Monday, May 23, 2011

R. Joshua Berman; Biblical Criticism

Music Video Code by Torah Cafe

Yes, I admit, much of the usual Orthodox line. BUT he does ask some interesting questions and makes unconsciously insightful comments in towing the usual line; example, the 19th Century and the popularity of "big ideas", equivalent to current fads to "theories of everything" (though even this fad is from the 90s). Sometimes it seems not so much like new ideas as asking theories that have been around for a while to explain more than we had thusfar asked of them, as their consumers (the actual producers and their milieu I believe conceived them with more caution). Another simple but powerful response from a worthy interview by R. Alan Brill here on an impending book of his;

Question 5: Do you have any thoughts on the classical positions on Revelation?

I know that the classical sources of Machshevet Yisrael [meaning Jewish Thought or Philosophy] pursue this topic great length. In a personal admission I will say that I was never very good at Machshevet Yisrael. When reading the Torah or the Nevi’im I proceed from a supposition that the only way that I will properly understand the message of the text is if I take it literally. [I believe it's quite powerful that he says this both a believer and a scholar - and one who does not actually take what he reads and believers literally] An analogy: I know, intellectually, that it is pointless to describe the Almighty as “angry” “loving”, etc. I know that mouthing the words of the tefillah is unnecessary for God to know what I’m thinking. Utilizing these terms, however, is the best way for me to relate to the Almighty [given that any ways, any and all forms are inadequate to express the Deliverances of the Unformed, the Unformable]. Over-speculation on what He is really like, will actually detract me from the proper service of Him. I don’t know what it means when the Torah says, “God spoke to Moses saying…” – but I do know (or, this is my operating belief, anyway) that I will only be able to grasp the Torah’s message (dare I use the Christian term “kerygma”?) if I relate to that phrase in its simplest manner.


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