February 6, 2006

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
What if G-d were one of us?

Rabbi JOSHUA GUTOFF reviews How to Read the Bible By Marc Zvi Brettler:

As a scholar, and as a teacher of scholarship, Brettler is clearly a master, and his book should be a first choice for any non-specialist interested in the field. Where How to Read the Bible feels less than satisfying is in its attempt to negotiate the tension between modern scholarship and religious commitment. Brettler describes himself as an observant Jew for whom the Bible “stands at the core of who I am as a person, and as a Jew.” How, then, does he relate to a text that he knows was not written at one time by a single author, is frequently inaccurate in its history, and owes much to the cultures in which it arose? He does this through his choice of particular texts and sources within the Bible, and through a revaluation, even a radical reinterpretation (itself an old rabbinic approach), of problematic texts. While these may be valuable techniques, they do not really address how it is that the Bible can be seen as sacred at all, given that Brettler’s entire book is dedicated to exploring its human and historically conditioned nature.

Actually, I thought Brettler did a pretty good job of addressingjust that when I wrote about him last year, but Gutoff asks what remains probably the most fundamental (ahem) question Conservative Jews should be discussing and debating.

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