Is the Torah a Work of Philosophy?

As the latest attempt to draw universal ethical principles from the Bible shows, philosophical investigation of its text offers the prospect of great rewards—and grave dangers.

An illustration from a 1299 manuscript of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Assarfati of Cervera, Spain. DeAgostini/Getty Images.

An illustration from a 1299 manuscript of the Hebrew Bible by Joseph Assarfati of Cervera, Spain. DeAgostini/Getty Images.

Essay
Jan. 3 2017
About the author

Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University and the author of Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Library of Jewish Ideas; Princeton University Press).


“At the age of sixty-nine, when most people adopt an easygoing way of life, I have a chip on my shoulder.”

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More about: Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Immanuel Kant, Maimonides, Philosophy, Religion & Holidays, Torah