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Jewish Concepts of ScriptureA Comparative Introduction$
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Benjamin D. Sommer

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814740620

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814740620.001.0001

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Concepts of Scripture in Mordechai Breuer

Concepts of Scripture in Mordechai Breuer

(p.267) Chapter 15 Concepts of Scripture in Mordechai Breuer
Jewish Concepts of Scripture

Shalom Carmy

NYU Press

This chapter examines Rabbi Mordechai Breuer—who launched a series of papers that sketched a new Orthodox response to biblical criticism: his “theory of aspects” (torat ha-behinot). Breuer maintains that all the literary phenomena about the Pentateuch being written by multiple authors are compatible with divine authorship. However, he insists that unitary authorship by a human being is impossible. Therefore, either the critics are right, or there is a divine Author expressing a complex message by employing different voices. The chapter explains how Breuer's views are derived from four strands of Jewish thought. First, Breuer was the great-grandson of R. Samson Raphael Hirsch, founder of the Frankfurt school of neo-Orthodoxy. Second, his early programmatic essays are grounded in kabbalah. Third, the analytic school of Talmud study facilitated the reception of Breuer's work. Finally, he was influenced by the long history of the peshat/derash distinction in Jewish biblical exegesis.

Keywords:   Rabbi Mordechai Breuer, theory of aspects, biblical criticism, Pentateuch, neo-Orthodoxy, kabbalah, Talmud study, peshat/derash

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