Question: Did Moses compile the first 5 books solely by the Holy Spirit and/or from oral traditions?
This is a great question, because none of us were there. We have to learn from Scripture and historical information that agrees with Scripture. The question also begs the question of what is inspired Scripture?
1) Determine what is inspired Scripture.
a) There were likely many things written by the authors of Scripture that were not included in canon. Solomon is given credit for writing 1005 (1 King 4:32) songs, but we don’t have many. Paul actually wrote four letters to the Corinthian Church, but we only have two (likely letter 2 and 4).
b) What is recorded and accepted in Scripture was identified as Canon in 397 A.D. by the Council of Carthage.
2) Determination of authors.
a) In some cases this is easy, because the author is listed. For example, Paul records his name and the intended recipients (Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1)
b) In some cases, the author is not listed, but internal evidence (what was written in the books) makes connections and analysis of the author. For example, Luke records in his introductions that he is writing to Theolophilus in both Luke and Acts (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1). Luke was a friend and beloved physician of Paul (Col. 4:14) to get details of Jesus life (Luke) and eye-witness accounts in Acts. Luke traveled with Paul and we can see from the changes in the use of the pronouns when Luke recorded the growth of the church and when he was with Paul (Acts 20:6).
c) In other cases, internal evidence and external evidence must be used. For example, we say Jonah wrote Jonah as the prophet who rebelled, but humbled himself before God to write about his own sinfulness (Jon. 4). Job wrote Job as a blameless man of God who was rebuked by God (Job 38-42). This was customary in that day that an author wrote in the third person and would not list his name. Hence, Moses wrote the first five books (Pentateuch), except for Deuteronomy 34, which records Moses death.
d) The key is every book is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). God superintended the writers of Scripture, so that without destroying their personality, grammatical style or literary ability, God’s complete thought toward man was recorded in the original manuscripts. Key thoughts are God superintended and original manuscripts. We don’t have the original manuscripts, because man would have worshiped them instead of God. We also know the Holy Spirit carried along the writers of Scripture, so that they would write God’s complete thought as God intended using the minds, experience and personalities of the writers (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
3) What about the Pentateuch?
a) Moses is not listed as the author of Genesis, but, for example, circumcision on the eighth day, instructed in Genesis 17:12 (Ex. 12:48; Lev. 12:3) is recorded in the New Testament as the Law of Moses (John 7:23).
b) Scholars attribute the writing of the Pentateuch to Moses the compiler from oral and written forms passed down. Leviticus and Numbers record that “God spoke to Moses.” Deuteronomy 1:1 records, “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel.”
c) We attribute the writings of each of the books because of the consistency, flow and arrangement to a single author, rather than a patchwork of several authors. Additionally, Moses is the main character for Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
4) Is the Pentateuch Inspired?
a) In Genesis, God spoke to the patriarch (Cf. Gen. 12, 26, 46).
b) In Exodus, “And God spoke all these words…” (Ex. 20:1).
c) In Leviticus and Numbers, they directly say God called Moses and spoke to Moses (Lev. 1:1; Num. 1:1).
d) In Deuteronomy, Moses’ speeches are regarded as God’s word (Deut. 4:2; 18:1).
5) We learn from Acts 7, there were things that weren’t recorded in the Old Testament, which indicate extra illumination to Paul and Luke regarding the Old Testament.
6) The point is that whether by oral tradition or written form, what was recorded is inspired and there for our learning (Rom. 15:4).