Hebrew Bible 09/18/2013
Timelines to keep in mind
2800 BCE-2991 BCE: Creation to Abraham
2000 BCE-587 BCE: Israelite Religion Abraham-Destruction of First Temple
diaspora—Israelite religion outside the land of Israel
1200 BCE: Exodus
1000 BCE-500 BCE: writing down of Hebrew Bible
538 BCE-70 CE: Judaism in Exile and in Palestine until destruction of Second Temple
230 BCE-400 CE: Rule of Rome
70-640 CE: Classical Rabbinic Period (Talmud closes in 500 CE)
rabbis most active in developing the oral tradition which is later written down and
developed in the Talmud
Dating the (entire) Hebrew Bible—as a document
The Hebrew bible we have now is approximately 2500 years old.
Earliest texts probably old legends and liturgical (sacred words that are ritually spoken
during a religious service), date from: 1200-1000 BCE (song of Deborah, covenant
Political and cultural contexts that can be made
Most texts from exilic period (6 -5 entury BCE and later) Dead Sea Scrolls (usually dated 150 BCE to 70CE) include Biblical texts fragments.
Used to argue canon fluid until fixed.
Canon fixed in 1 -2 century CE
Canon—texts that are authoritative to a group of texts
Take time to be established, often people disagree on the canon
Different for the catholic church and protestant church
Masoretic text (basis of text used today) finalized in 10 century CE
Whether it’s authoritative/non-authoritative
Apocrypha: outside of the canon
Chapters, verses, vowels (organizational) from late classical to early medieval periods.
Hebrew Bible: Sacred Story (narrative) and Laws/Commandments
Linear sacred history
Redaction issues (editors and authors)
Must be really good stories if people have remembered them for this long
History and narrative History of the encounter between the Jewish people and god
Multiple editors, multiple theories about how it’s been edited over time (J, P, E source)
Changed over time, became static in the 10 century
Edited patchwork in some instances
Have to be aware of the perspective of scholar or faith-based?
Hebrew Bible—based on Masoretic text
Tanakh—acronym: All of the Hebrew Bible:
Torah (5 books of Moses)
Nevi’im (8 books of Prophets)
Ketuvim (11 books of Writings): 24 books
Precisely: Refer to only 5 Books of Moses—Chumash—Pentateuch Popularly frequently refers to all of the Hebrew Bible
Popular refers to all Jewish learning and practices (most common Chassidic
hearing revelation (been revealed—god has a special message, and it must be
transmitted to us), transcendent (beyond this world) , sacred (words, Torah scroll itself—
symbolic of the relationship with god) text
Meaningful sacred history
Written Torah and Oral Torah
Written: based on previous oral traditions
Oral Torah: heart of the Talmud
Knows stories well
Stories told throughout the year, whenever something relevant happens
Map of understanding of the world and their relationship to it
Torah Practices: People of the Book
Torah as holy object—Tree of Life (Etz CHayim)
Seeing the text as a holy object
Yearly cycle, 54 weekly readings (Parshat)
Coupled with Haftorah reading from Prophets Honour of being called Torah—Aliya—To Go Up (must be Bar/Bat Mitzvah)
Receive an Aliya to go up to the Torah to read it
Torah is chanted
Blessings before and after reading Torah and Haftorah reading
This is traditionally all men’s business (orthodox)
Honour to reading the Torah, and the skills and piety involved.
“It is a tree of life for them that hold fast to it, and all its supporters are
joy and celebration around the Torah—public object
Reading the Hebrew Bible
How to think about Biblical narrative?
Hebrew narrative—continuous story (with interruptions of other things going on) from
Genesis-2 Kings (Tanakh on, continues into early Prophets)
Every time the stories are heard, they are heard in the context of all the other stories
(believers hear these stories from their birth).
Composite of different authors, types of literature
Biblical redactor of many sources.
How to read?
Analytic and Synthetic Analytic: individual text
Synthetic: Biblical narrative as whole narrative/unfolding story
Who is the reader? How do different readers read?
You can prove pretty