Methods in biblical scholarship

Jonathan D. Safren yonsaf at
Tue Dec 28 06:01:30 EST 1999

Dear Peter,
I suggest you read R. Abraham Ibn Ezra's commentary on Gen. 12:6; 22:14;
Deut. 1:1-2; 3:11, where he expresses, in veiled language, doubts as to
the Mosaic authorship of 12 verses in the Torah (incl. Deut. 34:5-12,
which even some of the ancient Rabbis had their doubts about).  And this
in spite of the fact that, in Gen. 36: 31 he roundly condemns a certain
Yitzhaki (perhaps Rashi - R. Shlomo Yitzhaki) for claiming that this
list of Edomite kings dates from the reign of King Jehoshafat.
And don't forget that Ibn Ezra was living in a not exactly tolerant age
and was dependent on the good graces of various patrons for his
sustenance. Had he voiced these doubts more openly, we can only imagine
what might have happened to him.
Spinoza, who repeated Ibn Ezra's doubts (and others) hundreds of years
later, in much more tolerant surroundings, was excommunicated.

Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office 44905

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