Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Christian Interpretation

Sukkot, the Festival of Future Redemption for Jews and Gentiles

Zechariah 14 envisions a time when all the nations will come to the Temple in Jerusalem on Sukkot. The festival’s eschatological significance in the Second Temple period may be further hinted at in Pseudepigraphical works, in the book of Revelation, and on coins minted during the great rebellion and the Bar Kochba rebellion.

Prof. Rabbi

Joshua Garroway

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Balaam the Seducer of Jews and an Early Christian Polemic

Ancient Jewish interpreters imagined Balaam as the prototypical Gentile seducer. This trope was used by John of Patmos, the author of the book of Revelation and himself a Jew, to polemicize against his rivals among the early Christians.

Prof. Rabbi

Joshua Garroway

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Hosea: Loving God Erotically

A biblical metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel first found in the prophet Hosea

Prof.

Carl S. Ehrlich

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Parents Eating their Children – The Torah's Curse and Its Undertones in Medieval Interpretation

Early rabbinic interpretation connected the curse of child eating (Lev 26:29; Deut 28:53-57) with the description of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in Lamentations (2:20 and 4:10) and the Roman destruction of the Second Temple. In the Middle Ages, however, Jewish commentators de-emphasize this connection. The reason for this may lie in the 12th c. development of Christian Bible commentary.

Dr.

Wendy Love Anderson

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Does Rashi's Torah Commentary Respond to Christianity?

Moses promises that if Israel forsakes the covenant, God will destroy them permanently (Deut 4:25-26). Drawing on a midrash, Rashi explains that God exiled Israel early to avoid having to wipe them out; thus, God never actualized this threat. Considering Rashi’s responses to Christian ideas in other biblical texts, Rashi's comment on Deut 4:25 may well be an apologetic effort to prove that God’s covenant with the Jews remains intact.

Dr.

Yedida Eisenstat

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Esau the Ancestor of Rome

In the Bible, Esau is the ancestor of the Edomites who live on Mount Seir, southwest of Judah. So how did the rabbis come to associate Esau and Edom with Rome? Two main factors are at work here: Christianity and Herod.

Dr.

Malka Zeiger Simkovich

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Attaining and Forfeiting Adam's Immortality at Sinai

The Jewish Version of the “Fall”

Prof.

Joel Kaminsky

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Akedah: How Jews and Christians Explained Abraham's Faith

God promised Abraham that Isaac would be his heir, yet God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. What did Abraham believe that allowed him to reconcile this divine contradiction?

Dr.

Devorah Schoenfeld

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Searching for the Meaning of the Passover Sacrifice

The need for medieval exegetes to suggest a plausible alternative to the Christian exegesis of this ritual.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Immortal Myth of Adam and Eve

Dr.

Shawna Dolansky

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Id and Superego: The Two Flood Stories and the Human Condition

Rabbi

David Bigman

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Arami Oved Avi: The Demonization of Laban

The rabbis translate the phrase ארמי אובד אבי in Deuteronomy 26:5 “an Aramean tried to destroy my father” and understand it as a reference to Laban, who they claim was worse than Pharaoh. But whereas the biblical Laban can be read either sympathetically or unsympathetically, he is hardly a Pharaoh-like villain, so why demonize him?

Naomi Graetz

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The Torah Is Not an Allegory

In a polemical response to Christian and Jewish allegorical interpretation of the Torah’s laws, Bekhor Shor writes that just as God speaks to Moses “clearly and without riddles” (Num 12:8), so too the Torah is clear and means what it says, and should not be interpreted allegorically.[1]

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Isaac's Divine Conception?

“The Lord visited Sarah” (Gen 21:1) – When God (and his angels) appears to Abraham to announce the birth of Isaac, the text implies a hidden visit to Sarah. Does this mean, as both Philo and Paul claim, that Isaac was born from a divine conception?

Dr. Rabbi

Samuel Z. Glaser

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