Okay, I admit it. That's not such a good argument. According to the text of Moby Dick, the novel was written by a fellow named Ishmael, not by Herman Melville. The Torah may not be the irrefutable source of information about the authorship of the Torah.
What makes the matter even more complicated is this: The word "Torah" may not mean the Torah, as we understand it, when it appears in the Torah. Based on etymology and usage in the Torah, the word, תורה (Torah), means something like "instruction," "teaching," or "law." Maybe the Torah means some other work when it uses the word "Torah." Maybe it means only some portion of what we call the Torah.
But even that does not answer the question of whether Moses wrote the Torah (whatever the word "Torah" means). If Moses is the author of the Torah, how do we explain the fact that the Torah contains a narrative about the death of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:1-12)? How do we explain that there are many verses in the Torah that are written from the perspective of a time long after Moses? Genesis 14:14, for example, says that Abraham traveled "as far as Dan." The land of Dan was not called that until the tribe of Dan settled there. According to the Hebrew Bible, that did not happen until after Moses was dead and buried.
Further, if Moses is the single author of the Torah, why are there so many obvious contradictions in the Torah, including two versions of the Ten Commandments that disagree with each other? The Exodus version says that Shabbat is a memorial of the seventh day of creation; the Deuteronomy version says that it is a reminder of the exodus from Egypt. Wouldn't a single author maintain consistency?
Traditional Jewish commentators have answers to these questions. Some say that Joshua wrote the verses about the death of Moses. Some commentators say that God instructed Moses how to write the Torah in such a way that it would be understood by future generations. Tradition says that Moses intended the seeming contradictions to convey subtle distinctions of meaning.
Those answers might be satisfactory if you are determined to prove that Moses is the author, otherwise, they don't really pass Occam's Razor. Why accept an explanation filled with odd assumptions and acts of divine intervention when a simpler explanation would suffice? Why not just say that the Torah was not written by Moses? Some traditional Jewish commentators—Abraham Ibn Ezra and Joseph ben Isaac in the twelfth century, Hezekiah ben Manoach in the 13th century—seem to imply that this must be the case.
What does this mean to us? Does it matter whether the Torah was literally written by Moses? If we find great meaning and reflection on the nature of our lives and our relationship with God in the Torah, why do we care who wrote it? Does the history of the text compromise its truth?
Modern scholarship reveals much about the origin of the Torah, and we ignore what historical inquiry teaches us at our own peril. But scholars cannot tell us everything about this sacred text.
The Torah stands at the center of the Jewish journey to understand our existence. Along that journey, the Jewish people have found profound reflections of life's meaning in the Torah's words. It need not be the literal work of one man who lived more than three thousand years ago. It is the journal of a people's long quest to understand ourselves and to understand God. It is the record of our dialogue with the divine.
Other Posts on This Topic:
Shavuot: The Torah is Your Lover
Shavuot: Sinai and Symbolism