The Believer and the Modern Study of the Bible

The Believer and the Modern Study of the Bible


Edited by Tova Ganzel, Yehudah Brandes, and Chayuta Deutsch

ISBN: 9781618119513 (hardcover)
Pages: 582 pp.
Publication Date: March 2019

Add To Cart

The essays in this volume address the conundrum of how Jewish believers in the divine character of the Sinaitic revelation confront the essential questions raised by academic biblical studies.  

The first part is an anthology of rabbinic sources, from the medieval period to the present, treating questions that reflect a critical awareness of the Bible. The second part is a series of twenty-one essays by contemporary rabbis and scholars on how they combine their religious beliefs with their critical approach to the Bible.

Tova Ganzel is the Director of the Midrasha at Bar-Ilan University and one the first trained women’s halakhic advisors (Yoatzot Halacha). She received her PhD from Bar-Ilan’s Department of Bible Studies, and is a renowned figure in the world of women’s Jewish learning. She is the author of numerous articles and books, and is the recipient of multiple academic awards and grants.

Yehuda Brandes is President of Herzog College in Gush Etzion and Jerusalem. He is the former head of the Beit Midrash at Beit Morasha in Jerusalem, and the author of many books and articles on Talmud, Jewish law, education, and Jewish philosophy. In his books Agada Lema'aseh and Mada Toratekha, and in many of his articles, he examines the connection between law and legend in the Talmud, exposing both the philosophical aspects of religious law and the practical aspect of the Talmudic legend.

Chayuta Deutsch is a writer and editor. She is the author of a best-selling biography on Nechama Leibowitz and other books. Previously, she was the editor of the Akdamot journal of Jewish thought. She completed her doctoral dissertation at the Department of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University on the subject of encounters between sages and matrons in the Talmud and midrashim.


The translation and publication of The Believer and the Modern Study of Bible augurs a new moment for academic reflection and public discussion. The essays offer many resources (traditional and contemporary) to enable readers to deal with the matters at hand with intellectual integrity and theological thoughtfulness. The open discourse in Israel may now have a resonance beyond its linguistic borders.
— Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies, The University of Chicago
At last, we have an intelligent and courageous book of essays that everyone who is in the midst of a clash of civilizations must read. The book’s tendency to adopt the conclusions of the criticism and to wonder about the believer’s ability to integrate them into their life is intended specifically for Bible scholars who are familiar with biblical scholarship and its findings, but I believe that its contribution to the modern religious discourse will reach even broader religious categories.
— Jonatan Grossman, Professor of Bible Studies, Bar-Ilan University and Herzog College

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Translation

Annotated Anthology—“Wisdom and Knowledge Will be Given to You”
Yoshi Fargeon

General Overview

A Personal Perspective on Biblical History, the Authorship of the Torah, and Belief in its Divine Origin
Shawn Zelig Aster

The Sages as Bible Critics
Yehuda Brandes

The Tanakh as History
Marc Zvi Brettler

Kabbalah as a Shield against the “Scourge” of Biblical Criticism: A Comparative Analysis of the Torah Commentaries of Elia Benamozegh and Mordecai Breuer
Adiel Cohen

Orthodoxy and the Challenge of Biblical Criticism: Some Reflections on the Importance of Asking the Right Question
Tamar Ross

Ask the Rabbi: “Biblical Criticism is Destroying my Religious Faith!”
Yuval Cherlow

The Theophany at Sinai and the Passages of Revelation

“I Shall Fear God Alone and Not Show Favor in Torah”: A Conceptual Foundation for Wrestling with Biblical Scholarship
David Bigman

Revelation and Religious Authority in the Sinai Traditions
Benjamin Sommer

The Torah Speaks to People
Chezi Cohen

The Revelation Narratives: Analyses and Theological Reflections on Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Classical Midrash
Avraham Shammah

The Ethical Challenge

The Binding of Isaac and Historical Contextuality
Chayuta Deutsch

Manasseh, King of Judah, in Early rabbinic Literature: An Erudite, Unfettered, and Creative Biblical Critic
Hananel Mack

Justification, Denial, and “Terraforming”: Three Theological-Exegetical Models
Amit Kula

The Bible in Historical Context

The Names of God and the Dating of the Biblical Corpus
Yoel Elitzur

Discrepancies between Laws in the Torah
Joshua Berman

Between the Prophet and his Prophecy: Ezekiel’s Visionary Temple in its Historical Context
Tova Ganzel

The Torah of Moses and the Laws of the Nations: A Study in the Teachings of Rabbi Tzadok Ha-Kohen of Lublin
Avia Hacohen

Illuminating Inscriptions
Yaakov Medan

Archaeology and the Bible
Haggai Misgav

The Book of Daniel and the Twenty-First-Century Religious Bible Student
Rivka Raviv