The Jewish Bible was collected in ancient Israel over a long period of time. The first books of the Bible are the Five Books of Moses, in Hebrew, the Torah, or by its Greek name, the Pentateuch, meaning "five books." For the Hebrew Scriptures, the Biblical canon was divided into three parts, Torah, Nevi'im, and Ketuvim. Christians have a completely different term for this Jewish canon that constitutes about one half of the Christian Bible. Because Christians have an additional set of texts, namely, the Gospels and the Epistles, Christians refer to the earlier material as the Old Testament in contradistinction to the New Testament.
This intellectually satisfying course examines the complex issues of the historicity of the biblical account as well as the deep theological and religious ideas that the Bible teaches. We will sample approaches both traditional and modern, making use of the works of a broad sampling of scholars - ancient, medieval, and modern - to understand the message of the Hebrew Scriptures and the stories they told. Archaeology and the perspectives gained from our knowledge of the Ancient Near East will be at the forefront, allowing us to approach the Bible with the help of the manifold tools of modern research while retaining respect for the Bible and its ancient message.
©2008 Lawrence H. Schiffman; (P)2008 Recorded Books, LLC
Lectures are in reasonable length segments so I can think about one lecture before going onto another.
This is an introduction to the subject, so it covers a lot of material. The series of lectures starts by giving the necessary background. The necessary technical terminology is introduced throughout the book
When people start interpreting the Hebrew Bible they generally have a point of view, ranging from the extremes of Biblical Minimalism and Biblical Literalism. The lecturer does have a point of view, as I would expect any competent scholar to have, but he takes the time to fairly discuss the other points of view throughout the course of the lectures, and states what is his opinion and why.
The fact that he has a specific point of view does not automatically imply that the others are either more or less correct.
Professor Schiffman is clearly extremely knowledgeable about the subject material, and this audiobook is fairly well organized and narrated, but the problem is that Prof. Schiffman is a practising orthodox Jew. So if you're looking for an _objective_ critical analysis about the origins and evolution of the Hebrew Bible, this is probably not your best resource. Nevertheless, the audiobook is very informative and if you don't mind listening to the account of the history of the Hebrew Bible from the orthodox, yet not in-your-face-mythical, Jewish perspective, then this is a good place to start. Just keep in mind that when Prof. Schiffman mentions that the "Bible minimalists" disagree with a particular view of his (or speaks of there being other opinions on the issue that also hold academic weight), it means that Prof. Schiffman is basically presenting this issue in a way that conforms with his faith (so the other opinions in this case are probably more historically realistic).
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