purpose of the paper is to explore the desirability and feasibility of importing material
from the world of Bible as an academic discipline into a religious, non-university
classroom setting. The question is not whether every Tanakh teacher in a yeshiva requires
a background in the academic study of the discipline, but whether, and how, those who
possess such a background can and should bring it directly to bear on their classrooms.
For the purposes of this discussion, the yeshiva is a post-high school institution in
which students with reasonable textual skills and good knowledge of traditional sources
study for a period of a year or more.
In the first part of the body of the paper, entitled Tools and
Methodologies, the fields and areas of study from which the material under
consideration may be drawn are explored. Some of these areas are completely foreign to the
traditional yeshiva classroom; others encompass traditional texts which may be analyzed
using a non-traditional methodology, such as historical, comparative, or linguistic
approaches. Each area is presented in terms of its independent contributions towards
understanding the biblical text, and then discussed in terms of applications in the in the
classroom, taking into account both educational and religious (i.e. dogmatic, or
theological) considerations. The following headings are found in this segment of the
study: Ta`amei haMiqra, Aramaic Targumim, Midrash, Ancient Near Eastern Material, Works
from the Second Temple Period, Textual Witnesses, and Source Criticism.
The second part of the body of the paper, entitled Units of
Study, responds to the question posed by anyone reading Tools and
Methodologies: how is this applied in the classroom? Thus the theories and arguments
are exemplified in a series of units taken from the Yosef narrative, spanning Genesis
37-40. The corpus is divided into six units. Each includes a thematic introduction,
followed by a listing of the traditional sources (midrash, targum, medieval commentaries)
used in the classroom, which may be prepared in advance by students. Following this list
is an analysis of the issues that are found in Tools and Methodologies, as
they are related to the particular textual unit.
This is not a complete curriculum to these chapters in that not
everything taught in the classroom is represented in the paper. Where medieval parshanut
has points of contact with the areas listed above on a particular issue, and it frequently
does, it is cited; otherwise, it is included in the list of sources but not discussed.
Likewise, questions of literary structure or style are not accorded systematic treatment.
The focus is on the content and analysis which is frequently absent from the yeshiva
setting, as described above.
The paper is in essence an argument for the synthesis of the two approaches, the
traditional and the academic, with the test of true applicability, of relevance, being
whether the material in question truly enhances the students understanding of the
biblical text. However, in order to achieve a conscious, informed synthesis, the component
parts must be separated and examined. It is this evaluation which lies at the core of this