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Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism by Joshua A. Berman



  • Format: PDF
  • Publisher: ‎ Oxford University Press; 1st edition (July 13, 2017)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • 320 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 0190658800
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-0190658809


“I find Berman’s call for understanding the Hebrew Bible as a product of the Ancient Near East literary milieu to be foundational. I would argue that in his book, nonstandard, alternative perspectives can be found and built upon, instead of fundamentalist apologetics. As such, the book will engage
both avid students who enjoy learning about the history and modern ideas entertained in current historical criticism, as well as scholars who now will have to deal with the substantial challenges Berman raises against the modern practice of the method.” — Felipe Masotti, Andrews University Seminary

“There is much of value in the detailed textual analysis that Berman offers” — Vetus Testamentum
“I highly recommend this monograph. Berman offers important challenges to the field of pentateuchal studies in particular and biblical studies as a whole. While engaging in this dialogue may not help the field of biblical studies to reach a greater level of consensus, it will certainly make for more
thoughtful scholarship.”–Brandon Grafius, Review of Biblical Literature
“[A] a scintillating work that manages to challenge nearly every received canon in Pentateuchal source criticism.”–Jerry Hwang, Themelios
“Berman’s book is a helpful foray into the area of ‘biblical criticism criticism.'”–Rachel Slutsky, Reading Religion“Joshua Berman puts forward what may be the most serious―and, to many in the field, disturbing―challenge in over a century to theories about the composition and dating of biblical texts. Biblical critics will have to reckon with Berman’s lucid and detailed investigations of ancient Near Eastern

literature if they are to continue using the classic methods of their field. Many scholars will want to disagree with Berman’s conclusions, but none can ignore them.”–Benjamin D. Sommer, author of Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition, winner of the Goldstein-Goren Prize
for Best Book in Jewish Thought“Joshua Berman throws down the gauntlet and challenges all critical scholars who have based their research on modern conceptions of literary unity and on the diachronic growth of the Pentateuch. He opens up a new path for the study and unity of the Pentateuchal literature, which will surely lead to

much debate and further intensive review.”–Shalom M. Paul, Professor Emeritus Bible, Hebrew University“In this groundbreaking and provocative new study, Berman demonstrates some of the methodological problems within traditional biblical source criticism, especially how dependence on the scholar’s own intuition to identify fissure in a text can yield misleading results. Berman argues that there is

need among source critical scholars for a self-awareness of their own aesthetic senses of literary unity, and that cognate ancient Near Eastern literature can provide the necessary controls to diachronic inquiry in the study of the Torah. Through his own analyses of different genres of ancient Near
Eastern literature, he illustrates ‘a procedure for knocking out at least some errors’ and for arriving at more modest and contingent results, ones that can withstand empirical scrutiny in the light of the ancient Near Eastern cultural literary world.”–K. Lawson Younger, Jr., Professor of Old
Testament, Semitic Languages, and Ancient Near Eastern History, Trinity International University, Divinity School

About the Author

Joshua A. Berman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Hebrew Bible at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He is the author of Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought.


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