Is this a rock or not? I Would like to know

Jonathan D. Safren yon_saf at
Sat Feb 17 06:08:40 EST 2001

Raymond de Hoop has summarized the whole ongoing discussion on introducing
one's personal beliefs very succinctly, and I quote the most pertinent part
of his letter below:

> Regrettably those who quote from their sources like the NT do not discern
> between the different kind of claims such a quotation has.
> a) it is a "neutral" one. NT is one source among others (Matthew
> Isaiah as referring to a virgin, but he may err with regard to Isaiah).
> b) it is an authorative source with THE correct interpretation (Matthew
> the meaning of the text: he was inspired and consequently he cannot err).
> c) The Hebrew Bible is a foreshadowing of the NT and everything of the HB
> has to be read in the light of the NT.
> All three arguments have passed in the postings. It goes without saying
> the final claim is out of place in this list because it has a claim which
> excludes the religion of many readers of the Hebrew Bible.
> The second claim did occur quite often though not expressis verbis.
> the discussion whether (almah should be "virgin" even in Ugarit, would not
> have been such a problem in case Matthew would not have reffered to
> The first claim is an argument that can be followed by every one, in that
> sense it is an argument that is open to discussion.
> Christians --and I consider myself to be one-- may of course put their
> arguments forward. However, at the moment that a quotation from their
> personal authorative source (NT) should be decisive because it is assumed
> be authorative, they put themselves outside the circle of the open
> discussion.

As for Christine Bass' claim :

> From: "Christine Bass" <christinebass at>
> All to say that each person posting has a perspective, and it is through
> this perspective (Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic, etc.)
> the Hebrew Scriptures are analyzed. There is no one that does not. A
> nothing, a supposedly neutral is still a perspective. To say that one is
> immune to their own perspective in interpreting scripture is a fallacy, a
> form of denial.

Every scientist, be he a chemist, anthropologist, or philologist, has a
"perspective", molded by his background and training, and at some point this
is going to influence his scientific production. This is, of course, even
more the case in an emotionally-charged subject such as Hebrew Bible.
Julius Wellhausen was a 19th century German Protestant theologian still
fighting the Wars of the Reformation - and Judaism - and this played a great
part in the way he viewed the origins and worldview of the Priestly Source,
as has been demonstrated by Moshe Weinfeld in a number of articles written
in the early 1980's. And when Yehezkel Kaufmann attacked Wellhausen's
central theses in his _The Religion of Israel_ (Hebrew), he was supposedly
doing it in the name of science, but as one can see from his other writngs,
most particularly his commentaries on Joshua and Judges, he was trying to
defend his  rather conseervative Jewish viewpoint on the origins of the
religion and people of Israel.
Members of this list, be they evangelist or high Protestants, Catholics,
Orthodox or non-Orthodox Jews or whatever, are all going to be influenced,
consciously or unconsciously, by their religious points of depaarture, by
the stations they have stopped off at along the way, and by the station at
which they are standing now - myself included.
This does not excuse purposeful intrusion of one's theological beliefs into
a scholarly discussion.
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
44905 Israel

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