Award-winning filmmaker Timothy Mahoney(Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus) is bringing evidence to light in the ongoing debate about the true authorship of the first five books of the Bible in his latest documentary: Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy. Presented by Fathom Events and Thinking Man Films, Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy is in movie theaters nationwide for three days only - March 14, 16 and 19.
In Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy, Mahoney invites viewers on a global trek to uncover the truth behind the oldest and most significant book in history-the Bible. The thought-provoking documentary features interviews with some of the world's leading experts in Egyptology, ancient Hebrew, religion and archaeology and asks hard questions in search of evidence to determine once and for all whether Moses could really have authored the Torah.
Q: What inspired you to do a documentary on Moses?
I had previous produced a film called Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus, which investigated the story of the Israelites time in Egypt. In that award-winning film we uncovered archaeological evidence matching 6 major steps surrounding the events of the Exodus. That film went worldwide on Netflix.
The next question I had to tackle was Moses authorship. Did Moses write an eyewitness account of the journey of the Exodus out of Egypt, across a sea and onto Mt Sinai? The Bible says, YES! But, today many scholars state that Moses didn't write the first books of the Bible. They claimed that the events of the Exodus were more likely to be a myth written by a number of people much later in history.
So this became the next Patterns of Evidence film, The Moses Controversy.
Q: Why is the authorship of the first five books of the Bible important?
Throughout the Bible there are about 40 references both in the Old and New Testament that describe Mosaic authorship of the text and it claims for itself that it is the product of Moses' writing as a result of what God told him to do.
And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. (Ex 24:4)
And the LORD said to Moses, "Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." (Ex 34:27)
So the integrity of the Bible is dependent on whether Moses wrote the first books of the Bible. Jesus, himself talked about Moses:
"If you believed Moses you would believe me for he wrote of me. If you do not believe his writings how will you believe my words?" (John 5:46)
If Moses didn't exist and write the first books of the Bible then what does that do to the credibility of Jesus? This is why determining Moses' authorship is so important.
Q: Why would some scholars refute Moses was the author?
There are several reasons, but one major reason that we have focused on in The Moses Controversy has to do with the type of writing system that Moses would have used to write with. Hebrew is the biblical language used by the Israelites and was the writing script used in all known Torah scrolls, which consist of the first five books of the Bible. But many scholars don't think a writing script like Hebrew existed at the time Moses. Patterns of Evidence: The Moses Controversy challenges this thinking by revealing an amazing pattern of evidence for Moses' ability to write, and more importantly for the Israelites ability to read what Moses wrote, just as it is described in the Bible.
Q: What's the most compelling evidence confirming Moses' authorship of the first five books of the Bible?
The history of the earliest alphabetic inscriptions matches the history of the Israelites in a remarkable way. This alphabetic script shows up at the time when Joseph was second in command of Egypt and would have been available for Moses to use. The inscriptions from this script then leaves Egypt and shows up later in Canaan, matching the history of the Israelites leaving Egypt and coming to the Promised Land just as it is recorded in the Bible.
Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places. (Num 33:2)
So the genius of the alphabet arrives at just the right time in history and in the right region of the world when it would be available to write the first words of the Bible, divinely given to Moses and the Israelites beginning at Mount Sinai.
Q: Besides the authorship issue, what else does the documentary deal with?
The existence of the alphabet at this time also allowed common people to learn to read and write very easily compared to other writing systems like Hieroglyphics in the ancient world. This simple alphabet gave people the gift of literacy providing a way for the Israelites to know and to obey the commands given by Moses at Mt Sinai.
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children ... You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut 6:6-9)
And to me I was impressed with the insight of; what if the alphabet's primary purpose was to retain the knowledge of God? The alphabet has become the writing tool of almost every language in the world and no other book in the world has utilized it more than the Bible.
And if it was established that the world's oldest alphabet was Hebrew and that Moses did, in fact, use it to write the Torah, that would change how the world views the Exodus, the Bible, and world history.
Q: Part of the beauty of this film is in the cinematography. Where were parts of the movie filmed, and what were some of the filming highlights?
This feature documentary was filmed in Egypt, Jordan, Israel, England, and the United States. Much of the cinematography work for the Patterns of Evidence film series has been accomplished through hundreds of filming events over the coarse of nearly 18 years.
One of my biggest concerns had been who would play the role of Moses. I didn't know exactly what type of person to cast for such and important part. Fortunately, while we were filming in Jordan, we found a wonderful actor by the name of Nabil Koni to play the role. Nabil is a very talent man who really grasps the part. He became MOSES on the screen. Nabil is an older man yet he bravely walked up along rocky slopes and ledges wearing sandals. He also endured very hot desert environments as well as long days filming tent scenes late at night. I couldn't have been happier with his portrayal of Moses.
Q: Who will you feature in the next "Patterns of Evidence" documentary?
We are currently working the next Patterns of Evidence film - The Red Sea Miracle. This film will be investigating the Israelites journey out of Egypt and their miraculous crossing of a mighty sea. We have again interviewed top scholars, scientists, and Exodus explorers, as we look at several proposed crossing sites. The Red Sea Miracle examines whether a biblical miracle can break the laws of nature or not. What sea did Moses write about in the Exodus journey because on the other side of that sea is a mountain where God came down to speak to His people?