ouBelow are monographs and essays available for download as a PDF.
The Jewish Case for Multiple Authorship of the Torah – A Suppressed Tradition
This essay came as a result of grappling with a doctrine I had heard repeatedly that the traditional Jewish view that was universally held was that Moses wrote every letter of the five books of the Bible and how this could be reconciled with the approach of modern scholars of various schools of thought who are in wide agreement that the Bible has more than one author.
This essay proposes that rather than multiple authorship being a theory that was innovated by modern scholars who were hostile towards the Bible and tradition it is in fact Rabbis from the Rabbinic period, the Medieval period as well as the early modern era who too believed that not every single word in the Bible was written by Moses.
It shouldn’t surprise us that within the Jewish tradition, there was a machloket (dispute) and a range of differing opinions on this subject. The view of complete mosaic authorship eventually came to dominate.
In this paper I argue by revealing sources that the primary reason for the adoption of this doctrine was due to Jewish and Muslim and Jewish and Karaite polemics. Maimonides in the formulation of his Thirteen Principles defined the lines of defence for Judaism which did not have its own systematic theology or dogma as was being developed by the other Abrahamic religions Christianity and Islam.
Because Islam accused Jews of falsifying the text of the Torah, the Rabbis suppressed the tradition of multiple authors of certain verses and sections so as to defend Judaism and Jews.
Today Judaism is challenged by the heirs who continued from where the Rabbis of this suppressed tradition left off. Is it time for us to rediscover a school of thought from our predecessors that will allow Judaism to meet its modern challengers?
The essay can be downloaded below.
In The Language Of Man – Judaism An Evolving Religion
This work I did not originally intend to write. A few of the chapters were topics raised within a separate work. Eventually I expanded upon them and it became an independent work in its own right.
I wrote it because there has always been something about the Bible and Jewish tradition that has meant much more to me than simply being an old book. It is the lens that I look through in order to connect to my ancestors and heritage. Through engaging with the Biblical text and reading the commentaries in different periods we tap into a wisdom that is accumulative with the progression of human civilization. It also serves as a guide throughout my life, when I encounter issues or go through experiences. Different Biblical characters and narratives become the immediate source to help lead me to how I should address my own situations. I don’t look at what so and so did necessarily in the narrative and emulate it, but compare how their situations are similar and relate to mine, and explore the thousands of years of commentary on how others interpreted the issue. They are not authorities to me dictating what I can and can’t do, as my experiences and circumstances are of course different but the subject might be the same. Each generation grapples with old problems in new ways.
What I hope I have revealed here is that in Jewish tradition, the wisdom, ethics and morals are always a constant and universal. However, from the narratives at the beginning of the Bible through to our time it depicts the development and growth of humanity and its relationship and understanding of God as a macrocosm of our own experiences as individuals. One need only look at children to see how they do not automatically behave righteously. They rely on their parents to teach them well, and often they too do not get it right. But it is not a one way street either, our relationships with our children, partners and others are the testing ground for our character strengths and weaknesses. The narratives in Genesis between God and man raise real issues that man experiences between man and God and the world we inhabit. Rather than pretending to provide answers itself it provokes the discussion between heaven and earth. They demonstrate that the realization of our perfection is dependent on a working relationship with one another and that there will be stumbling blocks along the way which all parties have to work on.
The other reason I wrote this work was to satisfy my own and others intellectual honesty. I had long been exposed to Modern Biblical scholarship that believes that Judaism either was born as a revolution against Polytheism or was an evolution from it. This was very at odds with what was conveyed to me in religious circles who seemed to claim that many Jewish ideas and practices were never innovations or later developments but that everything goes back to Sinai. In this worldview, the Judaism we have today is the Judaism that always was, going back to Moses, particularly in terms of beliefs. It is just that none of it was committed to writing until thousands of years after the event. I have endeavoured to demonstrate that in many instances where this is claimed that this is not the case, and at the same time have shown scholarship that argues that many later writings are based on oral traditions as old if not older than the Bible itself. What I provide are for the most part classical Jewish sources and schools of thought that interpreted the Torah and the history of Jewish thought in a way that in many instances happens to conform to the dominant view of Modern scholars.
A significant part of this work focused on ethics and moral issues. The dominant voice today when one goes to learn Torah tells a very different approach. I have attempted to place the alternative voices who are either dismissed, minimized or reinterpreted back on the table. I have attempted to take the reader through these sources and apply them to numerous Biblical narratives in order to show how they read the Bible with different assumptions and came to different conclusions and often contrary interpretations of the Bible and the purpose or application of a law or Halacha. Whilst at the same time, attempting to provide what I feel is severely lacking in most religious institutions, historical context and background to the studied texts as well as the negation of the idea of reading the text anew with our current knowledge.
My hope is that for those who are perplexed by the current state of religious affairs and approaches to learning Torah and observance will embark or re-embark on a journey of learning with fresh eyes and ears. My methodology is quite simple, I am concerned with facts and evidence. I listen to what academic researchers and scholars claim and then ask what do sources within the Jewish tradition say. Of course I expect that many religious leaders I will first inquire about the issue will point me to one approach and sources that completely rejects what modern scholars suggest and insist that this is the only universally held view and always was. No doubt it is the view held by those communities today. I also anticipate that many of the alternative dissenting views are not known to many who purport such claims. They are not lying to us, they genuinely have not studied them, often are not encouraged to and sometimes are even unaware of their existence.
On the subject of the corporeality of God, I only found one of my rabbis who was a tremendously humble teacher, who whilst was not knowledgeable of the subject took a very keen interest in my study of it and was willing to look and take seriously what I had found. He was always looking not just to teach Torah but to learn from his students. He taught classical works of hashkafa (Jewish beliefs), the Kuzari, Orchot Tzaddikim, Derech Hashem, Tomer Devorah and others. It felt like he was learning with you and wanted to hear fresh insights from students with different diverse backgrounds. As Ben Zoma in the Mishna in Pirkei Avot 4:1 says “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone.”
The essay can be downloaded below
Download here In The Language of Man-Judaism-An Evolving Religion
The ‘Kuzari principle’ is commonly invoked as one of the “proofs” or “evidence” that the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai must have happened. Its proponents assert that there isn’t a compelling, rational alternative that can explain how the traditional account came to be accepted by the Jewish religion as historical fact if it didn’t happen.
What I have sought to demonstrate in this work is that this is not the case, many of the assumptions that frame this argument are not so and that the usual formulations that present what the possibilities for how Judaism came to adopt such a belief are not the only possibilities. I have not conducted this study using speculation. I have drawn my arguments based on working theories of what large numbers of scholars of archaeology, Biblical studies and related academic fields believe to be the historical origins of Judaism, the Jewish people and the Biblical text.
From these theories I turned to various other case studies that provide insights to myth formation, the socio-political and religious factors that contribute to the development of such stories and their transformation over time to being perceived as fact rather than legend.
I address the argument of the uniqueness of the Sinai revelation narrative compared to other religions revelation narratives through highlighting the difference between the Bible as a text of national myth origin as well as a religious text, which sets Judaism apart from many other world religions.
Proponents of the Kuzari principle also assume that the Torah has but only one author, Moses, and that the Rabbinic tradition and even many post-Rabbinic Jewish laws, doctrines or practices too originated in the Biblical period at Sinai. These claims I have addressed thoroughly in my other works In the Language of Man – Judaism – An Evolving Religion and The Jewish Case for Multiple Authorship of the Torah – A Suppressed Tradition.
Does this mean that there was no revelation at Sinai? No. What I have presented does not refute the claim that there was a revelation. What I have shown is that the argument is not as strong as many would like to believe and that there is an alternative explanation that is equally plausible and capable of explaining how the story might have emerged without having to assume that it literally happened. Contrary to what many claim, there is a rational explanation to Judaism’s story.
Are we still able to believe the story? Yes, of course we can. The Kuzari principle is still a plausible possibility. Only now, belief in the giving of the Torah at Sinai will demand a lot more faith.
Download here Kuzari Challenged