“Revelation & Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition” by Benjamin D. Sommer

The Biblical Review

Revelation & Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition by Benjamin D. Sommer. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015, xviii + 419 pp., $50, hardcover.

*I would like to express my gratitude to Yale University Press for providing me a review copy.

With the presence of biblical criticism seemingly undermining Jewish religiosity, Benjamin D. Sommer argues for a shift in modern Jewish though in order for Judaism to flourish. A professor of Bible at Jewish Theological Seminary, formerly he was director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies, a fellow of the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization at New York University Law School, the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, and much more. All in all, his background permits him to speak with authority about how Jews might begin to understand revelation and authority at Sinai in light of modern biblical criticism.

Central to his argument…

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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One Response to “Revelation & Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition” by Benjamin D. Sommer

  1. James,

    I read through a bit of II Baruch and your idea, while it may have led to the development of what Sommer explores, isn’t present from a brief skim. You noted II Baruch 59 and the eternal law. Up till II Baruch 18, the implication is that Moses did, at a unique point in time, receive Law on Sinai (II Baruch 17:4). The text also indicates the eternality and endless possibilities in learning Law (II Baruch 3:6, 15:5-6). Thus, the laws, for II Baruch, seems to be eternal but not in the sense of constant revelation. The lighted lamp in II Baruch 59 is also referenced in II Baruch 17:4: “he brought the Law to the descendants of Jacob and he lighted a lamp to the generation of Israel” (Translation by A. F. J. Klijn). Assuming the lamp is Law, and with recognition that II Baruch considers Law eternal, though not revelation, perhaps the understandings of “eternal” Law shifted and became integrated with other Jewish traditions. As the Rabbis asked, “What does ‘eternal’ actually mean”, perhaps theological tradition found in II Baruch were integrated into rabbinic literature. Tis’ definitely an interesting subject to explore!

    With regard,

    William Brown

    Liked by 1 person

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