1. Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

On "Critical Biblical Scholarship"

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by Jayhawker Soule, May 27, 2020.

  1. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    38,423
    Ratings:
    +12,138
    Religion:
    Judaism
    TheTorah.com has published a number of brief commendations under the title:

    Seven Years of Critical Torah Study - Scholars and Rabbis Reflect

    I found most of them interesting but the one that resonated with me the most was that offered by Professor Tamar Ross. She begins by noting:

    There is a discipline entitled “critical biblical scholarship,” and another practice known as “learning” or “studying Torah.” The two have different functions and aims. Through literary, historical and linguistic analysis, critical scholarship strives, in the main, to reconstruct the original intent and meaning of the Bible, in light of the “when and how” it was written and compiled. The student or scholar of Torah, by contrast, is interested in all that has accrued to the original text since its final formulation, and its contribution and relevance to the significance of Jewish/human experience, or—to put it differently—to the life of the soul.​

    I simply never thought of it in that way. By clearly specifying these distinct disciplines her comments helped me recognize the extent to which I tend to be focused on the former and deficient when it comes to the latter.

    At the same time, I deeply appreciate her conclusion:

    ... awareness and acknowledgement of the accomplishments of critical biblical scholarship are crucial for the development of a mature and sober theology relevant for our times. In an age where apologetics (attempting to disprove the findings of science and reason on their own grounds, or to avoid them by invoking allegoric or symbolic interpretation as a general panacea for every clash that remains) have outlived their plausibility, honestly confronting the conclusions of historicist and scientific endeavors not only forces simple believers to wrestle with inadequate understandings of religious truth statements regarding the nature of the Torah, revelation, and divine authorship. It also encourages those attached to such faith to grope for more adequate formulations of the ultimate meaning of their continued attachment to these doctrines. While by no means a substitute for traditional Torah study, critical scholarship in this indirect sense fulfills a vital religious function.​
     
  2. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2019
    Messages:
    7,112
    Ratings:
    +4,505
    Religion:
    Judaism
    I think it's a value judgment. Critical scholarship values criticism. People who value critical scholarship find value in looking for and exposing weaknesses in other peoples theories and points of view. In this context critical biblical scholarship intends to discredit Torah. People who value discrediting Torah will also value Critical Torah Scholarship. It's really that simple.

    The quote from the Professor is congratulating herself and her colleagues... so what?
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  3. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    Messages:
    2,094
    Ratings:
    +2,521
    Religion:
    Judaism
    I don't think you adequately understand the context in which the remarks were provided.
     
    • Useful Useful x 1
  4. RabbiO

    RabbiO הרב יונה בן זכריה

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2011
    Messages:
    2,094
    Ratings:
    +2,521
    Religion:
    Judaism
    I have had a wide and varied career. I have been involved in the film biz, the law biz and now in the rabbinate. Because of my years as a motion picture professional I often watch a film more than once. I can experience a movie as, well, a movie or I can view it through a more technical lens - how the lighting is used, the camera angles chosen, the editing style, etc.. It's two totally different ways of understanding and experiencing a movie. They are totally different ways of approaching a film, but one way does not negate the other and sometimes they enrich and inform one another.

    I, and others, have no difficulty approaching text in different modes at different times, for different reasons. It's really that simple.
     
    #4 RabbiO, May 27, 2020
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  5. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2019
    Messages:
    7,112
    Ratings:
    +4,505
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Fair enough :) So ... uhhh... what's the context that I'm missing?

    Most respectfully: The article that Jay has brought is consistent with the other articles Jay has brought recently. They all attempt to discredit Torah. There aren't different modes at different times, as you proposed. It's all the same. Preaching against Torah.

    In this specific example, the author of the article is cheer-leading Preaching against Torah and asks whether or not there is religious benefit by galvanizing religious people with critical scholarship? Am I misunderstanding?

    Big picture: How is this any different than any other missionary trying to save the heathens from their own ignorance? Answer: It's not any different. It's about values. It's missionary values.

    TheTorah.com, apparently, takes this missionary approach against people who believe in Torah ( a bait and switch based on the name of the website perhaps ). And apparently, Jay likes this. I don't.

    It's values. Just like I said. It's simple.
     
    #5 dybmh, May 27, 2020
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
  6. IndigoChild5559

    IndigoChild5559 Loving God and my neighbor as myself.

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2018
    Messages:
    4,617
    Ratings:
    +1,865
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Respectfully, I would disagree. Reading the Torah with a critical eye increases our understanding of it, which is a wonderful thing. And it doesn't undermine reading it in the more conventional sense, which is what Rabbi O was trying to say.

    Those skeptics who view textual criticism as a means to devalue the Torah simply don't know what they are talking about.
     
  7. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Personally, I think that some critical methods may be useful for Tanach study, but the general Critical Bible Study approach is, to my knowledge, an entirely secular approach. As is the case with every man-made ancient text, in particular one considered by secularists as having been written by many people, many flaws will obviously be found. Can one really separate the thought of "this text is riddled with flaws created by a bunch of old guys who made stuff up" when later approaching the text from a religious point of view which says "any flaw you see is because you haven't properly understood the text which was either written by Hashem or was written under His guidance"?
    But is it proper for us as religious Jews to do so? In Israel this has become known as studying "Tanach at eye level" (תנ"ך בגובה העיניים), but many rabbis - including many of the more liberal rabbis - have stated that this is really "Tanach at thigh-level" or "at ground-level". David Ben-Gurion was famous for, among other things, being a lover of Tanach-study. Though he was not a religious man, he respected the text to look at it as far more than just a piece of text. I don't know how much real respect Bible Critics have for the Tanach.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    38,423
    Ratings:
    +12,138
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Clearly. Still, it seems to me that dismissing critical biblical scholarship as the effort of ignorant "Bible Critics" who view the Tanakh as no more than text "riddled with flaws created by a bunch of old guys who made stuff up" reflects an unwarranted and unsettling level of disparagement.
     
  9. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Not ignorant. I think they're very intelligent people - perhaps some of the best in their field of critical thought.
    Having looked in the past through some of the material, I sometimes wonder how much respect they have for the authors - whoever they claim authored, that is.
    I opened my post by stating that I find some of their methods may be useful.
    However, I disagree with much of what they have to say. At best, I find that reading their works - when not merely attempting to learn useful techniques, that is - are useful only in a direction of "Da ma shetashiv" - know what you shall answer.
     
    #9 Harel13, May 28, 2020
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
  10. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    38,423
    Ratings:
    +12,138
    Religion:
    Judaism
  11. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
  12. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    38,423
    Ratings:
    +12,138
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Thanks.

    {By the way, I posted post #10 before noticing your post #9.)
     
  13. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    And while you were posting 10 I was editing 9. :smirk:
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. Jake1001

    Jake1001 Computer Simulator

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Messages:
    634
    Ratings:
    +151
    i didn’t know you were in film, Rabbio ! Was it “Ten Commandments” ?


     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  15. Jake1001

    Jake1001 Computer Simulator

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Messages:
    634
    Ratings:
    +151
    Hi Jay, this original post was too long and needs to be boiled down. I think critical Torah study makes sense. Btw, who wrote the Bible ?

     
  16. Jayhawker Soule

    Jayhawker Soule <yawn> ignore </yawn>
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2004
    Messages:
    38,423
    Ratings:
    +12,138
    Religion:
    Judaism
    Question noted ...
     
  17. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Presumably if one holds the TheTorah.com view for various subjects, then one may agree with what they have to say on the matter:
    Who Wrote the Torah According to the Torah? - TheTorah.com

    "In short, the Pentateuch is in pretty good company, as many of the great masterpieces of the ancient Near Eastern world are anonymous. Beautiful, deeply meaningful, and moving, but anonymous."​

    So, according to this view, we have absolutely no idea who wrote the Torah.
     
  18. Jake1001

    Jake1001 Computer Simulator

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2015
    Messages:
    634
    Ratings:
    +151
    King Hezekiah.

    “Friedman is of the view that the P Source of the Bible was composed during the time of Hezekiah. P for instance “emphasizes centralization of religion: one center, one altar, one Tabernacle, one place of sacrifice. Who was the king who began centralization? King Hezekiah."[7]

    “Who Wrote The Bible”, Richard Elliot Friedman

    Who was the Deuteronomist ?



     
    #18 Jake1001, Jun 2, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
    • Informative Informative x 1
  19. Harel13

    Harel13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2019
    Messages:
    3,415
    Ratings:
    +2,499
    Religion:
    Orthodox Judaism
    Says in your quote that it's not Chizkiyah but was composed during his time. Not necessarily by him. In fact, considering that the claim is that this is a "priestly source", supposedly to inflate priests' ego, I would assume that according to that theory, they believe a priest or some priests were the ones to compose it.
    Probably some fan of Moshe.
     
  20. dybmh

    dybmh Terminal Optimist
    Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2019
    Messages:
    7,112
    Ratings:
    +4,505
    Religion:
    Judaism
    So, the P source is different stylistically and in content from the rest of the first 5 books? Is there any other evidence that it was not written by G-d?

    What strong evidence supports this conclusion about the P source? A lot of folk name drop Friedman, but never support the conclusions made.
     
Loading...