The Bible testifies that Moses authored the Torah and in accordance with Old Testament chronology, he lived in the fifteenth century B.C.. The rejection of his authorship and relegation of the Pentateuch to the first millennium BC was due in part to the wrong assumption of Julius Wellhausen and the proponents of his thesis, that there was no form of writing developed in Canaan in the second millennium B.C..
The archives of Pharaoh Akhenaten (1379-1362) challenged this assumption. The majority of its diplomatic correspondence came from Canaan and all of it was written in the second millennium B.C.. The other major discovery shedding light on this subject happened in Ras Shamra, known in ancient times as Ugarit. From 1929, Claude Schaeffer (1898-1982) was in charge of the excavations there, though he was later replaced by Marguerite Yon. They uncovered archives with a rich collection of writing, including pieces rivaling the best Mesopotamian literary works. In some of the writings, Ugaritic scribes used an alphabetic script.
The cultic terminology used in religious writings from the Ugarit is very significant in regard to dating the Pentateuch. It contains numerous technical phrases known earlier only from the Old Testament. Followers of the documentary theory set a very late date for fragments of the Pentateuch, partly due to the Hebrew and Aramaic cultic terms, which they thought to originate in the sixth century or later. The presence of these terms in the Ugarit in the second millennium BC invalidates arguments for the later dating of the so-called priestly source (P) on this basis.
Until the discovery of Ugarit, the Canaanite religion was primarily known only from the Old Testament, which described it as cruel and wicked. Many thought this view was biased and distorted. However, the religious texts from the Ugarit justify the biblical view. Significant for dating the Pentateuch is the fact, that toward the end of the second millennium B.C., Baal played the central role in the Semitic pantheon, yet his name does not appear in the Book of Genesis! Instead, we have the name El, characteristic to the time of Moses. This points toward an earlier origin of the Pentateuch.
Many scholars presuppose the evolutionary development of religion and the Torah due to Darwinian influence. They concluded that the system of sacrifices, worship, and priesthood described in the Pentateuch is too sophisticated to predate the Babylonian exile. However, due to the sophisticated system of sacrifices and liturgy in Canaan in the time of Moses, such views have to be discarded. The data from the second millennium B.C. does not support the evolutionary scheme about the origin of the Pentateuch and Israelite religion. Maybe we should reconsider, in its place, the internal claims of the Bible?