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by Jon D. Levenson

  • ISBN: 0664254071
  • Category: Christian Books
  • Author: Jon D. Levenson
  • Subcategory: Bible Study & Reference
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  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press; 1st edition (April 1, 1993)
  • Pages: 212 pages
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  • Rating: 4.9
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Similar books and articles. Jon Douglas Levenson - 1993 The Contribution of Qumran to Historical Hebrew Linguistics: Evidence From th. .

Similar books and articles. The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies. Jon Douglas Levenson - 1993. Take These Words: The Abiding Lure of the Hebrew Bible in-Itself. Perry Dane - 2009 - Hebraic Political Studies 4:230-265. Temple and Worship in Biblical Israel (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 422). The Contribution of Qumran to Historical Hebrew Linguistics: Evidence From the Syntax of Participial Negation. Jacobus A. Naudé & Cynthia L. Miller-Naudé - 2016 - Hts Theological Studies 72 (4):1-10. The Lord is There: Christian Views of the Temple in the First Century AD.

Jon D. Levenson is Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge . List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Perhaps Levenson's coreligionists will not squirm quite so much as Christian Old Testament scholars in the face of his first, programmatic essay, for it is largely & to an examination and critique of the ways some influential Christian critics have sought to meet the challenge' of reading the Old Testament in way & is historically sound but also lends credibility to its. literary contexts', that is to Christianity's juxtaposition of the Old Testament to the New in an attempt to form a coherent book. If not, their turn will come.

Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award in the category of Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible . The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism : Jews and Christians in biblical studies (1st e. Louisville, K. Westminster/John Knox Press.

Biblical Archaeology Society Publication Award in the category of Best Book Relating to the Hebrew Bible published in 2005 or 2006 (for Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel), awarded August 2007. HDS - Faculty - Jon D. Levenson.

He uses incredible irony and incisiveness, essentially noting that the "emperor has no clothes. It's a fantastic critique of the historical-critical method, pointing out its questionable antecedents and its ongoing closed-mindedness and inability to productively interact with other methods. He some how still sees merit in pursuing both literary and historical methods of interpretation, while also implying that even though a historical interpretation of the Hebrew Bible may contradict al conclusions, there are still grounds to embrace the al conclusions.

He focuses on the relationship between two interpretive communities-the community of scholars who are committed to the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation and the community responsible for the canonization and preservation of the Bible. He is the author of many books, including Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life and (with Kevin J. Madigan).

He focuses on the relationship between two interpretive communities-the community of scholars who are committed to the historical critical method of Biblical interpretation and the community responsible for the canonization and preservation of the Bible. Pages: 212 Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press Published: 1993 ISBN-10: 0664254071 ISBN-13: 9780664254070.

In book: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation, Vol. 3: From Modernism to Post-Modernism: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Part 1: The Nineteenth Century - a Century of Modernism an.

GOAL: This course is an exposition of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. As such, it is a course that studies beginnings: the beginning of the universe, the creation of mankind, the appearance of sin, the founding of the nation of Israel, and so forth.

Jon Douglas Levenson is an American Hebrew Bible scholar who is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at the . The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism: Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993

Jon Douglas Levenson is an American Hebrew Bible scholar who is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. YouTube Encyclopedic. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1993. Collection of six revised essays.

Historical criticism is the name usually given to what may be termed mainline  . Levenson, Jon D. The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism.

Historical criticism is the name usually given to what may be termed mainline biblical criticism over the last three centuries or so, although it is increasingly in dispute in recent years. James Barr has rightly insisted that it is misleading to speak of the historical-critical method : there are methods used by, but there is no such thing as the historical critical method. The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament.

Writing from a Jewish perspective, Jon Levenson reviews many often neglected theoretical questions. He focuses on the relationship between two interpretive communities--the community of scholars who are committed to the historical-critical method of biblical interpretation and the community responsible for the canonization and preservation of the Bible.


Reviews about The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism (4):
Anyshoun
These six collected essays from one of biblical scholarship's leading thoughtful curmudgeons prove beyond doubt that unexamined assumptions corrode the core of the enterprise of biblical scholarship in the secular academy. That they come from the pen of a Jewish scholar teaching at one of liberal Protestantism's foremost shrines (Harvard Divinity School) is only the first irony that Levenson explores here with contrarian zeal. Readers who believe in the craft-whether naively or upon reflection-will find Levenson's articles an unsettling and necessary read.

Chapter one (`The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism', pp. 1-32) assaults the foundation of the discipline by pointing out that the practice of reading the biblical literature against its traditional context and in line with historical developmentalism is in truth a novelty of brief pedigree. By setting aside the literary context in which Jews and Christian readers have traditionally explored any biblical passage, historical criticism `resembles psychoanalysis. It brings to light what has been repressed and even forgotten, the childhood, as it were, of the tradition.' The price of recovering the historical context of sacred books, Levenson argues, `has been the erosion of the largest literary contexts that undergird the traditions that claim to be base upon them.' One does well to note the terms `sacred' and `historical', for Levenson will persistently cast the two in a mutually adversarial pose and then wonder-as a practicing Jew and an immensely capable historical critic-what to do about this.

Perhaps Levenson's coreligionists will not squirm quite so much as Christian Old Testament scholars in the face of his first, programmatic essay, for it is largely `devoted to an examination and critique of the ways some influential Christian critics have sought to meet the challenge' of reading the Old Testament in way `that is historically sound but also lends credibility to its literary contexts', that is to Christianity's juxtaposition of the Old Testament to the New in an attempt to form a coherent book. If not, their turn will come.

Levenson first takes up the legacy of J. Wellhausen, reading the great German scholar's work in the light of his autobiographically chronicled `experience of the summer of 1867'. During his visit to Göttingen, the penny dropped and Wellhausen grasped intuitively that the Law is a kind of death-force in Judaism that squeezes the life out of his preferred Old Testament narrative for those who fall for the myth that it predates and sets the stage for biblical prophecy and narrative. That little coin clanged upon the pavement with unusual force, reverberating loudly to this day. Even as he takes Wellhausen apart with deserved fury, Levenson perhaps reads Paul, Lutheranism, and Christian faith too much in the German scholar's way. Indeed, for Levenson Göttingen was Wellhausen's `Damascus'.

Walther Eichrodt might have been his Timothy, though only as far as his conclusion that Judaism failed to detect their God's intentions in entrusting them with what we know as the Bible. Levenson is perplexed by this more pious and orthodox scholar's conviction that the Hebrew Bible is incomplete without its Christian conclusion. For Levenson, it is baffling how the Jewish people could have so hopelessly missed the point of their own Scriptures, and how their continued survival and flourishing-he returns to the point-argues rather to the contrary. Eichrodt appears here as unequal to the task of reckoning with the sheer diversity of the biblical literature, an incapacity for which he achieved a manner of theological canonization by forcing it to center somewhat artificially around the idea of covenant.

For his part, von Rad was more faithful to the character of the literature than either the historicist Wellhausen or the dogmatist Eichrodt, but even he asked in the end for an uncritical leap of faith when it comes to Jesus Christ. Von Rad's sensitivity to the layers and traditioned potency of biblical texts and portions of texts fairly ignores the canonical context in which they come to us and then ceases to operate when the central figure of Christian faith comes onto the scene, a too abrupt ending to the tradition-historical nature of texts for which von Rad's influence is deservedly enduring.

First published in 1987, this essay ends with Levenson pondering whether Christians scholars who seem to want to have their cake and eat it too with regard to historical criticism's corrosive effect upon their faith and the claim that the practice actually nourishes that faith can truly have it both way. In a number of asides, he indicates that Jewish scholars will need to face the same conundrum. For Levenson, it would seem that Christian scholars of the Hebrew Bible-he points out the occasionally awkward fact that nearly all scholars come to the task motivated by (once?) deeply held religious convictions-are engaged in a colossal denial of the evident fact that their work undermines the traditional foundation of their religion. He wonders aloud how long this can continue before the sounds of collapse begin to be heard at a volume that can no longer be ignored.

In his famously named chapter two (`Why Jews Are Not Interested in Biblical Theology', pp. 33-61), Levenson returns to the diversity of the Hebrew Scriptures and the inability of that enterprise called `biblical theology' (or, more provocatively, `Biblical Theology') to avoid flattening it out in the interest of making a coherent statement about a book that in its pluriformity does not easily yield to such attempts. For the author, `the construction of a religion out of all the materials in the Hebrew Bible violates the historian's commitment to seeing the materials in their historical context.' More to the point of the essay, Levenson finds naïve the attempt to bring the history of Israelite religion and normative Old Testament religion'-whatever that might be-into juxtaposition.

For Levenson, the simple fact is-I do not think the adjective overstates his conviction on this point-that Jews and Christians read virtually the same literature within the confessionally-framed contexts of subsequent traditions at are mutually exclusive. There can be Christian biblical theology and there can be Jewish traditional reading of Torah, Prophets, et al., but in the nature of the case these will be distinct activities and there is no neutral point on which practitioners of both religions can stand and view the literature they share outside of the frameworks that hold them together. Thus, the disinterest of Jews in what mostly Christians name and practice as `biblical theology'.

Levenson wants to say more. Specifically, there is a flavor of anti-Semitism in the supercessionism that under girds much of what is practiced as biblical theology. Jews are, for evident reasons, not enthusiastic about entering an arena where it has already been determined that they have missed the main point. Furthermore, Jews and Christians before the literature manifest what might be considered to be different temperaments (Levenson does not use the word). For example, `I suspect that Judaism is somewhat better situated to deal with the polydoxy of biblical theology than is Christianity. Whereas in the church the sacred text tends to be seen as a word (the singular is telling) demanding to be proclaimed magisterially, in Judaism it tends to be seen as a problem with many facets, each of which deserves attention and debate ... A tradition whose sacred texts are internally argumentative will have a far higher tolerance for theologically polydoxy (within limits) and far less motivation to flatten the polyphony of the sources into a monotony. It is not only that Jews have less motivation than Christians to find a unity or center in their Bible: if they did find one, they would have trouble integrating it with their most traditional modes of textual reasoning. What Christians might perceive as a gain, Jews may perceive as a loss.'

Jewish scholars do not escape Levenson's challenge. The eighth principle of Jewish liturgy affirms that the Torah is from heaven (Chapter three, `The Eighth Principle of Judaism and the Literary Simultaneity of Scripture', pp. 62-81), though as Levenson observes `like most orthodoxies, Maimonides's eighth principle suffers the embarrassment of contradiction from within the normative sources'. Levenson frames this principle as occasioned by Muslim accusation that Jews had forged or modified Scripture. The principle then says less about Mosaic authorship than it does about the divine origin of the whole Torah honored in medieval Judaism. From there, `the chief objective of this essay is to argue that although in historical-critical discourse the notion of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch is indefensible, the underlying and antecedent ideas of the unity and divinity of the Torah must remain relevant considerations for Jewish theologians, and whether these are affirmed or denied makes a larger difference than most of their Christian colleagues wish to concede.' Gentlemen, start your engines.

From this foundationalist affirmation regarding the parameters within which Jewish theologians must work, Levenson proceeds to evaluate several scholarly approaches (Jewish and otherwise) that he considers to have failed. In this survey, the author's asides are as provocative as his argument, which will sound defiantly contrarian to more secular practitioners of biblical criticism, whether Christian, Jewish, or none of the above. The recently deceased Nahum Sarna-widely regarded in 20th- and 21st-century America as the epitome of the Jewish biblical scholar-argues that critical conclusions regarding Mosaic authorship are not discontinuous with the exegetical tradition in Medieval Rabbinism. On the contrary, those commentators would not disagree with critical conclusions if they were privy to the information available to modern scholars. Levenson believes that Sarna has missed the point: `The exegetical heterodoxy of these medieval rabbis stemmed not from theological skepticism but from its opposite, a profound and secure faith in the divine origin of Judaism. The difference between their endeavor and that of modern historical study, with its passion for determining date and author, is both theoretical and practical.'

Paul D. Hanson is taken to task for seeking a liberationist deity in the dialectic between Old Testament legislation, on the one hand, and a `living confession' that draws such law into its orbit and exercises upon it its inexorable influence for human liberation. (One imagines Levenson's and Hanson's conversations at Harvard, where both were at the time of publication and continue to be members of the same faculty.) Levenson detects a Christian and anti-Judaistic bias (familiarly, in Lutheran garb) in the fact that there is actually no dialectic here, for it is always law that changes and is influenced, never the `living confession'. The living spirit trumps the dead letter ...

So what is one to do? Characteristically, Levenson projects a diffident disinterest in telling Christian scholars how they ought to respond to the challenge he has slipped into their class notes. Yet this very publication (subtitle: Jews and Christians in Biblical Studies) suggests that he is not averse to being asked. His references to analogous realities faced by Jewish and Christian scholars suggests that the latter can take his conclusions to heart as well as the former, caveat emptor: `Instead of denying historical investigation, the kind of interpretation I have in mind would relativize it. It would recognize that the cost of restoring textual units to their historical context can only be some loss of their literary context, and faithful to what I take to be the real meaning of the eighth principle, it would hold that the foundation for the edifice that is rabbinic Judaism is not the several sources of Torah in their respective historical settings but the Torah "presently in our possession" in its integral, systemic wholeness ...The larger, rabbinic context, which is based on the written Torah as an indissoluble whole (as well as on the oral Torah), remains normative for behavior, but it is not permitted to silence or marginalize the more limited context of the peshat. The authority of the Torah does not require faithful (sic) exegetes to deny the contradictions within it, but the frank recognition of the contradictions does not allow them to base their religious life and practice on something less than the whole. I argue that if either of the two halves of this paradox is omitted, something essential in the heritage of medieval Jewish biblical study will be lost.'

Jewish and Christian scholars, it would seem, may meet over the small, isolated matters that we used to assign to `lower criticism'. However, when that work is done, each must retreat to his confessional lodgings to do the work of theology, since there alone can the religious life with its attendant commitments be fully realized.

By the end of three chapters, Levenson's point is clear. This is not a criticism, since in original form the author had the pragmatic wisdom to spread his argument across multiple publications and the value of the published collection of essays is that it gives the reader a concentrated opportunity to hear it developed from several angles. Thus, there is not much new material in chapter four (`Theological Consensus or Historicist Evasion? Jews and Christians in biblical studies'), the subtitle of which does double duty as the book's subtitle. Once again, a Christian scholar takes it on the chin for naiveté, this time Lawrence Boadt standing in for the likes of Gerhard von Rad and Paul Hanson. Boadt's failing is an excess of optimism about biblical criticism's role a safe zone for ecumenically inclined biblical scholars, both Jewish and Christian and, specifically, his affirmation that `the relationship of the Hebrew Scriptures to the New Testament ... must begin with the premise that each speaks from its own complete integrity.' Levenson will argue that when Jews and Christian bracket their fundamental convictions for the sake of meeting together, they do not do so as Jews and Christians but as something else, that is as secular neutralists (if one may coin a word) that as such ought not to claim to be exercising dialogue on the part of their respective and erstwhile religions.

Colorfully (Levenson is never colorless), Levenson takes Boadt's affirmation to pieces: `To say that the Hebrew Bible has complete integrity over against the New Testament is to cast grave doubt on the unity of the Christian Bible. It is like saying one can read the first ten books of the Aenid as if the last two did not exist, and this, in turn, it to say that the last two add nothing essential: the story can just as credibly end without Aeneas's slaying Turnus. Now for Christians to say that the New Testament adds nothing essential to the Hebrew Bible is on the order of Marxists' saying that they have no objection to leaving the means of production in the hands of private capitalists.' Levenson seems to long for a more worthy sparring partner, one who is at minimum more aware of what he is giving away in his first move.

Jon Levenson is nothing if not ambitious with a title (chapter five, `Historical Criticism and the Fate of the Enlightenment Project', pp. 106-126). The effect of chapter upon chapter is worthy of Gustav Mahler's ability to return in seemingly endless fashion to restate a theme, even if Levenson is a more disciplined artist than the great composer. In an essay widely appreciated in the conservative New England seminary where this reviewer studied, Levenson concedes that the teaching of `traditional' biblical criticism is designed to turn fundamentalists into liberals, and that this a task at which it has proven itself admirably adept. However, once such students-nearly all of them motivated to take up biblical studies by intense religious conviction-have been `converted' into liberals, the justification for biblical criticism in the universities loses its force. Why study the Jewish or Christian bibles instead of say, Sanskrit and its literature(s)?

As a graduate and sometime lecturer in biblical studies from an ancient British university, I have observed first-hand the uneasy conscience produced in divinity faculties by this dilemma. Such awkwardness is intensified by that kind of criticism which views all literature (the Bible included) as a more or less naked power ploy by well-vested parties. Levenson's essay contributes to perforating the unexamined arrogance of a `new clerisy' of power-conscious academics who, even in the face of the occasional protestation, to except their own conclusion from this epistemological verdict. That Levenson stubbornly articulates this turn-about argument from the very bowels of the Harvard Divinity School is one of life's delicious ironies.

Levenson's affinity with B. Childs' `canonical criticism' is easily glimpsed at this point in the argument, for both give programmatic weight to a tradition of reading: `I note, however, that if inclusiveness could be gauged quantitatively, then Childs would win the match hands down, for far more people with biblical interests share Christian faith than a thoroughgoing historicism. Were we historical critics to be classed as a religious body, we should have to be judged a most miniscule sect indeed-and one with a pronounced difficulty relating to groups that do not accept our beliefs.'

Yet `we' historical critics and our academy have, for Levenson, an enduring purpose: to recognize that we represent a tradition, are part of an interpretive community and conversation, and to facilitate rather than to impede the ongoing conversation among Bible readers and the religious (and other) communities they represent.

One form of Christian `recovery' of the Hebrew Bible that assumed considerable potency in the last half of the twentieth century goes by the moniker `Liberation Theology'. In point of fact, there exist many theologies of liberation, but it is convenient to speak of them as one movement, particularly in the attraction that many of them experience toward the liberation of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt in the biblical book of Exodus. Levenson is predictably fierce in his appraisal of the arbitrary nature in which liberationists access their preferred literary source (`Exodus and Liberation', pp. 127- 159)

Levenson is eager to determine whether `liberation' as socio-political revolution is an adequate concept for representation of what actually happens in the book of Exodus. Predictably, he finds that it is not and notes a number of features in the textual narration that exponents of such liberation ought to find counter-revolutionary. Levenson knows adequately the theology of the authors he critiques and that of the text he is reading superlatively: `This concern, which liberation theologians tend to call "the preferential option for the poor", is a central element in the Hebraic social ethic. But it does not in any way suggest classlessness or primitive communism as either a reality or an ideal ... Even in its visions of a future age of redemption, marked by sufficiency of resources for all, the Hebrew Bible gives no indication that the abundance will be shared equally, and to the extend that its eschatological visions entail a reconstructed Temple and a restoration of the royal and priestly dynasties ... the scripture presupposes-and endorses-the eternity of inequality'.

Viewing the exodus against the backdrop of Middle Eastern chaos imagery and through the lens of Jewish tradition-this is Levenson's reading posture par excellence-Levenson notes that the Passover tradition does not relate the events of the Exodus in terms of liberation at all. In place of this rather more modern preference, Levenson masterfully sketches the covenantal action of the Lord in bringing slaves of Pharaoh to become the simultaneously humble and exalted slaves of the Lord himself. Levenson is not deaf to Paul's use of this same dynamic and so remarks: `And so, the movement of the Christian's life, like that of the Jew's, is not a movement of slavery to freedom as these terms are now generally understood in secular circles. Rather, it is a movement from one form of slavery to another, to a form of slavery that, paradoxically, emancipates and liberates.'

An even-handed approach to the Exodus must take into account not just the `preferential option' but also the inscrutable chosen-ness of Israel. The former without the latter discards a particularistic core to the narrative that, when ignored, leaves only a shell that collapses upon the vacuum inside it. Levenson surveys Maimonides' (successful) wrestling with the several layers of the legislation and the broader ethics of the case.

It is not a comfortable task to read Levenson, for his sinewy and intelligent prose questions at one time or another most of the assumptions that go into the Christian and critical study of the Bible, not to mention those of his Jewish coreligionists. However, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is a dangerous matter to apply oneself to those tasks without pausing to face the brisk air of Levenson's formidable argument.
Tygrarad
In these 6 essays, Jon Levenson takes on those who worship at the altar of the historical-critical method of interpreting the Scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian. He does so primarily by illustrating that those who espouse the histo-crit method also have a pre-conceived dogma, which they announce dogmatically, written by a hierarchy, when they approach the Bible, or the text as they call it, just as those of religious faith bring to study of the Scriptures. The former read the Testaments as mere human words, the latter as the revealed Word of God. But Levenson seems to know the histo-crit method better than its devotees, and as a Christian, i found he had a very good grasp on many parts of the Christian Scriptures and doctrine.

Every few pages, Levenson adds an aside how this or that result of the histo-crit method is actually anti-Judaic, by suppressing the continuation of the People whose main vocation is to continue studying and commenting on the Torah.

One minor criticism: I found Levenson's characterization of the Catholic doctrine on Tradition to be imprecise. Tradition is not a separate, 2nd stream of Revelation added onto the Bible. Rather, it is the larger stream throughout the last 20 centuries which has upheld the Scriptures,from the time of the Apostles, when the New Testament had not been canonized yet, commented on them by the Fathers of the Church and interpreted by the teaching office of the Church, much like Torah is the heart and soul of the Hebrew Scriptures, and of the Mishnah etc. The inspired Scriptures, the very words of God, norm Tradition from the inside, and thus cannot be contradictory.

This book is brief and readable, hence highly recommended.
Jeb
This is a great book. Insightful, learned, beautifully written, and dealing with important issues.
Wizard
Levenson's critique of the unwarranted assumptions about theHebrew Bible ("Old" Testament) is stunningly powerful andwill open the eyes and minds of all of us who are Christians engagedin serious study of the scriptures. Provocative in concept but elegant in prose, the book shifts the Jewish/Christian dialogue about the Bible to an entirely new and different framework. Levenson's incisive and unblinking exposure of what are essentially anti-semitic currents flowing through much of what has been imagined as objective, critical scholarship is especially powerful and important. His scholarship and erudition are combined with a rare and precious passion for understanding. The importance of this unassuming-looking book cannot be overestimated.

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