Page 27 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 39

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ancestral soil o f the Bible. In Israel, the challenge was differen t.
The Bible gave meaning to renewed national existence in the
homeland. Whereas in diaspora countries, the religious message
o f the Bible seemed more im po rtan t to Juda ic scholars than
knowing what had actually occurred, and what had been created
in biblical times, this escape from historical reality would hardly
have served the Israeli ethos very well. In modern Israel it was
sensed that what had occurred in biblical times was happen ing
again. T h ere has been, therefore, an unusual interest in, and
receptivity to archeological discovery, and ancient Israelite his­
Hand in hand with the historicism o f Israeli culture and educa­
tion, we should take note o f the general collapse o f confessional
barriers in biblical scholarship, especially in North America. I f the
Israeli experience changed
attitudes toward the m odern
study of the Bible, the interconfessional atmosphere in North
America created a larger audience for
biblical scholarship. The
Hebrew Bible is canonical for Jews and Christians; and each
communion, or even subcommunion retains highly crystallized
views as to its status. And yet, to a g rea ter degree than ever before,
scholars from vastly d ifferen t backgrounds are approach ing the
study o f the Bible th rough a mutually acceptable methodology.
The participation o f Catholic scholars has increased since the
second Vatican council (1962-65), summoned du ring the pontifi­
cate o f John XXIII.
T he re are several interconfessional projects which illustrate
this new sort o f relationship. First and foremost, the re is the
Anchor Bible,
a commentary project o f Doubleday and Co., in­
tended to cover the Hebrew Bible, the Apocrypha, and the New
Testament. An increasing number o f Jewish scholars are availa­
ble to participate in it. Somewhat ironically, it now appears that
Jewish scholars are prom inen t in the study o f T o rah literature;
that same sacrosanct area in which, heretofore, Jewish scholars
had so hesitated to engage! O f the five To rah books, fou r have
been, or are being p repa red by Jewish scholars for the
(Genesis — the late E.A. Speiser; Leviticus—Jacob Milgrom
(U. o f CA., Berkeley); Numbers — Baruch Levine (New York