Since the 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza denied the Mosaic authorship of the Torah, traditional Jews have had to contend with serious intellectual challenges to the doctrine of the divine origin of the Scripture. This challenge has only grown stronger in recent years, with many young Jews at elite universities encountering academic biblical criticism, and the growth of online projects like TheTorah.com exposing ever-greater numbers of Orthodox Jews to contemporary scholarship about the historicity of the Bible, the authorship of Scripture, and the Torah’s ancient Near Eastern context.

Are there rational and persuasive responses to the arguments put forth by Bible critics? Can Jews who value tradition and the wisdom of the Hebrew Bible engage with academic scholarship with intellectual integrity? Can those who seek wisdom from the best of Jewish and Western thought craft a coherent worldview? Should traditional Jews retreat from heretical challenges to their faith or engage with the academy on its own terms?

These are just some of the questions Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman tackles in his new book, Ani Maamin: Biblical Criticism, Historical Truth, and the Thirteen Principles of Faith. In this episode, Rabbi Dr. Berman returns to the Tikvah Podcast to discuss why he wrote this book, what the field of academic biblical scholarship looks like from the inside, and how a deeper understanding of the ancient world from which the Torah emerged can enhance our understanding of the Book of Books.

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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There are 2 comments.

  1. Belt Member

    Fascinating discussion. As a conservative Christian, I have a different perspective on the Bible and its formation, but I feel I should look into this book. It could help inform my understanding of the subject.

    • #1
    • February 12, 2020, at 5:32 PM PST
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  2. colleenb Member
    colleenb Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Very interesting to hear the struggles that Jewish scholars have with the Torah and modern/secular scholarship. As a Latin-rite Catholic, I have finished a course on the Bible and am now beginning one on Biblical history. The scholarship gives one so much insight into the Bible that it is hard for me to think of the Bible without that background. I look on the Bible as inspired but not necessarily “accurate” in some formal, historical way. Thanks again for this podcast. 

    • #2
    • February 14, 2020, at 10:40 AM PST
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