Monday, December 05, 2005

Tanach Seriously Revisited

Joinoson schrieber asked me in the comment section what I mean by taking tanach seriously, so I thought I would elaborate.

Tanach is the source of Judaism in my opinion, so in order to understand Judaism we have to understand Tanach. As I mentioned before, I for one felt that the education that I got in Yeshivah was very pitiful in this regard. I never studied the whole Tanach from top to bottom. I also was never educated in modern scholarship. All I learned was a little part here and a little part there, there was no focus on Tanach as a whole. I felt the whole study of Tanach was through the eyes of the Babylonian rabbis and not as the prophets or the authors of the works had in mind. Tanach is the source of all Western religion and morality it is in our self interest to take it seriously as the prophets intended, and also to understand how and why it had so great impact on Western civilization. What was the essential message of the prophets? Can we look at it as a unified whole or did the message change over the years? Is it still relevant?

There are so many questions; it's hard to know where to start.

4 Comments:

Blogger yoinoson schreiber said...

I think the big mistake that lots of people make is the assumption that 'tenach' is central to Judaism. Of course its important but the Mishnaic & Talmudic tradition is the bit that makes (modern) Jews, Jewish.

If you want to understand the Jewish way of life learn Mishnah and study Talmud. A 'serious' understanding of Tenach is all but immaterial. It is not for nothing that yeshivot ignore it. Tenach just throws a spanner in the works. Especially if you want to do it 'seriously'!

11:06 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

>I think the big mistake that lots of people make is the assumption that 'tenach' is central to Judaism.

of course it is (or should be). the propblem, I think is just the opposite, they don't take it seriously enough

>If you want to understand the Jewish way of life learn Mishnah and study Talmud.

I don't want to understand that. I had enough of that. My whole life was about that, and I am not interested. I studied in Yeshivah for many years. I am fully aware of the Talmud.

>A 'serious' understanding of Tenach is all but immaterial.

that's the problem as I see it. I think that's the only part really worth keeping, in my opinion.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous smoo said...

I think you are on the right track. I would expand my efforts into areas that relate the history (political, social, economic trends)to the development of the bible and tanach. When we see its influence on the development of judaism (incl. halachah, philosophical and moral values), we can gain a better insight into what our religion is REALLY all about and how we got to where we are now.
Each prophet brought his personality to bear upon his message. Each were influenced by the circumstances at his time. Yet we often mistake all the prophecies as just God's word passed on through a human mediator. The message is more complex and context is essential.
For a sampling of this approach, read Who wrote the Bible by Thomas Friedman of Harvard.

2:12 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

You may find this link interesting. It's basically an online book. It is not written by a Jew, but he doesn't really write from a theological perspective; i'd say it's more like modern Biblical criticism.

Reading the Old Testament

6:10 PM  

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