Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

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Torah, Translation

Die Schrift: A Non-Territorial Translation of “The Land”

Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig's translation of the Bible strictly adheres to the text's wording and structure. The eminent thinkers sought to let German readers experience the resonance of the Bible's Hebrew and to capture its primordial meaning. Their rendition of Haazinu presents a provocative interpretation of the bond between God, Israel and its land as both universal and singular.

Dr.

Orr Scharf

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Ptolemy II’s Gift to the Temple in the Letter of Aristeas

The Letter of Aristeas embellishes its account of Ptolemy’s gift of a table and bowls to the Jerusalem Temple with what Greek rhetoric calls ekphrasis, a graphic description of a thing or person intended to bring the subject vividly to the eyes of the reader. What is the purpose of this embellishment?

Prof.

Benjamin G. Wright III

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Torah in Translation: Rendering the Story of Joseph in English

Translating the Torah from Hebrew into a different language is a huge challenge: What is the right balance between composing a text that reads smoothly while capturing the flavor of its original language? When I translated the Torah and the Early Prophets, I navigated this tension in favor of keeping the Hebrew flavor.

Prof.

Everett Fox

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Why "Passover"? On the True Meaning of Pesaḥ-פסח

Dr.

Barry Dov Walfish

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Does the Decalogue Prohibit Stealing?

Generally translated as “do not steal,” the Rabbis make a compelling case for understanding lo tignov in the Decalogue to be a prohibition against the more serious offense of kidnapping, or, in modern terms, human trafficking.

Prof. Rabbi

Jonathan Magonet

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Yom Ha-kippurim: The Biblical Significance

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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Despoiling the Egyptians: A Concerning Jewish Legacy?

19th century Anglo-Jewish translators defended the Israelites’ behavior against the King James translation’s perceived accusation that the Jews “borrowed” the Egyptians belongings and never returned them.

Prof.

Leonard Greenspoon

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Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu: The Exclusivity of the Oral Law

An ancient Yelamdeinu Rabbeinu homily connects the covenantal nature of the prohibition to write down the Oral Law, and recite the Written Torah orally, to a novel reading of Gen 18:17-19: God’s choice of Abraham and his descendants to be exclusive participants in God’s own mystery cult.

Dr.

Shayna Sheinfeld

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Does the Torah Prohibit Castrating Animals?

Jewish law prohibits the gelding of animals based on its interpretation of Leviticus 22:24. Is this what the Torah means? Why might the Torah have prohibited this and how could the prohibition function in an agrarian society dependent on draft animals?[1]

Dr.

Elaine Goodfriend

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Does the Torah Differentiate Between Murder and Killing?

What does the root רצח actually mean: to kill or to murder? A look at Rashbam’s attempted (and failed?) solution highlights the ethical ramifications of Bible translation.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Do Not Covet: Is It a Feeling or an Action?

In English, to covet means to desire someone or something obsessively, wrongfully, and/or without due regard for the rights/feelings of others. It is a strong emotion, to be avoided. But does “covet” capture the meaning of the Hebrew verb חמד?

Prof.

Leonard Greenspoon

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Editions and Translations of MT

Prof.

Emanuel Tov

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Moses Mendelssohn's Be'ur: Translating the Torah in the Age of Enlightenment

Moses Mendelssohn’s Be’ur (1780-83) was the first Jewish translation of the Torah into standard German. Motivated by religious and cultural needs, Mendelssohn took advantage of the translation revolution already underway in eighteenth-century Germany—and also included many striking innovations.

Dr.

Abigail Gillman

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Moses Dies at the Age of 120 — Was It Premature?

The end of Deuteronomy recounts that at an age of one hundred and twenty Moses says he is no longer able/allowed to lead the people’s journey and will therefore not be carrying them on to cross the Jordan (Deut 31:2). According to other places in the Torah, however, Moses dies because of a sin – his or of the people.

Dr.

Gili Kugler

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