Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TABS: Torah And Academic Biblical Scholarship

There's a new project out there called TABS, which stands for Torah and Academic Biblical Scholarship.
It's got a lot of big name advisors, some of whom I've heard speak, and was founded by Marc Zvi Brettler and David D. Steinberg. The website, www.thetorah.com, seems to be a site for religiously committed Jews who nonetheless accept the scholarship of the documentary hypothesis. That's me, so I was very happy to discover it!

The site is definitely a work in progress, but they do have a few things posted. One is an overview of the various different approaches for dealing with modern biblical scholarship.

The list includes:
  • Cumulative Revelation
  • Myth of Origin
  • Core Revelation
  • The Maculate Torah
  • The Interpreted Torah as Service of God
  • Rejection of Dogma
  • Sanctified by the Community
  • Aspects Theory
  • Liberal Supernaturalism

The full list and accompanying descriptions of each approach is here: http://thetorah.com/current-approaches/

My personal sympathies are closest to "Sanctified by the Community", which reads:
"According to this approach, the fundamental insights of academic biblical studies are true. The Torah is a composite document that has developed over time; it is not always historically accurate, and indeed should not be taken as a historical or as a scientific treatise. Nevertheless, the historical-critical method and traditional Jewish observance are compatible, as the dogmatic content of Judaism is not binding. 
"Whether one affirms revelation or not, the Bible remains a sacred work. However, its sacredness is connected to the Jewish community that declares it to be sacred.  The earlier Jewish community, the real and spiritual ancestors of the Jews, understood the Bible to be sacred, and we follow their example.  The Bible, in this approach, becomes a sourcebook for current Jews, who select, reevaluate and interpret its texts to give meaning and substance to contemporary Judaism."
I was gratified to see that the source given for this approach is a book by Mark Zvi Brettler, who is one of the founders of the project, which bodes well (from my perspective) for its future.

What approach do you take? Do any of them strike a chord with you?

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