Archive for 'biblical theology'

A Famous 20th Century Hassidic Rebbe Endorses Ptolemaic Science!

Why did the early rabbis of Late Antiquity believe that the sun revolves around the earth?

On the surface, the Sages wanted to uphold the belief that the earth is still the center of God’s universe.  However, in all honesty, one cannot blame the ancient rabbis for thinking that way; the majority of them were unacquainted with the science of the Greeks, many of whom (like Aristotle)  believed that the earth revolves around the sun. One would be hard pressed to ...

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The Meaning of PaRDeS: The Four Levels of Scriptural Interpretation

One of the most important hermeneutical paradigms introduced by the early and medieval rabbis is a belief that the Scriptures contain more than one layer of exegetical meaning. This intertextual approach came to be known during the medieval era by the acronym  פַּרְדֵּס”PaRDeS,” standing for “Peshat,” “Remaz,” “Derash,” and “Sod.” Briefly defined, peshat is based on the literal and factual meaning of a verse[1] and roughly corresponds to the medieval concept of sensus literalis as developed by the medieval ...

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Genesis 1:2: Which rendering is more correct, “Spirit of God” or “Mighty Wind of God” ?qqqqqqqqq

What is the meaning of  וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים of Genesis 1:2?  Older translations[1] read, “Spirit of God”  (rûah °élöhîm) while newer translations seem to prefer “a wind of God,” or a “mighty wind . . . “

Both readings are plausible.[2] The term רוּח (rûah) connotes a moving power that is both mysteriously intangible and unseen; hence, “mighty wind” is an apt metaphor. When read in this context, °élöhîm is used not as a noun but ...

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Augustine and the “Mark of Cain”

What is the significance of the “mark of Cain” (Gen. 4:15)?

The text does not identify exactly what the sign was. Historically, this passage has often served as a scriptural support for Christian persecution of the Jews. For Cain, this was a mark of God’s special loving care and protection. For Jerome’s contemporary, Augustine, this idea proved to be a fertile concept for his comparison of Cain to the Jews. Curiously, Augustine, said nothing about this mark serving as a protective ...

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Creation as Novelty

In honor of the new Torah reading cycle, I thought I would explain some thoughts about the parsha as it pertains to the miracle of Creation.

However, Ibn Ezra is less convinced and contends that the linguistic evidence does not support such an interpretation.[7] The verb בָּרָא’ may also mean to fashion something out of already existing materials (e.g., the creation of man, whose body came from the dust of the earth, and whose soul issued forth from God’s breath).[8] Ibn ...

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