“EMET V’EMUNA”- Bible criticism as a Challenge to Faith
a Teacher’s and Learner’s Guide

Moshe (Kinley) Tur-Paz

This project was created as a result of the growing need to face up to and understand the critical system of Bible study and the metods developed to deal with it. The goals of this project can be divided in to two parts:

  1. A clear and precise presentation of the different sections, the Jewish history and the ideological sources of the critical system of Bible study.

  2. The presentation of different philosophical alternatives to Jewish confrontations with the many variants of Bible criticism.

Moshe Tur-Paz, guided by Rabbi Zvi Grumet, attempts to achieve a deeper understanding of the content of Bible criticism. The findings of this research are described in the first paragraph of the paper.

The critical approach to Bible study includes a number of different disciplines, which are interrelated but are not necessarily identical or complementary. One can add that in fact that there is no one system of Bible criticism but rather there are a number of systems of critical research study. They all have in common the concept that the whole Bible is a progressive human creation, which must be studied and researched using all modern methods.

Among these systems we can discern the following:

  1. The Textual Approach which is mainly concerned with the historical versions and their development. This method proposes that there were a number of master texts which existed in ancient times, some of them surviving until today. Out of these texts, the traditional version became accepted by the Jewish people and in a relatively later era it became the sole and compelling version of God’s word.

  2. The Literary Approach which takes apart the Bible according to literary criteria and examines its various parts according to defined systems. Out of this approach was born the Sources System which identifies a number of documents in the Bible which were written at different stages and were combined together by editors at a later stage.

  3. The Historical Approach which tries to identify characteristics in the Biblical texts with specific periods in history and indicates the period in which the texts were written and edited according to historical landmarks.

  4. The Linguistic Approach which examines the Bible according to linguistic criteria connected with the laws of the development of linguistic systems and the identification of certain sections of the Bible with different linguistic periods and identities.

  5. The Archeological Approach which searches for the affirmation or the denial of the Bible stories and laws, using archeological and epigraphic discoveries of that era.

This chapter also examines the similarities and the differences between the critical and the traditional approaches according to each of these systems.

The second paragraph of the paper focuses on the history of Jewish Bible criticism. This chapter includes ancient Jewish foundations of critical approach, pre-research of Bible study. This chapter attempts to show that many of the dogmas which we see today as part of the definition of a man as an Orthodox, practicing Jew, are in fact later developments and that there was a variety of views and opinions of Jewish scholars throughout the generations who included parts of the above 5 disciplines in their studies. It is obvious that we cannot speak of a systematic critical approach to Bible study as an integral part of Judaism throughout its history. However, many things which appear to be obvious were open to argument and different interpretations throughout the generations, within mainstream traditional Judaism.

In the light of this argument, the author proposes that we must re-examine our thoughts and definitions in regard to the religious approach to Bible study, its interpretation and understanding.

The third paragraph of the paper represents five modern approaches, dealing with different parts of Biblical critisizm: The auther attempts to show how each method (prof. Segal & Hoffman, Rabbi Broyer, Rabbi Hirshenzon, the ‘Continuous Revelation’ method, prof. Simon) deals with different parts of the Critisizm, and gives the modern believer another way to make ‘Emuna’ and ‘Mada’ live together in harmony.

At the end of the paper, Tur-Paz represents a few recommendations for additional reading in this complicated subject.


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