Question: Was Moses a real person?

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Question: Was Moses a real person?

Biblical scholarship still holds the possibility of a Moses-like figure in history, which is backed up by Latter-day Saint scripture

Some have wondered, based upon findings from Biblical scholarship, if Moses is an actual person from history. Biblical scholarship doesn’t rule out the possibility of Moses’ existence or of a Moses-like figure in history—it only doubts that a lot of the miracles ascribed to him occurred (which is a natural skepticism). Biblical scholars generally see several things that can help affirm some sort of existence. Among these are his authentic Egyptian name (“moseh”) meaning “is born”, the evidence for some form of Israelite exodus, and so on. It has been said that even if none of the traditions of the Pentateuch originated from Moses, scholars would still have to posit his existence since Israelite religion seems a deliberate innovation, not a natural outgrowth.[1]

As Latter-day Saints, we have further evidence of Moses in The Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants. He appeared in the Kirtland Temple and gave the keys of the priesthood he held to Joseph Smith in April 1836 (D&C 110).

Notes

  1. William H.C. Propp, “Moses” in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) 921–22. For more on the historicity of Moses see Richard Elliot Friedman, The Exodus (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2017); and William G. Dever, What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archeology Can Tell Us About the Reality of Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2001).