Wednesday, January 30, 2008


[OK, I know everyone must be sick of the Kugel posts...]

I was thinking about how an Orthodox Jew can become a modern Biblical scholar. I mean, essentially, Biblical scholarship takes as a given that the Bible was not written by God but instead composed by multiple authors over the period of hundreds of years. This seems totally contrary to Orthodox belief.

I can see someone entertaining this idea for the sake of argument. I can see an Orthodox Jew read books and articles about it, but to make it your profession, and especially to become a prominent scholar of the discipline? How does that work? How do you figure out what you really think?

Have there ever been Orthodox Jews that became religious scholars of other religions? Meaning they are frum Jews, but they are PhDs in Christian theology, etc? I guess this would be an equivalent case...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus Christ, I can't take these inane Kugel posts any more.

James Kugel is NOT in the 'traditional camp', as you wrote yesterday. he is NOT an Orthodox Jew, as you write today.

He's traditional, Orthoprax, Conservative, Reform, Observant whatever the heck you want to call it.

But he doesn't believe that God dictated the Torah to Moshe. He doesn't believe in a literal TMS. He may possibly believe it was 'Divinely Inspired'.

Many other people have a similar view, including Louis Jacobs, and most of the right wing of the Conservative Rabbinate. I would imagine that quite a few MO Rabbis think the same in private.

What's so difficult to understand?

January 30, 2008 5:05 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

point taken on Kugel.

January 30, 2008 6:52 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

does it count if they were scholars in other religions before they became religous Jews? Cuz I know a few of those....

January 31, 2008 3:08 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Miri, it counts. Please name names.

January 31, 2008 3:16 PM  
Blogger evanstonjew said...

I fail to see why everyone is fixated on when it was written and not on the redaction. An Orthodox Jew focuses on the finished redacted text. Knowing the source critical literature he sees how these texts are combined to make up a composite picture of God that is complex and religiously challenging. It works equally well if at Sinai Hashem gave us a text that WE would say is composed of different scrolls. What is revealed in the text we have are the different partzufim of Hashem...God the creator, the destroyer,the warrior, the personal God of a particular family, but now seen as One God instead of different beings at war with each other. Whatever conflicts occur are internal to God himself, with only a few exceptions (Rahab, Leviathan, Yamm);what chazal and kabbalah call the confrontation between midas hadin and midas harachamim.It is this confrontation that drives the narrative of the bible.I think JEPD talk maps pretty nicely onto aspects talk. One is more old fasioned and post redaction, the other more modern and reductionist.

As for what really happened...chazal have an expression...mah dehavei ,havei, what was, was.

February 01, 2008 2:05 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

EJ, I'll try to address your point post Shabbos, b'li neder.

February 01, 2008 2:13 PM  

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