Joshua Berman – Inconsistency in the Torah

Episode: Dru and Joshua Berman discuss his bold claims in his book—Inconsistency in the Torahthat suggest source-criticism might erroneously ignore cognate literary forms in the ancient Near East, favoring notoriously slippery histories behind each source in the Torah instead. Working through Egyptian and Mesopotamian parallels, Berman discusses how the old paradigm of sources might be insufficient in the face of other comparable literatures. We talk through the book’s core arguments, krav maga, Judaism in Israel, Fijian vacations with Seventh Day Adventists, and more!

Guest: Dr. Joshua Berman is an associate professor at Bar-Ilan University. His books include Created Equal: How the Bible Broke With Ancient Political Thought and The Temple (OUP) and Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism (OUP). Dr. Berman is an ordained Orthodox rabbi with a B.A. in Religion from Princeton University and a Ph.D. in Bible from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.


The Book (Inconsistency in the Torah,* from the publisher): “This book proposes a new approach to the Pentateuch’s narrative and legal inconsistencies that scholars have taken as signs of fragmentation and competing agendas. … The recent pivot to empirical models constitutes a major challenge to traditional historical-critical method, mandating a review of its premises. The book includes a critical intellectual history of the theories of textual growth in biblical studies tracing how critics were influenced first by the fascination with science in the eighteenth century and then by Romanticism and Historicism in the nineteenth. These movements unwittingly led the field to adopt a range of commitments and interests that impede the proper execution of historical critical method in the study of the Pentateuch. It concludes by advocating a return to the hermeneutics of Spinoza and adopting a methodologically modest agenda.”

*Oxford University Press has given OnScript listeners an exclusive discount. Just use the code AAFLYG6, to enter at checkout at, for a 30% discount on the book.

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