellenistic Orient. What we find is just the opposite, a [religious] veneration both for the written word and for oral tradition.”—The American Scholar.
Second, there is the ancient, venerable and unequivocal testimony of Jewish tradition, which certainly carries weight in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. It leaves no room for any pia fraus theory regarding who wrote the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch.
Third, and most weighty of all, we have the testimony of other inspired Bible writers and in particular the testimony of the Son of God himself, Jesus Christ. These prophets, whenever they deal with the subject, unanimously attribute the books of Moses to Moses. And, let it be added, the same is true of other Bible books.—1 Ki. 8:53; Ps. 103:7; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 24:15; John 5:46.
The “pious fraud” theory, therefore, is an instrument or weapon formed against God’s people that is without success, even as Jehovah said by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me.”—Isa. 54:17.