Wednesday, December 23, 2015

God's Consort in the Torah?

This post is prompted by a discussion from a commenter on the post 2 weeks ago about the loanwords in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). The commenter linked to this article, which, at the end, disputed the idea that Persian loanwords are a marking of an early text. One of their reasons was the presence of what they determined a Persian loanword of dat in Devarim (Deut. 33:2). My response to the article in general is included in the comments of that blog post. This week I want to talk about this specific verse, and what the possible meaning of it could be.

Tricky Translations

Certain verses in the Torah are hard to translate. This is because they include words that are not known elsewhere, or that make little sense in context. One is often forced to decide whether the text is corrupted and it should actually be read differently, or whether we're dealing with a meaning of a word that is non-standard, or whether the word is a hapax legomenon (a word that only appears once, and thus has a meaning that can only be determined from immediate context.)

There are many words that the Masoretes, (the individuals who standardized pronunciation and grammar, and added all the vowels to the text,) decided should be different than how they were written. These are known as kri/ktiv differences, which literally means spoken/written. Sometimes these involve replacing a letter with another, sometimes they involve changing an entire word. Some of these kri/ktiv's are described in the Talmud, but the Talmud also describes many alternate readings that were not taken up by the Masoretes. There is a kri/ktiv in 33:2 which involves the word dat in question from the preamble.

But without further ado, let's look at the text, first in Hebrew:
וַיֹּאמַר, יְהוָה מִסִּינַי בָּא וְזָרַח מִשֵּׂעִיר לָמוֹ--הוֹפִיעַ מֵהַר פָּארָן, וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ; מִימִינוֹ, אשדת (אֵשׁ דָּת) לָמוֹ. 
The translation is very tricky. But I'll give my own, leaving some of the more difficult words untranslated for now.
And [Moshe] said: God came from Sinai, he shown forth from Seir to them. He appeared from the mountain of Paran. He came from the myriads kodesh. In his right hand, Eshdat, to them.
The first half, up to the mountain of Paran is pretty straightforward. After that it's really tricky. One thing that's clear is that there's is a lot of parallelisms. There appear to be four places where God comes from: Sinai, Seir, the mountain of Paran, and the myriads of Kodesh. That last one seems to fit the pattern of the other three places, the translation is unclear. Personally, I'm inclined to read it as Kadesh not Kodesh, and understand this as a fourth place, which like the first three, appears in the wilderness. As a side note, this verse is one of the supporting verses that indicate that the practice of worshipping YHWH began in the wilderness. See this post for more details.

If the phrase וְאָתָה מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ is tricky, the next two words, מִימִינוֹ אשדת, are even more problematic and most of the rest of the post will be devoted to them. Before we get there, we need to discuss the last word לָמוֹ which parallels the same word in the first half. We first note, that if we remove מִימִינוֹ אשדת and interpret מֵרִבְבֹת קֹדֶשׁ as some sort of place location, then the verse contains nice symmetry. So consider the following translation highlighting the symmetry.
Came from Sinai
Appeared from Seir
 - to them
Appeared from Paran
Came from Kadesh
- to them
Not only is there symmetry, but there's a nice chiasmic structure, much beloved in biblical poetry, where the words with meaning similar to "appear" occur in the middle two phrases and the words similar to "came" occur in the outer two.  מִימִינוֹ אשדת breaks the symmetry. With those words, it reads something like:
Came from Sinai
Appeared from Seir
 - to them
Appeared from Paran
Came from Kadesh
(at his right Eshdat)
- to them
Not only does it break the symmetry, but it also interrupts the phrase, "Came from Kadesh to them." So we're left with a puzzle. What in the world does אשדת (eshdat) mean, and how was it so important that it was possibly inserted into the text. As usual, with these types of things, there are lots of possibilities. So let's go through them.

What exactly is an Eshdat?

The first thing to check is to see if there are any differences in the old versions of the text we have available. The verse does appear in one of the dead sea scrolls (from 50 CE), but I couldn't find any information on it, so I assume it appears the same as in the Masoretic text. The verse also appears in the Samaritan Torah almost identical, but the only change in the Samaritan Torah is that they spell Paran differently. אשדת is unchanged. The Septuagint is more interesting, and we'll get to that later.

For a naive interpretation, you might look at the root אשד which appears only once in Tanakh (Num 21:16) where it implies some geological feature, and most commonly is thought to mean a slope or a ravine. אשדת would be some sort of plural form, although it is a feminine plural for a word that looks masculine. Ignoring the plural issue, perhaps this can be construed to make some sense in the context of the verse, since it does mention place names, but it's a stretch. Unsurprisingly, I know of no translation that takes this approach.

The most common approach in traditional Jewish circles is to follow the Masoretes who themselves follow the interpretation of Raba in Berakhot 62a that it should be read as two words אֵשׁ דָּת, which literally mean "fire law." This interpretation is echoed in the Rishonim, where at very least Rashi and Ibn Ezra understand it as such. But what exactly does this mean. We don't have this kind of concept of a "fiery law" anywhere else in the Tanach. The Rishonim try to give explanations of what it could possibly mean, but they never attempt to justify the explanation in the first place.

There is another problem, with this interpretation. Namely that the word דָּת is a Persian loanword. The authors of the article linked at the top of the post note this and use it as a indication that Persian loanwords appear in the text of the Torah itself. Furthermore, they argue that if you say it can't actually mean דָּת but means something else, because it is early, then you are engaging in a circular argument.

However, I think there are ample reasons to reject this interpretation of אֵשׁ דָּת, a fiery law, without resorting to the loanword argument. And these are the following. A fiery law is not a phrase anywhere in Tanach, even in the derivative forms from this verse (please let me know if I am wrong, this is hard to search for!) I don't just mean the phrase אֵשׁ דָּת but any phrase that is similar in concept. The idea of a fiery law makes no sense in context either. The interpretations imply that he's bringing it with him, but the actual word מִימִינוֹ is better understood as "at his right" or "from his right", one might expect something more like בְּימִינוֹ, in his right hand.

What options though are left? When we turn to the Septuagint (and the KJV based off of it), we find a very bizarre translation. The Septuagint translates אשדת as meaning something like "angels". At first this looks like a terrible mistranslation, but after thinking about it for a second, you can possibly understand where it's coming from. Could it be that the Torah that the Septuagint was translated off of had a resh instead of a daled, and the word was אשרת, which could perhaps mean, "servants" from the root שרת to serve? This is also a stretch, but it might explain how the Septuagint arrived at its strange choice of translation.

Side note: resh/daled confusion is the most common written typo in Biblical texts. The letters are very similar in form in both ktav ashuri and ktav ivri. There is also precedence for resh/daled errors in the Torah. The one that comes to mind is the Dodanim (Gen 10:4) which is properly written as Rodanim, or people from Rhodes, in Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles).

But I go a step further. I say that the Septuagint translation is on the right track, and the original verse probably had a resh, and read אשרת, but it doesn't mean "angels" rather it means, "his Asherah," or more specifically the royal consort of God. This idea of a southern God with an Asherah is present in the Kuntellet Arjud inscriptions which say "Yahweh of Teman and his Asherah," so we have an external source that really lends credence to the association of the god Yahweh with an Asherah.

Now we can make a hypothesis as to how this verse varied over time. The beginning of the verse did not have the two words מִימִינוֹ אשדת, in them. However, they were added into the song (probably only an oral tradition at this stage) by a group of people who probably attached strong importance to worship of Asherah. So this modification, which became canonized in the Biblical text read מִימִינוֹ אשרת, a reading that perhaps remained intact in the Septuagint.

But worship of Asherah fell completely out of favor in later versions of Judaism as exemplified in the reforms of Hizkiyahu (Hezekiah) and Yoshiyahu (Josiah), so perhaps they upheld a version with a copyist error, or maybe there was a "pious" scribe who read this verse and said, "this can't be the right reading, Asherah have been a typo." The change from אשרת to אשדת was made, perhaps with the idea of it meaning "ravine." This change would have to have been earlier than the Samaritan split, which means it's likely Exilic or pre-Exilic.

With the inclusion of the meaning of דָּת as law arriving in the Jewish lexicon from Persian, this allowed the commentators of the Talmudic era, and probably the second temple era, to understand this word entirely differently, as some sort of "fiery law."

As a side note, this idea of the verse possibly meaning Asherah was one of the first things that popped into my head when I read this verse. I did a quick search online and found that lots of other people have had the same idea.

Probably no post next week. We'll see about the week after.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Looking for help typesetting/formatting

A while back, someone suggested a skeptic's annotated haggadah would be an interesting project. While I agreed in theory, I also thought that the major roadblock for me would be providing an appropriate layout. After poking around for about 30 minutes this morning, I still think that's the case. But that could also be because I have very limited skills in this area. Laying things out in html is one thing, but doing it in a nice .pdf is another matter.

Therefore, I'm looking for help in this. What I was thinking is a text where (vowelized Hebrew) is on one side and an English translation (which I will rewrite) on the other. Instructions (such as, lift the cup of wine) will be in english and centered. Then there needs to be room for annotations. These could either be along the side, or as footnotes, or whatever. Some of the annotations may be quite long though. To get a feel for what they might look like, this post, has some examples of annotation ideas.

If anyone thinks they can do this, or at least set me up with a template, that would be great. I'm not planning to make any money off of this, so it's an entirely volunteer thing. The ideal format would probably be a LateX template. But I could work with other formats if needed. (I don't actually have access to Microsoft word though, just the free opensource alternatives, so that could make things difficult).

Email if interested (email can be found under the contact section.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

It's Because of the Book

This is a post I wrote on the exjew subreddit a while ago. I figured I might as well share it here, edited slightly, since not too many people frequent that place.

We often hear stories of parents or friends that were living a comfortable conservative or reform lifestyle, and then, after a trip to Aish or a visit by Chabad, they take a hard turn to Orthodoxy, often of a serious fundamentalist variety. Often the parents or friends are left wondering why? They thought they had provided a comfortable and socially conscious approach to religion. Why had their kids chosen such an intolerant form of the religion. We had an article posted recently and there are tons of similar stories. Every single one a victim of pretty much standard missionary tactics.

The reason why they are so easily victimized is because of the book, specifically in this case the Torah.

The problem arises because while less-fundamentalist versions of Judaism don't necessarily follow the Torah, they still venerate it. They still believe that it was God's divine gift. And they teach this to the kids. The book is important.

Now when the kids grow up, they start looking around and they find some people who actually take the book seriously. Perhaps they say, "If it's God's gift to humanity, then, shouldn't we be taking it seriously?" Because they don't necessarily have the tools (Hebrew) to examine it themselves, they're susceptible to cherry-picked verses and explanations. They can be presented with a very fundamentalist viewpoint, modernized by out-of-context quotes and sketchy interpretations. And they eat it up. They eat it up, because they have been taught their whole life that the book is the key.

And yes, this is the exact same thing that happens in "radical Islam" recruitment. It's why moderate Islam is inherently unstable, just like conservative Jewry, continually losing people to the left (secularism) or the right (fundamentalism). It's why moderate Islamist are continually fighting and uphill and losing battle against the fundamentalists. Part of me wonders if the only difference between Judaism and Islam in this regard is the size and the relative power they wield. If Judaism had the number of adherents of Islam, would it be guilty of the same sorts of atrocities? As Einstein said,
As far as my experience goes, they [the Jewish People] are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Vort: Loanwords in Kohelet and Pseudepigrapha

Sticking with the "authorship" theme there are a few books of the Tanach that very clearly have author attributions that are not likely at all. Rather, they very much seem like they were written by much later individuals but attributed to an earlier important personage. These fall into the genre of writing called, "pseudepigrapha" which means works that are attributed to another, usually mythical or historical, person.

Why Pseudepigrapha?

It's fairly easy to understand why authors would attribute works to someone other than themselves. Mainly, by attributing the work to a well known individual, be it Moshe or Avraham or whoever, then it becomes more likely that the work will receive attention. We see this happen all the time with religious writings. The entire book of Mormon is attributed to mythical individuals. The Zohar, "discovered" in the Middle Ages, is attributed to Moshe. In fact, there are tons of works from 200-400 CE that were attributed to other individuals. You can see a list here. Most of these were rejected from the Biblical canon but some made it in.

Kohelet Claimed Authorship

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) doesn't have an explicity claim of the author. However, two sentences in the first paragraph are used to give the usual attribution to Shlomo (Solomon) (Eccl 1:1,12)
1 The words of Koheleth, the son of David, king in Jerusalem....,12 I Koheleth have been king over Israel in Jerusalem
Now, it is entirely possible to interpret "son of David" as descendent of David and therefore Kohelet could have been written by a later individual. Indeed this is the opinion of the Gemara in Bava Batra 15b which attributes the book to the time Hizkiyahu (Hezekiah). Of course both of these are impossible and we'll see why now.

Persian Loanwords

The reason Kohelet cannot be written at the time of Shlomo is that it includes words that would not have been known to anyone at the time. The words are Pardes (cognate with English Paradise) which literally means garden and appears in 2:5 and Pitgam which means decree and appears in 8:11. Pitgam also appears several times in the book of Esther, set in Persia.

Jews living in Israel had absolutely no contact with Persia until the Babylonian exile. They knew of the empire to the east of the Assyrians and Babylonians, which was the Median empire until the conquest of Cyrus in 550 BCE. However, there is no strong influence of Persian culture until the conquest of Babylon and the next few centuries when the Persians controlled Israel. It's during this period that we start seeing the strong influence of Persian culture on Judaism.

For Hizkiyahu or Shlomo to have used Pardes or Pitgam would be akin to a Jew during the Persian period using the word Sanhedrin or Afikomen which are derived from Greek, or like a Jew in the 1st century using the word Shvitz or Schlepp. In other words, the loanwords provide markers for the earliest possible date of the work, and in this case we can very confidently date Kohelet to the Exilic period at earliest.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Does the Torah say that Moshe wrote it?

It is well known that Orthodoxy believes that the books from Bereishit (Genesis) to Devarim (Exodus) were written by Moshe (Moses). It is also well known that modern academic theory believes they were written by multiple different authors, or in some minority opinions, a single author drawing from multiple sources, and assembled into a final text sometime long after the time of Moshe, most likely after the Babylonian Exile. Throughout the blog I've provided some evidence to support the multiple authorship idea. (here, here, here, and here for a few places). However, today I'll ask something different. Namely, I'm asking what the Torah itself says about its authorship, which is an entirely different question that who actually wrote it. In other words, if someone was to pick up the Torah not knowing anything about it, who would they think the author was. To me it seems clear that the Torah claims that some sections were written (or spoken at least) by Moshe but other sections were clearly not.

Again, remember that we are not concerned with who actually wrote what. What we are concerned with is what the Torah is saying about who wrote it, if anything.

Let's take a look.

Sections that indicate non-Mosaic authorship

The first section, and the most obvious section to indicate non-Mosaic authorship is the very end which describes the death of Moshe, and the succession of Yehoshua (Joshua). This difficulty stretches all the way back to the Talmud where Rabbis offer several resolutions. One resolution is that Yehoshua actually wrote these verses. The other option is that Moshe wrote it through some sort of prophecy. However, given that there's no indication of specialness of that section in the text, the simple reading implies that this was not written by Moshe.

There are indeed some other sections that point to non-Mosaic authorship. For example, at the beginning of Devarim, it says (Deut. 1:1)
These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan
The implication "beyond the Jordan" indicates that the author, and the supposed audience, are both located on the other side of the river, which couldn't be Moshe since he never crossed the Jordan river.

Similarly, Gen 36:31
And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel.
The verse indicates that the author is living at a time after a king of Israel existed.

Even the medieval scholar Abraham Ibn Ezra indicates a few verses that he thinks were added later. He points out that the sections marked in bold (Gen 12:6)
And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the terebinth of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
and (Deut 3:11)
For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the Rephaim; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbah of the children of Ammon? nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.-
seem to have been added by someone later. Although Ibn Ezra says the vast majority of the Torah was written by Moshe, he does allow for some verses to be different. It's clear from these texts that the author of these sections, even if they were added later, obviously was not under the impression that Moshe wrote it all, since he himself wouldn't have added these parenthetical asides.

Sections that the Torah claims Moshe wrote

There are lots of places in the Torah were Moshe writes something, usually what is previously discussed. Here are the six places where Moshe is commanded to write something.
And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Write this for a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven' (Exod 17:14)
This is referring to the battle with Amalek which happened previously. It's not clear what the memorial is. Also it should be noted, that in the original vowelless Hebrew, "the book" and "a book" are indistinguishable. The vowels were only fully agreed upon much later, long after the standard Jewish approach was that Moshe wrote everything.

The next section is:
And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the mount, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. (Exod 24:4)
The indication is that "all these words" represent the chapters 21-23, which is a litany of mostly civil laws, in many cases similar to the code of Hammurabi.

Next we have:
27 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Write thou these words, for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.' 28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten words (Exod 34: 27-28).
Here the specification is that Moshe wrote the ten commandments. Note that these are not the ten commandments we are more familiar with, but the earlier set that is mentioned in the preceding verses. Also, this verse is describing Moshe writing these commandments on the tablets and not necessarily in the text we have. It's not clear at all from context that Moshe wrote down the words we just read, they could have been someone else copying the text off of the tablets that Moshe wrote.

The fourth indication of Moshe writing stuff appears a few books later.
1 These are the stages of the children of Israel, by which they went forth out of the land of Egypt by their hosts under the hand of Moses and Aaron. 2 And Moses wrote their goings forth, stage by stage, by the commandment of the LORD; and these are their stages at their goings forth (Num 33:1-2).
Where, here the implication is that Moshe wrote the following verses, which winds up being the list of encampment sites in the wilderness. Or at least he is claimed to have recorded the encampment sites, even if he didn't write the verses describing them.

Finally, at the end of Devarim we have two mentions. The first
And Moses wrote this law (Torah), and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel (Deut. 31:9).
is the only time we have Moshe writing something referred to as a Torah. However, it's obvious from context that what's being implied is the majority of the book of Devarim, which are supposedly the words of Moshe. This section continues later in the chapter:
24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law (Torah) in a book, until they were finished, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites, that bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26 'Take this book of the law (Sefer Torah), and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee (Deut 31:24-26).
I've argued in a previous post, that this Sefer Torah is none other than the Sefer Torah that was found in the time of Yoshiyahu (Josiah). There is yet another indication that this Torah that Moshe is said to have written is not the full five books as we know it, but rather some smaller version. The verses in question are from Yehoshua (Josh 8:30-32).
30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD, the God of Israel, in mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of unhewn stones, upon which no man had lifted up any iron; and they offered thereon burnt-offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace-offerings. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote before the children of Israel.
It's unlikely that Yehoshua inscribed the entire Torah onto an altar as it would make a prodigious project (and would likely not fit on any altar of reasonable size anyway.) The word used in this section is Mishne Torah which is translated here as a "copy of the Torah" but can mean a second Torah. The second half of the sentence "which he wrote before the children of Israel" could either be a repetitive clause referring to Yehoshua currently doing the writing, but that seems redundant. More likely the reference here is to Moshe and it's saying that Yehoshua wrote down exactly what Moshe wrote before the children of Israel, which we just read about in Deut 31:24. So the simple conclusion is that Yehoshua wrote Devarim or at least some section of Devarim down.

But wait, there's more. The previous verse specifically mentions something written in the "sefer torat moshe" the book of the Torah of Moshe, specficially a commandment not to make an altar of cut stones. This is a specific reference to something that Moshe says in Devarim. In fact, this whole section was commanded in Devarim.
2 And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over the Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster. 3 And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law (Torah), when thou art passed over; that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of thy fathers, hath promised thee. 4 And it shall be when ye are passed over the Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. 5 And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones; thou shalt lift up no iron tool upon them. 6 Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of unhewn stones; and thou shalt offer burnt-offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God. 7 And thou shalt sacrifice peace-offerings, and shalt eat there; and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God.
Do the words of the Torah include this instruction to write the words of the Torah in this specific instance. Seems strange. What exactly is being referred to as the words of the Torah. Something else it seems.

There is another mention of Moshe writing that occurs in between the last two sections.
So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel (Deut. 31:22).
The song is most likely the song Ha'azinu which comprises the next chapter. From context it would seem that this song was not part of the "Torah" that Moshe wrote, but a separate composition.

Writing in the third person

Summing up so far, we have a bunch of sections that are explicitly attributed to Moshe, although it's not clear where and on what he wrote them. Nevertheless there is a clear case to be made that the text of Moshe's speech in Devarim was claimed to have been transcribed, by him, into a Torah.

However, we also have sections which strongly apply a non-Mosaic author. These include the preamble to the speech of Devarim which has an implied author who is currently residing inside Israel. A modern day reader would probably think that Moshe wrote down his speech in Devarim, and then a later author compiled it and included the preamble and the description of him compiling it.

But perhaps we're applying modern day writing to biblical styles. So let's expand the original question and instead of considering a modern day reader, let's consider someone reading the text ~2500 years ago. Someone who was familiar with the composition types of the time. What would they make of the authorship.

When I was pondering this, the first question that came to my mind was, "is it typical for biblical authors to write about themselves in the third person?" All of the Torah is written in third person. Similarly, all of the historical books (Yehoshua through Melachim (Kings)) are third person. However, when we deal with the prophets, we see something more interesting.

Many prophets start out by identifying themselves as the author in the third person, and then later switching to first person. I'll provide some examples.

Amos intro: 3rd-person
1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. 2 And he said: the LORD roareth from Zion, and uttereth His voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither (Amos 1:1-2).
 Amos continuation: 1st person
Hear ye this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel (Amos 5:1)
Thus the Lord GOD showed me; and, behold, He formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and, lo, it was the latter growth after the king's mowings. (Amos 7:1)
Hoshea intro: 3rd- person
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel (Hosea 1:1). 
Hoshea continuation: 1st person
And the LORD said unto me: 'Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend and an adulteress, even as the LORD loveth the children of Israel, though they turn unto other gods, and love cakes of raisins (Hosea 3:1).
Yishayahu intro: 3rd person
The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Isaiah 1:1).
Yishayahu continuation: 1st person
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1).
And so on. One finds similar patterns in all of the prophets. Now, it should be noted that there are places where some of the prophets (but not all) switch back to third person. This happens in many of the "narrative" sections that appear throughout some of the prophets. For example Chapter 37 of Yishayahu. In fact, Yishayahu often switches between 1st and 3rd person intros into paragraphs. The same occurs in Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah). Yirmiyahu might be a special case since it's suggested that the text was written by his scribe Baruch ben Neriah. Interestingly Yehezkel (Ezekiel) sticks to first person entirely after the introduction.

What can we make from this? Well, in my opinion it indicates that you would expect some first person statements, especially in the intro to prophetic sections. Furthermore, the introduction sections always indicate the correct time and place of the prophet. For example, the Yishayahu introduction is written in third person, and mentions that he was a prophet spanning the reign of four kings.

In contrast, the Torah never has any first person introductions. It's always, "God spoke to Moshe saying." Again, the exception is Devarim, in which there are intros that begin with, "and then God spoke to me."  Devarim is most similar to the prophetic writings in that it has a third person intro and then moves into first person. However, unlike Yishayahu or any of the other prophets, the intro has a  marker that indicates a later date of composition in that it mentions, "the other side of the Jordan."

And what about the rest of the Torah? It seems from the text itself that only a select few sections are attributed directly to Moshe. Certainly the entire book of Bereishit is not explicitly attributed to him. Neither are all the third person narratives. Furthermore, the composition style is more different from that in the prophetic works with explicit claimed authorship that both a 500 BCE reader and a modern day one would probably make the reasonable conclusion that the Torah was written by an anonymous third person author, just like many other books.

More interesting perhaps is what the implications are for the third person narratives and other sections in the prophets. Were these written by the prophets themselves or were they recorded by other people? Would we expect the prophets to have written about themselves in the third or first person? At this point it's hard to say for sure, but the fact that the prophets sometimes write in first and sometimes in third lends me to believe that some of these sections were not penned by them, but added into the books by later editors who assembled the scrolls.