Professor James Kugel
Modern Orthodoxy(1) has been defined and redefined so many times in recent years, and by so many distinguished practitioners, that there seems hardly any point in adding to the glut of paper and megabytes already devoted to pinning down its core beliefs. Indeed, the very profusion of position papers,(2) present-day assessments,(3) historical reviews,(4) predictions of future developments(5) and, along with all these, reactions to each other’s statements by the spokesmen for various factions – all this suggests that there remains little new to be said on the subject. So why invoke this exhausted, and exhausting, subject once again? My only excuse for so doing in the following is that, as the result of my participation in a recent, semester-long research group devoted to the subject,(6) a few thoughts have occurred to me about the history of one of Orthodoxy’s central concerns, the matter of Jews’ relations with the non-Jewish world. This subject nowadays often involves a comparison of Orthodoxy’s stance with that of its close neighbour and occasional bar pelugta, the movement that is sometimes called Ultra-Orthodoxy or Haredi Judaism, but which, for the purposes of this paper, I will refer to via the more general (and more inclusive historically) term of ‘Separatist’ Judaism.(7)
1. Separatist Judaism Then…
The issue that both Orthodoxy and Separatist Judaism seek to face is a serious one: the extent to which Jews can allow themselves to live their lives and think their thoughts in close contact with the non-Jewish world without losing the things they hold most dear – strict adherence to halakhah as well as their very identity as Jews, ever-threatened by assimilation, intermarriage and the disappearance of distinctive traditions and patterns of behaviour. The problem, of course, is not new. Scarcely was Israel conceived of as a distinct people connected to an altogether unique Deity than the issues of foreign gods,(8) foreign wisdom(9) and foreigners in general(10) came to be a central (if disputed)(11) topic of debate. Does being faithful to Israel’s God require Jews to separate themselves from non-Jewish society? The answer of some has always been: Yes! Thus, around 300 BCE, the Greek writer Hecataeus of Abdera described the Jews as a ‘somewhat unsociable and foreigner-hating people’,(12) and this description seems to match other writings from the same general period.(13) It is unlikely that Hecataeus’ characterization arose from anti-Jewish animus (apart from the phrase cited, anti-Judaism is actually quite absent from the surviving fragments of his treatment). Then why call the Jews ‘foreigner-hating’? Even at this early date, it would seem, some Jews were indeed perceived as fundamentally antagonistic to foreigners and foreign ideas and eager to build physical and intellectual walls to keep them out. Along the same lines, the third-century BCE Egyptian Manetho is quoted by Josephus as saying that a certain ‘Osarseph’ (Joseph?), the leader of the Jews in Egypt, ordered them ‘to have relations with no one except those of their own confederacy’.(14) Somewhat later, in the first century BCE, Diodorus Sicilus wrote that the Jews have ‘utterly outlandish laws: not to break bread with any other race, nor to show them any good will at all’. He goes on to refer to their ‘xenophobic laws’.(15) In the first century CE, Josephus reports that the anti-Jewish author Apion ‘attributes to us an imaginary oath, so that it would appear that we swear by the God who made heaven and earth and sea to show no good will to a single alien, above all not to Greeks’.(16) And the list goes on.(17)
Certainly some of these writers exaggerate or entirely invent what they report; but there is no doubt that at least some Jews were indeed hostile to non-Jews – for example, the anonymous Jewish author of the book of Jubilees (written c. 200 BCE). His book certainly demonstrates what a Greek would describe as xenophobia or xenelasia (unsociability). He believed that contact with non-Jews was in itself corrupting; indeed, it rendered a Jew impure in a way that, for Jubilees, was clearly more serious than the sort of ritual impurity discussed at length in Leviticus and other biblical books.(18) In the extreme case, Jubilees’ author considered sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews not only to be forbidden, but to be virtually a form of bestiality, since it linked two utterly unlike species.(19)
Despite such views, the author of Jubilees was no doubt troubled by a problem that continues to plague Separatist Jews: those non-Jews sometimes seem to know things, so that even the most rabid xenophobe might find himself having to make use of their knowledge, including their science and technology. For Jubilees’ author, a case in point was geography. When his retelling of Genesis came to describe the division of the world among Noah’s descendants (Jubilees chaps 8–9), he felt he had to present a precise delineation of each descendant’s inheritance. In so doing, he ended up having to use a highly detailed map of the world that was indisputably borrowed, either directly or par personne interpos.e, from Greek geographic writings.
In such cases, the tactic sometimes described as ‘defensive modernization’ appears. While freely mining the knowledge of Greek geographers, the world map reflected in Jubilees, in common with that of other Jewish texts of the period, included a number of crucial adjustments to keep it in line with traditional Jewish views, significantly relocating the ‘centre of the earth’ or omphalos mundi to the territory assigned to Shem, Israel’s ancestor (Jubilees 8:12).(20) Another example of defensive modernization: when an anonymous writer of perhaps the third century BCE sought to import Mesopotamian astronomical lore into Judaea, he hid its foreign origins and connection to alien worship, presenting it instead as the teaching of an altogether kosher figure, the biblical Enoch, who, having ascended bodily into the heavens (Genesis 5:24), must have found himself in a position to converse with the angels as well as to observe the movements of heavenly bodies first-hand, enabling him to impart this knowledge to the Jews on earth.
The opposing pulls of Jewish separatism and Jewish recourse to, or active embrace of, non-Jewish society and non-Jewish ideas are thus an age-old feature of Judaism itself – one might say that both tendencies (and the tension between them) are virtually dyed in the wool. So, while Hecataeus of Abdera or books such as 1 Enoch and Jubilees are rarely included in the discussion of the roots of modern Separatist Judaism, the temptation for Jews to cut themselves off from outside influences and/or to limit access to (or modify) non-Jewish sources for their own ideological ends has always been a force in Jewish social and intellectual history. At the same time, true openness to the outside world while seeking to uphold the teachings of Judaism and the Jewish way of life is equally well represented in Judaism’s ancient past. Today’s Orthodox proponents of the ‘openness’ tendency often cite Maimonides as a model of the integration of secular and religious knowledge – and certainly an intellectual biography of the great twelfth-century scholar reveals the profound influence of Greek and Arabic thought.(22) More generally, the whole intellectual tradition of Jews in medieval Spain reveals broad areas of outside influence extending into such unassailably Jewish domains as the development of Hebrew grammar; medieval Hebrew poetry and rhetoric; biblical commentary; legal principles and jurisprudence; and, more broadly, all of ‘Jewish thought’ and philosophy. But the history of such intellectual openness hardly begins in the Middle Ages. It is certainly evident in the Second Temple period, when contact between Jews and Greek civilization reached its apogee starting from the third century BCE. Holding on to Jewish teachings and Jewish values in the face of the encounter with Hellenism was no easy prospect, and many Jews apparently defected utterly to Hellenism’s ways. But this was also a period of great syntheses, with towering figures such as the first-century philosopher and biblical commentator Philo of Alexandria, standing as a monument to the ability of Jews to absorb or otherwise reckon with outside ideas and influences without surrendering what they hold most dear: the Torah, its ideas and the way of life it sets forth.(23) Philo is, however, merely one of numerous Jewish writers who, in one way or another, sought to embrace aspects of Hellenistic
learning while upholding traditional Jewish teachings.(24) Further examples might include such works as the Wisdom of Solomon,(25) large sections of the Sibylline Oracles,(26) the Letter of Aristeas, the book of 4 Maccabees, the historical writings of Artapanus, Demetrius the Chronographer, Eupolemus and others, the philosophical works of Aristobulus and the Sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides, the poetry of Ezekiel the Tragedian, Philo the Epic Poet, Theodotus and numerous others. Even rabbinic writings, concerned as they are with internal Jewish subjects and apparently intended solely for a Jewish readership, did not shy away from the use of Greek (or, later, Latin or Persian) terms, as well as references to Greek institutions, themes, or ideas.(27) For this reason, it would be difficult to connect the extreme Separatist stream described above specifically with the predecessors or founders of rabbinic Judaism; rather, movements such as that of the Qumran covenanters, or more generally the Essenes with whom they appear to have been affiliated, seem most clearly to have embraced values reminiscent of today’s Separatists.(28)
2. …And Orthodox Judaism Now
Thus, openness to non-Jews and their ideas always was a disputed topic, and today it remains the great discrimen separating Orthodoxy from Separatist Judaism. But how far can openness go? While Separatist Judaism today usually stands for maximal separation – separate neighbourhoods, separate schools (excluding even religious Jews of the non-Separatist persuasion, and sometimes even excluding the children of a different Separatist subgroup), cultural separation enforced by the banning of television, the internet and so forth – Orthodoxy hardly stands for the opposite of all these. Rather, its position would better be described as a delicate balancing act. True, Orthodox Jews generally do not seek to live in demarcated Jewish enclaves; nevertheless, they must by necessity live within walking distance of an Orthodox synagogue, and this often makes for neighbourhoods with a high density of Orthodox Jews. Similarly, in education, their choice is generally for Orthodox schools through elementary and secondary educational institutions, nowadays often supplemented by a further year or two of intensive Jewish learning, usually in Israel. But the desire for further education brings many young Jews into a university setting together with non-Jewish students and teachers, and it is there that the limits of openness are sometimes keenly tested.
How is one to integrate the teachings of Torah with secular learning? The overall approach embraced by Orthodoxy’s spokesmen (going back at least to Samson Raphael Hirsch in the mid-nineteenth century) has been precisely to stress the delicate balancing act mentioned earlier. Judaism and the non-Jewish world present two complementary sorts of learning: Torah (in the broadest sense) and madda (‘knowledge’, nowadays ‘science’), the latter including all learning that is not explicitly part of traditional Jewish teaching and practice. As Norman Lamm has observed in a much-cited remark, ‘Torah, faith, religious learning on one side and Madda, science, worldly knowledge on the other, together offer us a more over-arching and truer vision than either one set alone’.(29)
That is nice, but what happens when the two actually conflict? This problem is regularly encountered by Jewish professors working in various areas of Jewish studies, particularly, I think, in my own field of specialization, the Hebrew Bible and the literature of the Second Temple period.(30) There is nothing obviously complementary about traditional Jewish views of Torah and, say, Wellhausen’s Documentary Hypothesis. More generally, I do not believe that any great synthesis is possible between traditional Jewish (or, for that matter, Christian) belief and modern biblical scholarship.(31) For the Orthodox Jew, the idea of complementarity has its limits.
Does this mean that studying modern biblical scholarship ought officially to be forbidden to Orthodox Jews? Whatever happens in practice,(32) such a possibility surely goes against our modern valuation of intellectual freedom, our desire to discover anything that can be discovered and not to shy away from unpleasant truths. How then can one simply turn one’s back on an entire field of research pursued in universities and seminaries across the world, an area of study that focuses on texts absolutely vital to Judaism itself? Modern biblical scholarship has been pursued for more than two centuries. Its findings are based on things quite unknown in an earlier day: the excavation of historic sites all over the territory of ancient Israel as well as in neighbouring Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon,
Syria, Turkey and elsewhere; a comprehensive knowledge of ancient Near Eastern languages (Egyptian, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Hittite and others), which has led to the decipherment of thousands of texts written in these languages by biblical Israel’s neighbours and so provided us with (among other things) a detailed picture of the beliefs and religious practices of those neighbours; and in general, a broad understanding of the history, culture and religious practices of ancient Israelites in their larger environment during biblical times. Surely all this new knowledge cannot simply be shrugged off or dismissed (as some have tried to do) as a bunch of unproven theories. I believe that any such dismissal must be recognized for what it is: intellectual cowardice, no matter how it is dressed up. So, while I personally would never obligate any Orthodox Jew to study modern biblical scholarship, I believe that as an institution, Orthodoxy has no choice but to face this material squarely.(33)
Such a reckoning ought, I believe, to begin with an understanding of where precisely Orthodoxy and modern scholarship differ. The two are, as noted, incompatible, but not because Judaism defines the Torah as the unitary text transmitted by God to a certain Moses at Mount Sinai, whereas modern biblical scholarship sees the Pentateuch as a complex text including the work of different authors and editors, none of whom may reasonably be identified with the biblical Moses. To accept this as the fundamental disagreement between Judaism’s definition of ‘the Torah’ and modern scholarship’s Pentateuch is to concede the argument before it begins. Judaism’s definition has never been that the Torah equals the words on the pages of the Pentateuch (which may or may not then be interpreted with all the tools of modern scholarship, depending on whether one is an Orthodox Jew or not). Rather, Judaism’s ‘Torah’ has always been much more than the words on the page: it has always been the words on the page plus Judaism’s great interpretive tradition, or, in Hebrew, the torah she-bikhtav (the ‘written Torah’) along with the torah she-be’al peh (the ‘oral Torah’). This is quite a different text from that of the Pentateuch alone – and in more than one way.
To begin with, if Judaism’s Torah consisted of the words alone, then ‘An eye for an eye’ would mean that if you knock out my eye, I get to knock out yours in return (rather than stipulating, as the Babylonian Talmud does, that this verse really refers to monetary compensation for such an injury, in other words, not an eye for an eye).(34) Similarly, aharei rabbim lehattot (‘to pervert [justice] in favour of the mighty’) in Exodus 23:2 could never be thought to refer to something entirely different from the plain meaning of those words, namely, the principle of majority rule;(35) mimmahorat ha-shabbat in Leviticus 23:15 ought reasonably to be understood as the day after the Sabbath, rather than the day after the first day of Passover;(36) and so forth and so on, through hundreds and hundreds of examples.37 Orthodox Judaism’s Torah is an entirely different text from modern biblical scholarship’s Pentateuch.
But this disagreement in turn represents a still more basic difference. Orthodox Judaism is not interested in seeking to interpret its text afresh, using all the resources of archaeology, ancient Near Eastern history and the like. The Torah of Orthodox Judaism, at least, has already been definitively interpreted: its interpretation can be found on the pages of the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, in tannaitic and amoraic midrash, and then further refined in an unbroken chain of Torah scholars, stretching from the period of the Geonim to Rashi’s commentaries and on to various legists and the authors of codes such as the Mishneh Torah and the Shulhan Arukh, and so on right down to today’s posekim.
This is the fundamental disagreement between the Torah of Orthodox Judaism and the Pentateuch of modern biblical scholarship: the very idea of Scripture by which each operates is different from the other’s. Modern biblical scholarship is always moving backwards, ever in search of the pristine text, uncorrupted by external ideas or even by the work of later redactors and editors. Using all the scholarly tools at its disposal, it seeks to understand the text’s earliest form and the historical circumstances in which it was created, the better to reconstruct its original meaning. Orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, operates on a completely different idea of Scripture and what it consists of, as well as the purpose of, and method for, studying it. ‘Original meaning’ has nothing to do with it. From the standpoint of Orthodoxy, to think that the way to study Scripture is to investigate how and by whom and when it came into being is comparable – though I admit the analogy is only approximate – to presuming that what one ought to try to learn from reading a first-aid manual or the instructions that come with a pocket tape-recorder is the identity of the person who wrote them as well as the precise circumstances in which he or she did so. It is not that such things cannot be known; rather, it is that setting out to do so is fundamentally to distort what the text is for and how it is to be used. Along with this comes the whole matter of Scripture’s divine origin, crucial element of Orthodox belief. This is the one element in Scripture that cannot be (and never has been) addressed by modern scholarship, for the simple reason that it is not given to historical investigation. No theory of multiple authorship, or various redactors or editors, can affect in the slightest the Jewish belief in torah min ha-shamayim, the Torah’s divine origin. So in this matter as well, there is a basic ‘disconnect’ between what modern scholars seek to investigate and what is fundamental to the Jewish conception of Torah. At the same time, however, the rabbinic tradition makes clear that Scripture’s divine origin does not mean that the Torah’s meaning is petrified, reduced to the original sense of those divinely given words. Rather, as the Babylonian Talmud38 states explicitly (citing Deuteronomy 30:12, ‘It is not in heaven [any longer]’), what starts in heaven is ultimately given over to human beings, and it is in that sense that the Orthodox conception of Scripture is altogether dynamic, moving not backwards but forward to the present day. I know that a lot of Orthodox Jews still cannot seem to grasp this most fundamental difference, but it seems to me quite obvious, as well as providing the only honest way of understanding the difference between Judaism’s Torah and modern biblical scholarship’s Pentateuch. An Orthodox Jew who truly understands this basic difference will have nothing to fear from modern biblical scholarship.
In fact – here is a pretty paradox – it is precisely a knowledge of modern biblical scholarship that offers the clearest understanding of the historical roots of the Orthodox idea of Torah and, in that sense, locates it (rather than its rival, the Pentateuch of modern biblical scholarship) deep within the biblical period itself. I should therefore like to conclude by saying (alas, in too schematic a form here) what I mean by this.
Biblical scholars are well aware that virtually every book in our Tanakh has undergone some form of editing, often a protracted series of redactions that not only resulted in the rearrangement of parts of the original text, sometimes moving whole chapters from here to there, but also frequently supplemented the original text with altogether new material, ranging from scribal glosses and minor emendations to the addition of large blocks of writing.39 Our book of Jeremiah, to cite one such instance, is some ten chapters longer than the version of Jeremiah underlying the Old Greek (‘Septuagint’) translation of that book, made in the closing centuries BCE: not only is that version shorter, but the chapters are arranged in a different order. Fragments of both versions are now attested in Hebrew in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and it would appear (though perhaps not beyond dispute) 40 that the longer version represents an expansion of the shorter text rather than the latter being a later abridgement. And so it is as well with the books of Joshua and Judges, Samuel and Kings, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ezekiel, Daniel, and so forth: all these and other biblical texts seem to have been tinkered with in the course of their transmission, some well on into late Second Temple times.
Such changes raise a fundamental question: How dare they? How dare a scribe or copyist, or even a well-known sage or prophet, take a collection of the words of Jeremiah or Isaiah and say: ‘This is good, but I think I can make it even better’? By what right could an ordinary (or even extraordinary) human being take the very words spoken by God to His prophets and change even the slightest detail? And the answer to this ‘How dare they’ – quite indisputable not only in view of the evidence provided by historical context, but even in many cases on the basis of actual variant texts preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls library and elsewhere – is, quite simply: ‘They dare’. Whatever our present sense of an immutable, utterly fixed biblical text, perfectly preserved in every detail, such a sense is not backed up by the evidence. Even in Second Temple times, Scripture was apparently still conceived of as a somewhat malleable thing; such malleability appears to be evidenced even (though to a far lesser extent) in Judaism’s holiest of books, the Torah itself.41 Evidently, from a very early period the received words-on-the-page were not considered the text, absolute and immutable. For some time, they were given to further explanation, elaboration or reinterpretation, and these were reflected in traditions orally transmitted or sometimes in changes or additions inserted into the actual written text.
In fact, even after the texts themselves became fixed and immutable, their meaning was still never reduced to the words-on-the-page. So it was that interpreters (going way back into biblical times) frequently said about sacredtexts: ‘The words say X, but what they really mean is Y’.42 The book of Daniel thus recounts: ‘I, Daniel, consulted the books concerning the number of years that, according to the word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah, were to be the term of Jerusalem’s desolation – seventy years’ (Daniel 9:2). But that evening, the angel Gabriel appears to Daniel and informs him that ‘seventy groups of seven years have been decreed for your people and your holy city’ (Daniel 9:24) – in other words, the book of Jeremiah said ‘seventy years’, but what that book really meant was 490 years. The words on the page were only the starting point of understanding.
This, as we have seen, was precisely the stance of the founders of rabbinic Judaism. That is why their very notion of Torah did not limit its content to the words on the page alone, but insisted that Torah truly consists of those words as interpreted and expanded by the torah she-be‘al peh, the oral traditions which, they said, had accompanied it from earliest times. It seems to me (and again, this is an item well demonstrated in the biblical interpretations and retellings found among the Dead Sea Scrolls) that such a conception of Scripture goes way, way, back: the very idea of Scripture was, from the very beginning, never limited to a fixed set of written words.
But to say this is only to raise another ‘why’. Why should anyone insist (as the torah she-be‘al peh endlessly does) that when the text says X it really means Y, that ‘An eye for an eye’ really means not an eye for an eye, and so forth? Indeed, why, despite the fact that the Written Torah specifically forbids adding to or subtracting from its laws (Deuteronomy 4:2, 13:1), should rabbinic Judaism endlessly do precisely that? The answer to this most fundamental question speaks to the very heart of Orthodox theology. Judaism values the Torah supremely because its laws and its narratives impart a detailed programme for avodat ha-Shem, the service of God; indeed, avodat ha-Shem is, in a single phrase, the whole purpose and content of Judaism and the reason why it plays an important role in our daily lives. One might therefore say, with only a touch of irony, that the Torah, our most sacred, divinely given text, is nevertheless essentially what they call in the publishing business a ‘how to’ book; it was given to teach us the ‘how to’ of avodat ha-Shem. In fact, the Pentateuch alone might more properly be described as Volume 1 of a great, multi-volume work entitled How to Serve God.
The succeeding volumes – the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds and all the other sources mentioned above – are a continuation of the great trajectory first established in the divinely revealed Torah. So paradoxically, while the whole approach to Scripture championed by modern biblical scholarship (and the liberal Protestant Churches that have been its greatest ongoing sponsor)43 is quite incompatible with Judaism, one of the things that modern biblical scholarship itself has demonstrated is that its very notion of Scripture is somewhat out of keeping with the notion of Scripture that created the Bible itself.
Is this a reason for an Orthodox Jew to take up the study of modern biblicalscholarship? I suppose it depends on the Orthodox Jew. But I hope that my presentation of this last point about modern biblical scholarship does not overshadow the earlier one about openness to the outside. This is indeed an altogether Jewish value, with a distinguished history going back to Second Temple times. The delicate balancing act referred to earlier has never been simple; apparently being a ‘somewhat unsociable and foreigner-hating people’ has always been, since at least the fourth century BCE, an appealing solution for some. But in the end such an approach often comes into conflict with intellectual honesty, and with the desire of most human beings to know, and to tell, the truth.
- Hereafter referred to as, simply, Orthodoxy. Names are very important, and as others have long acknowledged, ‘Modern Orthodoxy’ seems by now to be inappropriate on several counts. See N. Lamm, ‘Some Comments on Centrist Orthodoxy’, Tradition 22 (1986) 1–12. Of course, ‘Orthodoxy’ itself was not a unanimous way of referring to the unbroken Jewish tradition. See J. C. Blutinger’s brief history, ‘“So-called Orthodoxy”: The History of an Unwanted Label’, Modern Judaism 27 (2007) 310–28.
- The best short description I know of is still that of Saul Berman, ‘The Ideology of Modern Orthodoxy’, printed as part of a symposium ‘The Future of American Orthodoxy’ in Sh’ma, a Journal of Jewish Ideas (1 February 2001) and available at http://shma.com/category/issues/modern-orthodoxy/ . Central to my subject here is Norman Lamm’s Torah Umadda: The Encounter of Religious Learning and Worldly Knowledge in the Jewish Tradition (New York: Jason Aronson, 1990); cf. Avraham Weiss, ‘Open Orthodoxy! A Modern Orthodox Rabbi’s Creed’, Judaism 46 (1997) 409–21.
- Chaim I. Waxman, ‘Dilemmas of Modern Orthodoxy: Sociological and Philosophical’, Judaism 42 (1993) 59–70; Haym Soloveitchik, ‘Rupture and Reconstruction: The Transformation of Contemporary Orthodoxy’, Tradition 28 (1994) 64–130; Charles S. Liebman, ‘Modern Orthodoxy in Israel’, Judaism 47 (1998) 405–10; William B. Helmreich and Reuel Shinnar, ‘Modern Orthodoxy in America: Possibilities for a Movement under Siege’, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, pub. no. 383 (1998) 1–12; S. I. Freedman, Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000); Alan Brill, ‘Judaism in Culture: Beyond the Bifurcation of Torah and Madda’, Edah Journal 4 (2004) 1–26; B. Kraut, The Greening of American Orthodox Judaism: Yavneh in the 1960s (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 2010).
- Among many: J. Katz, ‘Orthodoxy in Historical Perspective’, in Studies in Contemporary Judaism (1986) 2: 3–17; idem, A House Divided: Orthodoxy and Schism in Nineteenth-Century Central European Jewry (Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 1998); particularly relevant: Marc B. Shapiro, Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884–1966 (New York: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1999); idem, ‘Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer’s Program of Torah u-Madda’, Torah u-Madda Journal 9 (2000) 76–86; Adam Ferziger, Exclusion and Hierarchy: Orthodoxy, Non-Observant, and the Emergence of Modern Orthodox Identity (Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 2005).
- Note especially S. della Pergola and U. Rebhun, ‘American Orthodox Jews: Demographic Trends and Scenarios’, Jewish Action (1998) online at: http://www.ou.org/publications/ja/5759fall/ americanjews; also J. Sarna, ‘The Future of American Orthodoxy’, Sh’ma, a Journal of Jewish Ideas (1 February 2001) (see above, note 2).
- ‘Orthodoxy, Theological Debate and Contemporary Judaism: Exploring Questions Raised in the Thought of Louis Jacobs’, Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, January-June, 2013.
- I mean this as a descriptive term, useful here precisely for its historical dimension;
in general, however, I would favour the use of this name over ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Judaism, since ‘Separatist’ highlights the most salient feature distinguishing this form of Judaism from Orthodoxy. For some of the historical background of modern Ultra-Orthodox/Haredi Judaism’s emergence: Michael Silber, ‘The Emergence of Ultra-Orthodoxy: the Invention of a Tradition’ in J. Wertheimer, The Uses of Tradition: Jewish Continuity in the Modern Era (New York, NY: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1994); Z. J. Kaplan, ‘Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, Zionism, and Hungarian Ultra-Orthodoxy’, Modern Judaism 24 (2004) 165–78.
- This hardly needs glossing; it seems to me to be as old as anything one might identify as the ‘religion of Israel’, and is unmistakably present in such ancient texts as the Decalogue as well as being the great theme of the legal corpus of Deuteronomy.
- Specifically addressed in Proverbs 7 and 8, a relatively late text; an earlier, and crucial, statement is Deuteronomy 4:6: it (like many other biblical texts) seems to locate conventional hokhmah as the province of other nations, suggesting that Israel’s hokhmah is uniquely in its laws; cf. 1 Kings 4:29–31. This is rather different from the view of M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (Oxford: Clarendon, 1972) 151, which seeks to find in Deuteronomy 4:6 the equation of wisdom and law.
- Particularly sensitive was the question of exogamy (intermarriage): Deuteronomy 7:1–6; Ezra 9:1, 10:2–5; Tobit 4:12, Jubilees 20:4, 22:20, 25:4–9, 30:5; Philo, SpecLeg 3:29; T. Job 45:3; Jos. Asen. 7:6; Pseud-Philo, LAB 9:5, 44:7, 45:3. G. Knoppers, ‘Sex, Religion, and Politics: The Deuteronomist on Intermarriage’, Hebrew Annual Review 14 (1994) 121–41; Christine Hayes, Gentile Impurities and Jewish Identities: Intermarriage and Conversion from the Bible to the Talmud (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); S. J. D. Cohen, The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999) 241–62; Christian Frevel (ed.) Mixed Marriages: Intermarriage and Group Identity in the Second Temple Period (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2011).
- The book of Ruth has frequently been treated as a deliberate protest against the
anti-exogamic measures recounted in Ezra-Nehemiah: see, e.g., Marjo C. A. Korpel, The Structure of the Book of Ruth (Assen: Van Gorkum, 2001). Other recent studies focus more on the matter of social identity: see P. H. W. Lau, Identity and Ethics in the Book of Ruth (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2011); note also G. Knoppers, ‘“Married into Moab”: the Exogamy Practiced by Judah and his Descendants in the Judahite Lineages’, in Frevel, Mixed Marriages (see n. 10) 170–91.
- Cited in Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica XL, 3, cited in M. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1976) 1:26.
- Josephus ascribes to the first-century BCE rhetorician Apollonius Molon a condemnation of the Jews for ‘refusing admission to persons with other preconceived ideas about God and for declining to associate with those who have chosen to adopt a different mode of life’. Cited in Stern, Greek and Latin Authors (see n. 12). See also J. Gager, Moses in Greco-Roman Paganism (Abington, 1972); idem, The Origins of Anti-Semitism: Attitudes toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).
- Cited in Stern, Greek and Latin Authors (see n. 13) 79.
- Ibid 182.
- Ibid 414.
- Note in particular Tacitus, cited in ibid 2:26.
- Such as that imparted by touching a human corpse, for example; Jubilees actively sought to diminish the importance of such cultic impurity in his book. See L. Ravid, ‘Purity and Impurity in the Book of Jubilees’, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 13 (2002) 61–86; also J. Klawens, Impurity and Sin in Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford, 2000).
- See Jubilees chapter 30; a man who gives his daughter or sister in marriage to a non-Jew has committed ‘an outrage’ and is to be stoned to death, while the woman is to be burnt alive. More generally Jews were, in the author’s view, an utterly unique and essentially heavenly race, a ‘holy seed’, the only people ‘hallowed and blessed’ (to match the heavenly institution of the Sabbath, 2:19–24); they are circumcised, through which they are akin to the highest categories of angels (Jubilees 15:27).
- See P. S. Alexander, ‘Jerusalem as the Omphalos of the World: On the History of a Geographical Concept’, Judaism 46 (1997) 148–63; D. A. Machiela, ‘The Genesis Apocryphon (1Q20): A Reevaluation of its Text, Interpretive Character, and Relation to the Book of Jubilees’, PhD Dissertation (Notre Dame, 2007) 178–80, 224, 256–8.
- This section of 1 Enoch is known as the ‘Book of Luminaries’ (chaps 72–82).
- A point made by virtually all such intellectual biographies (see for the present context Lamm, Torah Umadda [see n. 2]), though just now Maimonides’s overall ‘Mediterranean’ influences have come to the fore, see S. Stroumsa, Maimonides in his World: Portrait of a Mediterranean Thinker (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).
- For one representative instance, see D. Winston, ‘Philo and the Wisdom of Solomon on Creation, Revelation, and Providence: The High-Water Mark of Jewish Hellenistic Fusion’, in J. Kugel (ed.) Shem in the Tents of Japhet: Essays on the Encounter of Judaism and Hellenism (Leiden: Brill, 2002) 93–108.
- Unfortunately, the work of many such authors has either disappeared or survived in a few fragments cited by later writers.
- One recent study of the phenomenon in detail: A. Glicksman, Wisdom of Solomon 10: A Jewish-Hellenistic Reinterpretation of Early Israelite History Through Sapiential Lenses (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011).
- For details see J. J. Collins, ‘The Sibylline Oracles’, in M. Stone, Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period (Philadelphia: Van Gorcum/Fortress, 1984) 358–81.
- Still outstanding among many treatments: S. Lieberman, Greek in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Life and Manners of Jewish Palestine in the II-IV centuries CE (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1942); idem, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine: Studies in the Literary Transmission, Beliefs and Manners of Palestine in the I century B.C.E.-IV century C.E. (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1962).
- Again, see Lamm, Torah Umadda (see n. 2). In this connection it is to be noted that the Qumran scrolls contained fragments from no fewer than fifteen manuscript copies of the book of Jubilees.
- Torah u-Madda (see n. 2) 236.
- See David Sperling, Students of the Covenant: A History of Jewish Biblical Scholarship in North America (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992).
- What I have often said (and written) is that modern biblical scholarship and traditional Jewish belief are fundamentally irreconcilable; see How to Read the Bible (New York: Free Press, 2007) 681.
- I should make it clear that my views would never require an Orthodox Jew or anyone else to study modern biblical scholarship.
- My own position on modern biblical scholarship – summarized in the following as well as in the forthcoming The Kingly Sanctuary – is somewhat paradoxical, which is probably why it has often been misrepresented (usually not in print, but by earnest bloggers). Among many, many others, see: http://haemtza.blogspot. co.il/2009/01/professor-james-kugel-and-yeshiva.html; http://tzvee.blogspot.co.il/2008/03/richard-friedman-cooks-james-kugels.html; http://hirhurim.blogspot.co.il/2007/10/james-kugel-and-new-york-times-mistake.html ; ; http://hirhurim.blogspot.co.il/2009/02/considering-kugel-ii.html; http://www.vosizneias.com/25007/2008/12/31/new-york-city-yeshiva-university-gives-platform-toquestionable
- Bab. Talmud Baba Qamma 83b–84a; see also Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, 4:278–80.
- Bab. Talmud Baba Metzi‘a 59b.
- Bab. Talmud Menahot 65a–66a; see D. Weiss Halivni, Peshat and Derash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis (New York: Oxford, 1991) 12.
- For further example, J. Kugel, Traditions of the Bible (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998).
- Bab. Talmud Baba Metzi‘a 59b.
- A well-known instance is our current book of Isaiah: most scholars (starting with Abraham ibn Ezra in the twelfth century) agree that chapters 40–66 could not have been written at the time of the original, eighth-century prophet Isaiah, but seem to belong to the period of the Babylonian Exile in the sixth century and that of the Judean restoration that followed. Note the wide-ranging review of Orthodox views on this and similar questions in A. Frisch, ‘Jewish Tradition and Bible Criticism: A Typology of Israeli Orthodox Approaches to the Question of Deutero-Isaiah’, in Jewish Studies Quarterly 19 (2012) 259–87.
- Alexander Rof. has argued that the shorter version represents a condensation of the original longer version: ‘The Arrangement of the Book of Jeremiah’, ZAW 101 (1989) 390–8; idem, ‘The name Yhwh SEBA’OT and the Shorter Recension of Jeremiah’, in R. Liwak and S. Wagner (eds) Prophetie und geschictliche Wirklichkeit im alten Israel: FS Siegfried Herrmann (Stuttgart, Kohlhammer, 1991) 307–15. Whichever contention is correct, it is immaterial for my overall point.
- On this question see S. W. Crawford, Rewriting Scripture in Second Temple Times (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2008) esp. 39–59, and Michael Segal, ‘4Q Reworked Pentateuch or 4Q Pentateuch?’ in L. Schiffman et al (eds) The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fifty Years After their Discovery (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2000) 391–9; A. Petersen, ‘Rewritten Bible as a Borderline Phenomenon – Genre, Textual Strategy, or Canonical Anachronism’, in A. Hilhorst et al. (eds) Flores Florentino: Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in Honour of Florentino Garcia Martinez (Leiden: Brill, 2007) 285–306; M. M. Zahn, ‘The Problem of Characterizing the 4QReworked Pentateuch Manuscripts: Bible, Rewritten Bible, or None of the Above?’ DSD 15 (2008) 315–39, also J. Kugel, ‘“In the Beginning, God Created the Malleability”: The Final Form of the Biblical Text and Ancient Biblical Interpretation’, in M.tun Menningar: Festschrift Gunnalugur A. J.nsson (Reykjav.k: Icelandic Literary Society, 2012) 1–14.
- See my Traditions of the Bible (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998) 14–19.
- J. Kugel, ‘The Bible in the University’, in W. H. Propp, B. Halpern, and D. N. Freedman, The Hebrew Bible and its Interpreters (Eisenbrauns, 1990) 143–66.