Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought

By Moshe Greenberg | Go to book overview

Jewish Conceptions of the Human Factor in Biblical Prophecy
1989

Fellow-feeling with Walter Harrelson grew out of our meetings and conversations in Jerusalem, attendant upon his reconciling directorship of the Ecumenical Institute at Tantur. This essay in Jewish theology is offered to him in appreciation of his manifold contributions to biblical thought, hermeneutics, and interfaith understanding.

Modern critical study of Hebrew Scriptures by Jews has seldom been conducted in the light of any theological principle.1 Its proponents have either ignored the tenets of traditional religion in philological- historical inquiries that avoid engagement with theology or existential issues, or have focused on different objects of inquiry, such as poetics, in which the historical factor is muted.2 By orthodoxy, biblical criticism is generally regarded as incompatible with the foundations of Jewish belief.3

This situation differs from that obtaining in Christianity. Both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches have accommodated themselves to the practice and main findings of criticism: Theological seminaries are today the academic berths of most biblical critics. This was not accomplished without overcoming opposition, but the battles fought in the churches in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the conceptual refinement and clarification resulting therefrom have had no counterparts in the synagogue.4 It is in order to contribute to the assessment of the relation of critical principles to Judaism and to the practice of Jewish exegetes that this essay is undertaken. It focuses on one aspect of the critical stance: the supposition that in the formu-

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