Ask the Rabbi - Basic Concepts

Bible Criticism

Q: Why do Orthodox Jews generally reject Bible criticism?


Q: Shalom Rabbi Oury Cherki, As far as I know, Orthodox Jews generally reject the results of both Higher and Lower criticism of the Bible (as was developed by German scholars). My question is: Do the Jews reject the criticism because they don’t share the same basic assumptions [about the Bible] with the critics (for example, because the critics assume that miracles cannot happen, or that religion evolves, etc.), or is it more because the results of the criticism themselves are not convincing? (For example, based on the available evidence, gathered by the method of the criticism itself, we cannot really conclude that Moshe didn’t write the Pentateuch.) I see that non-Orthodox Jews have begun to accept the validity of this criticism (despite its anti-Semitic origins) because in their opinion the evidence strongly supports it. How do the Orthodox Jews respond to this claim by non-Orthodox Jews? Thank you.
Higher Criticism of the Bible says that the Pentateuch was not written by Moshe, but that it is rather a collection of documents written or edited by several editors in a much later age (than the time of Moshe). The texts that refer to G-d as Elohim are known by the symbol E, and the texts that refer to G-d as YHWH is known by the symbol J. The third source that follows the same pattern as E is known by the symbol P (the Priestly source), and the fourth source that underlies the book of Deuteronomy is known by the symbol D. So there are four sources for the Pentateuch: E, J, P, and D sources. In this way, repetitions and contradictions in the Pentateuch can be explained.



A: Shalom Herdian,
Criticism is based on a non-scientific assumption – that the Bible is not based on Divine revelation. Everything else may be accepted, such as the analysis of the text from the point of view of style, content, comparison to external literature etc.
The interpretation of this information is necessarily subjective and depends of the depth of the reader’s thought.

Rabbi Oury Cherki

Rav Oury Cherki was born in Algeria in 1959 and grew up in France, and he made Aliyah in 1972. He studied at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva, which was founded by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook. He performed his military service in the artillery branch of the IDF. He studied with Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, Rav Yehuda Leon Ashkenazi (Manitou), Rav Shlomo Binyamin and Achlag. Rav Cherki heads the Israeli department of Machon Meir, and he is the Director of Brit Olam - the Noahide World Center. He teaches in many places throughout Israel. Rav Cherki is the spiritual leader of the "Beth Yehuda" community in Kiryat Moshe (Jerusalem). He has written many books on Jewish thought and philosophy.

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