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Can Modern Bible Scholarship Be Reconciled with Faith?

According to Benjamin Sommer, it can. In a recent book entitled Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition, he attempts to do so by arguing that the Hebrew Bible is the product of divine revelation even though the Torah is not the literal, word-for-word, Word of God. (Interview by Alan Brill):

Using modern critical tools such as history and philology to understand the Bible’s teachings doesn’t somehow render those teachings irrelevant to religion; using those tools simply means that I am able to get much closer to understanding biblical texts and their teachings the way their first audiences understood them. Why understanding the Bible more deeply and more authentically on its own terms should be thought inimical to accepting the Bible as sacred is utterly beyond me. . . .

[Furthermore], it seems inauthentic to me, as religious Jew, to separate what I know about the Bible intellectually from the ways I employ it religiously. It will not do to read the Bible serially, sometimes as [an historical] artifact and at other times as Scripture. Such a choice would require one to partition oneself, so that one has a secular mind and a religious soul co-existing uneasily in a single body but not communicating with each other. . . .

There really was an event at Mount Sinai that involved all Israel, and Sinai is not just a metaphor. However, [the Torah] is Scripture not because all of its words came from heaven, but because it contains the nation of Israel’s response to God’s real but non-verbal commands that came to Israel at Sinai.

Read more at Book of Doctrines and Opinions

More about: Bible, Biblical criticism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays, Revelation, Torah MiSinai

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC