Reconstructing Old Testament Theology: After the Collapse of History

By Leo G. Perdue | Go to book overview

6
From Jewish Tradition to
Biblical Theology:
The Tanakh as a Source for
Jewish Theology and Practice

"Why Jews Don't Do Biblical Theology"

Jon Levenson

From his right hand, there emerged a fiery law for the
nation.

Deut 33:2


Introduction

THE FIRST QUOTATION THAT SERVES AS ONE OF THE TWO EPIGRAPHS for this chapter is the title of a well-known and often cited 1987 essay written by Jon Levenson. His criticisms of biblical theology, especially that done by Protestants, have been thoroughly discussed in academic literature and will only be rehearsed here in brief. Nevertheless, in spite of Levenson's assessment in 1987, increasing numbers of Jewish biblical scholars engage in biblical theology, or at least Jewish theology, as a discipline and see it as appropriate for practicing Jews to develop and engage.


Levenson and the Rejection of Biblical Theology

In reviewing biblical scholarship that had appeared up to the point he wrote his essay in 1987,1 Levenson came to question whether there was any significant amount of Jewish participation in the discipline of the theology of the Tanakh. While stating that Jewish scholars have contributed

1. See Levenson, "Why lews Are Not Interested in Biblical Theology." An earlier version
is found in Neusner, Judaic Perspectives on Ancient Israel.

-183-

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